Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

most insensible of it, are under the power thereof; and whithersoever they turn themselves, they cannot move without the circle of self: They seek themselves, they act for themselves ; their natural, civil, and religious actions, from whatever spring they come, do all run into, and meet in, the dead sea of self.

Most men are so far from making God their chief end, in their natural and civil actions, that, in these matters, God is not in all their thoughts. Their eating and drinking, and such like natural actions, are for themselves ; their own pleasure or necessity, without any higher end, Zech. vii. 6. « Did ye not eat for yourselves ?They have no eye to the glory of God in these things, as they ought to have, I Cor. x. 31. They do not eat and drink, to keep up their bodies for the Lord's service ; they do them not, because God has said, Thou shalt not kill : neither do these drops of sweetness God has put into the creature raise up their souls towards that ocean of delight that is in the Creator, though they are indeed a sign hung out at heaven's door, to tell men of the fulness of goodness that is in God himself, Acts xiv. 16. But it is self, and not God, that is sought in them by natural men. And what are the unrenewed man's civil actions, such as buying, selling, working, &c. but fruit to himself? Hos. x. 1. So marrying, and giving in marriage,are reckoned amongst the sins of the old world, Mat. xxiv. 38. for they had no eye to God therein, to please him ; but all they had in view was to please themselves, Gen. vi. 3.-Finally, Self is natural mens highest end, in their religious actions. They perform duties for a name, Matth. vi. 1, 2. or some other worldly interest, John vi. 26. Or, if they be more refined, it is their peace, and at most their salvation from hell and wrath, or their own eternal happiness, that is their chief and highest end, Matth. xix. 16–22. Their eyes are held, that they see not the glory of God. They seek God, indeed, but not for himself, but for themselves.. They seek him not at all, but for their own welfare ; so their whole life is woven into one web of practical blasphemy; making God the means, and self their end, yea, their chief end.

And thus have I given you some rude draughts of man's will, in his natural state, drawn by Scripture and mens

own experience. Call it no more Naomi, but Marah; for bitter it is, and a root of bitterness. Call it no more free will, but slavish lust; free to evil, but free from good, till regenerating grace loose the bands of wickedness. Now, since all must be wrong, and nothing can be right, where the understanding and will are so corrupt ; I shall briefly dispatch what remains, as following of course, on the corruption of those prime faculties of the soul.

The Corruption of the Affections, the Conscience, and the

Memory. The Body partaker of this Corruption.

III. The affections are corrupted. The unrenewed man's affections are wholly disordered and distempered ; they are as the unruly horse, that either will not receive, or violently runs away with the rider. So man's heart naturally is a mother of abominations, Mark vii, 21, 22. « For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness” &c. The natural man's affections are wretchedly misplaced; e is a spiritual monster. His heart is there, where his feet should be, fixed on the earth; his heels are lifted up against heaven, which his heart should be set on, Acts ix. 5. His face is towards hell, his back towards heaven; and therefore God calls him to turn. · He loves what he should hate, and hates what he should love ; joys in what he ought to mourn for, and mourns for what he should rejoice in ; glorieth in his shame, and is ashamed of his glory; abhors what he should desire, and desires what he should abhor, Prov. ii. 13, 14, 15. They hit the point indeed, (as Caiaphus did in another case,) who cried out on the Apostles as men that turned the world upside-down, Acts xvii. 6. for that is the work the gospel has to do in the world, where sin has put all things so out of order, that heaven lies under, and earth a-top. If the unrenewed man's affections be set on lawful objects, then they are either excessive, or defective. Lawful enjoyments of the world have soinetimes too little, but mostly too much of aem ; either they get not their due, or, if they do, it is measure pressed down, and running over. Spiritual things have always too little of them. In a word, they are always in or over ; never right, only eyil.

Now here is a three-fold cord against hearen and holiness, not easily broken; a blind mind, a perverse will, and disorderly distempered affections. The mind swelled with seif-conceit, says the man should not stoop; the will, opposite to the will of God, says he will not; and the corrupt affections, rising against the Lord, in defence of the corrupt will, say, he shall not. Thus the poor creature stands out against God and goodness, till a day of power come, in which he is made a new creature.

IV. The conscience is corrupt and defiled, Tit. i. 15. It is an evil eye, that fills one's conversation with much darkness and confusion; being naturally unable to do its office; till the Lord, by letting in a new light to the soul, awaken the conscience; it remains sleepy and inactive. Conscience can never do its work, but according to the light it hath to work by. Wherefore, seeing the natural man cannot spiritually discern spiritual things, (1 Cor. ii. 14.) the conscience naturally is quite useless in that point; being cast into such a deep sleep, that nothing but a saying illumination from the Lord can set it on work in that matter. The light of the natural conscience in good and evil, sin and duty, is very defective; therefore, though it may check for grosser sins, yet, as to the more subtile workings of sin, it cannot check them, because it discerns them not. Thus, conscience will fly in the face of many, if at any time they be drunk, swear, neglect prayer, or be guilty of any gross sin; who otherwise have a profound peace ; though they live in the sin of unbelief, are strangers to spiritual worship, and the life of faith. And natural light being but faint and languishing in many things which it doth reach, conscience in that case shoots like a stitch in one's side, which quickly goes off ; its incitements to duty, and checks for and struggles against sin, are very remiss, which the natural man easily gets over. But, because there is a false light in the dark mind, the natural conscience following the same, will call evil good, and good evil, Isa. v, 20. And so it is often found like a blind and furious horse, which doth violently run down himself, his rider, and all that doth come in his way, John xyi. 2. " Whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth God service.” When the natural conscience is awakened by the Spirit of conviction, it will indeed rage and roar, and put the whole man in a dreadful consternation,awfully summon all the powers of the soul to help in a strait; make the stiff heart to tremble, and the knees to bow; set the eyesa-weeping, the tongue a-confessing; and oblige the man to cast out the goods into the sea, which it apprehends are like to sink the ship of the soul, though the heart still goes after them. But yet it is an evil conscience which natively leads to despair, and will do it effectually, as in Judas' Case ; unless either lusts prevail over it, to lull it asleep, as in the case of Felix, Acts xxiv. 25. or the blood of Christ prevail over it, sprinkling and purging it from dead works, as in the case of all truc converts, Heb.ix. 14. and x. 23.

Lastly, Even the memory bears evident marks of this corruption. What is good and worthy to be minded, as it makes but slender impression, so that impression easily wears off ; the memory, as a leaking vessel, lets it slip, Heb. ii. 1. As a sieve that is full, when in the water, lets all go when it is taken out; so is the memory, with respect to spiritual things. But, how does it retain what ought to be forgotten ? Naughty things so bear in themselves upon it, that though men would fain have them out of mind, yet they stick there like glue. However forgetful men be in other things, it is hard to forget an injury. So the memory often furnishes new fuel to old lusts; makes men in old age to re-act the sins of their youth, while it presents them again to the mind with delight, which thereupon licks up the former vonit. And thus, it is like the riddle, that lets through the pure grain, and keeps the re. :fuse. Thus far of the corruption of the soul,

The body itself also is partakerof this corruption and de· filement, so far as it is capable thereof. Wherefore the Scripture calls it sinful flesh, Rom. viii. 3. We may take this up in two things. (1.) The natural temper, or rather distemper of the bodies of Adam's children, as it is an ef. fect of original sin; so it hath a native tendency to sin, in cites to sin, leads the soul into snares, yea, is itself a snare to the soul. The body is a furious beast, of such metal, that if it be not beat down, kept under, and brought into subjection, it will cast the soul into much sin and misery, 1 Cor. ix. 27. There is a vileness in the body, (Phil. iü.', 21.) which, as to the saints, will never be removed, until u be melted down in a grave, and cast into a new mould,

at the resurrection to come forth a spiritual body; and will never be carried off from the bodies of those, who are not partakers of the resurrection to life. (2.) It serves the soul in many sins. Its members are instruments or weapons of unrighteousness, whereby men fight against God, Rom. vi. 13. The eyes and ears are open doors, by which impure motions and sinful desires enter the soul: “ The tongue is a world of iniquity : An unruly evil, full of deadly poison," James iii. 6, 8. By it the impure heart vents a great deal of its filthiness. “The throat is an open sepulchre,” Rom. iii. 13. The feet run the devil's errands, ver. 15. The belly is made a god, (Phil. iii. 19.) not only by drunkards and riotous livers, but by every natural man. Zech. vii. 6. So the body naturally is an agent for the devil, and a magazine of armour against the Lord.

To conclude: Man by nature is wholly corrupted: From the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in him. And, as in a dunghill, every part contributes to the corruption of the whole; so the natural man, while in that state, grows still worse and worse. The soul is made worse by the body, and the body by the soul; and eve. ry faculty of the soul serves to corrupt another more and more. Thus much for the second general head.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THIRDLY, I shall shew how man's nature comes to be thus corrupted. The Heathens perceived that man's nature was corrupted; but how sin had entered, they could not tell. But the Scripture is very plain in that point, Romans v.12, 19. « By one man sin entered into the world. By one man's disobedience, many were inade sinners,” Adam's sin corrupted inan's nature, and leavened the whole lump of mankind. We putrificd in Adam, as our root. The root was poisoned, and so the branches were envenomed; the vine turned the vine of Sodom, and so the grapes became grapes of gall. Adam, by his sin, became not only guilty, but corrupt; and so transmits guilt and corruption to his posterity, Gen. v. 3. Job xiv. 4. By his sin, he stripped hintself of his original righteousness, and corrupted himself: We were in him representatively, being represented by him, as qur moral

« ForrigeFortsett »