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For certainly there is no man who hath but the general notions of corrupted reason alive within him ; who hath not his conscience quite vitiated, and his mind putrified with noisome lusts ; who is not wrap-, ped up in the mud of thick ignorance and palpable stupidity; but must of necessity have oftentimes the immediate representations of immortality before his eyes. Let him never so much smother and suppress the truth ; let him with all the art he can, divert his conceits, and entangle his thoughts in secular cares, let him shut his eyelids as close as his nail is to his flesh ; yet the flashes of immortality are of so penetrative and searching a nature, that they will undoubtedly get through all the obstacles which a mind not wholly overdaubed with worldliness and ignorance, can put between.'......... • Where the Lord doth not wholly give a man over to heap up treasures unto the last day, to be eaten up with the canker of his own wealth,—the soul must of necessity, some time or other, happen upon such sad thoughts as these : “ What ails my foolish heart thus to eat up itself with care, and to rob mine eyes of their beloved sleep for such things, as to the which, the time will come, when I must bid an everlasting farewell? Am I not a poor mortal creature, brother to the worms, sister to the dust? Do I not carry about with me a soul full of corruptions, a skin full of diseases ? 'Is not my breath in my nostrils, where there is room enough for it to go out, and possibility never to come in again? Is my flesh of brass, or my bones of iron, that I should think to hold out, and without interruption, to enjoy these earthly things? Or if they were, yet are not the creatures themselves subject to period and mortality? Is there not a moth in my richest garments, a worm in my tallest cedars, a canker and rust in my firmest gold, to corrupt and eat it out? Or if not, will there not come a day, when the whole frame of nature shall be set on fire, and the elements themselves shall melt with heat? When that universal flame shall devour all the bags, and lands, and offices, and honours, and treasures, and storehouses of worldly men? When Heaven and Hell shall divide the world: Heaven, into which nothing can be admitted which is capable of moth or rust to corrupt it; and Hell, into which, if any such things could come, they would undoubtedly in one instant be swallowed up in those violent and unextinguishable flames? And shall I be so foolish as to put my felicity in that which will fail me, when I shall stand in greatest need; to heap up treasures into a broken bag ; to work in the fire where all must perish?” Certainly, the soul of a mere worldly man, who cannot find God or Christ in the things he enjoys, must of necessity be so far from reaping solid or constant comfort from any of these perishable creatures, that it cannot but ache and tremble, but be wholly surprised with dismal passions, with horrid pre-apprehensions of its own woful estate, upon the evidence of the creature's mortality, and the unavoidable Aashes and conviction of its own everlast. ingness. pp. 31–33.
This tendency to corruption in the creatures originates, 1. In that law of their creation by which they were made subject
to alterations. 2. From the exasperation of this inherent infirmity by the sin of man, whose evil, he being the lord of all creatures, must needs redound to the misery and mortality of all his retinue. 3. In some special and peculiar curse, God's judicial instrument of mortality. It results, then, from these considerations, that there is egregious folly in those who wed their opinions and affections to earthly things; that they justify the wisdom and providence of God in his proceedings with men; and that the creatures are to be used with the following correctives-1. That we keep the intellectuals untainted-2. That with the eye of faith, we look through and above the creature-3. That we 80 use it, in subordination to the grace of God, as to make it subserve our aims at immortality
And if the creatures are thus disproportionate in their es-sence—“ all is Vanity,” they are not less so in their operation --they are " Vexation of Spirit.” The things and cares of the earth are compared to thorns'-wounding, choking, deceitful, vanishing. In the vexation of the creature, there are to be considered, its degrees, its grounds, and its uses. The first of these points includes the procuring, the multiplying, the using, +exemplified in knowledge, pleasures, and riches,--the reviewing and the disposing of the creatures. The second division exhibits the grounds of this vexation, in God's curse, man's corruption, and the creature's deceitfulness. Thirdly, in respect to the uses of the creature's vexation, the consideration thereof should lead to humiliation and prevention. In connexion with the first of these, Dr. Reynolds introduces the following beautiful example of confession and supplication.
• Lord, thou art a God of peace and beauty; and whatever comes from Thee, must needs originally have peace and beauty in it. The earth was a paradise, when thou didst first bestow it upon me; but my sin hath turned it into a desert, and cursed all the increase thereof with thorns. The honour which thou gavest me, was a glorious at tribute, a sparkle of thine own fire, a beam of thine own light, an impress of thine own image, a character of thine own power ; but my sin hath put a thorn into mine honour: my greediness, when I look upward to get higher,—and my giddiness, when I look downward for fear of falling, never leave my heart without anguish and vexation. The pleasure which thou allowest me to enjoy, is full of sweet refreshment; but my sin hath put a thorn into this likewise : my excess and sensuality hath so choked thy word, so stifled all seeds of nobleness in my mind, so, like a canker, overgrown all my precious time, stolen away all opportunities of grace, melted and wasted all my strength, that now my refreshments are become my diseases. The riches which thou gavest me, as they came from thee, are sovereiga blessings, wherewith I might abundantly have glorified thy
name, and served thy church, and supplied thy saints, and made the eyes that saw me, to bless me, and the ears that heard me, to bear witness to me; wherewith I might have covered the naked back, and cured the bleeding wounds, and filled the hungry bowels, and satisfied the fainting desires of mine own Saviour in his distressed members : but my sin hath put in so many thorns of pride, hardness of heart, uncompassionateness, endless cares, security, and resolutions of sin, and the like, as are ready to pierce me through with many sorrows. The calling wherein thou hast placed me, is honest and profitable to men, wherein I might spend my time in glorifying thy name, in obedience to thy will, in attendance on thy blessings but my sin hath brought so much ignorance and inapprehension upon my understanding, so much weakness upon my body, so much intricateness upon my employments, so much rust and sluggishness upon my faculties, so much earthly-mindedness upon my heart, as that I am not able, without much discomfort, to go on in my calling. All thy creatures are of themselves full of honour and beauty, the beams and glimpses of thine own glory ; but our sin hath stained the beauty of thine own handy-work, so that now thy wrath is as well revealed from Heaven, as thy glory ; we now see in them the fruits, as well of thy terrors as of thy goodness. And now, Lord, I do, in humbleness of heart, truly abhor myself, and abominate those cursed sins, which have not only defiled mine own nature and person, but have spread deformity and confusion upon all those creatures, in which thine own wisdom and power had planted so great a beauty and so sweet an order.' pp. 77, 78. bivio
In the prevention of this vexation, we are to distinguish between regular and irregular cares. The former are such as aim at right ends by righteous means : the others are superfluous and sinful.
• Labour ever to suit thy occassions to thy parts, and thy supplies to thy occasions. If a ship out of greediness be overloaden with gold, it will be in danger of sinking, notwithstanding the capacity of the sides be not a quarter filled. On the other side, fill it to the brim with feathers, and it will still toss up and down, for want of due ballasting. So is it in the lives of men; some have such greedy desires, that they think that they can run through all sorts of business, and so never leave loading themselves, till their hearts sink, and be swallowed up with worldly sorrow and security in sin. Others set their affections on such trivial things, that though they should have the fill of all their desires, their minds would still be as floating and unsettled as before. Resolve, therefore, to do with thyself as men with their ships: there may a tempest arise, when thou must be constrained to throw out all thy wares into the sea....... Do as wise mariners ; have strong and substantial ballasting in the bottom, faith in God's promises, love and fear of his name, a foundation of good works; and then, whatever becomes of thy other loading, thy ship itself shall be safe at last.'
Would we disarm the creature of its vexation ? 1. Pray for conveniency for that which is suitable to thy mind. 2. Get Christ into thy ship. 3. Cast out thy Jopah, every sleeping and secure sin that brings a tempest upon thy ship. 4. Suffer not the vexation of the creature to take up thy thoughts and inner man. To set the heart on the creature, denotes the consecration to it of our thoughts, affections, and reliance; but this ought not to be, because of the tenderness of the spirit, and because the strength of every man is his spirit. Now when the heart is thus entangled, it is weakened and unable to encounter either temptation or afflictions. Temptations will become irresistible, because of the subtlety of Satan, who adapts his snares to the state of the heart, and who edges his seductions by promises or by threatenings. Afflictions will: overpower the spirit enfeebled by the dominion of lust, because lust is dainty, wilful, natural, sensually wise, proud, rooted in self-love, contentious, rebellious; and, lastly, if we could even conceive some afflictions not contrary to lust, yet, afflictions are ever contrary to the provisions of lusts, to the materials and instruments of lusts, such as are health, pleasures, riches, bonours. A heart set upon the creature is disabled of all active strength in execution of the will of God : 1. Because a good duty must proceed from an entire cause, from the whole heart; but lust dívides the heart. 2. A heart set on lusts, moves to no ends but its own; and self-ends defile an actions, though otherwise never so specious. 3. The heart is a fountain and principle, and principles are ever one and uniform : out of the same fountain cannot come bitter water and sweet. Christ and an idol cannot consist. The love of the creature is fatal to devotion. Prayer demands a hungry spirit, a heart convinced of its own emptiness, a desire of intimate communion with God; but the creature draws the heart and all the desires thereof to itself. Meditation requires a sequestration of the thoughts, a mind unmixed with other cares, a sincere and uncorrupted relish of the Word. In Hearing the Word, the heart can never accept God's commands till it be first empty : a man cannot receive the richest gift that is, with a hand that was full before. In the Service of God, there are two main things required; faith to begin, and courage or patience to go through. Lust hinders both these. How can ye believe, since
seek for glory one from another? When persecution arose because of the Word, the temporary was presently offended.
• In one word, a man ought not to set his heart on the creature, because of the nobleness of the heart..........Let not the bramble be
king ; let not earthly things bear rule over thine affections : fire will rise out of them, which will consume all thy cedars, emasculate the powers of thy soul. Let grace sit in the throne, and earthly things be subordinate to the wisdom and rule of God's spirit in thine heart : they are excellent servants, but pernicious masters.---Be armed when thou touchest or meddlest with them ; armed against the lusts, and against the temptations that arise from them. Get faith, to place thy heart upon better promises. Enter not upon them without prayer unto God, that, since thou art going amongst snares, he would carry thee through with wisdom and faithfulness, and teach thee how to use them as his blessings, and as instruments of his glory. Make a covenant with thine heart, as Job with his eyes; have a jealousy and suspicion of thine evil heart, lest it be surprised and bewitched with sinful affections.-Touch them gently; do not hug, love, dote upon the creature, nor grasp it with adulterous embraces : the love of money is a root of mischief, and is enmity against God.--Use them, for hedges and fences, to relieve the saints, to make friends of unrighteous Mammon, to defend the church of Christ : but by no means have them in thy field, but only about it: mingle it not with thy corn, lest it choke and stifle all.- And, lastly, use them as Gideon, for weapons of just revenge against the enemies of God's charch, to vindicate his truth and glory; and then, by being wise and faithful in a little, thou shalt at last be made ruler over much, and enter into thy master's joy.'
Such is the spirited peroration of the first treatise ; but we must abandon our intention of analysing the remainder with equal minuteness, Occupying as they do, nearly four hundred fairly filled pages, we could not compress them into the smallest compass consistent with just analysis, without an allotment of space both unusual and incouvenient. In the second treatise, on the exceeding sinfulness of sin, Rom. vii.9., vi. 12, 2 Cor. vii. 1, Rom. vii. 13, supply the texts to so many sections on the Strength of Sin, the Reign of Sin, the Pollution of Sin, the Use of the Law. The definition of the magisterial power of sin is powerfully written.
It is a lord and master; in which respect it hath these ties upon us : First, a covenant; there is a virtual bargain between lust and a sinner. We make promise of serving and obeying sin; and that returneth unto us the wages of iniquity, and the pleasures of sin. Secondly, love unto it, as unto a bountiful and beneficial lord. Sin exerciseth authority over us, and yet we account it our benefactor. Thirdly, an easy service; the work of sin is natural ; the instruments all ready at hand; the helpers and fellow-servants many, to teach, to encourage, to hasten and lead on in the broad way. Fourthly, in sin itself, there is a great strength to enforce men to its service. First, it is edged with malice against the soul, armed with weapons to fight against it, and eninity is a great whetstone to valour. Secondly, it is attended with fleshly wisdom, supported with stratagems and de