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mission of sin ? So with regard to those worst of sinners, mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans, when they became vain in their imaginations, God soon gave them up to uncleanness, and the most odious and enormous transgressions.
Blasphemous thoughts often lead to presumption or despair.
Through slight thoughts of God, some men grow bold and daring in sin, as if they bid defiance to heaven and hell; and others sink into the gloomy horrors of desperation, as if all that they had done in religion were mere provocation to God, and had contributed towards heightening their guilt and condemnation. They suppose that it signifies nothing for such wretches as they to pray; or that their prayer must be an abomination, so that they might as well renounce their profession, and walk after the ways of their heart, and the sight of their eyes, and give up all pretensions to holiness, and all hopes of salvation. Sometimes they may go so far as to think, and almost to resolve, to put an end to all, and hide their heads and their trouble in the dust. But such a subject is too frightful to dwell upon. Well may we be afraid of blasphemous thoughts, when they have such a fearful and fatal tendency.
It only remains now to speak,
III. Of the prevention and cure of blasphemous thoughts.
Here it must be premised, that these being for the most part injections of Satan, no effectual remedy can be prescribed with respect to them, any more than with regard to his other devices. Do what we will, he may continue to vex, though he may not be permitted to hurt ús. Some of those hints, however, which would assist us in opposing vain thoughts in general, may be useful with respect to those which are blasphemous in particular. Thus we are exhorted to wash our heart from wickedness, that corruption being more subdued, Satan might not find so much upon which to fasten his temptations. It is the foul. nessof our hearts which gives him such an advantage. Be. often, then, bathing in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness; and then the purer you are, the fewer and fainter, in all probability, will be those blasphemous imaginations. Holiness, however, will not always secure the minds of believers against those bold intruders. Keep therefore your hearts with all diligence, and find out the special causes and occasions of such wicked thoughts.
The better you know whence they come, the more you will be able to guard against them. But I will mention a few more particular directions.
Let the word of God dwell in you richly. When Christ was assaulted with those blasphemous suggestions, he opposed and overcame them with saying, “ It is written." Search the scriptures, therefore: get your judgments well informed, and well established, in the great principles of religion ; and then temptations to atheism and infidelitywould more easily be resisted. If in the scriptures you meet with many things hard to be understood, do not cavil at them, or curiously pry into them, but humbly receive what God thinks proper to reveal. Those who will believe nothing but what they can comprehend; who deny communion with God, because they know not what it is, who reject the satisfaction of Christ, because they cannot see the necessity of it; who disbelieve the efficacious operations of the Spirit in regeneration, because they cannot understand how this great work is effected; who renounce many of the precious truths of God's word, because they cannot reconcile them with their prejudices; must be perpetually harassed with thoughts full of impiety and blasphemy. Take care, therefore, how you make reason, the standard of your religious principles ; and remember that faith, though it never acts contrary to it, often soars highly above it. Encourage its holy and heavenly flights; and however sublime the truth be on which it may rest, hesitate not to do homage to it as the word of God; and defy all the sophistry of the disputers of this world to shake your belief of its divinity.
Take heed of presumptuous sins.
So David prays: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over
then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." The allowance of great sins in practice will lead to the same in speculation. Wilful transgressions, often repeated, stupify conscience, and make way for all manner of sin and blasphemy.
When blasphemous thoughts arise, turn away from them immediately with indignation and disdain. When they bear the Devil's mark in their foreheads, honour them not with a formal examination; but thrust them out, saying, “ Get thee behind me,
, Satan; for thou savourest not the things which be of God.” Wespend not a long time in debate, whether we shall shake off a viper that has fastened upon our
hand. No more should you delay to quench these fiery darts of the wicked one before they have set your whole soul in a flame.
Finally, spread them before the Lord, as Hezekiah did Rabshakeh's blasphemous letter. “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And He. zekiah prayed before the Lord; and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim, bow down thine ears, and hear; open, Lord, thine eyes, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.” Take a like method with your blasphemous thoughts. As you are not a match for principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness, commit yourselves to the care of God. Be as importunate with him, as those blasphemous thoughts are with you ; and then, if the Devil take their part, God will take yours; and which shall prevail is easily determined.
To conclude; let those who are exercised with blasphemous thoughts, be humbled, that their hearts should be so corrupt as to breed those vain and vile imaginations ; or so weak as not to be able to resist and drive them out, when injected by Satan. This certainly calls for deep humiliation.
Let such as have hitherto escaped this humbling exercise, be thankful. It is not from any good will of Satan towards them, but because the favour of God has compassed them as with a shield. The Lord knows their frame; he remembers that they are dust, and will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able to 'bear. Let every believer rejoice in the prospect of a world, where they shall have no evil of this kind to complain of or fear; where the prince of this world shall be cast out; where holiness to the Lord shall be engraven on every thought; and nothing shall be heard, but the voice of much people, saying, * Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty; which was, and is, and is to come.