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of sewing fig-leaves together, to cover their nakedness? Gen. iii. 7. When we have ruined ourselves, and made ourselves naked, to our shame; we naturally seek to help ourselves by ourselves; and many poor shifts are fallen upon, as silly and insignificant as Adam's figleaves. What pains are men at, to cover their sin from their own consciences, and draw all the fair colours upon it that they can? And when once convictions are fastened upon them, so that they cannot but see themselves naked ; it is as natural for them to attempt to spin a cover to it out of their own bowels, as for fishes to swim in the waters, or birds to fly in the air. Therefore, the first question of the convinced is, What shall we do? Acts ii. 27. How shall we qualify ourselves? What shall we perform? Not minding that the new creature is God's own workmanship (or deed, Eph. ii. 10.) more than Adam thought of being clothed with skins of sacrifices, Gen. iii.
9thly, Do not Adam's children naturally follow his footsteps, in hiding themselves from the presence of the Lord? Gen. iii. 8. We are every whit as blind in this matter as he was, who thought to hide himself from the presence of God among the shady trees of the garden. We are very apt to promise ourselves more security in a secret sin, than in one that is openly committed. "The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye' shall see me," Job xxiv. 15. And men will freely do that in secret, which they would be ashamed to do in the presence of a child; as if darkness could hide from an allseeing God. Are we not naturally careless of communion with God; ay, and averse to it? Never was there any communion betwixt God and Adam's children, where the Lord himself had not the first word. If he would let them alone, they would never inquire after him. Isa. lvii. 18. I hide me -Did he seek after a hiding God? Very far from it.He went on in the way of his heart.
10thly, How loath are men to confess sin, to take guilt and shame to themselves! And was it not thus in the case before us? Gen. iii. 10. Adam confesseth his nakedness, which he could not get denied; but not one word he says of his sins: Here was the reason of it, he would fain have
hid it if he could. It is as natural for us to hide sin as to commit it. Many sad instances thereof we have in this world; but a far clearer proof of it we shall get at the day of judgment, the day in which God will judge the secrets of men, Rom. ii. 16. Many a foul mouth will then be seen, which is now wiped and saith, I have done no wickedness, Proverbs xxx. 20.
Lastly, Is it not natural for us to extenuate our sin, and transfer the guilt upon others? And when God examined our guilty first parents, did not Adam lay the blame on the serpent? Gen. iii. 12, 13. Now Adam's children need not be taught this hellish policy; before they can well speak (if they cannot get the fact denied) they will cunningly lisp out something to lessen their fault, and lay the blame upon another. Nay, so natural is this to men, that in the greatest of sins, they will lay the fault upon God himself; they will blaspheme his holy providence, under the mistaken name of misfortune, or ill-luck, and thereby lay the blame of their sin at heaven's door. And was not this one of Adam's tricks after his fall? Gen. iii. 12. "And the man said, the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." "Observe the order of the speech. He makes his apology in the first place; and then comes his confession: His apology is long; but his confession very short; it is all comprehended in a word, And I did eat. How pointed and distinct is his apology, as if he was afraid his meaning would have been mistaken? The woman, says he, or that woman, as if he would have pointed the Judge to his own work, of which we read, Gen. ii. 22. There was but one woman then in the world; so that one would think he needed not have been so nice and exact in pointing at her; yet she is as carefully marked out in his defence, as if there had been ten thousand. The woman whom thou gavest me: Here he speaks as if he had been ruined with God's gifts. And to make the shift look the blacker, it is added to all this, thou gavest to be with me, a constant companion, to stand by me as a helper. This looks as if Adam would have fathered an ill design upon the Lord, in giving him this gift. And after all, there is a new demonstrative here, before the sentence is complete; he says not, The woman
gave me, but the woman she gave me: emphatically, as if he had said, She, even She gave me of the tree. This much for his apology. But his confession is quickly over, in one word, (as he spoke it,) and I did eat. And there is nothing here to point to himself, and as little to shew what he had eaten. How natural is this black art to Adam's posterity! He that runs may read it. So universally does Solomon's observe hold true, Prov. xvii. 3. "The foolishness of man perverteth his ways, and his heart fretteth against the Lord." Let us then call fallen Adam, father: let us not deny the relation, seeing we bear his image.
And now to shut up this point, sufficiently confirmed by concurring evidence from the Lord's word, our own experience and observation; let us be persuaded to believe the doctrine of the corruption of our nature; and to look to the second Adam, the blessed Jesus, for the application of his precious blood, to remove the guilt of this sin; and for the efficacy of his holy Spirit, to make us new creatures,' knowing that except we be born again, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Of the Corruption of the Understanding.
SECONDLY, I proceed to enquire into the corruption of nature, in the several parts thereof. But who can comprehend it? Who can take the exact dimension of it, in its breadth, length, height, and depth? The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jer. xvii. 9. However, we may quickly perceive as much of it, as may be matter of deepest humiliation, and may discover to us the absolute necessity of regeneration. Man in his natural state is altogether corrupt. Both soul and body are polluted, as the apostle proves at large, Rom. iii. 10-18. As for the soul, this natural corruption has spread itself through all the faculties thereof; and is to be found in the understanding, the will, the affections, the conscience, and the memory.
I. The understanding, that leading faculty, is despoiled of its primitive glory, and covered over with confusion. We have fallen into the hands of our grand adversary, as Samson into the hands of the Philistines, and are deprived
of our two eyes. There is none that understandeth, Rom. iii. 11. Mind and conscience are defiled, Tit. i. 15. The natural man's apprehension of divine things is corrupt, Psal. 1. 21. "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself." His judgment is corrupt, and cannot be otherwise, seeing his eye is evil: And therefore the scriptures, that shew that men did all wrong, says, Every one did that which was right in his own eyes, Judges xvii. 7. and xxi. 25. And his imaginations, or reasonings, must be cast down, by the power of the word, being of a piece with his judgment, 2 Cor. x. 5. But, to point out this corruption of the mind or understanding more particularly, let these following things be considered:
First, There is a natural weakness in the minds of men, with respect to spiritual things. The apostle determines concerning every one that is not endued with the graces of the Spirit, That he is blind and cannot see afar off, 2 Pet. i. 9. Hence the Spirit of God, in the scripture, clothes, as it were, divine truths with earthly figures, even as parents teach their children, using similitudes, Hos. xii. 10. Which, though it doth not cure, yet doth evidence this natural weakness in the minds of men. But we want not plain proofs of it from experience. As, (1.) How hard a task is it to teach many people, the common principles of our holy religion, and to make truths so plain as they may understand them? Here there must be precept upon precept, precept upon precept: line upon line, line upon line, Isa. xxviii. 10. Try the same persons in other things, they shall be found wiser in their generation than the children of light. They understand their work and business in the world as well as their neighbours, though they be very stupid and unteachable in the matters of God. Tell them how they may advance their worldly wealth, or how they may gratify their lusts, and they will quickly understand these things; though it is very hard to make them know how their souls may be saved; or how their hearts may find rest in Jesus Christ. (2.) Consider these who have many advantages, beyond the common gang of mankind; who have had the benefit of good education and instruction; yea, and are blest with the light of grace in that measure, wherein it is distributed to the saints on earth; yet how small a portion have they of the know
ledge of divine things! What ignorance and confusion do still remain in their minds! How often are they mired, even in the matter of practical truths, and speak as a child in these things! It is a pitiful weakness, that we cannot perceive the things which God has revealed to us; and it must needs be a sinful weakness, since the law of God requires us to know and believe them. (3.) What dangerous mistakes are to be found amongst men in their concerns of greatest weight! What woful delusions prevail over them! Do we not often see those, who other wise are the wisest of men, the most notorious fools, with respect to their souls interest? Matth. xi. 25. "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent." Many that are eagle-eyed in the trifles of time, are like owls and bats in the light of life. Nay, truly, the life of every natural man is but one continued dream and delusion; out of which he never awakes, till either by a new light darted from heaven into his soul, he come to himself, Luke xv. 17. or, in hell he lift up his eyes, chap. xvi. 23. And therefore in scripture-account, be he never so wise, he is a fool, and a simple one.
Secondly, Man's understanding is naturally overwhelmed with gross darkness in spiritual things. Man at the instigation of the devil, attempting to break out a new light in his mind, (Gen. iii. 5.) instead of that, broke up the doors of the bottomless pit; so as, by the smoke thereof, he was buried in darkness. When God at first had made man, his mind was a lamp of light; but now, when he comes to make him over again, in regeneration, he finds it darkness, Eph. v. 8. "Ye were sometimes darkness." Sin has closed the windows of the soul; darkness is over all that region. It is the land of darkness, and shadow of death, where the light is as darkness. The prince of darkness reigns there, and nothing but the works of darkness are framed there. We are born spiritually blind, and cannot be restored without a miracle of grace. This is thy case, whosoever thou art, if thou art not born again. And that you may be convinced in this matter, take those following evidences of it:
Evidence 1. The darkness that was upon the face of the world before, and at the time when Christ came, arising as the Sun of righteousness upon the earth. When Adam,