Use First. Let this be for trial of thy spiritual state. What entertainment finds Satan when he comes with these spirituals of wickedness, and solicits thee to dwell on them? Canst thou dispense with the filthiness of thy spirit, so thy hands be clean? or dost thou wrestle against these heart sins as well as others? I do not ask, whether such guests come within thy door—for the worst of sins may be found, in the motions of them, not only passing by the door of a Christian, but looking in also, as holy motions may be found stirring in the bosom of wicked men—but I ask thee, whether thou canst find in thy heart to lodge these guests and bid them welcome? It is like, thou wouldst not be seen to walk in the street with such company—not lead a whore by the hand through the town—not violently break open thy neighbour’s house to murder or rob him; but canst thou not under thy own roof, in the withdrawing room of thy soul, let thy thoughts hold up an unclean lust, while thy heart commits speculative folly with it? Canst thou not draw thy neighbour into thy den, and there rend him limb from limb by thy malice, and thy heart not so much as cry Murder, murder? In a word, canst thou hide any one sin in the vance-roof of thy heart, there to save the life of it when inquired after by the Word and Spirit, as Rahab hid the spies, and sent the king of Jericho’s messengers to pursue them, as if they had been gone? Perhaps thou canst say, ‘The adulterer, the murderer is not here,’ thou hast sent these sins away long ago; and all this while thou hidest them in the love of thy soul. Know it, or thou shalt another day know it to thy cost, thou art stark nought. If there were a spark of the life of God or the love of Christ in thy bosom, though thou couldst not hinder such motions in thy soul, yet thou wouldst not conceal them, much less nourish them in thy bosom; when overpowered by them, thou wouldst call in help from heaven against these destroyers of thy soul.
Use Second. Show your loyalty, O ye saints, to God, by a vigorous resistance of, and wrestling against, these spirituals of wickedness.
- Consider, Christian, heart sins are sins as well as any. ‘The thought of foolishness is sin,’ Prov. 24:9. Mercury is poison in the water distilled, as well as in the gross body. Uncleanness, covetousness, murder are such in the heart as well as in the outward act; every point of hell, is hell.
- Consider, Thy spirit is the seat of the Holy Spirit. He takes up the whole heart for his lodging, and it is time for him to be gone when he sees his house let over his head. Defile not thy spirit till thou art weary of his company.
- Consider, There may be more wickedness in a sin of the heart than of the hand and outward man; for the aggravation of these is taken from the behaviour of the heart in the act. The more of the heart and spirit [that] is let out, the more malignity is let in to any sinful act. To backslide in heart, is more than to backslide. It is the comfort of a poor soul, when tempted and troubled for his relapses, that though his foot slides back, yet his heart turns not back, but faceth heaven and Christ at the same time; so to err in the heart is worse than to have an error in the head. Therefore God aggravates Israel’s sin with this, ‘They do alway err in their heart,’ Heb. 3:10. Their hearts run them upon the error; they liked idolatry, and so were soon made to believe what pleased them best. As, on the contrary, the more of the heart and spirit is in any holy service, the more real goodness there is in it, though it fall short of others in the outward expression. The widow’s two mites surpassed all the rest, Christ himself being judge; so in sin, though the internal acts of sin, in thoughts and affections, seem light upon man’s balance, if compared with outward acts, yet these may be so circumstantiated that they may exceed the other in God’s account. Peter lays the accent of Magus’ sin on the wicked thought, which his words betrayed to be in his heart, ‘Pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee,’ Acts 8:22. Saul’s sin in sparing Agag, and saving the best of the sheep and oxen, which he was commanded to destroy, was materially a far less sin than David’s adultery and murder, yet it is made equal with a greater than both, even witchcraft itself, I Sam. 15:23; and whence received his sin such a dye, but from the wickedness of his heart, that was worse than David’s when deepest in the temptation.
- Consider, If Satan get into thy spirit and defile it, O how hard wilt thou find it to stay there? Thou hast already sipped of his broth, and now art more likely to be overcome at last to sit down and make thy full meal of that, which by tasting hath vitiated thy palate already. It were strange, if, while thou art musing, and thy heart hot with the thought of lust, the fire should not break forth at thy lips, or worse.