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which is their principle of action, and ceasing from action, the only principle is an unregenerate state. Now by this nature, men are children of wrath ; as in time of pestilential infection, one draws in death together with the disease then raging. Wherefore seeing from our first being as children of Adam, we are corrupt children, shaped in ini. quity, conceived in sin; we are also, from that moment, children of wrath.
3. The university of this misery. All are by nature children of wrath ; We, saith the Apostle, even as others : Jews as well as Gentiles. Those that are now by grace the children of God, were by nature in no better case than those that are still in their natural state.
Lastly, There is a glorious and happy change intimated here ; we are children of wrath, but are not so now; grace has brought us out of that fearful state.
This the Apostle says of himself and other believers. And thus, it well becomes the people of God to be often standing on the shore, looking back to the red sea of the state of wrath, they were sometimes weltering in, even as others.
Man's natural State a State of Wrath. DOCTRINE, The state of nature is a state of wrath. Every one in a natural unregenerate state is in a state of wrath. We are born children of wrath ; and continue so, until we be born again. Nay, as soon as we were children of Adam, we were children of wrath.
I shall usher in what I am to say on this point, with a few observes touching the universality of this state of which may serve to prepare the
of the word your consciences. Wrath has gone as wide as ever sin went. When angels sinned, the wrath of God brake in upon them as a flood; “ God spared not the angels which sinned, but cast them down to hell," 2 Pet. ii. 4. And thereby it was demonstrated, that no natural excellency in the creature will shield it from the wrath of God; if once it becomes a sinful creature.
The finest and the nicest piece of the workmanship of heaven, if once the Creator's image upon it be defaced by sin, God can and will dash to pieces, in his wrath ; unless satisfaction be made to justice, and that image be repaired; neither of which the sinner himself
wrath ; into
can do. Adam sinned; and the whole lump of mankind was leavened, and bound over to the fiery oven of God's wrath. And from the text ye may learn, (1.) That ignorance of that state cannot free men from it; the Gentiles, that knew not God, were by nature children of wrath, even as others. A man's house may be on fire, his wife and children perishing in the flames; while he knows nothing of it, and therefore is not concerned about it. Such is your case, Oye that are ignorant of these things ! wrath is silently sinking into your souls, while you are blessing, yourselves, saying, Ye shall have peace. Ye need not a more certain token, that ye are children of wrath, than that ye never yet saw yourselves such. Ye cannot be the children of God, that never yet saw yourselves children of the devil. Ye cannot be in the way to heaven, that never saw yourselves by nature in the road to hell. grossly ignorant of your state by nature ; and so ignorant of God, and of Christ, and your need of him: And though ye look on your ignorance as a covert from wrath ; yet take it out of the mouth of God himself, that it will ruin you if it be not removed, Isa. xxvii. 11. “ It is a people of no understanding; therefore, he that made them will not have mercy on them.” See 2 Thess. i. 8. Hos. iv. 6. (2.) No outward privileges can exempt men from this state of wrath ; for the Jews, the children of the kingdom, God's peculiar people, were children of wrath, even as others. Though ye be church-members, partakers of all churchprivileges; though ye be descended of godly parents, of great and honourable families; be what ye will, ye are by nature heirs of hell, children of wrath. (3.) No profession, nor attainments in a profession of religion, do or can exempt a man from this state of wrath. Paul was one of the strictest sect of the Jewish religion, Acts xxvi. 5. yet a child of wrath, even as others, till he was converted. The close hypocrite, and the profane, are alike as to their state ; however different their conversations be ; and they will be alike in their fatal end, Psal. cxxv. 5. 6 As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity." (4.) Young ones that are yet but setting out into the world have not that to do, to make themselves children of wrath, by following the graceless multitude. They are children of wrath by
nature; so it is done already ; they were born heirs of hell; they will indeed make themselves more so, if they do not, while they are young, flee from that wrath they were born to, by fleeing to Jesus Christ. Lastly, Whatever men are now by grace, they were even as others, by nature. And this may be a sad meditation to them that have been at ease from their youth, and have had no changes.
Now, these things being premised, I shall, in the first place, shew what this state of wrath is ; next, confirm the doctrine ; and then apply it.
I. I am to shew what this state of wrath is. But who can fully describe the wrath of an angry God ? None can do it. Yet so much of it must be discovered, as may serve to convince men of the absolute necessity of fleeing to Jesus Christ, out of that state of wrath. Anger in men is a passion, and commotion of the spirit for an injury received, with a desire to resent the same. When it comes to a height, and is fixed in one's spirit, it is called wrath. Now there are no passions in God, properly speaking; they are inconsistent with his absolute unchangeableness, and independency; and, therefore, Paul and Barnabas (to remove the mistake of the Lycaonians, who thought they were gods) tell them, they were men of like passions with themselves, Acts xiv. 15. Wrath then is attributed to God, not in respect of the affection of wrath, but the effects thereof. Wrath is a fire in the bowels of a man, tormenting the man himself; but there is no perturbation in God. His wrath does not in the least mar that infinite repose and happiness, which he hath in himself. It is a most pure undisturbed act of his will, producing dreadful effects against the sinner. It is little we know of an infinite God ; but condescending to our weakness, he is pleased to speak of himself to us, after the manner of men. Let us therefore notice man's wrath, but remove every thing in our consideration of the wrath of God, that argues imperfection ; and so we may attain to some view of it, however scanty. By this means we are led to take up the wrath of God against the natural man in these three :
First, There is wrath in the heart of God against him. The Lord approves him not, but is displeased with him. Every natural man lies under the displeasure of God;
and that is heavier than mountains of brass. Although he be pleased with himself, and others be pleased with him too ; yet God looks down on him, as displeased. First, His person is under God's displeasure; Thou hatest all workers of iniquity, Psal. v. 5. A godly man's sin is displeasing to God, yet his person is still accepted in the beloved, Eph. i. 6. But “ God is angry with the wicked every day," Psal. vii. 11. A fire of wrath burns con. tinually against him in the heart of God. They are as dogs and swine, most abominable creatures in the sight of God. Though their natural state be gilded over with a shining profession, yet they are abhorred of God; they are to him as smoke in his nose, Isa. Ixv. 5. and lukewarm water, to be spewed out of his mouth, Rey. iii. 16. whited sepulchres, Matt. xxiii. 27. a generation of vipers, Matt. xii. 34. and a people of his wrath, Isa. X. 6. Secondly, He is displeased with all they do : It is impossible for them to please him, being unbelievers, Heb. xi. 6. He hates their persons; and so hath no pleasure in, but is displeased with their best works, Isa. Ivi. 3. “ He that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck,” &C. Their duty, as done by them, is an abomination to the Lord, Prov. xv. 8. And as men turn their back upon them whom they are angry with ; so the Lord's refusing communion with the natural man in his duties, is a plain indication of this wrath.
Secondly, There is wrath in the word of God against him. When wrath is in the heart, it seeks a vent by the lips, so God fights against the natural man with the sword of his mouth, Rev. ii. 16. The Lord's word never speaks good of him, but always curseth or condemneth him. Hence it is, that when he is awakened, the word read or preached often increaseth his horror. First, It condemns all his actions, together with his corrupt nature. There is nothing he does, but the law declares it to be sin. It is a rule of perfect obedience, from which he always in all things declines; and so it rejects every thing he doth as sin. Secondly, It pronounceth his doom, and denounceth God's curse against him, Gal. iii. 10. " For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse ; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Be he never so well in the world, it pronounceth a woe from heaven against him, Isa. iii. 11. The Bible is a quiver filled with arrows of wrath against him, ready to be poured in on his soul. God's threatenings in his word hang over his head as a black cloud, ready to shower down on him every moment. The word is indeed the saint's security against wrath, but it binds the natural man's sin and wrath together, as a certain pledge of his ruin, if he continue in that state. So the conscience being awakened, and perceiving this tie made by the law, the man is filled with terrors in his soul.
Thirdly, There is wrath in the hand of God against the natural man, He is under heavy strokes of wrath already, and is liable to more. : 1st, There is wrath on his body. It is a piece of cursed clay, which wrath is sinking into by virtue of the threatening of the first covenant, Gen. ii. 17. « In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” There is never a disease, gripe, nor stitch, that affects him, but it comes on him with the sting of God's indignation in it. They are all cords of death, sent before to bind the prisoner.
2dly, There is wrath upon his soul. (1.) He can have no communion with God; he is foolish and shall not stand in God's sight, Psal. v. 5. When Adam sinned, God turned him out of paradise ; and natural men are, as Adam left them, banished from the gracious presence of the Lord ; and can have no access to him in that state. There is war betwixt heaven and them; and so all commerce is cut off. “ They are without God in the world,” Eph. ï. 12. The sun is gone down on them, and there is not the least glimpse of favour towards them from heaven. (2.) Hence the soul is left to pine away in its iniquity. The natural darkness of their minds, the averseness to good in their wills, the disorder of their affections, and distemper of their consciences, and all their natural plagues, are left upon them in a penal way ; and being so left, increase daily. God casts a portion of worldly goods to them, more or less, as a bone is thrown to a dog ; but alas ! his wrath against them appears, in that they get no grace. The Physician of souls comes by them, and goes by them, and cures others beside them; while they are consuming away in their iniquity, and