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'Tis virtue only, that is truly honourable and praise-wort by : and nothing surely can entitle us to so noble a relation : for this allies us to God. For, as our Saviour speaks, they only are the children of Abraham, who do the works of Abraham; the children of God, who do the works of God. These are they, who are born a. gain: not of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man; but of God. These are they, who are incorporated into the body of Christ; and being ruled and animated by his Spirit, are entitled to all the blessed effects of bis merit and intercession. These are they, in a word, who have overcome, and will, one day, fit down with Christ' in his throne ; even as he also overcame, and is set down with his father in his throne, Rev. ii. 21. Good God! how absurd and perverse all our desires and projects are ! we complain of the evils of the world; and yet we hug the causes of them, and cherish those vices, whose fatal wombs are ever big with numerous and intolerable plagues, We fear death, and would get rid of this fear, not by difarming, but Marpening its fting ; not by subduing, but forgetting it. We love wealth and treasure: but 'tis that which is temporal, not eternal. We receive honour of one another ; but we feek not that which comes from God only. We are fond of ease and pleasure ; and at
the same time we wander from those paths of wisdom, which alone can bring us to it. For, 'in a word, 'tis this Christian Liberty that makes men truly free : not the being in bondage to no man, but to no fin : not the doing what we lift, but what we ought. 'Tis Christian Liberty that makes us truly great, and truly glorious : for this alone renders us serviceable to others, and easy to our felves; benefactors to the world, and delightfome at bome. 'Tis Christian Liberty makes us truly prosperous, truly fortunate ; because it makes us truly happy, filling us with joy and peace, and making us abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghoft.
CH A P. IV. Of liberty, as it relates to original fin. The
nature of which conhdered chiefly with reSpect to its corruption. How far this diftemper of nature is curable. Which way this cure is to be effected.
( Hatever difficulties the doctrine of
V original sin really be involved in, or seem at least to fome to be so, they will not concern me, who am no further obliged to consider it, than as it is an impediment of Perfection : for though there
be much dispute about original sin, there is little or none about original corruption; the reality of this is generally acknowledged, though the guilt, the sinfulness or immorality of it, be controverted. And though here be diversity of opinions concerning the effects of original corruption in eternity; yet there is no doubt at all made but that it incites and instigates us to actual sin, and is the seed-plot of human folly and wickedness. All men, I think, are agreed, that there is a byass and strong propension in our nature towards the things of the world, and the body: that the subordination of the body to the soul, and of the soul to God, wherein consists' righteousness, is subverted and overthrown : that we have appetites which clash with, and oppose the commands of God; not only when they thrcaten violence to our nature, as in the cases of confession and martyrdom, but also when they only prune its luxuriancy and extravagance : that we do not only desire fenlitive pleasure, but even to that degree, that it hurries and transports us beyond the bounds that reason and religion fet us: we have not only an aversion for pain, and toil, and death; but to that excess, that it tempts us to renounce God, and our duty, for the fake of carnal ease, and temporal safety. And
finally, that we are so backward to entertain the belief of revealed truths, so prone to terminate our thoughts on, and confine our desires within this visible world as our portion, and to look upon our felves no other than the mortal and corruptible inhabitants of it ; that this makes us selfish and sordid, proud and ambitious, false, subtle, and contentious, to the endless disturbance of mankind and our felves. That this, I say, is the state of nature; that this is the corruption we labour under, all men, I think, are agreed : and no wonder; for did a controversy arise about this, there would be no need to appealany farther for the decision of it, than to one's own experience; this would tell every one that thus it is in fact; and reason, if we will consult it, will tell us why it is fo: for what other than this can be the condition of man, who enters the world with a foul fo dark and deftitute of divine light, so deeply immersed and plunged into flesh and blood, fo tenderly and intimately affected by bodily sensations ; and with a body so adapted and fuited to the things of this world, and fastned to it by the charms of pleasure, and the bonds of intereft, convenience and necelfity? This account of original corruption agrees very well with that St. Paul gives
us of it, Rom. vii. and elsewhere: and with that assertion of our Lord and Master, on which he builds the necessity of regeneration by water and the Holy Spirit, John iii. 6. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. Having thus briefly explained' what I mean in this chapter by original fin, I am next to consider these two things.
1. How far this distemper of nature is curable.
2. Which way this cure is to be effected. · As to the first enquiry, I would not be understood to proceed in it with a regard to all the regenerate in general, but only to the perfect ; for the strength of original sin cannot but be very different in new converts, or babes in grace, and in such as are advanced to an habit of righteousness. This being premised, I think, I may on good ground resolve, that original'sin in the perfe&t man, may be so far reduced and mastered, as to give him but very rare and sight disturbance. This seems to me evident from the great change that must be wrought in him who is converted from a sinner into a faint; If any man be in Christ, be is a new creature : old things are