« AnteriorContinuar »
it, that he is such a God, as he really is. You do not realize it, that he is so holy as he is; tbat he has such a batred of sin as indeed he has; that he is so just a God as he is, who will by no means clear the guilty. But that in the Psalms is applicable to you: These things hast thou done, and I kept silence : thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an ane as thyself. Psalm I. 21. So that your Atheism appears in this, as well as in thinking there is no God. So that your objection arises f om this, that you do not find such a sensible hatred against that God which you have formed, to suit yourself; a God that you like better than the true God. But this is no argument ihat you have not bitter enmity against the true God; for it was your enmity against the true God, and your not liking him, that has put you upon forming up another in your imagination, that you like better. It is your enmity against those attributes of God's holiness and justice, and the like, that has put you upon conceiting another, who is not so holy as be is, and does not bate sin so much, and will not be so strictly just in punishing it; and whose wrath against sin is not so terrible.
But if you were sensible of the vanity of your own conceits, and that God was not such an one as you have imagined; but that he is, as he is indeed, an infinitely holy, just, sin hating and sin revenging God, who will not tolerate nor endure the worship of idols, you would be much more liable to feel the sensible exercises of enmity against him, than you are now. And this experience confirms. For we see that when men come to be under convictions, and to be made sensible that God is not as they have heretofore imagined; but that he is such a jealous, sin hating God, and whose wrath against sin is so dreadful, they are much more apt to have sensible exercises of enmity against him than before.
4. Your having always been taught that God is infinitely above you, and out of your reach, has prevented your enmity being exercised in those ways, that otherwise it would have been. And hence your enmity has not been exercised in revengeful thoughts; because revenge has never found any room here; it has never found any handle to take hold of; there has been no conception of any such thing, and hence it has lain still. A serpent will not bite, or spit poison at that which it sees at a great distance; which if it saw near, would do it immediately. Opportunity often shews what men are, whether friends or enemies. Opportunity to do puts men in mind of doing; wakens up such principles as lay dormant before. Opportunity stirs up desire to do, where there was before a disposition, that without opportunity would have lain still. If a man has had an old grudge against another, and has a fair opportunity to be revenged, this will revive his malice, and waken up a desire of revenge.
If a great and sovereign prince injures a poor man, and what he does is looked upon as very cruel, that will not ordinarily stir up passionate revenge, because he is so much above bim, and out of his reach. Many a man has appeared calm and meek, when he has had no power in his hands, and has not appeared, either to himself or others, to have any disposition to cruel acts; yet afterwards when he came to have opportunity by unexpected advancement, or otherwise, has appeared like a ravenous wolf, or devouring lion. So it was with Hazael. “ And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord ? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.” 2 Kings viii. 12, 13. Hazael was then a servant; he had no power in his hands to do as he pleased; and so his cruel disposition had lain hid, and be did not himself imagine that it was there : but afterwards, when he became king of Syria, and was absolute, having none to controul him; then it broke out and appeared, and he did as the prophet had foretold. He committed those very acts of cruelty, that he thought it was not in his heart to do. It was want of opportunity that made the difference. It was all in his heart before; he was such a dog then as to do this thing, but only had not opportunity. And therefore when he seems surprised that the prophet should say so of him, all the reason the prophet gives is, “ The Lord hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria."
Some natural men are such “dogs ” as to do things, if they had opportunity, which they do not imagine it is in their hearts to do. You object against your having a mortal hatred against God; that you never felt any desire to dethrone him. But one reason bas been, that it has always been conceived so impossible by you. But if the throne of God were within your reach, and you knew it, it would not be safe one hour. Who knows what thoughts would presently arise in your heart by such an opportunity, and what disposition would be raised up in your heart? Who would trust your heart, that there would not presently be such thoughts as these, though they are enough to make one tremble to mention them? “ Now I have opportunity to set myself at liberty--that I need not be kept in continual slavery by the strict law of God, Then I may take my liberty to walk in that way I like best, and need not be continually in such slavish fear of God's displeasure. And God has not done well by me in many instances. He has done most unjustly by me, in holding me bound to destruction for
unbelief, and other things which I cannot help-He has shewn mercy to others, and not to me. I bave now an opportunity to deliver myself, and there can be no danger of my being hurt for it. There will be nothing for us to be terrified about, and so keep us in slavery.”
Who would trust your heart, that such thoughts would not arise? or others much more horrid and too dreadful to be mentioned! And therefore I forbear. Those natural men are foolishly insensible of what is in their own bearts, who think there would be no danger of any such workings of heart, if they knew they had opportunity.
5. You little consider, how much your having no more of the sensible exercises of hatred to God, is owing to a being restrained by fear. You have always been taught what a dreadful thing it is to hate God, and how terrible his displeasure; that God sees the heart and knows all the thoughts; and that you are in his hands, and he can make you as miserable as he pleases, and as soon as he pleases. And these things have restrained you: and the fear that has risen from them, has kept you from appearing what you are; it has kept down your enmity, and made that serpent afraid to shew its head, as otherwise it would do. If a wrathful man were wholly under the power of an enemy, he would be afraid to exercise his hatred in outward acts, unless it were with great disguise. And if it be supposed that such an enemy, in whose power he was, could see his heart, and know all his thoughts; and apprehended that he would put him to a terrible death, if he saw the workings of malice there, how greatly would this restrain! He would be afraid so much as to believe himself, that he hated his enemy: but there would be all manner of disguise and hypocrisy, and feigning even of thoughts and affections.
Thus your enmity has been kept under restraint ; and thus it has been from your infancy. You have grown up in it, so that it is become an habitual restraint. You dare not so much as think you hate God. If you do exercise hatred, you have a disguise for it, whereby you endeavour even to hide it from your own conscience; and so have all along deceived yourself. Your deceit is very old and babitual: There has been only restraint, not mortification. There has been an erimity against God in its full strength. It has been only restrained, like an enemy that durst not rise up and shew bimself.
6. One reason why you have not felt more sensible batred to God may be, because you have not had much trial of what is in your heart. It may be God has hitherto, in a great mea. sure, let you alone. The enmity that is in men's hearts against God, is like a serpent, which, if it be let alone, lies still : but if any body disturbs it, will soon hiss, and be enraged, and shew its serpentine spiteful nature.
Notwithstanding the good opinion you have of yourself, yet a little trial would shew you to be a viper, and your heart would be set all on rage against God. One thing that restrains you now is your hope. You hope to receive many things from God. Your own interest is concerned. So that both hope and fear operate together, to restrain your enmity from sensible exercises. But if once hope were gone, you would soon shew what you were: you would feel your enmity against God in a rage.
7. If you pretend that you do not feel enmity against God, and yet act as an encmy, you may certainly conclude that it is not because you are no enemy; but because you do not know your own heart. Actions are the best interpreters of the disposition: they shew, better than any thing else, what the heart is. It must be because you do‘not observe your own behaviour, that you question whether you are an enemy to God.
What other account can you give of your own carriage, but only your being God's enemy? What other account can be given of your opposing God in your ways; walking so ex. ceeding contrary to him, contrary to bis counsels, contrary to his commands, and contrary to his glory? What other account can be given of your casting so much contempt upon God; your setting him so low; your acting so much against his authority, and against his kingdom and interest in the world? What other account can be given of your so setting your will in opposition to God's will, and that so obstinately, for so long a time, against so many warnings as you have had? What other account can be given of your joining so much with Satan, in the opposition he is making to the kingdom of God in the world! And that you will join with him against God, though it be so much against your own interest, and though you expose yourself by it to everlasting misery?
Such like behaviour in one man towards another, would be sufficient evidence of enmity. If he should be seen to behave thus, and that it was his constant manner, none would want better evidence that he was an enemy to his neighbour. If you yourself had a servant that carried it towards you, as you do towards God, you would not think there was need of any greater evidence of his being your enemy. Suppose your servant should manifest much contempt of you; and disregard your commands as much as you do the commands of God; should go directly contrary, and in many ways act the very reverse of your commands; should seem to set himself in ways that were contrary to your will ob
stinately and incorrigibly, without any amendment from your repeated calls, warnings, and threatenings; and should act so cross to you day and night, as you do to God: would he not be justly deemed your enemy? Suppose, further, when you sought one thing, he would seek the contrary; when you did any work, be would, as much as in him lay, undo and destroy that work; and suppose he should continually drive at such ends, as tended to overthrow the ends you aimed at: when you sought to bring to pass any design, he would endeavour to overthrow your design ; and set himself as much against your interest, as you do yourself against God's honour.
And suppose you should moreover see him, from time to time, with those who were your declared mortal enemies; making them his counsellors, and hearkening to their counsels, as much as you do to Satan's temptations : should you not think you had sufficient evidence that he was your enemy?-_-Therefore consider seriously your own ways, and weigh your own behaviour. How canst thou say, I am not polluted ?-see thy way in the valley, know what thou hasi done. Jer. ii. 23.
The Objections, thal they shew respect to God, and experience
some Religious Affections, answered.
NATURAL men may be ready to object, the respect they shew to God, from time to time. This makes many to think that they are far from being such enemies to God. They pray to him in secret, and attend on public worship, and take a great deal of pains to do it in a decent manner.
It seems to them that they shew God a great deal of respect: they use many very respectful terms in their prayer: they are respectful in their manner of speaking, their voice, gestures, and the like. But to this I answer, That all this is done in mere hypocrisy. All this seeming respect is feigned, there is no sincerity in it: there is external respect, but none in the heart: there is a shew, and nothing else. You only cover your enmity with a painted vail. You put on the disguise of a friend, but in your heart you are a mortal enemy. There is external honour, but inward contempt; there is a shew of friendship and regard, but in ward hatred. You do but deceive yourself with your shew of respect; and endeavour to deceive God: not considering that God looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart.--Here consider particularly,
1. That much of that seeming respect which natural