Imatges de pÓgina


SERM. blessed with the light of revelation. Those

who have not had this divine law to govern them will be judged without the law, and indulgence will be proportionably shewn to them; but the Christian has a law, and many duties to fulfil; his salvation will not be altogether a mere act of mercy, but will come to him in the shape at least, of a boon promised, and a reward offered, upon the condition of his having contributed to work out his own salvation. The hopes of glory then, attached to the profession of Christianity, are not rendered so transcendently great through any blind preference or partiality, but because more is expected of the Christian, more is promised to him. Others may be in a condition only to sow sparingly; if these reap sparingly they will yet have the harvest that was their due; but if the Christian has had so abundant talents given to him, that in the way of salvation, and true Christian charity and goodness, he may be able to sow bountifully, he may reasonably expect his just harvest too; and have hopes of reaping as bountifully as he has sowed.


Christianity, therefore, is not to be laid SERM. aside without certain loss; nor is it to be retained to any effect, unless we faithfully endeavour to live up to the terms of it. If, therefore, we have such a just sense of the glorious hopes of Christianity, and of the amiable character of its morality, that we would wish both to be, and to be thought Christians; and if, besides, we feel so sensible of our manifold weaknesses and infirmities, as to be willing to confess, with the holy Apostle, that we continually both leave undone those things which we ought to do, and do those things which we ought not to do, surely it greatly concerns us to carry our attention a little further, and endeavour both to discover the cause of such gross transgressions, and to ascertain the remedy. The holy Apostle has, in a great measure, done this for us, by discoursing at large of those two leading principles, as it were, of human action, which, though designed to harmonize together, had got so much out of order as to be perpetually in opposition to each other" The flesh,says he, lụsteth against the Spirit, and the



Spirit against the flesh.Our blessed Lord, indeed, had given the same account of human weakness, accompanying it with a caution to his wavering disciples, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into

temptation, the Spirit indeed is willing, but " the flesh is weak.But we need not go further, to have a full view of the matter, than to the very chapter whence my text is taken. And, first, St. Paul alledges, in some excuse of the errors acknowledged in my text, “ Now then it is no more I that do it, but Sin that dwelletb in me," in which observation, though he does not in fact extenuate his fault, yet he rightly esteems the true dignity of our nature, as purified by Christianity, for the Christian ought to be so averse from sin, as to hold no fellowship at all with it; as far as the Christian acts amiss, he sells himself into bondage, his actions are not his own, but the works of the devil. The holy Apostle, aware of this, disowns those principles within him which encourage sin, or rather, I should say, considers them as external foes, foreign to his nature as a Christian :

I delight in the law of God after the inner serm.

man, but I see another law in my members, 111. warring against the law of my mind, and

bringing me into captivity to the law of sin.With a just sense of the disgrace and ignominy of so base a subjection of his soul and spirit, he exclaims, O wretched man " that I am, who shall deliver me from the

body of this Death ?" There is something very emphatic in the word body, as here applied; the body of this Death. Let us frame to ourselves what notions we will, of the soul and spirit, we need be at no loss to discover the entire nature, and full extent, of our bodily appetites and desires. These constitute that sinful flesh that wars against the spirit, and which, unless subdued and mortified, and brought into subjection, before it is too late, will tend to the destruction both of soul and body : “ For,” as St. James expresses it,

66 when “ Lust hath conceived it bringeth forth “ Sin, and Sin, when it is finished, bring“ eth forth Death *." We need not then

[blocks in formation]


SERM. bewilder ourselves, in any vain attempt to

ascertain the nature, or the operations of the spirit, whether it be of our own spiritual part, the soul, or of the eternal Spirit of God, which is promised to us as an assistant to the exertions of the true believer. We may rest assured, that by the spirit we ought, as Christians, to be so united to God, as to be perpetually mindful of the state we are to come to; to remember, that while the body is compelled, from its nature, to seek its present good among

the objects of sense and appetite here below, the spirit of man is capable of soaring aloft, and of contemplating the joys of Heaven, where fleshly appetites will no more prevail, and whither the body cannot ascend, till it has been so changed and purified as to be no longer earthy and terrestrial. The body, then, is always to be kept subordinate to the soul, otherwise, not only our own spirit will soon be brought into captivity to the law of Sin, but the union that might subsist between the Spirit of God and our own souls, must necessarily be dissolved. " We are not debtors to the


« AnteriorContinua »