Imágenes de páginas

verse before this quotation David is speaking of the vain thoughts of man; "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man that they are vanity." Hence the law is sent home to discover these thoughts of the heart, and to let us know that God is privy to them all, and that all our vain thoughts and false notions of God, and of the goodness of our own state, and the way in which we expect to please God and to recommend ourselves to his favour, are empty and vain. A thorough lawwork helps to cure us of this self-conceit.

For, "By the law is the knowledge of sin," which in that glass becomes exceeding sinful; and the law being spiritual, it reaches the soul and all the inmost recesses of the heart. The old man rouses up himself, sin takes occasion by the irritating power of the law to oppose it; and the law being holy, our comeliness turns all into corruption, and we are filled with all manner of concupiscence; which covers the soul with shame, and fills it with confusion.

Here the old man is discovered with all his deceitful lusts; and most vile, filthy, polluted, and impure, do we appear. Well may the prophet say, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us all away." The law having discovered sin to us, it fills us with terror, and a horrible dread overwhelms us; slavish fear and torment possess us, The sentence of the law

comes home, and sin being revived and discovered, the curse lights upon us, and the wrath of God enters into our conscience, and makes sad work there; and God appears an inexorable judge, and no less than a consuming fire. This he calls coming near to us to judgment, and appearing both judge and witness against us: "And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and that fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts," Mal. iii. 5. That text, when God applies it, is sure to take the sinner, let him be who or what he may; for, if he escape all the first list of charges, the last is sure to take him; for, in a state of nature, there is no fear of God before the eyes of men till God puts it into their heart. When God deals thus with us we know that he is come near to us, we feel ourselves in his strong hand, and at his awful bar; and every day, yea every hour, brings some forgotten sin to mind, or some unsuspected lust to light: yea, all is made manifest, every thought of the heart is discovered, as Paul himself describes it: "But, if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God,

[blocks in formation]

and report that God is in you of a truth," 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25. God having thus made us and our wicked deeds manifest, we become guilty before him to the last degree. And, having nothing to plead, nothing to say, and seeing no door of hope, no way of escape, and it appearing impossible for us to be saved; the law, gospel, God, and conscience, all against us; and expecting every day either to go raving mad, or to be drowned in despair, or to be cut off by death, or to be swallowed up alive, like Korah and his company; or else that the devil would be permitted to carry us away in the night; expecting nothing from God's hands but ruin and destruction, and being fully persuaded, from what we feel, that it is impossible we should be saved; it fills us with most desperate enmity against God; the old man, and every feature of old Adam's image, shew themselves. Instead of knowledge, we are filled with confusion, ignorance, blindness of mind, and darkness that may be felt; and appear the biggest fools in the whole world. And, instead of righteousness, we are guilty by the very precept of the law, and condemned by every truth in the gospel; condemned by every thought of our heart, and by our own conscience; by every professor of religion, and by every pharisee in a form of godliness and carnal security; yea, and by every fowl of the air, and by every beast of the field; for they all seem to answer the end of their creation in some way or other: but, as for us, we

are rebuked by the ox that knows its owner, and by the ass that knows its own crib; by the stork, and the crane, and the swallow, which know the time of their coming; and even by the ant, which gathereth her food in the summer.

And, instead of true holiness, in which we were created, from head to foot there is no place sound; we are even loathsome in our own sight, and abhor ourselves, and wonder from one hour to another at finding ourselves in the land of the living; astonished that God does not cut us down as cumberers of the ground, and send us to our own place. These are the cursed features of old Adam's image.

And, instead of love, our souls are filled with inexpressible enmity against the best of beings; and, instead of glory, there is nothing but guilt and filth, disgrace, shame, and, as we fear, everlasting contempt; and, instead of life, we are in the dark regions of the shadows of death; dead in soul, dead to God, and to all that is good; dead in the law, and dead at the bar of equity, and under the dominion of Satan, who has the power of death. Nevertheless, all this time we are imperceptibly and wonderfully supported. And, indeed, this teaching of the Father is intended to cut us off from the wild olive tree, that we may be grafted into a better stock. And it is to persons under this teaching that the Saviour calls, " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Heavy laden we are;

for guilt and filth, God's wrath and Satan's rage, the reproaches of conscience and our own despondency, the soul-woundings that we feel, and the dread of worse to come, is a most intolerable burden. And, though we labour hard in soul and body to do something to appease the wrath of God, and to move him to pity, yet, feeling such desperate enmity against him, and such rebellious strugglings to get out of his hand, to flee from his presence, or to get above him, or to contrive some way or other to sculk into non-existence, that he may not bring us forth at the last day, these things make us despair of ever pleasing him. And, Satan filling our souls with blasphemies and blasphemous thoughts against him, and with the most obscene and unclean thoughts, which are not confined to this world, but stirred up even against heaven itself; the devil, by these means, labours hard to stop all crying to God, and, if possible, to chain us down in black despair or wild distraction. This is his hour, and the powers of darkness. Nevertheless, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest give him rest,” &c. These are the souls that labour and are heavy laden, and that stand in need of rest; and it is God's intention that those that he thus teaches shall find it, and enter into it; hence the text says, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest give him rest from the days

« AnteriorContinuar »