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1 Cor. ix. 27. "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." And if Paul, what shall be said of us?
εἰ δὲ Παῦλος, τί ἂν εἴποιμεν ἡμεῖς ;
When a man has given himself to the immediate service of GOD, he is no longer at liberty to follow his own inclinations, whether in study, profit, recreation, &c.
Gal. v. 24. "They that are CHRIST's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Nature is content with a little, grace with less.
James iii. 13. "Who is a wise man, let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom;" that is, let him show his wisdom in his life.
Temperance consists in neither eating nor drinking more than is necessary, and in not seeking for exquisite dainties and liquors.-Julian Pomerius.
Ecclus. xix. 30. "A man's attire, excessive laughter, and gait, shew what he is."
Mal. ii. 8, 9. "But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of Hosts; therefore have I made you contemptible and base before all the people; according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law," &c.
O good LORD, keep thy servant from bringing contempt upon the Clergy, by any irregularity or fault of mine.
Tit. ii. 15. "Let no man despise thee;" that is, demean thyself agreeable to the authority which thou hast received from JESUS CHRIST, not making thy office contemptible by any mean action; but act with the dignity of one who stands in the place of GOD.
They that recommend eternal possessions and happiness to others, ought to show that they are verily persuaded themselves of the vanity of all earthly enjoyments, avoiding superfluities, and not being over concerned for necessaries. JESUS CHRIST
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thus preached the contempt of the world, by contemning it Himself.
John viii. 40. “Which of you convinceth me of sin ?"
O Jesus, the only Priest free from all sin, make me, Thy servant, as blameless and holy as the frailty of my nature will suffer me to be.
The reputation of a minister is not his own, but the Church's, as the reputation of an ambassador is his prince's.
Lev. iv. 3. “If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people, then let him bring a sin-offering." N.B. That the same sin, in a single priest, is to have as great a sacrifice as a sin of the whole people of Israel. The flesh never thrives but at the cost of the soul. Let us ever remember, that mortification must go further than the body. Self-love, pride, envy, jealousy, hatred, malice, avarice, ambition, must all be mortified, by avoiding and ceasing from the occasions of them. The sobriety of the soul consists in humility, and in being content with necessaries.
O Thou, who hast made me a servant in Thy house, give me grace that I may never dishonour Thy service.
Failings of good men.
God permits these, that we may plainly see that there is no person in whom nature is not corrupted.
A man may hide from the world some of his good works; but a Christian life ought to be seen; it is a public testimony which we owe to our faith, and an example which Christianity requires of us, " Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
It is not only in the Church that a minister of Christ should be mindful of his character, but in his converse with the world.
Ecclus. xviii. 31. “If thou givest thy soul the desires that please her, she will make thee a laughing-stock to thy enemies that malign thee."
Ecclus. xix. 5. “He that resisteth pleasures, crowneth his life.”
Vouchsafe me, gracious God, the graces of mortification and self-denial, that my affections and flesh being subdued unto the Spirit, and my heart and all my members being mortified from all carnal and worldly lusts, I may ever obey Thy blessed will, through Jesus Christ our LORD. Amen.
Matt. xvi. 24. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” 0
my Saviour! let me not profess to follow Thee, without complying with the terms which Thou requirest of them that desire to do so sincerely. Matt. vii. 14. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” But, if the diffi. culties of an holy life affright us, let us consider, " who can dwell with everlasting burnings ?" All mankind being under the sentence of death, certain to be executed, and at an hour we know not of, a state of penance and self-denial, of being dead and crucified to the world, is certainly the most suitable, the most becoming temper that we can be found in, when that sentence comes to be executed, that is, when we come to die.
Especially when we consider, that this short and uncertain time, allowed us betwixt the sentence and execution, will determine our condition for eternity.
If this be the case of fallen man, as most certainly it is, then thoughtless pleasure is the greatest indecency; a fondness for the world, the greatest folly; and self-indulgence, downright madness.
And consequently, the contrary to these, namely, a constant seriousness of temper, an universal care and exactness of life, an indifference for the world, self-denial, sobriety, and watchfulness must be our greatest wisdom.
And this discovers to us the reason and the necessity of all the duties of Christianity, and of God's dealings with fallen man in this state of trial.
For instance : Jesus Christ commands us to deny ourselves, and to take up our cross daily, not because He can command
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what He pleases, (for He is infinite goodness, and can command nothing but what is good for His creatures), but because the corruption of our nature requires that we should be forbidden every thing which would increase our disorder.
And because this disorder has spread itself through all the powers of souls and bodies, and inclines us to evil continually, He requires that our self-denial should reach as far as our corruption.
He commands us, therefore, to deny our own wisdom, because we are really blind as to what concerns our own true good, and should infallibly ruin ourselves, if left to our own choices.
He commands us to deny our appetites, because intemperance would ruin us.
He forbids us to give way to our passions, because a thousand evils will follow if we should do so.
He obliges us to keep a very strict watch over our hearts, because from thence proceed hypocrisy, covetousness, malice, and a thousand other evils.
We are forbid to set our hearts upon the world, and every thing in it, because our eternal happiness depends upon loving God with all our heart and soul.
We are obliged to love our neighbour, and our very enemies; and are forbid to hate, to contend, to hurt, to go to law with him, because this would exasperate our minds, and grieve the Holy SPIRIT of God, by which we are sanctified, being against that charity which God delights in.
We are forbid all repining when God afflicts us, because, as sinners, suffering is due to us. And, because our bodies have a very great influence over our souls, we are commanded to fast, to be strictly temperate at all times, and to deny ourselves the love of sensual pleasures and self-indulgence.
We are commanded to deny all the ways of folly, vanity, and false satisfactions, that we may be able to take satisfaction and pleasure in the ways of God.
In short :-In whatever instances we are commanded to deny ourselves, it is because it is absolutely necessary, either to cure our corruption, or to qualify us for the grace of God, or to hinder VOL. II.-48.
us from grieving God's Holy Spirit, and forcing Him to forsake us.
The more we deny ourselves, the freer we shall be from sin, and the more dear to God. God appoints us to sufferings, that we may keep close to Him, and that we may value the sufferings of His Son, which we should have but a low notion of, did not our own experience teach us what it is to suffer. They that deny themselves will be sure to find their strength increased, their affections raised, and their inward peace continually advanced. Had there been any better, any easier way to heaven, Jesus Christ would have chosen it for Himself and for His followers.
The more you love God, expect you must give the greater proofs of it; and you may expect greater assistance and consolation.
Luke vi. 25. “ Wo unto you that are full, for ye have received your consolation.”
If this be the life of the reprobate, who would not dread the pleasures of a prosperous condition?
1 Tim. vi. 8. “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith
1 . content."
Let us not imagine that excess, luxury, and superfluity, and the love of pleasures, are less criminal, because they are so common.
the Cross. This is designed as a peculiar favour to Christians, as indeed are all Christ's commands. Miseries are the unavoidable portion of fallen man. All the difference is, Christians suffering in obedience to the will of God, it makes them easy; unbelievers suffer the same things, but with an uneasy will and mind.
To follow our own will, our passions, and our senses, is that which makes us miserable. It is for this reason, and that we may have a remedy for all our evils, that Jesus Christ obliges us to submit our will, our passions, &c. to God.
The good Christian is not one who has no inclination to sin (for we have all the seed of sin in us), but who, being sensible of such inclinations, denieth them continually, and suffers them not to grow into evil actions,