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: 7th Place, The whole creation afferts this truth, That all have sinned and come hort of the glory of God; and consequently that part of it which ye use, asserts no less of you in particular.
The apostle, Rom. viii. 22. tells us, That the whole creation groneth, and travaileth in pain together until now. These creatures you daily use, they grone. If your ears were not deafened by fin, you might hear the grones of the ground you tread upon, of the food ye eat, and of the raiment ye put on. · Well, what is the matter what occasions these grones? The apostle tells us in the 20 and 21 ver. of that chaper, it is made subject to vanity, and to the bondage of corruption, for the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the fame in hope : because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Here the apostle asserts, (i.) That the creature is made subject to vanity, that is, is liable to be abused by
inen to other ends than it was at first designed for: : it is subject to this vanity, of falling short of the
design of its creation, which was the glory of God, and of being abused to his dishonour through the corruption of man. (2.) He asserts that it was not willingly made subject to it. O shame, the brute creatures condemn man. Man was willingly subject to vanity, did willingly desnt from the prosecution of that which was the design of his creation. . The rest of the creatures are passive in it; it is a sort of a force put upon them. It is a violence done to the creatures, when they are a: bused to the service of sin: it is contrary to their very natures; for they still continue according to the laws which God set them in the beginning.
(3.) The only thing that makes them continue in being when they are fo-abused by man, is the appointment of God. God continues them in being, not for this end, to be abused to a fübferviency to the lusts of men, though they make this use of the goodness of God; but that by the con i tinued effects of it, and proofs of undeserved kindness, he may lead them to repentance. (4.) The apostle asserts, That the creation shall be a sharer with the sons of God in their glorious delivery from the bondage of corruption, that is, When the children of God, these who have received Christ, and by him power to become the sons of God, fhall be fully freed from the remainders of, the guilt, power, and pollution of sin, then the creature shall no more be used contrary to God's design in its creation, but fhall, in the hand of the rational creature, again become an instrument for fhewing forth the glory of God, as it was at first designed to be. And to thew that the condition of the creature requires this, He, (5.) in the 22 ver. allerts, That the whole creation groneth, that is, complains of its hard usage, of its being abused by mens sin: and he extends this to the whole creation, that there may be no access for any who use the creatures to free themselves of that which the complaint runs against, to wit, fin. How can any free himself of sin, while all his enjoyments witness against him that he has sinned? O sinners, the Sun that shines upon you grones that it must give light to a sinner, one who uses the light for an encouragement to sin against God. The ground ye tread upon grones with the weight of finners. : The food that feeds you, complains that it must be so horribly perverted, as to serve the lusts of a
finner, as to furnish one with strength to sin against God. See Hab. ii. 11. Jam. v. 3.
8. The judgments of God bear witness against you. As many rods as have ever been upon you, as many witnesses are there of this sad truth. The ; rod of God speaks ; for we are commanded to hear the rod, Micah vi. 9. The Lord's voice crieth unto the city,' and the man of wisdom. shall see thy name : hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it. Every stroke that the hand of God lays upon us, fpeaks; and the first thing it says, is, re have finned and come port of the glory of God. For affliction doth not spring out of the ground, nor doth trouble arise out of the dust. And here we may boldly with Eliphaz in that iv, of Job and 7. challenge you to give one instance of any innocent who ever suffered the least wrong or trouble. Remember,' I pray thee, says he to Job, who ever perished being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? As if he had said, Search the records of ancient times ; rub up by thy memory, and give me but one instance of any person who fuffered and was not a sinner. I defy thee to give me one instance. Indeed he was out in the application of that unquestionable truth; for he did thence endeavour to infer that Job was a hypo: crite. As to the application, we are not concerned in it; but for the truth itself, that we own, and challenge you to instance any. Our blessed Lord indeed was free of personal failings, but not so of imputed ones; for the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all, and he was wounded for our tranfgreffions. And therefore, his sufferings are no ways inconsistent with this truth, That none suffer but finners; and therefore, your fufferings are a proof, and do testify that ye have
finned; for God doth not afflict willingly nor Igrieve the children of men, Lam. iii. 33. He takes
not pleasure in afflicting his own creatures; but when he does it, it is for their fins. What God, in his fovereignty, may do, as to the punishing, or rather afflicting of an innocent creature, we fhall not determine. Learned men have learnedly, I may fay, played the fool, or trifled in debating this point, the determination whereof makes nothing to edification, were it possible to deter. mine it fatisfyingly. If any should ask me, Can God punish or afflict an innocent creature? I. should answer, (1.) That questions about what God can do, are dangerous, and may for most part be forborn. (2.) Punish an innocent creatüre he cannot, for that presupposeth such a fault. (3.) God in the first formation of his creatures did set them such a law for their rule, as did lead them directly to the highest perfection their natures were capable of; and they walking according to that rule, i. e. being innocent, it is hard to : conceive how they could fall short, or in any mea . lure swerve from the end. If it be still enquired, whether God may not in his absolute fovereignty pass over this, which seems to be the fixed and fettled order of his conduct towards the creatures, and amict them, or suffer them to meet with inconveniences, while they hold close to the rule that God has fet them; if I say any state the que , stion thus, Then, (4.) I shall only propose ano... ther question to the enquirer, Can there possibly si fall within the compass of God's knowlege a delign which will make it worthy of his infinite wifdom and goodness to do so, to break this law of nature, which is every way suited to his wisdom and goodness? If he say there may, then he is o
bliged to produce it, which he will find hard enough to do: if he say not, then he determines the question in the negative, but dangerously enough; for who knows the infinitely wise designs which may fall within the compass of the thoughts of the-omniscient God, whore ways and thoughts are as far above the thoughts of man, as the hea. vens above the earth? But whatever be in this nice debate, wherein we shall not immix ourselves, the truth we have advanced is certain, That no instance can be given wherein God has afflicted those who have been absolutely free from fin, inherent or imputed: and therefore, the rods of God are witnesses against you that ye have sinned. Speak, O finners, did you never meet with an afAliction in body or mind, in your persons or families, in yourselves or in your relations, young or old? Who, or where is the man or woman that never had a cross? I believe that person is scarce to be found in the world who has no complaints, that is, who has no crosses. Well then, as many crosses as ye have had, as many witnesses are there giving in testimony against you, that ye have finned. For no finning, no suffering. • 9. In fine, to name no more witnesses, Death the king of terrors is a witness against you, and gives testimony against all, that they have sinned; for the wages of sin is death, Rom. vi. 23. It is only sin that gives death a power over you. If any of you can plead exemption from death, then you may with fome reason plead freedom from the charge we have laid against you; but if not, then in vain will all pretences, shifts and evasions be. It may be now we shall not, no not by the testimony of all the famous witnesses we have led against you, bring you to a conviction of fin : but