now, because the time is past. One thing indeed were fit to be spoken of, if I had any time left; but I can only name it, and desire your consideration to make it up. This great rule that Christ gives us, does also, and that principally too, concern churches and commonwealths, as well as every single Christian. Christian parliaments must exceed the religion and government of the sanhedrim. Your laws must be more holy, the condition of the subjects be made more tolerable, the laws of Christ must be strictly enforced; you must not suffer your great Master to be dishonoured, nor his religion dismembered by sects, or disgraced by impiety: you must give no impunity to vicious persons, and you must take care that no great example be greatly corrupted; you must make better provisions for your poor than they did, and take more care even of the external advantages of Christ's religion and his ministers, than they did of the priests and Levites ; that is, in all things you must be more zealous to promote the kingdom of Christ, than they were for the ministries of Moses.

The sum of all is this: the righteousness evangelical is the same with that, which the ancients called S TOUTON didyal montelav, to live an apostolical life;' that was the measure of Christians; the oι εναρέτως και θεαρέστως βιούντες, * men that desired to please God ;' that is, as Apostolius most admirably describes it", men who are curious of their very eyes, temperate in their tongue, of a mortified body, and an humble spirit, pure in their intentions, masters of their passions ; men who, when they are injured, return honourable words; when they are lessened in their estates, increase in their charity; when they are abused, they yet are courteous, and give entreaties; when they are hated, they pay love; men that are dull in contentions, and quick in lovingkindnesses, swift as the feet of Asahel', and ready as the chariots of Amminadibm. True Christians are such as are crucified with Christ, and dead unto all sin, and finally place their whole love on God, and, for his sake, upon all mankind :

* Εστί δε αυτή οφθαλμών ακρίβεια, γλώσσης έγκράτεια, σώματος δουλαγωγία, φρόνημα ταπεινόν, εννοίας καθαρότης, οργής αφανισμός: αγγαρευόμενος προτίθει, αποστερούμενος μη δικάζου, μισούμενος αγάπα, βιαζόμενος ανέχου, βλασφημούμενος παρακάλει, νεκρώθητι τη αμαρτία, συσταυρώθητι τα Χριστού, όλην την αγάπην μετάθες επί τον Κύριον. 1 2 Sam ii. 18.

m Song of Sol. vi. 12.

this is the description of a Christian, and the true state of the righteousness evangelical ; so that it was well said of Athenagoras, Ουδείς Χριστιανός πονηρός, ει μη υποκρίνεται τον λόγον, « No Christian is a wicked man, unless his life be a continual lie"," unless he be false to God and his religion. For the righteousness of the Gospel is, in short, nothing else but a transcript of the life of Christ : “ De matthana nahaliel; de nahaliel Bamoth,” said R. Joshua ; Christ is the image of God, and every Christian is the image of Christ, whose example is imitable; but it is the best, and his laws are the most perfect, but the most easy; and the promises by which he invites our greater services, are most excellent, but most true; and the rewards shall be hereafter, but they shall abide for ever; and, that I may take notice of the last words of my text, the threatenings to them that fall short of this righteousness, are most terrible, but most certainly shall.come to pass; “ they shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven;" that is, their portion shall be shame and an eternal prison, áopartõdes peữua, a flood of brimstone;' and a cohabitation with devils to eternal ages; and if this consideration will not prevail, there is no place left for persuasion, and there is no use of reason, and the greatest hopes and the greatest fears can be no argument or sanction of laws; and the greatest good in the world is not considerable, and the greatest evil is not formidable: but if they be, there is no more to be said ; if you would have your portion with Christ, you must be righteous by his measures: and these are they that I have

told you.



For the good that I would, I do not : but the evil which I

would not, that I do.— Rom. vii. 19. WHAT the eunuch said to Philip, when he read the book of the prophet Isaiah, “ Of whom speaketh the prophet this, of

" Legat. pro Christianis.

himself, or some other man?” the same question I am to ask concerning the words of my text: Does St. Paul mean this of himself, or of some other? It is hoped that he speaks it of himself; and means, that though his understanding is convinced that he ought to serve God, and that he hath some imperfect desires to do so, yet the law of God without is opposed by a law of sin within. We have a corrupted nature, and a body of infirmity, and our reason dwells in the dark, and we must go out of the world before we leave our sin. For besides that some sins are esteemed brave and honourable, and he is a baffled person that dares not kill his brother like a gentleman; our very tables are made a snare, and our civilities are direct treasons to the soul. You cannot entertain your friend, but excess is the measure ; and that you may be very kind to your guest, you step aside, and lay away the Christian ; your love cannot be expressed, unless you do him an ill turn, and civilly invite him to a fever. Justice is too often taught to bow to great interests, and men cannot live without flattery; and there are some trades that minister to sin, so that without a sin we cannot maintain our families ; and if you mean to live, you must do as others do. Now so long as men see they are like to be undone by innocence, and that they can no way live but by compliance with the evil customs of the world, men conclude practically, because they must live, they must sin; they must live handsomely, and, therefore, must do some things unhandsomely, and so upon the whole matter sin is unavoidable. Fain they would, but cannot tell how to help it. But since it is no better, it is well it is no worse. For it is St. Paul's case, no worse man: he would and he would not, he did and he did not; he was willing, but he was not able; and, therefore, the case is clear, that if a man strives against sin, and falls unwillingly, it shall not be imputed to him; he may be a regenerate man for all that. A man must, indeed, wrangle against sin when it comes, and, like a peevish lover, resist and consent at the same time, and then all is well; for this not only consists with, but is a sign of the state of regeneration.

If this be true, God will be very ill served. If it be not true, most men will have but small hopes of being saved, because this is the condition of most men. What then is to be done? Truth can do us no hurt; and, therefore, be willing to let this matter pass under examination; for if it trouble

us now, it will bring comfort hereafter. And, therefore, before I enter into the main inquiry, I shall, by describing the state of the man of whom St. Paul speaks here, tell you plainly, who it is that is in this state of sad things; and then do ye make your resolutions, according as you shall find it necessary for the saving of your souls, which, I am sure, ought to be the end of all preaching. 1. The man St. Paul speaks of, is one that is

dead a,'one that was deceived' and slain b, one in whom sin was exceeding sinfuls,' that is, highly imputed, greatly malicious, infinitely destructive: he is one who is carnal, and sold under sind;' he is one that sins against his 'conscience and his reasono;' he is one in whom sin dwells, but the Spirit of God does not dwell; for no good thing dwells in himf;' he is one who is brought into captivity to the law of sin ;' he is a servant of uncleanness, with his flesh and members serving the law of sins. Now if this be a state of regeneration, I wonder what is, or can be, a state of reprobation! for though thiş be the state of nature, yet it cannot be the state of one redeemed by the Spirit of Christ; and, therefore, flatter not yourselves any more, that it is enough for you to have good desires and bad performances : never think that any sin can reign in you, and yet you be servants of God; that sin can dwell in you, and at the same time the Spirit of God can dwell in you too; or that life and death can abide together. The sum of affairs is this : “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live ";" but not else upon any terms whatsoever.

My text is one of the hard places of St. Paul, which, as St. Peter says, “ the ignora

the ignorant and the unstable wrest to their own damnation.” But because in this case the danger is so imminent, and the deception would be so intolerable, St. Paul, immediately after this chapter, in which, under bis own person, as was usual with him to do, he describes the state of a natural man advanced no further than Moses' law, and not redeemed by the blood of Christ, or enlightened by the Spirit of God, and taught by the wiser lessons and

a Ver. 9.

Ver. 16,

0 Ver. 11.
i Ver. 18.

c Ver. 13.
E Ver. 25.

d Ver. 14.
h Rom. viji. 13.

sermons of the Gospel) immediately spends the next chapter in opposing the evangelical state to the legal, the spiritual to the carnal, the Christian to the natural; and tells us plainly, he that is redeemed by the blood of Christ, is redeemed from the power of sin : he that is Christ's freed-man, is not a slave of sin, not captive to the devil at his will : he that is in “ the flesh, cannot please God,” but every servant of Christ is freed from sin, and is a servant of righteousness, and redeemed from all his vain conversation : for this is the end of Christ's coming, and cannot be in vain, unless we make it so. He came to bless us by turning every one of us from our iniquities. Now concerning this, besides the evidence of the thing itself, that St. Paul does not speak these words of himself, but by a μετασχηματισμός, under his own borrowed person he describes the state of a carnal, unredeemed, unregenerate person, is expressly affirmed by St. Irenæus and Origen, by Tertullian and St. Basil, by Theodoret and St. Chrysostom, by St. Jerome, and sometimes by St. Austin, by St. Ambrose, and St. Cyril, by Macarius and Theophylact; and is indeed that true sense and meaning of these words of St. Paul, which words none can abuse or misunderstand, but to the great prejudice of a holy life, and the patronage of all iniquity.

But for the stating of this great case of conscience, I shall first in short describe to you what are the proper causes, which place men and keep them in this state of a necessity of sinning; and 2. I shall prove the absolute necessity of coming out of this condition, and quitting all our sin. 3. In what degree this is to be effected. 4. By what instruments this is to be done; and all these being practical, will, of themselves, be sufficient use to the doctrines, and need no other applicatory but a plain exhortation.

1. What are the causes of this evil, by which we are first placed, and so long kept, in a necessity of sinning, so that we cannot do what good we would, nor avoid the evil that we hate?

The first is the evil state of our nature. And, indeed, he that considers the daily experiment of his own weak nature, the ignorance and inconstancy of his soul, being like a sick man's legs, or the knees of infants, reeling and unstable by disease or by infirmity, and the perpetual leaven and germinations, the thrustings forth and swelling of his senses, running out like new wine into vapours and intoxicating activities,

« ForrigeFortsett »