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look back upon our lives, and ask, “What testimonies have we 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 1. 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. O! 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.
DIVINE HYMNS FOR SERMONS I, II, AND III.
The Inward Witness to Christianity.
WESTIONS and doubls be heard no
more : Let Cbrist and joy be all our theme; His Spirit seals his gospel sure To every soul that trusts his name.
Jesus, thy witness speaks within ; The mercy which thy words reveal, Hefnes the heart from sense and sin, And stamps its own celestial seal,
Tis God's inimitable hand That moulds and forms the beart anew; Blasphemers can no more withstand, But bow and owo thy doctrine true. The guilty wretch that trusts thy
WITNESS, ye saints, that Christ is
true ; Tell bow his name imparts The life of grace and glory too:
Ye have it in your bearta.
The heav'nly building is begun
When ye receive the Lord ; His bands shall lay the crowning stone,
And well perform his word. Your souls are form'd by wisdom's
rules, Your joys and graces shine ; You need no learning of the schools,
To prove your faith divine. Let heathens scoff, and Jews opposo,
Let Satan's bolts be hurl'd; There's something wrought within you
Flesh and Spirit; or, the Principles of Sin and Holiness.
Rom. viji, 1.
-Who walk not after the Flesb, but after the Spirit.
HEN 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 meaningIt 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 character of such as believe in Christ, and to whom belongs no condemnation, 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 iinmediate and distinct residence in the body or in the soul. The 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 princi ples 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 mang
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 fiesh 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:
I. I shall offer some reasons why sin, and the principles of it, are represented by the flesh.-II. 'I shall likewise propose the reasons why the principles of holiness are expressed by the term spirit. And, -111. 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 purstie 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 uregenerate 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, gandy 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 Adlam, 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 siniul 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 his sinful nature. llow 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 riwell upon the face of the earth; Acts xvii.
These are transmitted down to us the wretched posterity.
In some instances this is so evident, that all men see and believe it. How often does the haughty, the peevish, or the choleric temper of the parent appear in the son or the daughter beyond all contradiction? And often, when we see a drunken or a wanton sinner, we cry,“ He is the express copy of his father, he
, borrows his vices as well as his features, and seems to be his perfect image.” And though it is not so evident in all men, that they borrow the seeds of iniquity from their predecessors, yet there is proof enough from the word of God, that we are conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity that man who is born of a woman is neither clean nor righteous. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? It is impossible ; for that which is born of the flesh is flesh; Psalm li. 5. Job xv. 14. John üi. 6. Irregular tendencies towards lawful delights, and strong propensities towards unlawful ones, a neglect of God, and aversion to all that is holy or heavenly, with an inclination towards fleshly and sinful objects, are conveyed to us all, even from our first parents. Sinful Adam begat his sons in his own likeness; Gen. v. 3. and therefore sin is described by flesh, because it came from the father of our flesh.
III. Another reason why sin is called flesh, is because the chief springs of sin lie most in our fleshly natures ; all the while we continue here in this world, the occasions of sin lie much in our body, in our blood, in our natural constitution, in this mortal frame and contexture; fancy and passion, in all their wild irregularities, are much influenced by the flesh and blood. Our bodily senses, our natural appetites, are continually tempting us away from our duty, and leading or enticing us to the commission of sin; or, at least, immediately falling in with temptation : insomuch that sin is said to work in our members; Rom. vii. 5. to reign in our mortal body; vi. 12. Sinful actions are called the deeds of the body; viii. 13. Our sins are called our members, Col. iii. 5. Mortify by the spirit the deeds of the body, saith the apostle in one place; mortify your members which are upon the earth, saith he in the other place; in both which he means the mortification of sin. He borrows words from the human body to describe sin.
Here let it be noted, that we do not suppose that mere flesh and blood, distinct from the soul, are capable of sin, properly speaking, or can become guilty in a proper sense; for these are but mere matter, and, separate from the mind, cannot be under a moral law, any more than brute creatures: Therefore we say, sin is not formally in the body of man, but it is occasionally there; because the senses and appetites, the parts and powers of the body become very often an unhappy occasion of sin to the soul; and upon this account the apostle often describes sin by the word flesh.
I proceed now to the second thing proposed, and that is, to