« PreviousContinue »
of the principle of holiness, yet our bodies, as essential parts of our natures, are partakers thereof. (2.) By a peculiar influence of the grace of God upon them also, as far as they have any influence into moral operations; for
our bodies are members of Christ,' and consequently have influences of grace from him as our head. (3.) In the work of sanctification, the Holy Ghost dwells in us; and hence ó our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost,' which is in us; and hereby the members of the body become instruments and servants of righteousness to holiness ;' fit to be employed in duties of holiness, as being made clean, and sanctified to God : and hereby are they disposed and prepared for a blessed resurrection at the last day, which shall be wrought by the Spirit of Christ, who dwelt in them, and sanctified them in this life.
Our whole persons, therefore, are the subjects of this work. Now, whether all this belongs to that moral virtue which some would substitute in the room of Gospel Holiness, they may do well to consider who are the patrons of that cause.
And moreover, let men beware that they deceive not themselves with a partial work in conviction only, or change of affections also, instead of this evangelical sanctification. It is often and truly said, that men may have their minds enlightened, their affections moved, and their lives much changed, and yet come short of real holiness. The best trial of this work is by its universality, with respect to its subject. If any thing remain unsanctified in us, sin may there erect its throne, and maintain its sovereignty. But where this work is real, however imperfect as to its degree, yet it possesses the whole person, and leaves not the least hold to sin, wherein it does not continually combat and conflict with it.
Lastly. Hence men may see how vainly they -themselves in their sins, from their constitutions; for true sanctification reaches to the body. It is true, grace not so change the natural constitution, as to make him who was sickly, healthy and strong; nor to make him who was melancholy, to be sanguine, or the like. der these things morally; and as the whole person is a principle of moral operations, and so it works that alteration Pon the whole person, as to cure morally sinful distempers, as of passion and intemperances, which men were before more than ordinarily inclined to by their tempers
constitutions. Indeed, from the efficacy of it on our whole persons, is the principal discovery of its truth and reality. Let none therefore pretend that grace does not change men's constitutions, in order to palliate their disorderly passions before men, and to keep them from being humbled for them before God: for though it does not this naturally, yet it does it morally; so that the constitútion itself shall be no more such a fomes and incentive to disorderly passions as before. If grace has not cured that passion, pride, wrath, intemperance, which men's constitutions peculiarly incline to, I know not for my part what it has done, nor what a number of outward duties signify. The grace of Christ causes the wolf to dwell with the lamb, and the leopard to lie down with the kid :' it will change the most savage natures into meekness, genlleness, and kindness; examples of which have been multiplied in the world.
The Defilement of Sin; wherein it consists; with its
E now proceed to a further explication of the defirst thing we ascribe to the Spirit of God herein is, the purification of our natures from the pollution of sin; and in this purification is ascribed, 1. To the Spirit of God, who is the principal efficient of the whole. To this purpose is that promise, • I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean ;' Ezek. xxxvi. 25, and in Isa. iv. 4. When the lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughter of Zion, by the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning.? Fire and water were the means whereby all things were typically cleansed in the law; and the Holy Spirit, as the efficient cause of all spiritual cleansing, is compared to
The application of the blood of Christ to our souls
for our sanctification by the Holy Ghost, is said to be for our cleansing : 'Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it. Eph. v. 26, 27. • That he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people zealous of good works, Titus ii. 14. “The blood of Jesus Christ purgeth our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.' Heb. ix. 14.
3. Where sanctification is enjoined as our duty, it is prescribed under this notion of cleansing ourselves from sin. · Wash you; make you clean.' Isa. i. 16.0 Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness. Jer. iv. 14. Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.' 2 Cor. vii. 1.
4. Answerable to these promises and precepts, and in confirmation of them, we have the ordinance of baptism, the outward means of our initiation into Christ and the profession of the Gospel; the great representation of the inward washing of regeneration. Now this expresses the outward putting away the filth of the flesh by external washing with material water; and that which answers to it, is the inward purifying of our souls and consciences by the grace of the Spirit; that is, the . putting off the body of the sins of the fiesh.' Wherefore, in the explication of this fir branch of our sanctification, we shall shew, (1.) That there is a spiritual defilement in sin ; (2.) Wherein it consists ; and (3.) How it is removed.
The first need not be insisted on. In the whole representation of it made to us in the Scripture, nothing is so much inculcated as its being filthy, abominable, full of defilement and pollution; it is the abominable thing which God hates and detests, and is compared to blood, wounds, sores, leprosy, scum, and loathsome diseases: and there is no notion of sin of which believers have a more sen. sible experience. They find that in sin which fills them with shame, self-abhorrence, and deep abasement of soul. They discern in it, or in themselves on account of it, an unsuitableness to the holiness of God, and an unfitness for communion with him. Nothing do they more ear, nestly seek in prayer than a cleansing from it by the blood of Christ; nor are any promises more precious to them than those of purification from it.
Secondly. The nature of this defilement must be con
sidered. By some it is reckoned to guilt: hence sin was said to be purged by sacrifices, when its guilt was expiated; but the Scripture intends also such an internal defilement as is removed only by actual sanctification. There are also some sins which have a peculiar pollution in them, and which are called uncleanness in a peculiar manner.' • Flee fornication,' saith the apostle: ' every sin that a man doth is without the body ; but he that' committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body.' But it is the uncleanness of all sin, and not the sin of uncleanness, which we intend.
The pollution of sin is that property of it whereby it is directly opposed to the holiness of God; hence he is said to be of purer eyes than to behold iniquity ;' and hence that pathetic dehortation, O do not this abominable thing which my soul hateth ! That consideration of sin which ingenerates shame, is taken chiefly from the holiness of God; hence persons are said to blush, to be ashamed, to be filled with confusion of face, under a sense of this filth of sin.
The holiness of God is the infinite perfection and rectitude of his nature; and this holiness he exerts in all he does, particularly in his Law, which is therefore holy, because it represents his own holiness; and hence whatever is contrary to it, is contrary to his holiness. It follows then, that this defilement of sin is that pravity, disorder, and shameful crookedness that is in it, with respect to the holiness of God, as expressed in the law.
Sin is either original or actual. Original sin is the habitual inconformity of our natures to the holiness of God; in actual sin is our inconformity to God and his holinessexpressed in the particular commands of the law. The nature of all sin then consists in its inconformity to the rule. Now this rule may be considered, (1.) As it expresses the authority of God in its precepts and sanction. Hence guilt follows every sin; and this produces fear : so Adam on his first sin : " I heard thy voice, and was afraid. (2.) The law expresses the holiness of God. Hence there is in sin a peculiar inconformity to the holiness of God; which is the spot, the stain, the filth of it ;-and this is inseparably attended with shame; so Adam expressed his sense of the filth of his sin; he was filled with shame. This is the order of these things. God, who is the object of our obedience, or sin, is the supreme lawgiver. On his law he has impressed his authority and his holiness. Sin, with respect to his authority, is attended with guilt; and this in the conscience of the sinner produces fear. As it respects the holiness of God, it is attended with filth or uncleanness; and this produces shame. This then is the pollution of sin, which is purged in our sanctification,
And herein there is a real filthiness, but spiritual ; which is compared with and opposed to things materially and carnally so. • Not that which goeth into a man' (meats of any sort) ' defile him,' saith our Saviour; • but that * which cometh out of the heart;' that is, spiritually, with respect to God, his law and holiness. And as men are taught the guilt of sin by their own fear, so are they taught the filth of sin by their own shame. To instruct us herein, is one end both of the Law and the Gospel. In the doctrine of the law, with the sanction and curse of it, and the institution of sacrifices to make atonement for sin, God declared the nature of guilt, and its remedy. By the same law, and by the institution of various ordinances for purification; as also by determining various ceremonial defilements, he made known the nature of filth and its remedy. To what end were so many meats and drinks, so many natural diseases, so many external fortuitous accidents, as touching the dead and the like, made religiously unclean by the law ? It was to teach us the spiritual defilement of sin; and to the same end, together with a demonstration of the remedy thereof, were the ordinances of purification instituted; which, as they were outward, purged outward uncleanness: but internal and spiritual things were taught and prefigured thereby. Yea, so inseparable is this filth from sin, and shame from filth, that wherever there is a sense of sin, there is a sense of this filth with shame. The very heathens were not free from a sense of this pollution ; and thence proceeded all their lustrations and purgations by washings, sacrifices, and mysterious ceremonies. It remains now that we inquire into the reasons why sin is such a defilement of our natures, and so inseparably attended with shame; and to this pursose we may observe,
(1.) That the spiritual beauty of the soul consists in its conformity to God. Grace gives beauty, Hence Christ