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shewed that a child of God could not sin; “ Whosoever is born of God sinneth not,” 1 John v. 18; but that Prodigalis was not one of them, for he sinned in heart, in thought, and in word, and was guilty of the sins of omission and commission, yea, of the sin of rebellion also, both in heart and in lip.
Then the plaintiff asked if he could use the common pleas of bible saints. Canst thou say, with Hezekiah, “ I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight,” 2 Kings xx. 3. Has thy heart been perfect? has it not been altogether perverse and froward ? and have not thy lips muttered perverseness, and thy tongue used deceit? yea, and thou hast even fled from the work of God. And canst thou plead like Jeremiah; “ As for me I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee?” Jer. xvii. 16. Thou art so far from being able to use such pleas as these, that thou hast run from the work, and by thy peevish temper hast cast a slur upon it. Canst thou say, “Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof?” Nehem. xiii. 14. Nay, said the plaintiff, thou hast been at times so far from this, that thou hast secretly wished that thou never hadst opened thy mouth at all. The plaintiff further shewed that Prodigalis had been at times so hot upon religion as to neglect secular
business, instead of being a prudent man, and guiding his affairs with discretion, Psalm cxii. 5; therefore could never use the common plea of Job; “ If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain, let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley,” Job xxxi. 38, 40.
Ahimaaz. O what a malicious plaintiff, what a subtle attorney, and what a keen accuser that old serpent is! with what diligence does he watch for his opportunities to tempt poor thoughtless mortals! It seems to be his whole study and anxiety; as the Saviour intimated to Peter, when he said, “ Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not,” Luke xxii. 31, 32.
Cushi. To dishonour God, oppose his gospel, disturb his saints, and ruin sinners, is his whole employ; however, all his accusations could not sink Prodigalis into despair, for he had got a good hope at the bottom, which is an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, Heb. vi. 19. Prodigalis was persecuted by Satan, but not in despair; he was cast down, but not destroyed, 2 Cor. iv. 9. Indeed, at last he made a very good use of Satan's accusations; for as Satan accused him of various sins, Prodigalis began to confess them to God as fast as the devil brought them forth; this is making the best of a bad matter, and outshooting the enemy with his own bow. The accuser, finding
Prodigalis at this work, soon ceased his accusations, and began to dispute with him about his sonship. The plaintiff shewed, that the saints of God in the days of old could work miracles, and cast out devils; but Prodigalis was so far from that power that he could not deliver himself from a temptation, much less work miracles. The poor soul on a sudden began to find the word of God flow in upon his mind, and he opened his mouth against his accuser in the following manner:
The defendant sheweth, that many have worked miracles that will never be saved. “Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Unto whom the Saviour will say, “I never knew you.” The Egyptian magicians worked miracles, and yet were no children of God. Devils may work miracles, or lying wonders, and be devils still. Many workers of miracles the Saviour will refuse in the great day; but a pardoned sinner, a believer in his name, he will never disown. The defendant shewed moreover, that the devil wanted the Saviour to satisfy him of his being the Son of God, by starting an “if,' and desiring a miracle: “ If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But the Saviour would not satisfy his adversary by a miracle, but left him to doubt who he was, or to find it out: which Satan soon did, when he perceived that no temptation gained ground. But he felt who he was when he entered upon his ministry; cast out devils; and by his own almighty power began to destroy Satan's works.
The adversary gaining no ground upon Prodigalis by this, went back and puzzled him again upon the old text, “ Whosoever is born of God sinneth not:" and here be foiled the poor man; for he had not a right understanding of that text; nor could he with conscience use the ancient saints' common pleas. On these two heads the plaintiff gained ground: therefore Prodigalis was obliged to turn away his ears from common pleas, and make use of them that are too seldom used. For after the accuser had gained a considerable advantage of him from the text above quoted; namely, that he that is born of God sinneth not, the defendant cried out, “ The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin,” 1 John i. 7. This put the accuser to silence. The defendant finding that, produced another promise, saying, it is written, “ Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you,” Luke x. 19. This weakened the temptation greatly: therefore Progalis followed him up again, saying, it is written, “ My heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord :” in love my heart is fixed; nor can all your wiles ever make me hate my Sovereign, or make me loyal in your interest: therefore I am upon the rock; and it is written, that “ the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Matt. xvi. 18. It is written,
it is written, gives a terrible blow to the accuser : he cannot stand the sword of the Spirit, nor the power of the Saviour, who is the sinner's only plea. · No falsehood can stand the touch of celestial temper,' says Milton.
Ahimaaz. It is a blessed thing to be well instructed in the word of God: the word of truth is both sword and shield. It is through the comforts of the scriptures we have hope. The Bible should be read by every believer as the will of his heavenly Father, in which lies his vast inheritance; secured by absolute and unconditional promises, which were made to Christ, and to us in him, and all ratified with a divine Yea and Amen.
The whole covenant of promise that was made with the Saviour, and all the promises and blessings of that covenant, were given by the Father to the Son, and by the Son to us : “ For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me,” John xvii. 8. And all these covenant promises and blessings will be found in the church in the great day, when the earth and all her works will be burnt, up; yea, when all books are burnt up, Bibles and all; the Spirit of God, and the word of God, will then be found in the church of Christ. “ As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth,