Of that Name, The Sinne that doth so easily beset us, given to Original Sinne.
HEB. 12. 1.
THe Apostle from those several Examples of many Worthies re∣corded in the former Chapter, which he cals, A Cloud of Wit∣nesses, partly for the multitude of them, and partly for Dire∣ction; As the Israelites had a Cloud to guide them in the wilder∣derness, doth inferre a conclusion by way of Incouragement, to go on constantly in the way of Christianity; which he doth here, as in other places, compare to a running in the race. This similitude sheweth the Difficulty in the race, the Earnestness, the Fortitude and Patience that ought to be in such who will be saved. What an antidote should the meditation of this expression, be against all dulness, slothfulness and negligence, whose life is like a running in a race to Heaven: Now the Apostle following this Metaphor, exhorts to lay aside all those burdens that may hinder us in this work: It would be 〈◊〉 in him, who is to runne a race, to put burdens upon his back, and lay as many heavy weights upon himself, as he can; No lesse absurd are they, who give way to sinne in the lusts thereof, and yet hope to arrive at Heaven.
Now the burden we are to lay aside, is expressed in two words:
1. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉weight, by this is meant, all actual sinne, especially love and cares about the world, for the earth is an element that descends downward, and so he who hath an earthly heart, cannot but have his soul presse down∣ward.
2. There is the Root and cause of this, expressed in that phrase, The sinne that doth so easily beset us,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the word is but once used, and that in this place, it's a two fold compound, and so the more emphatical, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which is as much here as easie, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so that it is a sinne which besetteth and compasseth us about, and that very easily, it finds no resistance, neither have we any power to withstand it.
Some understand this of actual sinnes, but not only Protestant Interpreters, but even some Papists also; Ribera and others understand it of Concupiscence within us; The word is made a Metaphor several wayes; Erasmus renders it, Tenaciter adhaerentem, That sinne which doth so tenaciously adhere to us, ma∣king Page 97 it an All•sion to Ezekiel Chap. 24. where there is a Pot set on the fire, yet all the fire and burning cannot get off the rust and filth that clea∣veth to it. Gretius makes it to respect Lament. 1. 14. where there are yokes and bands mentioned about the neck, which are impediments to the beast in his going.
Others they make the Metaphor from a Wall, or an hedge that stops the passenger in his way; Yea, Lapide following others, makes it to be the outward temptations, or the dangers that are in the way by enemies and adversaries to the Truth, but the Greek 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, doth not well agree to that: Hesichius render∣eth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Varinus〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. If we compare this expression with what Paul saith of himself (Rom. 7) concerning original sinne, keeping and pressing him down; we may well with Beza put a procul dubto upon that exposition, which doth apply it to original sinne, for that indeed is the onely weight, that doth constantly and perpetually beset us and hinder us in our way to Heaven, and that with all ease and facility: Observe then,
That original sinne is the sinne which doth so easily beset us: That doth circum∣cingere, as Beza saith, bind us up strait and close, that our limbs are not expe∣dite and free to runne our holy race; So that it is with us as a racer that hath his arms or legs bound, his garments so strait-laced to him, that he can∣not have that liberty and freedom to runne, as he doth desire. Some con∣sider the word, as it did allude to a milstone about the neck, plunging us down into the Sea.
What is implied in that Expression, So easily beset us.
LEt us take notice, What is contained in this excellent and emphatical word. And
First, There is implied our utmost impotency and inability to shake off the power of it. For although the Apostle exhorteth us to lay it aside, yet that must be understood as a duty alwayes in doing, that we are neverable to compleat¦fully and perfectly; You see, though they are godly to whom he writeth, and they are already in the race, yet it is their work daily to be unburdenning of them∣selves: When therefore it's called, The sinne so easily besetting us, hereby is taught us our inability and insufficiency to withstand it; Insomuch that all those Doctrines, which teach Free-will, and a power to do what is good, are justly to be abandoned, John 15. when separated from Christ, we cannot do any thing, and therefore are said to be not asleep, but even dead in sinne; so that no Infant new born is more unable to help it self, than we are to promote the good of our own souls. This therefore must be laid as a foundation, without this our humi∣liation doth not goe deep enough; We are to lie bemoaning our selves, as that poor Cripple, which had no power to put himself into the water; And indeed till we be sensible of this impotency, we cannot expect that Christ will help us; When that Cripple said, He had no man, than our Saviour relieved him: Oh then, bewail the strait and misery thou art in If it were a temporal calamity thou wert in, and such as neither thou thy self, or any man in the world could help thee, How greatly would it afflict thee? But now though neither men or Angels can deliver thee out of this spiritual evil, yet thou doest not lay it to heart.
Secondly, As it densteth that our power to good is lost by this original sinne; Page 98 So also our will and desire: For why should it be said to beset us so easily? But because we have neither power or will against it; so that till the principle of Re∣generation be infused into us; sinne hath defiled our will, as well as our power; as we cannot, so neither we will not gain say the lusts thereof. We must not then conceive of man, as indeed miserably polluted, and such as cannot help himself, but is very willing, and heartily desireth to be freed from this bondage, but his will is as grosly polluted, as any thing, He willeth not the things of God, he loveth not, yea he hateth every thing that is spiritual and holy; Insomuch that we may truly say, That the actual wickednesse in mens lives, doth not onely arise from weaknesse and impotency to what is holy, but from an unwillingnesse, and an aversnesse to it. Though they be allured with the glorious promises of Gods favour, and eternal glory; Though the terrors of God, and the everlasting flames of hell be set before them, yet they will not; Though their consciences be convicted, though the word of God be plain against their lusts, so that they cannot tell what to say, yet they will not: So that herein lieth the sad and dreadfull efficacy of original sinne, that it hath cor∣rupted the will all over, so that whereas we will the lusts of the flesh, the pleasures of sinne, the comforts of the world, we have no will to what is good: If then the will, which is the appetitus universalis, and like the primum mobile, that doth carry all the inferiour orbs with it, be thus infected with sinne, no wonder if we be easily beset by it: This is to bribe the Commander in Chief, that ruleth all, and so it is no wonder, if all be at last betrayed into the hands of sinne and Satan.
Thirdly, When original sinne is said thus to beset us, and compasse us about, hereby is denoted, What an impediment and hinderance it is to us in our way to Heaven, that were it not for this clog upon us, we should with all chear∣fulness and alacrity runne the way of Gods Commandments. It is this that makes the Chariot-wheels of the soul move so slowly; It is this that stops us in the way, that makes us draw back.
How many wayes Original Sinne is a Burden, and an Hinderance unto us.
NOw because this property is chiefly aimed at by the Apostle in this ex∣pression, viz. that it is a burden, an hinderance, a stop to us, while we are in our race: Let us consider, How many wayes original sinne is a bur∣den and hinderance, so that if this were removed, there would be no complaints of the difficulty that we find to what is good, yea the more perfect and spiritual any duty is, the more pleasing and acceptable it would be to an heart eased of this burden. And
First, Original sinne is a burden incurvando, By bowing down and pressing to the soul to these creatures here below; So that now by nature the creature with the comforts thereof, is the center of a mans heart, is the ultimate object his soul is placed upon. God indeed made man after his own image and then his heart, his affections, they did all ascend upwards to God, then he could not satiate, or fully delight himself in any thing but God, but through this original sinne a man is habitually averse to God, and converted to the crea∣tures; So that God is not in all his thoughts, yea Ephes. 2. 2. they are said to be without God in the world, Even as the body of a man, when deprived of its sense; falleth prostrate presently upon the ground; so when that ori∣ginal Page 99 righteousness was removed, which was the soul of the soul, presently we fall downwards to the creatures, knowing no better good, nor desiring any bet∣ter comforts, but what are in them. No marvel then if this make the godly go stooping and bowing down, because it depresseth and leaneth to the creature, leaving God; That as you see the body is a burden to the soul, especially if dis∣eased, which made Plato say, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the very grave and sepulchre of the soul: Thus original sin is a spiritual burden to it, that there cannot be those ascensions and elevations of the mind to God, as ought to be.
Secondly, It's an impediment in our race, Obnitendo, by a plain opposing and contrary thwarting of any good that the Spirit of God either externally offers, or internally operates. Thus this native sinne doth with all violence oppose and thwart whatsoever is spiritual; Therefore you see the Apostle expressing this re∣sistance by military words, that it doth warre against him, and sometimes lead him into captivity; Thus even a Paul is like a poor captive or prisoner, carried up and down whether he would not: Now this obnitency and reluctancy of original sinne is seen two wayes against what is good:
1. There is a good published and tendered by the preaching of the Gospel. God doth by that proffer unto us everlasting and eternal life; but this original sinne stirreth up a man to reject it, and to refuse it; it's no sutable or acceptable offer to our natures, no more than pearls or sweet flowers are to the beastly Swine. Indeed when a people have lived long under the preaching of the Go∣spel, yet do reject it, and oppose it, loving darkness rather than light, these have a double blindness and hardness upon them; The natural one by original sinne, and the habitual contracted one, which they are justly delivered up into by God for the contempt of the light they do enjoy; but I speak here only of the natural blindness, and natural hardness upon our hearts: So that upon the very first of∣fers and tenders of grace, the first Sermon that ever we hear, the first time that the Gospel doth sound in our ears, we have a contrariety to it; and why is it that a man should thus naturally be an enemy to his own peace? Is it not because of this imbred sin working in us?
2. If the Spirit of God go further, and doth not outwardly teach onely, but inwardly and spiritually also, changing even the whole man, making it a new creature, yet because this corruption is not quite rooted out, it doth conti∣nually gain say, and withstand that Law of the mind within us: Whence then is it that such rebellion and opposition is within thee to every good thing? Is it not because original sinne hath put thee into this dis∣order?
Thirdly, It is an impediment alliciendo and inescando, It doth ensnare and allure the heart, so that while the soul should pursue the race, that throweth in the way some alluring objects or others, and thereby it is stopt in its course; As the Heathens speak of golden Apples cast in the way to hinder one that was swiftly running in the race: He that runneth in a race, must not step out of the way to gather every flower that groweth by the way-side; nor is he to stand still and refresh his eyes with pleasant objects: Thus neither ought we in our way to Heaven; but this original corruption bewitches and enticeth the heart with many deceitfull and alluring lusts: So that by this means we are for the most part in golden, sweet, dreams, promising this and that comfort to our selves, till at last with Dives we awaken in hell, and see our selves bereaved of all happiness. The Apostle James doth fully confirm this secret bewitching way of original sinne within us, which he calleth lust, Jam. 1. 14. So that, marvel not to see thy self drowned in all the pleasures of sinne, to be sucking down the comforts of earthly things with all delight, for this lust within thee, this bewitching Dalilah in thy breast, puts thee into a sweet sleep, and so heavenly things have no relish, no taste to thy appetite, Page 100 but the things of the world are sweeter than the honey-comb: Oh why is it that sinne which is indeed full of stings and bitterness should be so sweet! Why should it be such a pleasing thing to go in the wayes that lead to hell and damnation? that when thou art sinning, it is as thou wouldst have it? Is not all this, because sin hath insnared and inticed thee?
Lastly, Sinne is a burden to the soul in our race, debilitando, By weak∣ning and debilitating the principles of grace within us: So that although we are regenerated and sanctified, yet because original sinne doth intimately adhere even to the very habits of grace within us, so that they are not per∣fect and pure: Hence it is that their actings are more remisse and languid; we cannot love God perfectly, we cannot have pure and sinnelesse actions, because we have not pure and sinnelesse principles: So that whereas some have thought, that there is not such a spiritual conflict in a godly man, as we speak of, because that would make the will, to will and nill at the same time two con∣trary things; they do not rightly understand this Assertion, for it's not from contrariety of volitions, but because the will being not perfectly healed, willeth good things remisly and faintly, not with that perfection, or freedom and alacrity as it ought to do.
Vse. Of Instruction. Every day to bewail this depraved estate of thine more and more; We take thee (as Ezekiel was in another case) and cause thee to see every day more and more abomination: Thou hast not heard all the worst, nor have we discovered all the worst that is in us, yea, we are never able to goe to the bottome of it. This original sinne is an unsearchable Mystery; It is a long while ere we come to know any thing of it, and longer ere we come to know the breadth and length of it. Know this sufficiently, and then be in love with thy self, or trust in thy good heart, and thy own righteousness, if thou canst.