« FöregåendeFortsätt »
being able to discover or know any religious truth, that he hates and flies from it when it is proposed to him: he receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Man is natural and earthly; the things of God are spiritual and heavenly; and these are contrary one to the other: therefore, as the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, so the wisdom of God is foolishness with the world. In a word, the sense man is now possessed of, where God does not restrain it, is used for evil and not for good: his wisdom is earthly, sensual, devilish: it is the sagacity of a brute, animated by the malignity of an evil spirit1.
3. In addition to its enmity against God and its utter depravity, the human heart is likewise in a state of insensibility and stupidity.
The conscience, as the Apostle expresses it, is past feeling, seared as with a hot iron". Hence reproofs and judgments may irritate;
1 Jones's Cathol. Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 14.
but can never, merely by their own influence,
This insensibility, though it may be increased by a habit of sinning, is yet itself originally inherent in the conscience: at the first, it is not so much superinduced upon it, as it springs out of it.
IV. Man being thus depraved in the understanding, the will, and the affections, it is almost superfluous to observe, that he must in consequence have lost all power of serving God.
Unable to discover his will, hating it when it is discovered to him, and so polluted by sin that he is utterly unable to cleanse himself; how can he perform in his own strength any acceptable service? He may indeed, in the pride of his high speculations, imagine himself to be rich and to have need of nothing: but the word of God will inform him, that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked'. Even those actions of the na
1 Revel. iii. 17.
tural man, which bear the semblance of good; the patriotism of a Regulus, and the morality of a Socrates; even they are but splendid sins' for, as we are rightly taught by the Church, Works, done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ :-yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin. The reason of this is obvious. A polluted heart can no more bring forth a good action, than a polluted fountain can emit pure water. But all our hearts are by nature impure. Consequently, all our actions, before the reception of divine grace, must be impure also; and, as such, they cannot be pleasing unto God.
In this miserable condition is every man born. Fallen from his high estate, and sunk in the deep sleep of presumptuous wicked
1 See Bp. Beveridge's Exposition of the Articles. Art. xiii. 2 Art. xiii. See also Bp. Hopkins's Works, p. 525. and Bp. Beveridge's Private Thoughts, Art. viii.
ness, he refuses to listen to the voice of any human charmer, charm he ever so wisely. God alone is able, to create a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within him: for creation is an attribute belonging solely to the Deity. Man must be brought back to the image of his Maker, that image which was lost by the fall of Adam: or he must for ever remain excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
THROUGH THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE FIRST WORK OF GRACE IN THE HUMAN SOUL.
WHEN the Almighty created man, he foresaw all the fatal consequences which would result from his violation of the divine commandment. Though justice required the punishment of the transgressors; yet mercy provided a wonderful remedy, by virtue of which Adam and all his posterity might have the means of escaping eternal perdition. The fulness of time being come, the only begotten of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; the Lamb virtually and typically slain from the foundation of the world; this glorious personage took our nature upon him, and was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. After spending a life of unwearied benevolence and heavenly