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thereof there was the greatest satisfaction and delight. And he saw that if he, in any thing, should disobey his sovereign Lord and rightful Governor, it would be right, infinitely right, that he should be miserable for ever, even if God had never so threatened; because to disobey such a God appeared to him an infinite evil. He looked upon the promise of eternal life as a mere free bounty. He looked upon the threatening of death as impartial justice and while he considered eternal life under the notion of a REWARD promised to perfect obedience from God, his Governor, he saw his infinite love to righteousness therein, as well as his infinite bounty. And while he considered death under the notion of a PUNISHMENT threatened against sin, he saw God's infinite hatred of iniquity therein, as well as his impartial justice. And when he saw how God loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and beheld his infinite goodness on the one hand, and impartial justice on the other, he was ravished. Now he saw plainly what God was, and his infinite glory in being such, and loved him with all his heart. It was natural to account such a God infinitely amiable, and it was natural to love him with all his heart; all was genuine and free, resulting from the native temper of his mind.
These being his views and apprehensions, and this his nature, hence, although he was under a covenant of works, yet the hopes of happiness and the fears of misery were not the original and first spring of his love to God: it was not originally from self-love, and for self-ends, but from a sense of the beauty of the divine nature; and so it was not forced and hypocritical, but free and genuine: it did not feel like a burden, but it was esteemed a privilege; and, instead of being disposed to think it MUCH to love God with all his heart, and obey him in every thing, he rather thought it infinitely right and fit, as being God's due, and that he deserved no thanks from God, but rather was under infinite obligations to give thanks to God for ever, for such an infinite privilege. And thus we see wherein that moral image of God consisted in which Adam was created.
2. From all which, it is a plain matter of fact, that we are born into the world entirely destitute of the moral image of
God: so certain as that the moral image of God radically consists in such a temper, and makes it natural to have suchlike views and dispositions; so certain we are in fact born without it. Look into children, and there is nothing to be seen of these things. And we are all sure that such a temper and such-like views and dispositions are not natural to us; yea, most men are sure there is still no such thing in them, and very many believe there is no such thing in the world. We are, in fact, born like the wild ass' colt, as senseless of God, and as void and destitute of grace: we have nature, but no grace; a taste for natural good, but no relish for moral beauty; an appetite for happiness, but no appetite for holiness; a heart easily affected and governed by selfish considerations, but blind to the moral rectitude and fitness of things. And so we have a heart to love ourselves, but no heart to love God; and may be moved to act by selfish views, but cannot be influenced by the infinite moral beauty of the divine nature. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, (John iii. 6.) and will only mind and relish things which suit its nature, (Rom. viii. 5.) but is blind to spiritual things. 1 Cor. ii. 14. True indeed, in children there are many natural excellencies; many things pleasing and agreeable. In a good mood, they appear loving and kind, innocent and harmless, humble and meek; and so does a lamb. There is nothing but nature in these appearances: it is owing to their animal constitution, and to their being pleased and humoured: It is all from no higher principle than self-love. Cross them, and they will presently feel and act bad enough. They have, in their temper and most early conduct, no regard to God or duty, or to the reason and nature of things, but are moved and affected merely as things please or displease them, making their happiness their last end. And, indeed, if the image of God, holiness, or grace, or whatever we call it, be really such a thing as has been said, then nothing of such a nature can possibly be more plain and evident than this universally is, that mankind are, in fact, born into the world destitute, entirely destitute thereof. Job xi. 12. And hence, we must be born again. John iii. 3. 6.
OBJ. But where, then, was the propriety of Christ's saying, in Mat. xviii. 3. Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven? Is it not here supposed that little children are patterns of humility and goodness?
ANS. And where was the propriety of those words in Isaiah liii. 7. where the prophet, speaking of Christ's meekness and patience under his sufferings, says, As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth? Is it not here supposed that sheep are patterns of meekness and patience? The truth is, that these allusions do not prove that either sheep or little children naturally have any real humility or meekness, of a gracious nature, but only an appearance of it: and just of the same nature are those phrases in Mat. x. 16. as wise as serpents, as harmless as doves. But as these scriptures do not prove that sheep, and serpents, and doves, have grace, so neither does that other text prove that little children naturally have it.
3. By comparing ourselves with the holy law of God, as it has been already explained, we may also learn that we are born into the world, not only destitute of a conformity to the law, but that we are natively diametrically opposed to it in the temper of our hearts. The law requires us to love God supremely, but the native bent of our hearts is to love ourselves supremely. The law requires us to live to God ultimately, but the native bent of our hearts is to live to ourselves ultimately. The law requires us to delight in God superlatively, but the native bent of our hearts is to delight in that which is not God, wholly. And, finally, the law requires us to love our neighbours as ourselves, but the native bent of our hearts is to be inordinately selfish.
These are the earliest dispositions that are discovered in our nature: and although I do not think that they are concreated by God together with the essence of our souls, yet they seem to be the very first propensities of the new-made soul. So that they are, in a sense, connatural; our whole hearts are perfectly and entirely bent this way, from their very first motion. These propensities, perhaps, in some sense, may be said to be contracted, in opposition to their being strictly and philosophically natural, because they are not created by God
with the essence of the soul, but result from its native choice, or rather, more strictly, are themselves its native choice. But most certainly these propensities are not contracted in the sense that many vicious habits are; namely, by long use and custom. In opposition to such vicious habits, they may be called connatural. Little children do very early bad things, and contract bad dispositions; but these propensities are evidently antecedent to every bad thing infused or instilled by evil examples, or gotten by practice, or occasioned by temptations. And hence, it is become customary to call them natural, and to say that it is our very nature to be so inclined and to say that these propensities are natural, would to common people be the most apt way of expressing the thing; but it ought to be remembered that they are not natural in the same sense as the faculties of our souls are: for they are not the workmanship of God, but are our native choice, and the voluntary, free, spontaneous bent of our hearts. And to keep up this distinction, I frequently choose to use the word native, instead of natural.
And now, that these dispositions are, as it were, thus born with us, is as evident from experience, as any thing of this kind can be; for these are the earliest dispositions that man's nature discovers, and are evidently discovered before little children are capable of learning them from others. Yea, it is plainly the very native bent of their hearts to love themselves above all; to make their ease, comfort, and happiness, their last end and their all, and to seek for all from the creature, or, in other words, from that which is not God. This is plain to every one's observation; nor did I ever hear any one, as I remember, venture to deny it.
And as children grow up, and their natural powers enlarge, so these propensities grow up, and strengthen, and become more active, and discover themselves plainer; and from this root, this evil fountain, many bad things soon proceed. Observe children through all the days of childhood, and this nature may be easily seen in them; they discover it in all their conduct in ten thousand instances; and there it does and will remain. We We may break them of many bad tricks which they learn, and bad habits which they contract, but we cannot
change this principle of their nature. They are disposed to love themselves supremely, seek their own ends ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly; nor can we turn this bent of their hearts. We can, after a sort, instill good principles into them, learn them to read and pray; and, after a sort, to honour their parents, and love their neighbours: we can make them civil, and sober, and humble, and modest, ́and religious, in a sort, but still their old nature remains in its full power. It is restrained, but not altered at all; yea, and after all, these their native dispositions have the entire government of them; their whole hearts are as much bent this way as ever: and these propensities govern them in their inward temper, and in all their conduct. They do all from self-love, and for self-ends, and are seeking happiness, not in God, but in something else. These things are plain to every impartial observer; nor can they be denied by any. Thus we are all shapen in iniquity, and in sin are we conceived: and we are transgressors from the womb, and go astray as soon as we are born.
And if we leave children, and look into ourselves, we may easily observe that we are naturally of the same temper; inclined to love ourselves supremely, and do all from self-love, and for self-ends, and seek for happiness, not in God, but in something else. We can remember when and how we contracted many other vicious habits, and feel some inward power to get rid of them; but these propensities we have always had, and they are natural, and our whole hearts are so in them, that it is not in us so much as sincerely to desire to be otherwise. It is true, we may, in a sort, desire and try to alter this our nature, from considerations of duty, of heaven and hell; but it is all hypocrisy, for we still act merely from self-love, and for self-ends, as much as ever. We have naturally no disposition to desire to love God, only for self-ends; all men are conscious to themselves that this is true.
We are naturally entirely under the government of these dispositions, in all things, and under all circumstances: in ALL THINGS; in all our civil and religious concerns. It is merely from self-love, and for self-ends, that natural men follow their worldly business, and endeavour to live peaceably with