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you, has actually appointed the matter of your probation or trial, to be a conflict of the spirit with flesh and blood, has he not a right to make this appointment? And does not your own reason and conscience tell you, that you deserve his anger aud severe punishment, if you abandon yourself to all the wild motions and extravagances of bodily appetite, which he requires you to resist and subdue?

Bethink yourselves, O sinners, how you will answer it to God another day; that when he has given you a soul, a spirit, a conscience to fight against fleshly lusts, you should nourish and indulge them hourly? When he has offered his grace to change your corrupt natures, and has sent his only Son, and his eternal Spirit to purchase pardon for past sins, and to make new ereatures of you; when he has taught you your duty, and offers divine aids to fulfil it; when he both entreats you as a friend, and commands you as a God, to resist these lusts of the flesh effecttually, and be for ever holy and happy; that you should neglect the laws and mercies of a great and condescending God, and still run riot in the pursuit of forbidden passions and pleasure? Can your hearts endure, or your hands be strong in the day that the God of vengeance shall appear in flaming fire, to make enquiry into such rebellion? Can you be so stupid as to hope, that the poor pretences of flesh and nature, will screen you from just and almighty indignation? Awake, awake, O mistaken creatures, and let the man within you resume its place, and reason and conscience do their office, Awake from this vain and dangerous dream, this fatal security, and wilful blindness. Rouse the powers of your souls to arm, and fight in opposition to the sinful flesh; arise and bestir yourselves ere the time of trial be ended, and the decisive sentence of an offended God, doom you to miseries that have no end.

Remark IV. In this description of the principles of sin and holiness, as seated in our flesh, or in our spirit, we may see the nature of the christian warfare; that much of it consists in a fight of the spirit with flesh and blood. Little do some christians consider how much of religion lies in watching over their appetites and senses, and setting a guard upon the sinful tendencies of the flesh; little do they think how much of their piety and their holy peace depends on keeping down this flesh, and subduing it to the best service of the soul.

There may be some persons, who under pretence of serving God in the spirit, and the more exalted and refined notions and practices of christianity, give a loose to the flesh, in eating, and drinking, and dressing, and all the luxuries of life. But can these christians imagine, that when they pamper and indulge that wherein sin is chiefly seated, their spirits should long main

tain their purity and heavenly-mindedness? St. Paul was, of another mind; 1 Cor. ix. 27. I keep under my body, says he; I fight with my flesh which is my great enemy, Tawaw nat Seraywyw, I subdue it, and bear it down, as with heavy blows, I keep it under as a slave, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become a cast-away; lest, when I have preached to others the doctrines of mortifying the flesh, and of walking according to the spirit, I should indulge such fleshly sins as would prove my eternal ruin.

Let not any man imagine, that I am here teaching the Romish penances, and monkish severities; there is no necessity of sack-cloth and beggary, scourging and starving, in order to keep the body fit for the duties of religion. Surely there is a medium between the self-indulgence of some lazy and carnal christians, and the superstitious forms of mortifying the flesh, practised in the popish church; and if, under a pretence of sublime spirituality, we let the fleshly appetites get the mastery of us, the prosperity, and even the safety of the soul, will be in extreme hazard; for St. Peter and St. Paul agree well in this doctrine, that fleshly lusts war against the soul; 1 Pet. ii. 11.

I confess the apostle tells the Ephesians, chap vi. ver. 12. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, &c. But it is plain he means no more, than that flesh and blood are not our only enemies, but that we wrestle also with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness, i. e. with Satan and the powers of darkness. Yet we must remember that the powers of darkness chiefly attack our spirits by means of our flesh. I cannot believe they would have so much advantage over our souls as they have, if our souls were released from flesh and blood. Satan has a chamber in the imagination, fancy is his shop wherein to forge sinful thoughts; and he is very busy at this mischievous work, especially when the powers of nature labour under any disease, and such as affects the head and the nerves: He seizes the unhappy opportunity, and gives greater disturbances to the mind, by awakening the images of the brain in an irregular manner, and stimulating and urging onwards the too unruly passions. This crafty adversary is very ready to fish, as we say, in troubled waters; where the humours of the body are out of order. Thus he is wise to make his advantage of all our weaknesses, and to gain some interest in them, to execute his hellish designs thereby; 2 Cor. xii. 7. A messenger of Satan and a thorn in the flesh, were both together troublesome to St. Paul; whether they became two distinct enemies, or one strengthened by the influence of the other, is hard to determine; but thus much seems to be intimated, that some troublesome disorder in the flesh, gave a great occasion to Satan to buffet St. Paul more severely, and do him more mischief.

It is hard wrestling for a poor sanctified soul, with so violent and strong a yoke-fellow as our flesh. The powers of the flesh twine about our feeble spirit, and often pull it to the ground, and get the mastery of it. The just man may fall down seven times, and rise again; but the wicked fall into mischief, and attempt not to rise; Prov. xxiv. 16. We are tied to the flesh while we are here, and it is the biggest, and the hardest part of our state of trial, to be constantly tied to such flesh as ours is. All the adversaries we have besides, are not equal to the adversary that dwells with us, nor is all their power equal to the power of our flesh and blood, with its restless urgencies, leading us away from God to sin. There is so close a union between flesh and spirit, in this state, that we carry our prison about us, even the flesh in which we inhabit; we drag our chains about with us; we are tied down to our senses; we are too nearly allied to the passions and appctites of this animal in which the soul dwells, and these the soul cannot master and subdue entirely; however, let us wrestle with flesh and blood, as well as with the tempting world, and the malice of Satan; let us bestir ourselves, and fight the good fight of faith, for the crown is worth the, labour of the conquest.


Yet there is another difficulty attends this part of our spiritual warfare, viz. This is a combat to which the Captain of our Salvation did not lead us on in person, and in which Christ never went before us. It is a labour of piety in which our blessed Saviour was not our pattern; nor could he be, for he had no principle of sin in his soul, nor any sinful motion in all his sensitive powers. His flesh itself, in a literal sense, was born of the spirit, and he was all spirit, all holy. The Holy Ghost overshadowed the blessed virgin; and that holy thing that was born of Mary, was sanctified in its original, and united to the eternal Son of God; Luke i. 35. Never had he one disorderly passion; never one vicious appetite, no criminal wish, no guilty inclination; he knew no excessive tendencies towards a lawful object, nor did he feel any inward propensity toward an unlawful one. He took part of flesh and blood, indeed because the children were partakers of it; In all things was he made like to his brethren, but without sin, and tempted in all points, as we are, except this inward and native temptation; Heb. ii. 14, 17. and iv. 15. This part of our warfare, therefore, we have no perfect pattern for; the leader of the holy army never went through these special and sore conflicts, in which our spirits are daily engaged, even the war with corrupt nature and sinful flesh: yet he pities and sympathizes with us; for, as God, he knows our whole frame perfectly; and he knows, as man, what our flesh is, and what its sinful appetites are, so far as his holy nature will admit of this sympathy. In such a case as this, which he never experienced, yet

he supplies us with such grace as is effectually suited to relieve these agonies; and the kind angel of the covenant will be at our right-hand, to strengthen the sincere combatants, that they be not


Remark V. How much do our fellow-christians deserve our pity, that labour under great difficulties, and great darkness, through the perverse humours of their flesh? through the untoward constitutions of their nature, through the peevish, or proud, or malicious, or passionate tempers of their mortal body?

Some have a more wrathful, some a more wanton mixture of blood and natural spirits; others again more melancholy in their constitution, are ready to overwhelm themselves with despair and unbelieving sorrows; they go on fighting and mourning all the day long, with many a violent contest, many a groan and struggle, many a sharp combat, and perhaps with many a wound too. They are often upon their knees for strength to subdue this ever present enemy the flesh, and can gain but little advantage; they are fighting from day to day, and their sins are so powerful still, that they think they never get nearer to the con-quest: they labour and toil, pray and endeavour to obtain divine assistance, and yet are too often overcome. This is the case of many a christian who hath some strong corruption mingled with his constitution. Let us pity such and pray for them too, and not be hasty in censuring their character and their state: Bless God if your constitution be of a happier mould, and if your trials are not so great, and your temptations so heavy as theirs.

But you will say, "They sin often, and fall very foully, and dishonour religion more than you." It may be so; but it may be they fight harder than you do, and labour with more assiduity, and exercise more grace than ever you did, and yet are more frequently overcome by sin; so strong is the constitutional iniquity in some natures, more than it is in others. Therefore while you condemn the sin, let not the poor striving mourning sinner be censured heavily as to his character, or as to his estate. It was said of a very great man of God heretofore, that he had grace enough for ten men, but not half enough for himself, because his natural constitution was so very violent and passionate.

When thou seest therefore a christian often in sorrow, confessing his follies, and continually humbled under a sense of the levity of his spirit, or the vanity of his natural temper; when he grieves, that in such and such a season, he has indulged unlawful airs, and complied too far with the vices of company, when thou observest his spirit vexed and pained inwardly, that he has indulged any criminal appetite or passion beyond what has been

visible in thy own conduct; do not pride thyself in thy own purity, or disdain thy mourning brother, but say within thyself,

Perhaps he has watched and laboured more than I have done, and yet his own iniquity was too strong for him." Think with thyself that he was wrestling with a giant, and fought hard, and was overcome; but thy own combat was but as it were with a dwarf or a child, with some feebler vice that had less root in thy constitution; and therefore though thou hast laboured less, yet thou hast gained the victory. And to encourage such mourning christians, let me add, that in the future state, it is probable, the saints shall be rewarded not so much according to their actual success and victory, as according to the toil and labour of the combat.

Yet take this caution by the way too: Such persons should not think themselves innocent, because they fight harder against sin than others do; let them not think all warnings useless, nor be angry with the gentle admonitions of their friends, as though they were hard censures: for such christians have more need of warning than others, because they are more in danger. They ought to be crying out on themselves continually, Q wretched creature! who shall deliver me? They should beg reproofs, and say, Let the righteous smite me, it shall be kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil that shall not break my head Rom. vii. 24. Psal. cxli. 5. Let my brethren watch over me, for I find I am not sufficient to be my own keeper; and let them have compassion on me, plucking me out of the fire, for I hate, as well as they, the garment spotted with the flesh; Jude, ver. 23. Thus the flesh must be brought under by constant watchfulness, prayer, and resistance, else we cannot maintain holiness and peace. Take heed therefore, O feeble and tempted christian, while thou art by prayer engaging the heavenly alliance on thy side, that thou let not thy own weapons drop, but maintain the war. The fight is to last but threescore years and ten; if thou overcome, there is the crown of life ready for thee, which Jesus the Judge shall bestow. on all the conquerors.

Remark VI. How should we rejoice in hope of that hour that shall release us from this sinful flesh; when we shall serve God in spirit without a clog, without a tempter! O with what a relish of sacred pleasure should a saint read those words in 2 Cor. v. 8. Absent from the body, and present with the Lord; Absent from this traitor, this vexing enemy, that we constantly carry about with us! Absent from the clog and chain of this sinful flesh, the prison wherein we are kept in darkness, and are confined from God! Absent from these eyes that have drawn our souls afar from God by various temptations ? and absent

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