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when it is observed what heaven really is, they choose this world before heaven.
Fifthly. They wish to have salvation from misery, but yet are averse to those things wherein salvation consists; and at the same time that they pray to Christ to serve them, they undo themselves as fast as they can, they spend their time daily in working out their own ruin They pray that they may be delivered from hell, and yet are all the while piling up fuel, and kindling and blowing the fire. Thus their wills are inconsistent with themselves, as they do in some respects choose and refuse the same things.
2. They dislike and refuse spiritual things as they are, and yet refuse to have them otherwise. This was the very case with the Jews in the text, they would not have a prophet come eating and drinking, if he did so, they looked on him very reproachfully; nor yet would they have him not come eating and drinking, for if he did so they called him a mad man, and possessed with a devil, which is a lively specimen of the inconsistency of wicked men, of which we are speaking.
I will mention several instances of this inconsistency on the part of wicked men.
First. They do not like God as he is, and yet they would not like him if he were otherwise. They would not like him if he were otherwise than he is in those very things for which they most dislike him.
1st. They dislike God because he is an holy God. This is the main foundation of the enmity that wicked men have against God. His perfect purity and holiness make them enemies to him, because from this perfection of bis nature he necessarily hates sin, and so hates their sins, which they love, and he will not and cannot allow of any sin in them. They are utter enemies to such a holy God. And yet they would not like him if they supposed him to be an unholy being, or if they supposed him to be at all wanting in perfect holiness, for then he could not be depended upon. If he were unholy, they know that if he promised them any thing they could have no certain dependence upon it, for an unholy being is liable to break his promises; if he were unboly they could have no dependence on his faithfulness, and therefore they would never be willing to give up themselves to him as their God, for they would not know how he would dispose of them, what he would do with them. If he were to obligate himself by covenant, yet they could have no dependence upon it; and therefore they would by no means accept of such a God to be their God, to rule over them, and dispose of them.
2d. They do not like God, because he is a God of justice. This indeed is a branch of his holiness for being strictly and perfectly just, he is disposed to execute just punishment on all iniquity. There
fore they are exceeding enemies to him, for they are the persons who are obnoxious, being those that have committed iniquity, and exposed themselves to just punishment; and yet they would not like God if he were an unjust God. If he were an unjust being, that would be an insuperable objection with them against accepting bim as their God, for then they would think with themselves, “how do I know, how unjustly he may deal with me;" and wicked men, bowever unjust they are, never like injustice against themselves. And they never would be persuaded to accept of such a God as their Lord and King, for they should then expect to be wronged and abused by him. They would dread committing themselves into the hands of a God that is infinite in power, and can do what he will with them, and has no principle of holiness or justice to keep him from using that power in the most unjust and abusive manner towards them.
Though they are enemies to God because of his justice, yet whenever at any time they think God deals unjustly, they quarrel with bim for it. How frequent is it for natural men, when there are any of God's methods of providence, the justice of which they cannot see through, to have their bearts swell with enmity, and to be full of blasphemous malignant thoughts against God, if they do not even manifest it outwardly by a fretful, discontented bebaviour, and murmuring speeches?
3d. They do not like God, because he is an Almighty God, and is able to destroy them when he pleases; nor yet would they like him if he were a weak being and of but little power. They would on this account refuse to close with him as their God, for they would have a God able to do great things for them ; they wish to have many things done for them, and they would have a God that can do them.
4th. They do not like God because he is an omniscient God, for hereby he sees all their wickedness. But yet neither would they like him if he did not know all things, for then in many cases he would not know what their case is, and what it requires, and what is best for them. He might ruin them in the disposal of them through mistake, he might not know how to extricate them out of difficulties in which they are or may be involved.
5th. Natural men oftentimes dislike God in the exercises of his infinite sovereign mercy, when it is exercised towards others. They are greatly displeased at God's being so gracious to others; they dislike it much that God bestows converting grace upon them and pardoning mercy, and a title to eternal life upon them. When they hear of iheir conversion it is unpleasant news, and they find fault with it the more when the persons who seem to have received such mercy are very unworthy, and have been very great sinners; they think of the sins of which they have been guilty, and reckon
up all the instances of wickedness they can think of, so that the mercy exercised towards them is the more displeasing because it appears so great in being bestowed on one so unworthy, like the elder brother, Luke xv. 30. “But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” And yet they would not like God if he were not infinitely merciful, for then they would have less hopes of obtaining mercy themselves. They are angry because God appears so mercisul in the exercises of his grace to others; but yet they would have God merciful, and are at the same time afraid that he is not merciful enough to be willing to pardon their sins, and bestow his blessing on them.
Thus natural men do not like God as he is, nor yet would they like him if he were otherwise.
Secondly. They do not like men that are holy, nor yet do they like men that are wicked. They do not like holy men, for they know that such do not approve of that which themselves love, and the lives of the godly are a condemnation of the wickedness of their own hearts and lives. Hence there is an enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Gen. iii. 15. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” But although they do not like men if they are godly, so neither do they like them if they are ungodly; they are more forward than the godly are to reprove others for their vice and wickedness, and bitterly to reflect on others for their pride, their covetousness and their idleness. None are more apt to find fault with wickedness in others than those who are wicked themselves, and one great reason is that other men's lusts clash with theirs. Thus one man's pride crosses the pride of another, for it is the nature of pride to desire to be alone in advancement, to make the person in whom it is, affect to be a God, to appropriate all power and all honour to himself as bis own prerogative. But such an aim in one man clashes with such an aim in another. Hence there are none that can bear pride in others so ill, as those that are very proud themselves, and there never are such strife and enmity as between proud, haughty men. Proud men love to have others walk humbly before them, and nothing enrages them.so much as to have others carry themselves proudly. For the same reason covetous men dislike covetous men, for this lust clashes with the same lust in another. Every covetous man strives to get all into his own hands, to get and keep all that he can to himself froin his neighbour. So the lusts of envy, and malice, and revenge, are hated in others by envious and malicious men; because none are so obnoxious to malice, and envy, and revenge, as those that have the most of these qualities. Hence the wicked world on earth, who are at enmity with the church of God for its holiness,
do not at all agree together. Though they agree in being alike under the power of wickedness, yet how full is the world of wicked men of strise and contention, of perpetual jars, animosities, and confusion! Rom. i. 29, 30, 31, 32. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." So Titus iji. 3. “ For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts, and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."
And hence also it comes to pass that devils and wicked men in hell, though they hate angels and saints in heaven for their holiness, have yet no love one to another; though they all agree in being perfectly wicked, yet they hate one another with implacable hatred, and are continually mortifying and tormenting one another; so that hell is a world of perfect malice and contention.
Thirdly. They refuse to accept of heaven as it is; yet they would not like it if it were otherwise. As has been observed before, they have no relish for the holy enjoyments and employments of heaven). They dislike heaven for its holiness, and yet they would not like it if it were unholy; for then they would be liable to the same troubles and vexations in heaven that they meet with in this world. If it were not that heaven differs from this world in holiness, it would be as full of pride and malice, envy, revenge, contention, injustice, violence and cruelty, as this world is, and so would be as vexatious a world as this is. Wicked men are as liable to the trouble and vexation of the world, which arise from those things, as godly men, and in some respects more so, for they have no divine supports against those things, no safer portion to which their hearts betake themselves.
3. The things that wicked men choose, imply an inconsistency in their own nature. The things which they would have are impossibilities and self-contradictions.
First. They would a sufficient Saviour, and not a holy one. They would not have a holy Saviour, because such a Saviour does not at all agree with their lusts; but yet they would have a sufficient Saviour, one that is sufficient to save them from hell, and so one that is sufficient to make a proper atonement for all their sins, to make full satisfaction to the justice of God, that they may escape the penalty of that justice. But these things prove a great inconsistency, for how is it possible that a Saviour, who is not
perfectly holy himself, should make satisfaction for the unholiness of others? How is it possible that one who deserves to suffer the eternal wrath of God himself for his own sin, should by his sufferings appease God's wrath for the sins of others ?
They would have a worthy Saviour, as appears in this ; when they are awakened, and in some measure sensible of their guilt, they dare not come to Christ, because they cannot see that he has worthiness enough to commend them to God; they are afraid that he is not worthy enough; and yet they dislike Christ because he is a holy Saviour! And what an inconsistency is this! How can he be a worthy Saviour, and not a holy one? So that their choice does in effect contain this inconsistency in it, that they would have a Saviour who is infinitely worthy, without worthi
dly. They wish for salvation from misery without salvation from sin. They do not love misery any better than others, and hope to be saved from it; and some of them are in distress for fear of misery; but yet they would have it without being parted from their sins: which is in its own nature impossible, for the creature that is sinful, must be miserable. For misery consists in separation from the fountain of happiness, and an enmity between the creature and the chief good. But sin implies in its own nature such a separation : it is a separation from that God who is the fountain of good, and is enmity against him, and therefore necessarily brings enmity from that being against the sioner, if it be continued. Sin is the seed of misery; misery is the necessary fruit of it. It is necessary from the nature of God, who, being infinitely holy, necessarily hates it, and so necessarily arrays himself against that being who remains under the pollution and guilt of it. And it is necessary from the nature of man, and the vature of sin : misery is the natural fruit of sin, as the bud and blossom are the natural fruit of that on which they grow, and is so spoken of, Ezek. vii. 9, 10.“ And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity : I will recompense thee according to thy ways, and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the Lord that smiteth. Behold the day, behold it is come; the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed; pride hath budded.”
Natural men would be freed from hell without being saved from sin, which is an inconsistency and impossibility; for where sin remains the reigning power, it will necessarily kindle up the flames of hell, and will bring on the torments of hell. Indeed, while men remain in the body, in the midst of the carnal objects of this world to engross the mind, to please the carnal appetites, to stupify the conscience, and lull the soul asleep; they may avoid the iorments of hell for a little while, but when the body comes to be