Satan’s Plot to Defile the Christian With Spiritual Wickedness
Doctrine Third. These wicked spirits do chiefly annoy the saints with, and provoke them to, spiritual wickedness. Sins may be called spiritual upon a double account; either, First. From the subject wherein they are acted; or Second. From the object about which they are conversant.
First Sort of Spiritual Sins, So called from the subject wherein they are acted.
First. Sins may be called spiritual, from the subject wherein they are acted. When the spirit or heart is the stage whereon sin is acted, this is a spiritual sin; such are all impure thoughts, vile affections and desires. Though the object be fleshly lust, yet [they] are spiritual sins, because they are purely acts of the soul and spirit, and break not forth unto the outward man.
[They are heart sins.]
Satan labours what he can to provoke the Christian to heart sins—to stir up and foment these inward motions of sin in the Christian’s bosom. Hence it is, he can go about no duty, but these—his imps, I may call them—haunt him; one motion or other darts in to interrupt him, as Paul tells us of himself, ‘When he would do good, evil was present with him.’ If a Christian should turn back whenever these cross the way of him, he should never go on his journey to heaven. It is the chief game the devil hath left to play against the children of God—now his field-army is broken, and his commanding power taken away which he had over them—to come out of these his holds where he lies skulking, and fall upon their rear with these suggestions. He knows his credit now is not so great with the soul as when it was his slave. Then no drudgery work was so base that it would not do at his command; but now the soul is out of his bondage, and he must not think to command another’s servant as his own. No, all he can do is to watch the fittest season—when the Christian least suspects—and then to present some sinful motion, handsomely dressed up, to the eye of the soul, that the Christian may, before he is aware, take this brat up and dandle it in his thoughts, till at last he makes it his own by embracing it; and this he knows will defile the soul; and, may be, this boy sent in at the window, may open the door to let in a greater thief. Or if he should not so prevail, yet the guilt of these heart sins, yea, their very neighbourhood will be a sad vexation to a gracious heart, whose nature is so pure that it abhors all filthiness—so that to be haunted with such notions, is as if a living man should be chained to a stinking carcase, that wherever he goes he must draw that after him; and whose love is so dear to Christ, that it cannot bear the company of those thoughts without amazement and horror, which are so contrary and abusive to his beloved. This makes Satan so desirous to be ever raking in the unregenerate part, that as a dunghill stirred, it may offend them both with the noisome streams which arise from it.