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discern whether ever Christ hath been effectually applied to his foul. That which remains is
An use of Lamentation. Wherein the miserable and most wretched state of all those to whom Jesus Christ is not effectually applied, will be yet more particularly discovered, and bewailed.
Of the State of Spiritual Death, and the Misery thereof.
Eph. v. 14. Wheresore he saith, Awake thou that fleepejl, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
THIS scripture represents unto us the miserable, and lamentable state of the unregenerate, as being under the power of spiritual death, which is the cause, and inlet of all cither miseries. From hence, therefore, I shall make the first discovery of the woful, and wretched state of them that apply not Jesus Christ to their own fouls.
The scope of the apostle in this context, is to press believers toa circumspect, and holy lise; to " walk as children of light." This exhortation is laid down in ver. 8. and pressed by divers' arguments in the following verses.
first, From the tendency of holy principles, unto holy fruits and practice, ver. 9, 10.
Secondly, From the convincing esficacy of practical godliness, upon the consciences of the wicked, ver. n, 12, 13. It awes, sod convinces their consciences.
Thirdly, From the co-incidence of such a conversation with the great design, and drift of the scriptures; which is to awaken men, by regeneration, out of that spiritual sleep, or rather oeath, which sin hath cast them into: and this is the argument °f the text, Wheresore he saith, Awake thou that steepest, &c. There is some difficulty in the reserence of these words. Some 'hiflk it is to Isa. xxvi. 19. " Awake, and sing ye that dwell in "the dust." Others to Isa. lx. 1. "Arise, shine, for thy light "Is come," isc. Rut most probably, the words neither reser to this, or that particularly, but to the drift and scope of the whole scriptures, which were inspired, and written upon this great design, to awaken, and quicken souls out of the state of spiritual death. And in them we are to consider these three things, more distinctly, and particularly.
1. The miserable state of the unregenerate; they are a/leep end dead.
2. Their duty; which is to " awake, and stand up from the "dead."
3. The power enabling them thereunto;'" Christ shall give « thee light."
First, The miserable state of the unregenerate, represented under the notions of Jleep, and death; both expressions intending one and the (ame thing, though with some variety of notion. The Christlese, and unregenerate world is in a deep steep; a spirit of slumber, senselesness, and security is fallen upon them, though they lie exposed immediately to eternal wrath and misery, ready to drop into hell every moment. Just as man that is fast asleep in a house on fire, and whilst the consuming flames are round about him, his fancy is sporting itself in some pleasant dream; this is a very lively resemblance of the unregenerate soul. But yet he that sleeps hath the principle of lise entire in him, though his senses be bound, and the actions of life suspended by sleep. Lest therefore we should think it is only fo with the unregenerate, the expression is designedly varied, and those that were said to be asleep, are positively affirmed to be dead; on purpose to inform us that it is not a simplesuspension of the acts, and exercise, but a total privation, of the principle of spiritual lise, which is the misery of the unregenerate.
Secondly, We have here the duty of the unregenerate, which is to "awake out of steep, and arise from the dead." This is their great concernment: no duty in the world is of greater necessity and importance to them. "Strive (faith Christ) to enter in "at the strait gate," Luke xiii. 24. And the order of these duties is very natural. First awake, then arise. Startling, and rousing convictions make way for spiritual lise; till God awake us • by convictions of our misery, we will never be persuaded to arise, and move towards Christ for remedy and sasety.
Thirdly, But you will say, if unregenerate men be dead men,
to what purpose is it to persuade them to arise and stand up:
The very exhortation supposes some powers or ability in the
. unregeaerlHf.;.^l^A%aia are they commanded to arise *. This
* Though thet*vords seem to import a willingness first to awake and rise, and t#tn to be enlightened, yet we are to understand, that it is by th< efficacy of Christ's light that the sinner is made to awake and rise. Roll, on the place.
difficulty is solved in this very text, though the doty is ours, yet the power is God's. God commands that in his word, which only his grace can perform. "Christ fhall give thee light." Popish commentators would build the tower offree-wiU upon this scrip, ture, by a very weak argument, drawn from the order wherein these things are here expressed; which is but a weak foundation to build upon, for it is very usual in scripture to put the efsect before, and the cause after, as it is here, so in Isa.xxvi. 19. '* A"wake and sing, ye that dwell in the dull." Bat I will not here intangle my discourse with that controversy, that which I aim at is plain in the words, viz,
Doct. That all Chrstless fouls are under the power of spiritual death; they are in the slate of the dead.
Multitudes of testimonies are given in scripture to this truth; Eph. ii. 1,5. "You hath he quickened who were dead in trcs"passes and sins." Col. ii. 13. "And you being dead in your "sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened "together with him;" with many other places of the same importance. But the method in which I shall discourse this point will be this:
First, I will fhew you in what sense Christless, and unregenerate men are said to be dead.
Secondly, What the state of spiritual death is.
Thirdly, How it appears that all unregenerate men are in this lad state. And then apply it.
First, In what sense are Christless, and unregenerate men said to be dead men.
To open this, we must know there is a three-sold death, viz.
Natural death is nothing else but the privation of the principle of natural lise, or the separation of the soul from the body, James ii. 26. "The body without the spirit is dead." Spiritual death is the privation of the principle of spiritual lise, or the want and absence. of the quickening Spirit of God in the soul; the soul is the lise of the body, and Christ is the lise of the soul; the absence of the foul is death to the body, and the absence, or want of Christ is death to the soul. Eternal death is the separation both of body and soul from God, which is the misery of the damned. Now christless, and unregenerate men are not dead in the first sense; they are naturally alive though they are dead while they live: nor are they yet dead in the last sense, eternally separated from God, by aa. irrevocable senieace as the damned are; but they are dead in the second sense; they are spiritually dead, whilst they are naturally alive; and this spiritual death is the fore-runner of eternal death. Now spiritual death is put in scripture in opposition of a two-fold spiritual lise, viz.
1. The lise of justification.
2. The lise of sanctification.
Spiritual death, in opposition to the lise of justification, is nothing else but the guilt of sin bringing us under the sentence of death. Spiritual death, in opposition to the lise of sanctification, is the pollution, or dominion of sin. In both these senses, unregenerate men are dead men; but it is the last which I am properly concerned to speak to in this place: and therefore,
Secondly, Let us briefly consider what this spiritual death is, which, as before was hinted, is the absence of the quickening Spirit of Christ from the soul of any man. That soul is a dead soul, into which the Spirit of Christ is not infused in the work of regeneration; and all its works are dead works, as they are called, Heb. ix.14. For, look how it is with the damned, they live, they have lense and motion, and an immortality in all these; yet because they are eternally separated from God, the lise which they live, deserves not the name of lise, but it is every where in scripture stiled death: so the unregenerate, they are naturally alive; they eat, and drink, they buy, and sell, they talk, and laugh, they rejoice in the creatures; and many of them spend their days in pleasures, and then go down to the grave. This is the lise they live, but yet the scripture rather calls it death than lise; because though they live, yet it is without God in the world, Eph. ii. 12. though they live, yet it is a lise alienated from the lise of God, Eph. iv. 18. And therefore while they remain naturally alive, they are in scripture said
V to remain in death," 1 John iii. 14. and to be " dead while' "they live," 1 Tim. v. 6, And there is great reason why a Christlefs, an unregenerate state, should be represented in scripture under the notion of death; for there is nothing in nature which more aptly represents that miserable state of the soul, than natural death doth. The dead see, and discern nothing; and the natural man perceiveth not the things that are of God. The dead have no beauty, or desircableness in them; "Bury my
V dead, (said Abraham,) out of my sighs." neither is there any spiritual loveliness in the unregenerate. True it is, some of them have sweet natural qualities, and moral excellencies, which are engaging things; but these are so many flowers, decking and adorning a dead corpse; The dead are objects of pity, and great lamentation: men use to mourn for the dead, Ecch xii. 5. " Man gbeth to his long home, and the moiirhers go a"bout the streets;" But unregenerate, and Christless fouls, are much more the objects of pity and lamentation; How are all the people of God (especially those that are naturally related to them) concerned to mourn over them, and for them, as Abraham did for Ishmael, Gen. xvii; 18. " O that Ishmael might "live before thee." Upoa these, and many other accounts, the state of unregeneracy is represented to us in the notion of death.
Third'y, And that this is the state of all Christless, and unsanctified pers>ns, will, undeniably, appear two ways.
1. The causes of spiritual lise hate not wrought upon them.
2. The effects and signs of spiritual lise, do not appear ia them; and therefore they are in the state, and under the power, of spiritual death.
First, The causes of spiritual lise have npt wrought upoo them. There are two causes of spiritual lise, r. Principal, and iuternali 2. Subordinate, and externals
The prindrjii, internal cause of spiritual lise, Is the regenerating Spirit opChrist, Rom. viii. 2. "The law of the Spirit of "lise in Christ Jeshs, hath made me free from the law of sin and "death." It is the Spirit, as a regenerating Spirit, that unites Os with Christ, in whom all spiritual lise originally is, John v. 15, 26. " Verily, I say unto you, that the hour is coming, and "now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: "and they that hear, shall live: For as the Father hath lise iu "himself, so hath he given to the Son to have lise in himself." As all the members of the natural body receive animation, sense, soil motion, by their union with their natural head; so all believers, the members of Christ, receive spiritual lise and animation by their union with Christ their mystical head, Eph. iv.' '5, 16, Except we come to him, and be united with him ia the way of saith, we can have no lise in us, John. v. 40. "Ye "will not come unto me that ye may have lise," Now the spirit of God hath yet exerted no regenerating, quickening influences, nor begotten any special saving saith in natural, uniinctified men . whatever he hath done for them in the way of natural, or spiritual common gifts, yet he hath not quickened them with the lise.of Christ. And as for the subordinate external means of lise, viz. the preaching of the gospel, wh^ch is theiur
Vol. III.' Q"