The Seventh Rule, or Direction.
Take heed of secret declinings, or slidings away from the paths of God into any by paths. For those that professe their desires to walk with God they will not in an open way forsake God, and his waies; but if you be not very watchful over your hearts, you will have them secretly de∣cline away from the waies of God, from those paths where∣in you have had heretofore communion with God, Oh take heed of turning out of the paths of God, of any allure∣ments from the flesh, of any temptations, and especially such temptations as are sutable to your corruptions, they will be alluring you to lead you aside out of the waies of God, and seem to promise waies of contentment to the flesh; Oh take heed of any such thing, take heed of being allur'd through the deceitfulness of the flesh, as the Apostle speaks in the 2 Epist. of Peter, 2. 18. (there he speaks of some false teachers) When they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live inPage 328error. There were some that were escaped from the waies o error, from sinful ungodly waies, and really escaped that is, in their kind, they were not hypocrites, that is, to make shew of one thing and do another, but what they did they did according to the light of their consciences, but yet it was not through the sanctifying saving work of God but through the strength of a natural conscience; and so they were allur'd through the lusts of the flesh, and through wantonness, by those that taught false Doctrine, but they together with their false Doctrine came to that that was sutable to the flesh. I beseech you observe it, some that have been walking with God and then met with these that come with fair shews with that which is false, (and you may know it in this that it gives liberty to the flesh) they think here's a fine, even, and smooth way that I may have content to the flesh in; observe it, there's no such way to allure such as have by the power of the Word escaped from the waies of sin in a great measure, no such way (I say) to allure them as to come and shew them how they may make a profession of godliness and yet have liberty to the flesh too: Oh the Lord deliver yong beginners from the wan∣tons of our age! the wantons that are in our generation that do allure them through the lusts of the flesh, and pro∣mise liberty to them, for so the text saith, While they pro∣mise them liberty they themselves are the servants of corruption: THEMSELVES: Mark, those that promise them liber∣ty, and bring such Doctrine of liberty to you, they Them∣selves are in the mean time the servants of corruption: Oh take heed of declining to the waies of the flesh after thou hast seem'd to begin in the spirit; what hast thou to do in the way of Asher and in the waies of Egypt? Oh thou that heretofore didst seem to converse with God, and to walk with him, what iniquity hast thou found with me saith God? So what evil hast thou found in the waies of God? Do you find them too difficult for you, Oh it is through the baseness of thy heart, because thy heart is not changed and made sutable to that that is spiritual and holy, Oh Page 329 that the Lord would be pleased to cause his Angel to meet with some that are declining from his good and blessed waies! as we read in the book of Genesis, That the Angel met Hager when she was flying from Abrahams family, from the Church of God, and saith he, Hager Sarah's Maid, from whence camest thou? doest thou come from Abraham's family? art thou going from thence? and where dost thou think to find so much good as in Abraham's family, where the presence of God is? So, Oh that God would meet with such as are declining from the good waies of God, Oh thou soul whither art thou going? thou that hast had the Word working upon thy heart and thou wert seem'd to be turned into the good waies of God, whither art thou go∣ing? are these the waies that are like the former waies that thou hast seem'd to walk in? Oh what will be the end of these waies that now thou art in? Indeed they do give contentment unto the flesh more than former waies, but doest thou think that the end of them will be peace? Oh that there were such a messenger from God to meet thee in those waies that thou art walking in, that thou maiest say as the Church doth in the 2. of Hosea, 7. verse, I will return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than it is now: I was wont to have more peace, comfort, and sweet∣nes in conversing with God in holy duties than now I find, I will return to those waies of God; howsoever many loose professors seem to make a scorn of them and deride them, but Lord I am sure I found more sweetness in them then, than now; well I will return to them and labor to walk in them.