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It hath been shewed, that the ill inclination of men towards God, affects the whole soul. The mind knows him not, thinks not of him, is habitually forgetful of him: and, more formally, this aversion is in the will: that doth not choose the Lord for his God; wills him not, even where a people do profess his name. If yet the work of renovation have not taken place, his own Israel will have none of him; “Israel.” saith God, “would have none of me.” Corrupt nature is the same, even in such a people, whatsoever the external profession and garb, and appearance, and shew, may be. A corrupt heart is still the same thing, indisposed, disaffected to God; “alienated from the life of God.” And conscience is stupified, doth not do its office, or, sometimes, is outrageous and overdoes it, the affections and passions are all as so many furies; original rectitude being gone, and the soul destitute of that holy image which originally it bore.
But there is, also, an evil inclination towards fellow-creatures of their own order. That love is wanting which is “the 379fulfilling of the law;” and that sums up all that rectitude of heart and soul towards fellow-creatures of our own order. All is summed up in this; “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;” and therefore, is love the fulfilling of the law.
And then, also, towards ourselves. Our love to our neighbour, is to be measured by that to ourselves: as that great fundamental precept which our Saviour calls the “second,” next to that; “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;” in opposition whereunto, stands that aversion to God, in the first part. And as to the second great commandment, it is a measured thing; and the measure is love to ourselves.
But now, in this state of apostasy, men want even that, they do not love themselves: to wit, if they did know themselves; and that they do not affect, to gain a true knowledge of themselves; and therefore, do not love themselves; their more noble self, their more excellent self. The soul, which is the man, that they do not love; they care not for it; care not how they prostitute it; how they enslave, how they hazard it from day to day. Yea, and,
[2.] In all these respects, there is not only an aversion, an ill inclination, to that which is good, a want of original righteousness, or of the holy image of God as such; but there is, likewise, propensions to all manner of evil; there are violent propensions towards forbidden objects. God being forsaken and left, and the soul of man being conscious to itself that it is not enough for itself, it must adjoin itself to somewhat else, when it is off from God: and so, by the same steps by which it recedes from him, it turns to the creature, to this vain and impure world, which is God’s rival and competitor for the minds and hearts of men.
But here, it is to be considered, that when the soul is off from God, and therefore, must seek for somewhat else to supply his room, it finds itself under a necessity to make a false and ascititious deity, a divided thing, as if it were under a secret consciousness that no one thing could fill up the room of God. And therefore, the new deity is divided between these two; to wit, between this world and a man’s own self: that is, his meaner or baser self; his ignoble self. And all of you know (if you recollect a little) what God is to be to us, namely, our Sovereign Lord, our Sovereign Good: him we are to serve; and him we are to enjoy.
The soul being off from him, and being now to fill up his room as it can, it doth (as it can) attempt to fill it up by these 380two things—self and the world: self supplies the room of God, as he is to be served by us; and the world supplies the room of God, as God is to be enjoyed by us. And here are the propensions, now, of the apostate soul, continuing so, and yet unrenewed towards self, as the only one to be served, obeyed, and pleased, instead of serving, obeying, and pleasing God. And this is one of the greatest idols that is set up in the apostate world, even—a man’s self.
But then, remember it is his baser, meaner, and more ignoble self; when it is become the vilest thing that it was possible a reasonable, immortal soul could become; when it is be sotted, carnalized, brutified; when it is, in short, become a brute, when it would be a god. While it was itself, it must abhor any such thought, with the highest measures and greatest pitch of indignation. But now it is brutified into the vilest and most degenerate thing, become even as the beasts that perish; now it must be a god. “I will have none to serve but this self.”
But then, finding (as that is obvious to every one) that it hath not its own good in its own hand, (as, alas! what have I in me to make me happier; and though that is more to be considered under the other head of death, yet there is sin in it too, as it underwent a direct interdict,) it finds it must forage, it must go abroad; it finds it hath not enough in itself to satisfy it. And therefore, now in this kind, and under this notion, the world is the other idol that is to supply the room of God. “Love not the world nor the things of the world; for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” That shews, however, in the unrenewed state, the propensions of the soul are, by love, carried towards this vain and wretched world. All the good that it designs for itself, it seeks from it. And so, these are the two idols that are set up in this apostate world against the living and true God: self, as the God that is to be served, and the world as the God that is to be enjoyed.
But then, we must observe, by the way, that as there is towards these two substituted objects a violent propension; so it is forbidden, only under that notion wherein it is excessive. It is no unlawful thing for a man to love himself, and even his meaner self: but to love himself with that love wherewith he should love God, that is sinful. It is no unlawful thing to love inferior creatures, things of this world, which God made all very good; but to love them with that love wherewith we should love God, as our supreme and highest Good, herein stands the sinfulness of this propension. These are to be in 381the room of God; not to serve ourselves under God, but above him and against him: not to enjoy and please ourselves, in this world, in subserviency and obedience to God, but in direct opposition.
And so, there is, upon this account, not only no inclination towards God, (which was considered under the former head,) but there is direct enmity. Not only, in this case, doth the soul not love him with all the heart, mind, and might; but it hates him. And this is the character of the apostate world. Look to that Rom. i. 28. “They liked not to retain God in their knowledge.” And a little lower, they are called “God-haters.” The word signifies, they hate him with a stygian hatred, they hate him as one would hate hell; that is the signification of the word “God-haters,” which sums up the malignity of this corrupted nature of man, that is made out in so many particulars in all that latter part of that 1 chapter to the Romans.
So likewise, in reference to their fellow-creatures, when this love is wanting, which they should bear to them, and which is the radical principle that comprehends in it all duty of that kind, (that is, doth virtually comprehend it all,) the want of that due disposition is supplied by a contrary principle, that is, by one contrary thereunto, which is that of “being hateful and hating one another,” mentioned Romans i. 30, 31. and Titus ii. 3. And it is, too, upon this account, that “self” is one of the two substituted idols, as you have heard. And be cause the interest of this “self” interferes, and there are now as many deities to be served, as there are men; hereupon it is, that jealousy works into hatred. And it partly proceeds, too, from the narrowness and minuteness of this world, which is the other idol that men set up in the room and stead of God. This world is too little for men; (it cannot but be so;) too little for immortal souls. It is a thing in its own nature unsuitable to them; but yet, men being deceived, think to have their all out of it: and so they are all pulling and tearing one from another, every one for himself, to make his own portion out of this world as great and considerable as he can, still imagining he shall repair his loss of God, out of this world. And all being under the power of this delusion, they do not consider, that “there is a lie in their right hand;” that they are seeking that in this world which it can never afford them.
But hereupon, instead of that love which should be “the fulfilling of the law” of the second table, spoken of Rom. 13. there is that enmity, that mutual hatred of one another, that hath, for so many ages made this world an aceldama, a field of blood; 382and comprehends and sums up all those lusts, from whence come wars and fightings among men: among men, I say, who Jay under the obligation of so equal a law, and so kind a law of love, which so directly tended to the welfare of mankind; and so would have made this world a heaven upon earth, every one loving one another as himself, and seeking another’s good as his own: whereas, all make it now their business to tear this world out of one another’s hands as much as they can, and to pluck it in pieces, and so to worry and destroy one another for it.
And in reference to men themselves too. In the room of a right disposition towards themselves, there are substituted, wicked propensions: they do affect themselves wickedly, sin fully, illegally, against the direction of the divine rule: and this is the root of all the insincerity that is to be found, any where in the world, that is, that the superior powers do not govern the inferior, do rebel and disobey. The mind and judgment that should govern the will, and its determinations, and purposes, this way and that, neglect their office; so that in the mind, now, is blindness; not generally a not seeing, but refusing to see, a willing blindness: that which the Scriptures express by “blindness of heart.” There is error, self-deception, about the most important and most practical matters; the calling of good, evil, and evil, good. There is somnolency and drowsy slumber upon the minds of men; a supine negligence, that they cannot consider nor care how things go within them, or what is uppermost.
Then again, there is, in the inferior soul, the imaginations, the appetites, the affections or passions, a continual mutiny and disorder, a rebellion against what doth remain of the law in the mind; so that what remains is very imperfect, much obscured, shattered and broken: yet, there is a continual mutiny and insurrection against these reliques of that law. And this, indeed, constitutes a man, within himself, the continual seat of a war; he is in a state of war with himself: for he hath some light in his mind; but there are these mutinous and rebellious appetitions and passions working in continual opposition there unto; so that he cannot rase out those notions, he hath in his mind: “This I should do, and that I should do so;” nor will his inferior faculties be induced to any kind of compliance therewith. It is not such a war as in the regenerate, to wit, in one and the same faculty, and especially in the heart and will, where there is an imperfect inclination to that which is good, but yet victorious. But the war lies here, between that which should be the governing faculty, the mind, the practical judgment, the conscience, and the mutinous dispositions 383of a rebellious heart, that are entire, and in their full strength, in the unregenerate; whereas, in the regenerate, they are subdued and brought under; not quite expelled, but yet conquered.
Thus, we have the true state of the case, how it is with men with respect to the sinfulness of their nature, which lies spread through all the several powers and faculties of the soul, and shews itself with reference to the several objects wherewith men can be any way concerned. But we are to consider,
(2.) The universality of this revolt; that is, that all men are in it, they are all gone back; all men, and the all of every man. All men are in it. And it is, therefore, on the whole matter, not strange that this corruption of the nature of man should be represented with such rhetorick as we find in divers passages of Scripture: as in the xiv. and liii. psalms, and Romans 3, where you have divers passages quoted out of the Old Testament, especially out of the book of Psalms, of that same import, to signify, how general a consent there is in this matter of man’s rebellion; that as men have agreed herein with infernal spirits, so they do generally agree with one another; “Come let us cast off his cords, and throw away his bands from off us.” All, from the highest to the lowest, agreeing in such a design as this.
If you would take a brief view of the state of the case, that iii. of the Romans will give it you very shortly and succinctly, and yet with all, very copiously and fully. The apostle tells us, that he had proved, (as indeed he had done in the i. and ii. chapters of that epistle) that “Jews and Gentiles were under sin.” Those two distributing terms, Jew and Gentile, taking up the whole of the world, and was then the known distribution of the world of mankind. And he had not only said it, but proved it, that they were all under sin; even the very Jews themselves, as well as Gentiles, though a select people, a people that had the oracles of God, the peculiar tokens of his presence and favour, (where grace was not victorious,) yet, as great an enmity appears among them, against God, as in the pagan world and nations of the earth.
And if you look into the i. Romans, and the latter end, you see, that men having expelled and driven God out of their minds and thoughts, as not liking to retain him in their knowledge, what becomes of them hereupon? Why, God gives them up, leaves them to themselves: they become now to be under the dominion and power of exorbitant and unruly affections and passions. “God gave them up to vile affections; and as they liked not to retain God in their knowledge, he gave them over 384to a reprobate mind:” and hereupon, they are tilled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters: and, (that which is central of all the rest, which was noted before,) haters of God: despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.
Here is a representation of the apostate world, of that wickedness which all proceeds from the corrupt fountain which every man hath in himself. And then, in the 3 chapter, he goes on to add, from the Psalmist: “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God, they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether be come unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no not one.” “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, both as it was to be their end, and as it was to be their transforming pattern. Thus it is, as to all men.
And so, the all of every man: which divers expressions in that iii. Romans do most emphatically represent and hold forth to us. “Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their mouths they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips: their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.” Even the several parts of the outward man are made use of, as so many engines and machines for wickedness. And for the inward man, the source and fountain of it, we are elsewhere told, that “all the imaginations of the thoughts of the heart are only evil; and continually” so; Gen. vi. 5. So early had that universal contagion spread itself among all men, and through the all of every man.
And hence it is, that they are so frequently spoken of, (even notwithstanding a profession of God’s own name, if they remain in the unrenewed state,) as “a generation of vipers, and as a seed of evil doers;” yea, (as was said before,) as the seed of the devil, that old serpent. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father ye will do.” And hence it is, that all wickedness do proceed, which we have any where seen perpetrated and done, upon the stage of this world. So that when the renewing work comes to take place, there is need that it should pervade, should pass through, the whole man. “The God of peace, sanctify you throughout in your whole spirit, soul and body.” You see, every part of man needs a sanctifying influence; and therefore, all is corrupt and impure.385
Before we go on, let us make somewhat of present useful reflection to ourselves. And consider, Is it not, hereupon, wonderful that there should be among men so general a self-complacency? How strange is it, that this being the state of the case with men in this world, there should be among them, I say, so general a self-complacency? that they all should seem to be so well pleased with themselves? look with a kind eye upon themselves? that it doth not come into men’s minds to think, antecedently to their recovery, to their regeneration, “I am a fallen creature, an apostate creature, one separate and cut off from God, by mine own revolt; one fallen in with the devil against God; that am in league with him to do his will, and to disobey him who gave me breath; who is the Father of my spirit, and the Author of my whole being.”
Are not these true thoughts that a man might think of himself, being yet unregenerate, unrenewed? And is it not strange, when they are things that lie so much in view, they yet should so seldom come into men’s minds? Can we think it possible, if they did come oftener, that they should be so well pleased with themselves? Yet this, they are generally prone to be. It is the character of the wicked man; that is, one that continues yet in a state of apostasy, that t( he flatters himself in his own eyes, (Psalm xxxvi. 2.) until his iniquity be found to be hateful.” He still looks upon himself with a self-flattering eye. If there be any thing which, abstractly considered, may be looked upon as amiable, this is singly looked upon: but it is seldom, in the mean time, thought, but generally forgot, what is a man’s state.
O! how few are there that cry out, “What is the state of my case? If I have strength, if I have wit, if I have any thing of comeliness, I can presently strut, and think, What a fine creature am I? But, in the mean time, that I am a rebel against heaven; I am an accomplice with the devil against God; I am an apostate from my Rightful, Sovereign Lord.” This would surely turn all man’s self-complacency into horror and consternation, that a man would be afraid of himself, and wish he could run away from himself; and wonder how the earth comes to bear such a creature. O! this monster of an apostate soul that is off from God, and without a disposition or inclination to return to him, carries so much of horror and prodigy with it, that it is strange all are not filled with fright and amazement, till they find some manifest proof of a regenerating, transforming grace upon their spirits:” it is strange that, till then, they are not a continual terror to themselves.386
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