Jonathan Edwards continues his discussion that concerns the natural enmity that sinners have toward a holy God.
2. The Degree of Men’s Natural Enmity to God
Once the groundwork is established which demonstrates the natural antagonism that sinners have for God, Edwards proceeds to stress the degree of hostility that is a part of the inner workings of every sinner apart from grace.
First, they have no love to God; their enmity is mere enmity without any mixture of love. The carnal mind is deceived when it assumes that there is a natural love for God. Edwards demonstrates that “a natural man is wholly destitute of any principle of love to God … the heart of a natural man is as destitute of love to God, as a dead, stiff, cold corpse.” Jesus confronted the Jews who refused to come to him (John 5:40) and argues in the same vein as Edwards – “But I know that you do not have the love of God within you” (John 5:42).
Second, every faculty and principle of action is wholly under the dominion of enmity against God. In what would have been heard from scores of Puritan pulpits, is in many ways repudiated in the modern American pulpit. Edwards rightly says, “The understanding is under the reigning power of this enmity against God, so that it is entirely darkened and blinded with regard to the glory and excellency of God. The will is wholly under the reigning power of it. All the affections are governed by enmity against God: there is not one affection, nor one desire, that a natural man has, or that he is ever stirred up to act from, but what contains in it enmity against God. A natural man is as full of enmity against God, as any viper, or any venomous beast, is full of poison.”
Third, the power of the enmity of natural men against God, is so great, that it is insuperable by any finite power. Here Edwards is concerned to how deep the enmity goes toward God. Even a godly friend or neighbor is powerless to persuade a natural man to turn from sin because the hatred for God is so pervasive. Gracious invitations of ministers go unheeded due to the natural enmity in the heart of unregenerate man: “The tongue of men or of angels cannot persuade them to relinquish their opposition to God.” The hardened sinner remains steadfast in his rampage against God.
Fourth, they are mortal enemies to God. “Natural men are enemies to the dominion of God; and their nature shows their good-will to dethrone him if they could!” That is to say, unregenerate people are entirely opposed to the kingdom of God and the sovereign government of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, he wishes that God did not exist. This line of reasoning turns the attention of Edwards to Psalm 14:1 which he remarks from the original Hebrew, “The fool hath said in his heart, No God.”
Fifth, natural men are greater enemies to God than they are to any other being whatsoever. Edwards concludes by showing how deep the “rabbit hole of sin” goes: “But natural men, without a mighty work of God to change their hearts, will never get over their enmity against God. They are greater enemies to God, than they are to the devil.”
So Edwards does not leave the natural man without hope. It is only a mighty work of God that can deliver him from his sinful condition. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Indeed, sovereign grace has the power to deliver the depraved and save him from the almighty wrath of God!