« PreviousContinue »
for us is conveyed to the souls of men; without which we have no concern in them. If we expect to be saved by Christ, it must be by what he hath done, and does for us, as a Priest, a Prophet, and a King: but one of the prin cipal ends of what he does in all these, is, to make us holy; and if this be not effected in us, we can have no eternal benefit by his mediation.
Hence the miserable condition of multitudes called Christians, who live in sin, and yet hope to be saved by the Gospel, is greatly to be lamented. For, (1.) They woefully deceive their own souls, crying, 'Peace, peace, when sudden destruction lies at the door.' And, (2.) They throw the greatest dishonour possible on Christ and the Gospel; for as to the open enemies of Christ, who reject him as a seducer, and the Gospel as a fable, they are condemned already; and none can think the worse of him or of the Gospel on account of their opposition; but for those who profess to own them both, and yet continue to live in sin, they endeavour to represent Christ as a minister of sin;' as one who has procured indulgence for men to live in their lusts; and the Gospel as such a law or rule, as that men loving sin, and living in it, may be saved by them. This is that which has reflected deep dishonour on the Christian religion, and has impeded its progress in the world. These are they of whom the apostle makes his bitter complaint,
Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.' Phil. iii. 18, 19. How many does this character suit in these days! And whatever they think i of themselves, they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, and trample under their feet the blood of the covenant.' Secondly, Let more serious professors be most serious in this matter. The apostle having given assurance of the certain salvation of all true believers, from the immutable purpose of God, presently adds, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity,' 2 Tim. ii. 19. plainly intimating that, without holiness, without an universal departure from iniquity, we cannot have the least evidence that we are interested in that assured condition. You name the name of Christ,-profess an interest in him,-expect salvation by him;-which
way will you apply yourselves to him? From which his offices do you expect advantage?
Is it from his sacerdotal? Has his blood purged your consciences from dead works, that you should serve the living God? Are you cleansed, and sanctified, and made holy thereby? Are you redeemed out of the world by it, and from your vain conversation therein? If you find not these effects of the blood-shedding of Christ, in vain will you expect those other of atonement and peace with God, pardon, justification, and salvation, which you look for. The Priestly office of Christ has its whole effect, where it has any effect: despisers of its fruits in holiness, shall never have the least interest in its fruits in righteousness.
Is it from his prophetical office that you expect relief? Have you learned of him to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live righteously, and soberly, and godly, in this present world?' Hath he taught you to be humble, meek, patient? Hath he instructed you unto sincerity in all your dealings and conversation among men? Above all, have you learned of him to purify your hearts by faith, to subdue your spiritual and fleshly lusts, to endeavour after an universal conformity to his image? Do you find his doctrine effectual to these ends, and are your hearts cast into the mould of it? If it be so, your interest in him by his prophetical office is secured unto you :--but if you say, you hear his voice in his word read and preached; you have learned many mysteries have attained much light and knowledge, so that you can talk of doctrines and perform many duties, but cannot say, that the effects before mentioned are wrought in you by his Word and Spirit, you lose the second expectation of an interest in Christ as Mediator, or any advantage thereby.
Will you betake yourself to the Kingly office of Christ? You will do well to examine how he ruleth in you and over you. Hath he subdued your lusts, those enemies of his kingdom which fight against your souls? Hath he strengthened you by his grace unto all holy obedience? And have you given up yourselves to be ruled by his Word and Spirit, to obey him in all things, and to entrust all your temporal and eternal concerns to his care, faithfulness, and power?-If it be so, you have cause to rejoice, as those who have an assured concern in the blessed things of his kingdom :--but if your rebellious lusts still
bear sway in you; if you continue to fulfil the lusts of the mind and of the flesh; if you walk after the fashion of this world, and not as obedient subjects of that kingdom of his, which is not of this world,'-deceive not yourselves any longer,-Christ will be of no advantage to you!
This is the sum of our argument:-If the Lord Christ act no otherwise for our good, but in and by his blessed offices of Priest, Prophet, and King; and if the immediate effect of the grace of Christ acting in all these offices towards us, be our holiness and sanctification ;—those in whom that effect is not produced, have no reason to promise themselves an interest in Christ, or any advantage by his mediation. For men to name the ' name of Christ,' to avow an expectation of salvation by him :-and in the mean time to be in themselves worldly, proud, ambitious, envious, revengeful, haters of good men, covetous, living in divers lusts and pleasures, is a scandal and shame to the Christian religion, and unavoidably destructive to their own souls.
Necessity of Holiness, from our Condition in this
NOTHER argument for the necessity of holiness, may
ourselves, and our
present state and condition; for hereby alone the vicious distemper of our natures can be cured. That our nature is universally depraved by sin, I have sufficiently proved before; and I do not now consider it with respect to the disability of living to God, nor yet as to future punishment: but it is the present misery occasioned by it, which I intend; for the mind of man being possessed with darkness, folly, and instability;-the will under the power of spiritual death, stubborn and obstinate ;—and all the af fections carnal, sensual, and selfish ;-the whole soul being hurried off from God, and so out of its way, is perpetually filled with confusion and disorder. It is not unlike
that description which Job gives of the grave; 'A land of darkness and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.' When Solomon set himself to search out the causes of all the vanity and vexation that is in the world, this was the sum of his discovery:''God made men upright; but they have found out many inventions:'-that is, cast themselves into endless entanglements and confusions. What is sin in its guilt, is punishment in its power; yea, the greatest that men are liable to in this world. Hence God, for the guilt of some sins, penally gives men up to the power of other sins and there is no greater misery nor slavery than to be under the power of sin. This proves the original depravity of our na ture, the whole soul is filled with darkness and disorder, being brought under the power of various lusts and passions, captivating the mind and will to their interests, in the vilest drudgeries of servitude and bondage. No sooner does the mind begin to act agreeably to the small remainders of light in it, than it is immediately controuled by impetuous lusts and affections, which darken its directions, and silence its commands. Hence is the common saying not so common as what is signified by it :
-Video meliora proboque,
I see good things, and I approve,- -But still pursue the sins I love. Hence the whole soul is filled with fierce contradictions and conflicts. Vanity, folly, instability, sensual appetites, inordinate desires, disquieting passions, act continually in our depraved natures. How full is the world of confusion, oppression, rapine, uncleanness, and the like dreadful miseries! Alas! they are but an imperfect representation of the evils that are in the minds of men by nature; for as they all proceed from the heart,' so the thousandth part of what is there conceived is never brought forth and acted. Wicked men are like a troubled sea that cannot rest; whose waves cast up mire and dirt.' The heart is in continual motion, restless in its imaginations, as the waters of the sea when it is stormy; and they are all ' evil, only evil continually,' casting up mire and dirt. And those who seem to have the greatest advantages above others, in power and opportunity to satisfy their lusts, do but increase their own disquietude; for as these things are
evil in themselves, so they are penal to those in whom they reign; and if their breasts were opened, it would appear, by the confusion and horror they live in, that they are on the very confines of Hell.
Hence is the life of man full of trouble, disappointments, vexations, and endless self-dissatisfactions; which some of the wiser heathens saw, complained of, and attempted in vain to relieve. All these things proceed from the depravity of our natures; and as, if they are not healed, they will assuredly issue in everlasting misery, so they are woeful and calamitous at present. True peace and tranquillity of mind are strangers to such souls. Alas! what are the perishing profits and pleasure which this world can afford! How unable is the mind to find out rest and peace in them! They quickly satiate in their enjoyment; which only heightens present vanity, and makes provision for future vexation. We have therefore no greater concern in the world, than to inquire how this disorder may be cured. What we intend, will appear in the following observations :—
1. It is true, that some persons are naturally of a more sedate and quiet temper than others; they fall not into such excesses of outward sins as others; nay, their minds are not capable of such turbulent passions as the most are possessed with. These comparatively are peaceable, and useful to their relations and others; but yet their minds and hearts are full of darkness and disorder; for so it is with all by nature (as we have proved;) and the less troublesome waves they have on the surface, the more mire and dirt frequently they have at the bottom.
2. Education, convictions, afflictions, hope of a righteousness of their own, love of reputation, association with good men, resolutions for secular ends, with other means of the like kind, often put great restraints on the actings of the evil imaginations of men, and the course of life may be much altered by them.
3. Notwithstanding all that may be effected by these means, the disease is uncured, the soul continues still in its disorders and inward confusion; for our original order consisted in the inclinations of our minds, wills, and affections to regular actings towards God as their end and reward. While we continued in due order towards God, it was impossible we should be otherwise in