Imatges de pÓgina

heart employs all its deceits unto the service of sin, contributes them all to its furtherance. All the disorder that is in the heart, all its false promises, and fair appearances, promote the interest and advantages of sin. Hence God cautions the people to look to it, lest their own hearts should entice and deceive them.

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Who can mention the treacheries and deceits that lie in the heart of man? It is not for nothing that the Holy Ghost so expresseth it, it is deceitful above all things;' uncertain in what it doth, and false in what it promiseth. And hence moreover it is, amongst other causes, that in the pursuit of our war against sin, we have not only the old work to go over and over, but new work still while we live in this world; still new stratagems and wiles to deal withal, as the manner will be where unsearchableness and deceitfulness are to be contended with.

There are many other properties of this seat and subject of the law of sin, which might be insisted on to the same end and purpose, but that would too far divert us from our particular design; and therefore I shall pass these over with some few considerations.

First, Never let us reckon that our work in contending against sin, in crucifying, mortifying, and subduing of it, is at an end. The place of its habitation is unsearchable; and when we may think that we have throughly won the field, there is still some reserve remaining that we saw not, that we knew not of. Many conquerors have been ruined by their carelessness after a victory; and many have been spiritually wounded after great successes against this enemy. David was so; his great surprisal into sin was after a long profession, manifold experiences of God, and watchful keeping himself from his iniquity. And hence in part hath it come to pass, that the profession of many hath declined in their old age, or riper time, which must more distinctly be spoken to afterward. They have given over the work of mortifying of sin, before their work was at an end. There is no way for us to pursue sin in its unsearchable habitation, but by being endless in our pursuit. And that command of the apostle which we have, Col. iii. 5. on this account is as necessary for them to observe, who are towards the end of their race, as those that are but at the beginning of it. Mortify therefore your members that are on the earth;' be always

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doing it whilst you live in this world. It is true, great ground is obtained, when the work is vigorously and constantly carried on; sin is much weakened, so that the soul presseth forwards towards perfection. But yet the work must be endless, I mean whilst we are in this world. If we give over, we shall quickly see this enemy exerting itself with new strength and vigour. It may be, under some great affliction, it may be, in some eminent enjoyment of God, in the sense of the sweetness of blessed communion with Christ, we have been ready to say, that there was an end of sin, that it was dead and gone for ever. But have we not found the contrary by experience? hath it not manifested that it was only retired into some unsearchable recesses of the heart, as to its inbeing and nature, though it may be greatly weakened in its power? Let us then reckon on it, that there is no way to have our work done, but by always doing of it; and he who dies fighting in this warfare, dies assuredly a conqueror.

Secondly, Hath it its residence in that which is various, inconstant, deceitful above all things? this calls for perpetual watchfulness against it. An open enemy that deals by violence only always gives some respite; you know where to have him, and what he is doing, so as that sometimes you may sleep quietly without fear. But against adversaries that deal by deceit and treachery (which are long swords, and reach at the greatest distance), nothing will give security but perpetual watchfulness. It is impossible we should in this case be too jealous, doubtful, suspicious, or watchful. The heart hath a thousand wiles and deceits, and if we are in the least off from our watch, we may be sure to be surprised. Hence are those reiterated commands and cautions given for watching, for being circumspect, diligent, careful, and the like. There is no living for them who have to deal with an enemy deceitful above all things, unless they persist in such a frame. All cautions that are given in this case are necessary, especially that, remember not to believe. Doth the heart promise fair? rest not on it, but say to the Lord Christ, Lord, do thou undertake for me. Doth the sun shine fair in the morning? reckon not therefore on a fair day; the clouds may arise and fall: though the morning give a fair appearance of serenity and peace, turbulent affections may arise, and cloud the soul with sin and darkness.

Thirdly, then, commit the whole matter with all care and

diligence unto him who can search the heart to the uttermost, and knows how to prevent all its treacheries and deceits. In the things before-mentioned lies our duty, but here lies our safety. There is no treacherous corner in our hearts, but he can search it to the uttermost; there is no deceit in them but he can disappoint it. This course David takes, Psal. cxxxix. After he had set forth the omnipresence of God, and his omniscience, ver. 8-10. he makes improvement of it, ver. 23. 'Search me, O Lord, and try me.' As if he had said, it is but a little that I know of my deceitful heart, only I would be sincere, I would not have reserves for sin retained therein; wherefore do thou, who art present with my heart, who knowest my thoughts long before, undertake this work, perform it throughly, for thou alone art able so to do.

There are yet other arguments for the evidencing of the power and strength of indwelling sin from whence it is termed a law, which we must pass through according to the order wherein before we laid them down.


Indwelling sin enmity against God. nor rest. Is against God himself. and propensity to evil. Is universal. Constant.

Thence its power. Admits of no peace.
Acts itself in aversation from God;
To all of God. In all of the soul.

We have seen the seat and subject of this law of sin. In the next place we might take a view of its nature in general, which also will manifest its power and efficacy. But this I shall not enlarge upon; it being not my business to declare the nature of indwelling sin, it hath also been done by others. I shall therefore only in reference unto our special design in hand, consider one property of it, that belongs unto its nature; and this always wherever it is. And this is that which is expressed by the apostle, Rom. viii. 7. The carnal mind is enmity against God.' That which is here called, opúvnμa Tns σaρкòs, the wisdom of the flesh,' is the same with the law of sin, which we insist on. And what says he hereof? why it is expà πρòç тоì Оɛοì, ' enmity against God.' It is not only an enemy, for so possibly some reconciliation of it unto God might be made; but it is enmity itself, and so not capable of accepting any terms of peace. Enemies may be



reconciled, but enmity cannot. Yea, the only way to reconcile enemies, is to destroy the enmity. So the apostle in another case tells us, Rom. v. 10. We who were enemies, are reconciled unto God;' that is, a work compassed and brought about by the blood of Christ; the reconciling of the greatest enemies. But when he comes to speak of enmity, there is no way for it, but it must be abolished and destroyed, Eph. ii. 15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity.' There is no way to deal with any enmity whatever, but by its abolition or destruction.

And this also lies in it as it is enmity, that every part and parcel of it, if we may so speak, the least degree of it that can possibly remain in any one, whilst and where there is any thing of its nature, is enmity still. It may not be so effectual and powerful in operation, as where it hath more life and vigour, but it is enmity still. As every drop of poison is poison, and will infect; and every spark of fire is fire, and will burn; so is every thing of the law of sin, the last, the least of it, it is enmity, it will poison, it will burn. That which is any thing in the abstract is still so; whilst it hath any being at all. Our apostle, who may well be supposed to have made as great a progress in the subduing of it, as any one on the earth, yet after all cries out for deliverance, as from an irreconcileable enemy, Rom. vii. 24. The meanest acting, the meanest and most imperceptible working of it, is the acting and working of enmity. Mortification abates of its force, but doth not change its nature. Grace changeth the nature of man, but nothing can change the nature of sin. Whatever effect be wrought upon it, there is no effect wrought in it, but that it is enmity still, sin still. This then by it is our state and condition. 'God is love;' 1 John iv. 8. He is so in himself, eternally excellent, and desirable above all. He is so to us, he is so in the blood of his Son, and in all the inexpressible fruits of it, by which we are what we are, and wherein all our future hopes and expectations are wrapped up. Against this God we carry about us an enmity all our days; an enmity that hath this from its nature, that it is incapable of cure or reconciliation. Destroyed it may be, it shall be, but cured it cannot be. If a man hath an enemy to deal withal that is too mighty for him, as David had with Saul, he may take the course that he did; consider what it is that provoked

his enemy against him, and so address himself to remove the cause and make up his peace. 1 Sam. xxvi. 19. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they of the Lord;' come it from God or man, there is yet hopes of peace. But when a man hath enmity itself to deal withal, nothing is to be expected but continual fighting to the destruction of the one party. If it be not overcome and destroyed, it will overcome and destroy the soul.

And herein lies no small part of its power which we are inquiring after; it can admit of no terms of peace, of no composition. There may be a composition, where there is no reconciliation; there may be a truce, where there is no peace; but with this enemy we can obtain neither the one nor the other. It is never quiet conquering nor conquered which was the only kind of enemy that the famous warrior complained of, of old. It is in vain for a man to have any expectation of rest from his lust, but by its death, of absolute freedom, but by his own. Some in the tumultuating of their corruptions, seek for quietness by labouring to satisfy them, making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof;' as the apostle speaks, Rom. xiii. 14. This is to aslake fire by wood and oil. As all the fuel in the world, all the fabric of the creation that is combustible, being cast into the fire, will not at all satisfy it, but increase it; so is it with satisfaction given to sin by sinning, it doth but inflame and increase. If a man will part with some of his goods unto an enemy, it may satisfy him; but enmity will have all, and is not one whit the more satisfied, than if he had received nothing at all. Like the lean cattle that were never the less hungry, for having devoured the fat. You cannot bargain with the fire to take but so much of your houses, ye have no way but to quench it. It is in this case, as it is in the contest between a wise man and a fool, Prov. xxix. 9. Whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.' Whatever frame or temper he be in, his importunate folly makes him troublesome. It is so with this indwelling sin, whether it violently tumultuate, as it will do on provocations and temptations, it will be outrageous in the soul, or whether it seem to be pleased and contented, to be satisfied, all is one, there is no peace, no rest to be had with it or by it. Had it then been of any other nature, some other way


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