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THE SUBJECT IMPROVED.
The desperate atheism of maris heart—Enmity against God worse than atheism—Mocks God—Denies his authority—Is of the same nature with Safaris—Every natural man is a friend to Satan —Actual effects of it —Is zcorse than the enmity of hell—Accounts God the greatest evil—Justifies God in punishing—In his severest judgments—Justifies eternal punishment—The wonderful patience of God —Necessity of regeneration—Grace alters nature— Difficulty of conversion and partial success of the gospel—Excellence of obedience—Necessity of examination—Address to sinners—To the regenerate— Motives to enforce these addresses—Aggravations of maris enmity against God—The great misery of such a state.
I. THE information to be derived from the subject.
1. How desperate is the atheism in every man's heart by nature? What a mass of villany is in the heart of man? What! to make God no God? set up our wills against the will of God? When we say an enemy to God, we must conceive all that may denominate a man base and abominable. What more can be added, than to say, such a man is an enemy to love itself? Sin and God are at direct odds. To
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Jiarbour a traitor in a house after proclamation, is a capital crime, and conies under the charge of hightreason. What then is the harbouring of sin against God, but involving thyself in the same rebellion which every sin includes in its own nature? This enmity to God has this aggravation in it, that it cannot -upon any account whatsoever be just.
God himself cannot command a ereature not to love him; before he can command this, he must ..change his nature, cashier his loveliness, cease to be the chief good. God cannot command any thing .unjust; but this is intrinsically unjust, eternally unjust, not to love that which is infinitely amiable. It had been unjust to command an act of the highest disingenuity and ingratitude, to hate the author of our mercies. It had been against the original nature of a rational creature, to be an enemy to that which is its chiefest good. Our loving God doth not arise merely from the command of God enjoining it, but from the nature of God, and the creature's relation to him. None but will confess, that had God never commanded us to love him, it had been highly abominable for a creature to hate his Maker and Benefactor: therefore in the moral law or decalogue, the 'love of God is not explicitly commanded, but supposed as a fundamental and indispensable principle; from whence all other commands are necessary consequences: so that this enmity against God is not only against his command, but against his very nature, and against the fundamental and indispensable principle of all God's commands, and all the duties which as rational creatures we owe to God.
The desperateness of this natural enmity will appear, (l.5) In that it is as bad, and in some respects ,worse than atheism. We complain much, and not without cause, of the growing atheism of the times; but we shall find as bad and worse than we complain of in our own nature, and the practices of men. Mirandula says, a speculative atheist is the most prodigious monster in the world, but a practical. An atheist that denies the being of God, does not so. * much affront him, as a natural man that owns his being, but walks as if there were no God; as if he . were not a just and righteous God; as if he made use of his sovereign power to make laws for the prejudice of his creature.
The atheist barely denies God's being, the other mocks him. They have turned to me the back, and not the face, Jer. 32. 33. This puts a slight upon him, turning the back upon him, which is an act of disdain, as if God were the most contemptible being in the world. Thou that turnest thy face to thy dog, thy beast, the devil, usest God with more contempt than thou dost thy dog, thy swine, thy ox, thy ass, yea the devil himself. The atheist that denies God's being, and yet walks according to moral principles, is like the son in the gospel, that told his father he would not go, and yet did; which Christ commends above the other, which acknowledged his fathers authority to command him, and pretended a readiness to obey, but answered not his acknowledgments by the performance of his duty. A profane man, or a hypocrite, is more an atheist than one that professeth himself so, in as much as actions, and a continual succession and circle of them, makes a greater discovery of the principles of the heart, than the motions of the tongue. Would not that man, who in his belief of a Deity, doth things which fall under the censure of God's justice, and contrary to his law, and odious among men, though not punishable by man, do things far worse, did not the fear of laws, the anger of his prince, the pain and disgrace of punishment restrain him? Surely he would: for that principle which carries him against his reason and professed religion in his practices against God,, would hurry him further, were there not some powerful limits set to him by human laws. Now what does
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this evince, but that he honours man more than God, fears man more than God, obeys man more than God, owns the power of man more than the power of God, which he pretends to acknowledge and believe.
The atheist denies God's being, the other his authority. And in denying his authority, virtually denies his being: for it is a contradiction to be God, and not to be sovereign. Does not man imply, by the breaking God's laws, that he would not have God act as a sovereign; that he would have him but a careless God, an unholy and unrighteous God in giving him the reins, and not prohibiting by holy laws any wickedness his heart is inclined unto? What then would become of God's being? His Deity cannot outlive the life of his authority and righteousness. If he ceased to be a righteous Lawgiver, and a holy maintainer of his laws, he would cease to be a God. So that every breach of the law is a .virtual deposing him from his supreme government, and consequently a virtual deposing him from his Deity.
(2.) This enmity is of the same nature with the devil's enmity. It is not indeed in the present state wherein man is so intense, because his is direct, mans implicit. But yet, [1.] Natural men have a diabolical nature. There are but two seeds, the seed of the woman, and that of the serpent; two natures,: thedivine and diabolical. Satan is the father of wicked men, and fathers derive their nature to their children. He is not their father by creation, nor by generation, but by a diffusion of his principles into them. You are of your father the devil, John 8. 44. God made man in creation according to his own image; and the devil quickly by corruplion brings him into his likeness, i In scripture is not meant by the devil only a particular person, but a nature: so Christ intimates' in his rebuke to Peter: Get thee behind me Satan, Matt. 16. 23.
Peter, an eminent apostle, M ho had a little before made an illustrious profession of Christ being the Son of God, ver. 16, 17, is now called devil; not because he was really the person of the devil, but the devil's nature did then exert itself in him; for that advice proceeded not from a divine, but diabolical disposition; for it made directly for the serving the devil's kingdom, which was only to be overthrown by the death of Christ. Hell itself could not produce a more devilish result of its deepest counsels, than the advice which Peter now gave, which would highly have promoted the interest of hell. And do but observe the reason why Christ calls him Satan: Thou savourest not the things which be of God, &c. ver. 23. The things of God, and the things of man, and savouring the things of God, and the things of man, are set in opposition; and a man that savours not the things of God, but the things of man, such a man and Satan are all one and the same in the account of Christ. So by Christ sometimes is not meant a particular person, but a nature: Christ in you the hope of glory, Col. 1. 27. What in one place is called the divine nature, is by Paul called Christ; not the person of Christ, but the nature of Christ; i. e. that spiritual principle of grace or new nature, which is a"h earnest of your future inheritance, and so a ground of hope. A natural man is wholly carnal, Rom. 7. 18. There is no good thing dwells in him, no good principle; it may lodge a while, but it hath no settled abode; and what is not good, is of the devil. As God is the author of all good, so is the devil of all moral evil. So that a natural man is wholly diabolical.
[2.] Every natural man is a friend to the devil. There are but two sovereigns in the world, one rightful, and the other usurping. If we are enemies to the right sovereign, we must be friends to the usurper; if enemies to God, friends to the devil. He works in the children of disobedience, Eph. 2. 2, 3, not by force, but by consent: for he works in them accord