Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright…
1. For the first let us inquire what keeps up and strengthens the natural dominion of sin, and accordingly work against it. There are four things which do it —
(1) One is ignorance. The blindness of the understanding is a principal guard of reigning sin. The devil is a prince of darkness.
(2) A second thing which keeps up the natural dominion of sin, is a violent love of sin.
(3) Another thing which keeps up the dominion of sin is error and deceit; there is a lie in every sin.
(4) A fourth thing which keeps up dominion is custom.
2. What may demolish and break down the natural dominion of sin.
(1) That which doth this, it must have a greater power than sin, for natural dominion goes not off but by a stronger hand.
(2) That which doth this, it must be a contrary nature unto sin.
(3) Again, it must be something which may gain the affections.
(4) Again, it must be something which may breed a stiff and courageous resolution, that the heart will not serve sin, but will go free. And hereupon, against all inward and outward opposition, breaks forth into the use of victorious means.
3. Against actual dominion. Thus for directions against the natural dominion of sin. Now I proceed to some helps against actual dominion, which is the particular prevalency of a Sin into act. Let me premise a proposition or two, and then you shall have the special directions themselves.
(1) Actual dominion (I speak in respect of gross acts) is usually in respect of some particular lusts: which works with more strength in the soul than any other lusts.
(2) Secondly, actual dominion is ordinarily by such a sin which hath the advantage of a natural complexion, and outward condition, and occasions, and affections; upon these doth sin set the temptation, as an engineer doth place his battery upon such a piece, of ground, which doth best advantage and further his shot against a city. A man's natural temper and complexion doth mightily facilitate his acts. Now I come unto some special directions against the actual dominion of a particular lust. First, preserve in thy soul a constant and humble fear, and that will keep off the actual dominion of thy sin (Proverbs 28:14). There be some graces which are, as it were, the guard of other graces: look as faith is a grace which feeds all the rest: so fear is a grace which keeps all the rest.
2. Get a sound and uncorrupt judgment: there be three cases in which a man is apt to fall under the actual dominion of sin. One is, when he thinks or says that the sin is little. Another is, when he saith that his own strength is great. A third is, when he assures himself of easy pardon and recovery.
(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.