Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

of sin, it cannot but seek deliverance. These convictions are still more improved, according to the means of knowledge men enjoy, or the errors and superstitions they embrace. From the latter proceed penances, vows, uncommanded abstinences, and other painful duties. Where the light received is in general according to truth, it will engage men to a reformation of life, a multiplication of duties, abstinence from sin, and a zealous profession of religion in one way or another. Such persons may have good hopes that they are holy, may appear to the world to be so, be accepted in the church of God as such, and yet be utter strangers to true Gospel-Holiness; and the reason is, because they have missed it in the foundation; and not having in the first place obtained an interest in Christ, have built their house on the sand, whence it will fall in the time of trouble.

Wherefore, let them wisely consider these things who have any conviction of the necessity of holiness. It may be they have laboured hard in duties that materially belong to it; many things they have done, and many things forborn, on account of it; and it may be, think that for all the world they would not be found among unholy persons at the last day. This may be the condition of many young persons who have lately engaged in the ways of religion: it may be so with others, who for many years have followed after righteousness in a way of duty; but it is observable, that the duties of obedience seldom prove more easy and pleasant to such persons than they did at first, but rather more burdensome every day. Besides, they never arrive to a satisfaction in what they do; something still is wanting; and hence they often become apostates; but, what is worse still, all they have done, or can do on this bottom, will come to no account, but perish with them at the great day. Would we prevent these fatal evils,-would we have a real, thriving, everlasting holiness, let our first business be to secure a relation to Jesus Christ; without which it can never be attained.

And this may obviate the calumnies which are cast

by some on the doctrine of free justification, through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ; for with a most shameless impudence they clamour on all those who assert it, as maintaining that salvation is attained through a mere external imputation of righteousness, while those so saved are unclean and unholy, or negligent of the duties of righteousness and obedience; for the frontless impudence of this calumny is sufficiently evident from hence, That as we assert sanctification and holiness to be peculiar to believing justified persons, so we affirm that all such persons are infallibly sanctified and made holy.

All believers, and only believers, being sanctified, what it is that is sanctified in them, or what is the proper seat and subject of this work, is in the next place to be declared; for it is not a mere external denomination, nor any transient act, nor any series of actions, that we plead for, but that which has a real existence, and a constant residence in us. Now this subject of sanctification is the whole person of a believer, or the entire nature of every believer; and this must be demonstrated.

1. Our entire nature was originally created in the image of God; our whole souls, in the rectitude of all their faculties and powers, bore this image. The body also, not as to its figure or natural use, but as an essential part of our natures, was interested in the image of God, by a participation of original righteousness.

2. By the entrance of sin, this image of God was utterly defaced and lost. The Scripture describes the depravity of our natures distinctly in all the powers of it, in our minds, wills, and affections. The original first actings of these faculties, in our thoughts and imaginations, are evil. Hence, all the outward actions of persons in this state are evil,-" unfruitful works of darkness." The body also has a partnership in all this obliquity; the "members of the body are servants to Uncleanness and Iniquity."

This being the state of our whole nature, sanctification, in which its reparation consists, must equally respect the whole.

1. Hence it is called The New Man: "Put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and holiness." Eph. iv. 24. As the principle of sin is called the old man, because it possesses all the active powers of the old man, so this principle of holiness is called The New Man, because it possesses the whole person, with respect to its proper operations and ends.

2. The heart in Scripture, is taken for the whole soul, and all its faculties. Now this is not only affected with the work of sanctification, but consists in this, That thereby a new heart is given to us, according to the promise of the covenant.

3. There is special mention made of the effecting of this work on our souls and bodies, with their powers and faculties distinctly. This I have already proved, in the declaration of the work of our regeneration, which is only preserved and carried on to its proper end in our sanctification.

4. We need go no further for the proof hereof than to that prayer of the apostle for the Thessalonians, which we insisted on at the beginning of this discourse; "The God of peace himself sanctify you (OLOTELEIS) throughout; that is, in your whole natures or persons; and he distributes our whole natures into the two essential parts of soul and body; and in the former he considers, (1.) the Spirit; (2.) the Soul. By the Spirit, the mind, or intellectual faculty, is understood; and by the Soul, the affections, as is generally acknowledged. These therefore the apostle prays may be sanctified and preserved holy "throughout," or entirely; but this is not all. Our bodies are an essential part of our natures; and by their union with our souls are we constituted individual persons. The body became a subject of the depravity of our nature by participation, and is considered as one entire principle with the soul, of communicating original defilement from parents to children. Besides, it is now subject, by this corruption of its constitution, to many disorderly motions, that are provocations to sin. Hence sin is said to " reign in our mortal bodies ;" and our members to be servants to unrighteousness. Moreover,

by its participation in the defilement and punishment of sin, the body is disposed and made obnoxious to corruption and destruction; for death entered by sin, and no otherwise. On all these accounts therefore it is necessary, on the other hand, that the body should be interested in this work and privilege of sanctification and holiness:-and so it is, (1.) By participation; for it is our persons that are sanctified; and though our souls are the first proper subject of the principle of holiness, yet our bodies, as essential parts of our natures, are partakers thereof. (2.) By a peculiar influence of the grace of God upon them also, as far as they have any influence into moral operations; for our bodies are members of Christ," and consequently have influences of grace from him as our head. (3.) In the work of sanctification, the Holy Ghost dwells in us; and hence "our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in us; and hereby the members of the body become instruments and servants of righteousness to holiness;" fit to be employed in duties of holiness, as being made clean, and sanctified to God: and hereby are they disposed and prepared for a blessed resurrection at the last day, which shall be wrought by the Spirit of Christ, who dwelt in them, and sanctified. them in this life.

66

Our whole persons, therefore, are the subjects of this work. Now, whether all this belongs to that moral virtue which some would substitute in the room of Gospel Holiness, they may do well to consider who are the patrons of that cause; and moreover, let men beware that they deceive not themselves with a partial work in conviction only, or change of affections also, instead of this evangelical sanctification. It is often and truly said, that men may have their minds enlightened, their affections moved, and their lives much changed, and yet come short of real holiness. The best trial of this work is by its universality, with respect to its subject. If any thing remain unsanctified in us, sin may there erect its throne, and maintain its sovereignty; but where his work is real, however imperfect as to its degree, yet it possesses the whole person, and leaves not

the least hold to sin, wherein it does not continually combat and conflict with it.

Lastly. Hence men may see how vainly they excuse themselves in their sins, from their constitutions; for true sanctification reaches to the body. It is true, grace does not so change the natural constitution, as to make him who was sickly, healthy and strong; nor to make him who was melancholy, to be sanguine, or the like; but consider these things morally; and as the whole person is a principle of moral operations, and so it works that alteration on the whole person, as to cure morally sinful distempers, as of passion and intemperances, which men were before more than ordinarily inclined to by their tempers and constitutions. Indeed, from the efficacy of it on our whole persons, is the principal discovery of its truth and reality. Let none therefore pretend that grace does not change mens' constitutions, in order to palliate their disorderly passions before men, and to keep them from being humbled for them before God: for though it does not this naturally, yet it does it morally; so that the constitution itself shall be no more such a fomes and incentive to disorderly passions as before. If grace has not cured that passion, pride, wrath, intemperance which mens' constitutions peculiarly incline to, I know not for my part what it has done, nor what a number of outward duties signify. The grace of Christ causes "the wolf to dwell with the lamb, and the leopard to lie down with the kid:" it will change the most savage natures into meekness, gentleness, and kindness; examples of which have been multiplied in the world.

CHAPTER IV.

The Defilement of Sin; wherein it consists; with its Purification.

WE now proceed to a further explication of the description of sanctification before given; and the first

« PoprzedniaDalej »