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adv. 6. "No man cometh unto the Father but by roe." O what a sweet voice cometh down from heaven to yoar souls this day, saying, As ever you expect or hope to come to God, and enjoy the blessing that is here, come unto Christ, obey his calls, give up yourselves to his conduct aud government, and you shall certainly be brought to God! As sure as you shall now be brought to Jesus Christ by spiritual union, so sure shall you be brought to God in full fruition. v
Blejsed be God for Jesus Christ, the new and living -way to the Father.
And thus I have sinished the motives drawn from the titles and benefits of Christ, serving to enforce and quicken the great gospel exhortation of coming to, and effectually applying the Lord Jesus Christ in the way of saith. O that the blessings of the Spirit might follow these calls, and fix these considerations as nails in sure places! But seeing the great hindrance and obstruction to saith is the salse opinion anct persuasion of most unregenerate men, that they are already in Christ; my next work therefore shall be, in a second use of conviction, to undeceive men in that matter; and that, by shewing them the undoubted certainty of these two things:
First, That there is no coming, ordinarily, to Christ without the application of the law to our consciences, in a way of effectual conviction.
Secondly, Nor by that neither, without the teachings of God, in the way of spiritual illumination. The first of these will be fully confirmed aud opened in
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The great usefulness of the Law or Word of God, in order to the Application of Christ.
Rom. vii. 9. For I was alive -without the law once, but when the commandment came, Jin revived, and I died.
TH E scope of the apostle in this epistle, and more particuterly in this chapter. Is to state the due use and excellency of the law, which he doth accordingly.
First, By denying to it a power to justify us, which is the peculiar honour of Christ.
Secondly, By ascribing to it a power to convince us, and so prepare us for Christ.
Neither attributing to it more honour than belongeth to it, nor yet detracting from it that honour and usefulness which God hath given it. It cannot make us righteous, but it can convince us that we are unrighteous; it cannot heal, but it can open and discover the wounds that sin hath given us; which he proves in this place by an argument drawn from his own experience, confirmed also by the general experience of believers, in whose persons and names we must here understand him to speak; "For I was alive without the law once; but when the com"mandment came, sin revived, and I died." "Wherein three particulars are very observable.
First, The opinion Paul had, and all unregenerate men have of themselves before conversion: I -was alive once. By. life, understand here liveliness, cbearfulness, and confidence of his good estate and condition: he was full of vain hope, salse joy, and presumptuous confidence, a very brisk and jovial man.
Secondly, The sense and opinion he had, and all others will have of themselves, if ever they come under the regenerating work of the Spirit in his ordinary method of working: J died. The death he here speaks of, stands opposed to that life before mentioned; and signifies the sorrows, fears, and tremblings that seized upon his foul, when his state and temper were upoa the change-: the apprehensions he then had of his condition struck him home to the heart, and damped all his carnal mirth: I died. . Thirdly, The ground and reason of this wsnderful alteration and change of his judgment, and apprehension of his own condition; the commandnunt came, and Jin revived: The commandment came, i. e. it came home to my conscience, it was fixed with a divine and mighty efficacy upon my heart: the commandment was come before by way of promulgation, and the literal knowledge of it: but it never came, till now, in the spiritual sense, and convincing power to his foul: though he had often read, and heard the law before, yet he never clearly understood the meaning and extent, he never felt the mighty efficacy thereof upon his heart before; it Ib came at this time, as it never came before. From hence the observations are,
Dost. 1. That unregenerate persons are generally full of groundless confidence, and cbearfulness, though their condition be fad and miserable.
Dost. 2. That there is a. mighty efficacy in the word or law cf God, to kill vain confidence, and quench carnal mirth in the hearts of men, -when God sets it borne upon their consciences:.
We stntll take both these points under consideration, and improve them to the design in hand.
Doct. J,. That unregenerate persons are generally full of groundless confidence, and cbearsulness, though their condition be fad and miserable; R#v. iii. 17. Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: This is the very life that unregenerate men do live.
In opening whereof, I shall shew you,
1. What is the life of the unregenerate.
2. What maintains that life.
3. How it appears that this is the life the generality of the world do live.
- 4. the danger of living such a life as this: and then apply it.
First, What is the life of the unregenerate, and wherein it consists? Now there being, among others, three things in which the life of the unregenerate doth principally consist, viz. Carnal security, Presumptuous hope, and False joy, Of these briefly in their order.
First, There is in unregenerate men a great deal of carnal security; they dread no danger; Luke xi. 21. " When a strong "man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are at peace:" There is generally a great stillness and silence in the consciences of such men: when others, in a better condition, are watching and trembling, they fleep securely; so they live, and so oftimes they die, Psal. lxxiii. 4. " They have no bonds in their death," [Hebrew, no knots], no difficulties that puzzle them. It is true, the consciences of few men are so perfectly stupified, but that, some time or other, they twing and gird them; but it seldom works to that height, or continues with them so long, as to give any considerable interruption to their carnal peace and quietness.
Secondly, The life of the unregenemte consisteth in presumptuous hope: this is the very foundation of their carnal security. So Christ tells the Jews, John viii. 54, 45. " Of whom ye say "that he is your God, and yet ye have Hot known him." The world is full of hope without a promise, which is but as a spider's web, when a stress comes to be laid upon it, Job xxvii. 8. Unregenerate men are said indeed to be without hope, Ephes. .5i. 12. but the meaning is, they are without any solid, wellgrounded hope; for in scripture-account, vain hope is no hope, except it be a lively hope, 1 P'if. i. 3,. A hope flowing from union with Christ, Col. i. 27. A hope nourished by experience, Rom. v. 4. A hope for which a man can give a reason, 1 Pet. iii. 15. A hope that puts men upon heart-purifying endeavours, 1 John iii. 3. It is in the account of God a cypher, a vanity, not deserving the name of hope ; and yet such a groundless, dead, Christless, irrational, idle hope is that which the uuregenerate live upon.
Thirdly, The life of the unregenerate confisteth in salse joy, the immediate offspring of ungrounded hope, Mat. xiii. 20. The stony ground receive the word with joy.
There are two forts of joy upon which the unregenerate live, viz.
1. A sensitive joy in things carnal.
2. A delusive joy in things spiritual.
They rejoice in corn, wine, and oil, in their estates and children, in the pleasant fruitions of the creature; yea, and they rejoice also in Christ and the promises, in heaven and in glory: with all which they have just such a kind of communion, as a man hath in a dream with a full feast, and curious music; and just so their joy will vanish when they awake. Now these three, security, hope, and joy, make up the livelihood of the carnal world.
Secondly, Next it concerns us to enquire what are the things that maintain and support this security, hope and joy in the hearts of unregenerate men; and if we consider duly, we shall find church-privileges, natural ignorance, salse evidences of the love of God, slight workings of the gospel, self-love, comparing themselves with the more prosane, and Satan's policy managing all these in order to their eternal ruin, are so many springs to feed and maintain this life of delusion in the unregenerate.
1. First, Church privileges lay the foundation to this strong delusion. Thus the Jews deceived themselves, saying in their hearts, "We have Abraham for our sather," Mat. iii. 9. This propt up the vain hopes that Abraham's blood ran in their veins, though Abraham's saith and obedience never wrought in their hearts.
2. Secondly, Natural ignorance; this keeps all in peace: they that see not, fear not. There are but two ways to quiet the hearts of men about their spiritual and eternal concernments, viz. the -way of assurance and saith, or, the way of ignorance and self-deceit : by the one we are put beyond daDger, by the other beyond fear, though the danger be greater. Satan could never quiet men, if he did not first blind them.
3. Thirdly, False evidences of the love of God is another spring feeding this security, vain hope and salse joy in the hearts of men: see the pawer of it_ to hush and still the conscience, Mat. vii. 22. " Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, "have we not prophesied in thy name?" £ic. The things up~ on which they built their evidence and confidence, were external things in religion; yet they had a quieting power upon them, as if they had been the best evidences in the world.
4. Fourthly, Slight workings of the gospel; such are transient motions of the affections under the word, Heb. vi. 8. the working of their desires about spiritual objects, John vi. 34. Mat. xxv. 8. the external change, and reformation of their ways, Mat. xii. 43. all which serve to nourish the vain hopes of the unregenerate.
Fifthly, Self-love is an apparent reason and ground of security, and salse hope, Mat. vii. 3. It makes a man to overlook great vils in himself, whilst he is sharp-sighted to discover and censure lesser evils in others: self-love takes away the sight of fin, by bringing it too near the eye.
6. Sixthly, Mens comparing themselves with those that are more prosane and grofly wicked than themselves, serves notably to quiet and hush the conscience asleep; "God, I thank thee, "(laid the Pharisee), I am not as other men, or as this publi"can." O what a saint did he seem to himself, when he stood by those that were more externally wicked. s
7. Seventhly, aud lastly, The policy of Satan to manage alt these things to the blinding and ruining of the lbuls of men, is another great reason they live so securely and pleasantly as they do, in a state of so much danger and misery, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that "believe not."
Thirdly, You have seen what the life of the unregenerate is, and what maintains that life. In the next place, I shall give you ovidence that this is the life the generality of the world do. live; a life of carnaj security, vain hope, and salse joy this will evidently appear, if we consider,
First, The activity and liveliness of mens spirits in pursuit . of the world. O how lively and vigorous are their hearts in the the management of earthly designs! Psal. vi. 4. " Who will "shew us any good i" The world eats up their hearts, time, and strength. Now this could never be, if their eyes were but opined to fee the danger, and misery'their fouls are in. How few designs for the world run in the thoughts of a condemned man? O if God had ever made the light of conviction to shine into their consciences, certainly the temptations would lie the quite contrary way, even in too great a neglect of things of this
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