The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 36
(... continued from file 35)

Sermon 34. 
The blinding Policies of Satan opened, as the cause of Unbelief, and 
Forerunner of Destruction. 
2 Cor. 4: 3, 4. 
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom 
the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe 
not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine unto them. 
    The aversions of men from Jesus Christ, their only remedy, is 
as much to be admired as lamented; one would think the news of 
deliverance should make the hearts of captives leap for joy, the 
tidings of a Saviour should transport the heart of a lost sinner. A 
man would think a little rhetoric might persuade the naked soul of a 
sinner to put on the rich robes of Christ's righteousness, which 
will cost him nothing but acceptance; or the perishing, starving 
sinner to accept the bread of God which cometh down from heaven, and 
giveth life unto the world. This is the great design I have managed 
in this whole discourse; the centre to which all these lines are 
drawn; many arguments have been used, and many ways attempted to 
prevail with men to apply and put on Christ, and I am afraid, all 
too little. I have but laboured in vain, and spent my strength for 
nought; all these discourses are but the beating of the air, and 
few, if any, will be persuaded to come unto Christ, who is clearly 
opened, and freely offered in the gospel to them. For alas! while I 
am reasoning, Satan is blinding their minds with false reasonings 
and contrary persuasions; the god of this world turns away the ears, 
and draws away the hearts of almost the whole world from Christ; 
"The god of this world "has blinded the minds of them which believe 
not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine unto them.* Satan is a great and jealous 
prince, and is well aware, that so many of his subjects as shall be 
brought to see the misery of their condition, will never endure to 
abide any longer in subjection to him: it is therefore his great 
policy to put out their eyes, that he may secure their souls; to 
darken their understandings, that he may keep his interest firm and 
entire in their wills and affections: and this makes the effectual 
application of Christ so great a difficulty, that, on the contrary, 
it is just matter of admiration that any soul is persuaded and 
prevailed with to quit the service of Satan, and come to Christ. And 
therefore in the last place, to discover the great difficulty of 
conversion, and shew you where it is that all our endeavours are 
obstructed, so that we can move the design no further, with all our 
labouring and striving, reasoning and persuading; as also to mourn 
over and bewail the misery of christless and unregenerate souls, 
with whom we must part, upon the saddest terms; I have chosen this 
scripture, which is of a most awakening nature, if haply the Lord, 
at last, may persuade any soul to come over to Christ thereby. 
    These words come into the apostle's discourse, by way of 
prolepsis; he had been speaking in the former chapter, of the 
transcendent excellency of the gospel above the law, and, among 
other respects, he prefers it to the law in point of clearness. The 
law was an obscure and cloudy dispensation; there was a vail upon 
the face of Moses, and the hearts of the people, that they could not 
see to the end of that which is abolished, but under the gospel we 
all, with open face, behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. 
Against this discourse, the apostle foresaw, and obviated this 
objection; If your gospel be so clear, what is the reason that many, 
who live under the ministration of it, (and they none of the 
meanest, neither for wisdom nor understanding) do yet see no glory, 
nor excellency in it? To this he returns in the words I have read, 
"If our gospel be hid, it is hid from them that are lost, whose eyes 
the god of this world has blinded," &c. q. d. It is true, multitudes 
there are, who see no glory in Christ or the gospel, but the fault 
is not in either; but in the minds of them that believe not. The sun 
shines forth in its glory, but the blind see no glory in it; the 
fault is not in the sun, but in the eye. In the words themselves we 
have three parts to consider: 
    1. A dreadful, spiritual judgement inflicted. 
    2. The wicked instrument by whom it is inflicted. 
    3. The politic manner in which he does it. 
    First, We have here a very dreadful, spiritual judgement 
inflicted upon the souls of men, viz. the hiding of the gospel from 
them: if our gospel be hid; for these words, "Ei de kai esi", are a 
concession, that so it is; a very sad, but undeniable truth. Many 
are there who see no beauty in Christ, nor necessity of him; though 
both are so plainly and evidently revealed in our gospel, "if our 
gospel be hid." It is called our gospel, not as if St. Paul and 
other preachers of it, were the authors and inventors of it; but our 
gospel, because we are the preachers and dispensers of it. We are 
put in trust with the gospel, and though we preach it, in the 
demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, using all plainness of 
speech to make men understand it, yet it is hid from many under our 
ministry: it is hid from their understandings, they see no glory in 
it; and hid from their hearts, they see no power in it. Our gospel, 
notwithstanding all our endeavours, is a hidden gospel unto some, 
this is the sorest, and most dreadful judgement. 
    Secondly, We have here an account of that wicked instrument by 
whom this judgement is inflicted, viz. Satan, called here (by a 
mimesis) the god of this world; not simply and properly, but because 
he challenges to himself the honour of a god, rules over a vast 
empire, and has multitudes of souls, even the greater part of the 
world, in subjection and blind obedience to his government. 
    Thirdly, Here, also, we have an account of the politic manner 
of this government, how he maintains his dominion among men, and 
keeps the world in quiet subjection to him; namely, by blinding the 
minds of all them that believe not; putting out the eyes of all his 
subjects, darkening that noble faculty, the mind, or understanding; 
the thinking, considering, and reasoning power of the soul, which 
the philosophers truly call no "to hegemonikon", the leading and 
directing faculty; for it is to the soul, what eyes are to the body, 
and it is therefore called, "the eyes of the understanding," Eph. 1: 
18. These eyes Satan blinds, i.e. he darkens the mind and 
understanding with ignorance and error; so that when men come to see 
and consider spiritual things, "they see indeed, but perceive not," 
Isa. 6: 9,10. They have some general, confused notions, but no 
distinct, powerful, and effectual apprehensions of those things: and 
this is the way, indeed, none like it, to bar men effectually from 
Jesus Christ, and hinder the application of the benefit of 
redemption to their souls. It is true, the righteous God permits all 
this to be done by Satan, upon the souls of men; but wheresoever he 
finally prevails thus to blind them, it is as the text speaks, "en 
tois apongumenois", in them. that are lost, or appointed of God unto 
perdition. The elect of God are all blinded for a time, but Christ 
applieth unto them his eye-salve, effectually opens the eyes of 
their understandings, and recovers them thereby, out of Satan's 
power and dominion; but as for those who still continue thus 
blinded, the symptoms and characters of eternal death appear upon 
their souls; they are a company of lost men. 
    Doct. That the understandings of all unbelievers are blinded by 
         Satan's policies, in order to their everlasting perdition. 
    Four things must be opened in the doctrinal part of this point. 
    First, What the blinding of the understanding, or hiding of the 
gospel from the understanding, is. 
    Secondly, I shall demonstrate, that the understandings of many 
are thus blinded, and the gospel hidden from them. 
    Thirdly, I shall shew what policies Satan uses to blind the 
minds of men. 
    Fourthly. That this blindness is the sorest judgement, and in 
order to men's everlasting perdition. 
    Sixthly, And then apply the whole. 
    First, We shall enquire what the blinding of the mind, or 
hiding the gospel from it, is. Two sorts of men are thus blinded in 
the world. 
    1. Those that want the means of illumination. 
    2. Those that have the means, but ace denied the blessing and 
efficacy of them. 
    The former is the case of the Pagan world, who are in midnight 
darkness for want of the gospel. The latter is the case of the 
Christian world. The greatest part of them that live within the 
sound of the gospel, being blinded by the god of this world, Isa. 7: 
9, 10. "And he said, Go, and tell this people; hear ye indeed, but 
understand not; and, see ye indeed, but perceive not: Make the heart 
of this people fat, and make their ears heavy; and shut their eyes, 
lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and 
understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." Thus, when 
the Sun of righteousness actually arose on the world, it is said, 
John 1: 5. "The light shined in darkness, but the darkness 
comprehended it not." So we may say of all that light which is in 
the understanding of all unbelievers, what Job speaks of the grave, 
Job 10: 22. "That the light there is as darkness." But more 
particularly, to open the nature of this spiritual blindness, I will 
shew you, 
    1. What it is not opposed unto. 
    2. What it is opposed unto. 
    1. Let us examine what spiritual blindness, or the hiding the 
gospel from the minds of men is not opposed unto: and we shall find, 
    First, That it is not opposed unto natural wisdom; a man may be 
of an acute and clear understanding; eagle-eyed, to discern the 
mysteries of nature, and yet the gospel may be hidden from him. Who 
were more sagacious and quick sighted in natural things than the 
Heathen Philosophers, renowned for wisdom in their generations; yet 
unto them the gospel was but foolishness, 1 Cor. 1: 20, 21. St. 
Augustin confesseth, that before his conversion he was filled with 
offence and contempt of the simplicity of the gospel. Dedignabur 
esse parvulus, saith he, I scorned to become a child again. And that 
great Bradwardine, the profound doctor, who was learned, usque ad 
stuporem, even to a wonder, professed, that when he first read 
Paul's epistles, he despised them, because he found not in them, 
metaphysicum ingenium, those metaphysical notions which he expected. 
Upon this account it was, that Christ brake forth into the 
pathetical gratulation of his Father's love to the elect, Mat. 11: 
25. "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, 
Lord of heaven and earth; because thou hast hid these things from 
the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 
    Secondly, It is not opposed to all light and knowledge in 
spiritual truths. A man may have a true understanding of the 
scriptures, give an orthodox exposition of them, and enlighten the 
minds of others by them; and yet the gospel may be hidden from 
himself, Mat. 7: 22. "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, 
have we not prophesied in thy name!" So Rom. 2: 19. "And art 
confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light to 
them that sit in darkness," &c. A man may show others the way to 
Christ and salvation, whilst both are hid from himself. 
    Thirdly, It is not opposed to all kind of influences upon the 
affections; for, it is possible, the gospel may touch the affections 
themselves, and cause some sweet motions and raptures in them; and 
yet be an hidden gospel to the soul, Heb. 6: 5, 9. 
    But if these three things may consist with spiritual blindness 
unto what then is it opposed? To which I answer, that spiritual 
blindness stands only opposed to that saving manifestation of Jesus 
Christ in the gospel by the Spirit, whereby the soul is regenerated, 
and effectually changed by a real conversion unto God: Where ever 
the gospel thus comes in the demonstration of the Spirit, and of 
power, producing such an effect as this in the soul, it is no longer 
an hidden gospel to that soul, though such persons do not see 
clearly all that glory which is revealed by the gospel; though they 
know but in part, and see darkly as through a glass; yet the eyes of 
their understandings are opened, and the things which belong to 
their peace are not hidden from them. 
    Secondly, But though this be the happiness of some men, yet it 
is demonstrable that the eyes of many are blinded by the god of this 
world, and the gospel is an hidden gospel from them; for, 
    First, Many that live under the gospel are so entirely 
swallowed up in the affairs of this world, that they allow 
themselves no time to ponder the great concernment of their souls in 
the world to come; and judge you, whatever the gifts and knowledge 
of these men are, whether the god of this world has not blinded 
their eyes. If it were not so, it were impossible that ever they 
should thus waste the most precious opportunities of salvation upon 
which their everlasting well being depends, and spend time at the 
door of eternity about trifles which so little concern them. Yet 
this is the case of the greatest number that go under the Christian 
name. The earth has opened her mouth and swallowed up their time, 
thoughts, studies, and strength, as it did the bodies of Corah and 
his accomplices. The first, the freest, yea, the whole of their 
time, is devoted to the service of the world, for even at that very 
time when they present their bodies before the Lord, in the duties 
of his worship, their hearts are wandering after vanities, and 
"going after their covetousness," Ezek. 43: 31. Judge whether the 
god of this world has blinded these men or no, who can see so much 
beauty in the world, but none in Christ, and put an absolute 
necessity upon the vanities of this world, but none upon their own 
salvation. If this be not spiritual blindness, what is? 
    Secondly, The great stillness and quietness of men's 
consciences, under the most rousing and awakening truths of the 
gospel, plainly prove that the god of this world has blinded their 
eyes. For did men see and apprehend the dangerous condition they are 
in as the word represents it; nothing in the world would quiet them 
but Christ. As soon as men's eyes come to be opened, the next 
enquiry they come to make is, "What shall we do to be saved?" It is 
not impossible that a man should hang over hell, see Christ and the 
hopes of salvation going, and the day of patience ending, and yet be 
quiet. 1O! it cannot be, that conscience should let them be quiet in 
such a case, if it were not blinded and stupified; but whilst the 
god of this world, "that strong man armed keepeth the house, all his 
goods are in peace," Luke 11: 21. If once your eyes were opened by 
conviction, a man may then say, be quiet if you can; sit still, and 
let the hopes and seasons of salvation pass quietly away if you can. 
Suppose one should come into the congregation, and whisper but such 
a word as this in your ears, your child is fallen into the fire, and 
is a dying, since you came from home; will it be in the power of all 
friends you have to quiet you, and make you sit still after such an 
information? much less when a man apprehends his own soul in 
immediate danger of everlasting burnings. 
    Thirdly, The strong confidences and presumptuous hopes men have 
of salvation, whilst they remain in the state of nature and 
unregeneracy, plainly shew their minds to be blinded by the policy 
of Satan. This presumption is one of those "paralogismoi", false 
reasonings, by which Satan deludes the understanding, as the apostle 
calls them, James 1: 22. It is the cunning sophistry of the devil, 
fathered by self-love, Prov. 21: 2. "Every way of a man is right in 
their own eyes," and partly by self-ignorance, Rev. 3: 17. "Thou 
saidst I am rich, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that 
thou art poor." You have no fears, no doubts, no ease to propound 
that concerns your future state; and why so? but because you have no 
sight; your consciences are quieted, because your eyes are blinded. 
    Fourthly, The trifling of men with the duties of religion 
plainly discovers the blinding power of Satan upon their minds and 
understandings, else they would never play and dally with the 
serious and solemn ordinances of God at that rate they do; if their 
eyes were once opened, they would he in earnest in prayer, and apply 
themselves with the closest attention of mind to hearing the gospel. 
    There are two sorts of thoughts about any subject of meditation. 
Some think at a distance, and others think close to the subject. 
Never do thoughts of men come so close to Christ, to heaven, and to 
hell, as they do immediately upon their illumination. When John's 
ministry enlightened the people's minds, it is said, Matth. 11: 12. 
"from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven 
suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Surely these 
men were more in good earnest who would receive no repulse, take no 
denial, but even force themselves through all difficulties into 
heaven; and so would it be with you. If the god of this world had 
not blinded your minds you would never pray with so much 
unconcernedness, nor hear with so much negligence and carelessness; 
pray as if you prayed not, and hear as if you heard not. It is with 
many of your hearts as it was with Aristotle, who after a quaint 
oration made before him, was asked how he liked it; truly, said he, 
I did not hear it; for I was thinking all the while of another 
    Fifthly, This also is a plain evidence that the god of this 
world has blinded many men's eyes among us, for that they fear not 
to commit great sins to avoid small hazards and troubles, which all 
the world could never persuade them to do, if they were not hood- 
winked by the god of this world. Those that have seen sin as sin, in 
the glass of God's law, "will chuse as Moses did, to suffer any 
affliction with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures 
of sin, which are but for a season," Heb. 11: 25. Those that have 
seen and felt the evil of sin in the deep troubles of their spirits 
for it, will account all reproaches, all losses, all sufferings from 
men, to be but as nothing to the burthen of sin. 
    Sixthly, The pride and self-conceitedness of many thousands who 
profess Christianity, plainly shew their minds to be blinded by the 
sophistry of Satan, and that they do not understand themselves, and 
the woful state of their own souls. Those that see God in the 
clearest light, abhor themselves in the deepest humility, Isa. 6: 5. 
John 43: 5. If ever the Lord had effectually opened your eyes by a 
clear discovery of your state by nature, and the course of your 
life, under the efficacy and influence of continual temptations and 
corruptions, how would your plumes fall? None in the world would 
rate you lower than you yourselves would. By all which it appears 
that multitudes are blinded by the god of this world. 
    Thirdly, In the third place we are to consider what policies 
Satan useth to blind the minds of them that believe not, and we 
shall find there are three sorts of policies practised by the god of 
this world upon the minds and understandings of men, which he 
darkens, by 
    1. Hindering the reception of gospel light. 
    2. Obstructing the efficacy of it when received. 
    3. Making misapplication of it to other purposes. 
    First, It is a great policy in Satan, to blind the 
understandings of men, by hindering and preventing the reception of 
gospel-light, which he does especially these five ways; 
    First, By tempting the dispensers of the gospel to darken the 
truths thereof, in the delivering of them, to shoot over the heads 
of their hearers, in lofty language and terms of art, so that common 
understandings can give no account, when the sermon is done, what 
the preacher would have; but, however, commend him for a good 
scholar, and an excellent orator. I make no doubt but the devil is 
very busy with ministers in their studies, tempting them, by the 
pride of their own hearts, to gratify his designs here in; he 
teaches them how to paint the glass, that he might keep out the 
    I acknowledge, a proper, grave, and comely stile, befits the 
lips of Christ's ambassadors; they should not be rude and careless 
in their language, or method. But this affectation of great swelling 
words of vanity, is but too like the proud Gnostics, whom the 
apostle is supposed to tax for this evil, Jude ver. 16. "This is to 
darken counsel by words without knowledge, Job 31: 2. To amuse and 
bemist poor ignorant souls, and nullify the design of preaching: for 
every thing is accounted so far good, as it is good to the end it is 
ordained for. A sword that has an hilt of gold, set thick with 
diamonds, is no good sword, if it has no edge to cut, or want a good 
back to follow home the stroke. O that the ministers of Christ would 
chase rather sound, than great words, such as are apt to pierce the 
heart, rather than such as tickle the fancy; and let people beware 
of furthering the design of Satan against their own souls, in 
putting a temptation upon their ministers, by despising plain 
preaching. The more popular, plain, and intelligible our discourses 
are, so much the more probable they are to be successful; that is 
the most excellent oratory, that persuades men to Christ. 
    Secondly, Satan hinders the access of light to the 
understandings of men, by employing their minds about impertinent 
things, while they are attending upon the ordinances of God; thus he 
tempted them, in Ezek. 33: 31, 32. "And they come unto thee as the 
people cometh, and they sit before thee, as my people; and they hear 
thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they shew 
much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo! 
thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant 
voice." The modulation of the prophet's voice was very pleasing to 
their ears, but meanwhile their fancies and thoughts were wandering 
after their lusts; their hearts were full of earthly projects. 
    Thirdly, Satan hinders the access of light to the 
understandings of men, by raising objections, and picking quarrels 
with the word, on purpose to shake its authority, and hinder the 
assent of the understanding to it, and so the word makes no more 
impression than a fable, or a romance would do. And never did this 
design of Satan obtain more than in this atheistical age, wherein 
the main pillars and foundation of religion are shaken in the minds 
of multitudes. The devil has persuaded many, that the gospel is but 
a cunningly-devised fable; fabula Christi, as that blaspheming pope 
called it; that ministers must say something to get a living. That 
heaven and hell are but fancies, or at most things of great 
uncertainty, and doubtful credit. This being once obtained, the door 
of the soul is shut against truth. And this design of Satan has 
prospered the more in this generation, by the corrupt doctrines of 
seducing spirits, "Which have overthrown the faith of some," 2 Tim. 
2: 18. And partly from the scandalous lives of loose and vain 
professors, the gospel has been brought into contempt; but 
especially by Satan's artificial improvement of the corrupt natures 
of men in an age wherein conscience has been so much debauched, and 
Atheism thereby spread as a gangrene in the body politic. 
    Fourthly, Satan hinders the access of light, by helping 
erroneous minds to draw false conclusions and perverse inferences 
from the great and precious truths of the gospel; and thereby 
bringing them under prejudice and contempt: Thus he assists the 
errors of men's minds about the doctrine of election: when he either 
persuades them, that it is an unreasonable doctrine, and not worthy 
of credit, that God should chose some, and refuse others every way 
as good as those he has chosen; or, if there be any certainty in 
that doctrine, then men may throw the reins upon the neck of their 
lusts, and live at what rate they list; nor if God has chosen them 
to salvation, their wickedness shall not hinder it, and if he have 
appointed them unto wrath, their diligence and self-denial cannot 
prevent it. 
    Thus the doctrine of free grace is by the like sophistry of 
Satan turned into lasciviousness. If grace abound, men may sin the 
more freely; and the shortness of our time upon earth, which in its 
own nature awakens all men to diligence, is, by the subtilty of 
Satan, turned to a quite contrary purpose, "Let us eat and drink, 
for tomorrow we die." 
    Fifthly, Satan darkens the minds of men, and shuts them up 
against the light, by blowing them up with pride and self- 
conceitedness, persuading them that they know all these things 
already, and causing them to contemn the most weighty and precious 
truths of God, as trite and vulgar notions. The word cannot be 
received without meekness and humility of mind, James 1: 21. Psal. 
25: 8, 9. and pride is the nurse of ignorance, 1 Tim. 6: 4. 1 Cor. 
8: 7. The devil is aware of this, and therefore blows up the pride 
and conceitedness of men's hearts all that he can: And this 
temptation of his generally prevails wherever it meets with a 
knowing head, matched with a graceless and unsanctified heart. And 
thus we see by what wiles and policies Satan keeps out the light, 
and prevents the access of it to the minds of men. 
    But if he miss his design here, and truth gets into the mind, 
    Secondly, He labours to obstruct the efficacy and operation of 
the light; and though it do shine into the understanding, yet it 
shall be imprisoned there, and send down no converting influences 
upon the will and affections: And this design he promotes and 
manages divers ways. 
    First, By hastening to quench convictions betimes, and nip them 
in the bud. Satan knows how dangerous a thing it is, and destructive 
to his interest, to suffer convictions to continue long; and 
therefore it is said of him, Matth. 13: 19. When any "one heareth 
the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the 
wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart." 
Satan is compared in this scripture to the fowls in the air, which 
pick up the seed before it take any root in the earth. The devil is 
very jealous of this, and therefore labours all he can to destroy 
the word before it comes to operate upon the heart; which he does 
sometimes by the cares of the world, and sometimes by vain 
companions, who prove mere quench coals unto the beginning 
convictions. One sinner destroyeth much good. 
    Secondly, No sooner does the god of this world observe the 
light of truth begin to operate upon the heart, but he obstructeth 
that design by procrastinations and delays, which delude and baffle 
convinced souls; he persuades them if they will alter their course, 
it will be time enough hereafter, when such encumbrances and 
troubles in the world are over; if he prevail here, it is a thousand 
to one but the work miscarries. James 1: 13, 14. If the hearer of 
the word be not a doer, i.e. a present doer, while the impressions 
of it are fresh upon the soul, he does but deceive himself: For it 
is with the heart, as it is with melted wax; if the seal be clapped 
to it presently, it will receive a fair impression; but if it be let 
alone, but for a little while, you can make none at all; it was 
therefore David's great care and wisdom to set about the work of 
religion under the first impetus, or vigorous motion of his heart 
and affections. Psal. 119: 60. "I made haste, and delayed not to 
keep thy commandments." Multitudes of souls have perished by these 
delays. It is a temptation incident to all that are under beginning 
convictions, especially young persons, whom the devil persuades that 
it were no better them madness in them to abridge and deny 
themselves so much delight and pleasure, and steep their youthful 
thoughts in such a melancholy subject as religion is. 
    Thirdly, If all this will not do, but convictions still 
continue to get ground in the conscience, then he endeavours to 
scare and fright them out of their convictions, by representing to 
them the inward terrors, troubles, and despairs into which they are 
about to plunge themselves, and that henceforth they must never 
expect a pleasant day, or comfortable hour. Thus does the god of 
this world blind the minds of them that believe not, both by 
hindering the access of light to the mind, and the influence of it 
upon the heart. 
    Thirdly, There is yet one policy of Satan to keep souls in 
darkness, and that is, by the misapplication of truth; persuading 
them, that whatsoever they read or hear of the misery and danger of 
christless and unregenerate persons, does not in the least touch or 
concern them, but the more notorious and profane part of the world; 
and by this policy he blinds the minds of all civil and moral 
persons. Thus the "Pharisees trusted in themselves that they were 
righteous, and despised others. And so the Laodiceans thought 
themselves rich, and increased with goods; that is, in a very safe 
and good condition. Now there are divers things notably improved by 
Satan's policy, in order to these misapplications of truth. As, 
    First, The freedom of their lives from the most gross 
pollutions of the world, Mat. 19: 20. "All these things have I kept 
from my youth up." A civil, sober course of life is a must effectual 
blind before the eyes of many n man's conscience. 
    Secondly, It is the policy of Satan to prevent convictions by 
conviction; I mean effectual convictions, by convictions that have 
been ineffectual, and are now vanished away. Thus the troubles that 
some persons have been under, must pass for their conversion, though 
the temper of their heart be the same it was: Their ineffectual 
troubles are made use of by the devil to blind them in the true 
knowledge and apprehension of their condition. For these men and 
women can speak of the troubles they have had for sin, and the many 
tears they have shed for it; whereby thorough conviction is 
effectually prevented. 
    Thirdly, Gifts and knowledge are improved by the policy of 
Satan against the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, and our own estate 
by nature. As conviction is improved by Satan's policy against 
conviction, so is knowledge against knowledge. This was the case of 
them in Rom. 2: 17, 18. "Thou art called a Jew, and restest in the 
law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approves 
the things that are excellent; being instructed out of the law, and 
art confident that thou thyself art a guide to the blind," &c. And 
this is the temptation and delusion of knowing persons, who are so 
far from being blind in their own account, that they account 
themselves the guides of the blind: Yet who blinder than such men? 
    Fourthly, External reformation is improved by the policy of 
Satan against true spiritual reformation, and passes current up and 
down the world for conversion; though it serve only to strengthen 
Satan's interest in the soul, Matth. 12: 44. and for want of a real 
change of heart, does but increase their sin and misery, 2 Pet. 2: 
20. This is the generation that is pure in their own eyes, and yet 
are not washed from their filthiness. The cleanness of their hands 
blinds them in discovering the foulness of their hearts. 
    Fifthly, The policy of Satan improves diligence in some duties, 
against the convictions of neglect in other duties. The external 
duties of religion, as hearing, praying, fasting, against the great 
duties of repenting and believing. This was their case, Isa. 58: 2, 
3. "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation 
that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God. 
They ask of me the ordinances of justice, they take delight in 
approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou 
seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no 
knowledge?" Thus duty is improved against duty, the externals 
against the internals of religion, and multitudes are blinded this 
    Sixthly, The policy of Satan improves zeal against zeal; and 
thereby blinds a great part of the world: he allows men to be 
zealous against a false religion, if thereby he may prevent them 
from being zealous in the true religion. He diverts their zeal 
against their own sins, by spending it against other men's. Thus 
Paul was once blinded by his own zeal for the law, Acts 22: 3. And 
many men, at this day, satisfy themselves in their own zeal against 
the corruptions of God's worship, and the superstitions of others, 
who never felt the power of true religion upon their own hearts; a 
dangerous blind of Satan. 
    Seventhly, The policy of Satan improves the esteem and respect 
men have for the people of God against their great duty and interest 
to become such themselves, Rev. 3: 1. "Thou hast a name that thou 
livest, but thou art dead." It is enough to many men that they 
obtain acceptation among the saints, though they be none of that 
number; the good opinion of others begets and confirms their good 
opinion of themselves. 
    Eighthly, The policy of Satan improves soundness of judgement, 
against soundness of heart. An orthodox head against an orthodox 
heart and life; dogmatical faith, against justifying faith. This was 
the case of them before-mentioned, Rom. 2: 18, 19. Men satisfy 
themselves, that they have a sound understanding, though, at the 
same time, they have a very rotten heart. It is enough for them that 
their heads are regular, though their hearts and lives be very 
    Ninthly, The policy of Satan improves the blessings of God 
against the blessings of God, blinding us by the blessings of 
providence, so as not to discern the want of spiritual blessings: 
persuading men that the smiles of providence in their prosperity, 
success, and thriving designs in the world, are good evidences of 
the love of God to their souls, not at all discerning how the 
prosperity of fools deceives them, and that riches are given often 
to the hurt of the owners thereof. 
    Tenthly, The policy of Satan improves comfort against comfort, 
false and ungrounded comforts under the word, against the real 
grounds of comfort lying in the soul's interest in Christ. Thus many 
men finding a great deal of comfort in the promises, are so blinded 
thereby, as never to look after union with Christ, the only solid 
ground of all true comfort, Heb. 6: 6, 9. 
    And thus you see how the god of this world blindeth the minds 
of them that believe not, and how the gospel is hid to them that are 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 37...)

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