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1. From the Precept and Command of God, who requires this from us; This is the Will of God, (faith the Apostle) even your SanEtification, that every one shouldknow how to possess his Vessel in San&ification and Honour; not in the Lust of Concupiscence, even as the Gentiles that know not God: i Thess. 4. We sind a strict Charge laid upon us, to deny all Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts; and elsewhere, to fut off, concerning the former Conversation, the old Man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful Lusts, and to be renew'd in the Spirit of our Mind. To this purpofe are thofe frequent Exhortations, Not to live or walk after the Flejb; To make no 'Provision for it to fulfil the Lusts thereof; To mortify our earthly Members; and the like. All which being tho express Commands of him whom we are bound above all things to obey, must carry a strong Obligation with them.
2. This Obligation is increas'd upon us from our own Promise: for at our entrance into the Church, we solemnly disclaim'd and abandon'd all the sinful Lusts of the Flesh; we enter'd into a holy War, not only against the Devil and the World, but against this home-bred Enemy the Flesh, that wars against the Soul. Now all thofe that have retain'd any Sense of Religion or Honesty, have ever thought themselves bound by their Word, and no Tie has been esteem'd so sacred and obliging as that of a Vow; and consequently having solemnly engag'd at our Baptism to abstain from fleshly Lusts, we stand oblig'd in Honour and Conscience to observe and perform it.
Lastly, Both the Design and Dignity of our Profession obliges us to renounce the sinful Lusts of the Flesh; for the end of it is to subdue and mortify our corrupt Affections, and it must be mightily dishonourable for us to be led captive by them. Christ has call'd us out of the World to be a peculiar People, and therefore wills us to purify ourselves, eveii as he is pure. Now as nothing can better adorn our high and holy Calling, than a chaste Conversation coupled with Fear; so nothing can more blemish and bespatter it, than a silthy and debauch'd Conversation. In a word, without abandoning these sinful Lusts, we can neither answer the End, nor obtain the Reward of our Christianity.
Wherefore let me beseech you, 1)early beloved, as 'Pilgrims and Strangers, to abstain from fleshly Lusts, which war against theSouU
If you need any farther Arguments to arm you against this inbred Foe, the Apostle minds us here of two weighty Motives to that end : The one taken from our State and Condition in this Life, which is that of Strangers and Pilgrims, and so not to be taken up with these vile and brutish Satisfactions: The other, from rhe extreme Danger and Damage of them; They war against the Soul. A word or two of each: And,
isti Our State and Condition in this World, which is that of Strangers and Pilgrims, requires us to,abstain from fleshly Lusts. A Pilgrim, you know, will not take up in a strange Land, or be diverted from the Love and Business of his own Country, by any seeming Satisfaction he may meet with out of it; he is still pasting on, and will not by the entertainment of an Inn become unmindful of the Comforts and Happiness of his own Home, and therefore cannot be satissied till he return to it.
Why, we are all Pilgrims and Strangers in this World, we have here no abiding City, but seek one to come; our Country is elsewhere, and it must be very improper for us to take up with the sensual Pleasures and Delights of this World, when we belong to another, and are daily marching and travelling towards it. Our Conversation (faith the Apostle) or, as 'tis in the Original, our Citizenship or Abode is in Heaven; this World is only a transitory Passage to it: Let thofe that belong to this World please themselves, if they can, in the carnal and sensual Satisfactions of it; as for us that are enfranchis'd and made free of a better, we are to keep on in our way to it, and not be delay "d or diverted out of it by any of the sly Insinuations of the World, the Flejb, or the 'Devil. This we sind the Patriarchs did, who consess'd themselves Strangers and Pilgrims upon Earth, and thereby declar'd they sought and belong'd to another Country, and therefore would not be inveigled with the Pleasures of this; and we too must do the fame, if we mean to follow them to the fame Place.
But there is another and greater Argument yet to dis* suade us from these fleshly Lusts: and that is taken from the
Unspeakable Mischief and Damage done by them; they war against the Soul. Solomon tells us, That he thatstnneth against God, wrongeth hisown Soul; St. 'Paul, That he that commits Fornication, wrongetb his owu'Bcdy; and St. 'Peter, That sensual Lusts war against the Soul. They war against
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the animal Soul or Life, by shortning our Days, and bringing that Rottenness into the Bones which frequently occasions sudderi and untimely Death.
They war against the rational and immortal Soul, and bring on it vast and sundry Inconveniences. As,
1. They destroy the (Purity of the Soul, and bring on it the foulest Pollution and Desilement.
2. They debase the Honour and Tiignity of the Soul, by defacing the Image of God in it, and degrading it beneath the Beast that perishes. They bring Blindness and Darkness into the Understanding, Disorder into the Will and Affections, Confusion and Weakness into all the Faculties.
a. They war against the Liberty of the Soul, by bringing it into the basest and vilest Bondage.
4. They war against the 'Peace of the Soul, by silling it with perpetual Trouble and Anxiety.
La%, They war against the eternal Happiness and Salvation of the Soul, by depriving it of the blessed Vision and Enjoyment of God, and dooming it for ever to the wretched Society of the Devil and his Angels.
These, and far greater Evils than can be express'd or conceiv'd, are the miserable Effects of this unhappy War, where these fleshly Lusts prevail and domineer; which is sufficient to arm us with the greatest Courage and Resolution against them. Thus we have seen the Three great Enemies of Christ and our Salvation, 'the 2)evil, the Worlds and the Flesh, which we renounce in our Baptism, and mustencounter in the whole course of our Lives ever after. By all which it-appears,
How truly Christianity is styl'd a Warfare, where, when we enter on it, we do as it were enter the Field, and must expect to be assaulted on every side. However, we have seen their Wiles and Temptations, and how we may be enabled to resist and vanquish them ; for greater is he that is for us, than they that are against us: So that if we sight mansully under his Banner, and continue his saithful Servants and Soldiers (as we have promis'd) to our Lives end, we shall be sure to be victorious, and become more than Conquerors thro' Christ that loved us.
Mark i. 15.
WE are yet upon the Baptismal Covenant; where having shew'd the Privileges promis'd and confer'd on God's part, I come to the Duties or Conditions requir'd and promis'd on ours; which were these three, Repentance, Faith, and Obedience. The former teaches us what to forsake; which, as our Catechism directs, are, 'the Devil aud all his Works, the 'Pomps and Vanities of this -wicked World, and all the sinful Lusts of the Flefb. The second teaches us what to believe, namely, All the Articles of our Christian Faith. The third, what we are to do, viz. To keep God's Holy Will and Commandments-, and -walk in the fame all the days of our Life.
Of the sirst, to wit, the Doctrine of Repentance, I have discours'd at large, shewing it to be a forsaking of all manner of Sin, by renouncing our three Ghostly Enemies, the Devil, the World, and the Flesh, who are daily tempting and enticing us to it. I come now to the
Second Condition promis'd and requir'd on our part, toentitleus to the Privilegesof Baptism, andthatis Faith5 express'd in our Catechism, %y believing all the Articles of our Christian Faith : of which I shall treat from these words of St. Mark% Selieve the Gospel.
The words are the sirst great Message deliver'd to the World, upon our blessed Saviour's coming into it: St. John prepar'd for his coming by preaching of Repentance ; Repent ("faith he) for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And immediately upon his coming, this other Branch was added to it, Repent, and believe the Gospel. In speaking to which words, as they relate to the Catechism, I must shew,
First, What we are to understand by the Gofpel, or the? Articles of our Christian Faith.
H 3 Secondly, Secondly, What is meant by believing these Articles.
Thirdly, What by believing All the Arricles of our Christian Faith.
Firfl then, What are we to understand here by the Gospel, or the Articles of the Christian Faith ? In answer to which, Gospel is an old Saxon word, that signisies the fame with God's Word; and denotes that Divine Revelation made to the World concerning the Salvation of Mankind by Jesus Christ: Ywas but obscurely reveal'd by Moses and the Prophets under the Old Testament, but more fully and plainly by Christ and his Apostles in the New.
The Law was given by Moses, veil'd with dark Types and Shadows; but" Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ, who unriddled thofe Types, and made the Shadows "Vanish, by exhibiting the Substance : for which reason Life and Immortality, which wa;^ before wrap'd in Darkness, is said to be brought to Light by the Gospel.
By the Articles of the Christian Faith are meant the prime fundamental Truths of that Divine Revelation, necessary to be known in order to Salvation: for tho all the Parts and Passages of Holy Scripture be equally true, being dictated by the fame infallible Spirit, yet they are not equally necessary; there are some less momentous or circumstantial things, of which Men may be ignorant, without the hazard ot their Salvation.
Now those more weighty and substantial Truths, the knowledge whereof is necessary to the Happiness of our Souls, are what we here understand by the Articles of the Christian Faith; which great Truths being dispers'd up and down in the Gofpel, are briefly summ'd up to our hands, in that excellent Summary known by the name of the Jfiostles Creed. This Sr. Taul in his Epistle to the Romans calls, The form ef'Zio&rive, Rom. 6. 17. in his Epistle to the mbesians, 'The one Faith, Ephes. 4. 5. in his Epistle to Timothy, The Form of found Words, 2 Tim. 1. 13. St. Jude styles it, The Faith once deliver'd to the Saints, ver. 3. The Author to the Hebrews, the <Profeffion of Faith, Heb. 10. 23. Jn all which Places there is an Allusion or Reference to the Apostles Creed; the great fundamental Points whereof, making up and hold.ng together the whole Body of Christian Divinity, are styl'd the Joints or Articles of the Chnl
tian Faith. „