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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.
SERM O'N XXXI. Of the State of Spiritual Death, and the Misery thereof.
Eph. v. 14. Wherefore he faith, Awake thou that reepest, and
arise from the dead, and Chrift fball give thee light.
T HIS scripture represents unto us the miserable, and la
1 mentable state of the voregenerate, as being under the power of spiritual death, which is the cause, and inlet of all oiher miseries. From hence, therefore, I shall make the first dir. covery of the woful, and wretched state of them that apply not Jesus Christ to their owo fouls. • The scope of the apostle in this context, is to press believers to a circumspect, and holy life; to “ walk as children of light." This exhortation is laid down in ver. 8. and pressed by divers arguments in the following verses.
Firft, From the tendency of holy principles, unto holy fruits and practice, ver. 9, 10.
Secondly, From the convincing efficacy of practical godliness, upon the consciences of the wicked, ver. 11, 12, 13. It awes, and 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 death, which sio hath cast them into: and this is the argument of the text, Wherefore he faith, Awake thou that seepest, &c. There is some difficulty in the reference of these words. Some, think it is to Isa. xxvi. 19.“ Awake and sing ye that dwell in " the dust.” Others to Ifa. Ix. 1. “ Arise, shine, for thy light " is come," bc. But most probably, the words neither refer 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
fpiritual death. And in them we are to consider these three things, more distinctly, and particularly.
1. The miserable state of the unregenerate ; they are asleep and dead. : 2. Their duty; which is to " awake, and stand up from the « dead."
3. The power enabling them thereunto;' “Christ shall give 6 thee light."
First, The miserable state of the upregenerate, represented under the notions of seep, and death; both expreslions intending one and the same thing, though with some variety of notion. The Christless, and unregenerate world is in a deep Deep; a fpirit of number, fenfelesaels, and security is fallen upon chem, though they lie exposed immediately to eternal wrath and mifery, ready to drop in to hell every moment. Just as man that is fast afleep in a house on fire, aod whilst the consuming flames are round about him, his fancy is sporting itself in some pleafant dream ; this is a very lively resemblance of the unregenerate soul. But yet he that feeps hath the priociple of life ea. tire in him, though his seoses be bound, and the actions of life fuspended by fleep. Left therefore we should think it is only fo with the voregenerate, the expression is desigoedly 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 fimple fuf. pension of the acts, and exercise, but a total privation, of the principle of spiritual life, which is the misery of the uoregene. rate.
Secondly, We have here the duty of the unregenerate, which is to “awake out of sleep, and arise from the dead.” This is their great concernmeat: no duty in the world is of greater neceffity 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 roufing convictions make way for spiritual life; till God awake usi by convictions of our misery, we will never be perfuaded to a rife, and move towards Christ for remedy and safety.
Thirdly, But you will fay, if unregenerate men be dead men, to what purpofe is it to persuade them to arise and stand up :
The very exhortation supposes some powers or ability in the · upregenerate eller main are they commanded to arise *. This
* Though the words seem to import a willingness first to awake and rise, and then to be enlightened, yet we are to understand, that it is by the efficacy of Christ's light that the finner is made to awake and rise. Roll on the place.
difficulty is solved in this very text, though the duty is ours, yet the power is God's. God commands chat in his word, which only his grace can perform, “Christ shall give thee light.” Popish commeotators would build the tower of free-will upon this fcrip. 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 fcripture to put the effect before, and the cause after, as it is here, so in lfa.xxvi. 19.“ A" wake and sog, ye that dwell in the dust." But I will not here intangle my discourse with that controversy, that which I aim at is plaia in the words, viz. . · Doct. That all Christless fouls are under the power of fpiria ,
tual death; they are in the state of the dead. Multitudes of testimonies are given in fcripture to this truth; Eph. ï. 1, 5. “You hath he quickened who were dead in treso " passes and fins.” Col. q. 13. “ And you being dead in your “ Tips, and the uncircumcifion of your flesh, hath he quickened 5 together with him ;" with many other places of the fame importance. But the method in which I shall discourse this point will be this :
First, I will fhew you in what sense Christless, and unregene.
Secondly, What the state of spiritual death is.
Thirdly, How it appears that all upregenerate men are in this fad state. And then apply it.
First, In whạt feose are Christless, and unregenerate men said to be dead men.
To open this, we must know there is a three-fold death, viz. 1. Natural. 2. Spiritual. 3. Eternal.
Natural death is nothing else but the privation of the principle of natural life, 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 life, or the want and absence of the quickening Spirit of God in the foul; the soul is the life of the body, and Christ is the life of the soul; the absence of the fuul is death to the body, and the abfence, 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 damaed. Now christlefs, and unregenerate men are not dead in the first seose; they are naturally alive though they are dead while they live: nor are they yet dead in the last sente, eteroally separated from God, by an irrevocable fentence
as the damned are; but they are dead in the second sense; they are spiritually dead, whilst they are saturally alive; and this fpi. ritual death is the fore-runner of eternal death. Now spiritual death is put in fcripture in opposition of a two-fold spiritual life, viz.
1. The life of justification.
2. The life of fanctification. · Spiritual death, in opposition to the life of justification, is nothing else but the guilt of fin bringing us under the sentence of death. Spiritual death, in opposition to the life of fanctifi. cation, is the pollution, or dominion of fin. 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 there. fore, · Secondly, Let us briefly consider what this spiritual death is, which, as before was hinted, is the absence of the quickening Spirit of Chrilt from the soul of any man. That soul is a dead foul, 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 thele; yet because they are eternally separated from God, the life which they live, deserves not the name of life, but it is every where in fcripture stiled death: fo the unregenerate, they are paturally alive; they eat, and drink, they buy, and fell, 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 life they live, but yet the scripture rather calls it deach than life; because though they live, yet it is without God in the world, Eph. ii. 12. though they live, yet it is a life alienated from the life of God, Eph. iv. 18. And therefore while they remain naturally alive, they are in scripture faid “ to remain in death,” i John iii. 14. and to be “ dead while “ they live,” i Tim. v, 6. And there is great reason why a Christless, an unregenerate state, should be represented in fcripture under the notion of death; for there is nothing in nature which more aptly represents that miserable state of the foul, than natural death doth. The dead fee, 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 “ dead, (faid Abraham,) out of my light:" Deither is there any spiritual loveliness ia the unregenerate. True it is, some of them have sweet natural qualities, and moral excellencies, which are cogaging things; but these are so many flowers, deck
ing and adorning a dead corpse. The dead are objects of pily, and great lamentation : men use to mouro for the dead, Eccl. xii. 5. “ Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go a“ bout the streets:” But voregenerate, and Christless Touls; 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 mouro over them, and for them, as A. braham did for Ishmael, Gen. xviii 18: “ O that Ishmael might " live before thee.” Upon these, and many other accounts, the state of ubregeneracy is represented to us in the notion of death.
Thirdly, And that this is the state of all Chrifless, and unfanctified perfoos, will, undeniably, appear two ways.
1. The causes of spiritual life have not wrought upon them.
2. The effects and ligos of spiritual life, do not appear ia them; and therefore they are in the State, and under the power, of spiritual death.
First, The causes of spiritual life have not wrought upon them. There are two causes of spiritual life,
1. Principal, and intercal.
The principal, internal cause of spiritual life, is the regenerating Spirit of Christ, Rom. viii. 2. “ The law of the Spirit of " life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and " death." It is the Spirit, as a regenerating Spirit, that uaites us with Christ, in whom all spiritual life originally is, John v. 25, 26. “ Verily, I say unto you, that the hour is coming, and "dow is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God : " and they that hear, shall live : For as the Father hath life in " himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” As all the members of the natural body receive animation, lense, and motion, by their union with their natural head ; so all be. lievers, the members of Christ, receive spiritual life and animation by their union with Christ their mystical head, Eph. iv.' 15, 10. Except we come to him, and be united with him in the way of faith, we can have no life in us, John. V. 40. “ Ye " will not come unto me that ye may have life.” Now the Spirit of God hath yet exerted no regenerating, quickening in. Huences, nor begotten any special saving faith in aatural, un, fanctified men, whatever he hath done for them in the way of Datural, or spiritual common gifts, yet he hath not quickened them with the life of Christ. And as for the subordinate external means of life, viz. the preaching of the gospel, which is the in