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stream of the world. Nor will he be singular, not such a precise one as some few are, but do as the world doth, run amain whither that carries him. See the state of a natural man. He is apt to be brought into the slavery of the world. This is his first guide. Then follows
2. The second, which is the Devil. The Devil leads him as well as the world: "According to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Instead of having the Spirit of God to be led by, he is posted by the spirit of Satan, and "the lusts of his father the Devil he will do," he hath not an heart to resist the vilest lusts the Devil shall persuade him to. When Satan once fills his heart, he hath no heart to any thing else, than to follow him.
3. There remains the flesh, his guide too, and that is not left out, verse 3. "Amongst whom we had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind." So that you see the three guides of a natural man ; and he is as bad as these three can make him and till the stronger man comes and pulls him out, in this condition he remains, and in this natural estate, he is a son of disobedience. We see then the state of disobedience described to be wretchedness.
3. This further appears by that which must follow, which is cursedness. Rebellion and wretchedness going before, cursedness will follow. For God will not be abused, nor suffer a rebel to go unpunished: therefore saith the apostle, "We are by nature the children of wrath." Being the natural sons of disobedience, we may well conIclude we are the children of wrath. If we can well learn these two things of ourselves, how deep we are in sin, and how the wrath of God is due to us for our sins, then we may see what we are by nature. Thus much concerning the quality of a natural man. Next follows
II. His company. "Even as others." By nature we are "the children of wrath even as others." That is to say,
we go in that broad wide way that leads to damnation, that way we all naturally rush into: though we may think it otherwise, and think ourselves better, yet we are deceived. For it is with us even as with others. Naturally we are in the same state that the worst men in the world are; so that we see the glass of a natural man, or of a man that hath made some beginnings, till Christ come and quicken him.
Q. See we then who it is spoken of to be dead men, that are rotten and stinking, as bad as the world, the flesh, and the Devil can make them? Who should these be?
A. I answer, it is you: 66 you hath he quickened." And ye," wherein ye walked," &c. But who are they? The Ephesians perhaps that were in times past heathens: I hope it belongs not to us. They were Gentiles and Pagans that knew not Christe, "Aliens to the commonweal of Israel, strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope, without God in the world." alto, as the text renders it, atheists, and therefore they might well be so. But I hope it is not thus with me, I was never a Pagan or Heathen, I was born of Christian parents, and am of the Church.
But put away these conceits. Look on the third verse: "Amongst whom we also had our conversation:" and wherein ye yourselves, &c. It is not only spoken of you Gentiles, but verified of us also: as if he had said here as Gal. chap. II. "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles." He paints out not only you the Gentiles in such ugly colours, but we Jews also, we of the commonwealth of Israel. We, before we were quickened, were in the same state that you are described to be in.
OBJ. Oh but the apostle may do this out of fellowship, and to avoid envy, as it were making himself a party with them, as Ezra' did, that included himself in the number of the offenders, though he had no hand in the offence: "O our God," saith he, "what shall we say? Our evil deeds,"
&c. "and how shall we stand before thee because of this?" Making a particular confession, whereas he was not accessary to the fault, but to sweeten it to them.
SOL. But here the apostle doth not so, he was not thus minded, but it is we all, he puts universality to it: so that it is clear, that before conversion and quickening by grace from Christ, we all, all of us are in as foul and filthy a condition as this which is here described and set down: so that this is the point, that it is not spoken of some desperate sinners, but that it is the common state and condition of all the sons of Adam.
DocT. All men, every man and woman in this place, either is or hath been in the state that here the apostle describeth the natural man to be in.
Therefore we have all need to examine ourselves, whether we yet remain in that condition or not. The apostle brings this description to testify the truth of the point: "The Scripture hath concluded all under sin." The whole current and course of the Scripture shews the universality of it, that it is true of all. See, the apostle speaking of himself and the rest, saith, "We1 ourselves also," not only you of the Gentiles, but "we ourselves also were foolish, disobedient," &c. "But after the kindness of God towards man appeared," &c. That is, before the "day-star of grace did arise in our hearts," there is not the best of us all but have been thus and thus.
Gal. chap. 3. ver. 22.
Rom. chap. III. ver. 19. There the apostle insists on the point expressly, "that every mouth might be stopped;" to shew the state of all men naturally, having laid down a large beadrole of the iniquities of the heathen, he cometh afterward to convince the Jews. "What, are we better than they; no in no wise; for we have proved before that all are under sin: there is none good, no not one."
OBJ. But though you bring many places to prove that all are sinners, yet I hope the Virgin Mary was not. SOL. An inch breaks no squares, but all are sinners.
Tit. chap. 3. ver. 3.
"There is none righteous, no not one." The drift of the apostle in this, is to shew that these things are not spoken of some heinous sinners only, but there is not one to be exempted; and therefore in his conclusion', he saith that whatever things the law saith, it saith to them which are under the law. "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God: and that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified from sin."
So that now having proved this so clearly to you, consider with yourselves how needful it is to apply this to our own souls. Many men, when they read such things as these of the Scripture, read them but as stories from strange countries. What, are we dead in sins, not able to stir one foot in God's ways? bad we are indeed: but dead, rotten and stinking in sins and trespasses? What, as bad as the world, the devil, and flesh, can make us? What, children of wrath? Firebrands of hell? Few can persuade themselves that it is so bad with them. Therefore take this home to yourselves; think no better of yourselves than you are for thus you are naturally. Therefore consider if thou wert now going out of the world, what state thou art in, a child of wrath, a child of Belial, or the like. Set about the work speedily, go to God, pray, and cry earnestly; give thyself no rest, till thou know this to be thy condition: let not thy corrupt nature deceive thee, to make thee think better of thyself, than God saith thou art.
Now that we may better know to whom these things belong, know it is thou and I, we all have been, or are in this estate, till we have supernatural grace; and therefore we are declared to be children of wrath, and children of disobedience, till regenerated. Why? It is because it is thy nature, it belongs to all. Now we know the common nature always appertains to the same kind: there is nothing natural, but is common with the kind. If then by nature we are children, then certainly it belongs to every mother's son of us, for we are all sons of Adam. "Ink Adam
i Verse 19.
* Rom. chap. 5.
Genes. chap. 5. ver. 3.
we all die." That is the fountain whence all misery flows to us. As thou receivedst thy nature, so the corruption of thy nature from him; for "he' begat a son in his own likeness." This therefore is the condition of every one. The apostle in 1 Cor. chap. XV. speaks of two men, "the first was from the earth, earthly, the second was the Lord from heaven." What, were there not many millions and generations more? True, but there were not more men like these men of men, two head-men, two fathers of all other men. There were but two, by whom all must stand or fall, but two such men. By the fall of the first man we all fell; and if we rise not by the second man, we are yet in our sins. If he rise not, we cannot be risen. We must rise or fall by him. He is the mediator of the second covenant. If he rise and we are in him, we shall rise with him; but if not, we are dead still. So it is in the first Adam, we all depend on him, he is the root of all mankind. It is said in Isaiah, chap. LIII. “Our Saviour should rejoice to see his seed." His seed, that is to say, he is the common father of all mankind, I mean of all those that shall proceed from him by spiritual generation. He shall present them to his father, as when one is presented to the university: "Behold" here am I, and the children thou hast given me." So in Adam, he being the head of the covenant of nature or works, that is, the law, if he had stood, none of us had fallen; if he fall, none of us all can stand. He is the peg, on which all the keys hang: if that stand, they hang fast; but if that fall, they fall with it. As we see in matter of bondage; if the father forfeit his liberty, and become a bondman, all his children are bondmen to a hundred generations, here is our case. We were all once free, but our father hath forfeited his liberty; and if he become a slave, he cannot beget a freeman. When our Saviour tells the Jews of being freemen: "We were never bondmen," say they, though it be false; for even Cicero himself could tell a Jew that he was a slave,
Heb. chap. 2. ver. 14.