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which many godly parents find true, in their sad experi
Thirdly, Consider the confession of the Psalmist David, Psalm li. 6. Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Here he ascends from his actual sin, to the fountain of it, namely, corrupt nature. He was a man according to God's own heart; but from the beginning it was not so with him. He was begotten in lawful marriage; but when the lump was shapen in the womb, it was a sinful lump. Hence the corruption of nature is called the old man ; being as old as ourselves, older than grace, even in those that are sanctified from the womb.
Fourthly, Hear our Lord's determination of the point, John iii. 6. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh." Behold the universal corruption of all mankind, all are flesh. Not that all are frail, though that is a sad truth too ; yea, and our natural frailty is an evidence of our natural corruption; but that is not the sense of this text; but here is the meaning of it, all are corrupt and sinful, and that naturally; hence our Lord argues here, that because they are flesh, therefore they must be born again, or else they cannot enter into the kingdom of God," ver. 3, 5. And as the corruption of our nature evidenceth the absolute necessity of regeneration; so the absolute necessity of regeneration plainly proves the corruption of our nature; for why should a man need a second birth, if his nature were not quite marred in the first birth? Infants must be born again, for that is an except (John iii. 3.) which admits of no exception. And, therefore, they were circumcised under the Old Testament; as having "the body of the sins of the flesh (which is conveyed to them by natural generation) to put off," Col, ii. 11. And now by the appointment of Jesus Christ, they are to be baptized; which says they are unclean, and that there is no salvation for them, but by the "washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost," Tit. iii. 5.
Fifthly, Man certainly is sunk very low now, in comparison of what he once was: God made him but a "little lower than the angels;" but now we find him likened to the beasts that perish. He hearkened to a brute; and is now become like one of them. Like Nebuchadnezzar, -his portion (in his natural state) is with the beasts, "mind
ing only earthly things," Phil. iii. 19. Nay, brutes, in some sort, have the advantage of the natural man, who is sunk a degree below them. He is more witless, in what concerns him most, than the stork, or the turtle, or the crane, or the swallow, in what is for their interest, Jer. viii. 7. He is more stupid than the ox or ass, Isa. i. 3. I find him sent to school, to learn of the ant or emmot, which having no guide or leader to go before her; no overseer or officer to compel or stir her up to work; no ruler, but may do as she lists, being under the dominion of none; yet "provideth her meat in the summer and harvest,' Prov. vi. 6. 7. 8. while the natural man has all these, and yet exposeth himself to eternal starving. Nay, more than all this, the scripture holds out the natural man, not only as wanting the good qualities of those creatures; but as a compound of the evil qualities of the worst of the creatures, in which do concenter the fierceness of the lior, the craft of the fox, the unteachableness of the wild ass, the filthiness of the dog and swine, the poison of the asp, and such like. Truth itself calls them " serpents, a genera tion of vipers; yea more, even children of the devi',' Mat. xxi. 33. John viii. 44. Surely then, man's nature is miserably corrupted.
Lastly, "We are by nature children of wrath," Eph. ii. 3. We are worthy of, and liable to the wrath of God; and this by nature; and, therefore, doubtless we are by nature sinful creatures. We are condemned before we have done good or evil; under the curse, ere we know what it .is. “But will a lion roar in the forest, while he hath no prey ?" Amos. iii. 4. that is, Will a holy and just God roar in his wrath against man, if he be not, by his sin, made a prey for wrath? No, he will not, he cannot. Let us conclude, then, that according to the word of God, man's nature is a corrupt nature.
II. If we consult experience, and observe the case of the world in these things that are obvious, to any person that will not shut his eyes against clear light; we will quickly perceive such fruits, as discover this root of bitterness: I shall propose a few things, that may serve to convince us in this point.
First, Who sees not a flood of miseries overflowing the world? And whither can a man go, where he shall
not dip his foot, if he go not over head and ears in it? Every one at home and abroad, in city and country, in palaces and cottages, is groaning under some one thing or other, ungrateful to him. Some are oppressed with poverty, some chastened with sickness and pain, some are laimenting their losses; none wants a cross of one sort or another. No man's condition is so soft, but there is some thorn of uneasiness in it. And at length death, the wages of sin, comes after these its harbingers, and sweeps all away.
Now, what but sin has opened the sluice? There is not a complaint nor sigh heard in the world, nor a tear that falls from our eye, but it is an evidence that man is fallen as a star from heaven; for "God distributeth sorrow in his anger," Job xxi. 17. This is a plain proof of the cor ruption of nature, forasmuch as those that have not yet actually sinned have their share of these sorrows; yea, and draw their first breath in the world weeping, as if they knew this world, at first sight, to be a Bochim, the place. of weepers There are graves of the smallest, as well as of the largest size, in the church-yard; and there are never wanting some in the world, who, like Rachel, are weeping for their children, because they are not, Mat. ii,
Secondly, Observe how early this corruption of nature begins to appear in young ones: Solomon observes, that
even a child is known by his doings," Prov. xx. 11, It may soon be discerned, what way the bias of the heart Jies: Do not the children of fallen Adam, before they can go alone, follow their father's footsteps? What a vast deal of little pride, ambition, curiosity, vanity, wilfulness, and averseness to good, appears in them? And when they creep out of infancy, there is a necessity of using the rod of correction, to drive away the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts, Prov. xxii. 15. Which shews, that if grace prevail not, the child will be as Ishmael, a wild assman, as the word is, Gen. xvi. 13.
Thirdly, Take a view of the manifold gross out-breakings of sin in the world: The wickedness of man is yet great in the earth. Behold the bitter fruits of the corrup tion of our nature, Hos. iv. 2. « By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they
break out, (like the breaking forth of water,) and blood toucheth blood.". The world is filled with filthiness, and all manner of lewdness, wickedness, and profanity. Whence is this deluge of sin on the earth, but from the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, the heart of man; out of which proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, &c. Mark vii. 21. 22. Ye will, it may be, thank God with a whole heart, that ye are not like these other men; and indeed ye have better reason for it than, I fear, ye are aware of; for, "As, in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man," Prov. xxvii. 19. As in looking into clear water, ye see your own face; so in looking into your own heart, ye may see other mens there; and looking into other mens, in them ye may see your own. So that the most vile and profane wretches that are in the world should serve you for a looking-glass; in which you ought to discern the corruption of your own nature; and if you do so, ye would with a heart truly touched, thank God, and not yourselves, indeed, that ye are not as other men, in your lives; seeing the corruption of nature is the same in you as in them.
Fourthly, Cast your eye upon these terrible convulsions the world is thrown into by the lust of men. Lions maké not a prey of lions, nor wolves of wolves; but men are turned wolves to one another, biting and devouring one another. Upon how slight occasions will men sheath their swords in one another's bowels! The world is a wilderness where the clearest fire men can carry about with them will not fright away the wild beasts that inhabit it, (and that because th are men, and not brutes,) but one way or other they will be wounded. Since Cain shed the blood of Abel, the earth has been turned into a slaughter-house; and the chace has been continued since Nimrod began his hunting; on the earth, as in the sea, the greater still devouring the lesser. When we see the world in such a ferment, every one stabbing another with words or swords, we may conclude there is an evil spirit among them. These violent heats among Adam's sons speak the whole body to be distempered; the whole head to be sick, and the whole heart faint. They surely proceed from an inward cause, James vi. 1.
Lusts that war in our members.".
Fifthly, Consider the necessity of human laws, fenced with terrors and severities; to which we may apply what the apostle says, 1 Tim. i. 9. "That the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners," &c. Man was made for society; and God himself said of the first man, when he had created him, that it was not meet that he should be alone: Yet the case is such now, that, in society, he must be hedged in with thorns. And that, from hence we may the better see the corruption of man's nature, consider,(1.) Every man naturally loves to be at full liberty himself; to have his own will for his law; and, if he would follow his natural inclinations, would vote himself out of the reach of all laws, divine and human. And hence some (the power of whose hands has been answerable to their natural inclination) have indeed made themselves absolute, and above laws; agreeable to man's monstrous design at first, to be as gods, Gen. iii. 5. Yet, (2.) There is no man that would willingly adventure to live in a lawless society: And, therefore, even piratcs and robbers have laws among themselves, though the whole society cast off all respect to law and right. Thus men discover themselves to be conscious of the corruption of nature; not daring to trust one another, but upon security. (3.) How dangerous soever it is to break through the hedge; yet, the violence of lust makes many adventure daily to run the risk. They will not only sacrifice their credit and conscience, which last is highly esteemed in the world; but, for the pleasure of a few moments, immediately succeeded with terror from within, they will lay themselves open to a violent death, by the laws of the land wherein they live. (4.) The laws are often made to yield to men's lusts. Sometimes whole societies run into such extravagancies, that, like a company of prisoners, they break off their fetters, and put their guards to flight; and the voice of laws cannot be heard for the noise of arms. And, seldom is there a time wherein there are not some persons so great and daring, that the laws dare not look their impetuous lusts in the face; which made David say, in the case of Joab, who had murdered Abner, "These men, the sons of Zeruiah, be too hard for me,” 2 Sam. iii. 39. Lusts sometimes grow too strong for laws, so that the law is slacked, as the pulse of a dying man,