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notions, of the Most High, is right. This is so far from being peculiar to the carnal mind, that the more spiritually minded any are, the more will they be opposed to erroneous representations of the Deity, and with the warmer zeal will they contend against them.
Nothing can be more evident, than that the enmity of wicked men, against a holy and righteous God, does not arise from a mere misunderstanding.
2. It cannot well be supposed to be altogether owing, to fears of divine wrath and punishment. When sinners are under awakenings, and destruction from God is a terror to them, their enmity against him may be increased; to be sure it will be more sensibly felt: but it was in the bottom of their heart before, however unperceived. Those most secure in sin, practically say unto God, "Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." By speaking against him, by taking his name in vain, and by wicked works, it is plainly seen that they are enemies to him in their minds. And it is hence evident that their enmity against the Almighty doth not wholly originate from an apprehension that he is angry with them, and will cast them into hell.
On the other hand, I do not think that it proceeds from disinterested malevolence; or from a disposition to hate a good being when considered as standing in no relation to one's self; or so as not to hurt one's pride, or any of the feelings of personal respect. There is no necessity of supposing a principle of disinterested malice in any creature: nor can such a principle be supposed to exist, without its having been produced immediately by the same power that created the world. But such an hypothesis appears anti-scriptural, and absurd. I conclude, therefore, that there is not, in the most depraved creature, disinterested unfriendliness to any being; or hatred of holiness for its own sake.
The way is now prepared to say, affirmatively, whence the enmity of the carnal mind against God does arise; and how it is to be accounted for.
I suppose it proceeds, from mere selfishness. That is, from self-love, without the counterpoise of any disinterested benevolence to other beings. There are several ways in which such perfect selfishness will naturally be productive of enmity against others; and the more so in proportion as they are above us, and have power over us: most of all, therefore, against the Supreme Being. Self-love, without benevolence to others, is directly opposed to all subordination-to all subjection-to all control. It aspires after absolute independence, and unbounded liberty. It also loveth to have the pre-eminence, in all things. It hates to be out shone; or to have any superior, in greatness, or fame, or felicity. Selfishness, when total and entire, makes the individual in whom it reigns, however low and little, the centre and end of every thought and wish, of every word and action. Now, it is easy to see, that one whose heart is thus totally selfish, will thence become an enemy to all around him; especially to all above him; and more especially to the Most High, who is infi nite in greatness and glory, and absolute in dominion over all.
A few inferences will now close this long dis
1. Hence we may learn, that the common love of liberty, though natural to men, is no infallible argument in favor of human nature.
The love of one kind of liberty, indeed, and of several kinds in a due degree, is a good thing. A desire of liberty from the bondage of corruption, is certainly laudable. This is the liberty meant, when it is said, John viii. 36, "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." A desire of liberty
from menial servitude, if it be not an impatient desire, is what the gospel allows and approves. "Art thou called, being a servant?" says the apostle to the Corinthians, "care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather." A desire of liberty to do our duty, in every station of life; and liberty to speak the truth, when it ought to be spoken, is undoubtedly reasonable and right.
But that ardent love of political liberty, which is common among men, and which has made so much noise in the world, may possibly not be a virtue, acceptable to God. If it were, mankind must certainly be a very virtuous race of beings, without the grace of God that bringeth salvation: for, in natural men-in Pagans, and infidels, this flaming love of liberty is ever most conspicuous. But, possibly, in many instances, it may be nothing else, at bottom, than narrow self-love,
"Or close ambition, varnish'd o'er with zeal."
It may proceed from the very same principle, and want of principle, whence the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, nor can be. That such notions of liberty as have often prevailed, and those violent commotions which the ardent love of such liberty has often occasioned, should be so generally approved and celebrated, is rather a proof of the deceitfulness of sin, and of the readiness of mankind to call evil good; than any indisputable evidence of the goodness of human nature.
2. Hence we need not wonder, that, in such a world as this, there should be much opposition made to good government, as well as to pure and undefiled religion that artful attempts should be made totally to separate them, and prevent their being any support to each other; and by all manner of sophistry and slander, as much as possible, to weaken the restraining influence of both.
It has been said, The worst of men will wish to have good government; because they must know it is necessary for their own safety and peace.
But there is a mistake in this argument. The hearts of men govern their heads. Their passions, and corrupt inclinations, blind their eyes, in a thousand instances, to their own plainest interest. Though wicked men may be convinced of its being necessary for their own safety, that others should be restrained from iniquity; and though, from this conviction, they may sometimes vote for wise and just rulers; yet, from their hatred of being under subjection and restraint themselves, they may easily be led to struggle for licentious liberty, to clamor against good rulers, and to advance men who profess to be their humble servants; or who, being of loose manners themselves, they hope will not much interrupt them in their ungodly and unrighteous freedoms. They may easily be induced to form factions and cabals, and to combine together against the best government, as well as the best religion. They may wish to have them totally disconnected, wherein God hath joined them together for mutual support; and thus, as well as by other means, to have both weakened, that their galling bands may be broken with less difficulty, and their restraining cords cast away from them.
Until, more generally, mankind are willing there should be a God in heaven, who is good and just; certainly, we are not to expect that they will be unanimous in choosing just and good rulers on earth; or that they will be long easy and peaceable under the administration of such.
3. Hence good men, in every station and calling, should learn to bear with patience, the enmity and revilings of mankind. "Marvel not, my brethren," says the apostle John, "if the world hate you." When it is considered how men treated the Son of
God, and how they treat the name of God; no good man should think much of it, if they treat his name and person, with no great respect or tenderness. "If the world hate you," said our Saviour to his disciples, "ye know that it hated me before it hated you." And again; "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord."
Christ hath also pronounced a beatitude on his followers, who should expose themselves to the enmity of the world, by their steadfast opposition to its evil ways, and by their faithful adherence to him. "Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”
4. From what has been said it may be seen, and should be laid to heart, how sinful and dangerous it is, to continue in a state of native depravity, and opposition to God and goodness. Can any thing be more criminal than to be at enmity with your Creator? or any thing more awful than to have the Almighty for your adversary? What can you do when He riseth up? and when He shall visit in anger, what can you answer? Lay down then the weapons of rebellion, your wicked works; and seek pardon and reconciliation. He hath said, " Fury is not in me who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me."
5. The apostle's inference from our text, is obviously true and just. "So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." The externally moral, the reformed, and such as are in the diligent use of