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world; let thie eternal life that is wrought in your souls by this gospel, express itself in all your outward behaviour amongst men. Thus the primitive christians did, and it was their work to propagate the faith of Christ this way. The gentiles and unbelievers were won by their conversation ; 1 Pet. iii. 1. Thus the apostles did, who were as so many captains and officers in the army of christians, going before the camp, and making war against all the idolatry of the heathens. They made that eternal life which was wrought in their souls, appear publicly, and discover itself unto men, and hereby the gospel gained victory and triumph wheresoever it went. When those who were ignorant of faith and its power, came into the assemblies of christians, and found the gospel to be a doctrine of such divine attendants, it convinced their consciences, and changed many of them into new creatures; they fell down, and confessed that there is a God among the christians of a truth. When they see your conversation, when they behold your faith, and holy fear, your zeal for God, your delight in his worship, your gentleness, your meekness, kindness, and goodness toward your fellow-creatures, your desire of the salvation of men, and readiness to deny yourselves for their good; when the heathens know and behold this, they shall be won, says the apostle, by such a conversation as this is, to the belief of the same doctrine, and practice of the same duties.
O what unknown millions of arguments would support and adorn the doctrine of Christ, if every professor of it had this inward testimony working powerfully in the soul, and breaking forth in the life ! How effcctually would it silence the most impudent objectors! When they shall put that question to you, "What do
you more than others ?” You would make it appear in your lives, that the gospel is true and divine, by challenging all the philosophers, and all the priests and devotees of other religions, to shew such men and women as christians are; such husbands and wives, such parents and children, such masters and servants. such lovers of God and man. O how happy would it be for the christian name and interest in the world, if those who profess the gospel of Christ, could make a bold and universal challenge upon this head! Or when the deists shall insult and
say to a believer, What is Jesus of Nazareth more than another man, that
love and adore him so? Or in the language of the carnal Jews, II hut is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou makest so much ado about him? The discovery of Christ reigning in the soul by his renewing grace, will be a sufficient evidence that he is the Son of God, that his character and his person are divine, and his mission is from above ; that he is the chiefest of ten thousand, and altogether lovely.
It is worth while for us now to take a survey of ourselves, to look back upon our lives, and ask, 66 What testimonies have wę given to the glory of this gospel, and to the truth of the religion of Christ? Have we not sometimes rather been scandals to christianity? Have not our practices been blots instead of evidences, and discouragements to the unbeliever, intead of allurements? Have we not sometimes laid stumbling-blocks in the way of those that have had the look of an eye, and some tendency, of heart towards it?” This will be an awakening thought, and painful to conscience in the review.
Have we not much reason to mourn that there are some * among us who walk as enemies of the cross of Christ ? Phil. iii. 17. I would have you, says the apostle, be followers of me, walk as í walk, as you have me for an example. I would have you walk as those who have eternal life begun in them, that you may be honours to the gospel. But there are many who walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, they are enemies of the cross, and dishonours to the gospel, instead of evidences of the truth of it; their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame ; whereas our conversation is in heaven, whence we expect Jesus the Saviour; 18, 19, 20. We who are here upon earth, and have believed the gospel of Christ, we should live as though we had part of ourselves in heaven already, our conversation should be so holy and divine. Eternal life begun in our hearts, should break out, and disclose itself, and shine bright among the persons we converse with. 0.! how much is the propagation of the gospel obstructed, how much the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ obscured, and how much the good of souls prevented and hindered by those that discover not this eternal life, this sacred witness, in the holiness of heart and practice ! But, beloved, we hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak; Heb. vi. 9. and yet we must speak thus, with a sacred jealousy for the glory and evidence of this gospel, with a warm concern for the peace and welfare of your souls, and with holy zeal for the conversion of the unbelieving world to the faith of God our Saviour.
Flesh and Spirit; or, the Principles of Sin and Holiness.
Rom. viii. 1.-—Who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. WHEN we use the words flesh and spirit, in their literal and proper sense, all men know what we mean by them : Flesh generally signifies the animal nature; that is, the body and blood, &c. and spirit means an intelligent nature that has understanding and will. When these are attributed to man, they are but other names to express those two distinct beings, the body and soul, that make up human nature. But these words are often in scripture used metaphorically, and that in various senses; yet the metaphor, as it stands in my text, hath such justness and propriety in it, that the sense of it is not very difficult to be traced, being happily and nearly derived from the proper and literal meaning. It is plain that St. Paul uses this expression of walking after the flesh, to signify a course of sin; and by walking after the spirit, he describes a course of holiness. This is the cha 'ac er of such as believe in Christ, and to whom belongs no condemnarion, that they walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit; they live not in a course of sin, nor according to sinful principles, but follow the principles of holiness that are wrought in them.
Thus the word flesh signifies, and includes all the principles and springs of sin that are found in man, whether they have their inmediate and distinct residence in the body or in the soul. Tlie word spirit signifies and includes all the principles of holiness that are wrought in any person, whether immediately residing in soul or body. And among the many places of scripture where they are so used, those words of our Lord himself to Nicodemus, John iii. 6. seem to make this most evident: What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit; by which he means to assert, that what comes by natural generation tends towards sin, and what is derived from the operation of the Spirit of God leads to holiness. Or, more plainly thus : all the principles of sin spring from mere human nature, as derived from our parents, and are called flesh; and, on the contrary, all the principles of holiness spring from the Spirit of God, and are called spirit; and thence his argument derives the necessity of being born again, or born from above. In the first part of these two sentences, flesh and spirit are taken literally for the flesh of man, and the Spirit of God. In the latter end of the sentences, flesh and spirit must be taken figuratively, for the principles of sin, and the principles of holiness.
Now since the apostle frequently uses the terms flesh and spirit in the same sense which his Lord and Master put upon them, and talks often on this subject : I shall spend this discourse in shewing the grounds of this figure of speech in my text, and in giving a full explication and improvement of it in the following manner :
1. I shall offer some reasons why sin, and the principles of it, are represented by the flesh.-11. I shall likewise propose the reasons why the principles of holiness are expressed by the term spirit. And,-III. Draw some useful remarks from the whole.
First, Let me shew why sin is represented by flesh, so often in scripture; and I give these reasons for it:
I. Because fleshly or sensible objects, are the chief delight and aim of sinners. They pursue them, and they rejoice in them; and these lead away the soul from God to sin. It is the great business of sinners to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, and make provision for it. This is their character in St. Paul's writings; to gratify the appetites of the body, to provide for the desires of their animal natures, eating and drinking, and luxury, and lusts of the flesh, are the cares of most unregenerate men.
The lust of the eye, and the gaities of life, gold and silver, pomp and equipage, a fine house, a gay appearance in the world, gaudy cloathing and glittering ornaments of the body, great splendor in the eyes of men; these are the idols, the gods of sinners; and they are the temptations of the saints too. The things that relate to the flesh, and the enjoyments of this sensible and present life, are the objects of sinful appetites, or of lawful appetite in a sinful degree; and therefore sin is called flesh.
II. Sin is also called flesh, because it is communicated and propagated to us by the parents of our flesh. It is by our flesh that we are a-kin to Adam, the first great sinner, and derive a corrupted nature from him; from this original taint we derive iniquity, as a polluted stream from an unclean fountain; he is the father of a sinful posterity.
Our spirits indeed are formed immediately by God, and being united to these bodies that come from Adam by the laws of creation, we become the children of Adam, and so are partakers of bis sinful nature. How this is done, we may learn from other discourses : it is enough here to say, that irregular humours, and motions, and ferments are transferred and propagated from the first man, even from the same blood of which are formed all the nations of men that dwell upon the face of the earth; Acts xvii. 26. These are transmitted down to us the wretched posterity.