The Extreme Wickedness of The Devils

  Doctrine Second. The devils are spirits extremely wicked; wicked in the abstract, as in the text, and called by way of eminency is sin, ‘the wicked one,’ Matt. 13:19.  As God is called the Holy One, because none [is] holy as the Lord; so the devil, the wicked one, because he is a none-such in sin.  In a few particulars let us endeavour to take the height of the devil’s sin, and rather that we may judge of the degrees of sins and [of] sinners among the sons of men: the nearer God in holiness, the more holy; the liker the devil, the more wicked.

           Particular First. These apostate angels are the in­ventors of sin—the first that sounded the trumpet of rebellion against their Maker, and led the dance to all that sin which since hath filled the world.  Now, what tongue can accent this sin to its full? for such a noble creature whom God hath set on the top, as it were, of all the creation, nearest to himself, [and] from whom God had kept nothing but his own royal diadem; for this peer and favourite of the court, without any cause or solicitation from any other, to make this bold and blasphemous attempt to snatch at God’s own crown, this paints the devil blacker than the thoughts of men and angels can conceive.  He is called ‘the father of lies,’ as those who found out any art are the father of it.  Jubal ‘the father of all such as handle the harp and organ,’ he invented music.  And this is a dreadful aggravation, because they sinned without a tempter.  And though man is not in such a degree capable of this aggravation, yet some men sin after the very similitude of the devil’s transgression in this respect; who, as St. Paul styles them, are ‘in­ventors of evil things,’ Rom. 1:30.  Indeed sin is an old trade, found out to our hand; but as in other trades and arts, some famous men arise, who add to the in­ventions of others, and make trades and arts, as it were, new; so, there ever are some infamous in their generation,  that make old sins new by superadding to the wickedness of others.  Uncleanness is an old sin from the beginning; but the Sodomites will be filthy in a new way, and therefore it carries their name to this day.  Some invent new errors; others new oaths —such as are of their own coining—hot out of the mint; they scorn to swear after the old fashion. Others [invent] new devices of persecuting, as Julian, [who] had a way by himself different from all before him; and to the end of the world every age will exceed other in the degrees of sinning.  Ishmael and the mockers of the old world were but children and bunglers to the scoffers and cruel mockers of the last time.  Well, take heed of showing thy wit in inventing new sins, lest thou stir up God in inventing new pun­ishments.  ‘Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?’ Job 31:3.  Sodom sinned after a new mode, and God destroys them after a new way—sends hell from above upon them.  Some have invented new opinions, mon­strous errors, and God hath suited their monstrous errors with births as monstrous of their own body.

           Particular Second. They were not only the in­ventors of sin, but are still the chief tempters to, and promoters of sin in the world.  [They are] therefore called Ò B,4DV.T<the tempter, and sin [is] called ‘the work of the devil,’ whoever commits it; as the house goes by the name of the master-workman, though he useth his servant’s hands to build it.  O take heed of soliciting others to sin.  Thou takest the devil’s office, as I may say, out of his hand.  Let him do it himself if he will.  Make not thyself so like him. To tempt another is worse than to sin thyself.  It speaks sin to be of great growth in that man, that doth it knowingly and willingly.  Herbs and flowers shed not their seed till ripe, creatures propagate not till of stature and age.  What do these that tempt others, but diffuse their wicked opinions and prac­tices, and, as it were, raise up seed to the devil, there­by to keep up the name of their infernal father in the world?  This shows sin is mighty in them indeed. Many a man, though so cruel to his own soul as to be drunk or swear, yet will not like this in a child or servant.  What are they then but devils incarnate, who teach their children the devil’s catechism, to swear and lie, drink and drab?  If you meet such, be not afraid to call them, as Paul did Elymas, when he would have perverted the deputy, children of the devil, full of all subtilty and mischief, and enemies of all righteousness.  O do you not know what you do when you tempt?  I will tell you.  You do that which you cannot undo by your own repentance.  Thou poisonest one with error, initiatest another in the devil’s school—alehouse I mean; but afterwards may be, thou seest thy mistake, and recantest thy error, thy folly, and givest over thy drunken trade.  Art thou sure now to rectify and convert them with thyself? Alas, poor creatures! this is out of thy power.  They, may be, will say, as he—though he did it on a better account—that was solicited to turn back to Popery by him who had persuaded him to renounce the same: ‘You have given me one turn, but shall not give me another.’  And what a grief to thy spirit will it be, to see those going to hell on thy errand, and thou not able to call them back!  Thou mayest cry out as Lamech, ‘I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.’  Nay, when thou art asleep in thy grave, he whom thou seduced may have drawn in others, and thy name may be quoted to commend the opinion and practice to others; by which, as it is said, though in another sense, Abel being dead yet speak­eth.  Thou mayest, though dead, sin in those that are alive, generation after generation.  A little spark kin­dled by the error of one, hath cost the pains of many ages to quench it, and when thought to be out, hath broken forth again.

           Particular Third. They are not barely wicked, but maliciously wicked.  The devil hath his name Ò B@<,DÎH, to denote his spiteful nature—his desire to vex and mischief others.  When he draws souls to sin, it is not because he tastes any sweetness or finds any profit therein—he hath too much light to have any joy or peace in sin.  He knows his doom, and trem­bles at the thought of it; and yet his spiteful nature makes him vehemently desire and incessantly endeav­our the damnation of souls.  As you shall see a mad dog run after a flock of sheep, kill one, then another, though when dead [he is] not able to eat of their flesh, but kills to kill; so Satan is carried out with a boundless rage against man, especially the saints, and would not, if he could, leave one of Christ’s flock alive.  Such is the height of his malice against God, whom he hates with a perfect hatred; and, because he cannot reach him with a direct blow, therefore he strikes him at the second-hand through his saints; that wicked arm which reacheth not to God, is extended against these excellent on the earth—well knowing the life of God is in a manner bound up in theirs.  God cannot outlive his honour, and his hon­our speeds as his mercy is exalted or depressed; this being the attribute God means to honour in their sal­vation so highly, and therefore maligned above the rest by Satan.  And this is the worst that can be said of these wicked spirits, that they maliciously spite God, and in God the glory of his mercy.


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