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rupt nature lies cross the mystery of Christ, and the great contrivance of salvation, through a crucified Saviour, revealed in the gospel. For clearing of which weighty truth, · let these four things be considered :
First, The soul's falling in with the grand device of salvation by Jesus Christ, and setting the matters of salvation on that footing before the Lord, is declared by the Scriptures of truth, to be an undoubted mark of a real saint, who is happy here and shall be happy hereafter. Matth. xi. 6. « And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." I Cor. iii. 23, 24. “ But we preach Christ cruci. fied, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Philip. iii. 3. “ For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Now, how could this be, if náture could comply with that grand device?
Secondly, Corrupt nature is the very reverse of the gospel-contrivance. In the gospel God promiseth Jesus Christ, as the great means of reuniting man to himself: He has. named him as the Mediator, one in whom he is well pleased; and will have none but him, Matth. xvii. 5. But nature will have none of him, Psal. Ixxxi. 11. God appointed the place of meeting for the reconciliation, namely, the flesh of Christ; accordingly, God was in Christ (2 Cor. V. 29.) as the tabernacle of meeting to make ир
peace with sinners; but natural men, though they should die for ever, will not come thither, John v. 40. “ And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life." In the way
of the gospel the sinner must stand before the Lord in an imputed righteousness : But corrupt nature is for an inherent righteousness; and, therefore, so faras natural men follow after righteousness, they follow after the law of righteousness, Rom. ix. 31, 32. and not after the Lord our righteousness. Nature is always for building up itself, and to have some grounds for boasting; but the great design of the gospel is to
alt grace, to depress nature, and exclude boasting, Rom. iii. 27. The sum of our natural religion iš, to do good from and for ourselves, John v. 44. The
sum of the gospel religion is, to deny ourselves, and to do good from and for Christ, Philip. i. 21.
Thirdly, Every thing in nature is against believing in Jesus Christ. What beauty can the blind man discern in a crucified Saviour, for which he is to be desired ? How can the will, naturally impotent, yea, and ayerse to good, make choice of him? Well may the soul then say to him in the day of the spiritual siege, as the Jebusites said to David in another case, “ Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither," 2 Sam. v. 6. 'The way
of nature is to go into one's self for all; according to the fundamental maxim of unsanctified morality, That a man should trust in himself; which, according to the doctrine of faith, is mere foolishness. For so it is determined, Prov. xviii. 26. “ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Now, faith is the soui's going out of itself for all; and this nature, on the other hand, determines to be foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 18, 23. Wherefore there is need of the working of mighty power, to cause sinners to believe, Eph. i. 19. Isa. liii. 1. We see promises of welcome to sinners, in the gospel covenant, are ample, large, and free, clogged with no conditions, Isa. lv. I. Rev. xxii
. 17. If they cannot believe his bare word, he has given them his, oath upon it, Ezek. xxxiii. 11. And for their greater assurance, he has appended seals to his sworn covenant, namely, the holy sacraments. So that no more could be demanded of the most faithless person in the world, to make us believe him, than the Lord hath condescended to give us, to make us believe himself. This plainly speaks nature to be against believing, and these who flee to Christ for refuge, to have need of strong consolation (Heb. vi. 18.) to blame their strong doubts, and propensity to unbelief. Farther, also, it may be observed, how, in the word sent to a secure,graceless generation, their objections are answered aforehand ; and words of grace are heaped one upon another, as ye may read, Isa. Iv. 7, 8, 9. Joel ii. 13. Why? Because the Lord knows, that when these secure sinners are thoroughly wakened, doubts, fears, and carnal reasonings against believing, will be going within their breasts, as thick as dust in a house, raised by sweeping a dry floor.
Lastly, Corrupt nature is bent towards the way of the. law, or covenant of works ; and every natural man, so far as he sets himself to seek after salvation, is engaged in that way; and will not quit it, till beat from it by divine power. Now the way of salvation by works, and that of free grace in Jesus Christ, are inconsistent, Rom. ix. 6. « And if by grace, then it is no inore of works; otherwise, grace İs no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.” Gal. ii. 13.
And the law is not of FAITH; but the man that both them shall live in them.” Wherefore, if the will of man naturally incline to the way of salvation by the law, it lies cross to the gospel-contrivance. And that such is the natural bent of our hearts, will appear, if these following things be considered :
1. The law was Adam's covenant, and he knew no other,as he was the head and representative of all mankind, that were brought into it with him, and left under it by him, though without strength to perform the condition thereof. Hence, this covenant is ingrained in our nature : And though we have lost our father's strength, yet we still incline to the way he was set upon, as our head and representative in that covenant; that is, by doing to live. This is our natural religion, and the principle which men naturally take for granted, Matth. xix. 16. “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life ?”!
2. Consider the opposition that has always been made in the world against the doctrine of free grace in Jesus Christ, by men setting up for the way of works; thereby discovering the natural tendency of the heart. It is manifest, that the great design of the gospel-contrivance, is to exalt the
grace of God in Jesus Christ, Rom. iv. 16. “ Therefore, it is of faith, that it might be by grace." See Eph. i. 6. and chap. ii. 7,9. All gospel-truths center in Christ: So that to learn the truth is to learn Christ, Eph. iv. 20. And to be truly taught is to be taught as the truth is in Jesus,
ver. 21. All dispensations of grace and favour from heaven, whether to nations or particular persons, have still had something about them, proclaiming a freedom of grace ; as in the very first separation made by the divine favour, Cain, the elder brother, is rejected ; and Abel, the younger, accepted. This shines through the whole history of the Bible: But as true as it is, this has been the point
principally opposed by corrupt nature. One may well that of all errors in religion, since Christ, the seed of woman, was preached, this of works, in opposition to fr grace in him, was the first that lived ; and it is likely to the last that dies. There have been vast numbers of erre which sprung up, one after another, whereof at len the world became ashamed and weary ; so that they d out. But this has continued from Cain, the first autho this heresy, unto this day; and never wanted some clave to it, even in the times of greatest light. I do without ground, call Cain the author of it: For, w Abel brought the sacrifice of atonement, a bloody offe of the firstlings of his flock, (like the Publican, amitin his breast and saying, God be merciful to me a sinner,) advanced with his thank-offering of the first-fruit of ground, (Gen. iv. 3, 4.) like the proud Pharisee, with God I thank thee. For what was the cause of Cain's w and of his murdering of Abel ? Was it not that he wa cepted of God for his work ? Gen. iv. 4,5. « And wh fore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, his brother's righteous, 1 John iii. 22. That is, do faith, and accepted; when his were done without faith therefore rejected, as the Apostle teacheth, Heb. And so he wrote his indignation against justification acceptance with God through faith, in opposition to w in the blood of his brother, to convey it down to posto And since that time, the unbloody sacrifice has often s med in the blood of those that rejected it. made to Abraham, of the seed in which all nations s be blessed, was so overclouded among his poster Egypt, that the generality of them saw no need of way of obtaining the blessing, till God himself con their error, by a fiery law from mount Sinai, “whici added because of transgressions, till the seed should co Gal. iii. 19. I need not insist to tell you, how Mose: the Prophets had stiil much ado, to lead the people o conceit of their own righteousness; Deut. xi. is en spent on that purpose. They were very gloss in that in our Saviour's time. In the time of the Apostles, the doctrine of free grace was most clearly preached error lifted up its head, in face of clearest light; w the Epistle to the Romans and Galatians: And, since time, it has not been wanting ; Popery being the cor
sink of formerheresies, and this the heartand life of that delusion. And, finally, it may be observed, that always as the church declined from her purity otherwise, the doctrine of free grace was obscured proportionably.
3. Such is the natural propensity of man's heart, to the way of the law in opposition to Christ; that, as the tainted vessel turns the taste of the purest liquor put into it, so the natural man turns the very gospel into law; and transforms the covenant of grace into a covenant of works. The ceremonial law was to the Jews a real gospel ; which held blood, death, and translation of guilt before their eyes continually, as the only way of salvation : Yet their very table (i. e. their altar, with the several ordinances pertaining thereto, Mal. i. 12.) was a snare unto them, Rom. ii. 9. While they use it to make up the defects in their obedience to the moral law, and cleave to it so, as to reject Him, whom the altar and sacrifices pointed them to, as the substance of all : Even as Hagar, whose it was only to serve, was by their father brought into her mistress's bed; not without a mystery in the purpose of God, for these are the two covenants, Gal. iv. 24. Thus is the doctrine of the gospel corrupted by Papists, and other enemies to the doctrine of free grace. And, indeed, however natural mens heads may be set right in this point, as surely as they are out of Christ, their faith, repentance and obedience, (such as they are,) are placed by them in the room of Christ and his righteousness, and so trusted to, as if by these they fulfilled a new law.
Great is the difficulty in Adam's sons their parting with the law, as a covenant of works. None part with it in that respect, but those whom the power of the Spirit of grace separates from it. The law is our first husband, and gets every one's virgin love. When Christ comes to the soul, he finds it married to the law; so as it neither can, nor will be married to another, till it be obliged to part with the first husband, as the apostle teacheth, Rom. vii. 1, 2, 3, 4. Now that ye may see what sort of a parting this is, consider,
(1.) It is a death, Rom. vii. 4. Gal. iii. 19. Intreaties will not prevail with the soul here; it saith to the first husband, as Ruth to Naomi, “ The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” And here sinners are true to their word; they die to the law,