« PoprzedniaDalej »
genus hominum ad servitium natum, although they had a good opinion of themselves: but our Saviour saith, you are bondmen unto sin and Satan. For till the Son make you free, you are all bondmen : but when he makes you free, then are you free indeed. So that we see our condition here set down.
1. “We are dead in trespasses and sins;" that is, there is an indisposition in us to all good works. A dead man cannot walk or speak, or do any act of a living man; so these cannot do the actions of men that are quickened and enlivened, they cannot pray with the spirit, they cannot love God, &c. They cannot do those things that shall be done hereafter in heaven. There is not one good duty which this natural man can do. If it should be said unto him ; Think but one good thought, and for it thou shalt go to heaven, he could not think it. Till God raise him from the sink of sin, as he did Lazarus from the grave, he cannot do any thing that is well pleasing unto God. He may
do the works of a moral man, but to do the works of a man quickened and enlightened, it is beyond his power. For if he could do so, he must then have some reward from
for however we deny the merit of good works, yet we deny not the reward of good works to a man that is in Christ. There is no proportionable merit in a cup of cold water and the kingdom of heaven, yet " he that gives a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of a disciple, shall not lose his reward.” Here then is the point. The best that a natural man doth, cannot so relish with God, as that he should take delight in it, or reward it: whereas the least good thing that comes from another root, from a quickened spirit, is acceptable and well pleasing to him. Consider for this end that which is set down. Take the best works of a natural man, his prayers, or sacrifice, and see there what is said. “ The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” It is said again, where there are additions: Theo sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: How much more when he brings it
Prov. chap. 15. ver. 8.
• Prov. chap. 21. ver. 27.
with a wicked mind?” Suppose there should come upon this man a fit of devotion, where he hath or should have some good motions, is it then accepted ? No, it is so far from being accepted, that it is an “abomination to God; how much more then, if he brings it with wicked mind?” That is, if he brings it not with a wicked mind, it is an abomination, how much more with it? See the case set down in Haggai, chap. II. ver. 12, 13, 14. “If one bear holy flesh,” &c. “ shall it be holy? And the priest answered, No. Then said Haggai, If an unclean person touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And he said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, So is this people, so is this nation before me, saith the Lord, and so is every work of their hands, it is unclean.” A man may not say, prayer is a sin, because it is so in them; no, it is a good duty, but spoiled in the carriage. He mars it in the carriage ; and therefore instead of doing a good work, he spoils it; and so instead of a reward, must look for punishment. “The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, a good conscience and faith unfeigned.” Let the things thou dost be according to the commandment: look what thou dost be in the middle, end, and beginning according to the commandment. If wrong in all these, then though the work be never so materially good, being faulty in the original, middle, or end, it is so far from being a good work, that God will not accept of it, and thou mayest rather expect a plague for spoiling it, than a reward for doing it.
See then the beginning of a good work, it must be “ from a pure heart.” A man not ingrafted into Christ, is a defiled, polluted person, his very mind and conscience are defiled. The conscience is the purest thing a man hath, it holds out last, and taketh part with God, that as Job's messenger said, “ 19 only escaped to tell thee,” so conscience only remains to declare a man's faults to God, and to witness against the man; and yet this very light, the eye of the soul is defiled: therefore if thou have a corrupt fountain, if the heart be nought, the fountain muddy, whatever stream comes from it cannot be pure.
p 1 Tim. chap. 1. ver. 5.
9 Job. chap. 1. ver. 15.
Again, the “ end of it is love." Consider when thou dost any duty, what puts thee on work. Is it love doth constrain thee? If love do not constrain thee, it is manifest that thou dost not seek God but thyself, and art tot every good work a reprobate,” that is, thou art not then able to do any thing that God will accept; the best thing thou dost, will not relish with God. A hard estate indeed, that when a man shall come to appear before God, he shall not have one good thing, that he hath done in all his life, that God will own. Some there be that take a great deal of pains in coming to the word, in prayer public and private, in charity and giving to the poor. Alas, when thou shalt come to an account, and none of these things shall stead thee, not one of them shall speak for thee, but all shall be lost; how heavy will thy case be ? “ Looks to yourselves, that you lose not the thing that you have wrought:" by being indisposed to do the works of a living man, we lose all; that is to say, God will never own nor accept them: we shall never have reward for them. So that here is the case, thou being dead, unable to perform the works of a living man, canst have no reward from heaven at all; until a man is quickened, and hath life from Christ, his works are dead, as well as his person.
“ Without me," saith our Saviour, " you can do nothing." St. Austin on this place observes that Christ saith not, “ Without me ye can do no great matter:" no, but unless you be cut off from your own stock, taken from your own root, and be ingrafted into me, and have life from me, and be quickened by me “ you can do nothing at all :” nothing, neither great nor small, all that you do is lost. So that if there were nothing but this being dead, you could do no good action. “To know that in me, that is, in my flesh," saith St. Paul, “there dwelleth no good thing," that is, nothing
r Tit. chap. 1. ver. 16.
$ 2 John, chap. 8.
spiritually good, nothing for which I may look for a reward in heaven. The Lord will say of such a man, thou hast lived ten, twenty, forty, or it may be fifty years under the ministry, and yet hast not done a good work, or thought a good thought that I can own. “ Cuts down this fruitless tree, why cumbers it the ground?” And this is the case of every man of us, while we continue in our natural condition, till we be ingrafted into Christ, and live by life, God will own nothing we do.
But now we are not only dead, and indisposed to the works of a living man, though this be a very woful case, and we need no more misery; for this will bring us to be “ cut down and cast into the fire,” if we continue so: but this is not the only sad case of a natural man, but he is very active and fruitful in the works of darkness, the others were sins of omission. Here he is wholly set upon the commission of sins and trespasses. He not only “brings' not forth meet fruit,” or good fruit, or no fruit, but “ he brings forth thorns and briars; and is therefore rejected, and nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burnt." Thou art not only found a barren tree, and so deservest to be cut down; but thou bringest forth thorns and briars, and deservest to be burnt; not only no good fruit, but noxious, bad and poisoned fruit; and this doth mightily aggravate the matter. Now for us that have lived so long under the ministry, and the Lord hath watered, and dressed, and hedged us, do we think the Lord expects from us no good fruit? Had we lived among heathens, or where the word is not taught, then so much would not be expected; but we have heard the word often and powerfully taught, and therefore it is expected, that we should not only bring forth fruit, but meet fruit, answerable to the means. Where God affords greatest means, there he expects most fruit. If a man live thirty or forty years under powerful means, the Lord expects answerable fruit, which if he bring forth, he shall have a blessing from the Lord. But when a man hath lived long under the means, and brings forth no fruit pleasing to God, but all God's cost is lost, when notwithstanding the “ dew and the rain which falls oft upon him, he brings forth nothing but thorns and briars, he is rejected, and nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burnt. The earth which drinketh in the former and the latter rain," &c. if it bring not forth fruit answerable to the labour of the dresser, “it is nigh unto the curse."
* Luke, chap. 13. ver. 7.
y Heb. chap. 6. ver. 7.
Now if we consider but the particulars, and search into God's testimonies, we shall see how bad this man is.
But who should this man be?
We have God's own word for it. It is men, generally all men. “ Goda saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every thought and imagination of his heart was only evil continually.” Every word is as it were a thunderbolt: and was it not time, when it was thus with them, for God to bring a flood? The thoughts are the original, from which the words and actions do usually proceed. Now all their thoughts were evil: what, was there no kind of goodness in their thoughts? No, they were “ only evil continually:" and that was the reason the flood came. Well, but though it were so before the flood, yet I hope they were better after the flood. No, God said again after the flood : “ Thea thoughts of the hearts of men are evil,” &c. Like will to like. Men are of one kind, till they receive grace from Christ. We are all one nature, and naturally all the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts are only evil continually.
See it in the understanding : “ The natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are foolishness unto him," &c.
Look upon his will, “ It is not subject to the will of God, neither indeed can it be.” Our Saviour doth anatomize the heart of such a man: “ Thosed things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile the man, for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,
2 Gen. chap. 6. ver. 5.
a Ibid. chap. 8.