Tags

, , ,

(The previous post on these sermons may be found here)

Thus much in general, which things premised, I come to the forenamed particulars. 

First,

Doct. That naturally we are apt and prone to confidence in outward helps and present things.

He develops this point using a conception from Augustine, that with the Fall the love of humanity turns inward and away from God. It creates a defect in the functioning of the creature. This is an idea which even more importantly derives from Paul, particularly Romans 1, particularly 1:25, “they worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” If you couple that with 2 Cor. 3:18, you can see that proper functioning of the human creature takes place when the creature is rightfully reflecting the Creator. In Col. 3:10 Paul writes that we are “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” This is the “new self”.

This came to our nature from the first fall. 

What was the most basic event of the Fall?

What was our fall at first? A turning from the all-sufficient, unchangeable God, to the creature. 

Thus, sin is relational:

If I should describe sin, it is nothing but a turning from God to one creature or other. When we find not contentment and sufficiency in one creature, we run to another. 

The proposition is then illustrated by something familiar to all. A note on the illustration, the point is not to demonstrate the preacher’s brilliance, but to make it easier for the listener to grasp and retain the abstract principle:

As the bird flies from one tree and bough to another, so we seek variety of contentments from one thing to another. Such is the pravity of our nature since the fall. This is a fundamental conclusion. 

He here provides some evidence: we must have external support to function correctly. He considers the matter at a “psychological” proposition. He states and elaborates the proposition, then provides a brief illustration. The illustration is common and easy to understand. Remember the hearer of a sermon does not have the ability to re-wind or underscore or ponder during the sermon:

Man naturally will, and must, have somewhat to rely on. The soul must have a bottom, a foundation to rest on, either such as the world affords, or a better. Weak things must have their supports. As we see, the vine being a weak thing, is commonly supported by the elm, or the like supply. 

He then reiterates the evidentiary argument, but this time he substitutes “soul” for “man” and explains the same state as a “spiritual” matter (rather than a bare “psychological”) proposition:

So is it with the soul since the fall. Because it is weak, and cannot uphold nor satisfy itself with itself, therefore it looks out of itself. Look to God it cannot, till it be in the state of grace; for being his enemy, it loves not to look to him or his ways, or have dealing with him. 

He has stated the proposition, provided some evidence for the proposition and then concludes:

Therefore it looks unto the creature, that next hand unto itself. This being naturally since the fall, that what we had in God before when we stood, we now labour to have in the creature.

Having established the observation, then gives the reason why such takes place. The first “reason” is given briefly because it is primarily a summary of above. 

Reason 1. Because, as was said, having lost communion with God, somewhat we must have to stay the soul.

The second “reason” brings in a new element: the ability of Satan to deceive. This is an interesting explanation, he puts Satan’s work at the level of “fancy.” By “fancy” he means something like “imagination”. The basic understanding of the psychology here is that something is observed and recognized. Next, the fancy operates upon the thing seen to provide understanding of it. We see things, and then the fancy, which has been influenced, will mis-value the thing seen. This is not a passive process of being solely acted upon, because this “spirit of error join[s] with our own spirit[], and with the deceit of our nature[]”.

2. Secondly, Because Satan joins with our sense and fancy, by which we are naturally prone to live, esteeming of things not by faith and by deeper grounds, but by fancy. Now, fancy having communion with sense, what it discovers and presents for good and great, fancy makes it greater. And the devil, above all, having communion with that faculty of fancy, and so a spirit of error being mixed therewith, to make our fancy think the riches of the world to be the only riches; the greatness and goodness of the creature to be the only greatness and goodness; and the strength thereof the only strength. This spirit of error joining with our own spirits, and with the deceit of our natures, makes us set a higher value on the creature, enlargeth and enrageth the fancy, making it spiritually drunk, so as to conceive amiss of things.

What then do we do with this information? When we are injured by reliance upon the creature, it is a good gift of God: we are being taught that we are trusting in the wrong things (the creature) rather than the Creator.

Use. Briefly for use hereof, it being but a directing point to others. Let us take notice of our corruption herein, and be humbled for it; taking in good part those afflictions and crosses which God sends us, to convince and let us see that there is no such thing in the creature as we imagined; because naturally, we are desperately given to think that there is somewhat more therein than there is. Now affliction helps this sickness of fancy, embittering unto us all confidence in the creature. Therefore it is a happy and a blessed thing to be crossed in that which we over-value, as these Israelites here did the Assyrians and the Egyptians: for being enemies, they trusted in a ‘broken reed,’ 2 Kings 18:21, as we shall see further in the second point.