Treatise on Original Sin
Part 3, Chapter 5, Sections 9-19.
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2).
The Pollution of the Affections in respect of the Conflict between the natural Conscience and Them.
Again, the great and notorious pollution of the affections doth appear in that fight and conflict which is between the natural conscience and them, so that no sooner doth the reason and affections of men begin to work in them, but presently there is a civil war begun in a man, his mind that inclineth one way, and his affections they carry another way. The very Heathens acknowledged this, as Aristotle in his incontinent person, and the Poet in his Medea, video meliora, probe (que) deteriora sequor. Yea there are some interpreters, Socinians, Papists, and Arminians, to whom also Amyraldus in this particular adjoineth himself, though disallowing their other opinions, that would have the Apostle’s complaint which he maketh Romans 7, to be nothing more than the contrariety of the mind and affections in an unregenerate man, especially when the mind is legally convinced, and that hath some powerful influence upon it. And among other reasons, he giveth this, that it would be very injurious to regenerating grace, as if that could or did carry a man no further than Aristotle’s incontinent person was, whereas indeed convinced of better things, but had no power to follow them.
But there is a twofold conflict and combat to be acknowledged. The first a natural one, between conscience and affections. The other a spiritual one, and that is not between these several powers in the soul, but between the regenerate part in every particular, and the unregenerate, so that there is not only spiritual light against corrupt affections, but affections sanctified against unsanctified ones, they have love against love, fear against fear, hope against hope. This opposition in the regenerate man is universal, whereas this natural conflict is seated only in some particular parts of the soul.
The Apostle (Rom. 7) doth speak of this spiritual fight in himself as regenerate, as appeareth because he saith in the inward man he delighted in the Law of God (Rom. 7:22), which no unregenerate man can do. Although the Apostles and some other eminent and godly men may attain to far higher degrees of grace than others, yet it may not be thought that there is any godly man living or did live that doth not more or less find this combat of flesh and spirit in him. Certainly, if it should be so in any man, we might say that in that man Original Sin was quite subdued, the flux of blood was wholly dried up in them, but that is the prerogative of Heaven. But our work is to consider the sad difference that is now brought upon all men by original corruption, between the rational and affective part, our very constitution is in discord, there is no more agreement than between fire and water.
Even as in the Roman Government, there was commonly perpetual opposition between the Senatus, and the plebs, the Senate and the common people, they were very difficultly ever reconciled. Thus in man, his intellectual and sensitive part are carried out to contrary objects, one inviting to one way, another to another. Indeed even the rational part is in the Scripture sense become flesh, that is wholly corrupt and mindeth only sinful things. Yet this corruption doth not put out those natural dictates and practical maxims which conscience hath, against which the affections of men do naturally so rebel. It is true that there are some who have so hardened themselves in evil, by a voluntary obstinateness, and are made such brutes in their lusts that they have none of this conflict at all, they are hurried on with all delight to sin and have not so much as the least regret within themselves, but this is acquired partly by the just judgment of God upon man’s willful impiety, being from him delivered up to such a senselessness, otherwise there is in all such a fundamental contrariety between the superior and inferior part of his soul, that there is no rest within.
It is true, the Papists and Socinians affirm his repugnance to have been in Adam in the state of integrity. Yea a Remonstrant attributeth it blasphemously to Christ himself. But seeing that God made man right, this rectitude is to be understood universal, and that could not be without an admirable harmony and agreement between the spiritual and sensitive part in a man. There are some also who place the hurt that we have by Original Sin in this affectionate part only, as if the mind and the will did escape in Adam’s Fall, and no sin infected them, only the sensitive part becomes all over poisoned, but the contrary to this hath already been demonstrated. Yet we grant that in the affectionate part is the serpent’s brood there are the cockatrices eggs, that is the womb wherein many sins, even all the bodily ones, are conceived and brought forth.
The Sinfulness of these Affections is seen in the great Distractions they fill us with when we are to set upon any holy Duties.
Further, the sinfulness of these affections is seen in the great distractions they fill us with when we are to set upon any holy duty. What is the reason we do not make God the delight of our soul? Why is not our conversation in Heaven? Why do we not pray without distraction, hear without distraction? Is it not because these affections hurry the soul otherwise? In Heaven, when we shall enjoy God face to face, and the affections be fully sanctified, then the heart will not for one moment to all eternity be taken off from God; but now because our affections are not spiritualized, neither are we fully conquerors over them. Hence they press down continually the creature, for where a man’s affections are, there is his heart, there is his treasure.
The godly do exceedingly groan under this exercise of distractions in holy duties. Oh how it grieveth them that their hearts are not united, they cannot hoc agere, they cannot be with God alone, but some thoughts or importunate suggestions do molest them like so many croaking frogs, many flies fall upon their sacrifice. Now whence is all this? Our unmortified affections are the cause of this, if they were more spiritual and heavenly, there would be more union and accord in holy duties.
Their Deformity and Contrariety to the Rule and exemplary Pattern.
In the next place, herein doth their depravation appear because they are so full of deformity and contrariety to their rule and exemplary pattern which is in God himself. For we are to love as God loveth, to be angry as God is angry.
Properly speaking, God does not have Affections.
It is disputed by the learned whether affections be properly in God? Now it must be as affections do denote any passions, or imperfections intermixed with them, so they cannot be attributed to him, who is the fountain of perfection. Yet because the Scripture doth generally attribute these affections unto God, he is said to love, to grieve, to hope, to be angry. Hence it is that Divines do in their Theological Tractates, besides the attributes of God, handle also of those things which are (as some express it) analogical affections in him. They treat of his love, his mercy, his anger, which are not so properly attributes in God, as analogical affections. As when the Scripture saith God hath eyes and hands, these are expressions to our capacity, and we must conceive of God by those words according to the supreme excellency that is in him. Thus it is also in affections. There is an […], in the former, and an […] in the later.
It was of old disputed by Lactantius whether anger was truly and properly in God? Some denied it, some affirmed it, but certainly the difference did arise from the different use of the word. For take anger as it signifieth a human imperfection, so it cannot be said to be in God, but as it is a will to revenge an impenitent sinner, so it is in God. Hence these things are said to be in God per modum effectus [by way of effect], rather than affectus [disposition of mind]. And some learned men like this expression better than of analogical affections, saying that metaphorical speech applied to God is rather equivocal than analogical, concerning desire, hope, and fear in God.
Some Arminianizing or Vorstizing have spoken dangerously. Yea some Socinians, as Crellius do positively maintain affections to be properly in God. And although to mollify their opinion they sometimes have fair explications of themselves, yet they grant the things themselves to be in God which we call affections. Hence they call them often the commotions of God’s will, which are sometimes more, sometimes less. Yea they are so impudent as to say the denial of such affections in God is to overthrow all religion. But this opinion is contrary to the pure simplicity and immutability of God’s nature, as also to his perfect blessedness. And by the way observe the wickedness of these Heretics who take from the Divine nature the persons thereof, as also some glorious attributes, such as omniscience, etc. and yet will give to the same such things as necessarily imply imperfection.
The Deformity of Our Affections.
To return, affections are not in God as they imply any defect, yet we are by Scripture to conceive of some transcendent perfection in God eminently containing them. This being laid for a foundation, we may then bewail the great deformity that is upon our affections, the unloveliness of them, if compared to the rule. Do we love as God loveth? He doth infinitely love himself, and all things in subordination to his own glory. But the love of ourselves and all things in reference to our own selves is that which doth most formally exclude and oppose the love of God. The poison and sinfulness of all the affections doth arise from the sinfulness of our love. It is corrupt love that causeth corrupt anger, corrupt hatred, corrupt sorrow, and therefore the way to crucify all other affections is to begin with love.
But oh the irreconcilable and immediate opposition that is between our love and his love, our love is to be copied out after his. We are to imitate God in our love, but we place ourselves in God’s room, and are carried out to love ourselves, not rationally, but according to a brutish appetite as it were. Hence whereas in the love of others, we require some presupposed goodness, in the love of ourselves we look for none at all. The vilest and most profane sinner, who ought to judge himself worthy of the hatred of God and all creatures, yet he doth intensively love himself even to the hatred of God. Had we infinite holiness, infinite purity and perfection as God hath, then we might love ourselves principally, but because the goodness we have is a rivulet from that ocean, a beam-line from that Sun, therefore we are to love ourselves in reference to God. Our love to God should make us love ourselves, but how impossible and paradoxical is this to our corrupt natures?
As our love is thus distant from God’s love, so our hatred and anger also is, for the hatred of God is only against sin. It’s sin he punisheth, it is sin that he hath decreed to be avenged of to all eternity. Wicked men and devils are damned because of sin in them. Could that be taken out of their natures, they would be the good and acceptable creatures of God. But oh the vast difference between God’s hatred and ours, for that is not against sin, but that which is truly godly and holy. So desperately and incurably are we corrupted herein!
Their dullness and senselessness, though the Understanding declare the good to be embraced.
Secondly, the native defilement of the affections is greatly demonstrated in that dullness and senselessness which is in them, even though the understanding doth powerfully and evidently declare the good they are to embrace. And this can never enough be lamented, that when we have much light in our mind, we find no heat in our affections. Indeed the question is put: How the affections, though in regenerate persons can be affected with anything that is spiritual, for they, being of a material and corporeal nature, have no more proportion or suitableness with spiritual and supernatural objects than the eye hath with immaterial substances, so that as the eye cannot see a spirit, neither can material affections terminate upon immaterial objects?
But the answer is that the affections being implanted in us as handmaids to the rational parts, and subjected to them by an essential subordination; therefore it is, when those superior parts of the soul do strongly embrace any spiritual good, the affections also by way of concomitancy are stirred up therein. Only as it is with the will, though that be made to follow the understanding, and (as some say) doth necessarily yield to the ultimate and practical dictate thereof, yet the will doth need a peculiar sanctification of its own nature, neither is the illumination of the mind all the grace the will wanteth. So it is with these affections, although they be appointed to follow the directions and commands of the mind and will, yet they must be sanctified and enlivened by the peculiar grace of God, else they move no more than a stone.
Now this necessity of enlivening and quickening grace upon the affections, the godly are experimentally convinced of. How often do they complain they know Christ is the chiefest good, they know eternal glory is an infinite treasure? Oh but how barren are their hearts, no affections, no cordial stirrings of their soul when they think of these things? Do the children of God complain of anything more than their want of affections in holy things? They have them as hot as fire for the things of the world, but are clods of earth in spiritual duties. This maketh them cry so often with the Church, “Draw me, we will run after thee” (Song 1:4). This maketh them pray, Arise, O South wind, and blow O North, upon the garden of my soul, that the flowers thereof may send forth a sweet fragrance (Song 4:16). Thus that saying is true, Citò prevolat intellectus, tardus sequitur affectus. If therefore there were no other pollution upon the affections than their dullness and senselessness as to holy things, this may make the godly go bowed down all their life time. Their affections are green wood, much fire and frequent blowing will hardly inflame them. Hence it is that the godly are so well satisfied, and do so thankfully acknowledge the goodness of God to them when they find their affections stirring in any holy thing. Insomuch that they judge that duty not worth the name of a duty, which is not an affectionate duty. That prayer not worthy the name of prayer which is not an affectionate prayer. But how dull and heavy are these till sanctified, as to any holy object? Yea, such is the perverse contrariety that is now come upon the superior and inferior parts of the soul, that when the more noble parts are intensively carried out to any object, the inferior are thereby debilitated and wholly weakened, so that many times the more light, the less heat; the more intellectual and rational, the less affectionate.
Now this is contrary to our primitive creation, for then the more knowledge of heavenly things, the more affections also to them did immediately succeed. But now experience doth confirm that those men whose understandings are most deeply engaged in finding out of truths, their affections are at the same time like a barren wilderness. Hence you may often find a poor inconsiderable believer more affectionately transported in love to Christ and holy things than many a great and learned scholar. That as natural fools have a greater stomach to meat, and can digest better than wise men, whose animal spirits are much tired and wearied out, so it is here. The less disputative, the less head-work a godly man hath, many times he hath the better heart-work. Oh then bewail this in thyself as a most degenerating thing from primitive rectitude, when thou findest thy knowledge, thy controversial disputes dry up thy affections! So that truth is indeed earnestly sought after, but the goodness of it doth not draw out thy affections. When David commended the Word of God above the honey and the honeycomb, it was evident he found much experimental sweetness of the power of it upon his affections.
The Affections being drawn out to holy Duties from corrupt Motives, shews the Pollution of them.
Thirdly, herein also is apparent the original pollution of our affections, that when they are moved and stirred up in any holy duties, yet it is not a spiritual motive that draweth them out, but some corrupt or unlawful respect. Thus there is a world of guile and hypocrisy in our affections, we think it is the love of God that affecteth us when it is love to ourselves, to our own glory, to accomplish our own ends. Thus in our sorrow we think it is for sin that we grieve, when it is because of temporal evil, or some outward calamity. Insomuch that this very consideration of the hypocrisy and deceitfulness of our affections may be like an Abyss or deep to swallow us up, when the heart is said to be so desperately wicked and that none can know it but God; by that is meant in a great part our affections.
None knoweth the depths of his love, of his fear, of his sorrow. How often doth he bless himself when he finds these things moving in him, especially in holy duties? Whereas (alas) it is not any consideration from God, any heavenly respect moveth him, but some earthly consideration or other. You may observe this in Jehu, what ardent and burning affections did he shew in the cause of God, destroying idolatry, and executing the judgments of God upon his enemies? But what moved his affections all this while? It was not the glory of God, but self-respects, self-advancement. Oh this is the treacherous deceitfulness of our affections, we may find them very strong in preaching, in public prayer with others, and the fire to them be only vainglory! Yea our affections may be blown up with our own expressions and delight in them, so that as it is a long while ere thou canst get thy affections up to any holy duty, so it is as difficult to search out what is the cause of them. Why do they rise up? Those in Mat. 7:21 that would cry “Lord, Lord“, did by the ingemination of the Word demonstrate lively affections, yet they were such whom God would bid depart, as not knowing of them.
Here therefore is the misery of man, that as all the speculative knowledge in the world, unless it be also accompanied with an affectionate frame, doth not at all commend us to God, so all hot and strong affections do not presently suppose the truth of grace within. Experience doth sadly confirm this, that many who have had great affections and workings of heart in the profession of godliness, have yet desperately apostatized, and become at last as senseless and stupid about heavenly things as any profane ones are. The Jews are said for a while to rejoice in Johns light, John 5:35. The word signifieth more than ordinary affections, even such as to make them trepidate and leap for joy, yet this was but for a season. So Mat. 13 there are some hearers who yet had not root enough, that did receive the Word with joy. By these instances it is plain that our affections are full of deceit, full of falsehood, we know not when to trust them. It is hard to tell what it is that draweth them out, even in our holy duties. If the godly (though in some measure regenerated) find the power of this deceit upon their affections, certainly the natural man, he is all over cozened, his affections are altogether a lie to him. He saith he loves God with all his heart, he saith he is grieved for all his sins, when all the while his affections are moved from other respects.
Also they are more zealously carried out to any false and erroneous way, than to the Truths of God.
Fourthly, herein also is manifested the great pollution of our affections, that they are more earnestly and zealously carried out to any false and erroneous way, than to the truths of God. Let a man be in an heretical way, in a superstitious way, in any deluded way of religion, and you will find such to be more affectionate in their way, than the godly can be in a true way. And the reason is because our affections have more suitableness with what is corrupt and false than with what is true and of God. Observe all the false religions that are in the world. May you not admire at the zeal, at the pains they take for the propagation of their opinions, how restless they are? Which certainly may exceedingly shame the children of the truth, that men should be more active for the Devil than they can be for God. Our Saviour observed it of the Pharisees, how they compassed sea and land to make proselytes. And Paul, speaking of the Jews, beareth them record “that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). The more affection in a wrong way, the more dangerous it is. It is good to be zealously affected (saith the Apostle) in a good thing, Gal. 4:18. This he speaketh because the false apostles did appear with a great deal of affection, none seemed to manifest such passionate bowels to people as they did, but (saith Paul) “they zealously affect you, but not well.” It is not from spiritual and heavenly motives that they are thus affectionate towards you.
Well then, this is sadly to be bewailed, that our affections will vehemently run like a torrent down any false or erroneous way, whereas to that which is truth indeed we can hardly raise them up. Wonder not then if you see the Papist in his superstitious way, the erroneous person in his false way to be so full of affections and devotion in his persuasions. For alas it is easy falling down the hill. Error and superstition is agreeable with the corrupt nature of man. When we read what some Monks and Hermits have done in solitary places, afflicting themselves, macerating their bodies, we may admire how their affections in that way could hold out so long, but man’s heart like the earth will bring forth nettles and weeds of itself, but it cannot corn or flowers without diligent managing of it. Let us then mourn for this evil that is come upon our affections, look upon all the superstitious and false ways in the world. See with what greediness and vehemency they are carried out to them, but as for thee, whom God preserveth in the truth and keepeth in his ways, thou art quickly weary in well-doing! Oh be afraid, lest all the pains and diligence of man in false ways do not rise up to condemn thee for thy slothfulness in Gods ways!
They are for the most part inlets to all sin in the Soul.
Herein are these motions of the soul greatly depraved: In that they are inlets for the most part of all sin into the soul. They are the weakest part of the wall, and therefore Satan doth commonly begin his batteries there, this is (as it were) the thatched part of the building, and so any spark of lusts falling upon it doth immediately set the whole building on fire. It is true, the senses they are the outworks and porches (as it were) of the soul, and therefore temptations begin there. But then the affections are the second court (as it were) so that for the most part the mind and the will are carried on to sin because the affections are first corrupted. These lie, as Saul’s men did, all asleep while his enemies had the opportunity to take away not only his spear, but his life.
Now it is good to know that the order and method of the soul’s motions to any outward objects in its first creation was very rational and commensurate to the true rule, for then the understanding did first apprehend and take notice of the objects to be loved, which it did consider without any ignorance or error, upon this clear proposition of the object. The will did readily receive and embrace it, and when this was all done then the affections were subsequent, they immediately followed without any delay. So that Adam had this perfect method in all his actions before his apostasy, reason did begin and affections did end. But what confusion and disorder is now brought upon us? Affections do now begin, not the eyes but the feet do lead, the Devil and sin get their first entrance into the soul by the affections. So that as the Philosophers say in a natural way, quicquid est in intellect, prius fuit in sensu, whatsoever is in the understanding, was first in the sense, so may we say morally, quicquid est in voluntate, prius fuit in appetitu sensitivo, whatsoever is in the will was in the affections.
And no wonder it is so now, seeing that the Devil did bring sin into the world by besieging the affections at first, and thereby corrupting the understanding. For as Satan did first tempt Eve the weaker vessel, and so beguiled Adam, whereupon the woman is said to be first in the transgression, so even in man, he did first begin with the affectionate part, the Eve (as it were), and by that did overcome the rational part which was like the Adam. Eve then was tempted to sin, although she had no corrupt principles within her, merely because the bait laid for her was suitable to her sense and affections. How much more then do affections like so many thieves open all the doors, and let iniquity come in everywhere, when reason and grace have no command over them.
Sit down then and well consider this particular. That thy affections do first betray thee, thy ruin doth begin in them, and therefore whosoever would keep any sin from taking the castle of the soul must watch over his affections, he must be sure to put out every spark of their fire (as it were). Job made a covenant with his eyes because they would quickly carry sin to the affections, Vt vidi, perii said he, from seeing he came to perish, but that was from seeing he came to be affected with the object, and so perished. This is notably expressed when Achan was tempted to steal the Babylonian garment (Joshua 7:20-21), he acknowledged that when he saw them, he coveted them, and coveting of them made him steal them. We may then conclude that there is scarce any sin committed by thee, but thy corrupt affections do begin it, the frame (as it were) is first laid there. All bodily sins of drunkenness and uncleanness, it is plain that they are the product of sinful affections, sinful love, sinful desires, sinful joys, and pleasures are the puddle wherein these vermin are bred. That as in muddy lakes, frogs and toads are produced, thus it is in these gross and polluted affections.
And it is no wonder that these come out from the affections, seeing the sins of the more noble rational part are also procreated by these corrupt affections. Heresies and idolatry, these are sins of the understanding, yet they arise from sinful and inordinate affections. The rushes grow in such miry places, men seek after profit, applause, or other carnal advantages, and thus these are like a bribe to blind the eyes of wisdom. So that it behooveth everyone in the way of religion that he professeth, to consider whether they be pure conscientious grounds, or corrupt affections that instigate therein. There are very few that have the Scripture lay the first stone in the building of their faith, their affections have first closed with an opinion, their affections have secretly embraced such a religious way, and then they go to Scripture to confirm it. Thus they bring Scripture to their affections, not affections to Scripture. Thus as any little dust doth quickly hinder the eye in seeing, so the least corrupting of the affections doth obnubilate the understanding. What the Sun and the Earth are in the great world, the same is the sensitive part in man the little world, and as their constant vapors and exhalations from the earth do frequently cloud the Sun and deprive us of the comfortable light thereof, so here our affections do continually ascend like so many smoking vapors, whereby we run into dangerous ways. It is therefore a rare and a most blessed thing when a man is able to say, O Lord it was no affection, no passion, no corrupt interest hath prevailed with me to take up this way, to forsake my former opinions, but the powerful light of the Scripture shining into my heart.
But these precious flowers are hardly to be found, as affections corrupted do generally corrupt the understanding in matters of faith, so also in matters of public administration. What is the reason of unjust Magistrates, of unjust officers, that righteousness in places of judicatory is so often perverted? Is it not because affections do judge, affections do determine? How many times doth the Law say one thing, conscience and righteousness say one thing, but affections cry another thing? They were sinful and wicked affections that put the High Priest and Elders upon the condemning of Christ. Pilate saw that they did it for envy, and that is a compounded affection. Hence are those frequent commands to all that are concerned in righteous administrations to have covetousness, to accept of no men’s persons, to do nothing for fear or favor. What doth this signify, but that all justice and righteousness is perverted by sinful affections? Sin is not punished, offenders are not restrained, wholesome laws are not put in execution, because men are carried by sinful affections. Therefore in the Areopagite Court, which was so famous for integrity, and their decrees were reverenced like oracles, all causes were pleaded in the night, in the dark, that the judge might not know who pleaded lest his affection might be pre-possessed. And here all their pleadings were to be without any preface or affectionate expressions, all which shew how hardly it is to be a righteous man in his place, while affections are not conquered.
The Privacy of the Affections.
Another particular is the privacy of them, they do inordinately impropriate all things to a man’s self, so that they are self-affections, not affections for God’s glory, or the public good, they are private affections, not public affections. They are greatly distempered in that they are not carried out to the most common and universal good, but to what is selfish and particular. Whereas if our affections did retain their primitive integrity, they would have been in the first and most principal manner carried out to what is the chiefest and most principal object, whereas naturally every man is a Nero, and will “let Heaven and Earth be mingled together when I am dead.” And thus though God have no glory, though the public be ruined, so as he have his self-affections promoted, he mattereth not! This is that which you have heard, that man in his Apostasy from God did cadere à Deo in seipsum, he fell from God into himself, and hereupon referreth the whole world, even God himself to his own welfare. As if God were for him, and he not made for God. It was not thus from the beginning, but as we see in natural things, they all deny their particular motions to serve the public. Or as Philosophers say about the orbs, they are carried on by the motion of the primum mobile, even contrary to their particular motions. Thus it was also in the first constitution of man, yea better, for the affections had no private particular propensity to any object which the rational part did not direct unto. But oh the sad change that now sin hath made upon our affections in this way, making them to monopolize all things, and to prefer ourselves more than the honor of God himself. Especially in two particulars we may greatly lament the sin of our private affections in opposition to public:
1. First, the glory and honor of God is to be esteemed by us as infinitely more worthy than all the world, than all Angels and men, and therefore not to be affected to ourselves more than that. It will easily be granted that an infinite good is to be preferred before a finite one, an universal unlimited one before what is particular and limited, an ocean before a drop. Now such is God comparatively to man, yea to all the nations of the world, Isa. 40. If then God be thus infinitely transcending us in goodness, and our love is to be drawn out according to the goodness of the object, if a greater good then a greater love, if the greatest good then the greatest love, then it followeth that our affections are to be carried out infinitely more to the honor of God than to our own glory. If the people of Israel could say to their King, because a public person, “thou art worth ten thousand of us” (2 Sam. 18:3), how much more may we say to God, his glory, his honor, his truth is worth all our estates, all our lives? Yea such ought to be our affections to God’s honor that we ought to prefer it above our own salvation. Although through the goodness of God, his honor and our salvation are so inseparably joined together that one cannot be parted from the other, yet in our minds we are to esteem of one above the other. God’s glory above our own happiness. But the highest degree of grace in this life doth hardly carry a man to this, much less can nature elevate him thus high.
2. The second particular, wherein the privacy of our affections is to be lamented, is in respect of the public good. We are not only to prefer the glory of God above ourselves, but also the public good of the Church, yea the public good of the Commonwealth above our particular advantages. What a notable demonstration of this public affection do we find in Moses and Paul, which may make us ashamed of all our self-affections? We have Moses’ self denial mentioned (Ex. 32:32) where he desireth to be blotted out of the book of life, than that the sins of the people should destroy them, he had rather be undone in his own particular, than have the general ruined. And when God proffered to make him a great name by consuming the Israelites, he would not accept of it. It was Tully’s boast that he would not accept of immortality itself to the hurt of the public. But this was breath, and sound of words only, Moses is real and cordial in what he saith.
As for Paul’s public affections to the salvation of others, viz. his kinsmen after the flesh (Rom. 9:3), they break out into such flaming expressions that great are the disputes of the learned about the lawfulness of Paul’s wish herein. However we find it recorded as a duty, that we ought to love our brethren so much that we are to lay down our lives for them, 1 John 3:16. Now how can this ever be performed, while these selfish affections like Pharaoh’s lean kine [Gen. 41:3-4] devour all things else? Groan then under these straightened and narrow affections of thine, thou canst never prefer Jerusalem above all the joy while it is thus with thee.
The hurtful Effects of the Affections upon a mans body.
Thirdly, the sinfulness of our affections naturally is perceived by the hurtful and destructive effects which they make upon a man. Therefore you heard they were called passions. These affections, immoderately put forth, do greatly hasten death and much indispose the body about a comfortable life, 2 Cor. 7:10. The sorrow of the world is said to work death. Thus also doth all worldly love, all worldly fear and anger, they work death in those where they do prevail. If Adam had stood they would not have been to his soul as they are to us, nor to the body, like storms and tempests upon the sea. They would not have been passions, or at least not made any corruptive alteration upon a man, whereas now they make violent impressions upon the body.
So that thereby we sin not only against our own souls, but our own bodies also, which the Apostle maketh an aggravation in the guilt of fornication, 1 Cor. 6:18. Instances might be given of the sad and dreadful effects which inordinate passions have put men upon, and never plead that this is the case only of some few, we cannot charge all with this, for its only the sanctifying or restraining grace of God that keepeth in these passions of thine. Should God leave thee to any one affection, as well tempered as thou thinkest thyself to be, it would be like fire let alone in combustible matter, which would presently consume all to ashes, of thy own self, having no more strength than thy own, and meeting with such temptations as would be like a tempestuous wind to the fire, thou wouldst quickly be overwhelmed thereby.
The sad Effects they have upon others.
Fourthly, the sinfulness of these affections are seen not only in the sad effect they have upon ourselves, but what they produce upon others also. They are like a thorn in the hedge to prick all others that pass by. Violent affections do not only disturb those that are led away with them, but they do greatly annoy the comfort and peace of others. The Prophet complained of living among scorpions and briers. Truly such are our affections if not sanctified, they are like honey in our gall, they embitter all our comforts, all our relations. They disturb families, towns, yea sometimes whole nations. So unruly are our affections naturally. Why is it that the tongue (James 2) is such an unruly member that there is a world of evil in it? It is because sinful affections make sinful tongues.
They readily receive the Devil’s Temptations.
Lastly, in that they are so readily receptive of the Devil’s temptations. Herein doth appear the pollution of them. The Devil did not more powerfully possess the bodies of some men than he doth the affections of men by nature. Are not all those delusions in religious ways, and in superstitious ways, because the Devil is in the affections? Hath not the Devil exalted much error, and much false worship by such who have been very affectionate? Many eminent persons for a while in religion, as Tertullian, have greatly apostatized from the truth by being too credulous to such women who have great affections in religion. So that it is very sad to consider how greatly our very affections in religious things may be abused, how busy the Devil is to tempt such above all into errour, because they will do him the more service. Affections being among other powers of the soul like fire among the elements. They are the chariot wheels of the soul, and therefore the more danger of them, if running into a false way.
The Devil hath his false joy, his false sorrow, and by these he doth detain many in false and damnable ways. Hence the Scripture observeth the subtlety of the Devil’s instruments, false teachers, how busy they are to pervert women, as being more affectionate, and so the easier seduced, Mat. 23:14. The Pharisees devoured widows houses by their seeming devotions. Thus false teachers (1 Tim. 3:6) did lead captive silly women. By which it appeareth how dangerous our affections are, what strong impressions Satan can make upon them. So that it is hard to say whether the Devil’s kingdom be more promoted by the subtlety of learned men, or the affections of weak men.