« ForrigeFortsæt »
the name of Christian, or fit to bear so high a character, he must necessarily be a new creature, or else he arrogates to himself a high title, not belonging to him. And alas, what will a bare name signify? arrogating such a high title, is a piece of high presumption; nay, it is no less than blasphemy, “when men call themselves Jews, or Christians and are not," Rev. ii. 9; even as it is treason against the rightful sovereign, for any subject to entitle himself king. What horrid presumption are graceless sinners guilty of ? for whatever you may account yourselves, God accounts you no better than heathens; uncircumcised Judah is ranked with Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab in scripture, Jer. ix. 26; “ Are ye not as children of Ethiopians to me, O children of Israel, saith the Lord,” Amos ix. 7; profane Saul is called a Cushite, Psal. vii; and graceless Jews, though of the true religion, are accounted as strangers. God esteems wicked princes, rulers of Sodom, and speaks of his people by profession, as people of Gomorrah, Isa. i. 10. And what if God account you that boast of the christian name, as no better than Jews, Mahometans, or heathens ? you are like to fare no better than they.
2. You will fare worse than they. God will judge you according to the helps and advantages you have had; it will be worse with you than Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, Matt. xi. 20—24; yea, the men of Nineveh," and queen of the south, shall rise up in judgment” against graceless professors of true religion, Matt. xii. 41, 42. O how dreadful a rebuke will this occasion! They may say, if we had heard so much of Christ, and gospel grace, we would have been more compliant, we knew not what state we were in, or what would be the awful consequence thereof, as you heard from day to day; we never pretended such high
things, nor were engaged by baptism to be God's servants, subjects, or soldiers, as you were.
Now we know that the soldier that hath taken bounty money, and is false, or fights none, or is a renegado, hath the heaviest doom, Matt. xxiy. 51; the hypocrites are free denizens of hell, it is their proper place. You had better been born in India, than in England, or in Turkey, than within the pale of the church, and not be new creatures; yea, better have been no creatures, or the vilest creatures, than not be new creatures, as our Lord said of Judas, “ It had been better if he had never been born,” Mark xiv. 21, so say I, if not new born; if you lived and died as brutes, there is an end of you, you would feel neither weal nor woe; but it will be otherwise with you; alas, alas for you
that ever you had existence! Lord, have mercy on you.
3. If you be not new creatures, you are slaves to the devil, and bear his image; "you are led captive by him at his pleasure,” you are his willing slaves. It is converting grace only that brings out of the power of Satan; his fetters are invisible, for he holds his black hand over the sinner's eye, and “worketh so effectually in his heart,”* that the poor slave will not believe his slavery, but thinks he is a freeman, “though he be holden with the cords of his sins," Prov. v. 22, and dragged apace hell-wards. O worse than Egyptian bondage, or Turkish slavery! who would abide it ? Yea, without this new creation, you have the devil's image upon you, you are the very picture of that infernal fiend; so that if it be asked, whose image and superscription is this ? it must be answered, Satan's. Our Lord tells the Jews, “ You are of your father the devil,” John viii. 44. Your envy is the devil's eye, your hypocrisy the devil's cloven foot, your lying the * 2 Tim. ü. 26. Acts xxvi. 18. 2 Cor. iv. 4. Eph. ii. 2.
devil's tongue, your carnal policy the devil's head, your pride and self-conceit the devil's lofty countenance, and all these will end in the devil's despair. Oh tremble, to bear such a resemblance to God's enemy. It is related, that when they brought Tamerlane a pot of gold, he asked what stamp was upon it; when he understood it had the Roman stamp, he utterly refused it: even so will God reject you, if the devil's stamp be on you, you will be no current money with God, though you have golden gifts.
4. If you be not new creatures, God and you are at variance, there is an enmity and antipathy betwixt the holy God and your carnal hearts; and this is the height of a creature's sin and misery. It is very observable that in the middle of the black roll of heathen's sins, Rom. i. 29–31, that noxious root, “hatred of God,” being in the midst, diffuseth its malignant influence backwards and forwards, to actuate all those sins; not that the creature can directly intend to be an enemy to God, but that a graceless person is virtually, and consequentially an enemy to God, the chief good; as he is an enemy to holiness, justice, and truth, which are divine perfections; so God accounts them that are enemies to his sovereignty. “The carnal mind is enmity itself against God;" and sin turns God to be an enemy.* And there is no person that God hates and despises so much, as this hypocritical pretender, Psal. Ixxiii. 20, “O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image;" either it is spoken of wicked men's prosperity, which God slights, as but an imaginary thing, or else the image of temporary profession, with their fantastical faith, piety, and devotion, of which now the false-hearted hypocrite makes a parade, as a man in a dream, conceits himself a great prince; but a day is coming, when
* Luke xix. 27. Rom. viii. 7. Zech. xi. 8. Isa. Ixiii. 10.
this great idol shall be broken, and the worshippers of it hissed down to hell with the greatest shame and disdain ; for it is said of the ape, because he hath the face, but not the soul of a man, he is the most ridiculous and odious of all creatures : thus a hypocritical Judas is more abhorred of the Lord, than a bloody Pilate, for it is a high crime for an ignoble person to counterfeit himself to be a king's son, and a false friend is more detested than an open enemy. Such are those that pretend frendship to God, and are his real enemies.
5. If you be not new creatures, you are not capable of getting good by any ordinances and providences : nothing will do you good, for you want a principle and capacity to improve any thing: you are spiritually dead, “dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii. 1. It is this new creation alone that puts life into you: preaching to you, is but as singing to a deaf man, speaking to a stone: that which is nourishing food to a living man, corrupts, and turns to putrefaction in a dead man's mouth. Though the sinner breathes, yet he lives not; naturally alive, spiritually dead : this is the worst kind of death; for “ he is alienated from the life of God.” As his works are but dead works, so his soul is but a dead, putrid carcass.
It is true, a poor, carnal, dead sinner, that is naturally alive, may hear a sound in the ministry of the word, but he receives not the sense, nor conceives aright the significancy of what he hears. It is worth your observing, that it is said of Saul's companions: Acts ix. 7, “ They heard a voice ;" yet it is said, Acts xxii. 9, “They heard not the voice of him that spake to me.” Are not these inconsistent? No, they heard indeed a sound, but nothing distinctly, or they might hear a voice, but not Christ's, as Saul did; even so in an ordinance, men
Eph. iv. 18. Heb. ix. 14.
may hear distinctly the voice of a man, but not the voice of God, so as to “fall down and confess, that God is there of a truth." This is that which makes such a difference of hearers in the same auditory. Some “hear what the Spirit saith ;” others profit not from day to day, because the “word is not mixed with faith."*
The chymist can do nothing without fire: the sinner will neither do, nor receive good by any thing without the Spirit, and this blessed new creation.
6. Without the new creature, you will not be secured from the worst of sins; for as you want a principle of obedience, so you have no reason to expect assistance from heaven: it is only “God's fear in your hearts, that keeps you from departing from him.” Indeed the scripture saith, “Whosoever is born of
" God, doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him." But alas, you want this seed; there is in you the spring of all abominations, there wants nothing but a tap to give it vent. Satan will be ready enough to “fill your hearts to lie to the Holy Ghost;" to betray Jesus, to run into all excess of riot; if the unclean spirit find his house empty of saving grace, though it be swept † from some gross sins by morality, and garnished with gifts and common graces, he will take to himself seven other spirits more wicked, and take faster possession; as those that escaped some gross pollutions, yet “ are again entangled, their latter end is worse than their beginning.” These may, and
, likely will wallow in worse mire than ever before. Besides, God may in justice, give you up to your own hearts' lusts, or to “strong delusions, to believe a lie.” # If God leave you, who knows whither you may
* ] Cor. xiv. 25. Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, &c. Heb. iv. 2.