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their ownselyes, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphes mers, having a form of Godliness, but denying the power of it.”
But methinks I hear some distressed person say, " How shall I know whether these blasphemous thoughts be suggested by Satan, or must be ascribed to myself?" I answer, if they come in suddenly and violently, without any previous ground, and bring gloomy and frightful apprehensions with them, it is a sign that they come from Satan ; for wicked thoughts that proceed from our own depravity, are more natural to us : they insinuate themselves by degrees, and occasion less disturbance. Again, if they be so absurd and gross as to be even contrary to the common light of nature, they betray their original ; for, in general, natural depravity works in a lower sphere, and has some more visible foundation for its wickedness; especially if they pour in upon you when your hearts are most set against them; when you have, with the greatest seriousness, been endea. vouring to seek God; when you have some solemn duty before you, in which
wish to be more than usually engaged; it is easy to say whence they originated. Grace is then triumphant; and the great enemy, not bearing to see you admitted to that communion with God from which he is for ever excluded, does all that he can to hinder or disturb you. In short, most of those horrible thoughts in God's children, are to be imputed to the malice of their great adversary the devil, who goes about, seeking opportunities to distress where he cannot devour. But in the wicked they more commonly seem to arise from their own corrupt hearts; because Satan, having them
already in his power, will not think it his interest to disturb and harass them, so much as to keep them quiet and secure.
But you ask again,“ If blasphemous thoughts come from Satan, how far are they to be considered as sins, and to be repented of and lamented by us.”—
I answer; as they are injected without your compliance with them, or entertainment of them, they are not your sins, but Satan's temptations. They are sometimes thrown in without your consent or delight; and then the guilt of them is to be imputed, not to you, but to the devil. But the least approbation or allowance, renders you in some measure guilty, Satan cannot force you to sin; he can only tempt and allure; and if you yield to his solicitations, the fault is your own. Very seldom, however, does he inject a blasphemy, but it leaves guilt behind. As a dirty ball, thrown against the wall, though it immediately rebound, yet makes an impression; so those blasphemous injections, though we hate and resist them, yet too often stir up, and expose, some latent corruption. If you should (as I hope you will) bę able to say with the apostle Paul, " It is not I, but sin that dwelleth in me; and what I do, I allow not;”. yet the best and safest way is to be humbled for these
uggestions, whether they come originally from Satan, or our own depravity. Whether we accede to them more or less, there is ground enough for humiliation, and need for fresh application to that fountain which Christ has opened for sin and for uncleanness.
“ Are these things so?” cries another: “What shall I think of myself, who have been for a long time pestered with such horrible thoughts as make me a
terror to myself, and, I fear, an abomination to God? What will become of me? Woe is me! I am un. done!”
Your case is far from being hopeless. hear the best saints, and the dearest of God's children, complaining of the same: and who or what are you, that you should expect to be exempted? Wicked men, it is true, have blasphemous thoughts; but think what a wide difference there is between you and them. Such blasphemies are suitable to their disposition and practice ; but your heart and life are oppo. site to them. They are mostly taken up with such thoughts; but they are only thrown in upon you now and then, and in a time of more than common temptation. They allow of them, and are seldom troubled about them; but you resist and abhor them; and, if
1 you could help it, would never suffer them to lodge within you, or even to enter your hearts. If they be at any time distressed on account of wicked thoughts, their cry is, “ O what shall I suffer in consequence of them?” But you groan under them, because you fear that God will be dishonoured. So you see that, though you have sometimes the same wicked thoughts as they, yet you have no reason to rank yourselves with them, while you have proof of such a happy difference. No, Christians; blasphemous thoughts are not always signs of an unrenewed state, nor are they always to be considered as sins. Jesus Christ himself, the holy, harmless, undefiled Jesus, was assaulted with them; though the prince of this world found nothing in him to fasten his temptation upon, What more horrid blasphemies could the devil harass any one with, than he tried on the Captain of our salvation? Yet in that conflict, Christ encountered and overcame the powers of darkness, and laid the surest foundation for our faith and hope: since he can now be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having experienced the same temptations himself, he is able to pity and to succour those who are exposed to a like trial. Be assured, that “ God
" is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way for your escape, that so ye may be able to bear it." Watch and pray, and resist steadfastly in the faith, and then you have nothing to fear. He will subdue your iniquities. He will bruise Satan under your feet shortly; and whatever temptations you meet with, his grace shall be sufficient for you ; and, in the end, you shall be more than conquerors through him who has loved you.
II. Let us now enumerate some of the sad effects and consequences of blasphemous thoughts.
They tend to weaken our faith.
By degrees, they bring us to question the reality of those things which we have formerly assented to as indisputable. If, for example, we have long been accustomed to the blasphemous suggestions, that there is no God, or that he is not so holy, or so just, or so good, as he is represented, we may at last mistake doubts for demonstrations, and plainly deny what we once firmly believed. Or, if the perfections, or the promises, or the Son of God, be set before us, we turn away from them, and reject the important blessings which they exhibit. When trials come, we are carried to and fro, the sport of every wind, a prey to any temptation; and nothing but sovereign grace prevents us from making shipwreck of faith, and finally perishing in the day of adversity.
Blasphemous thoughts exceedingly trouble and terrify the conscience.
Every sin tends to make the conscience uneasy ; but these fill it with horror and amazement: so that sometimes the distressed soul cries out with David,
My bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long; for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture is turned into the drought of summer:” and with Job,“ The arrows of the Almighty stick fast in me, the poison thereof drinketh up my spirits.” The agony of their minds is inexpressible. They are startled at themselves, and think, that if the world knew what shocking thoughts were then in their minds, they would be almost ready to stone them. They live in the frightful expectation of some dread, ful judgment, which they think God must inflict on such monsters of impiety. They tremble at the recollection of their own thoughts, and at the very apprehension of a relapsé. Sometimes one blasphemous suggestion will so terrify them, that for many days they are not able to recover themselves. Even bold and daring sinners, who can venture on great transgressions, have felt their hearts melting in them like wax at those monstrous suggestions.
They lead also to profane and loose practice.
Evil thoughts produce evil actions. When we are informed that “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,” it immediately follows, “ they are corrupt, they have done abominable works; there is none that doeth good.” If a man think that God cannot see, or will not punish him, why needs he fear the com