Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

lives;

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,” Proy. 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 cor ption of your cwn nature; and jf you do so, ye would with a heart truly touched, thank God, and not yourselves, indeed, that ye are not as other meng

in

your 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 make 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 Leen continued since Nimrod began his hunting; on the carth, as in the sea, the greater still devouring the lesser. When we see the world in such a ferments every one stabbing another svith 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 istempered; the whole head to be sick, and the whole heart faint. Tlcy surely proceed from an inward cause, James vi. l.

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. Arid 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 them. selves, 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 adyenture 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 impetuoús lusts in the face ; which made

in the case of Joab, who had murdered Abner, “These men, the sons of Zeruiah, be too hard for me," 2 Sam. ii. 39. Lusts sometimes grow too strong for laws, so that the law is slacked, as the pulse of a dying man,

David

say,

Hab. i. 3, 4. (5.) Consider what necessity often appears of amending old laws, and making new ones; which have their rise from new crimes that man's 'nature is very fruitful of. There would be no need of mending the hedge, if men were not like unruly beasts, still breaking it down. It is astonishing to see what figure the Israelites, who were separated unto God, from among all the nations of the earth, do make in their history; what horrible confusions were among them, when there was no king in Israel, as you may see, Judges xviii. xix. xx. xxi. How hard it was to réform them, when they had the best of magistrates; and how quickly they turned aside again, when they got wicked rulers. I cannot but think, that one grand design of that sacred history was to discover the corruption of man's nature, the absolute need of the Messiah, and his grace: And that we ought, in the reading of it, to improve it to that end. How cutting is that word the Lord has to Samuel, concerning Saul, 1 Sam. ix. 17. The same shall reign over for, as the word is, shall restrain) my people. O the corruption of man's nature ! the awe and dread of the God of heaven restrains them not; but they must have gods on the earth to do it, to put them to shame, Judges xviii. 7.

Sixthly, Consider the remains of that natural corruption in the saints. Though grace has entered, yet corruption is not quite expelled: Though they have got the new creature, yet much of the old corrupt nature remains: And these struggle together within them, as the twins in Rebekah's womb, Gal. v. 17. They find it present with them at all times, and in all places, even in the most retired corners. If a man have an ill neighbour, he may remove ; If he have an ill servant, he may put him away at the term: If a bad yoke-fellow, he may sometimes leave the house, and be free of molestation that way. But should the saint go

into a wilderness, or set up his tent in some remote rock in the sea, where never foot of man, beast, or fowl, had touched, there will it be with him. Should he be, with Paul, caught up to the third heavens, it shall come back with him, 2 Cor. xii.*7. It follows hin' as the shadow doth the body: It makes a blot in the fairest lie he can draw. It is like the fig tree in the wall, which, how nearly soever it was cut, yet still grew till the wall was thrown down: For the roots of it are fixed in the heart

[ocr errors]

while the saint is in the world, as with bands of iron and brass. It is especially active when he would do good, Rom. vi. 21. then the fowls come down upon the carcases. Hence, often, in holy duties, the spirit even of a saint, as it were, evaporates; and he is left

, ere he is aware, like Michal, with an image in the bed, instead of an husband. I need not stand to prove the remains of the corruption of nature in the godly, to themselves, for they groan under it; and to prove it to them, were to hold out a candle to - lët men see the sun : And as for the wicked they are ready to account mole-hills in the saint, as big as mountains; if not to reckon them all hypocrites. But consider these few things on this head: (1.) If it be thus in the green tree, how must it be in the dry ? The saints are not born saints, but made so by the power of regenerating grace. Have they got a new nature, and yet so much of the old remains with them? How great must that corruption be in others, where it is altogether unmixed with grace? (2.) The saints groan under the remains of it, as a heavy burden. · Hear the apostle, Rom. vii.24. « O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” What though the carnal man lives at ease and quiet, and the cor -ruption of nature is not his burden; is he therefore free

from it ? No, no: Only he is dead, and feels not the sinking weight. Many a groan is heard from a sick-bed, but never one from a grave. In the saint, as in the sick man, there is a mighty struggle ; life and death striving for the inastery: But in the natural man, as in the dead corpse, there is no noise ; because death bears full sway. (3.) The godly man résistš the old corrupt nature; he strivesto mortify it, yet it remains : He endeavours to starve it, and by that means to weaken it, yet it is active : How must it spread then, and strengthen itself in that soul, where it is not starved but fed? And this is the case of all unregenerate, who make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. If the garden of the diligent afford him new work daily, in cutting off and rooting up; surely that of the sluggard must needs be all grown over with thorns.

Lastly, I shall add but one observe more, and that is, That in every man naturally the image of fallen Adam does appear. Some children, by their features and linaments of their face, do, as it were, father themselves : And thus

[ocr errors]

1

we do resemble our first parents. Every one of us bear the image and impress of their fall upon him: And to evince the truth of this, I do appeal to the consciences of all in these following particulars :

1st, Is not a sinful curiosity natural to us! And is not .this a print of Adam's image ? Gen. iii. 6. Is not men naturally much more desirous to know new things, than to practise old known truths ? How like to old: Adam do we look in this itching after novelties, and disrelishing old solid doctrine? We seek after knowledge rather than holiness; and study most to know these things which are least edifying. Our wild and roving fancies need a bridle to curb them, while good solid affections must be quickened and spurred up.

2dly, If the Lord, by his, holy law and wise providence, do put a restraint upon us, to keep us back from any thing; doth not that restraint whet the edge of our natural inclinations, and make us so much the more keener in our de. sires ? And in this do we not betray it plainly that we are Adam's children ; Gen. iii. 2, 3, 6. I think this cannot be denied ; for daily observation evinceth, that it is a na. tural principle, that stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant, Prov. ix. 17. The very Heathens are convinced, that man was possessed with this spirit of contradiction, though they knew not the spring of it. How often do men give themselves the loose in these things, in which, if God had left them at liberty, they would have bound up themselves ! But corrupt nature takes a pleasure in the very jumping over the hedge. And is it not a repeating of our father's folly, that men will rather climb for forbidden fruit,than gather what is shaken off the tree of good providence to them, when they have God's express allowance for it? • 3dly, Which of all the children of Adam is not naturally disposed to hear the instruction that causeth to err? And was not this the rock our first parents split upon? Gen, iij. 4, 6. How apt is weak man, ever since that time, to parley with temptations ! “God speaketh once ; yea twice, yét man perceiveth it not,” Job xxxiii. 14. but readily doth he listen to Satan. Men might often come fair off, if they would dismiss temptations with abhorrence, when first they appear; if they would nip them in the bud, they

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »