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wise, were to mutilate and maim religion,' and to dishonour God, while we pretend to worship and obey him: for the breach of any single commandment is a manifest violation of the majesty and authority of God, whatever observance we may pay all the rest: For he that said. Do not commit adultery ; said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thoic art become a transgresj'or of the law, Jam. ii. 11. That the restraints man is to lay upon himself, relate no less to the lusts of the soul than the actions of the body: Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees^ you Jhall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven, Matth. v. 10. That to begin well will avail us little, unless we finish well too. Universality, sincerity, and perseverance are generally acknowledged to be essential and indispensable properties of saving, justifying faith. These things therefore being but just mentioned, I proceed to the point to be enquired into and resolved.
1. To be free from the dominion and power of mortal sin, is the first and lowest step; this is indispensable to sincerity, and absolutely necessary to salvation: Let not fin reign in your mortal bodies, to fulfil the lusts thereof Rom. vi. 12. And the advancing thus far does, I acknowledge, constitute man in a state of grace: for
id feripture men are denominated righte* ous or wicked* not from single acts o* vice or virtue* but from the prevalence and dominion, from the habit or custom of the one or the other: Know ye not, that id whom ye yield your Jehes servants to obey, his servants ye are to whomyeobty^ whether tfjfyt Unto deaths or (f obedienve unto righ* teexsnefif Rom. vi. 16. But then I mini here add two remarks, by way of caution. 1. We must not presume too soon of victory over an habitual sin. An evil faabit is $©t soon broken off; not h it an easy matter to resolve, when we have set our selves free from the power of it. Sometimes the temptation does not present itself as often as it was wont, or not with the fame advantage ; sometimes one vice restrains us from another j sometimes worldly considerations, or some little change in our temper, without any tfw> rougheftange in our minds, puts us out of humour for a little while with a darling sin; and sometimes the force and clearness of conviction, produces feme pious fits> which, though they do not utterly vanquish a lust* do yet force it to give Way, and retreat for a while, and interrupt that love which they do not exfinguifi>: all this may be, and the Work not jret be done* nor our liberty yet gained "therefore we fall, though but now and
then^ and though at some distance of riffles into the fame fin, we have great reafon to be jealous of its power and our safety: nay, though we restrain our selves from the outward commission of it; if yet we feel a ftrohg propensiohto it; if We discern Cur selves ready to take fire on the appea* ranee of a temptation; if we are fond of approaching as near it as We can, and are pleased with those indulgences which are Very near a-kin to it, we have reason to doubt that our conquest is not yet entire, fiay, the truth is, We cannot be on good grounds assured that we are masters of our selves^ till we have a settled aversion for the sin Which before we doated on, and shun the occasions which before we courted, till We be possessed of a habit of that virtue which is a direct: contradiction to it j and take as much pleasure in the obedience, as ever we did in the tranl|reffion Of a di* Vine command.
2dly, These are some sins of that provoking nature, so Criminal in their birth, and mischievous in their consequences, that One single *& or csmrniffibn of one Of thefe is equivalent to a habit of others; inch is ttturther, idolatry, perjury, adultery . these cannot be commited without renouncing humanity as well as Qbrisiianiiy; Without resisting the instincts and impulse of nature* as wtll as the fight of the tp
spd, spel, and the grace of the Spirit. 'We must break through a great many difficulties and terrors, ere we can come at these sins; we must commit many other, in order to commit one of these; we must deliberate long, resolve desperately, and in defiance of God and conscience; and what is the effeB of habit in other instances, is a necessary preparative in these, that is, obduration. In this cafe, therefore, the unhappy man, that has been guilty of any one of these, must not look upon himself as set free, when he is come to a resolution of never repeating it again; but then when he loaths and abhors himself in dust and ashes; when he has made the utmost reparations of the wrong he is capable of; when, if the interest of virtue require it, he is content to be oppressed with shame and sufferings: when, in one word, a long and constant course of mortification, prayers, tears and good works have washed off the stain and guilt.
2. We must be free, not only from a habits but from single aBs of deliberate presumptuous sin. The reason is plain; mortal sin cannot be committed without wounding the conscience, grieving the spirit, and renouncing our hopes in God through Christ, for the time at least. The wages of Jin is death, is true, not only of habits, but single acts of deliberate sin.
death is the penalty, the sanction of every commandment; and the commandment does not prohibit habits only, but single acts too. Nor is there indeed any room to doubt or dispute here, but in one case; which is, if a righteous man should be taken off in the very commission of a sin, which he has fallen into. Here, indeed, much may be said, and with much uncertainty. But the resolution of this point does not, as far as I can fee, minister ro any good or necessary end ; and therefore I will leave it to God. In all other cases, . every thing is clear and plain; for if the servant of God fall into a presumptuous sin, 'tis universally acknowledged, that he cannot recover his station but by repentance. If he repent presently, he is safe; but if he continue in his sin, if he repeat it, he passes into a state of wickedness, widens the breach between God and his soul, declines insensibly into a habit of sin, and renders his wound more and more incurable. 'Tis to little purpose, I think, here to consider the vast difference there is in the commission, even of the fame sin, between a child of God, and a child of wrath; because a child of God must not commit it at all: if he do, tho' it be with reluctancy ; tho' it be, as it were, with an imperfect consent, and with a divided soul; tho' the awe of religion and conscience seems Z not