Unbelief is that which condemns the world. It involves in more condemnation than many other sins, not only because more universal, but especially because it shuts up men in their misery, and secludes them from the remedy that is brought to light in the gospel. By unbelief I mean, not only that careless neglect of Jesus Christ offered for salvation, but that which is the root of that, -- the inconsideration and ignorance of our desperate sinfulness and irremediless misery without Christ, -- which, not being laid to heart seriously, makes such slight and superficial entertainment of a Saviour and Redeemer. Man is truly miserable and unhappy, whether he know it or not, but truly it is an accession to his misery that he knows it not, that he neither apprehends what he is now by nature, nor what he must shortly be made by justice. Indeed, if there were no remedy to be found, it were a happy ignorance to be ignorant of misery, the knowledge and remembrance of it could do nothing but add unto the bitterness of it. If a man might bury it in eternal forgetfulness, it were some ease. But now, when God hath in his mercy so appointed it, that the beginning of the belief of sin and misery shall, in a manner, be the end of misery, and seeing, whether men know it or not, they must shortly be made sensible of it, when there is no remedy to be found, then, certainly, it is the height of man's misery that he knows and considers it not. If we would apply our hearts at length to hear what God the Lord speaks -- for he only can give account of man to himself, -- we might have a survey of both in these words and the preceding -- of our desperate wickedness, and of our intolerable misery. For the present, by nature we are enemies to God, and shortly we must be dealt with as enemies, as rebels to the most potent and glorious King, -- be punished with death, an endless living death. Experience shows how hard a thing it is to persuade you that you are really under the sentence of death, you will not suffer your hearts to believe your danger, lest it interrupt your present pleasures of sin. Nay, you will flatter yourselves with the fancied hope of immunity from this curse, and account it a cruel and rigorous doctrine, -- that so many creatures made by God should be eternally miserable, or a sentence of it should be passed on all flesh. Now, that which makes us hardly to believe this is the unbelief and deep inconsideration of your sinfulness, therefore, the apostle, to make way for the former, adds, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God." Do not wonder then that your ways and courses, your affections and inclinations bring forth that ghostly and dreadful end of death, seeing all these are enmity to the greatest King, who alone hath the power of life and death. They have a perfect contrariety to his holy nature and righteous will. Not only is the carnal mind an enemy, but enmity itself, and therefore it is most suitable that the sovereign power of that "King of kings," is stretched out to the vindication of his holiness and righteousness, by taking vengeance on all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. If rebellion in a state or monarchy against these petty mortal gods, who shall die as men, be so heinous as to deserve death, by the consent of all nations, how much more shall enmity and rebellion against the immortal eternal King, who hath absolute right and dominion over his creatures as over the clay, have such a suitable recompense of eternal death? Now, my beloved, if you once believed this, the enmity and opposition of your whole natures to God, you could not but fearfully apprehend what might be the issue of it, you could not bless yourselves as you do, and put the evil day far off, but certainly you would be affrighted with the terror and majesty of that God you have to do with, whom, when he awakes to judgment, you can neither resist nor escape, no standing against his wrath, and no flying from it out of his dominions, and this would dispose and incline your minds in time to hearken to the treaty of peace, which is holden out in the gospel, and to lay down the weapons of your enmity, and make peace with him in his Son the Peace maker.
Amity and unity are the very being and beauty of the world. This universe is made up of innumerable different kinds and natures, and all these climb and walk together by the bond of peace and concord among themselves, and with that one high understanding that directs all, and supreme will of God that moves all. It is that link of union with God, that gives and preserves being and beauty in all the creatures, as the dependence of the ray upon the sun, or the stream upon the fountain, makes them what they are, which being interrupted they cease to be what they were, "all things continue as thou hast ordained them for all are thy servants," Psal. cxix.9. You see, then, this amity and union of subordination of the creatures to God is not dissolved to this day, but woful and wretched man alone hath withdrawn from this subordination, and dissolved this sacred tie of happy friendship, which at first he was lifted up unto, and privileged with. Amity and friendship, you know, consists in an union of hearts and wills, and a communion of all good things, it makes two one, as much as two can be, by the conspiracy of their affections in one thing, and the joint concurrence of their endeavours to communicate to one another what each hath, it takes away propriety,(183) and it makes a community between persons. Now, how happy was that amity! how blessed that friendship between God and man! Though man's goodness could not extend to God, yet his soul united to God by love and delight, and all that God had given him returning that to the proper owner, acknowledging his absolute dependence on him, and claiming interest and propriety in nothing, not in himself. And then, on the other hand, the love and good-will of the infinite God placed on man, and from that fountain all the streams of happiness issuing forth towards man, the fulness of God opening up itself to him, and laying out itself towards him, God so far descending, as in a manner, to become the creature's, to expose and dispose himself, and all in him, for poor man's use and comfort.
How joyful was that amity! But the breaking of this bond of peace is as sad and grievous. There was a woful interposal between God and us, which hath separated these chief friends ever since the beginning, and that is sin, the seeds of all enmity and discord, this hath rent asunder the bond of amity, this hath made such a total aversion of the soul from God, and imprinted such an irreconcilable enmity in the heart against the holy will of God, that there is no possibility to reunite them again, and restore the old friendship, as long as the soul is not quite changed and transformed. That first creation is so marred and defaced, that there is no mending of it till a second creation come. The carnal mind is not simply an enemy, but enmity itself; an enemy may reconcile again, and accept terms of peace but enmity cannot reconcile to amity, without the very destruction of itself. The opposition of the heart is so perfect, that as soon may enmity unite with amity, and become one with it, as a carnal natural mind can submit to God's holy will. That which was at the beginning voluntary, is become necessary, and turned into the nature of an inbred antipathy, that no art can cure. The fall was such a disjointing of the soul from God, that no skill but infinite wisdom, no strength but Almighty power, can set it right, and put it in the first posture again. It is true, there are not many who will openly and expressly denounce war against heaven, it is not so incident,(184) that any man should have explicit plain thoughts of hatred against God. There are some common principles engraven by God in all men's minds, which serve as his witnesses against men, that God should be loved, served, adored, and worshipped, that there is nothing so worthy of the desires of the soul. Now, this general acknowledgment deludes the most part, for they take it for granted that they do love God with their heart, because their consciences bear witness that they ought to love him, as if it were all one to know our duty and to do it. Who is there but he entertains himself with this good opinion of himself, that his heart is good and true to God, for, say you, whom should I love, if I love not God? I were not worthy to live if I love not him. It is true indeed that you say, but if you did know your hearts you would find their faces turned backward and averted from God, and could no more please yourselves in such a confession of the truth, than the devil hath reason to think himself a believer, because he is convinced that Christ is the Son of God, and confessed it too, no more than the son that promised to go to the garden to work, and went not, had ground to think himself an obedient son, (Matt. xxi.30). Such a confession of duty may be extorted from damned spirits, and therefore you would not draw this vail over the wretched wickedness of your natures, to the end that you may conceive well of yourselves. It is so far from extenuating or excusing, that the very conviction of the great obligation to love and obey God, is the greatest aggravation of the enmity. It is this which makes it the purest malice and perfectest hatred, that knowing the goodness of God, convinced of our bound duty to love and serve him, yet in the very light of such a shining truth, to turn our hearts away from him, and exercise all acts of hostility against him. That you may know, then, wherein the enmity of your hearts consists, I shall instance it in three branches or evidences. There is an enmity in the understanding, that it cannot stoop to believing of the truth, there is an enmity in the will, that it cannot subject to the obedience of God's holy commands, and this is extended also to a stubborn rebellion against the will of God, manifested in the dispensations of his providence, in a word, the natural and carnal mind is incapable of faith, of obedience, and of submission. There are many things revealed in the scripture, that the natural man cannot receive or know, "for they are foolishness to him," 1 Cor. ii.14. Some spirits there are lifted up above others, either by nature or education, in which this rebellion doth more evidently appear, reason in them contends with religion, and they will believe no more than they can give a reason for. There is a wisdom in some men, that despiseth the simplicity, or the inevidence(185) of the gospel, and accounts it foolishness, the carnal mind will needs start out from implicit trusting of God, when once it is possessed with some imagination of wisdom, therefore how many are the insurrections of men's spirits against God's absolute power over the creatures, against the mysteries of the holy Trinity and incarnation, against the resurrection of our bodies? In these, and such like, the pretended wisdom of men hath taken liberty to act enmity, and to dispute against God. But truly, the rebellion and insubjection against the truth of God is more generally practised, even by the multitude of men though in an unfree, hidden way, how few do believe their own desperate wickedness, though God hath testified it of man? Doth not every one apprehend some good to remain in his nature, and some power to good? What an impossibility is it to persuade you that all mankind are under the sentence of eternal condemnation, that children, who have not done good or evil, are involved in it also? Your hearts rise against such doctrines, as if they were bloody and cruel inventions. To tell you that many are called and few chosen, that the most part of them who profess the truth are walking in the way to hell, and shall undoubtedly fall into it, you may hear such things but you bless yourselves from them, and cannot be persuaded to admit them into your minds, the hearts of men will be giving the very lie to the God of truth, when he speaks these things in his word, God forbid that all that be true! If we should expound the law unto you, and show you that the least idle word, the lightest thoughts, the smallest inward motion of the heart deserves eternal misery, that anger is murder in God's sight, that lusting is fornication, that covetousness and love of the world is idolatry, these things you cannot know or receive. There are so many high imaginations in your minds, that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, so many thoughts that are mustered and set in battle array against the holy truths of God, that truly no weapons of human persuasion or instruction can be able to cast down your misapprehensions and imaginations, or reasonings of your hearts, or able to scatter these armies of rebellious thoughts, and bring them in captivity, (2 Cor. x.4, 5). Man's darkened mind is a stronghold, that all the repeated and continued beatings of the word, the multiplying "precept upon precept and line upon line," cannot storm it to make any true light shine into it. It is a dungeon, a pit so shut up and enclosed, no door nor window in it, so that albeit the Son of righteousness shine upon it, and round about it, there is no beam of that light can enter in the hearts of many thousands. The generality are drowned as yet in a deluge of ignorance, under the very light of daily preaching. It is a night of as thick darkness within men's souls, as if there were no light about us. Certainly this declares the height of enmity, the strength of the opposition. This prison of your minds is a stronghold indeed, that is proof of all preaching or instruction, and certainly they will hold out, till almighty power storm them, and beat or batter open some entry in your souls to receive this shining light of the gospel.
Then, there is a rebellion of the will against God's holy will revealed in his law or word, it cannot be subject to the law of God. It neither is nor can, for enmity and antipathy is sunk into its nature so, that it is the most deformed monstrous thing in the world, if the disfigured face of man's soul were visible, O how ugly were it! How would you loathe it! If there were a creature that could do nothing but hate itself and sought its own destruction, that were a hateful enough object. But self hatred and enmity is nothing so deformed and abominable, as for the creature's will to be set in opposition to the holy will of him that made it. It needs not much demonstration this, if you had but a little more consideration. Look back upon the tenor of your ways, set them beside the will and commands of God, and what find you? Whether agreement or disagreement? Take a view of the current of your inclinations and affections, and compare that with the holy will of God, and what find you? Friendship or enmity? You cannot digest the reproach of that, to be called enemies to God, but I pray you consider if there be not as perfect contrariety in your desires, affections, inclinations, and actions to the will of God as if you did profess it. What would you do if you professed yourselves enemies to God? Could you possibly vent your enmity any other way than this, in withdrawing from the yoke of his obedience, in revolting from that allegiance you owe to him? You could wrong him no further than by setting your hearts and ways contrary to his heart and ways in loving what he hates and hating what he loves. For his own blessed being you could not impair it. Now, consider if that be not acted as really as if you did profess it. Can you say that cursing, swearing, lying, railing, anger, strife, envy, revenge, and such like works of darkness, are the things which his soul loves? Are these suitable to his holy will? And yet these are your inveterate customs, to which your natures are so inured and habituated, that you can no more forsake them than hate yourselves. Are filthiness, drunkenness, Sabbath breaking, covetousness and love of the world, are these his delight? And yet these are your delight. Again is it not his will that ye should purge yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness? Is not righteousness that which he loves, and truth in the inward parts? Doth not he look to a contrite heart, and account that a savoury sacrifice? Is it not his royal statute and commandment, of which not one jot shall fail, that ye should deny yourselves, love your enemies, forgive them that offend you, sanctify his name always in your hearts, and especially on the holy Sabbath, that ye should watch unto prayer, be sober in the use of the world, be much in watching for his second coming? Now, what repugnance is in your hearts and ways to all these? Do not the conversations of men display a banner against the gospel, and proclaim as much in reality as is said in words in Psal. ii., "Let us cast his cords behind us, and cut his bands." These things are unsavoury unto you, you smell nothing pleasant in them, but only in the puddle of the world, in running at random, at your own liberty, after your own imaginations, that you account only liberty. O when shall your hearts be subdued, and your affections brought in captivity to the obedience of Christ! When shall you be delivered up to the truth, and so made to obey from the heart that form of doctrine and sound words, Rom. vi.17. This is the strongest hold that Satan hath in man's heart, -- his will and affections, and this keeps out longest against Jesus Christ, till he that is stronger come and bind the strong man, and cast out the enmity, and make all captive to his loving obedience, and willing subjection, 2 Cor. x.4, 5.
Then, thirdly, the enmity of the soul of man is acted in his rebellion against the will of God manifested in his works, in his unsubjection and unsubmissive disposition towards the good pleasure of the Lord, in carving out such and such a lot in the world. It is certain, that as the will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness, so it is the sovereign cause and fountain of all things and therefore, how infinitely is the creature bound to be subject to him as a Lawgiver, by pleasant and willing obedience to his righteous and reasonable commands, and to submit to him as the absolute Ruler, by quiet and humble condescendence, to all the dispensations of his providence! Now, you know, -- if you know any thing of yourselves, -- how cross and opposite these hearts of yours are to his good pleasure, how they are set just contrary. And whence flow all murmurings, grudgings, discontents, griefs, cares, and perplexities of men, but from this fountain, the rebellion of the heart against God? There is nothing in all the creation mutinous and malcontent, but the heart of man. You see frequent examples of it, in the murmurations of the people in the wilderness. It is frequently styled, a tempting of the Lord, (Exod. xvii.2,) importing a high provocation of his holy Majesty, a special incitement, as it were, and motive to declare his absolute power and righteousness against such, and therefore these are often conjoined, Psal. lxxviii.17, 18, "They sinned yet more, by provoking the most High, -- and they tempted God in their hearts" and it is added, verse 19, "Yea, they spake against God." Wherein you may observe a gradation of aggravations of this enmity. When men have already deserved infinite punishment at his hand, and may always look within, and find an answer to all the murmurings of their hearts, as having sinned so often against him, yet then, to rise up against his good pleasure, and after we have so often sinned, to repine at any thing coming from him. And this, certainly, is a high provocation of the most high God; it puts a kind of necessity upon him, to inflict that which thou indeed deservest, and then, this inward heart burning against God, -- it breaks out often in words, against that most high and holy One, so ver.40, 41, and ver.56, 57 Provoking, which is the plain expression of murmuring, in the margin is rendered, rebelling against him, and so in ver 8, when a short account is given of them, when the character or anagram of such a people is expressed, it is set down thus, "a stubborn and rebellious generation." Therefore Paul, considering this woful and wretched posture of the soul, set in opposition to the always blessed will of God, and the madness and folly of it, he exhorts us, "Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer, for these things happened for ensamples," &c., 1 Cor. x.10, 11. Truly, there is nothing more deformed and vile in itself, or more disquieting and tormenting to the soul, or more dangerous in the consequences of it, than such a posture of spirit, a discontented humour against God's providence whether it be in withholding that good thing from us which we desire, or sending that which crosseth our humour, whether sickness, or want, or reproach, or disrespect, whatsoever it be that the heart is naturally carried to pursue or eschew. What more abominable and ugly visage, than the countenance of an angry and furious person? But when this is against God, it adds infinitely to the deformity and vileness of it. "I do well to be angry," is the motto of a discontented soul. It elects an imaginary sovereignty against true Sovereignty, it sets up an anti providence, it establisheth another divine power and wisdom, and brings the majesty, highness, and holiness of God down to be tread upon by the creature. And then it is its own tormentor, a sin that needs no punishment but itself the insurrection and mutiny of the heart against God's will, sets all the powers of the soul out of course, vexes pains, and disquiets all. There is no peace and tranquillity but in the complacency of the heart with God's heart, as Ephraim was like a bullock unaccustomed with the yoke, (Jer. xxxi.18 ) the more he fretted and spurned at his yoke, the more it galled him, and grieved him, till he was instructed, and then he was eased. This fills the soul with hideous tormenting thoughts, and cares; this feeds upon its own marrow, and consumes it -- as some have made the emblem of envy, -- which is a particular kind of this enmity, as if you would imagine a creature that did waste and consume all its moisture, and marrow, and feed upon the destruction of itself. Now this is but the prelude of what follows, this self-punishment is a messenger to tell what is coming, that the most high God is engaged in his power against such a person, and shall vent his displeasure to their eternal displeasure. That is the fruit of this enmity.