Boston: Man Under The Covenant Of Works

7. Lastly, In his person. Being a sinful man under the covenant of works, he is a cursed man; For it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” The curse fixeth not only on what is his, but on himself; and it is for his sake that it is laid on other things. The curse, as you have heard, is on his soul, and on his body; for wherever sin is found under this covenant, there the curse also is And,

(1.) The man is under the power of Satan, Acts 26:18. Into the hand of this enemy man fell, when he broke the covenant of works. Satan having waged war against heaven, set on man, heaven’s confederate, and gained the unhappy victory, gained him by temptation to renounce his allegiance to his rightful Lord by breaking the covenant, and so he fell under his power, as his captive taken in war, Isa. 49:24, was brought under bondage to this worst of masters, 2 Pet. 2:19, and is ruled by him at his pleasure, 2 Tim. 2 ult. The curse of the covenant falling on the covenant-breaker, he is thereby laid under condemnation, and adjudged to death according to the threatening; and so he falls under the power of him that has the power of death, that is the devil, Heb. 2:14. Every natural man is shut up as in a prison, in his natural state; and there he lies in bonds, Isa. 61:1. There are God’s bands on him, the bands of the curse binding him over to death; and the devil’s bands are on him, viz, the bands of strong lusts and corruptions, with which they are laden, as a malefactor in prison is laden with irons. And Satan has the power of gaoler over them. He keeps the keys of the prison, and narrowly watches the prisoners that none of them escape. They are not all kept alike close; but none of them can move beyond the bounds of his jurisdiction, more than the prisoner can get out of the dungeon. Even when the king’s word comes to deliver the elect, he will not yield them up; but the prison doors must be broke open, and they forcibly taken out of his hand by a stronger than he.

(3.) The natural man being under the curse is continually in hazard of utter destruction, of having the copestone put on his misery, and being set beyond all possibility of help. If his eyes were opened he would see himself every moment in danger of dropping down into the pit of hell; Psalm 7:12, “If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.” The man is constantly standing before God’s bent bow, and has nothing to secure him one moment from the drawing of it. The sentence of death is passed against him, John 3:18, but there is no day intimated for the execution, but every day the dead warrant may be signed against him, and he led forth to death. His name may be “Magor-missabib,” a terror round about, Jer. 20:3. Whither can he look where he will not see his enemies ready to ruin him, on a word of command from that God under whose curse he lies? And what can he do for himself amidst his armed enemies? He is quite naked, Rev. 3:17, and cannot fight them; he is without strength, Rom. 5:6, and cannot wield armour, though he had it; he is bound hand and foot, Isa. 61:1, and cannot flee; and if he could, whither could he flee for safety? Heaven’s gates are shut upon him; in the utmost parts of the earth, or the most remote rock in the sea, God’s hand would find him out. Justice is pursuing the criminals under the curse, crying for vengeance on the traitors, and their foot shall certainly slide in due time; the law is continually throwing the fire-balls of its curses on them, and will at length set them on fire round about; death is on the pursuit after them, and has gained much ground of them already, and the cloud of wrath hangs over their heads continually in the curse, and the small rain of God’s wrath is still falling on them; how soon death may overtake them, they know not; and then the cloud breaks, and the great rain of his strength falls down upon them, and sweeps them away without hope for ever and ever.

— Thomas Boston, The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: Discourses on Prayer, ed. Samuel M‘Millan, vol. 11 (Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1852), 303–04.