Page images

Gal. v. 17.

may break forth in the life, Jam. i. 14. They make way for grofs fins, as the feed grows up into a tree that brings forth its natural fruit at length. 4. They are the fit opposers of every good motion,

So that there is never a good impresfion made upon, nor motion in the heart, but among these lufts it finds a peculiar opposite to it, one fit to engage against it, by a peculiar malignity in it. And so it is found in the godly, that as they have grace


grace in Christ, so they have corruption for grace in the unrenewed part; still some one lineament of Satan's image to set against another of God's image.

And now these lusts have their lustings and stirrings, a view of which niuft be very humbling. For congder,

ist, The innumerable occasions of them; at every blink of the eye, opening of the ear, or imagination of the heart, we are in hazard of them. The sparks of temptation are continually flying about us ; how can we be safe, while we have these as gunpowder about us?

2dly, How suddenly they will flee through the heart, like a stitch in the side, or an arrow out of a bow ? A thought, a wish, is soon brought forth.

3dly, How frequent are they? when are we free of them ? when is it that the crooked leg can move, and not halt ?

Lastly, How little are these things noticed? That hellith steam arising from a corrupt nature, being so much within doors, is little regarded, but extremely blackens the soul.

Thus much of the bitter streams; we come now to the fountain and spring-head, from whence they have their rise ; and that is, the corruption of nature. For as there is a poisonous nature in the ferpent, besides its throwing out of its venom ; so, befides the finful lustings of the heart, there is an habitual corruption of the nature, which is the root of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

these luftings, loathings, and inordinate motions.
The reason why the clock or dial points the hour
wrong is, because it is wrong fet; and till that
set be altered, it will never point right. So man's
nature has a wrong set, which we call the corrup-
tion of nature, whereby it comes to pass that he
can never act right till that set be cured by regene-
ration. It is a corrupt disposition of the soul, where-
by it is uniapt for any thing truly good, and prone
to evil.

The understanding is deprived of its primitive
light and ability, unable to think a good thought,
2 Cor. iii. 5. yea, darkness is over all that region,
Eph. v. 8. As for the will, it is free to evil, but not to
good, utterly unable so inuch as rightly to will any
thing truly good, Phil. ii. 13. Nay, it is averse to
it, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. It is
prone and bent to evil, Hof. xi. 7. but lies cross
and contrary to God and goodness, Rom. vii. 7.
The affections are quite disordered, misplaced as to
their objects, loving what they should hate, and
hating what they should love; or if right as to the
objects, they can keep no bounds. But of this I
have spoke largely elsewhere *.

This corruption of nature is here forbidden, for it is truly and properly fin, Rom. vi. 12. & vii. 17. It is the flesh that lutteth against the Spirit, Gal. v. 18. and if fin, it must be contrary to and forbidden by the law. And as sinful anger is forbidden in the 6th commandment, as the immediate fountain of murder, Matth. v. 21. 22.; so, by a parity of reason, the corruption of nature is forbidden here, as the immediate fountain of that coveting or lufting, expressed therein.

And though it is impossible for us to prevent this fin, being born with it, it would be considered, that this law was originally given to Adam in inno. cency, requiring him to keep his nature pure and

* See Fourfold State,


as ever.

uncorrupted, and so discharging all corruption of it; which law after his fin reinains in as full force

And that the second Adam might answer the demands of the law in this point, he was born without this corruption, and continued ever free from it. And those that are his being regenerated, are freed from the reigning power of it, and partake of a new nature.

If we look to this sin, we have a humbling view of ourselves, and must cry, Unclean, unclean.

1. It is the fountain of all actual tranfgreffions, Mark vii. 21, Look to all the disorders of thy heart and life; they flow natively from hence, as the poisonous streams from the impoisoned fountain. Look to the disorders appearing in the lives of others, the fountain from whence they proceed is in thee. And if the cause be there, and the effect follow not, thank God, and not thyself,

2. All particular lufts are in it, as in the seed. It is the seed-plot of all particular fins. It is the cursed ground, where let the gardener weed as he will, new ones will still spring up. It is the cage of unclean birds, the mystery of iniquity, which we will never get to the ground of till the foundations be overturned at death,

3. We never were without it, Pfal. li. 5. It is a natural and hereditary disease, that cannot be cured without a miracle. We dread the serpent that is naturally poisonous more than any thing that is accidentally fo. So may we dread this beyond all things else. When we were not capable of actually linning, this made us guilty creatures.

4. We never are free of it, while awake or asleep. It is a permanent and abiding sin, Actual fins are transient, though not as to the guilt of them, yet as to the being of them; but whether the guilt of this be removed or not, it abides as fixed with bands of iron and brass.

Lastly, We never will be free of it while we live.

[ocr errors]

If we die out of Christ, it will never be cured. But even though we be in him, yet it abides till death, and will never be totally removed till then.

Thus I have now gone through the ten commands, labouring to lay before you the commandment in its exceeding breadth. And though I have been far from reaching all the particular duties commanded and fins forbidden ; yet from the whole of what has been said, ye may fee,

1. What a holy God we have to do with. We fee his holiness in this law as in a glass. He can endure no evil thing; and there are many things which the world reckons not upon, which he abhors and will punilh,

2. What a holy law this law is, requiring all purity of nature, heart, lip, and life; a perfection both of parts and degrees ; discharging all manner of impurity and moral imperfection, not only in the fubftance, but in the manner of action.

3. That by the works of the law no flesh can be justified. Who can come up to the perfection this law requires? what one line is there of this law that does not condemn us? where is that one point to the perfection of which we attain?

4. The preciousness and excellency of Christ, who has fulfilled this law in all its parts, has brought in everlasting righteousness, and furnishes all that believe in him with an answer to all its demands,

5. The rule of righteousness, by which ye are to examine yourselves, to see your fins and shortcomings, the mark ye are to aim at if ye would be holy in all manner of conversation, which is nothing the easier to be hit that it is so broad, and the evidence of your sincerity, in a perfection of those parts, though ye cannot attain to the degrees.

Lastly, Your absolute need of Christ, of his blond to sprinkle you from guilt, and of his Spirit to fanctify you,

ye may be complete in him. And



therefore let this holy law be your schoolmaster to bring you to Christ for ail.


Of Man's Inability to keep the Law perfe&tly.

For there is not a juft man upon earth that doth good, and

Jinneth not.
JAVING at considerable length endeavoured

to open up and explain the law of God, as abridged in the ten commandments, in some mea. fare in its spirituality and extent, by describing the feveral duties required and lins forbidden therein and thewn the absolute impossibility of yielding a perfect obedience thereto, in order to give a title to eternal life; and directed you to come to Christ by faith as the end of the law for righteouiness, that your guilt may be removed by the application of his blood to your consciences, and that ye may be sanctified by his Spirit : I now proceed to the exposition of the remaining questions in the Catechifm, which I thall mostly discuis in a very short discourse on cach, as I have been so long on the former part of this excellent compofition *

[ocr errors]

As some readers may

be apt to think, in regard Leveral of the following discourses are very short, that they are not fo fuil as they were delivered, it is neceffary to inform them, that, bclides wisat the author has here faid of his intended brevity, he was generally a short prcacier, fe!dom, un ordinary occasions, exceeding half an hour, and that his delivery was somewhat flow. Busides, we have the testimony of his dear friends Mell. Wilton, Davidson, and Colden, that he generally wrote his sermons as fuil as he delivercd them.

See the preface to his sermonis on aiHidrions. And it is believed, tl:at the attentive reader, upon a careful perufal of this lalt part of the work, will find the several subjects sufficiently, though briefly, illuftrated, for promoting his belt and moi cili tial interests. VOL. III.

F f

« PreviousContinue »