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what was advanced in the former discourse, I shall speak to you as a person convinced that he is set up for himself and is at enmity with God; as to one who hath found that he "likes not to retain God in his knowledge," being turned away from him to earthly and carnal things, in all the affections and choice of his soul; and, who, consequently, is assured of his entire incapacity to enjoy spiritual and eternal happiness, till this sinful "law in his members" be rooted out, and he be brought back to a perfect purity of heart, and the true spirit of a creature. I suppose you know all this. told, that you had never been had not God declared it to you. been informed of the nature of and have been made to see the waste which sin hath
But you must be acquainted with it, Now that you have God and happiness,
made upon your soul, you can discover the consistency of this reasoning, and the need you have of being renewed in the spirit of your mind. But had you been left to yourself, you had perhaps never thought of it, would not once have suspected the evil state you find yourself to be in; possibly, would have known nothing of God at all, no not so much as that there is any such being; or, at best, have sat down with very confused notions of his perfections. And I leave yourself to determine, how, in such circumstances, you must have remained altogether excluded from all possibility of recovering the spirit of a creature. You are indebted therefore to a foreign help, even for this knowledge of God, yourself, and the nature of a reasonable happiness.
However, supposing you well informed of your
condition, and of the need you lie under to frame your heart again to the temper of a creature and a dependant; how will you effect this change upon yourself?
The word of God is plainly against you in this matter: "You cannot turn and prepare yourself by your own natural strength," Article x. Hear what it says:" The flesh is weak. The flesh lusteth against the spirit. The carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. And they that are in the flesh cannot please God." So far from any such power of turning to God, that "we are not sufficient, of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves;" and that, because the "imaginations of man's thoughts are only evil continually." And will you imagine that you are able to subdue the power which sin hath over your soul, and to acquire a purity of heart which will make you every way fit to see God, when he tells you so expressly, that you are insufficient for the very least part of it, so much as to desire or even to think of it?
Or if God's declarations do not convince you, at least let your own observations persuade you. Have you ever known or heard of so much as one in all past ages, that returned to his duty with a complete victory over his evil dispositions which war within him? Hath there been one such righteous person; in the whole world, so much as one? Where is that man that liveth and sinneth not? trary; sin hath been ever the and the practice of the bad.
Just the concomplaint of the good, And have there been
none, think you, at all times; do you not verily judge there are many, in the reach of your knowledge, who would be rid of sin, and put on the disposition of creatures, if they could? But none have been able. Or, finally, if you will obstinately contend that you are able; that you can at your pleasure extirpate the pride, worldliness and lust, that now dwell in you, leaving not any traces of them in your heart; that you can raise your soul to a perfect spiritual purity, and stand in God's sight, clean and holy as the angels of his presence: if you will needs cherish this fond opinion of your sufficiency; try your strength, you have no other concern which equals the importance of this to you, to have a new heart and a right spirit. Go, root out of your soul the lusting you find there after indulgence and ease, that you may be no more assaulted with vicious thoughts; rid yourself of all worldly influences that at present sway you; even of all the undue regard your heart pays to interest and honour, to men's opinion and favour. Bring down the pride and desire of selfpleasing, which have possessed themselves of you, giving direction to all your conduct; and, together with them, banish for ever the troop of their attendants, unbelief, wilfulness, impatience, murmuring, aversion towards God; boasting, malice, envy, hatred, haughtiness, stubbornness, anger, resentment, peevishness towards men. Let neither pride, nor any of these its ugly issue and odious train, ever more appear in your mind: and then put on the love of God in your whole heart, and of man even as of your
To mention no more, try your strength upon
these: experience will soon tell you, if the very sight of your difficult undertaking hath not prevailed, that you are not sufficient for these things. By and by, you will join the universal cry of man impotent to good: "Miserable creature that I am, who shall deliver me?"
Thus you may be assured that you are unable to frame your heart again to the temper of a creature. And yet, if this be not done, you must remain unfit for God, and incapable of happiness. Miserable creature, indeed! Sorely beset with evils! A dishorourer of God, and incapable of rendering back his injured glory! An alien from him, in whose presence is life, through the defilement of thy soul; and yet unable to recover that purity which can alone make thee meet for his presence, were he disposed to remit to thee all the demands which his forfeited honour hath upon thee!-Miserable man! what will the end of these things be? Almost I know not how to aggravate thy misery any more. What will the end of these things be? Thou dishonourer of God, thou slave of sin, how wilt thou escape the wrath to come? How avert that punishment which the glory of the heavenly Majesty is concerned to inflict; a state which the perverse wickedness of thy heart makes thee only fit for? Both the one and the other, the dishonour done by thee to God, and the unfitness of thy soul for his presence, alarm thee with apprehensions of an everlasting condition of misery, under the divine displeasure. And now, therefore, I add,
Thirdly, If you will heal the breach made by your sins between God and you, you must satisfy the demands of his infinite justice; but this you cannot any other way, than by enduring his vengeance. You know how express and absolute God's justice is; it claims the last mite, either in obedience or punishment:" Cursed is he that coufirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them." The irreversible decree of God through the universe is, "The wages of sin is death." In consequence of this immoveable purpose of the Almighty, angels have been "cast down to hell, and delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." Sinners, and authors of sin as they are, they are unable now for ever to render back to God the glory they have despoiled him of; ever unable to regain the angelic purity of nature they have forfeited, they remain for ever the objects of vengeance, and are set forth for an example of justice. And tell me, my brother, thou and I have stricken hands with sin; wherewithal shall we satisfy justice, and avert a like suffering of vengeance? We have sinned, we have done wickedly; and we cannot undo what we have done. Our sins that we have committed stand fast for ever, and for ever are the objects of that infinite justice and wrath, which doth not let sin go unpunished. We cannot avoid justice, because we cannot recall our days, and undo the sin that we have done. What thinkest thou-didst thou not forget God, and set up to please thyself? This thou ownest. But may not what is now said of thee, be equally