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punishment, being suited to the quality of the offence, must be infinite: ? But so it is, thy punishment, or sufferings for fin, cannot be infinite in ;
value, seeing thou art a finite creature : therefore they must be infinire in duration or continuance; that is, they must be eternal. And so all thy sufferings in this world, are but an earneft of what thou must suffer in the world to come.
Now, finner, if thou canst answer these demands, thou mayît recover thyself in the way of the law. But art thou not conscious of thy inability to do any of these things, much more to do them all? Yet if thou do not all, thou dost nothing. Turn then to what course of life thou wilt, thou art still in a state of wrath. Screw up thy obedience to the greatest height thou canst; suffer what God lays upon thee, yea add, if thou wilt to the burden, and walk under all, without the least impatience : yet all this will not satisfy the demands of the law; and therefore thou art still a ruined creature. Alas! -sinner, what art thou doing, while thou strivest to help tnyfelf; but doft noc. receive and unite with Jesus Christ? Thou art labouring in the fire, wearying thyself for very vanity ; labouring to enter into heaven by the door, which Adam's fin so bolted, as neither he, nor any of his lost posterity can ever enter by it. Dost thou not see the flaming sword of justice keeping thee off from the tree of life? Dost thou not hear the law denouncing a curse on thee for all thou art doing; even for thy obedience, thy prayers, thy tears, thy reforination of life, &c. because being under the law's dominion, thy best works are not so good, as it requires them to be, under the pain of the curse? Believe it, sirs, if you live and die out of Christ, without being actually united to him as the second Adam, a life-giving Spirit, and without coming under the covert of his 'atoning blood; though you should do the utmost that any man on earth can do, in keeping the commands of God, ye shall never see the face of God in peace. If you should from this moment, bid an eternal farewel to this world's joy, and all the affairs thereof; and henceforth busy yourselves with nothing, but the salvation of your souls: if you should go into fome wildernefs, live upon the grass of the field, and be companions of dragons and cwls: if you should retire to some dark cavern of the earth, and weep there for your sins, until ye have wept yourselves blind, yea, wept out all the moisture of your body; if ye should confess with your tongue, until it cleave to the roof of your mouth; pray, till your knees grow hard as horns; fast, till your body become like a keleton; and after all this, give it to be burnt, the word is gone out of the Lord's mouth in righteousness, and cannot return; you should perith for ever, notwithstanding of all this, as not being in Chrift, John xiv. 6. No man cometh unto the Father but by me. Actsiv. 1 2. Neither is there Salvation in any other. Mark xvi. 16. He that believeth not, shall be damned, ,
Object. But God is a merciful God, and he knows we are not able to answer his demands: we hope therefore to be saved, if we do as well as we can, and keep the commands as well as we are able.
Anf. (5.) Though thou art able to do many things, thou art not able to do one thing aright: thou canst do nothing acceptable to God, be. ing out of Christ, Jolin xv. 5.-Without me ye can do nothing An un· renewed man, as thou art, can do nothing but sin; as we have already
evinced. Thy best actions are fin, and so they increase thy debt to justice; how then can it be expected they should leffen it? (2.) If God should offer to save' men uport condition that they did all they could do, in obedience to his commands: we have ground to think, that these who would betake themselves to that way, should never be saved. For where is the man, that does as well as he can? Who sees not many false steps he has made, which he might have evited? There are so many things to be done, so many temptations to carry us ou of the road of duty, and our nature is so very apt to be set on fire of hell; that we would surely fail, even in some point, that is within the compass of our natural abilities. But (3.) Though thou shouldft do all thou art able to do, in vain doft thou hope to be saved in that way. What word of God is this hope of thine founded on? It is neither founded on law nor gospel, and therefore it is but a delusion. It is not founded on the gospel; for the gospel leads the foul out of itself, to Jesus Christ för all: and it establisheth the law, Rom. iii. 31. whereas this hope of yours cannot be establifhed, but on the ruin of the law, which God will magnify and make honourable. And hence it appears, that it is not founded on the law neither. When God fec naam a.working for happiness to himself, and his pofterity, perfect obedience was the condition required of him ; and a curfe was de nounced in case of disobedience. The law being broken by hiin, he and his posterity were subjected to the penalty, for fin committed ; and wichal ftill bound to perfect obedience: for it is absurd to think that inani's (inning and saffering for his lin, should free him from his duty of obedience to his Creator. When Christ came in the room of the elect, to purchase their salvation, the same were the terms. Justice had the ele&t under arrest: if he minds to deliver them, the terms are known. He must fatisfy for their fin, by suffering the punishment due to it; he muit do what they cannot do, viz. obey the law perfectly, and fo fulfil ail righteousness. Accordingly, all this he did, ind so became the end of the law for righteousness 10 every one that brlieveth, Rom. x. 4. And now cost thou think. God will abate of these terms to thee, when his own Son got no abatement of them? Expect it not, though thou shouldit beg it with tears of blood; for if they prevailed, they behoved to prevail against the truth, justice and honour of God, Gal. iii. ro. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. Ver. 22. And the law is not of faith, but the man thut doth them, Mall live in them It is true, that God is merciful : he cannot but be merciful, unless he save you in a way that is neither consistent with his law nor gospel? Hath not his goodness and mercy fufficiently appeared, in sending the Son of his love to do what the law ruld not do, in that it was weak through the
Ah? He has provided help for them that cannot help themselves : but thou, insensible of chine own weakness, wilt needs think to recover thyself by thine own works; while thou art no more able to do it, than to remove inountains of brass out of their place. .. Wherefore I conclude thou art utterly unable to recover thyself, by the way of works, or of the law. O'that thou wouldīt conclude the same concerning thyself !...
. II. Let us try next, what the finner can do to recover himself, in the way of the gospel : It is likely, thou thinkest, that howbeit thou canft not do all, by thyself alone; yet Jefus Christ offering thee help, thou canst of thyself embrace it, and use it to thy recovery. But, o finner, bé convinced of thine absolute need of the grace of Christ, for truly there is help offered, but thou canst not accept of it: there is a rope cast out to hale ship wrecked sinners to land: but alas! they have no hands to catch hold of it. They are like infants exposed in the open field, that must starve, tho' their food be lying by them, unless one put it into their mouths. To convince natural ien of this, let it be considered,
First, That although Christ is offered in the gospel, yet they cannot believe in him. Saving faith is the fuith of God's elect; the special gift of God to them, wrought in them by his Spirit. Salvation is offered to them that will believe in Chrift; but how can ye believe? John v. 44. It is offered to these that will come to Christ; but no man can come unto him, except the Father draw him. It is offered to them that will look to him, as lifted up on the pole of the gospel, Ifa xiv 22. but the natural man is spiritually blind, Rev iii. 17. and as to the things of the Spirit of God, he cannot know them, for they are fpiritually discerned, 1 Cor. ii. 14. Nay, whosoever will, he is welcome; let him come, Rev. xxi. 17. But there must be a day of power on the sinner, before he will be willing, Pfal cx. 3:
Secondly, Man, naturally has nothing, wherewithal to improve, to his recovery, the help brought in by the gospel. He is cast away in a state of wrath, but is bound hand and foot, so that he cannot lay hold of the cords of love, thrown out to him in the gospei. The moft skilful artificer cannot work without instruments, nor can the molt cunning musician play well on an instruinent that is out of tune. How can one believe, how can he repent, whose understanding is darkness, Eph..v 8 whose heart is a story heart, inflexible, insensible, Ezela xxxvi. 26. whole affections are wholly disordered and dftem. pered; who is averse to good, and bent to evil? The arins of natural abilities are too short to reach supernatural help: hence those who most excel in them, are oft times moft estranged froin spiritual things, Matth. xi. 24 Thou hast hid these things from th: wise and prudent."
Thirdly, Man cannot work a saving change on himself : but fo changed he must be, else he can neither believe nor repent, nor ever see heaven No action can be without a suitable principië. Believing, repenting, and the like, are the product of she new naturc; and car
never be produced by the old corrupt nature. Now, what can the natural man do in this ma ter? He must be regenerate, begotten again into a lively hipe: but as the child cannot be active in his own-generam tion; so a man cannot be active, brit paflive only, in his own regene. ration. The heart is thut against Christ: man cannot open it, only God can do it by his grace, Aits xvi. 14. He is dead in lin : he must be quickned, railed out of his grave: who can do this but God himself? Eph. ii. 1,5. Nay, he must be created in Christ Jelus unlo good works, Eph. ii. 10. These are works of omnipotency, and can be done by no less power.'
Fourthly, Mas, in his depraved state, is under an utter inability to do any thing truly good, as was cleared before at large : how then can he obey the gospel? His nature is the very reverse of the gospel : how can he, of himself, fall in with that device of salvation, and accept the offered remedy? The corruption of man's nature infallibly concludes his utter inability to recover himself any manner of way: and wholo is convinced of the one, must needs admit the other; for they stand and fall together. Were all the purchase of Christ offered to the unregenerate man, for one good thought, he cannot command it, 2 Cor. iii. 5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of our. felves. Were it offered on condition of a good word, yet how can ye, being evil, speak good things? Matth. xii. 35. Nay, were it "left to yourselves, to chuse what is easiest; Christ himself tells you, John xv. 5. Without me, ye can do nothing.
Laftly, The natural man cannot but resist the Lord, offering to help him ; howbeit that refiftance is infallibly overcome in the elect, by converting grace. Can the stony heart chute but resist the stroke? There is not only an inability, but an enmity and obftinacy in man's will by nature. God knows, natural man, (whether thou knoweft it or not) that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron finew, and thy brow brass, Isa. xlviii. 4. and cannot be overcome, but by him, who hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in funder. Hence is there such hard work in converting a sinner. Sometimes he seems to be caught in the net of the gospel; yet quickly he slips away again. The hook catcheth hold of bim: but he struggles, till getting free of it, he makes away with a bleeding wound. When good hopes are conceived of him, by these that travel in birth, for the forming of of Christ in him; there is oft.times nothing brought forth but wind. The deceitful heart makes many a shift to avoid a Saviour, and to cheat the man of his eternal happiness. Thus the natural man lies funk in a state of sin and wrath, utterly unable to recover himself.
Object. (1.) If we be under an utter inability to do any good, how can Gad' require us to do it? Ans. God making man upright, Ecclef. vii. 29. gave him a power to do every thing he should require of hini: this power, man lost by his own fault. We were bound to serve God, and to do whatsoever he cominanded us, as being his creatures; and allu, wo were under the superadded tye of a covenant, for that
effect. Now, we having, by our own faült, disabled ourselves; shall God lose his right of requiring our talk, because we have thrown away the strength he gave us, wherewithal to perform it? Has the creditor no right to require payment of his money, because the debitor has squandered it away, and is not able to pay him? Truly, if God can require no more of us than we are able to do;, we need no more to save us from wrath, but to make ourselves unable for every duty, and to incapacitate ourselves for serving of God any manner of vay, as profanc men frequently do: and so the deeper one is immersed in fin, he will be the more secure from wrath; for where God can require no duty of us, we do not fin in o:nitting it; and where there is no sin, there can be no wrath. (As to what may be urged by the unhumbled soul, against the putting of our stock in Adam's hand; the righteousness of that dispensation was cleared before.) But more. over, the unrenewed man is daily throwing away the very remains of natural abilities; that light and itrength which are to be found amongst the ruins of mankind. Nay, farther, he will not believe his own utter, inability to help himself; fo that out of his own mouth he will be condemned. Even those who make their natural impotency to good, a cover to their sloth, do, with others, delay the work of turning to God from time to time; under convictions, make large promises of reformation, which afterward they never regard; and delay their repentance to a death-bed, as if they could help theinselves in a mo. ! ment; which speaks thein to be far from a due sense of their natural inability, whatever they pretend.
Now, if God can require of men, the duty they are not able to do; he can, in justice, punish them for their not doing it, notwithstanding of their inability. If he have power to exact the debt of obedience: he has also power to cast the insolvent debtor in his prison, for his not paying it. Further, tho’unregenerate men have no gracious abilities; yet they want not natural abilities, which nevertheless they will not improve. There are many things they can do, which they do not, they will not do them; and therefore their damnation will be just. Nay, all their inability to good is voluntary; they will not come to. Christ, John v. 40. They will not repent, they will die, Ezek. xviii.g1. So they will be justly condemned: because they will not turn to God, nor come to Chrift; but love their chains better than their liberty, and darkness rather than light, John iii. 19.. ,
Object. (2.) Why do you then preach Christ to us; call us to come to him, to believe, repent, and use the means of falvation?, Ans. Because it is your duty fo to do. It is your duty to accept of Christ as he is offered in the gospel; to repent of your sins, and to be holy in all manner of conversation: these things are commanded you of God; and his command, not your ability, is the measure of your duty. Moreover, these calls and exhortations, are the means that God is pleased to make use of, for converting his elect, and working grace in their hearts: to them, faith cometh by hearing, Rom. x. 17. while they