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this light do the scriptures constantly view the case. There is not one tittle in the Old Testament or in the New, in the law or in the gospel, that gives the least intimation of any deficiency in our natural faculties. The law requires no more than ALL our hearts, and never blames us for not having larger natural capacities. The gospel aims to recover us to love God only with ALL our hearts, but makes no provision for our having any new natural capacity; as to our natural capacities, all is well. It is in our temper, in the frame and disposition of our hearts, that the seat of all our sinfulness lies. Ezek. xii. 2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not, for they are a REBELLIous house. This is the bottom of the business. We have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and his glory shines all around us, in the heavens and in the earth; in his word and in his ways; and his name is proclaimed in our ears; and there is nothing hinders our seeing and hearing, but that we are rebellious creatures. Our contrariety to God makes us blind to the beauty of the divine nature, and deaf to all his commands, counsels, calls, and invitations. We might know God, if we had a heart to know him; and love God, if we had a heart to love him. It is nothing but our bad temper, and being destitute of a right disposition, that makes us spiritually blind and spiritually dead. If this heart of stone was but away, and a heart of flesh was but in us, all would be well ; we should be able enough to
their hearts to the divine nature. And whence was it Why, they had wrong notions of the divine Being, and they loved that false image which they had framed in their own fancies; and so they had wrong notions of the Prophets which their fathers hated and murdered, and hence imagined that they should have loved them. But they saw a little what a temper and disposition Christ was of, and him they hated with a perfect hatred. So there are multitudes of secure sinners and self-deceived hypocrites, who verily think they love God ; nevertheless, as soon as ever they open their eyes in eternity, and see just what God is, their love will vanish, and their enmity break out and exert itself to perfection. So that the reason sinners see not their contrariety to the divine nature, is their not seeing what God is. It must be so; for a sinful nature and an holy nature are diametrically opposite. So much as there is of a sinful disposition in the heart, so mugh of contrariety is there to the divine nature. If, therefore, we are not sensible of. this contrariety, it can be owing to nothing but our ignorance of God, or not believing him to be what he really is. Itom. vii. 8, 9.
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 eruelty; 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 of. fers 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 cannot 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 usin 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 execute 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 disobedience. Luke xix. 27. But those mine ENEMIEs which would Not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them them before me. * And this, by the way, is the very thing which stops the mouth of an awakened, convinced, humble sinner, and settles him down in it, that he deserves to be damned, notwithstanding all his doings, viz. that he is what he is, not by 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 for ever, 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 heartily 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 till 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 car
* 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 2"
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,
tudl, 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 men very bad indeed, there would be no occasion for his ambassadors with such earnestness
to beseech the m. We pray you, says the apostle, in Christ's
remaining in him. In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells 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 supremely, live to him entirely, and delight in him wholly, 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 contrariety 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 serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin. Ver. 25. And so the spirit lusted against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit; and these twe 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 dominion over you, for ye 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 dwelleth 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. VO I,. I, Q1