But those who are so far from valuing His graces and comforts, that should be received with the highest respect, that they ungratefully despise them, and rebel against His motions and counsels, He righteously deserts.
The obstinate sinner rebels against His authority, and condemns His mercy. The tempter with his charms is presently entertained, as the devils easily entered into the swine; but the Holy Spirit with His gracious offers is rejected. Wretched indignity! Rather to obey a slave and an enemy, than the lawful sovereign. The saints grieve the Spirit of God by a willful neglect of His assisting grace, and fall into presumptuous sins.
But the indulgent, habituate sinners, provoke Him finally to leave them to their own lusts. It is true, His deserting them is usually gradual, as in a consumptive person the stomach, the color, the strength decline by degrees, till nature sinks irrecoverably under the disease; so the motions of the Spirit in those who have often repelled them, are not so frequent and vigorous as before; His aftercalls are weaker, wasting, and dying every day, till His total withdrawing from them.
How fearful and hopeless is the state of such a sinner? This spiritual judgment always proceeds from inexorable severity, and ends in the eternal ruin of sinners. They may for a time live in a voluptuous course, or follow the business of the world; and a little breath may separate between them and hell, but they shall at last die in their sins, in an unpardonable state forever. The convictions and excitations of conscience are prevented, or made ineffectual by the prosperity of sinners. Conscience is the applicative mind that respects practice; it directs in our duty, both by inhibitions from what is evil, and by instigations to what is good; and by comparing our actions with rule, testifies our innocence or guilt, and approves or condemns us.
This intellectual ray was planted in us by the wise God in our creation, and extended to the divine law, the object and end of it, to keep us to our duty. And since our revolt, it is sanctified as the vital principle of conversion to God, the powerful means of rescuing the lapsed soul from its prostitution to the flesh, and recovering it to a temper of purity becoming its original excellence, and the relation to the Father of spirits. It is true, the law of God is the primary rule of our duty, and the Holy Spirit is the efficient of our renovation; but the enlightened conscience is the immediate rule, and the immediate mover of us to return to our duty.
And if conscience, which is the eye of the soul, be covered with a film of ignorance, if it be blurred with the false glitterings of the world, if it totally neglects its office, or makes but a cold application of saving terrors that may control the licentious appetites, if it be disregarded, when it suggests and excites to our duty, the sinner is hardened and settled in his lost state.
Affected ignorance is the usual concomitant of sensual lusts: for the enlightened conscience will convince, and condemn men for their pollutions, and force them here to feel the beginning of sorrows, and thereby make them apprehensive what the issues and consummation will be hereafter, and this will cast an aspersion of bitterness upon their sweet sins, and lessen the full pleasure of them.
Men love darkness to cover their nakedness and foul deformity. They are averse from knowing their duty, and will not search, lest they should discover such terrible truths that cross their sensual humor. There is such an intimate communion between the soul and body, that interchangeably they corrupt one another: the sins of the flesh sink into the spirit, and corrupt the moral principals, from whence the sensible conscience springs of good and evil.
And the sins of the spirit, infidelity, incogitancy, error, security, break out in the deeds of the body, and make the flesh more outrageous in its desires. A purged heart is requisite for a clear mind; but where lust dwells, it taints and perverts the practical judgment, from whence so many disorders follow in life.
The natural conscience in many cases, in its simple judgment of things, sincerely declares what is to be done, and what to be avoided; but when compounded and stained with a tincture of sensuality, it judges according to the desires. Those who are given up to carnal delights, and are in a confederacy with the gross senses, even their directive and judging faculty is carnal in its apprehensions. A reprobate mind, and vile affections, are naturally and judicially the cause and effect of one another.
Therefore they are atheists in desire, and if not seared by the pangs of a throbbing conscience, will be so in their thoughts. The heathens cancelled the law of nature, and transgressed all the rules of duty and decorum; they securely indulged those lusts that are a derogation and debasement to the reasonable creature, and make men below men. The reason of this prodigious degeneracy was, their manners corrupted their minds. A dead conscience, and a dissolute life, are inseparable. And how many that are surrounded with the celestial beams of the gospel, are as impure and impenitent, as those in the black night of paganism?
They stand at the entrance of the bottomless pit, yet do not smell the brimstone that enrages the fire there: the flames of their lusts, have seared their consciences to a desperate degree of hardness and insensibility. They violated all the prescriptions and restraints of the natural reason, they had lost all the ingenuous bashfulness of the humane nature, and pleased themselves in their false licentious principles, whereby they endeavored to justify their actions, and set a superficial gloss upon their foul deformities. Now, a seduced and seducing mind, make the conversion of a sinner most difficult.
While the judgment condemns what the affections approve, men are not so invincibly and irrecoverably lost; the enlightened conscience is an earnest of their return to their duty.
But when the Spirit is deceived, the flesh always prevails; and men are most dissolute, corrupt, and desperately wicked. How disorderly and ruinous will the course be?
We often think of the unique challenges and opportunities that facing lack/need presents. But less frequently recognized are the dangers that. In The Danger of Prosperity, Bates insightfully teaches Christians how wealth, honor, and fame often contributes to the downfall of the unwary. He challenges his.
If the conscience, that should be as salt to preserve the soul from tainting pleasure, be corrupted, wherewith can it be restored? Fleshly lusts smother and suppress the dictates and testimony of the enlightened conscience, so that they are not influential upon the life. The dictates of conscience are in a direct line, instructing and advising men in their duty: the testimony is by reflection upon their errors from the divine rule, and condemning them for their guilt.
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