« PreviousContinue »
ly the greatest thing, we need not doubt but that he will beftow life upon us, after all this is already done. It is but a small thing for God actually to bestow eternal life, after it is purchased, to what it is for him to give his own Son to die, to purchase it. The giving Chrift to purchase it, was virtually all; it included the whole grace of God in falvation. When Chrift had purchased falvation at such a dear rate, all the difficulty was got through, all was virtually over and done. It is a fmall thing, in comparifon, for God to beftow falvation, after it has been thus purchased at a full price. Sinners that are juftified by the death of Chrift, are already virtually faved: the thing is, as it were, done; what remains is no more than the necessary confequence of what is done. Chrift when he died made an end of fin; and when he rose from the dead, he did virtually rife with the elect; he brought them up from death with him, and afcended into heaven with them. And, therefore, when this is already done, and we are thus reconciled to God through the death of his Son, we need not fear but that we fhall be faved by his life. The love of God appears much more in his giving his Son to die for finners, than in giving eternal life after Chrift's death.
The giving of Chrift to die for us is here spoken of as a much greater thing, than the actual bestowment of life, on two accounts.
1. That this is all that has any difficulty in it.
2. When God did this for us, he did it for us as finners and enemies. But in actually bestowing falvation on us after we are juftified, we are not look upon as fi iners. After we are juftified, God does not looked on us any longer as finners, but as perfectly righteous perfons; he beholds no iniquity in us. We are no more enemies, for then we are reconciled. When God gave Chrift to die for the elect, he looked on them as they are in themselves; but in actually beftowing eternal life, he does not look on them as they are in themselves, but as they are in Christ.
There are three epithets ufed in the text and context, as appertaining to finners as they are in themfelves. 1. They are without ftrength, they cannot help themselves, verfe 6, 7, 8.
2. They are ungodly or finners.
Natural Men are God's Enemies.
God, though the Creator of all things, yet has fome enemies in the world.
Men in general will own, that they are or have been finners. There are few, if any at all, whofe confciences are fo blinded as not to be fenfible they have been guilty of fin. And most finners will own that they have bad hearts. They will own that they do not love God fo much as they fhould do; and that they are not fo thankful as they ought to be for mercies; and that in many things they fail. And yet few of them are fenfible that they are God's enemies. They do not fee how they can be truly fo called; they are not fenfible that they with God any hurt, or endeavour to do him any.
But we fee that the fcripture fpeaks of them as enemies to God. So in our text, and elfewhere, And you that were fometimes alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works, Col. i. 21. mind is enmity against God, Rom. vii. 7.
And that all natural, or unregenerate men are indeed fo, is what I fhall endeavour now particularly to fhow. Which I propofe to do in the following method:
1. I shall show, in what refpects they are enemies to God.
2. To how great a degree they are enemies.
3. Why they are enemies.
4. I fhall anfwer fome objections.
I. I am to fhow, in what refpects they are enemies to God..
1. Their enmity appears in their judgments; in the judgment and efteem they have of God. They have a very mean efteem of God. Men are ready to entertain a good efteem of those with whom they are friends: they are apt to think highly of their qualities, to give them their due praifes; and if there be defects, to cover them. But thofe to whom they are enemies, they are disposed to have mean thoughts of; they are apt to entertain a dishonourable opinion of them; they will be ready to look contemptible upon any thing that is praife-worthy in them..
So it is with natural men towards God. They en tertain very low and contemptible thoughts of God. Whatever honour and refpect they may pretend and make a show of towards God, if their practice be examined, it will fhow, that they do certainly look upon him to be a Being, that is but little to be regarded. They think him one that is worthy of very little honour and refpect, not worthy to be much taken notice of. The language of their hearts is, Who is the Lord, that I Should obey his voice? Exod. v. 2. What is the Almighty, that we should ferve him? and what profit should we have if we pray unto him? Job xxi. 15. They count him worthy neither to be loved nor feared. They dare not behave with that flight and difregard towards one of their fellow-creatures, when a little raifed above them in power and authority, as they dare and do towards God. They value one of their equals much more than God, and are, ten times more afraid of offending fuch an one, than of difpleafing the God that made them. They caft fuch exceed. ing contempt on God, as to prefer every vile luft before him. And every worldly enjoyment is fet higher in their esteem than God. A morfel of meat, or a few pence of worldly gain, is preferred before him. God is fet laft and loweft in the efleem of natural men.
2. They are enemies in the natural relish of their fouls. They have an inbred diftafte and difrelifh of God's perfections. God is not fuch a fort of being as they
they would have. Though they are ignorant of God, yet from what they hear of him, and from what is manifeft by the light of nature of God, they do not like him. By his being endowed with fuch attributes as he is, they have an averfion to him. They hear God is an infinitely holy, pure, and righteous Being, and they do not like him upon this account; they have no relish of fuch kind of qualifications; they take no delight in contemplating them. It would be a mere task, a bondage to a natural man, to be obliged to fet himself to contemplate thefe attributes of God. They fee no manner of beauty or loveliness, nor tafte any sweetness in them. And upon the account of their diftate of thefe perfections, they diflike all the other of his attributes. They have greater averfion to him because he is omnifcient and knows all things; because his omnifcience is an holy omnifcience. They are not pleafed that he is omnipotent, and can do whatever he -pleafes because it is a holy omnipotence. They are enemies even to his mercy, because it is a holy mercy. They do not like his immutability, because by this he never will be otherwife than he is, an infinitely holy God.
It is from this difrelish that natural men have of the attributes of God, that they do not love to have much to do with God. The natural tendency of the heart of man is to fly from God, and keep at a diftance from him; and to get as far off as poffible from God. A natural man is averfe to communion with God, and is naturally difinclined to thofe exercifes of religion. wherein he has immediately to do with God. It is faid of wicked man," God is not in all his thoughts," Pfal. x. 4. It is evident that the mind of man is naturally averse to thinking about God; and hence, if any thoughts of God be fuggefted to the mind, they foon go away; fuch thoughts are not apt to reft in the minds of natural men. If any thing is faid to them of God, they are apt to forget it: it is like feed that falls upon the hard path, it does not at all enter in, and the fowls U 2
of the air foon catch it away; or like feed that falls upon a rock. Other things will ftick; but divine things. do, as it were, rebound; and if they were caft into the mind, they meet with that there which foon thrufts them out again; they meet with no fuitable entertainment, but are foon chafed away.
Hence alfo it is that natural men are fo difficultly perfuaded to be conftant in the duty of fecret prayer. They would not be fo averse to spending a quarter of an hour, night and morning, in fome bodily labour, but it is because they are averfe to a work wherein they have fo immediately to do with God, and they naturally love to keep at a distance from God.
3. Their wills are contrary to his will. God's will and theirs are exceeding crofs the one to the other. God wills thofe things that they hate, and are most averfe to; and they will thofe things that God hates. Hence they oppofe God in their wills: they set up their wills against the will of God. There is a dread.. ful, violent, and obftinate oppofition of the will of nat-ural men to the will of God.
They are very oppofite to the commands of God. It is from the enmity of the will, that "the carnal anind is not fubject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," Rom. vii. 7. Hence natural men are enemies to God's government. They are not loyal fubjects, but enemies to God, confidered as lord of the world. They are entire enemies to God's authority, 4. They enemies to God in their affections. There is in every natural man a feed of malice against God: yea, there is fuch a feed of this rooted in the heart of man naturally. And it does often dreadfully break forth and appear. Though it may in a great measure lie hid in fecure times, when God lets men alone, and they meet with no great difturbance of body or mind; yet, if God does but touch men a little in their confciences, by manifefting to them a little of his wrath for their fins, this often times brings out the principle of malice againft God, which is exercifed in: dreadful