« AnteriorContinuar »
first converted? Had they not been renewedin the spirit of their minds, and put on the new.man? Had not this same Apostle declared to the Collosian christians, "Ye have put ofF the old "man with his deeds." To this it may bt easily answered: Though christianity has a beginning in the soul, yet at first it is not compleat, but must move forward and make progress, until it shall arrive at perfection. In regeneration, sin receives a mortal wound—but still there are many corruptions to subdue, and much of the old man to be put off. St. Pe'ter, though a real convert, yet he was exhorted, "when he should be converted, he "should strengthen his brethren." The exercises of conversion' are to be frequently revived in the soul, and he is habitually to bp "puttingoff concerning the former conversation the old man, '*v>hich is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts', and to be re"newed in the spirit of their minds, and to put on the new man /''which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
All professors, who do not feel this obligation, and sincerely endeavour to conform to it in practice, will surely meet with' final condemnation. The indispensable duty of the christian is, to be perseveringly and habitually putting off the olclraan^.
Our attention shall be to consider the figurative language of' this text; and for this purpose, to show, «
First, What is meant by the old man, which concerning the fdrmer conversation is corrupt, according to the deceitful'lustsv
Secondly, That all are under unchangeable obligations to reject it) or put it off.
First, 'We are to attempt a developement of the metaphor, the old man, which concerning the former conversation is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts.
If we carefully compare ore passage of scripture with another respecting this phrase* we shall come to this decidon,. that by * old man" is meant, the whole mass of moral corruption in its principles and fruits, which dwells in, and flows from the human hearty in its present state of degeneracy and imperfection. On the other hand, those new and Spiritual principles which the soul receives in regeneration, illumination and conversion, and the fruits which they produce, are called the new man, the inner man, and the hidden man of the heart. St. Paul often personifies both sin and holiness. In figurative language, he represents sin as a person, and as a body—and particular acts of sin, aft members of this person, and parts of this body. Hence he ascribes to sin, motion and action—life »nd death; and speaks of s'm as if it were really another person distinct from himself.— Therefore, he says, "Sin taking occasion by the commandment, "wrought in me all manner of concupisence." Moreover he says, "Sin deceived him, wrought death in him, slew him," Sec. Thus, by an usual figure, easily understood, he personifies sin, and holds it forth to view as an intelligent, designing, subtle and active agent. So he stiTes the mass of depravity in human nature a body, " the body of sin, body of death, the body of th«. "sins of the flesh," Sec. And as a body is constituted of members, so. our Apostle conducts his figures by the most perfect rufes of criticism and propriety. Hence, he proceeds, saying, " Mor"tify your members which are upon the earth, fornication, un"cleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupisence, and covet"ousness which is idolatry." Here we see the person and body of sin, and its activities in all manner of iniquity. Thus, by old man, is intended sin, in its fountain, and in all its streams.
Let it be here observed, that by the old man, is. not meant the natural powers and faculties of the soul, but in an abstract way, the moral corruption and depravity of these powers. It is no where prescribed as a person's duty, to put off, crucify, destroy, and slay his natural faculties; this could not be done without the demolition of his existence, which is placed far beyond his power. But the person and body of sin, the old aun in our text, be is to have no mercy upon, or compassion for, but to mortify, crneify, slay, and destroy to the utmost extent of his abilities. Thi* is what he is to put off, and cast away with abhorrence, as an old and filthy garment.
This mass of defilement and pollution, is designated under the figure of an old man, and undoubtedly it is so described from its intiquity, as other old things are. It is as old as our existence. "We were shapen in sin, and brought forth in iniquity. That "which is born of the flesh is flesh," unclean and defiled.
It is old, not becasue it is co-eval with our natures, but because it existed long before we had a being ; it is co-existent w ith our original progenitor, from whom we derived it, and by whom it was propagated with all his posterity, even to the present day.
This old man is said to be corrupt, and if not injured and wounded by divine grace, it proceeds from bad to worse, and its tendency is to perfect destruction. It is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, or according to the lustings of error and mistake, as the words might be rendered. This old man, according to its subtlety and corruption, this body of sin, according to the infusion of malignant evil into its members, hurries on the impetuous propensities to irretrievable ruin. It offers happiness, but the reward is misery ; pleasure, but its compensation is pain;
delight, but its issue is torment. It persuades to happiness and consolation, but its end is eternal woe.
This is the old man, the Apostle informs these Ephcsian christians, discovered itself in their former conversation. It appeared in the evil imagination of their hearts, and in the wickedness of their practice: "Whilst their understandings were darkened, "being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance "that was in them.'' This manifested itself in their former conduct and conversation, displayed itself by its deceitful lasts, in its turpitude and pollution, and there is no truce, compromise, 01 peace to be made with it; it must be wholly abandoned, eni
tirety put off. This base old man, this hotly of sin ana death,' cannot be mended or made better—it is beyond all reformation— it must be slain and destroyed, or it will infallibly slay and utterly destroy the sinner. To lop off some of the members of this corrupted body, will not answer the purpose; it is not complying with gospel orders, while we save the body alive, we only deceive ourselves. It is the height of folly and madness to think of 'repairing that which is perfect corruption, or mending that which. is nothing but sin. It is absolntely impossible to change the nature of sin—and the imagination is vain, to attempt to make it better. Dress it and alter its appearance into whatever form the deceivings oi the heart can devise, it is sin still, and its tendency the same. Hence, to say, we must reform the old man, and not destroy it, is the same as to declare, we must not hurt' the Amalekites, nor injure Agag their king ; we must not comply with the precepts of the gospel, but follow our own deceitful imaginations. Those who argue against the old man, the body of sin, being destroyed, surely contradict the whole current of sacred direction, and proclaim open enmity against God and his institutions, which every where declare it must be mortified, put to death, slain, or put off. They are for preserving what God commands to be subdued, crucified and destroyed. "Mortify "your members which are upon the earth ; crucify the flesh with "the affections and lusts; our old man is crucified with Christ,. "that the body of sin might be destroyed. Put off' concerning. "the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt, accord"ing to the deceitful lusts."
I proceed to show,
Secondly, That all are under unchangeable obligations to reject, or put off the old man, as above described.
'This will appear from the natural relation creatures sustain to their Creator. Every possible consideration obliges them to love and serve the most High. Those who truly love God, comply with .the exhortation in the text. They have begun to pat off the body of sin. The old man received a mortal wound, wheu this love was first kindled in their breasts. And as this love encreases, sin decays. They are faithfully giving their endeavor to mortify all its members. They are crucifying, slaying, and destroying the affections and lusts of the flesh. In them old things are passed and passing away, and all things are becoming new. As this is the case with the people of God, so it ought to 'be the case with all. Many are ready to suppose, because they do not make what is called a profession of religion, they may indulge themselves in sin, and yet escape with impunity. How vain /will their delusive dreams appear, when they shall awake and find, by tormenting experience, "The wrath of God revealM ed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of "men." God is an object infinitely worthy of the4oye and obedience of all intelligent creatures. He is transcendantly amiable— therefore^ ought to be loved and admired. He is the' supreme good—therefore, ought to be principally sought. That God is not loved with a perfect affection, arises from no blemish or defect in him, but from the corruption of the heart, and its deceitful lusts. The fault is wholly in the creature. It will remain an everlasting axiom, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God "with all thy heart, and him only shalt thou serve."
All who hear the sound of the gospel, are under indispensable obligations to repent of sin, and believe in Jesus Christ. Thii is the high command of heaven. An epitome of the bible is, "Re"pent and believe the gospel. He that believeth and is baptised "shall be saved, but he that believeth not »hall be damned." Those who will not listen to the declarations of the gospel, re. fuse to put off the old man, and to mortify their corruptions, livery believer in Christ, is crucified with him. And 'his crucifixion consists in the destruction of the old man with his lusts. Those who will not put off their former corrupt conversation, Bust be banhhed from the presence of God, and the glory of his