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of our two eyes.
There is none that understandeth, Rom. iii. 11. Mind and conscience are defiled, Tit. i. 15. The natural man's apprehension of divine things is core rupt, Psal. I. 21. “ Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” His judgment is corrupt, and cannot be otherwise, seeing his eye is evil : And therefore the scriptures, that shew that men did all wrong, says, Every one did that which was right in his own eyes, Judges xvii. 7. and xxi: 25. And his imaginations, or reasonings, must be cast down, by the power of the word, being of a piece with his judgment, 2 Cor. x. 5. But, to point out this corruption of the mind or understanding more particularly, let these following things be considered:
First, There is a natural weakness in the minds of men, with respect to spiritual things. The apostle determines concerning every one that is not endued with the graces of the Spirit, That he is blind and cannot see afar off, 2 Pet. i. 9. Hence the Spirit of God, in the scripture, elothes, as it were, divine truths with earthly figures, even as parents teach their children, using similitudes, Hos. xii. 10. Which, though it doth not cure, yet doth evidence this natural weakness in the minds of men. But we want not plain proofs of it from experience. As, (1.) How hard a task is it to teach many people, the common principles of our holy religion, and to make truths so plain as they may understand them? Here there must be precept apon precept, precept upon precepi: line upon line, line upon line, Isa. xxviii. 10. Try thc same persons in other things, they shall be found wiser in their generation than the children of light. They understand their work and business in the world as well as their neighbours, though they be very stupid and unteachable in the matters of God. Tell them how they may advance their worldly wealth, or how they may gratify their lusts, and they will quickly understand these things; though it is very hard to make them know how their souls may be saved; or how their hearts may find rest in Jesus Christ. (2.) Consider these who have many advantages, beyond the common gang of mankind; who have had the benefit of good education and instruction ; yea, and are blest with the light of that measure, wherein it is distributed to the saints on earth ; yet how small a portion have they of the know
ledge of divine things! What ignorance and confusion do still remain in their minds! How often are they mired, even in the matter of practical truths, and speak as a child in these things! It is a pitiful weakness, that we cannot perceive the things which God has revealed to us ; and it must needs be a sinful weakness, since the law of God requires us to know and believe them. (3.) What dangerous mistakes are to be found amongst men in their concerns of greatest weight! Whát woful delusions prevail over them! Do we not often see those, who otheia wise are the wisest of men, the most notorious fools, with respect to their souls interest ? Matth. xi. 25.
" Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent.” Many that are eagle-eyed in the trifles of time, are like owls and bats in the light of life. Nay, truly, the life of every natural man is but one continued dream and delusion; out of which he never awakes, till either by a new light darted from heaven into his soul, he come to himself, Luke xy. 17. or, in hell he lift up his eyes, chap. xvi. 23. And therefore in scripture-account, be he never so wise, he is a fool, and a simple one.
Secondly, Man's understanding is naturally overwhelmed with gross darkness in spiritual things. Man at the instigation of the devil, attempting to break out a new light in his mind, (Gen. iii. 5.) instead of that, broke up the doors of the bottordless pit ; so as, by the smoke thereof, he was buried in darkness. When God at first had made man, his mind was a lamp of light; but now, when he comes to make him over again, in regeneration, he finds it darkDess, Eph. V. 8. “ Ye were sometimes darkness." Sin has closed the windows of the soul; darkness is over all that region. It is the land of darkness, and shadow of death, where the light is as darkness. The prince of darkness reigns there, and nothing but the works of darkness are framed there. We are born spiritually blind, and cannot be restored without a miracle of grace. This is thy case, whosoever thou art, if thou art not born again. And that you may be convinced in this matter, take those following evidences of it:
Evidence l. The darkness that was upon the face of the world before, and at the time when Christ came, arising as the Sun of righteousness upon the earth. When Adam,
by his sin, had lost that primitive light wherewith he was endued in his creation, it pleased God to make a gracious revelation of his inind and will to him, touching the way of salvation, Gen. iii. 15. This was handed down by him, and other godly fathers, before the flood ; yet the natural darkness of the mind of man prevailed so far against that revelation, as to carry off all sense of true religion from the old world, except what remained in Noah's family, which was preserved in the ark. After the flood, as men multiplied on the earth, the natural darkness of mind prevails again, and the light decays, till it died out among the generality of mankind, and is preserved only among the posterity of Shem. And even with them it was well near its setting, when God called Abraham from serving other gods, Josh. xxiv. 15. God gives Abraham a more clear and full revelation, and he communicates the same to his family, Gen. xvii. 19. Yet the natural darkness wears it out at length, save what of it was preserved among the posterity of Jacob. They being carried down into Egypt, that darkness prevailed so, as to leave them very little sense of true religion; and a new revelation behoved to be made them in the wilderness. And many a cloud of darkness got above that, now and then, during the time from Moses to Christ. When Christ came, the world was divided into Jews and Gentiles. The Jews, and the true light with them, were, within inclosure, Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. Betwixt them and the Gentile world there was a partition-wall of God's making, namely, the ceremonial law; and upon that there was reared up another of man's own making, namely, a rooted enmity betwixt the parties, Eph. ii. 14, 15. If we look abroad, without the inclosure, and except those proselytes of the Gentiles, who, by means of some rays of light breaking forth unto them from within the inclosure, having renounced idolatry, worshipped the true God, but did not conform to the Mosaical rites, we see nothing but dark places of the earth, full of the habitations of cruelty, Psal. Ixxiv. 20. Gross darkness covered the face of the Gentile world; and the way of salvation was utterly unknown among them. They were drowned in superstition and idolatry; and had multiplied their idols to such a vast number, that above thirty thousand are reckoned to have been worshipped by those of Europe alone.Whatever wisdom was among their philosophers, the world by that wisdom knew not God, 1. Cor. i. 21. and all their researches in religion were but groping in the dark, Acts xvii. 27. If we look within the inlcosure, and, except a few that were groaning and waiting for the Consolation of Israel, we will see a gross darkness on the face of that generation. Though to them were committed the oracles of God, yet they were most corrupt in their doctrine. Their traditions were multiplied, but the knowledge of these things wherein the life of religiòn lies was lost : Masters of Israel knew not the nature and necessity of regeneration, John iii. 10. Their religion was to build on their birth-privilege, as children of Abraham, Matth. iii. 9, to glory in their circumcision, and other external ordinances, Philip. iii. 2, 3. And to rest in the law, (Rom. ii. 17.) after they had, by their false glosses, cut it so short, as they might go well near to the fulfilling of it, Matth. v.
Thus was darkness over the face of the world, when Christ, the true light, came into it; and so is darkness over every soul, till he, as the day-star, arise in the heart. The former is an evidence of the latter. What, but the natural darkness of mens minds, could still thus wear out the light of external revelation, in a matter upon which eternal happiness did depend ? Men did not forget the way or preserving their lives, but how quickly did they lose the knowledge of the way of salvation of their souls, which are of infinite more weight and worth ! When patriarchs and prophets teaching was ineffectual, men behoved to be taught of God himself, who alone can open the eyes of the understanding. But, that it might appear that the corruption of man's mind lay deeper than to be cured by rere external revelation, there were but very few converted by Christ's preaching, who spake as never man spoke, John xii. 37, 38. The great cure on the generation remained to be performed, by the Spirit accompanying the preaching of the apostles ; who, according to the promise, (John xiv. 12.) were to do great works. And if we look to the miracles wrought by our blessed Lord, we will find, that, by applying the remedy to the soul, for the cure of bodily distempers, (as in the Case of the man sick of the palsy, Matth. ix 2.) he plainly discovered, that it was his main errand into the world, to cure the diseases of the soul. I find a miracle wrought upon one that was born blind, performed in such a way as seems to have been designed to let the world see in it, as in a glass, their case and cure, John ix. 6. « He made clay, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay." What could more fitly represent the blindness of mens minds, than eyes closed up with earth? Isa. vi. 1. Shut their eyes ; shut them up by anointing or casting them with mortar, as the word would bear. And, chap. xliv. 18. He hath shut their eyes ; the word properly signifies, He hath plaistered their eyes : as the house in which the leprosy had been was to be plaistered, Lev. xiv. 42. Thus the Lord's word discovers the design of that strange work; and by it shews us, that the eyes of our understand. ing are naturally shut. Then the blind man must go and wash off this clay in the pool of Siloam ; no other water will serve this purpose. If that pool had not represented him, whom the Father sent into the world, to open the blind eyes, (Isa. xlii. 7.) I think the evangelist had not given us the interpretation of the name, which he says, signifies sent, John ix. 7. And so we may conclude, that the natural darkness of our minds is such, as there is no cure for, but from the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ, whose eye-salve only can make us see, Rev. iii. 18.
Evid. 2. Every natural man's heart and life is a mass of darkness, disorder, and confusion; how refined soever he appear in the sight of men. « For we ourselves also," saith the apostle Paul, “ were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts, pleasures," Tit.iii. 3. and yet at that time, which this text looks to, he was " blameless, touching the righteousness which is in the law,” Phil. iii. 6. This is a plain evidence that “ the eye is evil, the whole body being full of darkness," Mat. vi. 23. The unrenewed part of mankind is rambling through the world, like so many blind men ; who will neither take a guide, nor can guide themselves; and therefore are falling over this and the other precipice, into destruction. Some are running after their covetousness, till they be pierced through with many sorrows; some sticking in the mire of sensuality; others dashing themselves on the rock of pride and self-conceit; every one stumblingon some one