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the being of God; his power, holiness, and justice ; that the scriptures are the word of God; that Christ is the Son of God; and that time is short and uncertain. They will be convinced of the vanity of the world ; of the blessed opportunity they had in the world; and how much it is men's wisdom to improve their time. We read of the rich man, who was so sottishly blind in this world, that in hell he lift up his eyes, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.* With many men, alas! the Girst time they open their eyes is in hell.
God will make all men to know the truth of those great things which he speaks of in his word, one way or another; for he will vindicate his own truth. He has undertaken to convince all men. They who will not be convinced in this world, by the gentle and gracious methods which God uses with them now, shall be convinced hereafter by severe means. If they will not be convinced for salvation they shall be convinced by damnation. God will make them know that he is the Lord. And he will make them know that he bears rule. Consume them in wrath, that they may not be; and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob, unto the ends of the earth.t Let them be confounded and troubled for ever: yea, let them be put to shame and perish.
know that thou, whose name is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. I
What great care we had need al) have, that we be not deceived in matters of religion. If our hearts are all naturally possessed with such an extreme brutish ignorance and blindness in things of religion, and we are exceedingly prone to delusion: then surely great care ought to be taken to avoid it. For that we are naturally prone to delusion, shows our danger: but the greater our danger of any calamity is, the greater had our watchfulness need to be.—Let us therefore be hence warned to take heed that we be not deceived about our duty; about our own hearts; about our ways ; about our state ; and about our opportunities. Thousands are deceived in these things, and thousands perish by that means. Multitudes fall on our right hand and on our left, and are ruined eternally by their delusion in these things.
How foolish a thing it is for men to lean to their own understanding, and trust their own hearts. If we are so blind, then our own wisdom is not to be depended on; and that advice of the wise man is most reasonable; trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. And he that trusteth in his own heart, is a fool.l-They therefore are fools, who trust to their own wisdom, and will question the mysterious doctrines of religion ; because they cannot see through them, and will not trust to the infinite wisdom of God.
* Luke xvi. 23. + Psalm lix. 13. Psalm lxxxiii. 17, 18. (Prov. iii. 5.
|! Prov. xxviii. 26.
Let us therefore become fools ; be sensible of our own natural blindness and folly. There is a treasure of wisdom contained in that one sentence; If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.* Seeing our own ignorance and blindness, is the first step towards having true knowledge. If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.t
Let us ask wisdom of God. If we are so blind in ourselves, then knowledge is not to be sought for out of our own stock, but must be sought from some other source. And we have no where else to go for it, but to the foantain of light and wisdom. True wisdom is a precious jewel; and none of our fellow creatures can give it us, nor can we buy it with any price we have to give. It is the sovereign gift of God. The way to obtain it, is to go to him, sensible of our weakness and blindness, and misery on that account. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.
bei 1 Cor. iii, 18.
† 1 Cor. viii, 2.
# Jas. i, 5.
NATURALLY GOD'S ENEMIES.
ROMANS V. 10.
For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the
death of his Son.
The apostle, from the beginning of the epistle, to the beginning of this chapter, had insisted on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In this chapter he goes on to consider the benefits that are consequent on justification, viz. Peace with God, present happiness, and hope of glory. Peace with God is mentioned in the first verse ; Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. In the following verses he speaks of present blessedness, and hope of glory. By whom also we have access by faith unto this grace, wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. -And concerning this benefit, the hope of glory, the apostle particularly takes notice of two things, viz. the blessed nature of this hope, and the sure ground of it.
1. He insists on the blessed nature of this hope, in that it enables us to glory in tribulations. This excellent nature of true Christian hope is described in the following words, (ver. 3—5.) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience, and experience hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. As if he had said, Through hope of a blessed reward, that will abundantly more than make up for all tribulation, we are enabled to bear tribulation with patience ; patiently bearing, and patiently waiting for the reward. And patience works experience; for when we thus bear tribulation with patient waiting for the reward, this brings experience of the earnest of the reward, viz. the earnest of the Spirit, in our feeling the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. So that our hope does not make us ashamed: it is not disappointed; for in the midst of our tribulation, we experience those blessed incomes of the Spirit in our souls, that make even a time of tribulation sweet to us; and is such an earnest as abundantly confirms our hope; and so experience works hope.
2. The apostle takes notice of the sure ground there is for this hope; or the abundant evidence we have, that we shall obtain the glory hoped for, in that peace we have with God, by our justification through Christ's blood. For while we were without strength, in due time Christ died for us; even while we were ungodly and sinners, enemies to God and Christ. (See ver. 6-10.) The apostle's argument is exceeding clear and strong. If God has done already so great a thing for us, as to give us Christ to die and shed his precious blood for us, which was vastly the greatest thing, we need not doubt but that he will bestow life upon us. It is but a small thing for God actually to bestow eternal life, after it is purchased; to what it is for him to give his own Son to die, in order to purchase it. The giving Christ to purchase it, was virtually all : it included the whole grace of God in salvation. When Christ had purchased salvation at such a dear rate, all the difficulty was got through, all was virtually over and done. It is a small thing, in comparison, for God to bestow salvation, after it has been thus purchased at a full price. Sinners who are justificd by the death of Christ, are already virtually saved; the thing is, as it were, done : what remains, is no more than the necessary consequence of what is done. Christ when he died made an end of sin; and when he rose from the dead, he did virtually rise with the elect, he brought them up from death with him, and ascended into heaven with them. And therefore, when this is already donc, and we are thus reconciled to God through the death of his Son, we need not fear but that we shall be saved by his life. The love of God appears much more in his giving his Son to die for sinners, than in giving eternal life after Christ's death.
The giving of Christ to die for us is here spoken of as a much greater thing, than the actual bestowment of life; because this is all that has any difficulty in it.-When God did this for us, he did it for us, as sinners and enemies. But in actually bestowing salvation on us after we are justified, we are not looked upon as sinners, but as perfectly righteous persons : he beholds no iniquity
We are no more enemies, but reconciled. When God gave Christ to die for the elect, he looked on them as they are in themselves ; but in actually bestowing eternal life, he looks on them as they are in Christ.
There are three epithets used in the text and context, as appertaining to sinners as they are in themselves, verse 6-8.
They are without strength, they cannot help themselves.They are ungodly or sinners,--and they are enemies : as in the text.-NATURAL MEN ARE God's ENEMIES.
God, though the creator of all things, yet has some enemies in the world :-Men in general will own, that they are sinners. There are few, if any, whose consciences are so blinded as not to be sensible they have been guilty of sin. And most sinners will own that they have bad hearts. They will own that they do not love God, so much as they should do ; that they are not so thankful as they ought to be for mercies; and that in many things they fail. And yet few of them are sensible that they are God's cnemies. They do not see how they can be truly so called ; for they are not sensible that they wish God any hurt, or endeavoor to do him any.
But we see that the scripture speaks of them as enemies to God. So in our text, and elsewhere; And you that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works. Col. i. 21. The carnal mind is enmily against God. Rom. vii. 7.—And that all natural or unregenerate men are indeed such, is what I shall endeavour now particularly to show. Which I propose to do in the following method. Particularly in what respects they are enemies to God.—To how great a degree they are enemics --and why they are enemies. Then I shall answer some objections.
1. Their enmity appears in their judgments, their natural relish, their wills, affections, and practice. They have a very mean esteem of God.
Men are ready to entertain a good esteem of those with whom they are friends: they are apt to think highly of their qualities, to give them their due praises ; and if there be defects, to cover them. But of those to whom they are enemies they are disposed to have mean thoughts ; they are apt to entertain a dishonourable opinion of them; they will be ready to look contemptibly upon any thing that is praisc-worthy in them.
So it is with natural men towards God. They entertain very low and contemptible thoughts of God. Whatever honour and respect they may pretend, and make a show of towards God, if their practice be examined, it will show, that they certainly look upon him as a Being, that is but little to be regarded. The language of their hearts is, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? Exod. v. 2. What is the Almighty, that we should VOL. VIII.