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them, but receive infection from them.. Thus, like the devil, we have scripture at our finger's ends to plead for our lusts. As the sea turns fresh water into salt, so a carnal heart turns divine things to carnal ends. As man subjects the precepts of God to a carnal interest, so they subject the truths of God to carnal fancies. Make a humorous and crazy fancy, the interpreter of divine oracles, and not the Spirit speaking in the word: this is to rifle truth of its true inind and intent; as it is more to rob a man of his reason, the essential constitutive part of man, thau of his estate.
Secondly. Enmity against the duties God doth enjoin, as well as against the truths he doth reveal. We are not willing to come to God in duty; which strangeness took date from the beginning of our nature. We were estranged from the womb, Psal. 58. 3. I shall instance in prayer, which is one of the greatest duties, and is an immediate speaking to God. And in that duty wherein there is the greatest intimacy with God, there is the greatest aversion, and consequently an enmity against God.
1. Unwillingness to it. Men cannot endure to give God a visit; if they do, it is with such a dulness of spirit, as if they wished themselves out of his company; which testifies that men care not for any correspondence or friendship between God and their souls. Man having an enmity to true holiness, hath from thence an enmity to prayer, because holiness must at least be pretended in prayer, because in that duty there is a real speaking to God, and a communion with him, unto which holiness is required. Now as wicked men hate the truth of holiness, because it is unsuitable to them, so they are not friends to the pretence of it in that duty, because they must for some space be diverted from the thoughts of their beloved lusts. I appeal to you, whether you are not .more unwilling to practice prayer in your closets,
than to join with others, as if it were a going to the rack, and rather yjur penance than privilege. If men do come to God, it is a constrained act, to satisfy conscience; and such are rather servile, than son-like performances, and spring from bondage more than affection. If conscience like a task-master did not lash them to duty, they would never perform it. If we do come willingly, it is for our own ends, to have some deliverance from some trouble. In trouble nave they visited thee; they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them, Isa. 26. 16. In trouble they will visit God; in prosperity he shall scarce hear of them. In affliction he fmds them kneeling, and in prosperity he finds them kicking. They can pour out a prayer in distress, and scarce drop a prayer when they are delivered. This unwillingness to address to God, what slight and low thoughts doth it imply? It is a wrong to his providence, as though we stood not in need of his assistance, but that we can do all our business ourselves.
It is a wrong to his excellency, as though there were no amiableness in him to make his company desirable. This enmity is the greater, by how much God's condescension is the greater to admit us into his presence. It was a part of the devil's hatred; they were loath to have Christ present with them. What have zee to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Matt. 8. 29. Men excuse their neglect of private prayer, by their want of opportunity; but indeed they want hearts. We may sooner step up to heaven with a whole ejaculation, than step over the threshold about our business. We naturally desire acquaintance with the greatest persons that may advance our interest; but we are ready to bury our interest, rather than be acquainted with God.
2. Slightness in the duty. We are loath to come into God's presence, and when we are come, we are loath to keep with him. When men do not their duty Careless Attention to Duties. 87
Jieartily as to the Lord, they look not upon hiin as their master, whose work they ought to do, and whose honour they ought to aim at.
(1.) In respect of time. Our dullest and deadest time we think fittest for God; when sleep is ready to close our eyes, we think it a fit time to open our hearts. How few morning sacrifices hath God from men r They leap out of their beds to their pleasures or worldly employments, without asking counsel at -God's mouth. As men reserve the dregs of their life, their old age, to offer up their souls to God; so they reserve the dregs of the day, their sleepy times, for the offering their service to God.
2. In respect offrame. We think any frame will serve God's turn; which certainly speaks our enmity, -and slight thoughts we have of him. Man naturally performs duty with an unholy heart, whereby it becomes an abomination to God, Prov. 28. 9. He that turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination. God calls for our best sacrifices, and we give him the worst, such which be hates; / hate, J despise your j east days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies, Amos 5. 21. They were duties which God commanded, but he hated them for their evil frames, or corrupt ends. God requires works of grace, and we present him not with so much as the work of nature, but the work of corruption. There is not that natural vigour which we have in worldly business: you may often observe a "liveliness in man as to that; but change the scene into a motion towards God, and how suddenly does this vigour shrink, and their hearts become sluggish, and freeze with coldness.
Many times we pray as coldly as if we were loath that God should hear us, and take away that lust which conscience forces us to pray against. How .flitting are we in divine meditations, how sleepy in spiritual exercises? This proceeds from the aversion x>f the soul, and its estrangedness from God. But in other exercises we are active. The soul doth not awaken itself, and stir up those animal spirits in religious duties, which it will in bodily recreations and sports; whereby it is evident we prefer the latter before any service to God. Since there is a fulness of animal spirits in us, why might they not be excited in holy duties, as well as in corporeal operations, but that there is a reluctancy in the soul to exercise its supremacy over them in this case?
3. Weariness in it. We are not weary with that dulness, but in the duty itself; our deadness shows a disaffection, our weariness shows a greater; we are loath that God should have so much as a day's service from us, or any thing that looks like a service. How tired are we in the performance of spiritual duties, when in the vain triflings of time we have a perpetual motion? How will many force themselves to dance and revel a whole night, when their hearts will flag and jade at the first entrance into a religious service. Some in the prophet wished the sabbath over, Mai. 1. IS. Ye said also, behold what a weariness it is. Attendance on him is a weariness; God had but a poor polluted service from them, and they were weary of that lit tie they gave him, they grudged him that. This unwieldiness in duty is a sign we receive little satisfaction in God's company, and that there is a great unsuitableness between him and us. When our joy begins when the duty ends, it evidences that there was no affectionate motion to G od, but a tired and yawning service. Unwilling servants stay not long at their master's work, neither are cheerful in it. If we did love God, it would be with us as with the needle towards the loadstone, there would be a speedy motion, and a fixed union. Saints in heaven, whose affections and judgments are perfect, behold the face ofGod five or six thousand years together without weariness; but we naturally are neither willing to come, nor come to stay in his presence. . .
Objection. Natural men had best not pray, or meNeglecting to expect Answers. 89
ditate at all, if even their prayers are acts of enmity. Answer. Their prayers are not acts of enmity, though the natural enmity be discovered in them. In the mal-performance of the duty, there is a denial of his holiness, but in the total omission there is a denial of his sovereignty, who commands it as a natural duty; or his providence, who orders human affairs . of his holiness too, and righteousness in.his law which enjoins it.
4. Neglect of expecting ansrvers. Men naturally care not for having the spiritual mercy they pray for of course from God, though they are desirous of any temporal; for the latter they will endeavour, but leave the other wholly upon God's hands, as if they were careless whether they had them or no. They care not whether their letters come to God's hands or no, and therefore care not much for any returns from him: whereas if we have any love to a person we send to, or value of a thing we send for, we should expect an answer every post. The creature in its natural instinct goes beyond such persons; for there is an ; For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation, 8$c. Rom. 8. 19, Everj' creature is in a more waiting posture than a natural man. It is a sign we do not own God for our master, or ourselves for his servants, if we do not wait upon him till he shew mercy to us; As the eyes of servants look unto the hands of their master, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us, Psa. 123. 2. It implies that we think God will not hear, or cannot hear, or that we have no need of him, and can do well enough without hiui; or that prayer is no effectual means to procure blessings:; if so, why dost thou pray at all? If it be otherwise, why dost thou not wait for an answer? So that there is a disaffection in man to the duty itself, and to God the object of it; or to the subject of it, the thing prayed for. Whereas those that love God, and love the spiritual mercy they pray for, watch thereunto