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And now to shut up this weighty point, let the consideration of what is said commend Christ to you all. Ye that are brought out of your natural state of corruption unto Christ, be humble ; still coming to Christ, and improving your union with him, to the further weakening of the remains of this natural corruption. Is your nature changed ? It is but in part so. The day was ye could not stir ; now ye are cured; but remember the cure is not perfected, ye still go halting. And though it were better with you than it is, the remembrance of what you were by nature should keep you low. Ye that are yet in your natural state, take with it; believe the corruption of your nature ; and let Christ and his grace be precious in your eyes. O that ye would at length be serious about the state of your souls ! What mind ye to do? Ye must die; ye must appear before the judgment-seat of God. Will ye lie down, and sleep another night at ease, in this case ? Do it not; for before another day you may be sisted before God's dreadful tribunal, in the grave-cloths of your corrupt state ; and your vile souls cast into the pit of destruction, as a corrupt lump, to be for ever buried out of God's sight. For I testify unto you all, there is no peace with God, no pardon, no heaven for you, in this state ; there is but a step betwixt you and eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord : If the brittle thread of your life, which may be broke with a touch, ere you are aware, be indeed broken while you are in this state, you are ruined for ever, and without remedy. But come speedily to Jesus Christ; he has cleansed as vile souls as yours; and he will yet « cleanse the blood that he hath not cleansed,” Joel iii. 21. Thus far of the sinfulness of man's natural state,
THE MISERY OF MAN'S NATURAL STATE.
EPHESIANS ii. 3.
were by nature the Children of Wrath, even as
TT AVING shewed you the sinfulness of man's natural IT state, I come now to lay before you the misèry of it. A sinful state cannot be but a miserale state. If sin go before, wrath follows of course. Corruption and destruction are so knit together, that the Holy Ghost calls destruction, even eternal destruction, corruption, Gal. vi. 8. “ He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption;" that is, everlasting destruction; as is clear from its being opposed to life everlasting, in the following clause. And so the Apostle having shown the Ephesians their real state by nature, viz. that they were dead in sins and trespasses, altogether corrupt; he tells them in the words of the text, their relative state, namely, that the pit was digged for them, while in that state of corruption ; being dead in sins, they were by nature children of wrath, even as others.
In the words we have four things :
1. The misery of a natural state ; it is a state of wrath, as well as a state of sin. We were, says the Apostle, children of wrath, bound'over, and liable to the wrath of God; under wrath in some measure; and, in wrath, bound over to more, even the full measure of it in hell, where the floods of it go over the prisoners for ever. Thus Saul, in his wrath, adjudging David to die, i Sam. xx. 31. and David, in his wrath, passing sentence of death against the man in the parable, 2 Sam. xii. 5. say each of them, of his supposed criminal, He shall surely die : or, as the words in the first language are, he is a son of death. So the natural man is a child of wrath, a son of death. He is a malefactor dead in law, lying in chains of guilt; a crimina! held fast in his fetters, till the day of execution ; which will not fail, unless a pardon be obtained from his God, who is his judge and party too. By that means, indeed, children of wrath may become children of the kingdom. The phrase in the text, however common it is in holy language, is very significant. And as it is evident, that the Apostle calling natural men the children of disobedience, ver. 2. means more than that they were disobedient chil. dren; for such may the Lord's own children be: So to be children of wrath is more than simply to be liable to, or under wrath. Jesus Christ was liable to, and under wrath; but I doubt we have any warrant to say, he was a child of wrath. The phrase seems to intimate, that men are, whatsoever they are in their natural state, under the wrath of God; that they are wholly under wrath ; wrath is, as it were, woven into their very nature, and mixeth itself with the whole of the man; who is (if I may so speak) a very lump of wrath, a child of hell, as the iron in the fire is all fire. For men naturally are children of wrath, come forth (so to speak) out of the womb of wrath ; Jonah's gourd was the son of a night, which we render came up in a night, Jonah iy. 10. as if it had come out of the womb of the night, (as we read of the womb of the morning, Psal. cx. 3.) and so the birth following the belly whence it came was soon gone. The sparks of fire are called sons of the burning coal, Job v. 7. marg. Isa. xxi. 10. “O my threshing, and the corn (or son) of my floor," threshed in the floor of wrath, and, as it were, brought forth by it. Thus the natural man is a child of wrath; “ It comes into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones," Psal. cix. 18. For though Judas was the only son of perdition amongst the Apostles, yet all men, by nature, are of the same family. .
2. There is the rise of this misery; men have it by nature. They owe it to their nature, not to their substance or offence; for that neither is nor was sin ; and, there. fore, cannot make them children of wrath, though for sin it may be under wrath ; not to their nature as qualified, at man's creation, by his Maker, but to their nature, as vitiated and corrupted by the fall. To the viciQus quality, or corruption of their nature, (whereof before,) which is their principle of action, and ceasing from action, the only principle is an unregenerate state. Now by this nature, men are children of wrath ; as in time of pestilential infection, one draws in death together with the disease then raging. Wherefore seeing from our first being as children of Adam, we are corrupt children, shaped in ini. quity, conceived in sin; we are also, from that moment, children of wrath.
3. The university of this misery. All are by nature children of wrath ; We, saith the Apostle, even as others : Jews as well as Gentiles. Those that are now by grace the children of God, were by nature in no better case than those that are still in their natural state.
Lastly, There is a glorious and happy change intimated here ; we are children of wrath, but are not so now; grace has brought us out of that fearful state. This the Apostle says of himself and other believers. And thus, it well becomes the people of God to be often standing on the shore, looking back to the red sea of the state of wrath, they were sometimes weltering in, even as others.
Man's natural State a State of Wrath. DOCTRINE, The state of nature is a state of wrath. Every one in a natural unregenerate state is in a state of wrath. We are born children of wrath ; and continue so, until we be born again. Nay, as soon as we were children of Adam, we were children of wrath.
I shall usher in what I am to say on this point, with a few observes touching the universality of this state of wrath ; which may serve to prepare the way of the word into your consciences.
Wrath has gone as wide as ever sin went. When angels sinned, the wrath of God brake in upon them as a Hood; « God spared not the angels which sinned, but cast them down to hell,” 2 Pet. ii. 4. And thereby it was demonstrated, that no natural excellency in the creature will shield it from the wrath of God; if once it becomes a sinful creature. The finest and the nicest piece of the workmanship of heaven, if once the Creator's image upon it be defaced by sin, God can and will dash to pieces, in
is wrath ; unless satisfaction be made to justice, and that image be repaired; neither of which the sinner himself
can do. Adam sinned; and the whole lump of mankind was leavened, and bound over to the fiery oven of God's wrath. And from the text ye may learn, (1.) That ignorance of that state cannot free men from it; the Gentiles, that knew not God, were by nature children of wrath, even as others. A man's house may be on fire, his wife and children perishing in the flames; while he knows nothing of it, and therefore is not concerned about it. Such is your case, O ye that are ignorant of these things! wrath is silently sinking into your souls, while you are blessing yourselves, saying, Ye shall have peace. Ye need not a more certain token, that ye are children of wrath, than that ye never yet saw yourselves such. Ye cannot be the children of God, that never yet saw yourselves children of the devil.' Ye cannot be in the way to heaven, that never saw yourselves by nature in the road to hell. Ye are grossly ignorant of your state by nature ; and so ignorant of God, and of Christ, and your need of him: And though ye look on your ignorance as a covert from wrath ; yet take it out of the mouth of God himself, that it will ruin you if it be not removed, Isa. xxvii. 11. '“ It is a people of no understanding; therefore, he that made them will not have mercy on them.” See 2 Thess. i. 8. Hos. iv. 6. (2.) No outward privileges can exempt men from this state of wrath; for the Jews, the children of the kingdom, God's peculiar people, were children of wrath, even as others. Though ye be church-members, partakers of all church- · privileges; though ye be descended of godly parents, of great and honourable families; be what ye will, ye are by nature heirs of hell, children of wrath." (3.) No profession, nor attainments in a profession of religion, do or can exempt a man from this state of wrath. Paul was one of the strictest sect of the Jewish religion, Acts xxvi. 5. yet a child of wrath, even as others, till he was converted. The close hypocrite, and the profane, are alike as to their state ; however different their conversations be ; and they will be alike in their fatal end, Psal. cxxy. 5. “As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity.” (4.) Young ones that are yet but setting out into the world have not that to do, to make themselves children of wrath, by following the graceless multitude. They are children of wrath by