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and thus it háth continued ever since, dowa to the present day It may be granted that all men are not born equally depraved, as there seems to be a very considerable difference in this respect, between one, man and another. Many there are of whom it may be said with the greatest truth, “ corrupt are they and have done abominable iniquity,” their minds and consciences are deeply defiled, their sinful propensities are violent, they are of a furious, wrathful, headstrong, and turbulert temper, and in them the scripture is remarkablý fulfil-, led, " The wicked is like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, when its waters cast up mire and dirt." May not this be accounted for by observing, that such families have been remarkably degenerate from one generation to another, so that their evil passions and carnal desires have grown stronger and strongers and not only so, but all their bad tempers have gained strength for want of a proper education ; and added to all this, the evil example of their ungodly parents has greatly, contributed to strengthen every sinful inclination; so that such persons are depraved in the highest degree. Others there are, who are naturally more mild, gentle, and teachable, and Having been trained up in some degree at least, in the fear of the Lord, they have been kept from ten thousand evils whichi others have run into; but still the expressive words of the apostle may be applied to every child of man. The law of God is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. The soul of man in its fallen state is so far from being pure and holy, that according to the prophet's words, “it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; so deceitful and desperately wicked, saith our Lord, that it is the faithful parent of all ungodliness, “ for out of it proceedeth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, blasphemies, false witness, and all manner of uncleanness, it is therefore that corrupt fountain which hath sent forth those bitter streams of ungodliness which hathi overflowed the whole world. Seeing then that all are born in this degenerate state of mind, it becomes absolutely necessary that they should be brought out of it, and be renewed by the Holy Ghost, or what is the same thing, that one and all should be converted, according to our Lord's words.
2. The necessity of being puritied by the Spirit of God will appear, if we consider how impossible it is for any one to serve God acceptably while he continues in that degenerate state of inind before described. An evil tree, we well know, cannot bring forth good fruit, the tree itself inust be inade good before the fruit which grows upon it can be good. So likewise the mind must be renewed by divine grace, before the life and
conversation can be agreeable to the will of God. They whip are in the flesh, saith the holy apostle, cannot please God, it is not in their power so to do, they are not in a proper state of mind, and have no ability to serve God acceptably. That this is their unhappy state, will clearly appear from the words of St. Paul, The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is noc subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." How then çan that person.be a willing servant of God, whose carnal mind is enmity itself, and stands in direct opposition to the divine will! To be more fully convinced of the above truth, we need only consider what God requireth of us: - Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, is the first and great.commandment. But can any one do this, while his heart is filled with enmity against God? This every one must acknowledge is impossible, and the truth is, we do not, and we cannot love God at all, so long as we remain in our fallen degenerate state of mind. Many we know would be highly displeased were we to tell them plainly, "you do not love God, but so it.certainly is, for he who saith he loves God, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in hiin. His life is one continued practical lie against the truth, his daily practice gives the lie to his profession. Here the disobedient and rebellious are cut down by the sword of the Spirit at one stroke. We also learn from the same apostle, that we only can love God from an experimental sense of his love towards us. “We love him because he hath loved us,” As then it is impossible for any man upon earth to know that God lovis him, till this is made known to him by the word and the Spirit of God, and this cannot be till he is blest with living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ; it therefore follows that he must be renewed by grace before he can love God. When this is done, he may say upon the same ground that the apostle did:
The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, and that he die for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto, themselves, but unto himn who died for them and rose again." That no one can love God while he remains in his carnal state of mind, will appear if we consider, that it is natural to us to desire the enjoyment of that which we love. Did we really love God, then our desires would certainly centre in, or ruil out after the injoyment of him. “My soul is athirsi for God, yea even for the living God, when shall I come and appear before God," would be the language of our very heart. But where is the man to be found, who never experienced the re
newing grace of God in his mind, whose desires are continually fixed upon God, and the things which belong to his everlasting peace? Rather shall we not find that the natural language of the fallen soul is, “ What shall I eat, and what shall I drink, and wherewith shall I be clothed ?" But so far from desiring the enjoyment of God, alas, the mind is totally alienated from God.
Did we love God, we should not only desire, but also delight in the enjoyment of him, as every one knows it is natural for us to delight in that which we love. It matters not at all how unworthy of our regard the object of our affections, may be, if we really love it, we must delight therein: And if our affections are fixed upon God, we should delight in him of
He would be the joy of our heart and the delight of our soul, “whom have I in heaven but thee, and what is there upon earth that I desire beside thee,” would be the language of our heart: Or with the prophet we should say, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, my heart hath trusted in him.” As it is impossible for us to love God, till we are savingly or experimentally acquainted with him, and as this cannot be obtained but through faith in the Son of God, it must follow, that as faith realizes spiritual and eternal things, so in a particular manner it brings the soul into the presence of God, so that we may enjoy communion with him, and as he is the fountain of all that is excellent, of all that is wise and good, the man who is thus favoured will enjoy such a degree of peace and divine consolation, as must cause him to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But is this the experience of any unconverted man upon earth? Alas, how
very far from it is every one of them! They can almost delight in any thing but God, he is not in their thoughts, or if at any time they begin to think of him, the language of their heart is, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge af thy ways.
3. Did we love God, we certainly should seek after the enjoyment of him, for that which we love we highly value, therefore we seek after the enjoyment of it, and shall spare no pains to obtain it; if we see any probability or even any possibility of getting possession of the object of our wishes. And consequently it would be the same with respect to God, did we really love him, we should earnestly seek him, and this would lead us constantly to serve him. We should wait upon him in his appointed ways, should attend upon all his sacred ordinan, ces and we should be daily enquiring, where shall I find him whom my soul loveth? And our labour would not be in
Vain, we should soon find the truth of these comfortable words, "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors, for whoso find eth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord." But is it thus with any of those who know not God? O no, they are rather enquiring how they may fulfil the natural desires of the flesh and of the mind; and are entire strangers to any higher happiness, than that which ariseth from the gratification of their own sensual inclinations. Seeing that we neither desire, delight in, nor seek after the enjoyment of God; it follows that we do not love him, and therefore cannot serve him according to his will, till we are renewed by his blessed Spirit.
3. The necessity of this will appear if we cồnsider, how impossible it would be for us to go to heaven, or even to be happy in the enjoyment of God if we were there, if we should live and die without this purification. We are expressly told, “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord;” and that “ unclean thing shall enter within the gates of the New Jerusalem."
But it has been already proved, that we are all unholy and unclean, therefore we cannot see the Lord to our comfort; or enjoy him in his kingdom. Nothing is more certain than this, werë we admitted into heaven in our carnal and degenerate state of mind, we should not be happy there, as we could neither enjoy God himself, nor that pure and spiritual pleasure which flows from his sacred presence, and which he hath prepared for them who love him: So far from it, we should carry hell with us into heaven, our guilty conscience, the worm which never dieth would accompany us into heaven itself. We should not be able to endure the presence of God, for being under his displeasure he would be to us as a consuming fire. Many there are I know, who make not the least doubt but if they could only get into heaven at any rate, they would of course be happy enough, this in a certain sense is true, as none can ever go tò heaven but such as are made meet for it. But these men have exceeding gross and carnal conceptions of heaven ;, they think that it is a very grand beautiful place, and therefore all who once get possession of it, must needs be as happy as their hearts can wish. But such people must be told that heaven is a state rather than a place, a state of inconceivable glory and blessedness, and that the happiness of glorified spirits ariseth from the enjoyment of God, and therefore must be altogether holy and spiritual, in its very nature; and hence it can only be enjoyed by such as are made
holy and spiritual while in this world. The apostle informs us, we must be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, and nothing but divine grace communicated, can give us this meetness for heaven.
An unholy person could not unite with the inhabitants of heaven, in their employments, we are told they rest not, through one eternal day, from chearfully and delightfully singing praises to him who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb who was slain, who redeemed them to God by his precious blood, and who made them kings and priests unto his heavenly Father: unto whom they give honour, dominion and praise for ever and ever. Thus they ascribe their salvation to the blood of the Redeemer; but no carnal, or unconverted man in the world, was he to go to heaven in that state, could join in singing this song. How could he ascribe his salvation to the blood of Christ, when he never experienced redemption in his blood, or any thing like it? If such a person was admitted into heaven, he would certainly make discord there, he would sing a quite different song from any one there be sides himself, and would ascribe his salvation not to the Lord Jesus Christ, or to his precious blood, but to something else; but we may be well assured that such persons will never be permitted to tread those sacred courts, the gates of the holy city of God will be eternally shut against all such, and they must go down to the regions of everlasting darkness.
Let the above particulars be duly weighed.
1. The unholy state of mind we are all in, till renewed by the Spirit of God; 2. How unable we are to serve God acceptably while we remain in that unholy state ; and 3.
How impossible it is for us to go to, or be happy in heaven were we to go there in that degenerate state, and they will prove to a demonstration, the absolute necessity of our being renewed in the spirit of our minds, so that we may be happy with our God in his holy habitation. Which brings me to consider,
Secondly, By what means may this great and blessed change be wrought in us.
And we have infinite cause to praise the Lord that we are not left to wander in the dark respecting this matter; he hath clearly revealed the way to us himself, he hath done this even in the words of our text, so that we need to look no farther. And hath put no difference between us and them, between the Jews and Gentiles, purifying their hearts by faith. Not their works of righteousness, not by their own honest and upřght endeavours, but by a living faith in an all sufficient