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defire, Heb. walking of the soul. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit. What satisfaction is sought in imagination-fins, lust, revenge, and the like? what restlessness there, 2 Pet. ii. 14. “ Having eyes full of adultery, that cannot ceale from fin." 'How busy is the foul oftentimes in imagination, of wealth, and the like, 'as if, when it had tried all other means in vain, it would try, while awake, to dream itself happy! « The thoughts of my heart,” says Job, chap. xvii. 11. Heb. the passions of my heart, « are broken off.”
3. The other thing in which natural men labour for reft, is the law; compare the text, Matth. xi. 28. with ver. 29. and 30. Emphatically is that labour described, Rom. x. 3. “ For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness.” Go about ; the word signifies, a seeking, like a disputer in the schools, or a tormentor of one upon the rack; to establish, to make it stand itfelf alone. They seek to make it stand, as men that will have a stone to stand on end, which, at the same time, is ever coming down on them again. Why all this? because it is their own : “ Have not submitted." Christ offers a righteousness; but to take it, is to them a point of fubmislion, against which they labour, as the untoward bullock against the yoke. They will never let it on till God break the iron finew of the neck, Ifa. xlviii. 4.
To confirm this, consider,
1. All men desire to be happy, and no man can get
his conscience quite filenced, more than he can get the notion of a God quite erased from his mind: Rom. ii. 14. 15. “ They are a law unto themselves, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or excusing one another.” Peace of mind is a natural desire, which Vol. I. B b
pone can divest himself of. Hence it follows, men cannot but seek inward peace'; and though they may set themselves to murder conscience for that end, yet feeing it will not do for them totally, they do of neceflity take some other way. There never was but two ways, either Christ, or the law. The former they reject, therefore it follows, they follow the latter. Let us view this in three forts of natural men,
(1.) In the profane person, who has not so much as a form of godlinefs; it is hardest to be found in them. Cut none so profane, but it will readily be found they have fome one good thing or another about them, and sometimes they will com:pliment their consciences with a denial of satisfaction to their lusts, which is a labour so much the harder to them, as they are under the greater power of lufts. This sure they do not with an eye to make themselves miserable, but happy that their consciences may excuse them, Rom. ii. 15. Excusing, even those that are most at the devil's will, are taken captive, as hunters who take their prey alive, 2 Tim. ii. 26. Importing still, a conscience labouring in the law, though lufts, as being stronger, do for the most part prevail. Let us view this,
(2.) In the formal natural man : some of whom labour in the duties of morality; others in those of religion ; who are at no small travail in the law, if we consider it all for nought. Like the Pharisee, Luke, xviii. 11. they take not the gospel-way, yet they labour in the law. Sure lusts remain in them in their life and vigour. It surely costs labour so far to restrain them. -Let us view this,
(3.) in the awakened sinner. I am not for excluding these out of the text, but only that it be not restrained to them : Acts, ii. 37. “ Now, when they heard this, they were pricked to the heart,
and said unto Peter, and the rest of the apostles, What thall we do ?” These mend their hands at this hard labour, and oftimes labour fo to keep the law, that they are both by themselves, and others taken for faints of the firit magnitude, and yet it is but still in the law, till converting grace come, and sned them off the old root.
2. It is natural for men to labour in the law for happiness, and therefore, till nature be overcome by grace, men will not be
off it. The law was Adam's covenant, who, with his children, were to work and win heaven by their works ; tho' they have lost their father's strength, yet they will keep their father's trade ; though their stock bu small, yet they will keep the merchandising for heaven, and give God good works for good wages. See nature speaking out of him, Matth. xix. 16: “ Good Master, what good thing thall I do that I may have eternal life ?” And it often happens, that they who have fewest of good works lay the greateft stress upon them.
3. Consider how this practice has been formed into principles, in the face of the fun of the gospel. Never was an error yet vented in principle, but in compliance with some corruption of the heart ; therefore is that made the characteristic of true doctrine, that it is according to godliness, i Tim. vi. 3. No sooner was the gospel preached, than Cain sets up for works in opposition to faith : Gen. iv. 4. 5. “ And the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offering ; but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect.” Pau! gives the reason : Heb. xi. 4. “ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice thin Cain.” In Abraham's family, to whom the promise of righteousness was more clearly made, Hagar bears her son; compare Gal. Bb 2
iv. 24. When the people were in Egypt, the generality of them knew nothing else. They had curtailed the law so very short, as all that labour in it do, that they thought they kept all very well : Rom. v. 13. “ For until the law, fm was in the world; but fin is not imputed, when there is no law." For that caufe God gave them the law, as in Exod. xx. Gal. iii. 29. “ The law was added because of tranfgressions; it prevailed in the days of the prophets, in Christ's days, and from the beginning of the Christian church to this day ;hence our swarms of Papists, &c.-Consider,
4. They turn the very gofpel into law, as unclean vessels four the sweetest liquor that is put in them. What a real gospel was the ceremonial law to the Jews, holding up blood, death, and translation of guilt, from them to the substitute, every day before their eyes in their sacrifices ! But, Rom. ix. 11. « Their very table (that is, their altar, so called, Mal. i. 12.) became a fnare ;” and they went about these things, as if by them they would have made up what was wanting in their observation of the moral law. Just so was it turned in Popery ; yea, and, alas ! among Protestants it is found thus soured, to whom the gospel is the law, and faith, repentance, and new obedience, the ful. filling of the law. But would to God it stood in principles only; but as sure, as every unrenewed man is out of Christ, as sure even these natural men, whose heads are set right in this point, in their hearts and practice the very gospel is turned into law, and their obedience, their very faith and repentance, such as it is, is put in the room of Christ. For practice, when fairly traced, will shew the principles from which it proceeds.
Lastly, "Consider, though all would be saved, yet natyral men are enemies to the gospel-way of
falva tion : salvation : 1 Cor. i. 23. « It is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness." 'They must then be in love with the law, for there is no mids; yea, so cleave they to it, that nothing but death can part Adam's fons and it, and this even a violent death in a day of God's power : Pfal. cx. 3. Rom. vii. 4. “ Ye also are become dead to the law ;' Greek, deadened, killed, or put to death. As long as a soul sees how to shift without Christ, it will never come to him ; add to this, that the godly find the remains of this principle in them to struggle against. Self-denial is the first lesson Chrift gives, but they are a-learning it all their days. If it is thus in the green tree, what fhall it be in the dry ?