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nal, sold under sin, Oreretched man that I am! Rom. vii. 14. 24 ; and set themselves down for beasts and fools. Psalm lxxiii. 22.
And finally, this want of a good temper; this voluntary and stubborn aversion to God, and love to themselves, the world, and sin, is all that renders the immediate influences of the Holy Spirit so absolutely necessary, or indeed at all needful, to recover and bring them to love God with all their hearts. A bare representation of what God is, were men of a right temper, would ravish their hearts; for his beauty and glory are infinite. It is nothing, therefore, but their badness that makes it needful that there should be line upon line, and precept upon precept. It is their aversion to God, that makes any persuasions at all needful; for, were they of a right temper, they would love God with all their hearts, of their own accord. And surely, were not men very bad indeed, there would be no occasion for his ambassadors with such earnestness to beseech them. We pray you, says the apostle, in Christ's
remaining in him. In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing : and this was the ground and cause of all his impotency. So that when he says, To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not, he means, “ To be in a measure disposed to love God supremely, live to blm entirely, and delight in him wholly, is natural and easy; but how to get my whole heart into the disposition, I find not; it is beyond me, through the remains of the flesh, i. e. of my native contrariety to God, and love to sin.” Which remaining contrariety to God, and propensity to sin, so far as he was upsanctified, he was voluntary in ; but so far as he was sanctified, he perfectly hated. With my mind, I myself serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin. Ver. 25. And so the spirit lusted against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit; and these two were contrary the one to the other, and hence he could not do the things that he would Gal. v. 17.
OBJ. “ But does not St. Paul speak several times, in Rom. vii. as if he was not properly to blame for his remaining corruptions, when he says, It is not I, but sin that dwelleth in me !"
Ans. He only means, by that phrase, to let us kuow that his remaining cora ruption was not the governing principle in him : according to what he had said in Rom. vi. 14. Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace : but does not at all design to insinuate, that he did not see himself to blame, yea, wholly to blame, for his remaining corruption. For though he says sometimes, It is not I, but sin that dwelleth in me, yet, at other times, I am carnal, sold under sin. Ver. 14 O wretched man that I am. Ver. 21. like a broken-hearted penitent. But he could not have niourned for his rea maining corruption as being sinful, if he had not felt himself to blame for it. VOL. I.
stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2 Cor. 7. 20. But now, that all external means that can possibly be used; all arguments, and motives, and entreaties, urged in the most forcible manner, should not be able to recover men to God, no, not one, in all the world, without the immediate influences of the Holy Spirit, can surely be attributed to nothing short of this, that an apostate world are, in very deed, at enmity against God, and their contrariety to him is mightily settled and rooted in their hearts; mightily settled and rooted indeed, that Paul was nothing, and Apollos nothing, and all their most vigorous efforts nothing; so that without the immediate influences of the Holy Spirit, not one, by them, although the best preachers, of mere men, that ever lived, could be persuaded to turn to God. 1. Cor. iii. 7. But that the world should, in fact, rise in arms, and put the messengers of heaven to death, seems to argue enmily and malice, to the highest degree. It is men's badness that keeps them from taking in right apprehensions of God, and that makes them blind to the beauty of the divine nature, and that makes them hate God, instead of loving him: but for this, they would love God of their own accord, without any more ado. If God were your father, (says Christ,) ye would love me; ye are of your father the devil, therefore ye hate me. Surely, then, all the world are inexcusable, and wholly to blame, for their continuance in sin, and justly deserve eternal damnation at the hands of God, as was before said. Nor is it any excuse to say, “God does not give me sufficient grace to make me better;" since I might love God, with all my heart, of my own accord, with all the ease in the world, if I were but of a right temper. Yea, such is his glory and beauty, that I could not but be ravished with it, were I such as I ought to be; and my needing any special grace, to make me love God, argues that I am an enemy to him, a vile, aboininable wretch, not fit to live. And to pretend to excuse myself, and say, “I cannot, and God will not make me,” is just
, as bad as if a rebellious child should go to his father, and say, “ I hate you, and cannot love you, and God will not, by bis almighty power, make me better, and therefore I am not to blame;" for the wretch could not but love his good father, were it not that he is so exceedingly vitiated in his temper.
If our impotency consisted in and resulted from our want of natural capacities ; if it was the business of the Holy Spirit to give us new natural faculties, then we might plead our inability, and plead God's not giving us sufficient power, in excuse for ourselves. But since all our impotency takes its rise entirely from another quarter, and all our need of the influences of the Holy Spirit to bring us to love God results from our badness, there fore are we without excuse, although God leaves us entirely to ourselves. And indeed nothing can be more absurd than to suppose the Governor of the world obliged to make his creatures love him, in spite of all their aversion; or more wicked than to lay the biame of their not loving him, upon him, in ease he does not. Jer. vii. 8, 9, 10–16.
OBJ. But if it be granted that men's natural powers are adequate with the law of God, and so they, as to their natural capacities, are capable of a perfect conformity to the law; and if it be granted that the outward advantages, which all have who live under the gospel, are sufficient, were men but of a right temper, to lead them to the true knowledge of God, and so, that all such are without excuse; yet, if any part of man. kind do not enjoy sufficient outward advantages for the true knowledge of God, without which it is impossible they should either love or serve him, how can such justly and fairly be accounted altogether to blame, and wholly inexcusable? If the heathen, who have no other outward advantages whereby to gain the true knowledge of God, than the works of creation and providence, do but honestly improve what they have, shall not they be accepted, although they fall short of sinless perfection? Or is it right and fair that they should be damned?
Ans. I suppose that those advantages, which all mankind do actually enjoy, would be sufficient to lead them to a true knowledge of God, and so to love and serve him, were they of a right disposition, and were it not for the prejudices that blind and darken their minds, which arise from their enmity to God, and love to themselves, the world, and sin. Rom. i. 20. 28. And I suppose that God, the wise and holy, just and good Governor of the world, is under no natural obligation to use any supernatural means for the removal of those prejudices; (Rom. ix. 15.) especially considering that men love them, and are obstinate in them, and will not let them be removed if they can help it, as is, in fact, the case. Rom. i. 18. 28. John iii. 19. And I suppose that, since the law is holy, just, and good, nothing short of sinless perfection can, or ought to, pass with the supreme Law-giver and Judge of the world, as a condition of acceptance. Gal. iii. 10. Rom. iii. 20. And I suppose that God was under no obligations to provide a Saviour to bear the curse of the law, and answer its demands for any, since all are voluntarily at enmity against him and his law. Rom. v. 8. Upon the whole, I suppose that all mankind might bave been left in their falled state, without a Saviour, or any offers of pardon and peace, or any supernatural advantages whatsoever; and that yet their natural obligations to love God with all their hearts, would have by no means ceased; and that it would have been perfectly just and right with God, to have inflicted eternal damnation upon us, for our not doing so. Rom. i. 18. iii. 19. And besides, I suppose that all the nations of the earth might have had the gospel preached to them, and, to this day, enjoyed it, had not the world been in arms against it, and killed the messengers of peace, who were sent to carry the glad tidings of pardon and salvation round the world. Mat. xxviii. 19. And I suppose, that still, in every age of the Christian church, there
, have been ministers of Christ, who would gladly go to the furthest parts of the earth, to carry the joyful news of a Saviour, were men but willing to receive the news, and repent, and convert, and return to God. I know there are such in this age ; from all which, I suppose that it is right, fair, and just, for God to execute the threatening of his law according to his declared design. Rom. ii. 5, 6. Thus much in general; but, to be more particular,
1. It is plain that the heathen, as well as the rest of mankind, are under a law that forbids all sin, and requires perfect holiness. For the wrath of God is revealed from hearen against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, let them be Jews or Gentiles. Rom. i. 18. And since God is what
. he is, and they his creatures, there is the same general ground and reason that they should love him with all their hearts, as
that others should. And it is plain St. Paul looked upon the heathen under obligations to glorify God as God, and be thankful. Rom. i. 21. Which is the sum of what is required in the first table of the law. And none will pretend that the heathen are not obliged to love their neighbours as themselves, and do as they would be done by ; which is the sum of what the second table requires. So that it is a plain case, that tbey are, by the law of nature, obliged to the same perfect holiness which is required, in God's written word, of the rest of mankind.
2. It is plain, St. Paul looked upon them as enjoying sufficient means of knowledge, and so to be without excuse. Rom, i. 18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness und unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. “Who hold the truth in unrighteousness, i. e. who, instead of heartily receiving, and loving, and conforming to the truth, do, from love to their lusts, hate, and wickedly suppress, all right notions of God, of truth, and duty, stifling their consciences.” But how do the Gentiles discover this aversion to the truth, who are under no advantages to know it?" I answer,” says the apostle, “ their advantages are sufficient; for, (verse 19.) That which may be known of God is manifest in them ; i. e. the perfections of God, which is all that is knowable of God, are discovered to them;" as he adds, “ For God hath showed it unto them.” But were not the perfections of God discovered to them so darkly as not to be sufficiently evident and perceivable ? "No," says he; “ for, (verse 20.) The invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are CLEARLY SEEN, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so thut they are without excuse ; i. e. ever since the creation of the world, the perfections of God are clearly to be seen in his works, the things which he has made manifesting plainly what a God he is : so that those who see not his perfections, and are not sensible of his infinite glory, caonot plead their want of sufficient outward advantages, in excuse for their ignorance and insensibility; and therefore the heathen, who have this advantage, are without excuse*." And, still fur
• If it should be objected, that St. Paul only means that their advantages were ko great as to render them inexcusable in their gross idolatry and high-handed