Imatges de pÓgina

when its effects are hatred, weariness, displeasure, and want of charity: and of the same cognations are those fears, which are superstitious, and worldly.

But to the former sort of virtuous fear, some also add another, which they call angelical, that is, such a fear as the blessed angels have, who before God hide their faces, and tremble at his presence, and "fall down before his footstool,” and are ministers of his anger and messengers of his mercy, and night and day worship him with the profoundest adoration. This is the same that is spoken of in the text: " Let us serve God with reverence and godly fear;" all holy fear partakes of the nature of this which divines call angelical, and it is expressed in acts of adoration, of vows and holy prayers, in hymns and psalms, in the eucharist and reverential addresses; and, while it proceeds in the usual measures of common duty, it is but human; but as it rises to great degrees, and to profection, it is angelical and Divine; and then it a ppertains to mystic theology, and therefore is to be considered in another place; but, for the present, that which will regularly concern all our duty, is this, that when the fear of God is the instrument of our duty, or God's worship, the greater it is, it is so much the better. It is an old proverbial saying among the Romans, “ Religentem esse, oportet; ligiosum, nefas;" “ Every excess in the actions of religion is criminal;” they supposing, that, in the services of their gods, there might be too much. True it is, there may be too much of their undecent expressions; and in things indifferent, the very multitude is too much, and becomes an undecency: and if it be in its own nature undecent or disproportionable to the end, or the rules, or the analogy, of the religion, it will not stay for numbers to make it intolerable ; but in the direct actions of glorifying God, in doing any thing of his commandments, or any thing which he commands, or counsels, or promises to reward, there can never be excess or superfluity : and therefore, in these cases, do as much as you can; take care that your expressions be prudent and safe, consisting with thy other duties ; and for the passions or virtues themselves, let them pass from beginning to great progresses, from man to angel, from the imperfection of man to the perfections of the sons of God; and, whenever we go beyond the bounds of nature, and grow

up with all the extension, and in the very commensuration of a full grace, we shall never go beyond the excellences of God : for ornament may be too much, and turn to curiosity; cleanness may be changed into niceness; and civil compliance may become flattery; and mobility of tongue may rise into garrulity; and fame and honour may be great unto envy; and health itself, if it be athletic, may by its very excess become dangerous : but wisdom, and duty, and comeliness, and discipline, a good mind, and the fear of God, and doing honour to his holy name, can never exceed: but if they swell to great proportions, they pass through the measures of grace, and are united to felicity in the compre** hensions of God, in the joys of an 'eternal glory.




The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.Matt. xxvi.

41 ; latter part. From the beginning of days, man hath been so cross to the Divine commandments, that in many cases there can be no reason given, why a man should choose some ways, or do some actions, but only because they are forbidden. When God bade the Israelites rise and go up against the Canaanites and possess the land, they would not stir; the men were Anakims, and the cities were impregnable ; and there was a lion in the way: but, presently after, when God forbade them to go, they would and did go, though they died for it. I shall not need to instance in particulars, when the whole life of man is a perpetual contradiction; and the state of disobedience is called the “contradictions of sinners;” even the man in the Gospel, that had two sons, they both crossed him, even he that obeyed him, and he that obeyed him not: for the one said he would, and did not; the other said he would

not, and did ; and so do we: we promise fair, and do nothing; and they that do best, are such as come out of darkness into light, such as said “they would not,” and at last have better bethought themselves. And who can guess at any other reason, why men should refuse to be temperate? For he that refuseth the commandment, first does violence to the commandment, and puts on a preternatural appetite; he spoils his health and he spoils his understanding; he brings to himself a world of diseases and a healthless constitution ; smart and sickly nights; a loathing stomach and a staring eye, a giddy brain and a swelled belly, gouts and dropsies ; catarrhs and oppilations. If God should enjoin men to suffer all this, heaven and earth should have heard our complaints against unjust laws, and impossible commandments : for we complain already, even when God commands us to drink so long as it is good for us ; this is one of the impossible laws: it is impossible for us to know when we are dry, or when we need drink; for if we do know, I am sure it is possible enough, not to lift up the wine to our heads. And when our blessed Saviour hath commanded us to love our enemies, we think we have so much reason against it, that God will easily excuse our disobedience in this case; and yet there are some enemies, whom God hath commanded us not to love, and those we dote on, we cherish and feast them, and as St. Paul in another case, “upon our uncomely parts we bestow more abundant comeliness.” For whereas our body itself is a servant to our soul, we make it an heir of all things, and treat it here already, as if it were in majority; and make that, which at the best was but a weak friend, to become a strong enemy; and hence proceed the vices of the worst, and the follies and imperfections of the best: the spirit is either in slavery or in weakness, and when the flesh is not strong to mischief, it is weak to goodness; and even to the apostles our blessed Lord said, “ The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

“The spirit,” that is, o čow ăvSowroc, “the inward man," orthe reasonable part of man, especially as helped by the Spirit of grace, that is willing; for it is the principle of all good actions, the {vepyntikÒV, 'the power of working' is from the spirit; but the flesh is but a dull instrument, and a broken arm, in which there is a principle of life, but it moves uneasily; and the flesh is so weak, that in Scripture to be "in

the flesh” signifies a state of weakness and infirmity; so the humiliation of Christ is expressed by being "in the flesh,” Seos pavepwdkìç ¿v capki, “ God manifested in the flesh;" and what St. Peter calls “put to death in the flesh,” St. Paul calls “crucified through weakness;” and “ye know that through the infirmity of the flesh I preached unto you,” said St. Paul: but here, flesh is not opposed to the spirit as a direct enemy, but as a weak servant: for if the flesh be powerful and opposite, the spirit stays not there :

veniunt ad candida tecta columbæ : (Ovid.) The old man and the new cannot dwell together; and therefore here, where the spirit inclining to good, well disposed, and apt to holy counsels, does inhabit in society with the flesh, it means only a weak and unapt nature, or a state of infant grace; for in both these, and in these only, the text is verified.

1. Therefore we are to consider the infirmities of the flesh naturally. 2. Its weakness in the first beginnings of the state of grace, its daily pretensions and temptations, its excuses and lessenings of duty. 3. What remedies there are in the spirit to cure the evils of nature. 4. How far the weakness of the flesh can consist with the Spirit of grace in well-grown Christians. This is the sum of what I intend upon these words.

1. Our nature is too weak, in order to our duty and final interest, that at first it cannot move one step towards God, unless God, by his preventing grace, puts into it a new possibility.

Ουδέν ακιδνότερον γαία τρέφει ανθρώποιο, ,

Πάντων, όσσά τε γαίαν επί πνείει τε και έρπει. Οd. σ. 130. “ There is nothing that creeps upon the earth, nothing that ever God made, weaker than man;" for God fitted horses and mules with strength, bees and pismires with sagacity, harts and hares with swiftness, birds with feathers and a light airy body; and they all know their times, and are fitted for their work, and regularly acquire the proper end of their creation; but man, that was designed to an immortal duration, and the fruition of God for ever, knows not how to obtain it; he is made upright to look up to heaven, but he knows no more how to purchase it than to climb it. Once, man went to

make an ambitious tower to outreach the clouds, or the preternatural risings of the water, but could not do it; he cannot promise himself the daily bread of his necessity upon the stock of his own wit or industry; and for going to heaven, he was so far from doing that naturally, that as soon as ever he was made, he became the son of death, and he knew not how to get a pardon for eating of an apple against the Divine commandment: Kaì ñuev púoel tékva opyñs, said the Apostle': “ By nature we are the sons of wrath,” that is, we were born heirs of death, which death came upon us from God's anger for the sin of our first parents; or by nature, that is, ÖvtWS, dinlūs, “really,” not by the help of fancy, and fiction of law, for so (Ecumenius and Theophylact expound it'; but because it does not relate to the sin of Adam in its first intention, but to the evil state of sin, in which the Ephesians walked before their conversion ; it signifies, that our nature of itself is a state of opposition to the Spirit of grace; it is privatively opposed, that is, that there is nothing in it that can bring us to felicity; nothing but an obediential capacity; our flesh can become sanctified, as “the stones can become children unto Abraham,” or as dead seed can become living corn; and so it is with us, that it is necessary God should make us a new creation, if he means to save us; he must take our hearts of stone away, and give us hearts of flesh; he must purge the old leaven, and make us a new conspersion; he must destroy the flesh, and must breathe into us 'spiritum vitæ,' the celestial breath of life, without which we can neither live, nor move, nor have our being. “No man can come unto me (said Christ), unless my Father draw him :" υπέρωτος αρπασθέντες ουρανίου, καθάπερ οι βακχευόμενοι και κορυβαντιώντες ενθουσιάζουσι, μέχρις αν το ποθούμενον ίδωσι. • The Divine love must come upon us and snatch us' from our imperfection, enlighten our understanding, move and stir our affections, open the gates of heaven, turn our nature into grace, entirely forgive our former prevarications, take us by the hand, and lead us all along; and we only contribute our assent unto it; just as a child when he is tempted to learn to go, and called upon, and guided, and upheld, and constrained to put his feet to the ground, lest he feel the danger by the smart of a fall; just so is our nature, and our state of

1 Ephes. ii. 3.

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