« AnteriorContinua »
upon the matter, next to the free grace of God in our justification by the blood of Christ, the only things wherein the glory of God and our own souls are concerned. These are the springs of our holiness and our sins, of our joys and troubles, of our refreshments and sorrows. It is then all our concernments to be thoroughly acquainted with these things,* who intend to walk with God, and to glorify him in this world.
And hence we may see what wisdom is required, in the guiding and management of our hearts and ways before God. Where the subjects of a ruler are in feuds, and oppositions one against another, unless great wisdom be used in the government of the whole, all things will quickly be ruinous in that state. There are these contrary principles in the hearts of believers; and if they labour not to be spiritually wise, how shall they be able to steer their course aright? Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves. They know their outward estates, how rich they are, and the condition of their bodies as to health and sickness they are careful to examine; but as to their inward man, and their principles as to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of themselves. Indeed few labour to grow wise in this matter, few study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the evil of their own hearts as they ought, on which yet the whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their eternal condition, doth depend. This therefore is our wisdom, and it is a needful wisdom, if we have any design to please God, or to avoid that which is a provocation to the eyes of his glory.
We shall find also in our inquiry hereinto, what diligence and watchfulness is required unto a Christian conversation. There is a constant enemy unto it in every one's own heart; and what an enemy it is we shall afterward show, for this is our design to discover him to the uttermost. In the mean time we may well bewail the woful sloth and negligence that is in the most, even in professors. They live and walk as though they intended to go to heaven hood-winked, and asleep, as though they had no enemy to deal withal. Their mistake therefore and folly will be fully laid open in our progress.
That which I shall principally fix upon, in reference unto our present design, from this place of the apostle, is that which was first laid down, namely, that there is an exceeding efficacy and power in the remainder of indwelling sin in believers, with a constant inclination and working towards evil.
Awake, therefore, all of you in whose hearts are any thing of the ways of God. Your enemy is not only upon you, as on Sampson of old, but is in you also. He is at work by all ways of force and craft, as we shall see. Would you not dishonour God and his gospel, would you not scandalize the saints and ways of God, would you not wound your consciences and endanger your souls, would you not grieve the good and Holy Spirit of God, the author of all your comforts, would you keep your garments undefiled, and escape the woful temptations and pollutions of the days wherein we live, would you be preserved from the number of the apostates in these latter days; awake to the consideration of this cursed enemy, which is the spring of all these and innumerable other evils, as also of the ruin of all the souls that perish in this world.
Indwelling sin a law. In what sense it is so called. What kind of law it is. An inward effective principle called a law. The power of sin thence evinced.
THAT which we have propòsed unto consideration is the power and efficacy of indwelling sin. The ways whereby it may be evinced are many. I shall begin with the appellation of it in the place before mentioned; it is a law; 'I find a law,' saith the apostle. It is because of its power and efficacy that it is so called; so is also the principle of in believers the law of the Spirit of life,' as we observed begrace fore, Rom. viii. 3. which is the 'exceeding greatness of the power of God in them;' Eph. i. 19. Where there is a law, there is power.
We shall therefore shew both what belongs unto it, as it is a law in general, and also what is peculiar or proper in it, as being such a law as we have described.
There are in general two things attending every law, as such.
First, Dominion; Rom. vii. 1. The law hath dominion over a man whilst he liveth ;' κυριεύει τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ‘it lordeth it over a man.' Where any law takes place, Kupiúɛ, it hath dominion. It is properly the act of a superior, and it belongs to its nature to exact obedience by way of dominion. Now there is a twofold dominion, as there is a twofold law. There is a moral authoritative dominion over a man, and there is a real effective dominion in a man. The first is an affection of the law of God, the latter of the law of sin. The law of sin hath not in itself a moral dominion, it hath not a rightful dominion or authority over any man, but it hath that which is equivalent unto it; whence it is said Baoiλeveiv, to reign as a king; Rom. vi. 12. and Kupiɛvε, to lord it, or have dominion; ver. 14. as a law in general is said to have, chap. vii. 1. But because it hath lost its complete dominion, in reference unto believers, of whom alone we speak, I shall not insist upon it in this utmost extent of its power. But even in them it is a law still, though not a law unto them; yet, as was said, it is a law in them. And though it have not a complete and, as it were, a rightful dominion over them, yet it will have a domination as to some things in them. It is still a law, and that in them, so that all its actings are the actings of a law; that is, it acts with power, though it have lost its complete power of ruling in them. Though it be weakened, yet its nature is not changed. It is a law still, and therefore powerful. And as its particular workings, which we shall afterward consider, are the ground of this appellation, so the term itself teacheth us in general, what we are to expect from it, and what endeavours it will use for dominion, to which it hath been accustomed..
Secondly, A law, as a law, hath an efficacy to provoke those that are obnoxious unto it unto the things that it requireth. A law hath rewards and punishments accompanying of it. These secretly prevail on them to whom they are proposed, though the things commanded be not much desirable. And generally all laws have their efficacy on the minds of men, from the rewards and punishments that are annexed unto them. Nor is this law without this spring of power: it hath its rewards and punishments. The pleasures
of sin are the rewards of sin; a reward that most men lose their souls to obtain. By this the law of sin contended in Moses against the law of grace; Heb. xi. 25, 26. He chose rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; for he looked unto the recompense of reward.' The contest was in his mind between the law of sin, and the law of grace. The motive on the part of the law of sin, wherewith it sought to draw him over, and wherewith it prevails on the most, was the reward that it proposed unto him, namely, that he should have the present enjoyment of the pleasures of sin. By this it contended against the reward annexed unto the law of grace, called the recompense of reward.'
By this sorry reward doth this law keep the world in obedience to its commands. And experience shews us, of what power it is to influence the minds of men. It hath also punishments that it threatens men with, who labour to cast off its yoke. Whatever evil, trouble, or danger in the world attends gospel obedience; whatever hardship or violence is to be offered to the sensual part of our natures in a strict course of mortification, sin makes use of as if they were punishments attending the neglect of its commands. By these it prevails on the fearful, who shall have no share in life eternal; Rev. xxi. 8. And it is hard to say by whether of these, its pretended rewards, or pretended punishments, it doth most prevail, in whether of them its greatest strength doth lie. By its rewards it enticeth men to sins of commission, as they are called, in ways and actions tending to the satisfaction of its lusts. By its punishments it induceth mẹn to the omitting of duties, a course tending to no less a pernicious event than the former. By which of these the law of sin hath its greatest success in and upon the souls of men, is not evident, and that because they are seldom or never separated, but equally take place on the same persons. But this is certain, that by tenders and promises of the pleasures of sin on the one hand, by threats of the deprivation of all sensual contentments, and the infliction of temporal evils on the other, it hath an exceeding efficacy on the minds of men, oftentimes on believers themselves. Unless a man be prepared to reject the reasonings that will offer themselves from the one and the other of these, there is no standing be
fore the power of the law. The world falls before them every day. With what deceit and violence they are urged and imposed on the minds of men, we shall afterward declare; as also what advantages they have to prevail upon them. Look on the generality of men, and you shall find them wholly by these means at sin's disposal. Do the profits and pleasures of sin lie before them, nothing can withhold them from reaching after them. Do difficulties and inconveniencies attend the duties of the gospel, they will have nothing to do with them; and so are wholly given up to the rule and dominion of this law.
And this light in general we have into the power and efficacy of indwelling sin from the general nature of a law, whereof it is partaker.
We may consider, nextly, what kind of law in particular it is, which will farther evidence that power of it, which we are inquiring after. It is not an outward, written, commanding, directing law, but an inbred, working, impelling, urging law. A law proposed unto us, is not to be compared for efficacy to a law inbred in us. Adam had a law of sin proposed to him in his temptation, but because he had no law of sin inbred and working in him, he might have withstood it. An inbred law must needs be effectual. Let us take an example from that law, which is contrary to this law of sin. The law of God, was at first inbred and natural unto man, it was concreated with his faculties, and was their rectitude both in being and operation in reference to his end of living unto God, and glorifying of him. Hence it had an especial power in the whole soul, to enable it unto all obedience, yea, and to make all obedience easy and pleasant. Such is the power of an inbred law. And though this law, as to the rule and dominion of it, be now by nature cast out of the soul, yet the remaining sparks of it, because they are inbred, are very powerful and effectual, as the apostle declares, Rom ii. 14, 15. Afterward God renews this law, and writes it in tables of stone. But what is the efficacy of this law? Will it now as it is external, and proposed unto men, enable them to perform the things that it exacts and requires? Not at all. God knew it would not, unless it were turned to an internal law again; that is, until of a moral outward rule, it be turned into an in