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it by goodness, than to provoke fresh injuries, and perpetuate a contention, by seeking redress in law. "Ye have heard," says he," that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also and if a man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also; and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."" To the same purpose is the instruction given by St. Paul to the Romans. "Bless them who persecute you -bless and curse not-recompense to no man evil for evil-provide things honest in the sight of all menavenge not yourselves, but rather give place to his wrath, who hath said, Vengeance is mine; I will repay
therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Anger is criminal, when it settles into malice. Though you should not in word or action, attempt any thing like revenge; yet if you are continually brooding over a supposed injury; studying to aggra vate it; calling up in your mind a thousand unfavora ble sentiments concerning him who has done it; listening with pleasure to every evil thing which you hear of him; and contemplating with delight every misfortune that befals him; you are guilty in the eyes of that Being who looketh on the heart, and who hath said, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart-thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the child. ren of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." It is this indulgence of anger, which the Apostle seems chiefly to intend, when he cautions against sinful passion; for he immediately adds, "Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath." A wise man may be surprised by anger; but it rests only in the
bosom of fools.
We proceed to observe,
III. To this caution against sinful anger the Apostle subjoins another, which is nearly connected with it, "Neither give place to the devil,"
By placing these two cautions together, the Apostle intimates, that sinful passion often arises from the influence of the devil; and that, when passion prevails, we, in a peculiar manner, give place to this malignant spirit, and yield ourselves to his power.
"Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed." And it is by means of these lusts, that the adversary finds free access to the human mind. Against the great Redeemer he gained no advantage, because he found in him no unruly pas sion, or irregular inclination. "He that is born of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." But "he works in the children of disobe. dience;" for "they walk a.ording to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind."
If then you would not give place to the devil, see that you subdue your lusts and rule your spirits. These are the traitors within, who hold a correspond ence with the enemy, and secretly open to him the gates of the fortress. By slaying these, you will frustrate his designs against you. They who repent and acknowledge the truth, are said to "recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, by whom they were taken captive at his will." As these Ephesians had been" taught to put off, concerning their former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to deceitful lusts," it might be expected, that "they would resist the devil," and no more permit him to work in them, as he had done, "while they all had their conversation in the lusts of the flesh."
Your first care then must be to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" to restrain the excesses, and correct the irregularities of passion, and shun those evil communications, which corrupt good
Be watchful against the temptations which most easily beset you, and keep yourselves from your own iniquity. Get acquainted with yourselves, learn the bias of your constitution, observe your predominant passions, and guard the weak side, where the enemy will be most likely to make an assault, and will most easily effect an entrance.
Withstand the beginning of temptations. When evil thoughts and dangerous passions move within you, immediately dispossess them. Let them not lodge there; "for when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
In all your important concerns; especially in matters which relate to religion, act with calmness and deliberation. "A prudent man will look well to his goings; but the foolish pass on and are punished." If you hastily obey every suggestion, and blindly follow every impulse, you have no security; you are taken captive by Satan at his will. When a thought is suggested, or an inclination excited, examine it before you comply with it-inquire, whether it be agreeable to reason and the word of God; whether it be of a holy tendency; what effect the indulgence of it will have on your temper; what will be the consequences of it to others; and admit, or reject it, according to the result of those inquiries.
That you may not give place to the devil, arm your selves with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Thus did the captain of our salvation. Satan tempted him to false worship; Jesus replied, "It is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God." Satan perverted the scripture to encourage a rash confidence in God's promise. The Saviour answered, "it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord." Store your minds with scriptural knowledge, that you may always have an argument ready against every evil suggestion. Attend to the plain, obvious, literal sense of scripture,
and govern yourselves by it, that you may not be misled by the slight and craft of them who lie in wait to deceive.
The divine word will furnish you with an answer to every temptation, and an argument against every sin. If you perceive an evil thought or passion stirring with. in you, confront it by some pertinent passage of sacred writ. If doubts should arise concerning any doctrine of religion, go to the word of God and inquire, whether it is clearly and expressly taught there: If it is; then submit to its genuine influence; and study no evasions to pacify a guilty conscience. If you are tempted to an action, which the word of God evidently condemns; contrive no excuses and palliations; but say with the patriarch, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" If, under a supposed injury, passion urges you to some violent measures for redress, remember the words of the Apostle, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath;" i. e. give place to the wrath and justice of God, for vengeance belongs to him. If religion is represented in a discouraging light; inquire whether this is the light in which the Saviour exhibits it. Think of his kind invitation and promise, " Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall. find rest to your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If you excuse yourselves from prayer, or any other duty, under a notion that you are not fit for it, and shall consequently incur greater guilt in the observance, than in the neglect of it, look into the Bible, and see whether these are not expressly enjoined on all, without distinction, and whether your excuse is once admitted there. If you are tempted to delay the work of religion; hear what the scripture says; "Boast not of tomorrow"" Behold now is the accepted time." Are you inclined to entertain
loose thoughts of the nature of religion? Attend to the Saviour's words: "Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Thus you are to repel the temptations which approach you.
Again: That you may not give place to the devil, take time to consider, whether any motive suggested in favor of sin is, in its nature, so powerful, as the ar guments which the scripture offers against it. Apply to yourselves the Apostle's expostulation with the Romans; "What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death." Employ yourselves in pious medi tations, in prayer, and in converse with the word of God, When Satan finds a soul empty and swept of every serious thought and disposition, he enters in and dwells there. They, in whom he dwells, are such as give him place. They who resist him, find him a conquerable enemy.
We sometimes complain of temptations; but our greatest danger is from ourselves. They will not essentially injure us, unless, by the indulgence of some criminal passion, we give them place. The best men may be molested by the adversary; but steady vigilence and firm resistance will give them the victory. The God of peace will bruise Satan under their feet.
To conclude; Let us consider the danger to which we are exposed from the busy malice of evil spirits; and remember that our danger is then the greatest, when our passions rise the highest. Let us be sober ¡ and vigilant, because our adversary the devil goeth about, seeking whom he may devour: Him let us resist, stedfast in the faith; thus the God of all grace, who hath called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, will make us perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.