Page images

dry land. He not only cannot come to Christ, but he will not come, John v. 40. He is polluted, and hates to be washed, Jer. xiii. 27. 6 Wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be ?” He is sick, but utterly averse to the remedy ; he loves his disease so, that he loaths the Physician. He is a captive, a prisoner, and a slave ; but hc loves his conqueror, his jailor and master; he is fond of his fetters, prison, and drudgery; and has no liking to his liberty. For evidence of this averseness to good, in the will of man, I shall instance in some particulars.

Evid. 1. The untowardness of children. Do we not see them naturally lovers of sinful liberty ? How unwilling are they to be hedged in? How averse to restraint? The world can bear witnesss, that they are as bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke : and more, that it is far easier to bring young bullocks tamely to bear the yoke, than to bring young children under discipline, and make them tamely submit to the restraint of sinful liberty. Every body may see in this, as in a glass, that man is naturally wild and wilful, according to Zophar's observe, Job xi. 12. that man is born like a wild ass's-colt. What can be said more ? He is like a colt, the colt of an așs, the colt of a wild ass. Compare Jer. ii. 24. “ A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure, in her occasion who can turn her away?”

Evid. 2. What pain and difficulty do men often find in bringing their hearts to religious duties? And what a task is it to the carnal heart to abide at them? It is a pain to it, to leave the world but a little, to converse with God. It is not easy to borrow time from the many things, to bestow it upon the one thing needful. Men often go to God in duties, with their faces towards the world; and when their bodies are on the mount of ordinances, their hearts will be found at the foot of the hill, going after their covetourne88, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. They are soon wearied of well-doing ; for holy duties are not agreeable to their corrupt nature. Take notice of them at their worldly business, set them down with their carnal company, or let them be sucking the breasts of a lust; time seems to them to fly, and drive furiously, so that it is gone ere they are aware. But ho heavily does it drive, while a prayer, a sermon, or a S bath lasts? The Lord's day is the longest day of all

week with many; and, therefore, they must sleep longer that morning, and go sooner to bed that night, than ordinarily they do ; that the day may be made of a tolerable length; for their hearts say within them, “ When will the Sabbath be gone?” Amos viii 5. The hours of worship are the longest hours of that day; hence when duty is over, they are like men eased of a burden; and when sermon ended, many have neither the grace nor the good manners to stay till the blessing be pronounced, but like the beasts, their head is away as soon as one puts his hand to loose them ; why, but because while they are at ordinances, they are as Doeg, “ detained before the Lord,” i Sam. xxii. 7.

Evid. 3. Consider how the will of the natural man doth rebel against the light, Job xxiv. 13. Light sometimes entereth in, because he is not able to hold it out; but he loveth darkness rather than light. Sometimes by the force of truth, the outer door of understanding is broken up; but the inner door of the will remains fast bolted. Then lusts rise against light; corruption and conscience encounter, and fight as in the field of battle ; till corruption getting the upper hand,conscience is forced to give back : Convictions are murdered ; and truth is made and held prisoner, so that it can create no more disturbance. While the word is preached or read, or the rod of God is upon the natural man, sometimes convictions are darted in on him, and his spirit is wounded, in greater or lesser measure: But these convictions not being able to make him fall, he runs away with the arrows sticking in his conscience ; and at length, one way or other, gets them out, and licks himself whole again. Thus, while the light shines, men, naturally averse to it, wilfully shut their eyes ; till God is provoked to blind them judicially, and they become proof against the word and providences too : So they may go where they will, they can sit at ease; there is never a word from heaven to them, that goeth deeper than into their ears, Hos. iv. 17. “ Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone."

Evid 4. Let us observe the resistance made by elect souls, when the Spirit of the Lord is at work, to bring

em from the power of Satan unto God. Zion's King 's no subjects but by stroke of sword, in the day of

power, Psal. cx. 2, 3. None come to him, but

[ocr errors]

But the prey

such as are drawn by a divine hand, John vi. 44. When the Lord comes to the soul, he finds the strong man, keeping the house, and a deep peace and security there, while the soul is fast asleep in the devil's arms. must be taken from the mighty, and the captive delivered. Therefore, the tword awakens the sinner, opens his eyes, and strikes him with terror, while the clouds are black above his head, and the sword of vengeance is held to his breast. Now he is at no small pains to put a fair face on a black heart, to shake off his fears, to make head against them, and to divert himself from thinking on the unpleasant and ungrateful subject of his soul's ease. If he cannot so rid himself from them, carnal reason is called in to help, and urgeth that there is no ground for so great fear; all may be well enough yet; and if it be ill with him, it will be ill with many. When the sinner is beat from this, and sees no advantage of going to hell with company, he resolves to leave his sins, but cannot think of breaking off so soon ; there is time enough, and he will do it afterwards. Conscience says, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: but he cries, To-morrow, Lord, to-morrow, Lord; and, Just now, Lord; till that now is never like to come. And thus, many times, he comes from his prayers and confessions, with nothing but a breast full of sharper convictions; for the heart doth not always cast up the sweet morsel, as soon as confession is made with the mouth, Judges x. 10-16. And when conscience obligeth them to part with some lusts, others are kept as right eyes and right hands; and there are rueful looks after those that are put away, as it was with the Israelites, who, with bitter hearts, did remember the fish they did eat in Egypt freely, Num. xi. 5. Nay, when he is so pressed, that he must needs say before the Lord, that he is content to part with all his idols; the heart will be giving the tongue the lie. In a word, the soul in this case will shift from one thing to another, like a fish with the hook in his jaws, till it can do no more ; and power come to make it succumb, as the wild a88 in her month, Jer. ii. 24.

Thirdly, There is in the will of man a natural prone ness to evil, a woful bent towards sin. Men naturally are bent to backsliding from God, Hos. ii. 7. They hang (as the word is towards backsliding; even as a


hanging wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. Set holiness and life upon the one side, sin and death upon the other; leave the unrenewed will to itself, it will chuse sin, and reject holiness. This is no more to be doubted, than that water, poured on the side of a hill, will run downward, but not upward, or hat a flame will ascend, and not descend.

Evidence'l. Is not the way of evil the first way the children of men do go? Do not their inclinations plainly appear on the wrong side, while yet they have no cunning to hide them? In the first opening of our eyes in the world, we look a-squint hell-ward, not heaven. ward. As soon as it appears we are reasonable creatures, it appears we are sinful creatures, Psal. lviii. 3. “ The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born,” Prov. xxii. 15. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Folly is bound in the heart, it is woven into our very nature. The knot will not loose, they must be broken asunder by strokes. Words will not do it, the rod must be taken to drive it away, and if it be not driven far away, the heart and it will meet and knit again. Not that the rod of itself will do this; the sad experience of many parents testifies the contrary; and Solomon himself tells you, Prov. xxvii. 22. « Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar, among wheat, with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him:" It is so bound in his heart. But the rod is an ordinance of God, appointed for that end ; which, like the word, is made effectual, by the Spirit's accompanying his own ordinance. And this, by the way, shews that parents, in administering correction to their children, have need, first of all, to correct their own irregular passions; and look

upon it as a matter of awful solemnity, setting about it with much dependence on the Lord, and following it with prayer for the blessing, if they would have it effectual.

Evid. 2. How easily are men led aside to sin ? The children, who are not persuaded to good, are otherwise simple ones; easily wrought upon; those whom the word cannot draw to holiness, are led by Satan at his pleasure. Profane Esau, that cunning man, Gen. xxv. 27. was as easily cheated of the blessing, as if he had been a fool of

[ocr errors]

an ideot. The more natural a thing is, it is the more easy; so Christ's yoke is easy to the saints, in so far as they are partakers of the divine nature; and sin is easy to the unrenewed man; but to learn to do-good, as difficult as for the Ethiopian to change his skin; because the will naturally hangs towards evil; but is averse to good. A child can cause a round thing to run, while he cannot move a square thing of the same weight; for the roundness makes it fit for motion, so that it goes with a touch. Even so, when mep find the heart easily carried towards sin, while it is as a dead weight in the way of holiness; we must bring the reason of this from the natural set and disposition of the heart, whereby it is prone and bent to evil. Were man's will, naturally, but in an equal balance to good and evil, the one might be embraced with as little difficulty as the other; but experience testifies, it is not so. In the sacred history of the Israelites, especially in the book of Judges, how often do we find them forsaking JEHOVAH, the mighty God, and doting upon the idols of the nations about them? But did ever one of these nations grow fond of Israel's God, and forsake their own idols? No, no; though man is naturally given to changes, it is but from evil to evil, not from evil to good, Jer. ii. 10, 11. “ Hath a nation changed their gods, which yet are no gods ? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” Surely the will of man stands not in equal balance, but has a cast to the wrong

side. Evid. 3. Consider how men go on still in the way of sin, till they meet with a stop, and that from another hand than their own, Isa: lvii. 17. “I hid me, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” If God withdraw his restraining hand, and lay the reins on the sinner's neck, he is in no doubt what way to choose ; for (observe it) the way of sin is the way of his heart; his heart naturally lies that way; it hath a natural propensity to sin. As long as God suffereth them, they walk in

own way, Acts xiv. 16. The natural man is so fixed in his woful choice, that there needs no more to shew he is off from God's way, but to tell he is upon

Evid. 4. Whatever good impressions are made upon kim, they do not last. Though his heart be firm as




« PreviousContinue »