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and rottenness, and what no stomach can endure to examine, within.
This frame of mind is described in lively colors by the prophet. Isa. Ixv. 2, &c, The words are spoken of Israel (Rom. x. 21.) God's professing people. These walked (i. e. the carnal among them) in a way not good, because it was after their own thoughts, their own corrupt and carnal reason, and not after the truth in the word. They provoked the Lord to anger continually to his face, day by day when they came up to his sanctuary. They sacrificed in gardens, i. e. followed the heathen or wicked world in the spirit of those lusts and tempers, which were indulged openly in idolatrous ceremonies : they burned incense upon altars of brick, i.e. pretended to offer prayer and worship, not upon Christ the true altar upon which no human tool, no mortal aid, was to be lifted up, but upon altars of their own making and devising (as bricks are the fabrications of man) imagining their own will-worship and righteousness would procure an acceptance. And yet these remained among the grades and lodged in the monuments, i.e. they were not brought out from spiritual death, but remained therein as they were born, and they lodge or rest among the dead in sin and in the places of their abode. They eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; not literally but spiritually, for no Jew did this, or, if he had, could not have made the pretence in the next verse concerning superior sanctity: they lived upon the abominabļe trash and in the abominable spirit of this world: it was their food to wallow at least secretly in sin, and their feast to eat of such things as please the world, the flesh, and the devil. And yet, because of some formal attentions, lip-service, and corporal ceremonies, they blindly presumed upon their own righteousness, and arrogantly could say to other men, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou. But God's judgement of them is far otherwise-These are a smoke, an offensive vapor, in my nose; kindling . continual fire of anger against them in all they say or do. And the Lord declared his purpose to reject all these, and to give his blessing to others, as in v. 9. I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains; and mine clect shall inherit and my servants shall dwell there.. Y
This is man--the natural man. What a miserable mortal in his external frame; and, inwardly, what a hideous wretch! Dark, stupid, senseless, bound, enervated, and, to all spiritual hope and goodness, lost and dead!
In this common condition, the mercy of God, arising from motives and counsels all his own, is vouchsafed to his chosen. As brands from the burning, consuming, and in the way to be consumed, lie plucks them from this helpless state, and marks them for his property by an act of his sovereign will. He causes them to know and to feel, that he only had power enough to redeem them from all evil. Indeed, he only was rich enough to provide a ransom; but it cost him dearer than the creation of a thousand worlds; for it cost him the life and sufferings of his Son, whom yet he did not spare, and who would not be spared. Such was the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for their sakes he became poor, that they through his poverty
It hath indeed been frequently seen, that those who have laid the greatest stress upon mere holiness, as a virtue to be found or raised in man and urged it from natural principles, have, in the first instance, been generally unacquainted wherein true holiness consists, making it up in a punctilious and ceremonious attention to outward duties, or in sanctimonious appearances, without a weaning of the heart from the world or winning it to God; and, in the next instance, have been frequently left to fall into some gross misconduct or other, to their own reproach and to the reproach of religion through them. Indeed, this is by no means wonderful; for, when a man presumes upon his own powers, it may be expected, as no effect can rise above its cause, that he will run into evil; corrupt nature being able of itself to produce nothing better.
might be rich. The full price of their redemption was paid; and in consequence of it a glorious liberty was bestowed. The sum is far beyond human or created computation : and therefore the purchased possession, his own dear-bought people and portion, is valued by him accordingly
The liberty, which the Lord bestows, is really life from the dead; and he himself is the life of that liberty. He exercises, augments, carries it on, and supports it, from day to day. Insomuch that his people cannot so properly say of themselves, that they live, as that their Lord liveth in them. When they want the vigor of this divine life, they look by faith to him for a supply: and faith itself, which is the channel of this life, and the root of all other Christian virtues, was given to them for this purpose. Thus they live by faith, and walk by faith : that is, through faith they receive all their spiritual life, and are enabled to proceed in it and to use it. As the rational life flows from the union of the soul with the body, but so as chiefly to arise from the soul itself; so spiritual life flows from the union of the Spirit of Christ with the soul, the Spirit being the first and chief principle of it. For, what the soul is to the human frame, that Christ is, by his Spirit, to the soul. In this way, through infinite wisdom and mercy, the children of God find all their life, Jiberty, holiness, perseverance,
But say some, who understand not these spiritual and experimental truths; “ are we then but mere machines,
** 2 Cor. viii. 9. comp. with Zech. ix. 9. Luke ix. 58. Phil. ii. 7. + Witsu Diss. Epist. ad Huberum. § 68.
acting only as we are acted upon, without any proper volition or determination of our own?"
Nobody asks this question in relation to our bodies, in which the principles of action are far more apparent to our senses; and yet surely they cannot be supposed to be greater objects of divine direction than are our souls. We see, we taste, we smell, we feel, we digest our food, or rather our food is digested in us, our blood circulates, our lungs vibrate, and an inscrutible chemistry is momentarily carrying on throughout our frame; and all this confessedly by the action of God, through the medium of material agents, without any appeal to our will, and generally as much without our attention, as the mode of operation is above our knowledge. This is kept up when we sleep, not less than in our waking hours; in abstraction of thought from the ideal world, as in the most intense applications of our faculties to the substances of matter; when we are engaged in a variety of affairs about us, as when we direct our closest reflections immediately upon ourselves. But will any man say, that he has any share in ordering and supporting this wonderful mechanism, or that it is an automaton raised by him. self? The divine power ordained the faculty, and gives the consciousness, of sight : our wills were not consulted, whether we should have this sense; or, now we have it, whether it shall be affected or not. We taste our food; but can we, if we would, reject the organ, by which we taste, or alter the mode of its sensation? We hear the sounds about us: but, is not the impression from without, and is not the perception within, entirely independent of our volition? We feel a variety of motions
through all our animal frame, not asking our leave or our wisdom to move; some circulating the pleasures of health and strength, and others compelling us to endure the sad reverse : and do we consider ourselves as absolute and unintelligent machines, notwithstanding these impressions of a superior power? or is it rather proper to a senseless machine, than to a living creature, not to be independent of a supreme agent, or not to be capable of resisting his supreme operations? But if, in the faculties of the body, we are thus acted upon, as we undoubtedly are, by the medium or instrumentality of the gross substances about us, as often without and above, as with our consent; and if God perform all this in us and in others, for the final accomplishment of his providential designs:* who can presume to say, that, in the more
* It was a great concession for a man of Abp. Tillotson's persuasion, and extorted no doubt by the force of truth, to say, “God is the fountain and original of all power, from whom it is derived and upon whom it depends, and to whom it is perfectly subject and subordinate. He can do all things at once, and in an instant, and with the greatest ease; and no created power can put any difficulty in his way, much less make any effectual resistance; because omnipotence can check, and countermand, and bear down before it all other powers.” And again, " The' true reason of these things lies much deeper, in the secret providence of Almighty God, who when he pleaseth can so govern and overrule both the understandings and the wills of men, as shall best serve his own wise purpose and design." Serm. before the King and Queen, ix. and x. p. p. 12, and 6. Solomon says, the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water : he turneth it whithersoever he will. Prov. xxi. 1. If the heart of kings be thus in the hand of the Lord, “ruled and governed, disposed and turned, as it seemeth best to his godly wisdom;" it implies most strongly, that no other man's heart can be out of it.