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may break forth in the life, Jam. i. 14. They make way for grofs fins, as the feed grows up into a tree that brings forth its natural fruit at length.
4. They are the fit oppofers of every good motion, Gal. v. 17. So that there is never a good impreffion made upon, nor motion in the heart, but among thefe lufts it finds a peculiar oppofite to it, one fit to engage against it, by a peculiar malignity in it. And fo it is found in the godly, that as they have grace for grace in Chrift, fo they have corruption for grace in the unrenewed part; ftill fome one lineament of Satan's image to fet against another of God's image.
And now thefe lufts have their luftings and ftirrings, a view of which nuft be very humbling. For confider,
ift, The innumerable occafions of them; at every blink of the eye, opening of the ear, or imagination of the heart, we are in hazard of them. The fparks of temptation are continually flying about us; how can we be fafe, while we have thefe as gunpowder about us?
2dly, How fuddenly they will flee through the heart, like a ftitch in the fide, or an arrow out of a bow? A thought, a wish, is foon brought forth.
3dly, How frequent are they? when are we free of them? when is it that the crooked leg can move, and not halt?
Laftly, How little are these things noticed? That hellish fteam arifing from a corrupt nature, being fo much within doors, is little regarded, but extremely blackens the foul.
Thus much of the bitter ftreams; we come now to the fountain and fpring-head, from whence they have their rife; and that is, the corruption of nature. For as there is a poisonous nature in the ferpent, befides its throwing out of its venom; fo, befides the finful luftings of the heart, there is an habitual corruption of the nature, which is the root of
these luftings, loathings, and inordinate motions. The reason why the clock or dial points the hour wrong is, because it is wrong fet; and till that fet be altered, it will never point right. So man's nature has a wrong fet, which we call the corruption of nature, whereby it comes to pass that he can never act right till that fet be cured by regeneration. It is a corrupt difpofition of the foul, whereby it is unapt for any thing truly good, and prone to evil.
The understanding is deprived of its primitive light and ability, unable to think a good thought, 2 Cor. iii. 5. yea, darkness is over all that region, Eph. v. 8. As for the will, it is free to evil, but not to good, utterly unable fo inuch as rightly to will any thing truly good, Phil. ii. 13. Nay, it is averse to it, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. It is prone and bent to evil, Hof. xi. 7. but lies cross and contrary to God and goodness, Rom. viii. 7. The affections are quite difordered, misplaced as to their objects, loving what they fhould hate, and hating what they fhould love; or if right as to the objects, they can keep no bounds. But of this I have spoke largely elsewhere *.
This corruption of nature is here forbidden, for it is truly and properly fin, Rom. vi. 12. & vii. 17. It is the flesh that lufteth against the Spirit, Gal. v. 18. and if fin, it must be contrary to and forbid. den by the law. And as finful anger is forbidden in the 6th commandment, as the immediate fountain of murder, Matth. v. 21. 22.; fo, by a parity of reafon, the corruption of nature is forbidden here, as the immediate fountain of that coveting or lufting, expreffed therein.
And though it is impoffible for us to prevent this fin, being born with it, it would be confidered, that this law was originally given to Adam in innocency, requiring him to keep his nature pure and
* See Fourfold State.
uncorrupted, and fo difcharging all corruption of it; which law after his fin reinains in as full force as ever. And that the second Adam might answer the demands of the law in this point, he was born without this corruption, and continued ever free from it. And those that are his being regenerated, are freed from the reigning power of it, and partake of a new nature.
If we look to this fin, we have a humbling view of ourselves, and muft cry, Unclean, unclean.
1. It is the fountain of all actual tranfgreffions, Mark vii. 21. Look to all the diforders of thy heart and life; they flow natively from hence, as the poisonous ftreams from the impoisoned fountain. Look to the diforders appearing in the lives of others, the fountain from whence they proceed is in thee. And if the cause be there, and the effect follow not, thank God, and not thyself.
2. All particular lufts are in it, as in the feed. It is the feed-plot of all particular fins. It is the curfed ground, where let the gardener weed as he will, new ones will ftill fpring up. It is the cage of unclean birds, the mystery of iniquity, which we will never get to the ground of till the foundations be overturned at death.
3. We never were without it, Pfal. li. 5. It is a natural and hereditary disease, that cannot be cured without a miracle. We dread the ferpent that is naturally poisonous more than any thing that is accidentally fo. So may we dread this beyond all things elfe. When we were not capable of actually finning, this made us guilty creatures.
4. We never are free of it, while awake or asleep. It is a permanent and abiding fin. Actual fins are tranfient, though not as to the guilt of them, yet as to the being of them; but whether the guilt of this be removed or not, it abides as fixed with bands of iron and brass.
Laftly, We never will be free of it while we live.
If we die out of Chrift, it will never be cured. But even though we be in him, yet it abides till death, and will never be totally removed till then.
Thus I have now gone through the ten commands, labouring to lay before you the commandment in its exceeding breadth. And though I have been far from reaching all the particular duties commanded and fins forbidden; yet from the whole of what has been faid, ye may fee,
1. What a holy God we have to do with. We fee his holiness in this law as in a glafs. He can endure no evil thing; and there are many things which the world reckons not upon, which he abhors and will punish,
2. What a holy law this law is, requiring all purity of nature, heart, lip, and life; a perfection both of parts and degrees; difcharging all manner of impurity and moral imperfection, not only in the fubftance, but in the manner of action.
3. That by the works of the law no flesh can be juftified. Who can come up to the perfection this law requires? what one line is there of this law that does not condemn us? where is that one point to the perfection of which we attain?
4. The precioufnefs and excellency of Chrift, who has fulfilled this law in all its parts, has brought in everlafting righteoufnefs, and furnishes all that believe in him with an answer to all its demands.
5. The rule of righteoufnefs, by which ye are to examine yourselves, to fee your fins and fhortcomings, the mark ye are to aim at if ye would be holy in all manner of converfation, which is nothing the easier to be hit that it is fo broad, and the evidence of your fincerity, in a perfection of thofe parts, though ye cannot attain to the degrees.
Laftly, Your abfolute need of Chrift, of his blood to fprinkle you from guilt, and of his Spirit to fanctify you, that ye may be complete in him. And
therefore let this holy law be your fchoolmaster to bring you to Chrift for all.
Of Man's Inability to keep the Law perfectly.
ECCLESIASTES Vii. 20.
For there is not a juft man upon earth that doth good, and finneth not.
AVING at confiderable length endeavoured. to open up and explain the law of God, as abridged in the ten commandments, in fome meafure in its fpirituality and extent, by defcribing the feveral duties required and fins forbidden therein; and fhewn the abfolute impoffibility of yielding a perfect obedience thereto, in order to give a title to eternal life; and directed you to come to Chrift by faith as the end of the law for righteoufnefs, that your guilt may be removed by the application of his blood to your confciences, and that ye may be fanctified by his Spirit: I now proceed to the expofition of the remaining queftions in the Catechifm, which I fhall moftly difcuis in a very fhort difcourfe on each, as I have been fo long on the former part of this excellent compofition *
As fome readers may be apt to think, in regard feveral of the following difcourfes are very fhort, that they are not fo fuil as they were delivered, it is neceffary to inform them, that, befides what the author has here faid of his intended brevity, he was generally a fhort preacher, feldom, on ordinary occafions, exceeding half an hour, and that his delivery was fomewhat flow. Bofides, we have the teftimony of his dear friends Meff. Wilton, Davidfon, and Colden, that he generally wrote his fermons as full as he delivered them. See the preface to his fermons on aliations. And it is believed, that the attentive reader, upon a careful perufal of this lat part of the work, will find the feveral fubjects fufficiently, though briefly, illuftrated, for promoting his belt and most effe tial interefts.