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(3.) Untenderness towards those that fall: Many in that case cast of áll bowels of Christian compassion ; for they do not consider them. felves, left they also be tempted, Gal. vi. 1. Men's passions are often highest against the faults of others, when fin sleeps foundly in their own breasts. Even good David, when he was at his worst, was most violent against the faults of others. While his conscience was asleep under his guilt, in the matter of Uriah; the Spirit of the Lord takes notice, that his anger was greatly kindled against the man, in the parable, 2 Sam xii. 5. And on good grounds, it is thought, it was at the same time that he treated the Ammonites fo cruelly, as is related, ver. 31. Putting them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and making them pass throw the brick kiln. Grace makes men zealous against sin in others, as well as in themselves: but eyes turned inward to the corruption of nature, clothe them with pity and compaffion; 'and fill them with thankfulness to the Lord, that they them selves were not the persons left to be such spectacles of human frailty. (3.) There are not a few, who, if they be kept from affliction in worldly things, and from grofs out-breakings in their conversation, know not what it is to have a fad heart. If they meet with a cross, which their proud hearts cannot stoop to bear, they will be ready to Tay, 0 to be gone: but the corruption of their nature never makes them long for heaven. Lusts scandalously breaking out at a time, will mar their peace : but the sin of their nature never makes them a heavy heart. (4.) Delaying of repentance, in hopes to set about it afterwards. Many have their own appointed time for repentance and reformation: as if they were such complete masters over their lusts, that they can allow them to gather more strength, and yet overcome them. They take up resolutions to amend, without an eye to Jesus Christ, union with him, and strength from him; a plain evidence they are strangers to themselves; and so they are left to themselves, and their fourishing resolutions wither; for as they fee not the ne. ceffity, so they get not the benefit of the dew from heaven to water them (5.) Men's venturing frankly on temptations and promising liberally on their own heads. They cast themselves fearlesly into temptation, in confidence of their coming off fairly: but were they sensible of the corruption of their nature, they would beware of entering on the devil's ground: as one girt about with bags of gun. powder, would be loth to walk where sparks of fire are flying, lest he should be blown up. Self-jealousing well becomes Christians. Lord, is it I? They that know the deceit of their bow, will not be very confident that they shall hit the mark. (6.) Unacquaintedness with heart.plagues. The knowledge of the plagues of the heart, is a rare qualification. There are indeed some of them written in such great characters, that he who runs may read them ; but there are others, more subtile, which few do discern. How few are there to whom the bias of the heart to unbelief, is a burden? Nay, they perceive it not. Many have had sharp convictions of other fins, that were never
to this day convinced of their unbelief, tho' that is the sin specially aimed at in a thorough conviction, John xvi 8,9. He will reprove the world of fin--because they believe not on me. A disposition to establish our own righteousness is a weed that naturally grows in every man's heart : but few sweat at the plucking of it up: it lurks undrícovered. The bias of the heart to the way of the covenant of works, is a hidden plague of the heart to many. All the difficulty they find is, in' getting up their hearts to duties: they find no difficulty in getting their hearts off them, and over them to Jesus Christ. How hard is it to stave men off from their own righteousness? Yet it is very hard to convince them of their leaning to it at all. Lastly, Pride and self-conceit. A view of the corruption of nature would be very humbling; and oblige him that has it, to reckon himself the chief of finners. Under the greatest attainments and enlargements, it would be ballaft to his heart, and hide pride from his eyes. The want of thorough humiliation, piercing to the fin of one's nature, is the ruin of many professors : for digging deep makes great difference betwixt wife and foolith builders, Luke vi. 48, 49.
II. I will lay before you a few things, in which ye should have a special eye to the sin of your nature. (1.) Have a special eye to it in your application to Jesus Christ. Do you find any need of Christ, which sends you to him as the Physician of souls? O forget not your disease when you are with the Physician. They never yet knew well their errand to Christ, that went not to him for the sin of their nature: for his blood to take away the guilt of it, and his Spirit to break the power of it. Tho' in the bitterness of your souls, you Thould lay before him a catalogue of your sins of ommission and commission, which might reach from earth to heaven; yet if the fin of your nature were wanting in it, assure yourselves, you have forgot the best
part of the errand a poor finner has to the Physician of souls. What would it have availed the people of Jericho, to have set before Elisha all the vessels in their city full of the water that was naught, if they had not led him forth to the spring, to cast in the salt there? 2 Kings ii. 19, 20, 21. The application is easy. (2.) Have a special eye towards it in your repentance, whether initial or progressive, in your first repentance, and in the renewing of your repentance, afterwards. Tho' a man be there is no fear of death, if the sickness strike not his heart; and there is as little fear of the death of sin, as long as the son of our nature is not touched. But if ye would repent indeed, let the (treams lead you up to the fountain ; and mourn over your corrupt nature, as the cause of all sin, in heart, lip, and life. Plal. li. 4, 5. Against thee, thee only have I finned, and done this evil in thy fight-Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in fin' did my mother conceive me. (4.) Have a special eye upon it, in your mortification. Gal. v. 24. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh. It is the root of bitterness, that must be struck at, which the ax of mortifi. cation must be laid to; else we labour in vain. In vain do men go about to purge the streams, while they are at no pains about the muddy fountain : It is vain religion to attempt to make the life truly good, while the corruption of nature retains its ancient vigour, and the power of it is not broken. Lastly, Ye are to eye it in your daily walk. He that would walk aright, must have one eye upwards to Jesus Christ; and another in ward to the corruption of his own nature. It is not enough that we look about us, we must also look within us. There the wall is weakest; there our greatest enemy lies; and there are grounds for daily watching and mourning.
IIl. I shall offer fome reasons, why we should especially notice the sin of our nature. 1. Because of all fins it is the most extensive and diffusive. It
goes through the whole man, and spoils all.
and spoils all
. Other sins mar particular parts of the image of God; but this doth at once deface the whole. A disease affecting any particular member of the body is ill; but that which affecos the whole is worse. The corruption of nature is the poison of the old serpent, cast into the fountain of action : and so infects every action, every breathing of the soul.
1. It is the cause of all particular lults, and actual fins, in our hearts and lives. It is the spawn which the great Leviathan has left in the souls of men; from whence comes all the fry of actual sins and abominations. Mark vii. 21. Out of the heart of mer proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, &c. It is the bitter fountain : particular lusts are but rivulets running from it : which bring forth into the life, a part only, and not the whole of what is within. Now the fountain is still above the streams : fo where the water is good, it is best in the fountain ; where it is ill, it is worst there. The corruption of nature being that which defiles all, itself must needs be the most abominable thing.
3. It is virtually all sin: for it is the seed of all sins which want but the occasion to set up their heads: being in the corruption of Dature, as the effect in the virtue of its caule. Hence it is called a body of death, (Rom. vii. 24.) as consisting of the several members, belonging to such a body of sins, (Col. ii. 11.) whose life lies in spiritual: death. It is the cursed ground, fit to bring forth all manner of noxious weeds. As the whole nest of venemous creatures must needs be more dreadful, than any few of them that coine creeping forth; fo
the sin of thy nature, that mother of abominations must be worse than į any particular lusts, that appear stirring in thy heart and life. Never
did every lin appear in the conversation of the vileft wretch that ever lived ; but look thou into thy corrupt nature, and there thou mayest see all and every sm in the feed and root thereof. There is a fulness of all unrighteousness there, Rom. i. 29. There is atheism, idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, and whatsoever is vile. Pofsibly none of these appear to thee in thy heart: but there is more in that unfathomable depth of wickedness, than thou knoweft. Thy corrupt heart is like an ant's nest, on which, while the stone lieth, none of them appear: but take off the stone, stir them up, but with the point of a straw, you will see what a fwarm is there, and how lively they be. Just such a sight would thy heart afford thee, did the Lord but withdraw the restraint he has upon it, and suffer Satan to stir it up by temptation.
4. The sin of our nature is, of all fins, the most fixed and abiding. Sinful actions, tho' the guilt and stain of them may remain, yet in themselves they are palling. The drunkard is not always at his cup, nor the unclean person always acting lewdness. But the corruption of nature is an abiding fin: it remains with men in its full power by night and by day, at all times, fixed as with bands of iron, and brass : till their nature be changed by converting grace; and the remains of it continue with the godly, until the death of the body. Pride, envy, covetousness, and the like, are not always stirring in thee. But the proud, envious, carnal nature is still with thee : even as the clock that is wrong, is not always striking wrong ; but the wrong set continues with it, without great intermillion.
5. It is the great reigning fin, Rom. vi. 12. Let not fin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lufts thereof. There are three things you may observe in the corrupt heart. (1.) There is the corrupt nature ; the corrupt set of the heart whereby inen are unapt for all good, and fitted for all evil. This the apostle here calls, sin which reigns. (2.) There are particular lufts, or dispositions of that corrupt nature, which the Apostle calls the lusts thereof; such as pride, covetousness, &c. (3.) There is one among these, which is (like Saul amongst the people) higher by. far than the rest, namely, the sin which doch fo easily beset us, Heb.xii. I. This we usually call the predominate fin, because it doth, as it were, reign over other particular lufts; fo that other lusts must yield to it. These three are like a river which divides itself into many streams, whereof one is greater than the rest. The corruption of nature is the river-head, which has many particular lusts, in which it runs: but it mainly disburdens itself into what is commonly called one's predominate sin. Now all of these being fed by the sin of our nature; it is evident that sin is the great reigning sin, which never loseth its fuperiority over particular lufts, that live and die with it, and by it, But as in some rivers, the main stream runs not always in one and the fame channel: so particular predominants may be changed, as lufts in youth may be succeeded by covetousness in old age. Now, what doth it avail to reform in other fins, while the great reigning fin remains in its full power? What tho’some particular lust be broken? If that (m), the sin of our nature keep the throne, it will set up another in its stead: as when a water-course is stopt in one place, while the fountain is not dammed up, it will stream forth another way. And thus fote cast off their prodigality, but covetousness comes up in its stead: some cast away their profanity, and the corruption of nature sends not its main stream that way as before: but it runs in another channel, namely, in that of a legal disposition, self-righteoufness, or the like, so that people are ruined by their not eying, the sin of their nature,
Lastly, It is an hereditary evil, Pfal. li.'5. In fin did my mother conceive me. Particular lults are not so, but in the virtue of their cause. A prodigal father may have a frugal son: but this disease is necessarily propagated in nature, and therefore hardest to cure. Surely then the word should be given out against this fin, as against the King of Israel, 1 Kings xxii. 31. Fight neither with small nor great, fave only with this: for this íin being broke, all other sins are broken with it, and while it stands entire, there is no victory.
IV. That ye may get a view of the corruption of your nature, I would recommend to you three things. (1.) Study ) know the spirituality and extent of the law of God, for that is the glass wherein you may see yourselves. (2.)
Observe your hearts at all times, but especially under temptation. Temptation is a fire that brings up the fcum of the vile heart: do ye carefully mark the first risings of corruption. Lastly, Go to God through Jesus Christ, for illumination by his Spirit. Lay out your soul before the Lord, as willing to know the vileness of your nature: say unto him, That which I know not, teach thou me: and be willing to take in light from the word. Believe, and you shall see. It is by the word the Spirit teacheth, but, without the Spirit's teaching, all other teaching will be to little purpose. Tho the gospel should thine about you, like the sun at noon-day; and this great truth be never so plainly preached: you will never see yourselves aright, until the Spirit of the Lord light his candle within your breaft: the fulness and glory of Christ, the corruption and vileness of our nature, are never rightly learned, but where the Spirit of Christ is the teacher.
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 weak, ning of the remains of this natural corruption. Is your nature changed? It is it in part so. The day was, ye could not stir; now ye are cured: but remember the cure is not yet perfected, ye still go halting. And tho' 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.
yould at length be serious about the state of your souls! What mind ye to do? Ye must die; ye must appear before the judgment feat of God. Will ye ly down, and sleep another night at ease, in this case? Do it not: for before another day you may be fifted before God's dreadful tribunal, in the grave cloaths of your corrupt state, and your vile fouls, calt 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 :