Sayfadaki görseller

We are now arrived at the concluding article of the human character— There is no fear of God before their eyes. They persist in a course of sin and error without remorse; as if there were no God to survey the actions of men now, and to require an account of them hereafter. At the end of all their ungodliness, the terrors of the Lord are planted, but they look not upon them : they hasten as a bird into an hidden snare, and know not that it is for their lives. The wrath of God hath often been revealed from heaven, and fearful punishments have been inflicted upon ungodly people ; yet the impression wears away: the Author of such visitations is forgotten; the causes of them are misrepresented by the application of some false philosophy: and so the sinner renders them of no effect to his soul. Every man who opposes the divine Will, is in the situation of the perverse Balaam; the Angel of the Lord stands in the way before him with a drawn sword, ready to cut him in sunder; but his eyes are holden by a spirit of unbelief, and he has no sense of his danger. Instead of turning back from the wrong path, his heart is fixed only on the gratification of his present desires; and if he is arrived at the last stage of wickedness, then his conscience will afford no


aid when it warns him of the vengeance that awaits him; but will be beaten in a paroxysm of fury, and spurred up against the face of judge ment.

Such is the condition of the natural man in consequence of the fall; these are the defects and miseries of his character. No sort of crime hath here been represented, to which he is not subject, as the lusts of his own heart, inflamed and assisted by the temptations of the Devil, draw away and entice him. But it doth not follow from hence, that every sensual man must be guilty of every possible crime, only because it is the fruit of his nature: this is no necessary consequence. For death is also the fruit of our nature; yet all men do not die of the same distemper; neither did any man ever die of all distempers at once; though some cases of mortality, like some instances of guilt, are exceedingly complicated. In different persons sin and mortality have various appearances, according to the difference of constitutions, circumstances, and accidents. On the whole it as man is by nature mortal, he is by nature sin. ful. His mortality is known and allowed by all, and no man ever dreamed of denying it. His sinfulness is as real, though the subject is not so popular. In this respect the prince and T 3


appears, that

the beggar, the learned and the ignorant, are all upon a level. Let the most splendid pedigree be carried far enough backward, and it comes at last to Adam and Eve, who are the common parents of all men, and who have delivered the same nature to all their posterity.




The Redemption of Man from Sin by the

Sufferings of Christ on the Cross.

All that has been said in the foregoing chapter will be confirmed, from a consideration of man's redemption by the sufferings of Jesus Christ on the cross. That the genuine fruits of man's nature are such as we have recounted, and that St. Paul, in the passages collected from the Old Testament, hath given a true representation of them, is not only proved by experience and observation, but is also clear from hence; in that they are the sins for which Christ suffered, that our nature might be redeemed, and the justice of God satisfied. His sufferings were of such a sort, and were so ordained by the providence of God, as to carry in them T 4


all the marks of that sinfulness of man's nature which gave occasion to them.

Thus, for that want of understanding which is in the mind of man, his mind was filled with sorrow and dejection: his head was pierced with thorns, for the wickedness and vanity of our imaginations. Because we had departed from the right way, and had turned from our dependence upon God; God in the hour of his distress departed from Him, withdrawing that divine comfort, which had supported him under the bodily trials of the cross. For our pride and aspiring to be above what God had made us, He left that glory which was natural to him, and condescended to assume the lowest character upon earth; he was mocked at and insulted as a pretended king, rejected as an alien, despised as an outcast, and numbered with condemned malefactors. He was stripped naked at the time of his sufferings, that he might take upon himself the shame of Adam's guilt: He was executed on a cross of wood, which is called the Tree * of his Cross, to remind us of that fatal tree, which brought sin and death into the world: he was tried with an agony in a garden, and was at last buried in a garden: to shew that his death

proceeded * Gal. ii. 13-1 Pet. ii. 24.

« ÖncekiDevam »