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point of time, “ Now is the day of salvation !” “ To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts !” “ Behold, all things are now ready ; come unto the marriage !”
17. To this confidence, that God is both able and willing to sanctify us now, there needs to be added one thing more,—a divine evidence and conviction that he doeth it. In that hour it is done : God says to the inmost soul, “ According to thy faith be it unto thee !” Then the soul is pure from every spot of sin; it is clean “ from all unrighteousness.” The believer then experiences the deep meaning of those solemn words, “ If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
18. “ But does God work this great work in the soul gradually or instantaneously ?" Perhaps it may be gradually wrought in some; I mean in this sense, they do not advert to the particular moment wherein sin ceases to be. But it is infinitely desirable, were it the will of God, that it should be done instantaneously; that the Lord should destroy sin “ by the breath of his mouth,” in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And so he generally does ; a plain fact, of which there is evidence enough to satisfy any unprejudiced person. Thou therefore look for it every moment ! Look for it in the way above described , in all those good works whereunto thou art “ created anew in Christ Jesus.” There is then no danger: You can be no worse, if you are no better, for that expectation. For were you to be disappointed of your hope, still you lose nothing. But you shall not be disappointed of your hope: It will come, and will not tarry. Look for it then every day, every hour, every moment! Why not this hour, this moment ? Certainly you may look for it now, if you believe it is by faith. And by this token you may surely know whether you seek it by faith or by works. If by works, you want something to be done first, -before you are sanctified. You think, I must first be or do thus or thus. Then you are seeking it by works unto this day. If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are ; and if as you are, then expect it now. It is of importance to observe, that there is an inseparable connexion between these three points,-expect it by faith, expect it as you are, and expect it now! To deny one of them, is to deny them all; to allow one, is to allow them all. Do you believe we are sanctified by
faith? Be true then to your principle ; and look for this blessing just as you are, neither better nor worse; as a poor sinner that has still nothing to pay, nothing to plead, but “Christ died." And if you look for it as you are, then expect it now. Stay for nothing : Why should you? Christ is ready; and He is all you want. He is waiting for you: He is at the door! Let your inmost soul cry out,
Come in, come in, thou heavenly Guest !
Nor hence again remove;
Be everlasting love.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the
earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis vi. 5.
1. How widely different is this from the fair pictures of human nature which men have drawn in all ages! The writings of many of the ancients abound with gay descriptions of the dignity of man; whom some of them paint as having all virtue and happiness in his composition, or, at least, entirely in his power, without being beholden to any other being; yea, as self-sufficient, able to live on his own stock, and little inferior to God himself.
-2. Nor have Heathens alone, men who are guided in their researches by little more than the dim light of reason, but many likewise of them that bear the name of Christ, and to whom are entrusted the oracles of God, spoken as magnificently concerning the nature of man, as if it were all innocence and perfection. Accounts of this kind have particularly abounded in the present century; and perhaps in no part of the world more than in our own country. Here not a few persons of strong under
standing, as well as extensive learning, have employed their utmost abilities to show, what they termed, “ The fair side of human nature.” And it must be acknowledged, that, if their accounts of him be just, man is still but “ a little lower than the angels ;” or, as the words may be more literally rendered, “a little less than God."
3. Is it any wonder, that these accounts are very readily received by the generality of men ? For who is not easily persuaded to think favourably of himself? Accordingly, writers of this kind are most universally read, admired, applauded. And innumerable are the converts they have made, not only in the gay, but the learned world. So that it is now quite unfashionable to talk otherwise, to say any thing to the disparagement of human nature; which is generally allowed, notwithstanding a few infirmities, to be very innocent, and wise, and virtuous !
4. But, in the mean time, what must we do with our Bibles ? --for they will never agree with this. These accounts, however pleasing to flesh and blood, are utterly irreconcilable with the scriptural. The Scripture avers, that “by one man's disobedience all men were constituted sinners;" that “in Adam all died,” spiritually died, lost the life and the image of God; that fallen, sinful Adam then “ begat a son in his own likeness;”—nor was it possible he should beget him in any other ; for 6 who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?”—that consequently we, as well as other men, were by nature “ dead in trespasses and sins,” “ without hope, without God in the world," and therefore “ children of wrath ;” that every man may say, “I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me;" that “there is no difference,” in that “ all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” of that glorious image of God wherein man was originally created. And hence, when “the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, he saw they were all gone out of the way; they were altogether become abominable, there was none righteous, no, not one,” none that truly sought after God: Just agreeable this, to what is declared by the Holy Ghost in the words above recited, “ God saw,” when he looked down from heaven before, “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth ;” so great, that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
This is God's account of man : From which I shall take occasion, First, to show what men were before the flood: Secondly, to inquire, whether they are not the same now: And, Thirdly, to add some inferences.
I. 1. I am, First, by opening the words of the text, to show what men were before the flood. And we may fully depend on the account here given : For God saw it, and he cannot be deceived. He “saw that the wickedness of man was great :"
-Not of this or that man; not of a few men only ; not barely of the greater part, but of man in general; of men universally. The word includes the whole human race, every partaker of human nature. And it is not easy for us to compute their numbers, to tell how many thousands and millions they were. The earth then retained much of its primeval beauty and original fruitfulness. The face of the globe was not rent and torn as it is now; and spring and summer went hand in hand. It is therefore probable, it afforded sustenance for far more inhabitants than it is now capable of sustaining; and these must be immensely multiplied, while men begat sons and daughters for. seven or eight hundred years together. Yet, among all this inconceivable number, only “Noah found favour with God.” He alone (perhaps including part of his household) was an exception from the universal wickedness, which, by the just judgment of God, in a short time after brought on universal destruction. All the rest were partakers in the same guilt as they were in the same punishment
2. “God saw all the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart;”—of his soul, his inward man, the spirit within him, the principle of all his inward and outward motions. He “saw all the imaginations :”—It is not possible to find a word of a more extensive signification. It includes whatever is formed, made, fabricated within ; all that is or passes in the soul ; every inclination, affection, passion, appetite; every temper, design, thought. It must of consequence include every word and action, as naturally flowing from these fountains, and being either good or evil according to the fountain from which they severally flow.
3. Now God saw that all this, the whole thereof, was evil ; -contrary to moral rectitude ; contrary to the nature of God, which necessarily includes all good; contrary to the divine will, the eternal standard of good and evil ; contrary to the pure, holy image of God, wherein man was originally created, and wherein he stood when God, surveying the works of his hands, saw them all to be very good; contrary to justice, mercy, and truth, and to the essential relations which each man bore to his Creator and his fellow-creatures,
4. But was there not good mingled with the evil? Was there not light intermixed with the darkness ? No; none at all: “God saw that the whole imagination of the heart of man was only evil.” It cannot indeed be denied, but many of them, perhaps all, had good motions put into their hearts; for the Spirit of God did then also “ strive with man," if haply he might repent, more especially during that gracious reprieve, the hundred and twenty years, while the ark was preparing. But still “ in his flesh dwelt no good thing ;" all his nature was purely evil: It was wholly consistent with itself, and unmixed with any thing of an opposite nature.
5. However, it may still be matter of inquiry, “Was there no intermission of this evil ? Were there no lucid intervals, wherein something good might be found in the heart of man?” We are not here to consider, what the grace of God might occasionally work in his soul; and, abstracted from this, we have no reason to believe, there was any intermission of that evil. For God, who “ saw the whole imagination of the thoughts of his heart to be only evil,” saw likewise, that it was always the same, that it “was only evil continually;" every year, every day, every hour, every moment. He never deviated into
II. Such is the authentic account of the whole race of mankind which He who knoweth what is in man, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins, hath left upon record for our instruction. Such were all men before God brought the flood upon the earth. We are, Secondly, to inquire, whether they are the same now.
1. And this is certain, the Scripture gives us no reason to think any otherwise of them. On the contrary, all the abovecited passages of Scripture refer to those who lived after the flood. It was above a thousand years after, that God declared by David concerning the children of men, “They are all gone out of the way” of truth and holiness ; “ there is none righteous, no, not one." And to this bear all the Prophets witness, in their several generations. So Isaiah, concerning God's peculiar