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METHOD OF GRACE.
GAL. v. 24. And they that are Chrift's, have crucified the flefb, with the affections and lufts.
From hence our obfervation was,
HAT a faving intereft in Chrift, may be regularly and ftrongly inferred and concluded, from the mortification of the flesh, with its affections and lufts.
Having opened the nature, and neceffity of mortification in the former fermon, and fhewn how regularly a faving interest in Chrift may be concluded from it; we now proceed to apply the whole, by way of
First ufe, for information.
Infer. 1. If they that be Chrift's have crucified the flesh, Then the life of Chriftians is no idle or eafy life: the corruptions of his heart continually fill his hands with work, with work of the most difficult nature; fin-crucifying work, which the scripture calls the cutting off the right hand, and plucking out of the right eye fia-crucifying work is hard work, and it is constant work throughout the life of a Christian; there is no time nor place freed from this conflict; every occafion ftirs corruption, and every stirring of corruption calls for mortification: corruptions work in our very beft duties, Rom. vii. 23. and put the Christian upon mortifying labours. The world and the devil are great enemies, and fountains of many temptations to believers, but not like the corruptions of our own hearts; they only tempt objectively and externally; but these tempt internally, and therefore much more dangerous; they only tempt at times and feafons; thefe continually, at all times and feafons: befides, whatever Satan, or the world attempts upon us, would be alto gether ineffectual were it not for our own corruptions, John xiv. VOL. III.
30. So that the corruptions of our own hearts, as they give us moft danger, fo they muft give us more labour; our life and this labour must end together; for fin is long a dying in the best heart: those that have been many years exercised in the ftudy of mortification, may haply feel the fame corruption tempting and troubling them now, which put them into tears, and many times brought them to their knees twenty or forty years ago. It may be faid of fin as it was of Hannibal, that active enemy; that it will never be quiet, whether conquering or conquered; and until fin ceafe working the Chriftian muft not ceafe mortifying
Infer. 2. If mortification be the great work of a Christian, then certainly thofe that give the corruptions of Chriftians an occafion to revive, must needs do them a very ill office: they are not our best friends that ftir the pride of our hearts by the flattery of their lips. The graces of God in others, I confess, are thankfully to be owned, and under difcouragements, and contrary temptations, to be wifely and modeftly spoken of; but the ftrongest Christians do fcarcely fhew their own weakness in any one thing more than they do in bearing their own praifes. Chriftian, thou knoweft thou carrieft gunpowder about thee, defire those that carry fire to keep at a distance from thee; 'tis a dangerous crifis when a proud heart meets with flattering lips; auferte ignem, &c. take away the fire, (faid a holy divine of Germany, when his friend commended him upon his death-bed) for I have yet combustible matter about me; faithful, seasonable, difcreet reproofs are much more fafe to us, and advantageous to our morti fying work; but alas, how few have the boldnefs or wifdom duly to adminifter them? It is faid of Alexander, that he bid a philofopher (who had been long with him) to be gone; for, faid he, fo long thou haft been with me, and never reproved me; which muft needs be thy fault; for either thou faweft nothing in me worthy of reproof, which argues thy ignorance; or elle, thou durft not reprove me, which argues thy unfaithfulness. wife and faithful reprover is of fingular use to him that is heartily engaged in the defign of mortification; fuch a faithful friend, or fome malicious enemy, must be helpful to us in that work.
Infer. 3. Hence it follows, that manifold and fucceffive afflictions are no more than what is necessary for the best of Chrifians; the mortification of our lufts requires them all, be they never fo many, 1 Pet. i. 5. "If need be, ye are in heavinefs;" it is no more than need, that one lofs fhould follow another, to mortify an earthly heart; for fo intenfely are our affections fet upon the world, that it is not one, or two, or many checks of
providence, that will fuffice to wean and alienate them. Alas,. the earthlinefs of our hearts will take all this, it may be much more than this, to purge them : the wife God fees it but neceflary to permit frequent difcoveries of our own weakness, and to let loose the tongues of many enemies upon us, and all little enough to pull down our pride, and the vanity that is in our hearts: Chriftian, how difficult foever it be for thee to bear it; yet the pride of thy heart requires all the fcoffs and jeers, all the calumnies and reproaches, that ever the tongues or pens of thy bittereft enemies, or mistaken friends, have at any time thrown upon thee. Such rank weeds as grow in our hearts, will require hard frofts and very sharp weather to rot them; the fraying bullock needs a heavy clog, and fo doth a Chriftian, whom God will keep within the bounds and limits of his commandments, Pfal. cxix. 67 Dan. xi. 35.
Infer. 4. If they that be Chrift's have crucified the flesh * Then the number of real Chriftians is very fmall. It is true, if all that seem to be meek, humble, and heavenly, might pafs for Christians, the number would be great; but if no more must be accounted Chriftians, than thofe who crucify the flesh, with its affections and lufts, O how fmall is the number! For, O how many be there under the Christian name, that pamper and indulge their lufts, that fecretly hate all that faithfully reprove them, and really affect none but fuch as feed their lufts, by praising and admiring them? How many that make provifion for the flesh to fulfil its lufts, who cannot endure to have their corruptions croffed? How many are there that seem very meek and humble, until an occafion be given them to ftir up their paffion, and then you fhall fee in what degree they are mortified the flint is a cold stone, till it be ftruck, and then it is all fiery. I know the best of Chriftians are mortified but in part; and ftrong corruptions are oftentimes found in very eminent Christians; but they love them not fo well as to purify for them; to protect, defend, and countenance them; nor dare they fecretly hate fuch as faithfully reprove them as many thoufands that go under the name of Christians do. Upon the account of mortification it is faid, Mat. vii. 13. "Narrow is "the way, and strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few "there be that find it."
Infer. 5. If they that be Chrift's have crucified the flesh, i. e.
* He who is not crucified with Chrift, and who is not a member of Chrift, is not faved by his crofs. Profper.
Mortification is their daily work and study; then how falfely are Chriftians charged as troublers of the world, and disturbers of the civil peace, and tranquillity of the times, and places they live in? Juftly may they retort the charge, as Elijah did to Ahab, "It is not I that trouble Ifrael, but thou and thy father's houie :" It is not the holy, meek, and humble Chriftians that put the world into confufion: this is done by the profane and atheiftical; or by the defigning and hypocritical world, and laid at the innocent Chriftian's door; as all the public calamities which from the immediate hand of God, or by foreign, or domestic enemies befel Rome, were conftantly charged upon Chriftians; and they condemned and punished, for what the righteous hand of God inflicted, on the working heads of the enemies of that ftate, without their privity, contrived. The apoftle James propounds, and answers a question, very pertinent to this discourse, James iv. 1. From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lufts that war in your members?" O if all men did but ftudy mortification and felf-denial, and live as much at home in the conftant work of their own hearts, as fome men do; what tranquillity and peace, what bleffed halcyon days fhould we quickly fee! it is true, Christians are always fighting and quarrelling, but it is with themselves, and their own corrupt hearts and affections; they hate no enemy but fin; they thirst for the blood and ruin of none but of that enemy; they are ambitious of no victory, but what is over the corruptions of their own hearts; they carry no grudge except it be against this enemy, fin: and yet thefe are the men who are the most suspected and charged of disturbing the times they live in; just as the wolf accused the lamb, which was below him, for puddling and defiling the ftream. Butthere will be a day, when God will clear up the innocency and integrity of his mistaken and abused fervants; and the world fhall fee, it was not preaching, and praying, but drinking, fwearing, profanenefs, and enmity unto true godlinefs, which difturbed and broke the tranquillity, and quietnefs of the times: mean time Jet innocency commit itfelf unto God, who will protect, and in due time vindicate the fame.
Infer. 6. If they that be Chrift's have crucified the flesh, Then whatsoever religion, opinion, or doctrine doth in its own nature countenance and encourage fin, is not of Chrift. The doctrine of Chrift every where teacheth mortification: the whole ftream of the gofped runs against fin; the doctrine it teacheth is holy, pure and heavenly, it hath no tendency to extol corrupt nature, and feed its pride, by magnifying its freedom and pow