« הקודםהמשך »
steady and persevering manner-- yet it is manifest those things are no certain evidences of grace. Unregenerate men may have a sense of the importance of eternity, and the vanity of time; the worth of immortal souls ; the preciousness of time and means of grace, and the folly of the way of allowed sin. They may have such a sense of those things, as may deeply affect them, and cause them to mourn for their own sins, and be much concerned for others; though it be true, they have not these things in the same manner, and in all respects from the same principles and views as godly men have them.
2. Devils and damned men have a strong and most affecting sense of the awful greatness and majesty of God. This is greatly made manifest in the execution of divine vengeance on his enemies. Rom. ix. 29. 66 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ?” The devils tremble before this great and terrible God, and under a strong sense of his awful majesty. It is greatly manifested to them and damned souls now; but shall be manifested in a further degree, in that day when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance upon them; and when they shall earnestly desire to fly, and be hid from the face of him that sits on the throne, (which shall be, “ because of the glory of his majesty,” Isa. ii. 10,) and when they shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. When Christ comes at the last day, in the glory of his father, every eye shall see him in that glory, (in this respect, that they shall see his terrible majesty,) and they also that pierced him, Rev. i. 7. Both those devils, and wicked men, which tormented and insulted bim when he appeared in meanness and ignominy, shall then see him in the glory of bis Father.
It is evident, therefore, that a sense of God's terrible majesty is no certain evidence of saving grace: for we see that wicked men and devils are capable of it; yea, many wicked men in this world have actually bad it. This is a manifestation which God made of himself in the sight of that wicked congregation at Mount Sinai, wbich they saw, and with which they were deeply affected, so that all the people in the camp trembled.
3. Devils and damned men have some kind of conviction and sense of all attributes of God, both natural and moral, that is strong and very affecting.
The devils know God's almighty power: they saw a great manifestation of it, when they saw God lay the foundation of the earth, &c. and were much affected with
it. They have seen innumerable other great demonstrations of his power; as in the universal deluge, the destruction of Sodom, the wonders in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness; causing the sun to stand still in Joshua's time, and many others.-And they had a very affecting manifestation of God's mighty power on themselves, in casting all their hosts down from beaven into hell; and have continual affecting experience of it, in God's reserving them in strong chains of darkness, and in the strong pains they feel. They will hereafter have far more affecting experience of it, when they shall be punished from the glory of God's power, with that mighty destruction in expectation of which they now tremble. So the devils have a great knowledge of the wisdom of God: they have had unspeakably more opportunity and occasion to observe it in the work of creation, and also in the works of providence, than any mortal man has ever had; and have been themselves the subjects of innumerable affecting manifestations of it, in God's disappointing and confounding them in their most subtle devices, in so wonderlul and amazing a manner. So they see and find the infinite purity and holiness of the divine nature, in the most affecting manner, as this appears in his infinite hatred of sin, in what they feel of the dreadful effects of that hatred. They know already by what they suffer, and will know hereafter to a greater degree, and far more affecting manner, that such is the opposition of God's nature to sin, that it is like a consuming fire, which burns with infinite vehemence against it. They also will see the holiness of God, as exercised in his love to righteousness and holiness, in the glory of Christ and his church; which also will be very affecting to devils and wicked men. And the exact justice of God will be manifested to them in the clearest and strongest, most convincing, and most affecting light, at the day of judgment; when they will also see great and affecting demonstrations of the riches of bis grace, in the marvellous fruits of his love to the vessels of mercy; when they shall see them at the right hand of Christ, shining as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and shall hear the blessed sentence pronounced upon them; and will be deeply affected with it, as seems naturally implied in Luke xiii. 28, 29. The devils know God's truth, and therefore they believe his threatenings, and tremble in ex. pectation of their accomplishment. And wicked men that now doubt his truth, and dare not trust his word, will hereafter, in the most convincing affecting manner, find his word to be true in all that he has thriatened, and will see that he is faithful to his promises in the rewards of his saints. Devils and damned men know that God is eternal and unchangeable; and therefore they despair of there ever being
an end to their misery. Therefore it is manifest, that merely persons having an affecting sense of some, or even of all God's attributes, is no certain sign that they have the true grace of God in their hearts.
OBJECT. Here possibly some may object against the force of the foregoing reasoning, That ungodly men in this world are in exceeding different circumstances from those in which the devils are, and from those wbich wicked men will be in at the day of judgment. Those things wbich are visible and present to these, are now future and invisible to the other; and wicked men in this world are in the body, that clogs and hinders the soul, and are encompassed with objects that blind and stupify them. Therefore it does not follow, that because the wicked in another world bave a great apprehension and lively sense of such things without grace, ungodly men in their present state may have the same.
Ans. To this I answer: It is not supposed that ever men in this life have all those things which have been mentioned, to the same degree that the devils and damned have them.- None suppose that ever any in this life have terrors of conscience to an equal degree with them. It is not to be supposed that any mortal man, whether godly or ungodly, has an equal degree of speculative knowledge with the devil. Aud, as was just now obseryed, the wicked at the day of judgment, will have a vastly greater idea of the external glory of Christ than ever any have in the present state. So, doubtless, they will have a far greater sense of God's awful greatness and terrible majesty, than any could subsist under in this frail state. So we may well conclude, that the devils and wicked men in hell have a greater and more affecting sense of the vastness of eternity, and (in some respects) a greater sense of the importance of the things of another world, than any here have; and they have also longings after salvation to an higher degree than any wicked men in this world.
But yet it is evident that men in this world may have things of the same kind with devils and danined men : the same sort of light in the understanding; the same views and affections, the same sense of things, the same kind of impressions on the mind and on the heart. The objection is against the conclusiveness of that reasoning which is the apostle's, more properly than mine. The apostle judged it a conclusive argument against such as thought their believing there was one God an evidence of their being gracious, that the devils believed the same. So the argument is exactly the same against such as think they have grace, because they believe God is a holy God, or because they have a sense of the awful majesty of God. The same may be observed of other things that have been mentioned. My text has reference, not only to the act of the understandings of devils in believing, but to that affection of their hearts which accompanies the views they have; as trembling is an effect of the affection of the heart. Which shews, that if men have both the same views of understanding, and also the same affections of heart that the devils have, it is no sign of grace.
And as to the particular degree to which these things may be carried in men' in this world without grace, it
appears not safe to make use of it as an infallible rule to determine men's state. I know not where we have any rule to go by, to fix the precise degree in wbich God by his providence, or his common influences on the mind, will excite in wicked men in this world, the same views and affections which the wicked bave in another world; which, it is manifest, the former are capable of as well as the latter, having the sime faculties and principles of soul; and which views and affections, it is evident, they often are actually the subjects of in some degree, some in a greater, and some in a less degree. The infallible evidences of grace which are laid down in scripture are of another kind: they are all of a holy and spiritual nature; and therefore things of that kind which a heart that is wholly carnal and corrupt cannot receive or experience, 1 Cor. ii. 14. I might also bere add, that observation and experience, in very many instances, seem to confirm what scripture and reason teaches in these things.
The second use may be of self-examination.
Let the things which have been observed put all on examining themselves, and inquiring, whether they have any better evidences of saving grace, than such as have been mentioned.
We see how the infallible Spirit of God, in the text, plainly represents the things of which the devils are the subjects, as no sure sign of grace. And we have now, in some instances, observed how far the devils and damned men go, and will go in their experience, their knowledge of divine things, their belief of truth, their awakenings and terrors of conscience, their conviction of guilt, and of the justice of God in their eternal dreadful damnation, their longings after salvation, their sight of the external glory of Christ and heavenly things, their sense of the vast importance of the things of religion, and another world; their sense of the awful greatness and terrible majesty of God, yea, of all God's attributes. These things may well put us on serious selfexamination, whether we have any thing to evidence our good estate, beyond what the devils have. Christ said to his
disciples, “ Except your righteousness exceed the righteous. ness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven :" so the Spirit of Christ, in his apostle James, does in effect say, in my text, Except what you experience in your souls go beyond the experiences of devils, ye shall in no cast enter into the kingdom of God.
Here, it may be, some will be ready to say, I have something besides all these things; what the devils have pot, even love and joy.
I answer, You may have something besides the experiences of devils, and yet nothing beyond them. Though the experience be different, yet it may not be owing to any different principle, but only the different circumstances under which these principles are exercised. The principles from whence the fore-mentioned things in devils and damned men arise, are these two, natural understanding and self-love. It is from these principles of natural understanding and self-love, as exercised about their own dispositions and actions, and God as their judge, that they have natural conscience, and bave such convictions of conscience as have been spoken of. It is from these principles that they have such a sense of the importance of the things of religion, and the eternal world, and such longings after salvation. It is from the joint exercise of these two principles that they are so sensible of the awtul majesty of God, and of all the attributes of the divine nature, and so greatly affected with them. And it is from these principles, joined with external sense, the wicked, at the day of judgment, will have so great a napprehension of, and will be so greatly affected by the external glory of Christ and his saints. And that you have a kind of love, or gratitude and joy, which devils and damned men have not, may possibly not arise from any other principles in your heart different from these two, but only from these principles as exercised in different circumstances. As for instance, your being a subject of the restraining grace of God, and under circumstances of hope. The natural understanding and self-love of devils possibly might affect them in the same manner, if they were in the same circumstances. If your love to God has its first source from nothing else than a supposed immediate divine witness, or any other supposed evidence, that Christ died for you in particular, and that God loves you ; it springs from no higher principles than self-love ; which is a principle that reigns in the hearts of devils. Self-love is sufficient, without grace, to cause men to love those that love them, or that they imagine love them, and make much of them; Luke vi. 32. 6 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have you ? For sinners also love those that love them.” And would not the hearts of devils be filled with great joy, if they, by any means, should take up