« PreviousContinue »
than nothing! even for secreting the true and real character of God, which they were sent expressly to reveal.
To say, that they did plainly reveal God's true and real eharacter, but mankind did not understand them right; is to say, either the revelation was not on a level with the natural capacities of mankind, and so was not plain enough, not so plain as it ought to have been to answer the end; and so these divine teachers were blame-worthy or else their not understanding the revelation aright must be owing to their being at enmity against God's true and real character, which was revealed. For if the revelation was plain enough, and if they had no prejudice to blind their minds, they must have understood it. Nothing could have prevented a right understanding of the revelation but bad and dishonest hearts, by which they were inclined to hate the light and truth itself. For every good and honest heart would have understood the revelation, believed and loved it, and brought forth fruit. Luke viii. 15. We therefore proceed,
Question III. Is the carnal mind enmity against God's true and real character; and that notwithstanding the plain and most express revelation, which God has made of his readiness to be reconciled to us, if we repent and return to him through Jesus Christ?
Answer. If God would forgive us without repentance, we should like him. As in this, he would yield us every point in contest, and implicitly take the whole blame to himself. Or in other words, if God would give up his law, we would give up our enmity against him; as in this he would do as we would have him do, and implicitly become altogether such an one as we are. Or, which amounts to the same thing, if God will give up that character of himself exhibited in the moral law, and allow us to hate it, and yet love us, then we will like him; as in this he would justify us in our wickedness. But if he asserts his own dignity, abides by his law, and vindicates the honour of his character exhibited in it, and obliges us from the heart to acknowledge him to be wholly right, and ourselves to be wholly wrong, to repent and take the whole blame to ourselves, and ask forgiveness as of mere grace through Jesus Christ, then his character will not suit a carnal
mind. In a word, if God will forgive us without repentance, then we can love him without any change of nature; but otherwise our enmity will remain. For his offering pardon, in the name of Christ, upon repentance, will not pacify the heart of an impenitent, self-justifying sinner, and induce him to become a willing and obedient subject to the divine govern
Before the foundation of the world, the fall of man being foreseen, God had contrived a method in which he might, consistently with his perfections, pardon and receive to favour the true penitent. And no sooner had man fallen, but he revealed his designs of mercy to our first parents, that they might inform their posterity; and instituted sacrifices as a shadow of the great atonement. So that all mankind were under sufficient external advantages from the beginning of the world, to have known that God is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. And yet soon it came to pass, not only that Cain slew his brother, but that the whole earth was filled with violence.
After the flood, mankind in a body, soon cast off the true God, and idolatry spread over the face of the earth. For they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. At this time, that he might not leave himself without witness, God took one nation and set them up as a beacon on a hill, in the sight of all the nations; and to them, in the sight of all the world around them, he exhibited his true and real character, and laid them under every possible obligation to love him, and to walk in his ways, that they might be to him for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory, in the sight of all the nations; that they might yet have opportunity to return to the true God; but the nations around hated the God of Israel, and even the Israelites would not hear. Jer. xiii. 10. Yea, the Israelites cast off their God, whom they did not like, and joined with the heathen around them, in the worship of Baal, Ashtaroth, and Dagon gods, whom they did like; and this notwithstanding God himself used all external means that were proper, and the most wisely adapted, to induce them to love him, and to walk in his ways, from the day he took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, always
giving them the highest assurances of his readiness to forgive all past offences, and in the highest sense to be a God to them, if they would walk in his ways indeed, but they would not hear. So that after the experiments of many ages, and a great variety of means contrived and used by infinite wisdom, God was at length obliged to cast them off. But not until he had tried every external means, which, with propriety, could be tried. Not until he could say, what more could have been done to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? For he sent unto them all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending; and they stoned one, and killed another. At last he sent to them his only Son, and they slew him. we have exhibited a true specimen of human present fallen stated.
And in them nature, in its
Since the Jews have been cast off, God has sent the Gos pel to the Gentiles, and for seventeen hundred years has been making experiments on them, as of old he did on the Jews: and such has been their opposition to God and Christ and Christianity in all ages, that agreeable to revelation made to John in the Isle of Patmos, the true Church of Christ hath been in circumstances, either like "a woman in travail, with a great red dragon before her, ready to devour her child as soon as born; or like a woman obliged to flee, as upon eagles' wings, into a wilderness to hide herself from the face of the dragon," Rev. xii.; or like two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, who are killed from age to age, for the testimony they bear to God and the truth, and in whose sufferings they that dwell upon the earth rejoice, Rev. xi. And now after a coursé of the most obstinate rebellion, for almost six thousand years,
d' As face answereth to face in water, so doth the heart of man to man.—If they were in Cain's circumstances, and God should suffer them, they would do as he did. If they were in Pharaoh's circumstances, and left of God, they would be as cruel, false, and hard-hearted, as he. If they were in the like circumstan. ces with Doeg, though they condemn him for his hypocrisy, flattery, and cruelty, they would do every whit as bad as he. If they were in like circumstances as Judas was, whatever indignation they have against him, they would be as false and impudent, and as very traitors as he. Yea, if they were under the circumstances that the fallen angels are, they would be as very devils as they.That original sin that reigns in every natural man is the fountain of every abomination.' Mr. Stoddard. Nature of Conversion. p. 95, 96.
it is become a question among us rebels and enemies, whether we are at enmity against God's true and real character, or not! After we have cast off the true God, and set up false gods all over the earth; after we have stoned the messengers of God, and killed his prophets, and murdered his Son; and after his followers have, according to his prediction, been hated of all men for his name's sake; even now, after all these exercises and fruits of enmity, it is become a question, whether we are, or ever were, properly and strictly speaking, enemies to God's true and real character! So slow of heart are we to understand our own true character and real state. But that the carnal mind is enmity against God's true and real character, may be proved by these arguments, viz.
1. If the carnal mind is enmity against God himself, then the carnal mind is enmity against God's true and real character. But the carnal mind is enmity against God himself: as is asserted by the inspired apostle. For he says, The carnal mind is enmity against God. But to be enmity against false and mistaken notions of the Deity, is not to be enmity against God. For to hate falsehood is not to hate the truth. To hate false gods, is not to hate the true God. But that being whom Paul called God, was the true God. To deny this, is to give up the whole of divine revelation. To say, that Paul's God was not the true God, is to say that the God of the bible is not the true God.
2. That which is opposite unto a true and real transcript of the moral character of God, is opposite to his true and real character. But the carnal mind is opposite unto the divine law, which is a true and real transcript of the moral character of God. This is the apostle's argument. For in order to prove that the carnal mind is enmity against God, he says, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
3. To be at enmity against false and mistaken notions of God is no sin, and deserves no punishment; but rather is virtuous and praise-worthy: for even God himself hates all false gods, and all mistaken notions about the true God. But if the Scripture account of things be true, that enmity against God and Christ, which mankind have discovered, is the most inexcusable wickedness; for it is spoken of by our blessed
Saviour as such, Mat. x. 16, 25. and chap. xxiii. 29-36. John xv. 22-25. And, as such, it deserves the wrath of God. Luke xix. 27. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me. Besides, had not the Pharisees been at eumity against the true and real character of God, and of his Son, and inexcusably to blame on that account, those words of Christ to them had been very abusive, Mat. xx. 33. Ye serpents, ye gen eration of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? But if they were as venomous as serpents, and as spiteful as vipers toward the true God and his Son, the damnation of hell was good enough for them.
Remark I. If the carnal mind is enmity only against mistaken ideas of God, but disposed to love God's true and real character, as soon as known, then nothing more is needful to bring us to love God perfectly, even with all our hearts, than a right speculative idea of him, commonly called doctrinal knowledge, or head knowledge. For if we are naturally disposed to love God's true character, then as soon as we know it, we shall love it, just as Jacob loved Rachel, the first time he saw her. And our love will, on this hypothesis, increase in exact proportion to our doctrinal knowledge. And we shall need the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, to give us an heart to love God, no more than Jacob did, to give him an heart to love Rachel. An external revelation of God's true character, 'sufficiently clear and plain, is all that will be needful to beget perfect love to God in our hearts. And then we may be regenerated, and perfectly sanctified by light, without any internal influences of the spirit of God at all. And this is what Pelagians and Socinians really mean. Rem. 2. If the carnal mind is enmity against God, only as conceiving him to be our enemy, as one who will damn us; then a belief that he is our friend, and will save us, will cause our enmity to cease, and beget love, without any change of nature in us. And then again, we may be regenerated by light. And this is what Antinomians really mean. And were there any evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason, of the fact to be believed, no spirit would be needed in this But because there is no evidence from Scripture, sense,