And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;
~ Genesis 3:15 a, b
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
~ James 4:4, 1 John 2:15-16, 2 Peter 2:14
Man’s Enmity to God, by Stephen Charnock. An excerpt.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.—Rom. VIII. 7.
The Subject improved.
I. The information to be derived from the subject.
1. How desperate is the atheism in every man’s heart by nature. What a mass of villany is in the heart of man. What. to make God no God .’ set up our wills against the will of God. When we say an enemy to God, we must conceive all that may denominate a man base and abominable. What more can be added, than to say, such a man is an enemy to love itself? Sin and God are at direct odds. To harbour a traitor in a house after proclamation, is a capital crime, and comes under the charge of high treason. What then is the harbouring of sin against God, but involving thyself in the same rebellion which every sin includes in its own nature? This enmity to God has this aggravation in it, that it cannot upon any account whatsoever be just.
God himself cannot command a creature not to love him; before he can command this, he must change his nature, cashier his loveliness, cease to be the chief good. God cannot command any thing unjust; but this is intrinsically unjust, eternally unjust, not to love that which is infinitely amiable. It had been unjust to command an act of the highest disingenuity and ingratitude, to hate the author of our mercies. It had been against the original nature of a rational creature, to be an enemy to that which is its chiefest good. Our loving God doth not arise merely from the command of God enjoining it, but from the nature of God, and the creature’s relation to him. None but will confess, that had God never commanded us to love him, it had been highly abominable for a creature to hate his Maker and Benefactor: therefore in the moral law or Decalogue, the love of God is not explicitly commanded, but supposed as a fundamental and indispensable principle; from whence all other commands are necessary consequences: so that this enmity against God is not only against his command, but against his very nature, and against the fundamental and indispensable principle of all God’s commands, and all the duties which as rational creatures we owe to God.
The desperateness of this natural enmity will appear, (1.) In that it is as bad, and in some respects worse, than atheism. We complain much, and not without cause, of the growing atheism of the times; but we shall find as bad and worse than we complain of in our own nature, and the practices of men. Mirandula says, a speculative atheist is the most prodigious monster in the world, but a practical. An atheist that denies the being of God, does not so much affront him, as a natural man that owns his being, but walks as if there were no God; as if he were not a just and righteous God; as if he made use of his sovereign power to make laws for the prejudice of his creature.
The atheist barely denies God’s being, the other mocks him. ‘They have turned to me the back, and not the face,’ Jer. xxxii. 33. This puts a slight upon him, turning the back upon him, which is an act of disdain, as if God were the most contemptible being in the world. Thou that turnest thy face to thy dog, thy beast, the devil, usest God with more contempt than thou dost thy dog, thy swine, thy ox, thy ass, yea, the devil himself. The atheist that denies God’s being, and yet walks according to moral principles, is like the son in the Gospel, that told his father he would not go, and yet did which Christ commends above the other, which acknowledged his father’s authority to command him, and pretended a readiness to obey, but answered not his acknowledgments by the performance of his duty. A profane man, or a hypocrite, is more an atheist than one that professeth himself so, in as much as actions, and a continual succession and circle of them, makes a greater discovery of the principles of the heart, than the motions of the tongue. Would not that man who, in his belief of a Deity, doth things which fall under the censure of God’s justice, and contrary to his law, and odious among men, though not punishable by man, do things far worse, did not the fear of laws, the anger of his prince, the pain and disgrace of punishment, restrain him? Surely he would: for that principle which carries him against his reason and professed religion in his practices against God, would hurry him further, were there not some powerful limits set to him by human laws. Now what does this evince, but that he honours man more than God, fears man more than God, obeys man more than God, owns the power of man more than the power of God, which he pretends to acknowledge and believe?
The atheist denies God’s being,”the other his authority. And in denying his authority, virtually denies his being: for it is a contradiction to be God, and not to be sovereign. Does not man imply, by the breaking God’s laws, that he would not have God act as a sovereign; that he would have him but a careless God, an unholy and unrighteous God in giving him the reins, and not prohibiting by holy laws any wickedness his heart is inclined unto? What then would become of God’s being? His deity cannot outlive the life of his authority and righteousness. If he ceased to be a righteous lawgiver, and a holy maintain or of his laws, he would cease to be a God. So that every breach of the law is a virtual deposing him from his supreme government, and consequently a virtual deposing him from his deity.
(2.) This enmity is of the same nature with the devil’s enmity. It is not indeed in the present state, wherein man is, so intense, because his is direct, man’s implicit. But yet —
[1.] Natural men have a diabolical nature. There are but two seeds, the seed of the woman, and that of the serpent; two natures, the divine and diabolical. Satan is the father of wicked men, and fathers derive their nature to their children. He is not their father by creation, nor by generation, but by a diffusion of his principles into them. ‘ You are of your father the devil,’ John viii. 44. God made man in creation according to his own image; and the devil quickly by corruption brings him into his likeness. In Scripture is not meant by the devil only a particular person, but a nature: so Christ intimates in his rebuke to Peter, ‘ Get thee behind me, Satan,’ Mat. xvi. 23.
Peter, an eminent apostle, who had a little before made an illustrious profession of Christ being the Son of God, vers. 16, 17, is now called devil not because he was really the person of the devil, but the devil’s nature did then exert itself in him; for that advice proceeded not from a divine, but diabolical disposition; for it made directly for the serving the devil’s kingdom, which was only to be overthrown by the death of Christ. Hell itself could not produce a more devilish result of its deepest counsels, than the advice which Peter now gave, which would highly have promoted the interest of hell. And do but observe the reason why Christ calls him Satan: ‘ Thou savourest not the things which be of God,’ &c., ver. 23. The things of God, and the things of man, and savouring the things of God, and the things of man, are set in opposition; and a man that savours not the things of God, but the things of man, such a man and Satan are all one and the same in the account of Christ. So by Christ sometimes is not meant a particular person, but a nature: ‘ Christ in you the hope of glory,’ Col. i. 27. What in one place is called the divine nature, is by Paul called Christ; not the person of Christ, but the nature of Christ; i. e. that spiritual principle of grace, or new nature, which is an earnest of your future inheritance, and so a ground of hope. A natural man is wholly carnal, Rom. vii. 18. There is no good thing dwells in him, no good principle; it may lodge a while; but it hath no settled abode; and what is not good, is of the devil. As God is the author of all good, so is the devil of all moral evil. So that a natural man is wholly diabolical.
[2.] Every natural man is a friend to the devil. There are but two sovereigns in the world, one rightful, and the other usurping. If we are enemies to the right sovereign, we must be friends to the usurper; if enemies to God, friends to the devil. He ‘ works in the children of disobedience,’ Eph. ii. 2, 3, not by force, but by consent: for he works in them according to the desires of the flesh, which the apostle implies, ‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh,’ ver. 3. If the love of the world be enmity to God, ‘ the friendship of the world is enmity with God,’ James iv. 4; then enmity to God must needs be a love of the devil; enmity to God implying a friendship with every thing that hath the same disposition against him. The love of the world, i.e. of the sin and unrighteousness of the world, necessarily includes virtually love of the god of the world, which is the devil’s title, 2 Cor. iv. 4. And so a man adores Satan as a god, in loving that world the devil is the god of, that wickedness the devil is the head of, above God. Rebellion against God is called ‘a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell,’ Isa. xxviii. 18 (not with the punishments, but principles of hell); and being a friend of the devil, he must needs be a friend to the grand design of the devil, Isa. xiv. 12-14, and ver. 4, was spoke to the king of Babylon. The knot of friendship in the world is some particular man’s design, which both friends agree in, and drive on. Now his design seems to be affecting the throne and authority of God; for God threatening the king of Babylon, and in him, as the type, the great antichrist, compares him to Lucifer, who was not content with his station as a subject, but would mount into the chair of the supreme power.
[3.] Thy enmity against God is in some respect as much, in regard of the actual effects of it, as the devil’s is, though not in regard of disposition. We declare our enmity as far as we can: we cannot pull God out of heaven; we cannot nail Christ to the cross again, and pierce his heart; we cannot rail at him to his face as the Jews did; but the despising his laws, disowning his power granted by heaven over us, is the only thing we can do against him; and this we do as much as we can, as much as the gripes of conscience and our interest in the world will give us leave. We virtually deprive him of that which was the reward of his sufferings, viz., his power; of the design of his sufferings, viz., the propagation of his evangelical law in our heart. And he that would destroy the dearest things God and Christ have left in the world, and that which he gave the greatest charge for the preservation of, would act all the villanies against the person of Christ, as well as against what he had in the world, and against the essence of God, were it in his power; thou dost as much in this, as the devil can do. The being of God and the person of Christ are above his reach as well as ours. All that he can do is to trample upon his laws, and list others in rebellion against God, and in this thou dost comply with him. He can do no more, and thou dost as much.
[4.] It is a worse enmity than is in hell. This enmity is more disingenuous than that in hell. Our hatred of God is worse than that of the damned they despairingly hate him under the inevitable and unavoidable strokes of justice; thou hatest him while thou art hedged in with the expressions of his goodness. They hate him under vials of wrath, and we under showers of mercy; they in terror of damnation, and we under the sense of kindness. They hate him because he inflicts what is hurtful, and we because he commands what is profitable and holy. Our hatred of God is worse than the devils’ hatred of him. W^e hate God, who contrived our redemption, and sent his Son to accomplish it; the devils had not those obligations laid upon them. Christ came not for them, nor shed his blood for their recovery. They hate their Creator, but we our Creator and Redeemer too. The devils hate him that came to torment them and destroy their works; we hate him that came to bless us, and save our souls.
2. Information. God is the greatest evil in the account of every natural man. If there be in us a greater enmity to God and his law than to anything else, it implies that we think him the greatest evil, and the worst of beings. Evil, and not good, is the object of hatred. As love is the propension of the mind to something as good, so hatred is an alienation of the mind from something as evil, either really or supposedly.* We cannot possibly hate good as good, as we cannot possibly love evil as evil. Now, nothing but sin is absolutely evil, and therefore nothing but sin should be the absolute object of our hatred. But seeing that love, which should be set upon God, is set upon sin, and that hatred, which should have only sin for its object, pitches upon God as its object, it is hence clear that we account sin the highest good, and God the greatest evil.
Though a man doth not hate God as God, yet, there being more of his hatred spent against God than against anything else, it is most certain that God is virtually accounted by us the most detestable being. Do we offend any so much as we do God? Do we love the prosecution of anything which is distasteful to man, as we do that which is an abomination to God? Is there anything in the world we do more rejoice in than that whereby God is prejudiced? Is there anything we do love and pursue with greater violence than that which is hateful and injurious to him? Are we so absolutely contrary to any man, any creature, in our natural inclinations, dispositions, affections, and desires, as unto God? Is it not clearly manifest by our in- ward and outward carriage, that we imply that God is the greatest evil, and we rank him who is unchangeably good in the place of sin, which is unchangeably bad? As love is carried out in desire for the object beloved, so hatred is a flight from it. As love is accompanied with joy at the presence of a beloved object, so is hatred attended with a detestation. Are we not naturally more desirous of opportunities of sin, than opportunities of service to our Maker? Are we ever so cheerful in the presence of God, and communion with him in religious services, as in our sports, recreations, and sinful practices? What, then, has most of our love; what do we account our supreme happiness, and our worst misery?
3. Information. It justifies God in his acts of punitive justice. (1.) In his severest judgments in the world. Who can blame God for his severities against those that hate him, especially after riches of forbearance? Consider man as his desperate enemy, and you may more admire his clemency than accuse his justice. You may wonder that he does not destroy the whole stock of mankind, as well as send some few drops and hailstones of judgment upon the world. We may rather stand amazed at his patience, that he suffers such creatures to live, than murmur at his judgments, for not a day but we commit many acts which manifest this hatred. For as all actions truly good partake of the nature of love to the chiefest good, so all unworthy actions, which are at a distance from God, the chief end, are marshalled by, and tinctured with, that enmity which lurks in the soul. It is equal God should be a judge to condemn, where he is rejected as a sovereign to rule.
(2.) It justifies God in his judgments upon infants. Indeed, we call infants innocent, and we are startled at the pain and sufferings of babes; but this doctrine is a sufficient curb to any accusations of God in such proceedings. Do we not kill vipers and noxious creatures in the nest? Infants are endued with an inimical and hostile nature against God, though they exert it not by reason of the weakness of their organs. If death reigned over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, Rom. V. 14, enmity surely reigned over them. The frost which, by congealing a viper, suspends its motion, does not expel its natural venom (which it hath in as great a quantity as the liveliest), though at present it binds up the activity of it, which will shew itself when outward impediments are removed by heat. Neither does the inability of infants exercising this enmity, discharge their nature from an inconceivable mass of it; nay, you may perceive some start so fit even in them. Did you never see envy, passion, sensuality in an infant? We may more wonder that God does not dash them in pieces at their first appearance in the world, as we do young wolves and ravenous creatures, than that he should use his right over them for their original pravity, and take them out of the world.
(3.) It justifies the eternity of punishment. Who can charge God with injustice, for punishing eternally a creature who doth eternally hate him, to keep that person in being to his everlasting damage, that does wish, and, if it were in his power, would accomplish, the destruction of God himself?
Can any punishment be too hard, any duration of it too long, for him that is an enemy to the best of beings; to one infinitely good, and therefore dis- ingenuous; to one infinitely powerful, and therefore intolerably foolish?
4. Information. What an admirable prospect may we take here of God’s patience. With what astonishment may we review all the former, as well as the present, age of God’s forbearance towards men. that he should preserve such a crew of disingenuous monsters as we all naturally are; ‘ or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering?’ Rom. ii. 4. Had he not had riches of goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, and infinite riches too, the enmity of man against him had exhausted all before this time; and, being the riches of goodness, as well as longsuffering, it makes our enmity appear the blacker. A grain of goodness is no fit object for hatred, much less riches of it. How many millions of such haters of him breathe every day in his air, are maintained by his bounty, have their tables spread, and their cups filled to the brim, and that in the maddest of their reiterated belchings out of this enmity against him, under sufficient provocations to the highest indignation.
5. Information. Hence we see the root of all sin in the world. What is the reason men row against the stream of their own consciences? What is the reason men of sublimated reason, and clear natural wisdom, are voluntary slaves to their own lusts, which they serve with as delightful, as disgraceful, a drudgery against the light of their own minds? It is from this contrariety to God, seated in their very nature; they could never else so earnestly, so cheerfully, do the devil’s work before God’s; they could never else be deaf to the loud voice of God, and have their ears open to the least whisper of Satan. Whence proceeds our stupidity, the folly of our thoughts, the levity of our minds, the deadness of our affections, the sleepiness of our souls, our inexcusable carelessness in holy duties, more than anything of a temporal concern, but from this aversion from God I It is this enmity dulls our heart in any service. Though conscience which is in us, to keep up the interest of God’s law, spurs us on to duty, yet sin that is within us, that keeps up the quarrel against heaven, hinders us from it, or diverts us in it.
6. Information. Hence follows the necessity of regeneration. This division between God and his creature will not admit of any union without a change of nature. The carnal mind, as such, can never be reconciled to God before this be wrought. The old frame must be demolished, and a new one reared, for a change of state cannot be without a change of nature. It is impossible that this nature, so corrupt and contrary, can ever be reconciled to the pure and holy nature of God; what communion hath light with darkness? We must be God’s friends before we can be sin’s enemies; the root of bitterness must be taken away, habitual corruption removed, the heart will never else stand right as a compass towards heaven. Who can ever fight against his nature? No man will ever resist the devil without a change; we cannot, without the rooting out this enmity, make a profitable approach to God. What expectation canst thou have of a good look from him, when thou comest to him with all thy natural hatred of him? How canst thou dare to come to him, who knows every circumstance of thy enmity better than thou dost thy name, and is so well acquainted with thy heart? What hopes can you have of any answer from him? If we bring our wickednesses with us to Gilgal, the place of worship, even there in the solemnest duties will God hate us: ‘ All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them,’ Hosea ix. 15. If the mind be filled with hostile principles against the purity of God’s commands, it must be inexperienced and inactive to every work: ‘to every good work reprobate,’ Titus 1:16. If the head be sick, needs must the heart be faint. If the counseling faculty be false, cursed must be all its advice.
7. Information. That is not grace which does not alter nature. Morality therefore is not grace, because it doth not change nature; if it did, many of the heathens were as near to G-od as the best of Christians; whatsoever may be done by the strength of nature cannot alter it, for no nature can change itself. Poison may be great within the skin, like to a vijDer’s, be we never so speckled with a reformation. Freedom from gross sins argues not a friendship to God. None were so great enemies to Christ as the Pharisees, to whom Christ gives no better a title than that of the devil’s children, and charges them with the hatred both of himself and his Father, John xv. 24. The enmity may be the greater under a zealous and devout morality. The poor publicans crowded in to Christ, while the self-righteous Jews derided him, and rejected the counsel of God, and put the word of God from them. Luke vii. 30, Acts xiii. 46, It is a foolish thing for men to boast of their own heart, or outward conformity; thou canst not tell how soon that heart thou boastest of may boil out its enmity. The plant which is pleasant to the eye may be poison to the stomach. Boast not, therefore, of thy glossy morality, thy chequered skin, so long as there is a venom in thy nature. Whatsoever excellencies a natural man has are all tainted with this poison his wisdom, learning, moral virtue, are rather aggravations than excuses.
8. Information. Hence follows the necessity of applying to Christ. Ag there is a necessity of a change of nature in us, because our enmity to God is a moral enmity, so there is a necessity of a compensation and satisfaction to God for the preservation of God’s honour, because it is an unjust enmity, not rising from any injury that ever God did to us; and because his enmity to us, provoked by our disaffection to him, is a legal enmity, his law violated must be satisfied. Our enmity is unjust, and therefore must be parted with; God’s enmity against us is just, and therefore must be removed by a satisfaction. And since we are unable to give God a compensation for our wrongs, we must have recourse by faith to that blood which hath given him a complete satisfaction. It is Christ only that satisfies God for us, by the shedding of his blood, and removes our enmity by the operation of his Spirit.
9. Information. See hence the reason of the difficulty of conversion, and the little success the gospel hath. All the words in the world will not change nature; men strive against the Spirit, and will not come under the power of it if they might have their own will. Can you by exhortations ever reconcile a wolf and a lamb? Can you by rational arguments new mould the nature of a fierce lion, or by moral discourses stop the tide of the sea? Though man be a rational creature, yet corrupt habits in him answer to mere nature in them, and sway and tide us as much against God. Grave discourses can never set a man straight that is born crooked. It is no easy thing for the heart of man, possessed so long by this cursed principle, to surrender itself upon God’s summons; men are not so easily reconciled when the hatred bath been hereditary in the family; this has been of as long a standing, within a few hours, as Adam himself. To turn to God in ways of righteousness, is contrary to the stream of corrupt nature, and therefore it must be overpowered by a flood of almighty grace, as the stream of the river is by the tide of the sea.
10. Information. If there be such an enmity against the sovereignty of God in the heart of man, this shews us the excellency of obedience. It is the endeavour of the creature, as much as in him lies, to exalt God, to keep him upon his throne, to preserve the sceptre in his hand, and the crown upon his head. As faith is a setting a seal to the truth of God, so is obedience a setting a seal to the dominion of God, and subscribing to the righteousness thereof. It is called a confirmation of God’s law, an affection to the honour of it: ‘Cursed be he that confirms not all the words of this law, to do them,’ Deut. xxvii. 26. It is an establishing it as a standing infallible rule, and consequently an establishing the lawgiver, and an applause to the righteousness of his government. God being the highest perfection, and infinitely good, therefore whatsoever rule he gives the creature must be good and amiable, or else it cannot proceed from God. A base and vile thing can never proceed from that which is only excellent. An unreasonable thing can never proceed from that which is altogether reason and regular; therefore the obedience to God’s law is an acknowledging the excellent goodness, love, wisdom, righteousness of the lawgiver, and a bearing witness to it in the face of the world.
II. Use is for examination. Examine yourselves by those demonstrations laid down in the first part, whether this enmity be prevalent in you or no. 1. Have you yet a stoutness of heart against hearing the law of God, which crosses the desires of the flesh? 2, Are you unwilling to be determined by divine injunctions? 3. Doth your heart swell most against those laws which are most spiritual, and which God doth most strictly urge? 4. Do you fall out, and quarrel with your own consciences, when they press upon yon any command of God? 5. Do you countenance that law in your members, that law of sin, in opposition to the law of your mind? 6. Are you willing to be at more pains and expense to violate God’s law, than to observe it and preserve the honour of it? 7. Do you perform things materially righteous because of the agreeableness of them to your humour and constitution, out of respect to your reputation, or, which is worse, out of an affection to some base lust and carnal end, or out of a slavish fear of God? 8. Are the laws of men more valued and feared by you than the laws of God? Do you more readily obey them? 9. Are you desirous and diligent in the drawing men from compliance with God’s laws, to be your companions in any sin you are addicted unto? 10. Do you take pleasure in the affronts men offer to God, and make them the matter of your sport and jollity? So much as you find, of this temper in any of your souls, so much of enmity there is.
III. Use is for exhortation. 1. To sinners. Lay down thy arms against God. How can you hear these things without saying, Lord, deliver me from this nature? Oh, what, should I be an enemy to so good a God? Did God put enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, and shall I put enmity between God and my soul, and a love between my heart and the serpent? Shall I change this promise of God, and make my dearest affections embrace the serpent’s seed, and refuse God himself? Lay down thy cudgels, strip thyself, yield thyself to him upon his own terms. How canst thou sit down at rest in hating God, and being hated by him? While thou art in thy natural condition, thou canst not be a friend to God; for ‘they that are in the flesh cannot please him,’ Rom. viii. 8. ‘How can two walk together, unless they be agreed? ‘ We must change our enmity into friendship if ever we would be happy. We must accept of his terms, to be at peace with him, or feel the bitter fruits of his powerful justice. We may pronounce in the presence of God, that if we henceforward endeavour not to get out of a natural state, it is a resolute maintaining the war against heaven.
Lament this enmity, and be humbled for it. If there be a common ingenuity, it will make thee tremble to think of thy hatred of mercy itself. Every sin is a branch of this enmity, and doth contribute to the increase of it; as acts strengthen habits, and as every part of the sea, according to its quantity and strength, contributes to the roaring and violent eruptions of it. We have robbed God, for as much obedience as we have given to the flesh we have taken from God; therefore rise as high as the fountain in your humiliations, and he low, not for a particular sin only, but for that enmity in thy nature which is the root of all the sins thou ever didst act. The evil in our actions is transient, but there is a perfect and overflowing fullness of evil in thy nature to animate a thousand acts of the same kind; as the habit of love to God resident in thy soul can command and spirit a thousand acts with its own nature.
2. Use of exhortation. To regenerate persons, such as by the powerful working of the grace of God, and the overruling hand of the Spirit, have been brought out of this state of enmity. Besides those things which you may gather from the former information as to grow up in all parts of the new creature, to further and advance that regenerate work in your soul, to make frequent applications of the blood of Christ, and to have your heart lifted up in the ways of God, and obedience to him, thereby to bear witness to Christ, the righteousness of God in his administrations in the world. Let me advise to these things.
1. Possess your hearts with great admirations of the grace of God towards you, in wounding this enmity in your hearts and changing your state. The apostle winds up our admirations of the love of Christ upon this peg: ‘When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,’ Rom. v. 10. Our salvation from sin by regeneration is the fruit of his resurrection and He, as our salvation from the guilt of sin by satisfaction was the fruit of his death; and not only so, saith he, but ‘we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we now receive the atonement,’ ver. 11. This reconciliation of us being the fruit of the first promise of breaking the serpent’s head. Gen. iii. 15, i. e. the projects and designs of the devil, to set God and man at eternal variance, makes it the more admirable that as soon as man had, immediately; after his creation, and being made lord of the rest of the sublunary creatures, cast oS his Lord and Creator, that just at that time, under the present sense of that unworthy slight, he should be laying about for the good of fallen man, and make a promise for the dissolving this enmity, and change this resistance of God into a more righteous one, viz. a variance with, and an eternal enmity against, the serpent.
And hath not this been the ease of some of our souls, that God hath grappled with us, and changed the current of our wills, even at the very time of the spitting out our venomous disaffection against him? It was Paul’s case; and the case of many, I am sure, since that time. If such a circumstance as this did attend thy first conversion, it should, methinks, enlarge thy notes, and wind up thy astonishment to a higher pitch. But howsoever it be, change your complaints into praises for your deliverance, though it be as yet imperfect. A lively and warm sense of it would quicken thy obedience, and spirit thee more in the ways of God than all thy complaints can do. It is to the grace of God that we owe the decays of it; it is a particular assisting grace that keeps it down, and binds it up at any time. If we are sometimes without considerable disturbances by it, it is not for want of the will of the flesh, nor for want of strength enough in the flesh, even in the best of men; but it is staked down, and stopped by the powerful operation of the Spirit, and the working of irresistible grace. To this purpose often reflect upon your former state; it will set a gloss upon the grace of God. The more disingenuous our enmity was, the more illustrious will it make the love of God to appear in our eye.
2. Endeavour to hate sin as much as thou hast hated God. What reason have we to bewail ourselves. None of us have ever yet hated sin so much as naturally we have hated God. Turn this affection now as much upon thy great enemy as thou hast done upon thy best friend. The deeper gashes thou hast given to God, Christ, and his glory, the wider wounds, the harder blows, the sharper stabs give to thy sin; have as great an animosity against it as you have had stoutness of heart against God. Come not under the power of any one; lift up thy hand most against spiritual sins; shew no obedience to the law of sin in thy members.
3. Inflame thy love to God by all the considerations thou canst possibly muster up. Outdo thy former disaffection by a greater ardency of love. Sincerely aim at his glory. Eye his command only in everything thou dost. Delight to please him above thyself. Endeavour by all means to draw others to think well of him and be at peace with him. Take plea- sure in the conversion of others to him. Rejoice at any glory he gains in the world. The unjust enmity he receives from others should procure a greater respect from us to God. Oh that we could make up by an intenseness of love the injury he receives by the enmity of others, and balance their hatred by an increase of our affection. Oh that we could delight ourselves in him as much as we have been displeased with him, that he might be as dear to us as he is odious to devils, and that the devils themselves, in the degrees of their detestation of God, might not outstrip us in the degrees of our affection to him.
4. Bewail this enmity. Are the best of us perfect? Are we stripped of all relics of it? Has any man on earth put oft’ the dregs of the flesh, and commenced an angel in purity’? Have we got the start of all the saints of old, and expelled it wholly out of us? Have we outstripped the great apostle, who complained of sins dwelling in his flesh? Is there no more need of groans to be delivered from this body of death? Ah, what relics are there? Doth not the best man find it a laborious undertaking to engage against the remainders of nature in him, and to manage a constant and open hostility against the force of the sensual appetite, and the spiritual wickedness in the high places of his soul, though much wounded by the grace of God? It is this gasping body of death in a regenerate man that gives life to those swarms of imperfections in his religious duties. It is this that cripples our obedience, that shackles our feet, when they should run the ways of God’s commandments. It is this drags away our heart after unworthy objects in the midst of those services wherein we attempt the nearest approaches to God. It is upon the score of this lurking principle in us that we may charge all the foils we suffer in our strongest wrestling for heaven.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
~ Romans 1:28, Ephesians 4:18-19
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
~ Exodus 20:5 c, d, 2 Timothy 3:4
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
~ 2 Chronicles 19:2
To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
~ Psalms 53:1
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works,
~ Colossians 1:21 a, b
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
~ John 7:7, John 15:23-24