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claim them, and, at last, even murdered God's own Son. And now whence was all this? Why, from the exceeding bad and wicked temper of their hearts. They have hated me without a cause. John xv. 25. But did any body force them to be of such a bad temper? Surely no; they were hearty in it. Were they of such a bad temper against their wills? Surely no; their wills, their hearts were in it. Yea, they loved their bad temper and loved to gratify it, and hence were mightily pleased with their false prophets, because they always prophesied in their favour, and suited and gratified their disposition and they hated whatsoever was disagreeable to their bad temper, and tended to cross it; and hence were they so enraged at the preaching and the persons of their prophets; of Christ and his apostles; so that they were manifestly voluntary and hearty in their bad temper. We have loved strangers, and after them we WILL go. Jer. ii. 25. But as for the word which thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we WILL NOT hearken unto thee. Jer. xliv. 16. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, &c. 2 Chr. xxxvi. 15, 16. And so all wicked men are as voluntary in their bad temper as they were. The temper of the mind is nothing but the habitual inclination of the heart but an involuntary inclination of the heart is a contradiction. And the stronger any inclination is, the more full and free the heart and soul is in the thing. Hence the bad temper, or the habitual bad inclination of the devil, is at the furthest distance from any compulsion; he is most perfectly free and hearty in it. And all sinful creatures being thus voluntary, free, and hearty in the bad temper of their minds; or, in other words, the bad temper of the mind being nothing but the habitual inclination of the heart, hence all must be to blame in a degree equal to the strength of their bad inclination. In a word, if we were continually forced to be of such a bad temper, entirely against our wills, then we should not be to blame; for it would not be at all the temper of our hearts: but so long as our bad temper is nothing else but
the habitual frame, disposition, and inclination of our own HEARTS, without any manner of compulsion, we are perfectly without excuse, and that whether we can help being of such a temper, or no. For,
2. If a sinful creature's not being able to help his being of a bad temper, does in the least free him from blame; then the more vile and sinful any creature grows, the less to blame will he be : because the more vile and sinful any creature grows, the less able is he to help his being of so bad a frame of heart. Thus, if a man feels a bad spirit towards one of his neighbours creeping into his heart, perhaps if he immediately resists it, he may be able easily to overcome and suppress it; but if he gives way to it, and suffers it to take strong hold of his heart: if he cherishes it until it grows up into a settled enmity, and keeps it in his heart for twenty years, seeking all opportunities to gratify it by backbiting, defaming, &c. it will now, perhaps, be clean out of his power to get rid of it, and effectually root it out of his heart. It will at least be a very difficult thing. Now, the man is talked to and blamed for backbiting and defaming his neighbour, time after time, and is urged to love his neighbour as himself, but he says he cannot love him. But why cannot you? For other men love him. Why, he appears in my eyes the most odious and hateful man in the world. Yes, but that is owing to your own bad temper. Well, but I cannot help my temper, and therefore I am not to blame. Now, it is plain, in this case, how weak the man's plea is; and even common sense will teach all mankind to judge him the more vile and blame-worthy, by how much the more his grudge is settled and rooted. And yet the more settled and rooted it is, the more unable is he to get rid of it. And just so it is here: Suppose a creature loved God with all his heart, but after a while begins to feel his love abate, and an aversion to God secretly creeping into his soul; now, perhaps, he might easily suppress and overcome it: but if he gives way to it, until he loses all sense of God's glory, and settles into a state of enmity against him, it may be quite impossible ever to recover himself. And yet he is not the less, but the more vile, and so the more blame-worthy. If, then, we are so averse to God that we cannot love him; and if our bad temper is so strong, so
settled, and rooted, that we cannot get rid of it, this is so far from being matter of excuse for us, that it renders us so much the more vile, guilty, and hell-deserving; for to suppose that our inability, in this case, extenuates our fault; our inability which increases in proportion to our badness, is to suppose that the worse any sinner grows, the less to blame he is; than which, nothing can be more absurd.
OBJ. But I was brought into this state by Adam's fall.
ANS. Let it be by Adam's fall, or how it will, yet if you are an enemy to the infinitely glorious God, your Maker, and that voluntarily, you are infinitely to blame, and without excuse; for nothing can make it right for a creature to be a voluntary enemy to his glorious Creator, or possibly excuse such a crime. It is in its own nature, infinitely wrong; there is nothing, therefore, to be said; you stand guilty before God. It is in vain to make this or any other pleas, so long as we are what we are, not by compulsion, but voluntarily. And it is in vain to pretend that we are not voluntary in our corruptions, when they are nothing else but the free, spontaneous inclinations of our own hearts. Since this is the case, every mouth will be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God, sooner or later.
Thus we see, that, as to a natural capacity, all mankind are capable of a perfect conformity to God's law, which requires us only to love God with all our hearts: and that all our inability arises merely from the bad temper of our hearts, and our want of a good disposition; and that, therefore, we are wholly to blame and altogether inexcusable. Our impotency, in one word, is not natural, but moral, and, therefore, instead of extenuating, does magnify and enhance our fault. The more unable to love God we are, the more are we to blame. Even as it was with the Jews; the greater contrariety there was in their hearts, to their prophets, to Christ and his apostles, the more vile and blame-worthy were they*. And in
* OBJ. But, says a secure sinner, surely there is no contrariety in my heart to God; Inever hated God in my life; I always loved him.
ANS. The Scribes and Pharisees verily thought that they loved God, and that, if they had lived in the days of their fathers, they would not have put the Prophets to death. They were altogether insensible of the perfect contrariety of
this light do the scriptures constantly view the case. is not one tittle in the Old Testament or in the New, in the law or in the gospel, that gives the least intimation of any deficiency in our natural faculties. The law requires no more. than ALL our hearts, and never blames us for not having larger natural capacities. The gospel aims to recover us to love God ONLY with ALL our hearts, but makes no provision for our having any new natural capacity; as to our natural capacities, all is well. It is in our temper, in the frame and disposition of our hearts, that the seat of all our sinfulness lies. Ezek. xii. 2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not, for they are a REBELLIOUS house. This is the bottom of the business. We have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and his glory shines all around us, in the heavens and in the earth; in his word and in his ways; and his name is proclaimed in our ears; and there is nothing hinders our seeing and hearing, but that we are rebellious creatures. Our contrariety to God makes us blind to the beauty of the divine nature, and deaf to all his commands, counsels, calls, and invitations. We might know God, if we had a heart to know him; and love God, if we had a heart to love him. It is nothing but our bad temper, and being destitute of a right disposition, that makes us spiritually blind and spiritually dead. If this heart of stone was but away, and a heart of flesh was but in us, all would be well: we should be able enough to
their hearts to the divine nature. And whence was it? Why, they had wrong notions of the divine Being, and they loved that false image which they had framed in their own fancies; and so they had wrong notions of the Prophets which their fathers hated and murdered, and hence imagined that they should have loved them. But they saw a little what a temper and disposition Christ was of, and him they hated with a perfect hatred. So there are multitudes of secure sinners and self-deceived hypocrites, who verily think they love God; nevertheless, as soon as ever they open their eyes in eternity, and see just what God is, their love will vanish, and their enmity break out and exert itself to perfection. So that the reason sinners see not their contrariety to the divine nature, is their not seeing what God is. It must be so; for a sinful nature and an holy nature are diametrically opposite. So much as there is of a sinful disposition in the heart, so much of contrariety is there to the divine nature. If, therefore, we are not sensible of. this contrariety, it can be owing to nothing but our ignorance of God, or not believing him to be what he really is. Rom. vii. 8, 9.
see, and hear, and understand, and know divine things; and should be ravished with their beauty; and it would be most natural and easy to love God with all our hearts.
And hence, it is most evident that the supreme Governor of the world has not the least ground or reason to abate his law, or to reverse the threatening; nor have a rebellious world the least ground or reason to charge God with cruelty, and say, "It is not just that he should require more than we can do, and threaten to damn us for not doing;" for, from what has been said, it is manifest that the law is holy, just, and good; and that there is nothing in the way of our perfect conformity to it, but our own wickedness, in which we are free, and hearty, and voluntary; and for which, therefore, in strict justice, we deserve eternal damnation. The law is already exactly upon a level with our natural capacities, and it need not, therefore, be brought any lower. And there is no greater punishment threatened than our sin deserves; there is, therefore, no reason the threatening should be re versed: as to the law, all is well, and there is no need of any alteration: and there is nothing amiss, but in ourselves. It is impudent wickedness, therefore, to fly in the face of God and of his holy law, and charge him with injustice and eruelty; because, forsooth, we hate him so bad that we cannot find it in our hearts to love him; and are so high-hearted and stout that we must not be blamed. No, we are too good to be blamed in the case, and all the blame, therefore, must be cast upon God and his holy law. Yea, we are come to that, in this rebellious world, that if God sends to us the news of pardon and peace through Jesus Christ, and invites us to return unto him and be reconciled, we are come to that, I say, as to take it as an high affront at the hands of the Almighty. "He pretends to offer us mercy," (say God-hating, God-provoking sinners,)" but he only mocks us; for he offers all upon conditions which we cannot possibly perform."
This is as if they should say, "We hate him so much, and are of so high a spirit, that we cannot find in our hearts to return, and own the law to be just, by which we stand condemned, and look to his free mercy, through Jesus Christ, for pardon and eternal life; and, therefore, if he will offer