صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

xiv. 6. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." O what a fweet voice cometh down from heaven to your fouls this day, faying, As ever you expect or hope to come to God, and enjoy the bleffing that is here, come unto Chrift, obey his calls, give up yourselves to his conduct and government, and you shall certainly be brought to God! As fure as you fhall now be brought to Jefus Chrift by fpiritual union, fo fure fhall you be brought to God in full fruition.

Bleffed be God for Jefus Christ, the new and living way to the Father.

And thus I have finished the motives drawn from the titles and benefits of Chrift, ferving to enforce and quicken the great gofpel exhortation of coming to, and effectually applying the Lord Jefus Chrift in the way of faith. O that the bieffings of the Spirit might follow thefe calls, and fix thefe confiderations as nails in fure places! But feeing the great hindrance and obftruction to faith is the falfe opinion and perfuafion of most unregenerate men, that they are already in Chrift; my next work therefore shall be, in a second use of conviction, to undeceive men in that matter; and that, by fhewing them the undoubted certainty of these two things:

First, That there is no coming, ordinarily, to Christ without the application of the law to our confciences, in a way of effectual conviction.

Secondly, Nor by that neither, without the teachings of God, in the way of spiritual illumination. The first of these will be fully confirmed and opened in

[ocr errors]



The great usefulness of the Law or Word of God, in order to the Application of CHRIST.

ROM. vii. 9. For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, fin revived, and I died.

HE scope of the apostle in this epistle, and more particuParly in this chapter, is to ftate the due ufe and excellency of the law, which he doth accordingly.


First, By denying to it a power to justify us, which is the peculiar honour of Chrift.

Secondly, By afcribing to it a power to convince us, and fo prepare us for Christ.

Neither attributing to it more honour than belongeth to it, nor yet detracting from it that honour and usefulnefs which God hath given it. It cannot make us righteous, but it can convince us that we are unrighteous; it cannot heal, but it can open and discover the wounds that fin hath given us; which he proves in this place by an argument drawn from his own experience, confirmed alfo by the general experience of believers, in whose perfons and names we must here understand him to speak; "For I was alive without the law once; but when the com"mandment came, fin revived, and I died." Wherein three particulars are very obfervable.

First, The opinion Paul had, and all unregenerate men have of themselves before converfion: I was alive once. By life, understand here livelinefs, chearfulness, and confidence of his good eftate and condition: he was full of vain hope, falfe joy, and prefumptuous confidence, a very brisk and jovial man.

Secondly, The fenfe and opinion he had, and all others will have of themselves, if ever they come under the regenerating work of the Spirit in his ordinary method of working: I died. The death he here speaks of, ftands opposed to that life before mentioned; and fignifies the forrows, fears, and tremblings that feized upon his foul, when his ftate and temper were upon the change: the apprehenfions he then had of his condition ftruck him home to the heart, and damped all his carnal mirth: I died.

Thirdly, The ground and reafon of this wonderful alteration and change of his judgment, and apprehenfion of his own condition; the commandment came, and fin revived: The commandment came, i. e. it came home to my confcience, it was fixed with a divine and mighty efficacy upon my heart: the commandment was come before by way of promulgation, and the literal knowledge of it: but it never came, till now, in the fpiritual fenfe, and convincing power to his foul: though he had often read, and heard the law before, yet he never clearly underftood the meaning and extent, he never felt the mighty efficacy thereof upon his heart before; it fo came at this time, as it never came before. From hence the obfervations are,

Doct. 1. That unregenerate perfons are generally full of groundlefs confidence, and chearfulness, though their condition be fad and miferable.

Doct. 2. That there is a mighty efficacy in the word or law of God, to kill vain confidence, and quench carnal mirth in the hearts of men, when God fets it home upon their confciences.

We shall take both thefe points under confideration, and improve them to the defign in hand.

Doct. 1. That unregenerate perfons are generally full of groundless confidence, and chearfulness, though their condition be fad and miferable; Rev. iii. 17. Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knoweft not that thou art wretched, and miferable, and poor, and blind, and naked: This is the very life that unregenerate men do live. In opening whereof, I fhall fhew you,

1. What is the life of the unregenerate. 2. What maintains that life.

3. How it appears that this is the life the generality of the world do live.

4. the danger of living such a life as this: and then apply it.

First, What is the life of the unregenerate, and wherein it confifts? Now there being, among others, three things in which the life of the unregenerate doth principally consist, viz. Carnal fecurity, Prefumptuous hope, and

Falfe joy,

[ocr errors]

Of thefe briefly in their order.

First, There is in unregenerate men a great deal of carnal fecurity; they dread no danger; Luke xi. 21. "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are at peace:" There is generally a great ftillness and filence in the confciences of fuch men when others, in a better condition, are watching and trembling, they fleep fecurely; fo they live, and fo oftimes they die, Pfal. lxxiii. 4. "They have no bonds in their death," [Hebrew, no knots], no difficulties that puzzle them. It is true, the confciences of few men are fo perfectly ftupified, but that, fome time or other, they twing and gird them; but it feldom works to that height, or continues with them fo long, as to give any confiderable interruption to their carnal peace and quietness. Secondly, The life of the unregenerate confifteth in prefumptuous hope this is the very foundation of their carnal fecurity. So Chrift tells the Jews, John viii. 54, 45. " Of whom ye fay "that he is your God, and yet ye have not known him." The world is full of hope without a promife, which is but as a fpider's web, when a stress comes to be laid upon it, Job xxvii. 8. Unregenerate men are said indeed to be without hope, Ephef. ii. 12. but the meaning is, they are without any folid, wellgrounded hope; for in fcripture-account, vain hope is no hope, except it be a lively hope, 1 Pet. i. 3.. A hope flowing from u

nion with Christ, Col. i. 27. A hope nourished by experience, Rom. v. 4. A hope for which a man can give a reafon, 1 Pet iii. 15. A hope that puts men upon heart-purifying endeavours, 1 John iii. 3. It is in the account of God a cypher, a vanity, not deferving the name of hope; and yet fuch a groundless, dead, Chriftlefs, irrational, idle hope is that which the unregenerate live upon.

Thirdly, The life of the unregenerate confisteth in false joy, the immediate offspring of ungrounded hope, Mat, xiii. 20. The ftony ground receive the word with joy.

There are two forts of joy upon which the unregenerate live, viz.

1. A fenfitive joy in things carnal.
2. A delufive joy in things fpiritual.

They rejoice in corn, wine, and oil, in their eftates and children, in the pleafant fruitions of the creature; yea, and they rejoice alfo in Chrift and the promises, in heaven and in glory:" with all which they have juft fuch a kind of communion, as a man hath in a dream with a full feast, and curious mufic; and juft fo their joy will vanish when they awake. Now these three, fecurity, hope, and joy, make up the livelihood of the carnal world.

Secondly, Next it concerns us to enquire what are the things that maintain and fupport this fecurity, hope and joy in the hearts of unregenerate men; and if we confider duly, we fhall find church-privileges, natural ignorance, falfe evidences of the love of God, flight workings of the gofpel, felf-love, comparing themselves with the more profane, and Satan's policy managing all thefe in order to their eternal ruin, are fo many fprings to feed and maintain this life of delufion in the unregenerate.

1. First, Church privileges lay the foundation to this strong delufion. Thus the Jews deceived themselves, faying in their hearts, "We have Abraham for our father," Mat. iii. 9. This propt up the vain hopes that Abraham's blood ran in their veins, though Abraham's faith and obedience never wrought in their hearts.

2. Secondly, Natural ignorance; this keeps all in peace: they

that fee not, fear not. There are but two ways to quiet the

hearts of men about their fpiritual and eternal concernments, viz. the way of affurance and faith, or, the way of ignorance and felf-deceit by the one we are put beyond danger, by the other beyond fear, though the danger be greater. Satan could never quiet men, if he did not first blind them.

3. Thirdly, Falfe evidences of the love of God is another fpring feeding this fecurity, vain hope and falfe joy in the hearts of men: fee the power of it to hush and still the confcience,

Mat. vii. 22. "Many will fay to me in that day, Lord, Lord, "have we not prophefied in thy name?" &c. The things upon which they built their evidence and confidence, were external things in religion; yet they had a quieting power upon them, as if they had been the best evidences in the world.

4. Fourthly, Slight workings of the gofpel; fuch are tranfient motions of the affections under the word, Heb. vi. 8. the working of their defires about fpiritual objects, John vi. 34. Mat. xxv. 8. the external change, and reformation of their ways, Mat. xii. 43. all which ferve to nourish the vain hopes of the unregenerate.

Fifthly, Self-love is an apparent reafon and ground of fecurity, and falfe hope, Mat. vii. 3. It makes a man to overlook great evils in himself, whilft he is fharp-fighted to difcover and cenfure leffer evils in others: felf-love takes away the fight of fin, by bringing it too near the eye.

6. Sixthly, Mens comparing themselves with those that are more profane and grofly wicked than themfelves, ferves notably to quiet and hufh the confcience afleep; "God, I thank thee, (laid the Pharifee), I am not as other men, or as this publi" can." O what a faint did he seem to himself, when he stood by thofe that were more externally wicked.


7. Seventhly, and lastly, The policy of Satan to manage all these things to the blinding and ruining of the fouls of men, is another great reason they live fo fecurely and pleasantly as they do, in a state of fo much danger and mifery, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4"The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that "believe not."

Thirdly, You have feen what the life of the unregenerate is, and what maintains that life. In the next place, I shall give you evidence that this is the life the generality of the world do. live; a life of carnal fecurity, vain hope, and falfe joy this will evidently appear, if we confider,

First, The activity and livelinefs of mens fpirits in pursuit of the world. O how lively and vigorous are their hearts in the the management of earthly defigns! Pfal. vi. 4. "Who will "thew us any good?" The world eats up their hearts, time, and ftrength. Now this could never be, if their eyes were but opened to fee the danger, and mifery their fouls are in. How few designs for the world run in the thoughts of a condemned man? O if God had ever made the light of conviction to shine into their confciences, certainly the temptations would lie the quite contrary way, even in too great a neglect of things of this VOL. II. Fff

« السابقةمتابعة »