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settled, and rooted, that we cannot get rid of it, this is so far from being matter of excuse for us, that it renders us so much the more vile, guilty, and hell-deserving; for to suppose that our inability, in this case, extenuates our fault; our inability which increases in proportion to our badness, is to suppose that the worse any sinner grows, the less to blame he is; than which, nothing can be more absurd.
OBJ. But I was brought into this state by Adam's fall.
Ans. Let it be by Adan's fall, or how it will, yet if you are an enemy to the infinitely glorious God, your Maker, and that voluntarily, you are infinitely to blame, and without excuse; for nothing can make it right for a creature to be a voluntary enemy to his glorious Creator, or possibly excuse such a crime. It is in its own nature, infinitely wrong ; there is nothing, therefore, to be said; you stand guilty before God. It is in vain to make this or any other pleas, so long as we are what we are, not by compulsion, but voluntarily. And it is in vain to pretend that we are not voluntary in our corruptions, when they are nothing else but the free, spontaneous inclinations of our own hearts. Since this is the case, every mouth will be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God, sooner or later.
Thus we see, that, as to a natural capacity, all mankind are capable of a perfect conformity to God's law, which requires us only to love God with all our hearts: and that all our inability arises merely from the bad temper of our hearts, and our want of a good disposition; and that, therefore, we are wholly to blame and altogether inexcusable. Our impotency, in one word, is not natural, but moral, and, therefore, instead of extenuating, does magnify and enhance our fault. The more unable to love God we are, the more are we to blame. Even as it was with the Jews ; the greater contrariety there was in their hearts, to their prophets, to Christ and his apostles, the more vile and blame-worthy were they*. And in
OBJ. But, says a secure sinner, surely there is no contrariety in my heart to God; I never hated God in my life ; I always loved him.
Ans. The Scribes and Pharisees verily thought that they loved God, and that, If they had lived in the days of their fathers, they would not have put the Prophets to death. They were altogether insensible of the perfect contrariety of
this light do the scriptures constantly view the case. There is not one tittle in the Old Testament or in the New, in the law or in the gospel, that gives the least intimation of any deficiency in our natural faculties. The law requires no more than all our hearts, and never blames us for not having larger natural capacities. The gospel airns to recover us to love God ONLY with all our hearts, but makes no provision for our having any new natural capacity; as to our natural capacities, all is well. It is in our temper, in the frame and disposition of our hearts, that the seat of all our sinfulness lies. Ezek. xii. 2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not, for they are a rebellious house. This is the bottom of the business. We have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and his glory shines all around us, in the heavens and in the earth; in his word and in his ways; and his name is proclaimed in our ears; and there is nothing hinders our seeing and hearing, but that we are rebellious creatures. Our contrariety to God makes us blind to the beauty of the divine nature, and deaf to all his commands, counsels, calls, and invitations. We might know God, if we had a heart to know him; and love God, if we had a heart to love him. It is nothing but our bad temper, and being destitute of a right disposition, that makes us spiritually blind and spiritually dead. If this heart of stone was but away, and a heart of flesh was but in us, all would be well : we should be able enough to their hearts to the divine nature. And whence was it? Why, they had wrong Dotions of the divine Being, and they loved that false inage which they had framed in their own fancies; and so they had wrong notions of the Prophets which their fathers hated and murdered, and hence imagined that they should have loved them. But they saw a little what a temper and disposition Christ was of, and him they hated with a perfect hatred. So there are multitudes of secure sinners and self-deceived hypocrites, who verily think they love God ; nevertheless, as soon as ever they open their eyes in eternity, and see just what God is, their love will vanish, and their enmity break out and exert itself to perfection. So that the reason sinners see not their contrariety to the divine nature, is their not seeing what God is. It must be so ; for a sinful nature and an holy nature are diametrically opposite. So much as there is of a sinful disposition in the heart, so mucka of contrariety is there to the divine nature. If, therefore, we are not sensible of this contrariety, it can be owing to nothing but our ignorance of God, or not be. lieving him to be what he really is. Rom. vii. 8, 9.
see, and hear, and understand, and know divine things ; and should be ravished with their beauty; and it would be most natural and easy to love God with all our hearts.
And hence, it is most evident that the supreme Governor of the world has not the least ground or reason to abate his law, or to reverse the threatening; nor have a rebellious world the least ground or reason to charge God with cruelty,
“ It is not just that he should require more than we can do, and threaten to damn us for not doing;" for, from what has been said, it is manifest that the law is holy, just, and good ; and that there is nothing in the way of our perfect conformity to it, but our own wickedness, in which we are free, and hearty, and voluntary; and for which, therefore, in strict justice, we deserve eternal damnation. The law is already exactly upon a level with our natural capacities, and it need not, therefore, be brought any lower. And there is no greater punishment threatened than our sin deserves; there is, therefore, no reason the threatening should be reversed: as to the law, all is well, and there is no need of any alteration : and there is nothing amiss, but in ourselves. It is impudent wickedness, therefore, to fly in the face of God and of his holy law, and charge him with injustice and cruelty ; because, forsooth, we hate him so bad that we cannot find it in our hearts to love him; and are so high-hearted and stout that we must not be blamed. No, we are too good to be blamed in the case, and all the blame, therefore, must be cast upon God and his holy law. Yea, we are come to that, in this rebellious world, that if God sends to us the news of pardon and peace through Jesus Christ, and invites us to return unto him and be reconciled, we are come to that, I say, as to take it as an high affront at the hands of the Almighty. “ He pretends to offer us mercy,” (say God-hating, God-provoking sinners,)“ but he only mocks us; for he offers all upon conditions which we cannot possibly perform." This is as if they should say, “ We hate him so much,
“ and are of so high a spirit, that we cannot find in our hearts to return, and own the law to be just, by which we stand condemned, and look to his free mercy, through Jesus Christ, for pardon and eternal life ; and, therefore, if he will offer
pardon and eternal life upon no easier terms, he does but dissemble with us, and mock and deride us in our misery.” And since this is the true state of the case, therefore it is no wonder that even infinite goodness itself, has fixed upon a day when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in faming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then shall ungodly sinners be convinced of all their hard speeches which they have uogodlily spoken against the Lord; and then shall the righteousness of all God's ways be made manifest before all the world.
To conclude. God, the great Lord of all, has threatened eternal damnation against all those who do not perfectly keep the law, (Gal. iii. 10.) even although they live and die in the midst of the heathen world, Rom. i. 18, 19, 20. (of which more afterwards.) And at the day of judgment he will execute the threatening upon all, (those only excepted, that are by faith, interested in Christ and in the new covenant,) and his so doing will evidently be justifiable in the sight of all worlds, on this ground, viz. That they were not under a natural necessity of sinning, but were altogether voluntary in their disobedience. Luke xix. 27. But those mine ENEMIES which WOULD NOT that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them them before me.
And this, by the way, is the very thing which stops the mouth of an awakened, convinced, humble sinner, and settles him down in it, that he deserves to be damned, notwithstanding all his doings, viz. that he is what he is, not by compulsion, or through a natural necessity, but altogether voluntarily. There is nothing more difficult in the whole work preparatory to conversion, than to make the sinner see, and feel, and own, that it is just, quite just, altogether just and fair, for God to damn him. He pleads, that he is sorry for all his sins, and is willing to forsake them all for ever, and is resolved always to do as well as he can. He pleads, that he cannot help his heart's being so bad ; that he did not bring himself into that condition, but that he was brought into it by the fall of Adam, which he could not possibly prevent, and which he had no hand in. But when he comes in a clear and realizing manner, to see and
feel the whole truth, viz. that he does not care for God, nor desire to, but is really an enemy to him in his very heart, and voluntarily so, and that all his fair pretences and promises, prayers and tears, are but mere hypocrisy, arising only from self-love, and guilty fears, and mercenary hopes, now the business is done. For, says he, It matters not how I came into this condition, nor whether I can help having so bad a heart, since I am voluntarily just such a one as I am, and really love and choose to be what I am. Rom. vii. 8, 9. Sin revived and I died. He feels himself without excuse, and that his mouth is stopped, and that he must be forced to own the sentence just; for he feels that it is not owing to any compulsior or natural necessity, but that he is voluntarily and heartily such a one as he is. And now, and not till now, does he feel himself to be a sipner, completely so; for he, all along before, fancied some goodness to be in him, and thought himself in some measure excusable : and now, and not till now, is he prepared to attribute his salvation entirely to free and sovereign grace. All along before he had something to say for himself, like the Pharisee : But, with the publican he now sees that he lies at mercy, Luke xviii. 13. This is the very thing that makes all mankind to blaine, altogether to blame, for be ing what they are, namely, that they are voluntarily so; this is the reason they deserve to be damned for being so, and this, when seen and felt by the awakened sinner, effectually stops bis mouth.
And this, also, is the very thing that makes believers see themselves wholly to blame for not being perfectly holy, and lays a foundation for their mourning for their want of a perfect conforunity to the law. They feel their defects are not the result of a natural necessity, but only of the remains of their old aversion to God, which, so far as they are unsanctified, they are voluntary in*. And hence they cry out, I am car
OBJ. “ But does not St. Paul say, in Rom. vü. 18. To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not ?”
Ans. 'Tis true, he had a strong disposition to be perfectly holy, but his disposition was not perfect. He had a stroog disposition tq love God supremely, live to bim entirely, and delight in him wholly, but his whole heart was not perfectly disposed to do so. There was a spirit of aversion to God, and love to sin,