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and tlius it hitfi ^ontlntf ed ever since, down to the preset daf; It inay be granted that all men ate not born equally depraved^4 as there seems to be a very considerable difference in this respect, between one. man and'another. Many there are of whom it may be s?.id with the greatest truth, " corrupt are they and have done abbminable iniquity," their minds and consciences »re deeply defiled, their sinful propensities are violent, they are of a furious, wrathful, heidrtrongyand turbulent temper, and in them the scripture is remarkably fulfilled,*' The wicked is like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, when its waters cast up mire and dirt." May not this be accounted for by observing, that such families have been remarkably degenerate from one generation to another^, so that their evil passions and carnal desires have grown stronger and stronger 5 and not only so, but all their bad tempers have gained strength for want of a proper education; and added to »ll this^ the evil example of their ungodly parents has greatly, contributed to strengthen every sinful inclination; so that such persons are depraved in the highest degree. Others there are, who are naturally more mild, gentle, and teachable, and having been trained up in some degree at least, in the fear of the Lord, they have been kept from ten thousand evils which others have run intb; but still the expressive words of the apostle may be applied to every child of man. The law of God is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin; The soul of man in its fallen state is so far from being pure and holy, that according to the prophet's words, "it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; so deceitful and desperately wicked, saith our Lord, that it is the faithful parent of all ungodliness, " for out of it proceeded! evil thoughts, murders^ adulteries, blasphemies, false witness, and all manner of uncleanness, it is therefore that corrupt fountain which hath sent forth those bitter streams of ungodliness which hatK overflowed the whole world. Seeing then that all are born in this degenerate state of mind, it becomes absolutely necessary that they should be brought out of it, and be renewed by the Holy Ghost, or what is the same thing, that one and ail should be converted^ according to our Lord's words.
2. The necessity of being purified by the Spirit of God will appear, if we consider hbw impossible it is for any one to serve God acceptably while he continues in that degenerate stale of inind before described. An evil tree, we well know, cannot bring forth good fruit, the tree itself must be made good before the fruit which grows upon it can be good. So likewise the mind must be renewed by divine grace,, before^ the life and conversation can be agreeable to the willof GuJ. Thfy \vh>, are in the flesh, saith the holy apostle, cannot please God, it is not in their power so to do, they are not in a proper state of jnind, and have no ability to serve God acceptably. That this is their unhappy state, will clearly appear from the words of St. Paul, t' The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is no,; subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." How then pan that person-be a willing servant of God, whose carnal mind is enmity itself, and stands in direct opposition to the divine will] To be more fully convinced or the above truth, we need only consider what God recjuireth of us: Thou shah love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with, all thy mind, and with all thy strength, is the first and great .commandment. But can any one do this, while his heart is filled with enmity against God? This every one.must acknowledge is impossible, and the truth is, we do not^ and we cannot love God at all, so long as we remain in our fallen. degenerate state of mind. ,Many we know would be highly displeased were we to tell them plainly, "you do not love Qod,' but ?o it.certainly is,. for he who saith he loves God, an^t keepeth not hi* commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. . His life is one continued practical lie again&t the truth, his daily practice gives the lie |:p his profession. Here the disobedient and rebellious are cut. down by the sword of the Spirit at one stroke. We also learn from the same apostle, th,at we only can love God from an experimental sense of his love toward* us. "We love him because he hath loved us." As then jt is impossible for any man upon earch to know that God loves him, till this is made known to him by the word and the Spir.t of God, and this cannot be till he is blest with living faith in tiie Lord Jesus Christ; it therefore follpws that he mutt be renewed by grace before he can love God. When this is done, he may say upon the same grpund that the apostle did: *' The love of Christ constrairieth us, because we thusjudgr, that if pne died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all,, that they who live should not hencciorth live unto themselves^ but unto him who died for them and rose again.1' That no one can love God while he remains in his carnal itaw of mind, will appear if we consider, that it is natural to us to desire the enjoyment of that which we love. Did we really love God, then our desires would certainly centre in, or run out after the injoyment of him. "My soul is athirsi for God, yea even for the living God, when shall I come and appear before God," would be the language of our very heart. But where is the man to be found, who never experienced the ivnewing grace of God in his mind, whose desires are continually fixed upon God, and the things which belong to his everlasting peace? Rather shall we not find that the natural language of the fallen soul is, " What shall I eat, and what shall I drink, and wherewith shall 1 be clothed?" But so far from desiring the enjoyment of God, alas, the mind is totally alienated from God.
Did we love God, we should not only desire, but also delight in the enjoyment of him, as every one knows it is natural for us to delight in that which we love. It matters not at all how unworthy of our regard the object of our affections may be, if we really love it, we must delight therein: And if our affections are fixed upon God, we should delight in him of course. He would be the joy of our heart and the delight of our soul, "whom have I in heaven but thee, and what is there upon earth that I desire beside thee," would be the language of our heart: Or with the prophet we should say, "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, my heart hath trusted in him." As it is impossible for us to love God, till we are savingly or experimentally acquainted with him, and as this cannot be obtained but through faith in the Son of God, it must follow, that as faith realizes spiritual and eternal things, so in a particular manner it brings the soul into the presence of God, so that we may enjoy communion with him, and as he is the fountain of all that is excellent, of all that is wise and good, the man who is thus favoured will enjoy such a degree of peace and divine consolation, as must cause him to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But is this the experience of any tmconverted man upon earth? Alas, how very far from it is every one of them! They can almost delight in any thing but God, he is not in their thoughts, or if at any time they begin to think of him, the language of their heart is, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways."
3. Did we love God, we certainly should seek after the enjoyment of him, for that which we love we highly value, therefore we seek after the enjoyment of it, and shall spare no pains to obtain it; if we see any probability or even any possibility of getting possession of the object of our wishes. And consequently it would be the same with respect to God, did we really love him, we should earnestly seek him, and this would lead us constantly to serve him. We should wait upon him in his appointed ways, should attend upon all his sacred ordin;in» ces and we should be daily enquiring, where shall I find him whom my soul loveth? And our labour would riot be in
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Vairi, we should soon find thfr truth of these comfortable words, "Blessed h the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of niy doors, for whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord." But is it thus with any of those who know not God? O no, they are rather enquiring how they may fulfil the natural desires of the flesh and of the mind, and are entire strangers to any higher happiness, than that which ariseth fro*i the gratification of their own sensual inclinations. Seeing that we neither desire, delight in, nbr seek after the enjoyment of God, it follows that we do not love him, and therefore cannot serve him according to his will, till we are renewed by his blessed Spirit.
3. The necessity of this will appear rf we consider1, how impossible it would be fdr us to go to heaven, or even to be nappy in the enjoyment of God if we were there, if We should live and dife without this purification. We are expressly told, "without holiness no man shall see' the Lord," and that " no unclean thing shall enter within the gates of the New Jerusalem." But it has been already proved, that we are all unholy and unclean, therefore we cannot see the Lord to our comfort, or enjoy him in his kingdom. Nothing is more certain than this, were we admitted into heaven in our carnal and degenerate state of mind, we should not be happy there, as we could neither enjoy God himself, nor that pure and spiritual pleasure which flows from his sacred presence, and which he hath prepared for them who love him^ So far from it$ we should carry hell with us into heaven, our guilty conscience^ the worm which never dieth would accompany us into heaven itself. We should not be able to endure the presence of God, for being under his displeasure he would be to us as a consuming fire; Many there are I know, who make nbt the least doubt but if they could only get into heaven at any rate, they would df course be happy enough, this in a certain sense is true, as none can ever go tb heaven but such as are made meet for it. But these mfen have exceeding gross and carnal conceptions of heaven;. they think that it is a very grand beautiful place, and therefore all who once get possession of it, must needs be as happy as their hearts can wishi But such people must be told that heaven is a state rather than a place, a state of inconceivable glory and blessedness^ and that the happiness of glorified spirits ariseth front the enjoyment of God, and therefore must be altogether hdly and spiritual, in its very nature; and hence it can only be enjoyed by such as are made
holy and spiritual while in this world. The apostle informs u«, we must be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, and nothing but divine grace communicated, can give us this meetness for heaven.
An unholy person could not unite with the inhabitants nf heaven, in their employments, we are told they rest not, through oqe eternal day, from chearfully and delightfully singing praises to him who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb who was slain, who redeemed them to God by his precious blood, and who made them kings and priests unto hi& heavenly Father: unto whom they give honour, dominion and praise for ever and ever. Thus they ascribe their salvation to the blood of the Redeemer; but no carnal, or unconverted man hi the world, was he to go to heaven in that state, could join in singing this song. How could he ascribe his salvation to the blood of Christ, when he never experienced redemption in his blood, or any thing like it? If such a person was admitted into heaven, he would certainly make discord there, he would sing a quite different song from any one there besides himself, and would ascribe his salvation not to the Lord Jesus Christ, or to his precious blood, but to something else; ut we may be well assured that such persons will never be permitted to tread those sacred courts, the gates of the holy city of God will be eternally shut against all such, and they must go down to the regions of everlasting darkness.
Let the above particulars be duly weighed.
i. The unholy state of mind we are all in, till renewed by the Spirit of God; 2. How unable we are to serve God acceptably while we remain in that unholy state; and 3. How impossible it is for us to go to, or be happy in hearen were we to go there in that degenerate state, and they will prove to a demonstration, the absolute necessity of our being renew.ed in the spirit of our minds, so that we may be happy with our God in his holy habitation. Which brings me to consider,
Secondly, By what means may this great and blessed change be wrought in us.
And we have infinite cause to praise the Lord that we are not left to wander in the dark respecting this matter; he hath clearly revealed the way to us himself, he hath done this even in the words of our text, so that we need to look no farther. And hath put no difference between us and them, between the Jews and Gentiles, purifying their hearts by faith. Not by their works of righteousness, not by their own hoaest and Virf'ght endeavours, but by a living, faith in an all sufficient