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in purity and strictness to the spiritual injunctions of the gospel, then with how much stronger a prejudice must it resist these? For if the yoke that reason puts upon sin be heavy, that which the gospel puts upon it is much heavier. If reason prohibits the actions of concupiscence, upon the score of inconvenience, the gospel does it upon pain of eternal damnation. As for the works of carnal concupiscence, the apostle gives us a catalogue of them in Galat. v. 19, 20, The works of the flesh are envyings, strife, and emulation ; uncleanness, drunkenness, and the like. Now let us make a particular accommodation of gospel precepts to each of these, and see what an entertainment they are like to find, in an heart that is held in captivity under such lusts. Christ in the gospel says, Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, Matt. xi. 29. Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, Matt. v. 44. Can we now imagine that this can suit the humour of a wrathful, contentious person, who is so far from blessing those who curse him, that he is often ready to curse those who bless and befriend him? Again, Christ says, How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another? John v. 44. And, Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant, Matt. xx. 26. Is it possible for an envious, emulous man, in his heart to approve, or in his practice to follow this precept of humility ? Could he by a voluntary condescension stoop to be a servant, whose continual desire and restless endeavour it is, to be great in the world ? Again, Christ enjoins watching and praying to such as are his disciples, Matt. xxvi. 41. For it is clear that this command is general, though delivered to particular persons,
because the reason of it was general, that ye enter not into temptation, which equally concerns all. But can the unclean, sensual epicure brook the excellency of this precept? can he like the rigour of these duties? will he break his sleep, or spend any portion of the night in reading and wrestling with God in prayer, who never watches but to serve his cups and his intemperance ? Every such precept proposed to concupiscence is a pearl cast before a swine: it can find no admission with such a man as is led and ruled by his corruption. It is above his principles, and so he cannot apprehend it. It is contrary to his appetite, and so he cannot receive it.
(2.) The second thing from whence this contrariety arises is carnal wisdom, which carries in it a greater opposition to the means of grace than the former; inasmuch as there is more hope of the conversion of a sensualist, than of a resolved atheist. For since the notions of carnal wisdom are more refined, and always seem to wear the face of reason, which has more to say for itself than concupiscence has or can have ; hence it is, that one thus principled is more hardly convinced than another. In this chiefly are reared those strong holds and principalities which stand out against the workings of the Spirit: The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom. viii. 7. The subtlety of the world loathes the simplicity of the gospel : hence, in the number of those who are to be saved, we have not many wise, not many great, not many noble, 1 Cor. i. 26. And for the most part these are the men who are so much acted by this carnal wisdom.
Such men are usually too wise and politic to be saved. The cross of Christ is to the Greek, to the learned Athenian, foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23. He cannot find any convincing reason, why a man should prefer duty before interest ; despise the splendor of worldly enjoyments, to assume a cross. Policy, the great idol of a carnal reason, is that which insensibly works the soul to a despisal of religion. We have an exact account of that temper of mind, that indifference in things spiritual, that it usually begets in the minds of its worldly-wise followers, Acts xviii.
When a controversy about religion was brought before Gallio, a Roman deputy, it is said in the 17th verse, But Gallio cared for none of these things. Now that in which carnal wisdom and religion stand at an eternal distance is this, that the design of religion is continually to urge a denial of self; but all the maxims of carnal wisdom tend to and terminate in the advancement of self. It is this alone that is more amiable than either the practice or the rewards of holiness. Purity must here give place to profit : love of present possessions outweighs the hope of future felicity. From this principle also proceed those hideous maxims; that religion is only a politic invention, a lackey to government; that the appearance of it is advantageous, but the substance hurts. Hence are these expressions of a known author in his heathenish politics ; that good men, advanced to government, must of necessity defend themselves, and those they govern, by deceit and violence: that a Christian, living under an heathen magistrate, may deny Christ in word, so he does acknowledge him in his heart; the nature of faith being internal, and lodged in the
mind, and not at all depending on outward professions. These pestilent sayings, issuing from the fountain of carnal wisdom, sufficiently shew what a cursed abhorrence it has to a submission to spiritual gospel-truths. Now this principle is more or less in all men; every man is naturally wise to catch hold of any present enjoyment, rather than venture his happiness upon expectation. There is none that will forsake father or mother, the least piece of the world, the most inconsiderable profit or pleasure, that he may secure an interest in Christ, and in the great things of the gospel, if he should be ruled by the guidance of his carnal wisdom. From hence it is clear, that there is such a fixed antipathy in nature against the spirituality of the ways of God, that unless it be wrought out by the Spirit's giving us a new heart to perceive, and eyes to see, there is no possibility of ever reconciling these together.
III. I proceed to the third thing, which is to shew, that although, upon God's denial of a perceiving heart, the soul does inevitably remain unprofitable under the means of grace, so as not to hear nor perceive; yet this hardness, or unprofitableness, cannot at all be ascribed to God as the author of it. In order to the clearing of this, we must know, that God's not giving an heart to perceive may admit of a double acceptation. (1.) As it implies only a bare denial of
grace. (2.) As it does also include a positive act of induration.
(1.) Now as for the first, God cannot be said to cause our rejection of the means of grace, that ensues upon the denial of a perceiving heart; because this denial is not the cause of that rejection, but the
immediate sinfulness of the heart that resists grace. This rejection, this not hearing, follows indeed upon the denial of grace, certainly, and of necessity ; but then it follows only by way of certain consequence, and not of causal influence. As when a thing is falling, if nobody reaches forth, and stands to catch it, and stop the motion, it must of necessity fall to the ground; yet the not reaching out of the hand, is not the cause of its falling; it adds no impulse to it, but the inherent gravity of the thing is the only cause of the motion, which, if not hindered, will certainly carry it so far. In short, God's denial of grace gives the same necessity to our not hearing, not perceiving the word of God, that the divine prescience, or foreknowledge, gives to free actions ; that is, a necessity in respect of the event and future existence of the action, not in respect of the power producing it. That is, there is a certain connection between God's denial of an heart to perceive, and our not perceiving: if he gives us not such an heart, the event and issue will certainly be, that we shall not perceive nor understand. But in the mean time, it puts' no necessity upon the power, it does not by any physical influence determine that to a necessary suspension of the acts of perceiving and understanding. Wherefore, since the denial of grace does only infer, not cause the soul's unprofitableness; God, who is the cause of this denial, is not also the cause of this unprofitableness.
(2.) And herein the chief difficulty does consist, how God can by a positive act harden the heart, and yet not be the cause of those sins that issue from that hardness. I shall here premise that for a truth, that a learned divine, in his treatise of pre