« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the Lord, before angels, devils, and one another ; in effect giving out that they were hardly dealt by, and that heaven grudged their happiness. (10.) They were discont ó t with their lot, and coveted an evil covetousness to their house, which ruined both them and theirs. Thus was the image of God on man defaced all at once.
The Doctrine of the Corruption of Nature applied. Use I. For Information. Is man's nature wholly corrupted ? Then,
1. No wonder the grave open it's devouring mouth for us, as soon as the womb hath cast us forth; and that the cradle be turned into a coffin, to receive the corrupt lump: for we are all, in a fpiritual sense, dead born ; yea, and filthy, (Pfal. xiv. 3.) noisome, rank, and stinking as a corrupt thing, as the word imports. Let us not complain of the miseries we are exposed to, at our entrance, nor of the continuance of them, while we are in the world. Here is the venom that has poisoned all the springs of earthly enjoyments we have to drink of. It is the corruption of man's nature, that brings forth all the miseries of human life in churches, states, families: in men's fouls and bodies.
2. Behold here, as in a glass, the spring of all the wickednefs, profanity, and formality in the world; the source of all the disorders in thy own heart and life. Every thing acts like itself, agreeable to its own nature ; and so corrupt man ačts corruptly. You need not wonder at the sinfulness of your own heart and life, nor at the.Sinful. ness and perverseness of others : if a man be crooked, he cannot but halt ; and if the clock be set wrong, how can it point the hour right.
3. See here, why sin is so pleasant, and religion such a burden to carnal spirits : fin is natural, holiness not fo. Oxen cannot feed in the sea, nor fishes in the fruitful fields. A swine brought into a palace, would get away again, to wallow in the mire. A corrupt nature tends ever to impurity.
4. Learn from this, the nature and necessity of regeneration. First, This discovers the nature of regeneration in these two things, (1.) It is not a partial, but a total change, tho' imperfect in this life. Thy whole nature is corrupted, and therefore the cure must go thro' erery part. Regeneration makes riot only a new head for knowledge, but a new heart, and new affections for holiness. All things beconie new, 2 Cor. v. 17. "If one who has received many wounds, thould be cured of them all, fave one only, he might bleed to death, by that one, as well as a thousand. So if the change go not through the whole man, it is naught. (2.) It is not a change made by human industry, but by the mighty power of the Spirit of God. A man muft be born of the Spirit, John iii. 5 Accidental diseases may be cured by men, but these which are natural, not without a miracle, John ix. 22. The change wrought upon men, by good education, or forced upon them, by a natural conscience, tho' it may pass among men for a fav.
ing change, it is not lo; for our nature is corrupt, and none but the God of nature can change it. Tho' a gardiner, ingrafting a pear branch into an apple tree, may make the apple-tree bear pears; yet the art of inan cannot change the nature of the apple-tree : fo ono may pin a new life to his old heart, but he can never change the heart. Secondly, This also thews the necefsity of regeneration. It is absolutely necessary in order to salvation; John i. 3. Except a man he born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. No unclean thing can enter the new Jerufalem: but thou art wholly unclean, while in thy natural state. If every member of thy body were disjointed, each joint behoved to be loosed, ere the members could be set aright again. This is the case of thy soul, as thou hast heard : and therefore thou must be born again ; else thou shalt never fee heaven, unless it be far off, as the rich man in hell did. Deceive not thyself; no Mercy of GOD, no Blood of CHRIST will bring thee to heaven, in thy unregenerate state : for God will never open a fountain of mercy, to wash away his own holiness and truth : nor did.Christ thed his precious blood, to blot out the truths of God, or to overturn God's measures about the salvation of finners. Heaven! What would you do there, that are not born aguin. Ye that are no ways fitting for Christ the head. That would be a strange fight, a holy head, and members wholly corrupt! a head full of treasures of grace, members wherein are nothing but treasures of wickedness! a head obedient to death, and heels kicking against heaven! Ye are no ways adapted to the society above, more than bealts for converse with men.
Thou art a hater of true holiness: and at the first sight of a saint there, would cry oué, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy! Nay, the unrenewed man, if it were possible he could go to heaven, in that state, he would no otherwise to it, than now he comes to the duties of holiness, that is, leaving his heart behind him.
USE II. For Lamentation. Well may we lament thy case, Q natural man, for it is the saddest case one can be in, out of hell. It is time to lament for thee; for thou art dead already, dead whilst thou livest; thou carriest about with thee a dead soul in a living body :: and because thou art dead, thou canst not lament thy own case. Thou art loathsome in the light of God; for thou art altogether corrupt. Thou haft no good in thee; thy foul is a mass of darkness, rebellion, and vileness before the Lord. Thou thinkest, perhaps, that thou halt a good heart to God, good inclinations, and good desires : but God knows there is nothing good in thee, but every imagination of thine. heart is only evil. Thou canst do no good; thou carat do nothing but fin. For,
First, Thou art the fervant of sin, Rom. vi. 17. and therefore free from righteousness, ver. 20. Whatever righteousness be, (poor soul) thou art free of it; thou doit not, thou canst not meddle with it. Thou art under the dominion of sin, a dominion where righteousness can have no place. Thou art : child and servant of the devil, tho'
thou be neither wizzard nor witch : seeing thou art yet in the state of nature, John vii. 44. Ye are of your father the devil. And to prevent any mistake, consider, that sin and Satan have two sorts of servants, (1.) There are some employed, as it were, in coarser work: those bear the devil's mark in their fore-heads, having no form of godliness; but are profane, grofly ignorant, inene moralists, not fo much as performing the external duties of religion, but living to the view of the world; as fons of earth, only minding earthly things, Philip. iii. 19. (2.) There are some employed in a more refined sort of service to fin, who carry the devil's mark in their right hand which they can, and do hide from the view of the world. These are clofs hypocrites, who facrifice as much to the corrupt mind, as the other to the flesh, Eph. ii. 3. These are ruined by a more undiscernable trade of fin : pride, unbelief, self-seeking, and the like, swarm in, and prey upon their corrupted, wholly corrupted souls. Both are servants of the same house; the latter as far as the former from righteousness.
Secondly, How is it possible thou shouldst be able to do any good, thou whose nature is wholly corrupt? Can fruit grow where there is no root? Or, can there be an effect without a cause? Can the fig-tree bear olive berries? Either a vine figs? If thy nature be wholly corrupt, as indeed it is, all thou dost is certainly fo too; for no effect can exceed the virtue of its cause. Can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit? Matth. vii. 18.
Ah! What a miserable spectacle is he that can do nothing but sin? Thou art the man, whosoever thou art, that art yet in thy natural ftate. Hear, O finner, what is thy case.
Firft, Innumerable fins compass thee about. Mountains of guilt are lying upon thee. Floods of impurities overwhelm thee. Living lusts of all sorts roll up and down in the dead sea of thy soul; where no good can breathe, because of the corruption there. Thy lips are unclearl': the opening of tly mouth is as the opening of an unripe grave, full of stench and rottenness, Rom. iji. 13. Their throat is an open fepulchre. Thy natural actions are fin, for when ye did eat, and
did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? Zech. vii 6. Thy civil actions are sin, Prov. xxi. 4. The plowing of the wicked is fin. Thy religious actions are sin, Prov. xv. 8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. The thoughts and imaginations of thy heart, are only evil. A deed may be foon done, 2 word soon spoken, a thought swiftly passeth through the heart : but each of these is an Item in thy accounts. O sad reckoning! as many thoughts, words, actions ; as many sins. The longer thou livest, thy accounts (well the more. Should a tear be dropt for every sin, thine head behoved to be waters, and thine eyes a fountain of tears; for nothing but fin comes from thee. Thy heari frames nothing but evil imaginations; there is nothing in thy life, but what is framed by chine heart; and therefore there is nothing in thy heart or life but evil.
Secondly, All thy religion, if thou hast any, is loft labour
; as to acceptance with God, or any saving effect to thyfelf. Art thou yet in thy natural state? Truly then thy duties are sins, as was just now hinted. Would not the best wine be lothsome in a vessel wherein there is no pleasure ? So is the religion of an unregenerate man. Under the law; the garment which the flesh of the sacrifice was carried in, thoʻ it touched other things, did not make them holy : but he that was unclean touching any thing, whether cominon or sacred, made it unclean. Even so thy duties cannot make thy corrupt roul holy, tho’ they in themselves be good; but thy corrupt heart defiles them, and makes them unclean, Hag. ii. 12, 13, 14. Thou wast wont to divide thy works into two forts; some good, fome evil; but thou must count again and put them all under one head; for God writes on them all, only evil. This is lamentable: It will be no wonder to see those beg in harvest, who fold their hands to sleep in seed-time: but to be labouring with others in the spring, and yet have nothing, to reap when the harvest comes, is a very fad case; and will be the case of all professors living and dying in their natural state.
Lastly, Thou canst not help thyself. What canst thou do to take away thy sin, who art wholly corrupt? Nothing truly but fin. If a natural man begin to relent, drop a tear for his sin and reform, pre. sently the corrupt heart apprehends, at least, a merit of congruity: he has done much himself, (he thinks) and God cannot but do more for him on that account. In the mean time he does nothing but sin: fo that the congruous merit is the leper that must be put out of the camp; the dead foul buried out of sight: and the corrupt lump cast into the pit. How canst thou think to recover thyself bysany thing thou canst do? Will mud and filth wash out filthiness? and wilt thou
purge out fin by finning? Job took a potsherd to scrape himself, because his hands were as full of boils as his body. This is the case of thy corrupt soul: not to be recovered but by Jesus Christ, whose strength was dried up like a potsherd, Pfal. xxii. 15. Thou art poor indeed, extremely riserable and poor, Rev. iii. 17. Thou hast no shelter but a refuge of hes; no garment for thy foul, but filthy rags; nothing to nourish it but huiks that cannot fatisfy. More than that, thou hast got such a bruise in the loins of Adam, which is not yet cured, that thou art without strength, Rom. v. 6. unable to do or work for thyself; nay, more than all this, thou canst not so much-as seek aright, but liest helpless, as an infant exposed in the open field, Ezek. xvi.
5: USE ÎNT. I exhort you to believe this sad truth. Alas! it is evident, it is very little believed in the world. Few are concerned to get their corrupt conversation changed; but fewer, by far, to get their nature changed: Most men know not what they are, nor what spirits they are of : they are as the eye, which seeing many things, never fees itself. But until ye know, every one the plague of his own heart, there is no hope of your recovery. Why will you not believe it? Ye have plain scripture-testimony for it; but you are loth to entertain
such an ill opinion of yourselves. Alas! that is the natiire of your disease, Rev. iii. 17. Thou-krotveft now that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Lord open their eyes to Tee it, before they die of it; and in hell lift up their eyes, and see what they will not see now.
I shall Thut up this weighty point of the corruption of man's nature, with a few words to another doctrine from the text.
DOCTRINE. God takes special notice of our natural corruption, or the fin of our nature. This he testifies two ways, 1. By his word, as in the text, God faw-that every imagination of the thoughts
of man's heart was enly evil continually. See Psal. xiv. 2, 3. 2. By his works. God writes his particular notice of it, and displeasure with it, as in many of his works, fo especially in these two:
(1.) In the death of the infant children of men. Many miseries they have been exposed to : they were drowned in the deluge, consumed in Sodom by fire and brimstone; they have been flain with the sword, dalhed against the stones, and are still dying ordinary deaths. What is the true cause of this? On what ground doth a holy God thus pursue them? Is it the sin of their parents? That may be the occasion of the Lord's raising the process against them: but it must be their own sin that is the ground of the sentence passing on them: for the foul that finneth, it shall die, faith God, Ezek. xvi. 4. Is it their own actual lin? They have none: But as men do with toads and serpents, which they kill at first sight, before they have done any hurt, because of their venomous nature, so is it in this case.
(2.) In the birth of the elect children of God. When the Lord is about to change their nature, he makes the sin of their nature ly heavy on their spirits. When he minds to let out the corruption, the lance gets full depth in their souls, reaching to the root of sin, Rom. vii.7,8,9: The flesh, or corruption of nature is pierced, being crucified, as well as the affections and lusts, Gal. v. 24. USE. Let us then liave a special eye upon the corruption and sin of
God fees it : O that we saw it too, and that sin were ever before us! What avails it to notice other sins, while this mother. sin is not noticed? Turn your eyes inward to the lin of your nature. It is to be feared, many have this work to begin yet; that they have shut the door, while the grand thief is yet in the house undiscovered. This is a weighty point; and in the handling of it,
1. I shall, for conviction, point at fome evidences of men's overlooking the sin of their nature, which yet the Lord takes particular notice of, (1.) Men's looking on themselves with such confidence, as if they were in no hazard of gross fins. Many would take it very hainously to get such a caution, as Christ gave his Apostles, Luke xxi.34. Take heed of surfeiting and drunkenness. If any should suppose their to break out in gross abominations, they would be ready to say, Am I a dog? It would raise the pride of their hearts, but not their fear and treinbling; because they know not the corruption of their nature.