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Christ and his apostles ? What was it owing to ? And where did the blame lie ? They were acquainted with them ; heard them talk and preach, and saw their conduct, and could not but plainly perceive their temper, and know what sort of disposition they were of, and what sort of men they were; and yet they did not like them; but they hated them; they belied them, slandered and reproached them, and put them to death. And now what was the matter? What was the cause of all this? Were not their prophets, and Christ and his apostles indeed lovely, and worthy of their hearty esteem ? Did not all that they said and did, manifest them to be so? Why, then, did they not love them? Was it not wholly owing to their not having a right temper of mind, and to their being of so bad a disposition ? And were they not wholly to blame? They might say of Christ, That they could see no form nor comeliness in him, wherefore they should desire him; and where no beauty is seen, it is impossible there should be any love. But why did not he appear most amiable in their eyes? And why were their hearts not ravished with his beauty? His disciples loved him, and Mar. tha, and Mary, and Lazarus loved him; and why did not the Scribes and Pharisees love him as much ? Why, because his person and doctrines did not suit them, and were not agreeable to the temper of their hearts. The bad temper of their hearts made him appear odious in their eyes, and was the cause of all their ill-will towards him. And now, were they not to blame for this bad temper, and for all their bad feelings, and bad carriage towards Christ, thence arising ? Yes, surely, if ever any men were to blame for any thing. And now, if God the Father had been in the same circumstances as God the Son was then in, he would not have been loved a jot more, or treated a whit better than he was. Indeed it was that image and resemblance of the infinitely glorious and blessed God, which was to be seen in their prophets ; in Christ and his apostles, which was the very thing they hated him for : Therefore Christ says, He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. But now have they both seen and hated, both me and my Father. Jolin xv. 23, 24. And Christ attributes it entirely to their want of a right temper, and to the bad disposition of their hearts, that they did not love him, and love his doctrines, If God were your father, you would love me.
. John viii. 42. He that is of God, (of a God-like temper,) heareth God's words : ye, therefore, hear them not, because ye are not of God, (ver. 47.) In truth, the bottom of all your enmity is, that you are of your father, the devil, i. e. of just such a temper as he, (ver. 44.) And now, what think you, when Christ comes
. in flaming fire, to take vengeance on an ungodly world? Will he blame the Scribes and Pharisees for not loving him with all their hearts, or no? Or will he excuse the matter, and say, on their behalf, They could see no form nor comeliness in me. I appeared very odious to them; they could not love me; they could not but hate me, and no man is to blame for not doing more than he can ?
From the whole, it is plain that mankind are to blame, wholly to blame, and perfectly inexcusable, for their not having right apprehensions of God, and for their not having a sense of his glory in being what he is, and for their not loving him with all their heart ; because all is owing merely to their want of a right temper, and to the bad disposition of their hearts.
Indeed, if we were altogether of such a temper, frame, and disposition of heart as we ought to be, it would be altogether as easy and natural to love God with all our hearts, as it is for the most dutiful child to love a tender and valuable parent. For God is really infinitely amiable; and were we of such a temper, he would appear so in our eyes; and did he appear so in our eyes, we could not but love him with all our hearts, and delight in him with all our souls; and it would be most easy and natural so to do; for no man ever found any difficulty in loving that which appears very amiable in his eyes. For the proof of wbich I appeal to the experience of
. all mankind. And now, why does not God appear infinitely amiable in our eyes? Is it because he has not clearly revealed that he is, in his works and in his word ? Surely no; for the revelation is plain enough. Is it because he is not infinitely ainiable in being what he is ? Surely no; for all heaven are ravished with his infinite beauty. What is it, then, that makes us blind to the infinite excellency of the divine nature? Why, it can be owing to nothing but a bad temper
of mind in us, and to our not being of such a temper as we ought to be. For I appeal to the experience of all mankind, whether those persons and things which suit the temper of their hearts, do not naturally appear amiable in their eyes? And certainly, if God does not suit the temper of our hearts, it is not owing to any fault in him, but the fault must be wholly in ourselves. If the temper and disposition of God (i. e. his moral perfections,) be not agreeably to our temper
and disposition, most certainly our temper and disposition are very wrong. If God were your father, ye would love me ; but ye are of your father the devil, therefore ye hate me; (John viii. 42. 44.) i. e.“ If you were of a temper like God, ye would love me ; but being of a contrary temper, hence you hate me. If you were of a right temper, I should appear amiable unto you; and it is wholly owing to your bad teinper, that I appear otherwise. If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” (Verse 39.)
OBJ. But be it so, yet I cannot help being of such a temper as I am of; how, therefore am I wholly to blame?
Ans. You have as much power to help being of such a temper as the Scribes and Phurisees had; but Christ judged them to be wholly to blame, and altogether inexcusable. They could not like Christ or his doctrine: Ye Cannor hear my word, says Christ, (verse 43;) but their CANNOT, their inability, was no excuse to them in Christ's account, because all their inability, he plainly saw, arose from their bad temper, and their want of a good disposition. And although they had no more power to help being of such a temper than you have, yet he judged them wholly to blame, and altogether inexcusable. (John viii. 33-47. John xv. 22--25.) And now we know that his judgment is according to truth. But in order to help you to see into the reason of the thing, I desire you seriously and impartially to consider,
1. That sinners are free and voluntary in their bad temper. A wicked world have discovered a very strong disposition to hate God, even from the beginning. And the Jewish nation, God's own peculiar people, of whom, if of any, we might hope for better things, were so averse to God and his .ways, that they hated and murdered the messengers which he sent to reVOL. I.
claim them, and, at last, even murdered God's own Son. And now whence was all this? Why, from the exceeding bad and wicked temper of their hearts. They have hated me without a cause. John xv. 25. But did any body force them to be of such a bad temper? Surely no; they were hearty in it. Were they of such a bad temper against their wills? Surely no; their wills, their hearts were in it. · Yea, they loved their bad temper and loved to gratify it, and hence were mightily pleased with their false prophets, because they always prophesied in their favour, and suited and gratified their disposition : and they hated whatsoever was disagreeable to their bad temper, and tended to cross it; and hence were they so enraged at the preaching and the persons of their prophets ; of Christ and his apostles ; so that they were manifestly roluntary and hearty in their bad temper. We have loved strangers, and after them we will go. Jer. ii. 25. Bitt us for the word which thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we WILL NOT hearken unto thee. Jer. xliv. 16. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending ; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, &c. 2 Chr. xxxvi. 15, 16. And so all wicked men are as voluntary in their bad temper as they were. The temper of the mind is nothing but the habitual inclination of the heart : but an involuntary inclination of the heart is a contradiction. And the stronger any inclination is, the more full and free the heart and soul is in the thing. Hence the bad temper, or the habitual bad inclination of the devil, is at the furthest distance from any compulsion ; he is most perfectly free and hearty in it. And all sinful creatures being thus voluntary, free, and hearty in the bad temper of their minds; or, in other words, the bad temper of the mind being nothing but the habitual inclination of the heart, hence all must be to blame in a degree equal to the strength of their bad inclination. In a word, if we were continually forced to be of such a bad temper, entirely against our wills, then we should not be to blame; for it would not be at all the temper of our hearts : but so long as our bad temper is notbing else but
the habitual frame, disposition, and inclination of our own HEARTS, without any manner of compulsion, we are perfectjy without excuse, and that whether we can help being of such a temper, or no. For,
2. If a sinful creature's not being able to help his being of a bad temper, does in the least free him from blame; then the more vile and sinful any creature grows, the less to blame will he be: because the more vile and sinful
any creature grows,
the less able is he to help his being of so bad a frame of heart. Thus, if a man feels a bad spirit towards one of his neighbours creeping into his heart, perhaps if he immediately resists it, he may be able easily to overcome and suppress it; but if he gives way to it, and suffers it to take strong hold of his heart : if he cherishes it until it grows up into a settled enmity, and keeps it in his heart for twenty years, seeking all opportunities to gratify it by backbiting, defaming, &c. it will now, perhaps, be clean out of his power to get rid of it, and effectually root it out of his heart. It will at least be a very difficult thing. Now, the man is talked to and blamed for backbiting and defaming his neighbour, time after time, and is urged to love his neighbour as himself, but he says he cannot love him. But why cannot you ? For other men love him. Why, he appears in my eyes the most odious and hateful man in the world. Yes, but that is owing to your own bad temper. Well, but I cannot help my temper, and therefore I am not to blame. Now, it is plain, in this case, how weak the man's plea is; and even common sense will teach all mankind to judge him the more vile and blame-worthy, by how much the more his grudge is settled and rooted. And yet the more settled and rooted it is, the more unable is he to get rid of it. And just so it is here : Suppose a creature loved God with all his heart, but after a while begins to feel his love abate, and an aversion to God secretly creeping into his soul ; now, perhaps, he might easily .suppress and overcome it : but if he gives way to it, until he loses all sense of God's glory, and settles into a state of enmity against him, it may be quite impossible ever to recover hinself. And yet he is not the less, but the more vile, and so the more blame-worthy. If, then, we are so averse to God that we cannot love him; and if our bad temper is so strong, so