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week with many; and, therefore, they must sleep longer that morning, and go sooner to bed that night, than ordinarily they do ; that the day may be made of a tolerable length; for their hearts say within them, “ When will the Sabbath be gone?” Amos viii
. 5. The hours of worship are the longest hours of that day ; hence when duty is over, they are like men eased of a burden; and when sermon is ended, many have neither the grace nor the good manners to stay till the blessing be pronounced, but like the beasts, their head is away as soon as one puts his hand to loose them ; why, but because while they are at ordinances, they are as Doeg, “ detained before the Lord," 1 Sam. xxii. 7.
Evid. 3. Consider how the will of the natural man doth rebel against the light, Job xxiv. 13. Light some times entereth in, because he is not able to hold it out; but he loveth darkness rather than light. Sometimes by the force of truth, the outer door of understanding is broken up; but the inner door of the will remains fast bolted. Then lusts rise against light; corruption and conscience encounter, and fight as in the fieid of battle ; till corruption getting the upper hand,conscience is forced to give back : Convictions are murdered; and truth is made and held prisoner, so that it can create no more disturbance. While the word is preached or read, or the rod of God is upon the natural man, sometimes convictions are darted in on him, and his spirit is wounded, in greater or lesser measure: But these convictions not being able to make him fall, he runs away with the arrows sticking in his conscience ; and at length, one way or other, gets them out, and licks himself whole again. Thus, while the light shines, men, naturally averse to it, wilfully shut their eyes ; till God is provoked to blind them judicially, and they become proof against the word and providences too : So they may go where they will, they can sit at ease; there is never a word from heaven to them, that goeth deeper than into their ears, Hos. iv. 17. “ Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone.”
Evid 4. Let us observe the resistance made by elect souls, when the Spirit of the Lord is at work, to bring them from the power of Satan unto God. Zion's King gets no subjects but by stroke of sword, in the day of his power, Psal. cx. 2, 3. None come to him, but
But the prey
such as are drawn by a divine hand, John vi. 44. When the Lord comes to the soul, he finds the strong man, keeping the house, and a deep peace and security there, while the soul is fast asleep in the devil's arms. must be taken from the mighty, and the captive delivered. Therefore, the Lord awakens the sinner, opens his eyes, and strikes him with terror, while the clouds are black above his head, and the sword of vengeance is held to his breast. Now he is at no small pains to put a fair face on a black heart, to shake off his fears, to make head against them, and to divert himself from thinking on the unpleasant and ungrateful subject of his soul's ease. If he cannot so rid himself from them, carnal reason is called in to help, and urgeth that there is no ground for so great fear; all may be well enough yet; and if it be ill with him, it will be ill with many. When the sinner is beat from this, and sees no advantage of going to hell with company, he resolves to leave his sins, but cannot think of breaking off so soon; there is time enough, and he will do it afterwards. Conscience says, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts : but he cries, To-morrow, Lord, to-morrow, Lord; and, Just now, Lord; till that now is never like to come. And thus, many times, he comes from his prayers and confessions, with nothing but a breast full of sharper convictions; for the heart doth not always cast up the sweet morsel, as soon as confession is made with the mouth, Judges x. 10-16. And when conscience obligeth them to part with some lusts, others are kept as right eyes and right hands; and there are rueful looks after those that are put away, as it was with the Israelites, who, with bitter hearts, did remember the fish they did eat in Egypt freely, Num. xi. 5. Nay, when he is so pressed, that he must needs say before the Lord, that he is content to part with all his idols; the heart will be giving the tongue the lie. In a word, the soul in this case will shift from one thing to another, like a fish with the hook in his jaws, till it can do no more ; and power come to make it succumb, as the wild ass in her month, Jer. ii. 24.
Thirdly, There is in the will of man a natural proneness to evil, a woful bent towards sin. Men naturally are bent to backsliding from God, Hos. ii. 7. They hang (as the word is) towards backsliding ; even as a
hanging wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. Set holiness and life upon the one side, sin and death upon the other; leave the unrenewed will to itself, it will chuse sin, and reject holiness. This is no more to be doubted, than that water, poured on the side of a hill, will run downward, but not upward, or that a fame will ascend, and not descend.
Evidence 1. Is not the way of evil the first way the children of men do go?. Do not their inclinations plainly appear on the wrong side, while yet they have no cunning to hide them? In the first opening of our eyes in the world, we look a-squint hell-ward, not heavenward. As soon as it appears we are reasonable creatures, it appears we are sinful creatures, Psal. lviii. 3. * The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born,” Prov. xxii. 15. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." Folly is bound in the heart, it is woven into our very nature. The knot will not Joose, they must be broken asunder by strokes. Words will not do it, the rod must be taken to drive it away ; and if it be not driven far away, the heart and it will meet and knit again. Not that the rod of itself will do this; the sad experience of many parents testifies the contrary; and Solomon himself tells you, Prov. xxvii. 22.
Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar, among wheat, with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him:" It is so bound in his heart. But the rod is an ordinance of God, appointed for that end; which, like the word, is made effectual, by the Spirit's accompanying his own ordinance. And this, by the way, shews that parents, in administering correction to their children, have need, first of all, to correct their own irregular passions; and
it as a matter of awful solemnity, setting about it with much dependence on the Lord, and following it with prayer for the blessing, if they would have it effectual.
Evid. 2. How easily are men led aside to sin ? The children, who are not persuaded to good, are otherwise simple ones; easily wrought upon; those whom the word cannot draw to holiness, are led by Satan at his pleasure. Profane Esau, that cunning man, Gen. xxv. 27. was as easily cheated of the blessing, as if he had been a fool or
an ideot. The more natural a thing is, it is the more easy ; so Christ's yoke is easy to the saints, in so far as they are partakers of the divine nature ; and sin is easy to the unrenewed man; but to learn to do good, as difficult as for the Ethiopian to change his skin; because the will naturally hangs towards evil; but is averse to good. A child can cause a round thing to run, while he cannot move a square thing of the same weight; for the roundness makes it fit for motion, so that it goes with a touch. Even so, when men find the heart easily carried towards sin, while it is as a dead weight in the way of holiness; we must bring the reason of this from the natural set and disposition of the heart, whereby it is prone and bent to evil. Were man's will, naturally, but in an equal balance to good and evil, the one might be embraced with as little difficulty as the other; but experience testifies, it is not so. In the sacred history of the Israelites, especially in the book of Judges, how often do we find them forsaking JEHOVAH, the mighty God, and doting upon the idols of the nations about them? But did ever one of these nations grow fond of Israel's God, and forsake their own idols No, no ; though man is naturally given to changes, it is but from evil to evil, not from evil to givů, Jer. üillng 11. “ Hath à nation changed their gods, which yet are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” Surely the will of man-stands not in equal balance, but has a cast to the wrong side.
Evid. 3. Consider how men go on still in the way of sin, till they meet with a stop, and that from another hand than their own, Isa. lvii. 17. “I hid me, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” If God withdraw his restraining hand, and lay the reins on the sinner's neck, he is in no doubt what way to choose ; for (observe it) the way of sin is the way of his heart ; his heart naturally lies that way; it hath a natural propensity to sin. As long as God suffereth them, they walk in their own way, Acts xiv. 16. The natural man is so fixed in his woful choice, that there needs no more to shew he is off from God's way, but to tell he is upon his
Evid. 4. Whatever good impressions are made upon him, they do not last. Though his heart be firm as
a stone, yea, harder than the nether mill-stone, in point of receiving of them ; it is otherwise unstable as water, and cannot keep them. It works against the receiving of them; and when they are made, it works them off, and returns to its natural bias, Hos. vi. 4.
“ Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew, it goeth away." The morning cloud promiseth a hearty shower, but, when the sun ariseth, it evanisheth ; the sun beats upon the early dew, and it evaporates; so the husbandman's expectation is disappointed. Such is the goodness of the natural man. Some sharp affliction, or piercing conviction, obligeth him, in some sort, to turn from his evil course ; but his will not being renewed, religion iš still against the grain with him, and therefore this goes off again, Psal. lxxviii
. 34, 36, 37. Though a stone thrown up into the air may abide there a little while
; yet its natural heaviness will bring it down to the earth again; and so do unrenewed men return to the wallowing in the mire; because although they were washed, yet their swinish nature was not changed. It is hard to cause wet wood take fire, hard to make it keep fire; but it is harder than either of these to make the unrenewed will petain attained goodness ; which is a plain evidence of the natural bent of the will to evil,
Evid. last. Do the saints serve the Lord now, as they were wont to serve sin in their unconverted state ? Very far from it, Rom. vi. 20. 6 When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." Sin got all, and admitted no partner; but now, when they are the servants of Christ, are they free from sin ? Nay, there are still with them some deeds of the old man, shewing that he is but dying in them. And hence their hearts often misgive them, and slip aside unto evil, when they would do good, Rom. viii. 21. They need to watch, and keep their hearts with all diligence; and their sad experience teaching them, that “ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool,” Prov. xxviii. 26. If it be thus in the green tree, how must it be in the dry ?
Fourthly, There is a natural contrariety, direct opposition and enmity, in the will of man, to God himself, and his holy will, Rom. viii. 7. “ The carnal mind is enmity agninst God; for it is not subject to the law of Gods