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sink of former heresies, and this the hearțand life of that de. lusion. And, finally, it may be observed, that always as the church declined from her purity otherwise, the doctrine of free grace was obscured proportionably.
3. Such is the natural propensity of man's heart, to the way of the law in opposition to Christ; that, as the tainted vessel turns the taste of the purest liquor put into it, so the natural man turns the very gospel into law; and transforms the covenant of grace into a covenant of works. The ceremonial law was to the Jews a real gospel ; which held blood, death, and translation of guilt before their eyes continually, as the only way of salvation : Yet their very table (i. e. their altar, with the several ordinances pertaining thereto, Mal. i. 12.) was a snare unto them, Rom. ii. 9. While they use it to make up the defects in their obedience to the moral law, and cleave to it so, as to reject Him, whom the altar and sacrifices pointed them to, as the substance of all: Even as Hagar, whose it was only to serve, was by their father brought into her mistress's bed; not without a mystery in the purpose of God, for these are the two covenants, Gal. iv. 24. Thus is the doctrine of the gospel corrupted by Papists, and other enemies to the doctrine of free grace. And, indeed, however natural mens heads may be set right in this point, as surely as they are out of Christ, their faith, repentance and obedience, (such as they are,) are placed by them in the room of Christ and his righteousness, and so trusted to, as if byn these they fulfilled a new law.
4. Great is the difficulty in Adam's sons their parting with the law, as a covenant of works. None part with , it in that respect, but those whom the power of the Spirit of
grace separates from it. The law is our first husband, and gets every one's virgin love. When Christ comes to the soul, he finds it married to the law; so as it neither can, nor will be married to another, till it be obliged to part with the first husband, as the apostle teacheth, Rom. vii
. 1, 2, 3, 4. Now that ye may see what sort of a parting this is, consider,
(1.) It is a death, Rom. vii. 4. Gal. iii. 19. Intreaties will not prevail with the soul here ; it saith to the first
as Ruth to Naomi, « The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”. And here sinners are true to their word; they die to the law,
« For they
ere they be married to Christ. Death is hard to every body: But what difficulty do ye imagine must a loving wife, on her death-bed, find in parting with her husband, the husband of her youth, and with the dear children she has brought forth to him : The law is that husband ; all the duties performed by the natural man are these children. What a struggle, as for life, will be in the heart ere they be got parted. I may have occasion to touch upon this afterwards. In the mean time, take the Apostle's short, but pithy description of it, Rom. x. 3. being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish theirown righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God." They go about to establish their own righteousness, like an eager disputant in schools, seeking to establish the point in question ; or like a tormentor, extorting a confession from one upon the rack. They go about to establish it to make it stand ; their righteousness is like a house built upon the sand; it cannot stand, but they will have it to stand : It falls, they set it up again : But still it tumbles down on them ; yet they cease not to go about to make it stand. But wherefore all this pains about a tottering rightcousness ? Because, such as it is, it is their own. What ails them at Christ's righteousness? Why, that would make them free grace's debtors for all, and that is what the proud heart by no means can submit to. Here lies the stress of the matter, Psal. x. 4. The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek, (to read it without the supple. ment,) that is, in other terms, “ He cannot dig, and to beg he is ashamed.” Such is the struggle ere the soul die to the law. But what speaks yet more of this woful disposition of the heart, nature oft-times gets the mastery of the disease ; insomuch that the soul, which was like to have died to the law, while convictions were sharp and piercing, fatally recovers of the happy and promising sickness; and (what is very natural) cleaves more closely than ever to the law, even as a wife brought back from the gates of death would cleave to her husband. This is the issue of the exercise of many about their souls case : They are indeed brought to follow duties more closely; but they are as far from Christ as ever, if not farther.
(2.) It is a violent death, Rom. vii. 4. 66 Ye are be. come dead to the law," being killed, slain, or put to death, as the word bears. The law itself has a great hand in this ; the husband gives the wound, Gal. ii. 19. “I through the law am dead to the law.” The soul that dies this death, is like a loving wife matched with a rigorous husband : She does what she can to please him, yet he is never pleased; but tosseth, harasseth, and beats her, till she break her heart, and death sets her free; as will afterwards more fully appear. Thus it is made evident, that mens hearts are naturally bent to the way of the law, and lie cross to the gospel-contrivance ; and the second article of the charge, against you that are unregenerate, is verified, namely, that ye are enemies to the Son of God.
3dly, Ye are enemies to the Spirit of God. He is the Spirit of holiness : The natural man is unholy, and loves to be so, and therefore resists the Holy Ghost, Acts vii. 51. The work of the Spirit is to convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, John xvi. 8. But O how do men strive to ward off these convictions, as ever they would ward off a blow, threatening their loss of a right eye, or a right hand! If the Spirit of the Lord dart them in, so as they cannot evite them; the heart says, in effect, as Ahab to Elijah, whom he both hated and feared, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And indeed they treat him as an enemy, doing their utmost to stifle convictions, and to mur. der these harbingers, that come to prepare the Lord's way into the soul. Some fill their hands with business, to put their convictions out of their heads, as Cain, who fell a building of a city : Some put them off with delays and fair promises, as Felix did : Some will sport them away in company, and some sleep them away. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of sanctification ; whose work it is to subdue lusts, and burn up corruptions : How then can the natural man, whose lusts are to him as his limbs, yea, as his life fail of being an enemy to him ?
Lastly, Ye are enemies to the law of God. Though the natural man desires to be under the law, as a covenant: of works, chusing that way of salvation in opposition to the mystery of Christ; yet as it is a rule of life, requiring universal holiness,and discharging all manner of impurity, he is an enemy to it: 6 Is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," Rom. viii. 7. For, (1.) There is no unrenewed man, who is not wedded to some one lust
or other, which his heart can by no means part with. Now, that he cannot bring up his inclinations to the holy law, he would fain have the law brought down to his inclinations ; a plain evidence of the enmity of the heart against it. And, therefore, to delight in the law of God, after the inward man, is proposed in the word as a mark of a gracious soul, Rom. vii. 22. Psal. i. 22. It is from this natural enmity of the heart against the law, that all the Pharisaical gloss upon it have arisen ; whereby the commandment, which is in itself exceeding broad, has been made narrow, to the intent it might be the more agreeable to the natural disposition of the heart. (2.) The law laid home to the natural conscience, in its spirituality, irritates corruption. The nearer it comes, nature riseth the more against it. In that case, it is as oil to the fire, which, instead of quenching it, makes it flame the more: When the commandment came, sin revived, says the Apostle, Rom. vü. 9., What reason can be assigned for this, but the natural enmity of the heart against the holy law ? Unmortified corruption, the more it is opposed, the more it rageth. Let us conclude then, that the unregenerate are heart enemies to God, his Son, his Spirit, and his law; that there is a natural contrariety, opposition, and enmity in the will of man, to God himself
, and his holy will. Fifthly, There is, in the will of man, contumacy against the Lord. Man's will is naturally wilful in an evil course. He will have his will, though it should ruin him ; it is with him, as with the leviathan, Job xli. 29. « Darts are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear." The Lord calls to him by his word, says to him, as Paul to the jailor, when he was about to kill himself, Do thyself no harm. Sinners, “ Why will ye die ?” Ezek. xviii. 31. But they will not hearken : “ Every one turneth to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle,” Jer. vii. 6. We have a promise of life in form of a command, Prov. iv. 4. « Keep my commandments and live.” It speaks impenitentsinners to be self-destroyers, wilfulself-murderers. They transgress the command of living; as if one's servant should wilfully starve himself to death, or greedily drink up a cup of poison, which his master commands him to forbear; even so do they ; they will not live, they will die, Prov. viii. 36. “ All they that hate me love death."
what a heart is this ! It is a stony heart, (Ezek. xxxvi. 26.) hard and inflexible, as a stone : Mercies melt it not, judgment break it not; yet it will break ere it bow. It is an insensible heart ; though there be upon the sinner a weight of sin, which makes the earth to stagger; although there is a weight of wrath on him, which makes the devils to tremble; yet he goes lightly under the burden ; he feels not the weight more than a stone; till the Spirit of the Lord quicken him) so far as to feel it.
Lastly, The unrenewed will is wholly perverse in reference to man's chief and highest end. The natural man's chief end is not his God, but his self. Man is a mere relative, dependent, borrowed being; he has no being nor goodness originally from himself; but all he hath is from God, as the first cause and spring of all perfection, natural er moral : Dependence is woven into his very nature; so that if God should totally withdraw from him, he would dwindle into a mere nothing. Seeing then whatever man is, he is of him ; surely in whatever he is, he should be to him ; as the waters which come from the sea do, of course, return thither again. And thus man was created, directly looking to God, as his chief end; but falling into sin, he fell off from God, and turned into himself; and like a traitor usurping the throne, he gathers in the rents of the crown to himself : Now, this infers a total apostacy, and universal corruption in man; for where the chief and last end is changed, there can be no goodness there. This is the case of all men in their natural state, Psal. xiv. 2, 3. « The Lord looked down to see if there were any that did-seek God. They are all gone aside,” viz. from God; they seek not God, but themselves. And though many fair shrewds of morality are to be found amongst them, yet there is none that doeth good, no not one : for tho:igh some of them run well, they are still off the way ; they never aim at the right mark. They are lovers of their ownselves (2 Tim. iii. 2.) more than God, verse 4. Wherefore Jesus Christ, having come into the world, to bring men back to God again, came to bring them out of themselves, in the first place, Matth. xvi. 25. The godly groan under the remains of this wof disposition of the heart ; they acknowledge it, and set themselves against it, in its subtle and dangerous insinuations. The unregenerate, though