Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

they are against the interests of our lusts, and would eject those principles which have got so firm footing in our minds and affections, and would bring them into such a reformed course, which our minds biassed by such principles, do exceedingly hate: whereas natural or mathematical verities ate readily credited, and kindly entertained, because they thwart not our principles, as the others do. The more divine and spiritual the object is, the more unwilling we are to close with it: and by how much the nearer any notion of truth is to God, and the more clearly representing him, the more averse are we from it. And if men are enemies to that truth which doth most clearly discover God, and his mind, and cannot endure the thoughts of it, much less can they endure the thoughts of God himself. They are loth to entertain any thing that may disquiet them. Christ describes this humour, as it was in Noah's time, and as it will be towards the end of the world, Mat. 24. 38, 59, they were eating and drinking, as though the world were their own, and loth to think of a deluge; and at the latter end men will as hardly believe the burning, as they did then the drowning of the world. The pharises derided the soundest doctrine, Luke 16. 14. They derided him, subsannarunt; f&^i/i-njpifrv, they treated him with every mark of the lowest contempt, when he declaimed against their covetousness.

2. If the word lays hold upon a man, he endeavours to shake it off as a man would a serjeant, who comes to arrest him. Men like not to retain God in their knowledge, Rom. 1. 28. If any truth presses in upon them, they turn it away, as men do importunate beggars; We have nothing for you; do not trouble us, we have no alms to bestow upon you: and the reason is, because men having abortivated and deadened all those relics and natural infusions of God in their soul, any lively truth and apprehensions of him proves most unsavoury: as wine and strong waters, which have lost their natural spirit, be

[ocr errors]

Reluctance to believe the Truth. 81

come most ungrateful and unpleasant to the stomach . so those innate impressions of God which are so reFreshing to a good man, they do what they can to shake off or taint them, by mingling with them their own corrupt notions; and when they cannot, they are filled with an irreligious rancour against God. Men keep the truths that rise up in themselves for conviction and instruction, in unrighteousness, and quench the motions of the blessed Spirit, killing them in the womb. Have not men often had secret wishes, that the scripture had never mentioned some truths, or that they were blotted out of the Bible, because they face their consciences, damp their pleasures, and cool their boiling lusts, which else they would with eagerness and delight pursue ?':'

3. When men cannot shake off a truth, but it sticks fast in them, yet they have no pleasure in the consideration of it, which would be if there were a love to God: for men love to read over the letters which are sent by them to whom they have an affection, and stick them up, or peruse them afterwards at their leisure. And it was an unclean beast that did not chew the cud under the law; so it Js a corrupt heart that doth not chew truth by meditation. Hence a natural man is said not to know the things of God; for while he is inclined to a sensual life, he can have no delight in spiritual things, for sensuality hinders the operations of his soul about the choicest objects. Natural men may indeed meditate on a truth, but they do not delight in it; 6r if they do, it is only as it is knowledge: for we delight in nothing that we desire, but upon the same account that we desire it. Now natural men desire to know God, and some truths; not out of a sense of his excellency, but from a natural thirst after knowledge; so that they rejoice in the act, not in the object, not to quicken their affections, as idle boys strike fire; not to kindle any thing, but please themselves with the sparks: whereas a gracious soul accounts not only his meditation, or the operation of his soul about a thing to be sweet, but he hath a spiritual joy in the object of that meditation. Many have the knowledge of God, who have no delight in it; as owls and bats have eyes to perceive the light, but by reason of the weakness of their sight, have no delight in it to look cheerfully upon it; so neither can a man by his natural or acquired knowledge delight in God, or love to look upon him, because of his corruption.

S. In their opposition to it. This opposition is external. In the first dawning of the gospel, what opposition did the apostles meet with? What persecutions were raised against them? How did the carnal world, like dogs, bark at the shining of the moon? It is as natural for men to persecute the truth, which is against the grain, as it is for them to breathe. When Socrates upon natural principles did confute the heathen idolatry, and asserted the unity of God, the whole cry of Athens, a learned university, is against him; and because he opposed the public received religion, he must die, Acts 13. 45. Contradicting and blaspheming are put together; disputes against the word many times end in blasphemies.

Their opposition is internal. God's truths cast against a hard heart, are like balls thrown against a stone wall, which rebound the further from it; such a resistance there is in man, to beat back all the tenders of grace. Where the grace of God comes in any power, it accidentally stirs up sin in the heart; as when the sun shines upon a noisome dunghill, it becomes more noisome; not that the sun communicates any filthiness or pollution to the dunghill, but by accident in warming it, it makes the stench break forth. Sin, as a garrison in a city, is up in arms upon any alarm from its adversary. A word of God against the great Diana of a man's lust, sets the whole soul in an uproar: sin follows the steps of its father the devil, and endeavours to bruise the heel of truth, which would break the head of lust. Men

Unsettled Affections. 83

hate the truths of God, when they begin to search and tent their beloved corruptions, (so Ahab, 1 Kings 22. 8. / hate him, for he doth not prophecy good concerning me, but evil, John 3. 19, 20,) lest their deeds should be reproved. As apes are reported to break the glass, because they would not see their own deformity. The light of speculation may be pleasant, but the light of conviction is grievous; the light strikes too strongly upon their sore eyes, and makes them smart.

3. If men do entertain truth, it is not for truth's sake, but for some other by-end. Truth is scarcely received as truth; there is more of hypocrisy than sincerity in the pale of the church: the dowry makes it more desirable than the beauty. Judas follows Christ for the bag. Sometimes men entertain truth to satisfy their own passions, rather than upon God's account. The religion of many is not the judgment of the man, but the passion of the brute. Many rather entertain the doctrine for the person's sake, than the person for the doctrine, and believe any thing that comes from a man they esteem and affect, as if his lips were as canonical as scripture. You received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, 1 Thess. 2. 13. So that many times the very same truth delivered by another, is disregarded; which when coming from the fancy and mouth of their own idol, is cried up for an oracle; when as, alas! it was the truth of God in the ass's, as well as in the angel's mouth. And thus they have the word of God with respect of persons, and receive it not for the sake of the fountain, but of the channel; and though they entertain the truth of God materially, yet not formally as his truth. Have not the faith of Christ with respect of persons, James 2. 1.

4. If men do entertain truth, it is with unsettled affections, and much mixture. If men let in some good notions of God, they let in also much of corruption and error, like sponges that can suck up thq foulest water, as well as the sweetest wine; they have the unclean beasts enter into the ark of their souls, as well as the clean. There is a great levity in the heart of man. The Jews cry hosanna to Chret one day, and crucify him the next. They have their heart open one day for truth, and the next turn it out of doors. Those truths which are easy to be understood, are hard( to be impressed: our affections will as soon lose them, as our understandings embrace them. Some were willing to rejoice in John's light, which gave a lustre to their minds, not in his heat, which would have given warmth to their affections; for John was a burning and a shining light, and- they would rejoice in his light, but not in his heat, and in that too but'for a season. We begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh. We go from God with affections, and quickly grow cold again. Our hearts are like lute strings, changed with every change of weather, with every temptation; and scarce one motion of God in a thousand can prevail upon us.' '.

5. In a carnal improvement of truth. Some endeavour to make truth subservient to lust, and like spiders draw cursed poison out of the sweetest flowers. As when men hear of God's willingness to pardon and receive repenting sinners, they will argue from hence, for deferring their repentance till they come to die. So, Psal. 94. 7, God's patience is made a topic whence to argue against his providence. Wicked men father their sins upon God's word. A liar will find his refuge in the rewards God gave the mid wives that lied to Pharaoh, for the preservation of the Israelites' children; and Rahab's lie for preserving the spies: though God rewarded their fidelity, yet we read not that he approved their sin. Some wit! venture into all kind of wicked company, from Christ's example, who conversed with sinners; when Christ companied with sinners, as a physician with diseased persons, to cure them, not to approve them; but these with persons not to communicate holiness to

« EdellinenJatka »