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a pure soul into a corrupt body is a just punishment of the sin of all men in Adam; so some. But this is generally agreed upon, that original sin is not in some men more, in some less, but in every man equally, as all men do equally from Adam participate the nature of man, and are equally the children of wrath; and the reason why some are more civil, others outrageous, proceedeth from God's bridling some and leaving others : and, truly, restraining grace is a choice mercy, in its kind, else what would not men do? The truth is, the origin of sin is within : “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed of his own lust,” saith the Apostle; there lust is the father : "and lust when it hath conceived bringeth forth sin ;"* there lust is the mother too. “ Hence,” saith one, " there is no sin but might be committed if Satan were dead and buried : original sin is virtually every sin ; and could one kill the devil, yet you cannot name the sin that original depravity would not entice a man to : suppose it possible for a man to be separated from the contagious company of wicked men, and out of the reach of Satan's suggestions, nay, to converse in the midst of renowned saints, yet that man hath enough in himself to beget, conceive, bring forth, and consummate all actual sins.”+ Well then, sirs, let all men behold the foul face of their hearts in the pure glass of the law of God, and they will see a strange and astonishing spectacle, which would end either in evangelical repentance or final despair; as one saith
If apparitions make us sad,
mad..HERBERT. There is a necessary and profitable sight of sin, which
* James i. 13-15. See Capel on Tempt. p. 38–43. and p. 65—70, where it is excellently and fully handled.
† Reynolds’ Sinf. of Sin, p. 151, &c.
drives the soul out of itself to Jesus Christ. O labour for that! Take the candle of the word, and go down into the dark dungeon of your hearts_search yourselves, lest the Lord search you as with candles_know and acknowledge the plague of your own hearts—be not afraid to know the worst of yourselves. It is better we should set our sins in order before us while there is hope of pardon, for our humiliation, than that God should set them in order before us at the great and last day, for our eternal condemnation. We may say of an impenitent soul as the prophet of his servant,* “ Lord, open his eyes,” and surely he shall see a troop of lusts. The mountain of his proud heart is covered with monstrous armed sins, that fight against the soul. O that the thoughts of your hearts may be discovered, pardoned, and purged out, lest, by wilful sinning, you heap up "wrath against the day of wrath,”+ and your souls perish for want of a treasure of grace, and by reason of this dreadful treasure of sin and guilt.
IV. The last sort of persons that fall under the lash of a sharp and just reproof are, unprofitable Christians, who, though they be sincere for the main, and have the root of the matter, still have not yet gained this treasure. Alas, sirs ! there is none of us but we have too much bad, and too little good treasure in our hearts. We cannot but know all the wickedness that our hearts are privy to, and cannot our consciences discover an emptiness, and vacuity of good ? O what a chaos of confusion is in our hearts! And whence comes this? Have we not had means of gathering a large treasure ? What have we done with all our ordinances, sermons, sacraments, mercies, afflictions ? If we had been diligent, we might have furnished our souls with truths, * 2 Kings vi. 17.
+ Rom. ii. 5.
graces, comforts, and experiences. What could have been done more for us? And have we a treasure proportionable to our enjoyments? Whence then are we so unfit for, and untoward in, duties-so slight, dead, and trifling in performances--so unprepared for, and unprofitable under, ordinances—so unthankful for mercies, discontented under crosses—so weak in resisting temptations, subduing corruptions—so unwilling and unprepared for the communion of saints? Oh, whence is it, that we are so apt to sit loose from God—so little fit for fellowship with him, and so much at a distance from him ? Certainly the reason is obvious—we have not such a treasure as becomes saints. Especially the great reason why we are so little skilful in the heavenly duty of meditation is, the want of a treasure of holy thoughts; when we are alone we cannot fix our minds upon a heart-affecting subject, or, at least, cannot pursue it, till our hearts be deeply affected; but our thoughts are off and on, very inconsistent, incoherent, independent, like the rambling discourses of a madman, or the ranging motions of a spaniel, or like "the eyes of a fool, that are in the ends of the earth.”* We run from object to object in a moment, and one thought looks like a mere stranger to another; should our thoughts be patent, or an invisible notary acquainted with them, write them down, and repeat them to us, how should we blush and be confounded in the rehearsal! As it is recorded of Dr. Potter, that hearing the fellows of the college talk of trivial things, said nothing; but after they had done talking he thus bespake them—“And now, my masters, will you hear all your extravagant discourses, for I have strictly observed and marked what you said; and he told them every whit.”+ So suppose some should present to our
* Prov. xvi. 24. + Mr. Clark's Life of Dr. Potter, p. 393.
ears or eyes a relation of our wild imaginations in one hour's time, what a strange medley of nonsense would there be! We may say,
“ The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity,” Psalm xciv. 11. When we have summed up all the traverses, reasonings, and discourses of the mind, we may write this at the bottom as the total sum—“All is vanity, nothing but vanity; yea, vanity in the abstract.” And what is the reason of all this, but a want of the fore-mentioned treasure—a stock of truths, graces, comforts, and experiences.
I shall propound these four considerations, briefly for the saints' conviction and humiliation:
1. Are not these spiritual things worth hoarding up? Look about you, through the whole creation, and see if you can find any thing better to make a treasure of. David saith, “I have seen an end of all perfection,” Psalm cxix. 96. All outward enjoyments are a scant garment, that cannot cover us, or rotten rags, and are soon worn out; but one part of this treasure, that is, God's commandment is of a large extent ; hence saith that good man, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad,”—it reaches from heaven to earth, from great to small, to all sorts of sinners, to all the faculties of the soul, to and through all eternity. Thus long and broad is the Christian's treasure; where then can you mend yourselves for a treasure ? Spiritual blessings have all dimensions of perfection—these are the cream and flower of all blessings; no other treasures avail in the day of wrath. If heavenly things be not worth looking after, what are ? Should not spiritual persons set their hearts on spiritual riches ? Are not these most suitable to your immortal souls, and spiritual principles ? Have you not been married to Christ, and can you be content to be without any
part of your dowry?* Are not you risen with Christ, and should you not then seek after things above? + Are not the things of God magnalia—great things of eternal concernment? And did you not prize them at a high rate at your first conviction ? And was not this your motto, Non est mortale quod opto-I seek not, I pursue not mortal things, temporary, fading enjoyments? And are not these as much worth inquiring after now as formerly? Yes, certainly, these do not decay through age; it was the matters belonging to the old covenant, or legal dispensation, that decayed and waxed old, and so by degrees did vanish away. I New covenant mercies are the “sure mercies of David,”|| and they are always fresh and green; hence saith the church, in Cant. i. 16. “ also our bed is green;" that is, our mutual delight in each other is lively, sweet, and satisfying, never glutting, as earthly delights
“He that drinks of these living waters shall never thirst,”s that is, after muddy waters of earthly comforts, but shall more ardently thirst and pant after the living God. Well, sirs, look to it; there is nothing worth desiring but this heavenly treasure : if you can find any better, take it, much good may it do you; yet brag not of your bargain till you see the issue.
2. Are you in any danger of having too much of these things ? Surely there are no superfluities in the internals of religion. In the outward part too much may be done, (though not if a man keep to the rule,) so that in some respects one may be “ righteous overmuch ;”T that is, in either a self-willed, superstitious way, or else in an unseasonable or unmeasurable performance of religious duties, to tire out a tempted soul,
* Rom. vii 4. + Col. iii. 1, 2. # Heb. viii. 13. || Isa. lv. 3. § John iv. 14. Eccles. vii. 16.