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before, with the rest of the world, they were eager in the pursuit of honours, and profits, and worldly pleasures, the new stream of their desires runs in another channel. They seek after honour, and are very ambitious of it; but it is such honour the Apostle speaks of in this Epistle, ch. ii. ver. 7. By patient continuance in well doing they seek for glory, and honour, and immortality. Their mind is upon profit and gain; but it is with the same Apostle, Phil. iii. 8, that they may win Christ, and they account all other things loss in comparison. And their desires are after pleasure too, but not carnal pleasures; these are both base, and of short continuance, but the pleasures they aim at, are those that are at God's right hand, and for evermore, Psal. xvi. 11; and that path of life which the Psalmist there speaks of, that way of holiness which leads thither, is their delight. Spiritual exercises they go to, not as their task only, but more as their joy and refreshment. And this change the Spirit of God works in the soul, making it, yea, and the body wherein it dwells, of carnal, to become spiritual: as fire, to which the Holy Ghost is compared, refines sand and ashes, and makes of them the purest glass, which is so neat and transparent.
Enmity against God.] Sin hath not only made us unlike God, by defacing His beautiful image in us, not only strangers, by making us wander far off from Him, but enemies; nor enemies only, but enmity in the abstract; for that is emphatical, The carnal mind is enmity, nothing else but enmity.
Now, this enmity is described in the latter clause of the text, by an antipathy, so to call it, or non-compliance with the law of God: It is not subject to the Law of God, neither can it be, to wit, while it remains such. There is an absolute impossibility in it, to suit with the Law of God, and consequently with God himself. The reason lies in their opposite qualities. God is spiritual and holy, and so is the Law, as our Apostle hath it in the preceding chapter; and the opposition he there makes betwixt his unregenerate part and the Law, is wholly true of the unregenerate man. The Law is holy, says he,
ver. 12, and ver. 14, The Law is spiritual; to which too he opposes, But I am carnal, sold under sin.
Where are now those who so vilify grace and magnify nature? Or, shall I rather say, nullify grace, and deify nature? Here is the best eulogy the Apostle will bestow upon the best of natures, Enmity against God. Nay, all the sparkles of virtue and moral goodness in civil men and ancient heathens are no better; besides many other things to be said of the virtues of those philosophers, as, ignorance of Christ, by whom alone this enmity is removed.
I should easily confess, nor, I think, can any deny it, that there is in the very ruins of our nature, some character left of a tendency to God as our chief and only satisfying good, which we may call a kind of love, and when we hear Him spoken of, we find it flutter and stir; and hence men so abhor the imputation of hating God and being His enemies. Yet, this is so smothered under sensuality and flesh, that until we be made spiritual, nothing appears but practical and (as they call it) interpretative enmity.
There is one thing which stains them enough; they were all, as that Father speaks, animalia gloriæ: they aimed not, in their study of virtue, at God's glory, but at their own; and is not that quarrel enough, and matter of enmity? Says not He, My glory I will not give unto another?
But that is most useful for you, to convince you of that too good conceit which men have of their natural condition. You would take it hardly, the most profane of you all, if any should come to you in particular, and tell you, you are an enemy to God; but I answer, there is none of you, if you believe the Scriptures, but will confess that all men are naturally such, and therefore, except we find in ourselves a notable alteration from the condition of nature, we must take with it, that we are enemies, yea, enmity to God. Of strangers, to become acquainted with Him, yea, which is more, of enemies to become friends, is a greater and more remarkable change, than to be incident to a man without any evidence and sign of it. I know
there is very great variety in the way and manner of conversion; and to some, especially if it be in their tender years, grace may be instilled and dropped in, as it were, insensibly. But this I may confidently say, that whatsoever be the way of working it, there will be a wide and apparent difference betwixt friendship with God, and the condition of nature, which is enmity against Him. Do not flatter yourselves. So long as your minds remain carnal, ardent in love to the world, and cold in love to God, lovers of pleasures more than of God, (as the Apostle speaks,) you are His enemies, for with Him there is no neutrality. That which they say, taxing it as a weakness in the sex, Aut amat, aut odit, nihil est tertium, is in this case necessarily true of all. And this is God's prerogative, that He can judge infallibly of the inside. Those shadows of friendship men use one with another, will not pass with Him. Deceived He cannot be, but men may easily; and alas! too many do deceive themselves in this matter to their own ruin.
We may learn hence, how deep sin goes into our nature, and consequently, that the cure and remedy of it must go as deep; that all the parts of our bodies and all the powers of our souls are polluted originally, our very mind and conscience, as the Apostle speaks, for it is immersed in flesh, and enslaved to flesh, naturally, and therefore goes under its name. We are become all flesh; that is the spring of our mischiefs. We have lost our likeness to our Father, the Father of Spirits, the purest and most spiritual Spirit, till renewed by participation of His Spirit in our flesh.
And it is the error, not only of natural men, but somewhat of the godly too, that in self-reformation they set themselves against actual sin, but they lay not the axe to the root of the tree, this root of bitterness, this our inbred and natural enmity. against God; and till this be done, the lopping off of some branches will do no good: while the root is in vigour, those will grow again, and possibly, faster than before. Bewail every known act of sin, as much as you can, for the least of them deserves it; but withal, let the consideration of them lead
you into thoughts of this seed of rebellion, the wickedness of our nature, that takes life with us in the womb, and springs and grows up with us, and this will humble us exceedingly, and raise our godly sorrow to a higher tide. We find David taketh this course in the fifty-first Psalm: where he is lamenting his particular sin of adultery and murder, it leads him to the sinfulness of his nature, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me; [or, warm me;] which he mentions, not to extenuate and diminish his sin; no, he is there very far from that strain, but adds it as a main aggravation. Indeed, the power of original sin in the regenerate, is laid very low, yet is it not altogether extinct, which they find often to their grief, and this makes them cry out with our Apostle, in the former chapter, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death! The converted are already delivered (as he there adds) from the dominion of it, but not from the molestation and trouble of it. not a quiet and uncontrolled master, as it was before, yet, it is in the house still, as an unruly servant or slave, ever vexing and annoying them; and this body of death they shall have still cause to bewail, till death release them. This leprosy hath taken so deep root in the walls of this house, that it cannot perfectly be cleansed till it be taken down; and it is this, more than any other sorrows or afflictions of life, that makes the godly man not only content to die, but desirous, longing, with our Apostle, to be dissolved, and be with Christ, which is far better.
Though it is
As this teaches us the misery of man's nature, so it sets off and commends exceedingly the riches of God's grace. Aré men naturally His enemies? Why then admire, first, His patience and bounty a little, and then we will speak of His saving grace. Could not He very easily ease Himself of His adversaries, as He says by the prophet? Isa. i. 24. Wants He power in His right hand to find out and cut off all His enemies? Surely no. Not only He hath power to destroy them all in a moment, but the very withdrawing of His hand,
that upholds their being, (though they consider it not,) would make them fall to nothing. Yet is He pleased not only to spare transgressors, but to give them many outward blessings, rain and fruitful seasons, as the Apostle speaks, Acts xiv. 17. And the earth which is so full of man's rebellion, is yet more full of God's goodness: The earth is full of Thy goodness, says the Psalmist. It is remarkable, that that same reason which is given, Gen. vi. 5, of the justice of God in drowning the world, is, in chap. viii. ver. 21, rendered as the reason of God's resolved patience ever since: And the Lord said, I will not curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.
Then consider His grace, in finding a way of reconcilement, and not sparing His own Son, His only begotten Son, to accomplish it. Nor did the Son spare himself. O matchless love! to lay down his life, not for friends, but for strangers; not only so, but enemies, for unrighteous and ungodly persons, such as be at enmity against Him. Rom. v. 7, 8. And having done this, He sends his word, the message of reconciliation, to rebels, and sends His Spirit into the hearts of those whom He hath appointed to salvation, to change their spirits, that they perish not in disobedience: He brings them near who were far off, having slain this enmity by the death of His Son.
As many of you, then, as have hitherto heard this message of reconciliation in vain, be persuaded at last to give ear to it. This is all that God's ambassadors require, according to their instructions from Himself, that men would lay down their enmity against Him, and not be so foolish as wilfully to perish in it: We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2 Cor. v. 20.
Consider that this enmity is, 1st, unjustly, 2dly, unhappy. (1.) Unjust it is, being against Him who is the chief object of love, who is altogether goodness, both in Himself and towards his creatures. It is too much not to love Him with most ardent and superlative affection; but to entertain enmity against Him is madness. As it was said to one who asked,