Use First. This may help us conceive more fully what the desperate wickedness of man’s nature is, which is so hard to be known, because it can never be seen at once—it being a fountain whose immensity consists not in the stream of actual sin—that is visible, and may seem little—but in the spring that incessantly feeds this. But here is a glass that will give us the shape of our hearts truly like themselves. Seest thou the monstrous pitch and height of wickedness that is in the devil? All this there is in the heart of every man. There is no less wickedness potentially in the tamest sinner on earth, than in the devils themselves, and that one day thou, whoever thou art, wilt show to purpose, if God prevent thee not by his renewing grace. Thou art not yet fledged, thy wings are not grown to make thee a flying dragon; but thou art of the same brood, the seed of this serpent is in thee, and the devil begets a child like himself. Thou yet standest in a soil not so proper for the ripening of sin—which will not come to its fulness till transplanted unto hell. Thou who art here so maidenly and modest, as to blush at some sins out of shame, and [to] forbear the acting of others out of fear, when there thou shalt see thy case as desperate as the devil doth his, then thou wilt spit out thy blasphemies, with which thy nature is stuffed, with the same malice that he doth. The Indians have a conceit, that when they die they shall be transformed into the deformed likeness of the devil; therefore in their language they have the same word for a dead man and the devil. Sin makes the wicked like him before they come there, but indeed they will come to their countenance more fully there, when those flames shall wash off that paint which here hides their complexion. The saints in heaven shall be like angels, in their alacrity, love, and constancy to serve God; and the damned like the devils, in sin as well as punishment. This one consideration might be of excellent use to unbottom a sinner, and abase him, so as never to have high thought of himself. It is easy to run down a person whose life is wicked, and convince him of the evil of his actions, and make him confess what he doth is evil, but here is the thicket we lose him in. He will say, ‘It is true, I am overseen, I do what I should not, God forgive me, but my heart is good.’ Thy heart good, sinner? and so is the devil’s. His nature is wicked, and thine [is] as bad as his. These pimples in thy face show the heat of thy corrupt nature within, and without gospel physic—the blood of Christ applied to thee—thou wilt die a leper. None but Christ can give thee a new heart, till which, thou wilt every day grow worse and worse. Sin is an hereditary disease that increaseth with age. A young sinner will be an old devil.
Use Second. Again, it would be of use to the saints; especially to those in whom God by his timely call forestalled the devil’s market; as sometimes the Spirit of God takes sin in its quarters before it comes into the field, in the sins of youth. Now such a one not finding those daring sins committed by him that others have been left unto, may possibly not be so affected with his own sin or God’s mercy. O let such a one behold here the wickedness of his heart in the glass of the devil’s nature, and he will see himself as a great debtor to the mercy of God as Manasseh, or the worst of sinners—as in pardoning, so in preventing the same cursed nature with theirs, before it gave fire on God with those bloody sins which they committed. That thou didst not act such outrageous sins, thou art beholden to God’s gracious surprise, and not to the goodness of thy nature, which hath the devil’s stamp on it, [and] for which God might have crushed thee, as we do the brood of serpents before they sting, knowing what they will do in time. Who will say that Fawkes suffered unjustly, because the parliament was not blown up? It is enough that the materials for that massacre were provided, and he taken there with match and fire about him ready to lay the train. And canst thou say, when God first took hold on thee, that thou hadst not those weapons of rebellion about thee—a nature full charged with enmity against God, which in time would have made its own report of what for [the] present lay like unfired powder silent in thy bosom? O Christian, think of this, and be humbled for thy villanous nature, and say, blessed be God that sent his Spirit and grace so timely to stay thy hand—as Abigail to David—while thy nature meditated nothing but war against God and his laws.
Use Third. Again, are the devils so wickedly malicious against God himself? O sirs, take the right notion, of sin, and you will hate it. The reason why we are so easily persuaded to sin is, because we understand not the bottom of his design in drawing a creature to sin. It is with men in sinning as it is with armies in fighting. Captains beat their drums for volunteers, and promise all that list, pay and plunder; and this makes them come trowling in. But few consider what the ground of the war is, against whom, or for what. Satan enticeth to sin, and gives golden promises [of] what they shall have in his service, with which silly souls are one. But how few ask their souls, Whom do I sin against? What is the devil’s design in drawing me to sin? Shall I tell thee? Dost thou think it is thy pleasure or profit he desires in thy sinning? Alas, he means nothing less, he hath greater plots in his head than so. He hath, by his apostasy, proclaimed war against God, and he brings thee, by sinning, to espouse his quarrel, and to jeopard the life of thy soul in defence of his pride and lust; which that he may do, he cares no more for the damnation of thy soul, than the great Turk doth to see a company of his slaves cut off for the carrying on of his design in a siege. And darest thou venture to go into the field upon his quarrel against God? O earth, tremble thou at the presence of the Lord. This bloody Joab sets thee where never came any off alive. O stand not where God’s bullets fly. Throw down thy arms, or thou art a dead man. Whatever others do, O ye saints, abhor the thoughts of sinning willingly; which when you do, you help the devil against God. And what more unnatural than for a child to be seen in arms against his father?