« VorigeDoorgaan »
would be well : We should be able enough to see, and hear, and understand, and know divine things ; and should be ravished with their beauty ; and it would be most natural and easy to love God with all our hearts.
And hence, it is most evident that the supreme Governor of the world has not the least ground or reason to abate his law, or to reverse the threatening ; nor have a rebellious world the least ground or reason to charge God with cruelty, and say, “It is not just that he should require more than we can do, and threaten to damn us for not doing ;” for, from what has been said, it is manifest that the law is holy, just,and good: And that there is nothing in the way of our perfect conformity to it, but our own wickedness, in which we are free, and hearty, and voluntary.; and for which, therefore, in strict justice, we deserve eternal damnation. The law is already exactly upon a level with our natural capacities, and it need not, therefore, be brought any lower : And there is no greater punishment threatened than our sin deserves; there is, therefore, no reason the threatening should be reversed ;-as to the law, all is well, and there is no need of any alteration : And there is nothing amiss, but in ourselves. It is impudent wickedness, therefore, to fly in the face of God and of his holy law, and charge him with injustice and cruelty ; because, forsooth, we hate him so bad that we cannot find it in our hearts to love him ; and are so high-hearted and stout that we must not be blamed. No, we are too good to be blamed in the case, and all the blame, therefore, must be cast upon God and his holy law : Yea, we are come to that, in this rebellious world, that if God sends to us the news of pardon and peace through Jesus Christ, and invites us to return unto him and be reconciled, we are come to that, I say, as to take it as an high affront at the hands of the Almighty. “He pretends to “ offer us mercy,” (say God-hating, God-provoking sinners), “but he only mocks us ; for he offers all upon conditions which we cannot possibly perform.” This is as if they should
say“We hate him so much, and are of so high a spirit, that we can“not find in our hearts to return, and own the law to be just, by
" which we stand condemned, and look to his free mercy, through “ Jesus Christ, for pardon and eternal life ; and, therefore, if he “will offer pardon and eternal life upon no easier terms, he does “but dissemble with us, and mock and deride us in our misery." And since this is the true state of the case, therefore it is no wonder that even infinite goodness, itself, has fixed upon a day when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ : And then shall ungodly sinners be convinced of all their hard speeches which they have ungodlily spoken against the Lord: And then shall the righteousness of all God's ways be made manifest before all the world.
To conclude-God, the great Lord of all, has threatened eternal damnation against all those who do not perfectly keep the law, (Gal. iii. 10,) even although they live and die in the midst of the heathen world...Rom. i. 18, 19, 20; (of which more afterwards.) And at the day of judgment he will exe. cute the threatening upon all, (those only excepted, that are, by faith, interested in Christ and in the new covenant :) and his so doing will evidently be justifiable in the sight of all worlds, on this ground, viz. That they were not under a natural necessity of sinning, but were altogether voluntary in their disobe. dience. Luke xix. 27....But those mine ENEMIES which WOULD Not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.
And this, by the way, is the very thing which stops the mouth of an awakened, convinced, humbled sinner, and settles him down in it, that he deserves to be damned, notwithstanding all his doings, viz. that he is what he is, notby compulsion, or through a natural necessity, but altogether voluntarily. There is nothing more difficult in the whole work preparatory to conversion, than to make the sinner see, and feel, and own, that it is just.... quite just....altogether just and fair for God to damn him. He pleads, that he is sorry for all his sins, and is willing to forsake them all forever, and is resolved always to do as well as he can.
He pleads, that he cannot help his heart's being so bad....that he did not bring himself into that condition, but that he was brought into it by the fall of Adam, which he could not possibly prevent, and which he had no hand in. But when he comes, in a clear and realizing manner, to see and feel the whole truth, viz. that he does not care for God, nor desire to, but is really an enemy to him in his very heart, and voluntarily so, and that all his fair pretences and promises, prayers and tears, are but mere hypocrisy, arising only from self-love, and guilty fears, and mercenary hopes, now the business is done : For, says he, It matters not how I came into this condition, nor whether I can help having so bad a heart, since I am voluntarily just such a one as I am, and really love and choose to be what I am. Rom. vii. 8, 9.... Sin revived and I died. He feels himself without excuse, and that his mouth is stopped, and that he must be forced to own the sentence just; for he feels that it is not owing to any compulsion or natural necessity, but that he is voluntarily and hear. tily such a one as he is : And now, and not till now, does he feel himself to be a sinner, completely so ; for he, all along before, fancied some goodness to be in him, and thought himself in some measure excusable : and now, and not ,xäl now, is he prepared to attribute his salvation entirely to free and sovereign grace. All along before he had something to say for himself, like the Pharisee : But, with the publican, he now sees that he lies at mercy....Luke xviii. 13. This is the very thing that makes all mankind to blame, altogether to blame, for being what they are, namely—that they are voluntarily so; this is the reason they deserve to be damned for being so, and this, when seen and felt by the awakened sinner, effectually stops his mouth.
And this, also, is the very thing that makes believers see themselves wholly to blame for not being perfectly holy, and lays a foundation for their mourning for their want of a perfect conformity to the law. They feel their defects are not the result of a natural necessity, but only of the remains of their old aversion to God, which, so far as they are unsanctified, they are
voluntary in* And hence they cry out, I am carnal, sold under sin, O wretched man that I am !... Rom. vii. 14, 24; and set themselves down for beasts and fools.... Psalm lxxiii. 22.
And finally, this want of a good temper....this voluntary and stubborn aversion to God, and love to themselves, the world and sin, is all that renders the immediate influences of the holy spirit so absolutely necessary, or indeed at all needful, to recover and bring them to love God with all their hearts. A bare representation of what God is, were men of a right temper, would ravish their hearts ; for his beauty and glory are infinite. It is nothing, therefore, but their badness that makes it needful that there should be line upon line, and precept upon precept. It is their aversion to God, that makes any persuasions at all needful ; for, were they of a right temper, they would love God with all their hearts, of their own accord. And surely, were not
* OBJ.“ But does not St. Paul say, in Rom. vii. 18, To will is present with me ; but how to perform that which is good, I find not ?”
Ans. 'Tis true, he had a strong disposition to be perfectly holy, but his disposition was not perfect. He had a strong disposition to love God supremely, live to him entirely,and delight in him wholly, but his whole heart was not perfectly disposed to do so. There was a spirit of aversion to God, and love to sin, remaining in him. In me, that is, in my flesh, dwella no good thing....and this was the ground and cause of all his impotency : So that when he says, To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not, he means, “To be in a measure disposed to love God su
premely, live to him entirely, and delight in him whelly, is natural and
easy ; but how to get my whole heart into the disposition, I find not-it “ is beyond me, through the remains of the flesh, i. e. of my native contra.
riety to God, and love to sin:" Which remaining contrariety to God, and propensity to sin, so far as he was unsanctified, he was voluntary in ; but so far as he was sanctified, he perfectly hated. With my mind, I myself servetbe law of God, but with my flesb the law of sin....ver. 25. And so the spirit lusted against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit ; and these two were contrary the one to the other, and hence he could not do the things that he would...Gal. v. 17.
OBJ. “ But does not St. Paul speak several times, in Rom. vii. as if he
was not properly to blame for his remaining corruptions, when he says, It “is not I, but sin that dwelleth in me !"
Ans. He only means, by that phrase, to let us know that his remaining corruption was not the governing principle in him : according to what he had said in Rom. vi. 14....Sin shall not have the dominion over you, for je are not under the law, but under grace : but does not at all design to insinuate, that he did not see himself to blame, yea wholly to blame, for his remaining corruption....For though he says sometimes, it is not I, but sin that dwelletb in me, yet, at other times, I am carnal, sold under sin...ver. 14. O wretched man that I am....ver. 24-like a broken-hearted penitent. But he could not have mourned for his remaining corruption as being sinful, if he had not felt himself to blame for it.
men very bad indeed, there would be no occasion for his ambassadors with such earnestness to beseech them : We pray you, says the apostle, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God....II. Cor. v, 20. But now, that all external means that can possibly be used....all arguments, and motives, and entreaties, urged in the most forceable manner, should not be able to recover men to God, no not one, in all the world, without the immediate influences of the holy spirit, can surely be attributed to nothing short of this, that an apostate world are, in very deed, at enmity against God, and their contrariety to him is mightily settled and rooted in their hearts--mightily settled and rooted indeed, that Paul was nothing, and Apollos nothing, and all their most vigorous efforts nothing ; so that without the immediate influences of the holy spirit, not one, by them, although the best preachers, of mere men, that ever lived, could be persuaded to turn to God....I. Cor. iii. 7 ; but that the world should, in fact, rise in arms, and put the messengers of heaven to death, seems to argue enmity and malice, to the highest degree. It is men's badness that keeps them from taking in right apprehensions of God, and that makes them blind to the beauty of the divine nature, and that makes them hate God, instead of loving him : but for this, they would love God of their own accord, without any more ado. If God were your father, (says Christ) ye would love me ; ye are of your father the devil, therefore ye hate me. Surely, then, all the world are inexcusable, and wholly to blame, for their continuance in sin, and justly deserve eternal damnation at the hands of God, as was before said : Nor is it any excuse to say,
“God does not give me sufficient grace to make “ me better ;” since I might love God, with all my heart, of my own accord, with all the ease in the world, if I were but of a right temper: Yea, such is his glory and beauty, that I could not but be ravished with it, were I such as I ought to be ; and my necding any special grace to make me love God, argues that I am an enemy to him, a vile, abominable wretch, not fit to live: And to pretend to excuse myself, and say, “ I cannot, “and God will not make me,” is just as bad as if a rebellious