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(THANATOUTI, Rom. viii. 13) which also signifies, to put to death.
The same duty, with relation to the death of Christ, as its efficient and exemplary cause, is expressed by crucifing: “Our old man is crucified with him." Rom. vi. 6.-"I am crucified with Christ." Gal. ii. 20.-"By Jesus Christ, the world crucified unto me, and I unto the world." vi. 14. This expression may intimate, that sin is mortified gradually, as a man dies on the cross; but it chiefly intends the relation of this duty to the death of Christ; whence we and our sins are said to be crucified with him, because we and they are so by virtue of his death: and herein we always "bear about in the body the dying of our Lord Jesus Christ;"-representing the manner, and expres→ sing the efficacy of it.
Secondly, We shall consider the nature of this duty and we may observe, 1. Mortification of sin is a duty always incumbent on us. No man under Heaven can say, at any time, that he is exempted from it: and he who ceases from this duty, lets go all endeavours after holiness. As for those who pretend to absolute perfection, they are of all persons living the most impudent; nor do they ever open their mouths in this matter without giving themselves the lie. For,
2. This duty being always incumbent on us, argues undeniably the continuance of that principle of sin which is to be mortified. This the Scripture calls the "sin that dwelleth in us;" "the evil that is present with us;""the law of the members ;" and to this are ascribed the properties and actings of folly, deceit, rebelling, warring, and captivating.
3. Indwelling sin, which is the object of this duty of mortification, includes, (1.) The root or principle of sin, which by nature possesses all our faculties, and inclines us to all evil: this is called the Old Man, in opposition to the New Man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. (2.) There is the inclination, actual disposition, and operation of this principle, which is called the "body of sin ;-the affections and lusts of the flesh;" &c. (3.) There are the
effects and fruits of these things, which are actual sins,
4. This principle, its operations, and effects, are directly opposed to the principle, operations, and fruits of holiness. (1.) They are opposed in their principle; for "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other." These adverse principles maintain that conflict in the souls of believers, which is so well delineated in the seventh chapter of Romans. (2.) They are opposed in their actings. The lusting or desires of the flesh, and the desires of the Spirit; walking after the flesh, and walking after the Spirit; living after the flesh, and living after the Spirit, are all opposed to each other. By "walking after the flesh," I understand, not merely the commission of actual sins, but a compliance with the principle of sin; allowing it a supremacy in the heart. To "walk after the Spirit," consists in our being given up to the rule and conduct, or walking according to the dispositions and inclinations of the Spirit; the principle of grace implanted in us by him; and (3.) They are opposed in their external fruits and effects. For as actual sins, adultery, fornication, and the like, are mentioned by the apostle among the works of the flesh (Gal. v. 1924) so among the fruits of the Spirit, he insists on habitual graces, as love, joy, and peace.
5. There being this universal contention between grace and sin, mortification consists in a constant taking part with grace; for the residence of these contrary principles being in, and their actings being by the same faculties of the soul, as the one is strengthened and improved, the other must of necessity be weakened and decay. The mortification of sin, therefore, must consist in these three things: (1.) In cherishing the principle of grace by all the means which God has appointed; without which all the attempts of
men to subdue their sins will be labour in vain. (2.) In frequent actings of the principle of grace, in all the duties of holy obedience; for where the inclinations of the soul are kept in constant and vigorous exercise, the contrary motions of the flesh are defeated. (3.) In a due application of the principle and actings of grace, by way of opposition to the principle and actings of sin. As the whole of grace is opposed to the whole of sin, so there is no particular lust; but there is a particular grace ready to make effectual opposition to it. In this consists the mystery of mortification; through ignorance of which many foolish ways have been invented, opposing external force to an inward depraved principle.
6. This great duty is called Mortification, or Putting to Death. (1.) Because sin, having a powerful and constant inclination, and working actually towards all evil, is said to live, or to have a life of its own; therefore the opposition that is made to it, for its destruction, is called Mortification. (2.) Because of the violence that is necessary in this contest. Other duties, to which we are called, may be performed in a more easy and gentle manner. Though we must wrestle with principalities and powers in our conflict with temptations, yet in this conflict which we have with ourselves, there is more of fighting, wounding, and crying out for help: there is a deeper sense of such a violence as is used in taking away the life of a mortal enemy, than in any thing else we are called to. (3.) Because the end designed in this duty is destruction, as it is in all killing. Sin has a life, by which it reigns in all natural men. By the entrance of grace into the soul, it loses its dominion, but not its being: its rule, but not its life. But the design of this duty is, the utter destruction of all the remains of this cursed life of sin; it is, to leave sin neither being, life, nor operation.
From hence it is evident, that the mortification of sin is a gradual work. We must be exercised in it every day, and in every duty. Sin will not die, unless it be constantly weakened. Spare it, and it will heal its wounds, and recover its strength. We must contin
ually watch against the operations of this principle of sin; in our duties, in our calling, in conversation, in retirement, in our enjoyments, and in all that we do. If we are negligent on any occasion, we shall suffer by it; every mistake, every neglect is perilous.
It may be justly feared, that the nature of this duty is mistaken by many. Some look upon it as an easy task; but is it for nothing that the Holy Spirit expresses it by mortification or killing? Certainly this intimates a violent contest. Every thing will do its utmost to preserve its life. Let no man think to kill sin with a few gentle strokes. He who has once smitten a serpent, if he follow not his blow till it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel; and so will he who undertakes to deal with sin, if he pursue it not constantly to death; sin will revive, and the man must die. Again: The principle of sin is in us, and is called ourselves. It cannot be killed without a sense of pain. It is compared to cutting off right hands, and plucking out right eyes. Lusts, that pretend to be useful and pleasant to the flesh, will not be mortified without sensible violence. It is also a fatal mistake to make only some particular lusts, or actual sins, the objects of this duty. Many persons will.make head against particular sins, but in general with little success; sin gets ground upon them, and they groan under its power; and the reason is, because they mistake the business. Contests against particular sins, are only to comply with light and convictions. Mortification, with a design for holiness, respects the body of sin, the roof and all its branches. The first will miscarry; the latter will succeed.
Thirdly. We must consider the way in which mortification of sin is effected. Now the Holy Spirit is the author of this work in us, so that though it is our duty, it is his grace whereby it is performed. This is: asserted in Rom. viii. 13: "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body." We are to mortify the flesh but of ourselves we cannot do it; it must be done in or by the Spirit. The proof of this is the principal design of the apostle from the 2d verse of that
chapter to the end of the thirteenth that the reign of sin, in the minds of believers, is impaired, and finally destroyed by the Holy Ghost; and that this could not otherwise be effected, he both affirms and proves at large. This being sufficiently evident, it remains only that we shew the manner in which he produces this effect.
I. The foundation of all mortification of sin, is from the inhabitation of the Spirit in us. He dwells in the persons of believers as in his temple. Those pollutions which render the souls of men unfit for his abode, consisting in sin inherent in its effects, he removes and subdues, that he may dwell in them suitably to his holiness; and as this is the only spring of mortification in us, as it is a grace, so the consideration of it is the principal motive to it as a duty. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost," which is in you, which you have of God? And again, "Know you not that ye are the temple of God ?"
II. The manner of the actual operation of the Spirit in this work is to be considered. It is the vicious corrupt habit of sin that is to be mortified; and this he doth, 1. By implanting in our minds a contrary principle, with contrary dispositions. Sin will no otherwise die but by being killed; and as this is to be gradually done, it must be by conflict. There must be something in us that is contrary to it, which, by constant opposition, gradually works out its ruin and destruction. As in a chronical distemper, the disease continually combats with the powers of nature, till it prevails to its dissolution, so it is in this matter. contrary principles are flesh and spirit; and their contrary actings are in warring against each other, Gal. v. 16. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." Not to fulfil the lusts of the flesh is to mortify it; for it cannot live if its lusts be not fulfilled; and he gives a fuller account hereof, verse 17. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." If the Spirit of God is here intended, yet he lusteth not in us, but by virtue of that spirit which is born of him. The issue of the whole