(This analysis of Thomas Adams’ sermon “Mystical Bedlam” (Adams, collected works, vol. 1, 254 is continued from https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/mystical-bedlam-2/)
In this section he demonstrates that humanity has been infected extensively with death. The objection stated, as to original sin will become a much more heated debate in the generations which follows Adams. Edwards’ treatise on original sin will consider that objection at much greater length than Adams does here.
“Our corruptibleness is here demonstrated: A moral father cannot beget an immortal son” (256).
i) Objection: Why should the children die for their father’s sin?
I) “I answer, Adam is considered as the root of mankind; that corrupt mass, whence can be deduced no pure thing” (257)
II) “Thou shalt die, O son of man, not because thou art sick, but because [thou art] the son of man….Who happened to come into the world, must upon necessity go out of the world” (257)
ii) “It is no new thing to die, since life itself is nothing else but a journey to death” (257).
iii) “This should teach us to arm ourselves with patience and expectation to encounter death. – Often we ought to prepare for death, we will not; at last, we die indeed, and we would not….What bad memories we have, that forget our own names and selves, that we are sons of men, corruptible men!” (257)
II. The vessel which contains such madness is the heart.
A) How mad is it that man would have all his vessels good but his own heart! 258
B) Adams next develops a doctrine of the heart. He calls it “the receptacle of life” (258). The heart being the center of the microcosmus which is the human being. To place the heart in the center of the human being as the vital point is good biblical theology. However, Adams references humanity in light of contemporary understanding:
[The human being] had the unique function of binding together all creation, of bridging the greatest cosmic chasm, that between matter and spirit….Man was called a little world, not because he is composed of four elements …but because he possess all the faculties of the universe…E.M.W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture, 66.
The heart, of all places, seems to be the seat of all such faculties and of the bridge between physical and spiritual.
C) He next develops a line of argument based upon the observation that the heart is “hollow”.
1) “It is a spiritual vessel, made to contain the holy dews of grace, which make glad the city of God, Psalm 96:4. It is ever full, either with that precious juice, or with the pernicious liquor of sin.”
2) The heart is right only when it rightly relates to God:
a) “The Father made it, the Son bought it, the Holy Ghost sanctifies it; therefore they all three claim a right to the heart. …The world cannot satisfy it: a globe cannt fill a triangle. Only God can sufficiently content the heart” (258).
b) “The heart is the chief toward of life to the body, and the spiritual citadel to the whole man: always besieged by a domestical enemy, the flesh; by a civil, the world; by a professed, the devil. Every perpetrated sin doth some hurt to the walls; but if the heart be taken, the whole corporation is lost ….All the faculties of man follow the heart ….”
3) God has done good for the heart: “Spiritually, he hath done more for the heart, giving th blood of his Son to cleanse it, soften it, when it was full both of hardness and turpitude. By his omnipotent grace he unroosted the devil from it, who had made it a stable of uncleanness; and now requires it, being created new, for hi sown chamber, for his own bed. The purified heart is God’s sacrary, his sanctuary, his house, his heaven” (259).
D) Therefore we must protect the heart: accordingly, we must know who will seek the heart.
1) Four will seek it:
a) “He that begs the heart is the pope ….He begs thy heart, and offers thee nothing for it, but crucifixes, images, etc” (259-260).
b) “He that would buy this vessel of us is the devil….” (260). He offers us anything to gain it. “If any man, like Ahab sell his heart to such a purchaser, let him that it …he doth buy it to butcher it” (260).
c) “The flesh is the borrower and would have this vessel to use, with promise of restoring. Let him have it a while, and thou shalt have it agin; but as from an ill neighbor, so broken, lacerated, deformed, defaced … .and then sends the heart, like a jade, tired with unreasonable travel” (260).
d) “The world is the thief ….The world hath two properties of a thief
i) First, it comes in the night time, when the lights of reason and understanding are darkened;
ii) Secondly, it makes noise in coming …terrifies us not with noise of tumultuous troubles … but pleasingly gives us the music of gain, and laps us warm in the couch of lusts….Fraud is more dangerous than force” (260).
E) How to respond to those who would seek the heart:
1) Turn the beggar from thy door (260)
2) “Then reject the buyer; set him no price of they heart, for he will take of any reckoning” (261).
3) “The borrower …lend him no any implement in thy house, any affection in thy heart” (261).
4) Be wary of the thief, “Lock up this vessel with the key of faith ….Trust not thy heart in thine own custody; but lay it up in heaven with any treasure” (261).
III) The liquor this vessel holds is evil. 261
A) “He that feels not his miseries sensibly is not a man; and he that bears them not courageously is not a Christian” (261).
B) “God created this vessel good; but man poisoned it in seasoning….Man was created happy, but he found out tricks to make himself unhappy” (262)
C) Solomon’s reference in Ecclesiastes 9:3 is not a regenerate heart.
1) “Oh, ingrate, inconsiderate man! To whom God hath given so good a vessel, and he fills it with so evil sap …..When the seat of holiness is become the seat of hollowness; the house of innocence, the house of impudence; the palace of love, the place of lust; the vessel of piety, the vessel of uncleanness; the throne of God the court of Satan, the heart become rather a jelly than a heart … that custom, being a second nature, the heart hath lost the name of heart, and is become the nature of that it holds, a lump of evil” (263).
2) “It is detestable ingratitude in a subject, on whom his sovereign hath conferred a golden cup, to employ it to base uses” (263).
3) Shall the great Belshazzar, Dan. v. 2, that tyrant of hell, sit drinking his wines of abomination and wickedness in the scared bowls of the temple, the vessels of God, the heart of men, without ruin to hose that delightfully suffer him? 263
4) I am willingly led to prolixity in this point [Adams has been working at great length to create emotional response in the hearers by means of amplification in his description of ingratitude toward God in sin. He seeks to make sin unthinkable, seeing what damage it does the heart.] Yet in vain the preacher amplifies, except his hearer applies. 264
5) What is lust in thy heart, thou adulterer….[lists several sins] Is this wine fit for the Lord’s bowel, or dregs for the devil to carouse of? 264
6) “Sin is beneath a Christian: How ill it becomes it such a heart to have hypocrisy, injustice, fraud, covetousness seen in it!…To the master of malediction, and his ungodly ways, we leave those vices; our heart are not vessels for such liquor. If we should entertain them, we give a kind of warrants to others’ imitation” (264).
7) “But how can this evil juice in our hearts be perceived? What beams of the sun shall ever pierce into that abstruse and secret pavilion?…I say not that works determine a man to damnation of bliss – the decree of God orders that – but works distinguish of a good or bad man. The saints have sinned, but the greatest part of their converted life hath been holy” (265).
V) The measure of this vessel’s infection – full. 266
A) He “tells man plainly that his heart, not some less principal part of it, is evil, not good, or inclining to goodness; nay, full of evil, to the utmost dram it contains” (266).
B) “Indeed, man quickly fills this vessel of his own accord; let him alone, and he needs no help to bring himself to hell” (266)
C) “Then the more men act, the more they affect; and the exit of one sin is another’s hint of entrance, that the stage of his heart is never empty till the tragedy of his soul be done” (266)
VI) The “repair” of the heart
A) “There is first a necessity that the heart, which is full of evil by nature, must be emptied by conversion, and replenished by grace, or not save by glory; what scuppet have we then to free the heart of this muddy pollution? Lo, how happily we fall upon repentance: God grant repentance fall upon us!” 267
B) The heart thus emptied of that inveterate corruption, should fityly be washed before it be replenished. …In vain were all repentance without this: no tears can wash the heart clean, but those bloody ones which the side of Christ and others parts wept, when the spear and the nails gave them eyes, whiles the Son of eternal joy became a mourner for his brethren. 268
C) All is not done with this vessel when washed. Shall we empty it, cleanse it, and so leave it?… If God be not present, Satan will not be absent….Humility must take up the room which pride had in the heart; charitableness must step into the seat of avarice; love extrude malice; mildness, anger; patience, murmuring; sobriety must dry up the floods of drunkenness; continence cool the inflammations of lust; peace must quiet the head from dissensions; honesty pull off hypocrisy’s vizor; and religion put profaneness into irrevocable exile.
1) Faith is the hand that must take these jewels out of God’s treasury to furnish the heart.
2) If our former courses and customs, like turned-away abjects, proffer us their old service, let us not know them, not own, not give them entertainment, not allow their acquaintance.
3) Let us now only frequent the door of mercy, and the fountain of grace; and let faith and a good conscience be never out of our society (269)
4) We have now done, if, when our hearts be thus emptied, cleansed, supplied, we keep them….Yet here we have not a patent [guarantee] of security and negligence sealed us, as if God would save us whiles we only stood and looked on ….
Prayer: Yea, O Lord, since thou hast dealt so graciously with these frails vessels of flesh – emptied them, washed them, seasoned them, supplied them – seal them up with thy Spirit to the day of redemption, and preserve them, that the evil one touch them not. Grant this, O Father Almighty, for thy Christ and our Jesus’ sake.