Page images
PDF
EPUB

discovered, that it was his main errand into the world, to cure the diseases of the soul. I find a miracle wrought upon one that was born blind, performed in such a way as seems to have been designed to let the world see in it, as in a glass, their case and cure, John ix. 6. « He made clay, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay." What could more fitly represent the blindness of mens minds, than eyes closed up with earth ? Isa. vi. 1. Shut their eyes; shut them up by anointing or casting them with mortar, as the word would bear. And, chap. xliv. 18. He hath shut their eyes; the word properly signifies, He hath plaistered their eyes : as the house in which the leprosy had been was to be plaistered, Lev. xiv. 42, Thus the Lord's word discovers the design of that strange work; and by it shews us, that the eyes of our understanding are naturally shut. Then the blind man must go and wash off this clay in the pool of Siloam; no other water will serve this purpose. If that pool had not represented him, whom the Father sent into the world, to open the blind eyes, (Isa. xlii. 7.) I think the evangelist had not given us the interpretation of the name, which he says, signifies sent, John ix. 7. And so we may conclude, that the natural darkness of our minds is such, as there is no cure for, but from the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ, whose eye-salve only can make us see, Rev. iii. 18.

Evid. 2. Every natural man's heart and life is a mass of darkness, disorder, and confusion ; how refined soever he appear in the sight of men. " For we ourselves also,' saith the apostle Paul, “ were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts, pleasures," Tit.iii. 3. and yet at that time, which this text looks to, he was “ blameless, touching the righteousness which is in the law,” Phil. iii. 6. This is a plain evidence that “ the eye is evil, the whole body being full of darkness," Mat. vi. 23. The unrenewed part of mankind is rambling through the world, like so many blind men ; who will neither take a guide, nor can guide themselves ; and therefore are falling over this and the other precipice, into destruction. Some are running after their covetousness, till they be pierced through with many sorrows; some sticking in the mire of sensuality; others dashing themselves on the rock of pride and self-conceit; every one stumblingon some one stone of stumbling or other: All of them are running themselves upon the sword-point of justice, while they eagerly follow whither theirunmortified passions and affections lead them; and while some are lying alone in the way, others are coming up, and falling headlong over them. And, therefore, “ Wo unto the (blind) world, because of offences," Math. xviii. 7. Errors in judgment swarm in the world ; because it is “ night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.” All the unregenerate are utterly mistaken in the point of true happiness; for though Christianity hath fixed that matter in point of principle, yet nothing less than overcoming grace can fix it in the practical judgment. All men agree in the desire to be happy; but amongst unrenewed men, touching the way to happiness, there are almost as many opinions as there are men; they being “ turned every one to his own way,” Isa. liii. 6. They are like the blind Sodomites about Lot's house, all were seeking to find the door, some grope one part of the wall for it, some another; but none of them could certainly say, he had found it; and so the natural man may stuinble on any good but the chief good. Look into thine own unregenerate heart, and there thou wilt see all turned up-side down; heaven lying under, and earth a-top: Look into thy life; there thou mayest see how thou art playing the madman, snatching at shadows, and neglecting the .substance, eagerly flying after that which is not, and slighting that which is, and will be for ever.

Evid. The natural man is always as a workman left without light; either trifling or doing mischief. Try to catch thy heart at any time thou wilt, and thou shalt find it either weaving the spider's web, or hatching cockatrice eggs, (Isa. lix. 5.) roving through the world, or digging into the pit; filled with vanity, or else with vileness, busy doing nothing, or what is worse than nothing. A sad sign of a dark mind.

Evid. 4. The natural man is void of the saving knowledge of spiritual things. He knows not what a God he has to deal with ; he is unacquainted with Christ; and knows not what sin is. The greatest graceless wits are blind as moles in these things. Ay, but some such can speak of them to good purpose; and so might these Israelites of the temptations, signs, and miracles, their eyes had seen, (Deut. xxix. 3.) to whom nevertheless the l.ord had not is given an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto that day,” ver. 4. Many a man that bears the name of a Christian may make Pharaoh's confession of faith, Exod. v. 2. “ I know not the Lord," neither will they let go when he commands them to part with. God is with them as a prince in disguise among his subjects, who meets with no better treatment from them, than if they were his fellows, Psal. 1. 21. Do they know Christ, or see his glory, and any beauty in him, for which he is to be desired? If they did, they would not slight him as they do; a view of his glory would so dazzle all created excellency, that they would take him for, and instead of all, and gladly close with him, as he offereth himself in the gospel, John iv. 10. Psal. ix. 10. Matth. xiii. 44, 45, 50. Do they know what sin is, who hug the serpent in their bosom, hold fast deceit, and refuse to let it go

? I own, indeed, they may have a natural knowledge of those things, as the unbelieving Jews had of Christ, whom they saw and conversed with ; but there was spiritual glory in him, perceived by believers only, John i. 14. and in respect of that glory, the unbelieving world knew him not, ver. 10. But the spiritual knowledge of him they cannot have; it is above the reach of the carnal mind, 1 Cor. ii. 1.1. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; nei. ther can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” He may indeed discourse of them ; but no other way than one can talk of honey or vinegar, who never tasted the sweetness of the one, nor the sourness of the other. He has some notions of spiritual truths, but sees not the things themselves, that are wrapt up in the words of truth, I Tim. i. 7. “ Understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." In a word, natural men fear, seek, confess they know not what. Thus may you see man's understanding naturally is overwhelmed with gross darkness in spiritual things.

Thirdly, There is in the mind of a man a natural bias to evil, whereby it comes to pass, that whatever difficulties it finds, while occupied about things truly good, it acts with a great deal of ease in evil; as being, in that case, in its own element, Jer, iv. 22. The carnal mind drives heavily in the thoughts of good; but furiously in the thoughts of evil. While holiness is before it, fetters are upon it; but when it has got over the hedge, it is as the bird got out of the cage, and becomes a free-thinker indeed. Let us reflect a little on the apprehension and imagination of the carnal mind; and we shall find incontestible evidence of this woful bias to evil.

Evidence 1. As when a man, by a violent stroke on the head, loseth his sight, there ariseth to him a kind of false light, whereby he perceiveth a thousand airy nothings ; so man being struck blind to all that is truly good, and for his eternal interest, has a light of another sort brought into his mind; his eyes are opened, knowing evil, and so are the words of the tempter verified, Gen. iii. 5. The words of the Prophet are plain, “ They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge,” Jer. iv. 22. The mind of man has a natural dexterity to devise mischief ; none are so simple as to want skill to contrive ways to gratify their lusts, and ruin their souls; though the power of every one's hand cannot reach to put their devices in execution. None needs to be taught this black art; but as weeds grow up, of their own accord, in the neglected ground, so doth this wisdom, (which is earthly, sensual, devilish, James iii. 15.) grow up in the minds of men, by virtue of the corruption of their nature. Why should we be surprised with the product of currupt wits ; their cunning devices to affront heaven, to oppose and run down truth and holiness, and to gratify their own and other mens lusts? They row with the stream, no wonder they make great progress ; their stock is within them, and increaseth by using of it ; and the works of darkness are contrived with greater advantage, that the mind is wholly destitute of spiritual light, which, if it were in them, in any measure, would so far mar the work, 1 John iii. 9. " Whosoever is born cf God doth not commit sin ;" he does it not as by art, for “his seed remain. eth in him.” But, on the other hand, “ it is a sport for a fool to do mischief; but a man of understanding hath wisdom," Prov. X. 23. “ To do witty wickedness nicely,” as the word imports, is as a sport, or a play to a fool it comes off with him easily; and why, but because he is a fool, and hath not wisdom; which would mar the con

[ocr errors]

trivances of darkness? The more natural a thing is, it is done the more easily.

Evid. 2. Let the corrupt mind have but the advantage of one's being employed in, or present at some piece of service to God; that so the device, if not in itself sinful, yet may become sinful, by its unseasonableness : It shali quickly fall on some device or expedient, by its starting aside ; which deliberation, in season, could not produce. Thus Saul, who wist not what to do, before the priest began to consult God, is quickly determined when once the priest's hand was in ; his own heart then gave him an answer, and would not allow him to wait an answer from the Lord, 1 Sam. xiv. 18, 19. Such a devilish dexterity hath the carnal mind, in devising what may most effectually divert men from their duty to God.

Evid. 3. Doth not the carnal mind naturally strive to grasp spiritual things in imagination; as if the soul were quite immersed in flesh and blood, and would turn every thing into its own shape ? Let men who are used to the forming of the most abstracted notion, look into their own souls, and they shall find this bias in their minds; whereof the idolatry, which did of old, and still doth, so much prevail in the world, is an incontestible evidence. For it plainly discovers, that men naturally would have a visible deity, and see what they worship; and, therefore, they “ changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image,” &c. Rom. i. 23. The reformation of these nations (blessed be the Lord for it) hath banished idolatry and images too, out of our churches ; but heart-reformation only can break down mental idolatry, and banish the more subtile and refined image-worship, and representation of the deity, out of the minds of men. The world, in the time of its darkness, was never more prone to the former, than the unsanctified mind is to the latter. And hence are horrible, monstrous, and mishapen thoughts of God, Christ, the glory above, and all spiritual things.

Evid. 4. What a difficult task is it to detain the carnal mind before the Lord! How averse is it to the entertaining of good thoughts, and dwelling in the meditation of spiritual things? If one be driven, at any time, to think of the great concerns of his soul, it is no harder work to hold in an unruly hungry beast, than to hedge in the carnal

« PreviousContinue »