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1 P E T. ii. 11.
'Dearly beloved, I beseech you as Strangers and Tilgrims, abstain from flejhly Lusts, which war against the Soul.
HAVING dispatch'd the two sirst Enemies we renounce in Baptism, viz. the Devil and the World; I come now to the Third, and that is, the Flejh, with all its sinful Lusts. And this is the more dangerous, because'tis an Enemy within us, that has gotten the Possession, and so is not so easily repuls'd or vanquish'd. The Devil and the World are without us, their Assaults are visible, and may therefore be the better resisted and overcome; but this is a Traitor in our Bosom, that sets upon us unawares; its Darts are invisible, and wound without being seen. The two forfner work by this, which is ever too ready to join issue with them and to betray us into their hands. This therefore is an Enemy that we must be more especially arm'd against: to which I shall direct from the Words read, 'Dearly Beloveds I beseech you, &c.
In the Verses immediately foregoing the Apostle minds us of that exceeding great Honour and Dignity, to which we are advanc'd by being Christians; styling us, ver. 9. A chosen Generation, a royal 'Priesthood, a holy Nation, a ,peculiarPeople : and minding us, ver. 10. Thatthowe ixere once in the state os Heathens, yet now we are the •'People of God; having obtain'd this Mercy by being receiv'd into his Church and Favour. And being thus highly honour'd, he wills us not to do any thing unworthy of ourselves, nor debase the Dignity of our holy Profession. And because the greatest danger is from the Lusts of the Flesh, he beseeches us here, as Strangers and Pilgrims, to abstain from fiejhly Lusts which war against the Soul. In treating of which Words I must /hew,
First, What are thofe fleshly Lusts weare to abstain from. Secondly, How we are to renounce or abstain from them. 'Thirdly, The Obligations that lie upon all Christians so to do.
First then, What are thofe sinful Lusts of the Flesh that we are to renounce or abstain from? In answer to which,
By Flesh here we are to understand, not only that carnal Part or Mass of Flesti which we carry about us, but likewise all thofe Senses and animal Faculties that belong to it, and are common to us with other Creatures.
By the Lusts of the Fiesta, we are to understand all the Desires, Affections, Motions, or Appetites of that fleshly Part, or proceeding from any of thofe Senses and Faculties that appertain to it; which Desires are commonly carry'd out after thofe things that are most pleasing to this carnal Part, craving chiefly such as may gratify any Sense or Faculty of it.
By the sinful Lusts of the Flesti, we are to understand the exorbitant and irregular Desires of the Flesh; whereby it affects what it should not, and is carry'd out after what is forbidden.
Before the Degeneracy or Fall of Mankind, these Desires and Affections of the Soul were all orderly and regular, plac'd upon right Objects and kept within due Bounds: but since they are become very extravagant and disorderly; and till they are spiritualized, and brought under the managery of Reason and Religion, are evil, only evil, and that continually; Gen. 6. 5.
Insomuch that in this natural State, Reason is over-born by vicious Inclinations, and led into Evil by a sensual Appetite; by which means the Affections are either set upon wrong and unwarrantable Objects, or if better plac'd, run into Inordinacy,and Excels ; whereby Men abuse and pervert what otherwise in the moderate Use was permitted unto them.
In short then, By the. sinful Lusts of the Flesb, are meant all thofe extravagant Motions or Desires of the carnal Appetite, whereby being allur'd by some pleasing Baits or Suggestions, it inclines to, or fastens upon, some things which God has forbidden, or else exceeds in the immoderate Use •f what were otherwise lawsul and permitted to them.
These are in general thofe fleshly Lusts, from which we are here advis'd to abstain: if you desire a more particular Account, Sr. 'Paul has given a Catalogue of them, and reckon'd them up to our hand; Gal. 5.19, 20. 'The works of the Flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lascivioufnefs, Idolatry, Witchcrafts Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies, Envy i figs, Murder, drunkenness, fevellings, and fitch like.
Where Adultery leads the Van, which is the Incontinence of marry'd Persons, or the Violation of the Bond of Wedlock: this justly stands in the Front of this black List, it being the worst and foulest of all fleshly Lusts, and discovers a brutish and profligate Mind; for'tis a sinning against the Remedy appointed in this Cafe, and prevents the Course allow'd to allay and extinguish such impure Plames.
Next to this follows Fornication; which is the Incontinence of single Persons, and making the Members of Christ to become the Members of an Harlot. Now, tho this be not altogether so bad as the former, yet 'tis justly to be reckon'd among the sinful Lusts of the Flesh, being a desiling and unhallowing of thofe Bodies, that ought to be kept as ^Temples of'tire Holy Ghost; and prostituting that to base and dirty Purpofes, which should be consecrated and devoted to God's Service.
After this comes Uncleanness; by which is meant all Impurity of Mind, all vain and lustful Thoughts and Desires, together with thofe leud and unclean Practices that were antiently us'd as sacred Rites to the Idols and. salse Gods of the Heathens.
To this is added, in the next place, Lascivioufnefs; by which is meant all Wantonness of Behaviour, discover'd either by Words, Gestures or Actions; all Delight in silthy and obscene Communication, whether by speaking it our selves, or hearing it from others. All these are to be reckon'd and renounc'd among the sinful Lusts of the Flesh.
Next to this comes Idolatry; by which we are to understand all worshiping of false Gods ; and more especially, the paying thofe foremention'd leud and obscene Rites to them: to which may be added, the Placing that Love, Delight and Considence in any other thing, which is due to God only; as the covetous Man doth in Mammon, which in Scripture i» stil'd Idolatry.
To this is added, Witchcraft; which is the having recourse to Wizards or Sorcerers, and ascribing to them the Knowledge of past and suture Things, which belongs to God only.
Moreover, All kinds of Variance, which imply some of the lower Degrees of Difference and Dissention; all Hatred, which rises somewhat higher, and betokens an evil Mind; Wrath, which goes higher still, and suppofes Rancour and Malice, and ends sometimes in Murder and Destruction: Yea, all manner of Strife and Contention, which make Men uneafy to themselves and others, are here reckon'd among the Lusts of the Flejh.
Furthermore, Emulations, in the Original £faot, which signisies a false and counterfeit Zeal in Matters of Religion; Seditions, which imply Factions and Disturbance in the State; Heresies, which are Divisions and Disorders in the Church; are here truly numbcr'd among the Works of the Flejh.
Next to these follow bitter Envylngs and Contentions, the sad Effects of Divisions both in Church and State; which, however palliated and colour'd over with Pretences of Religion, are the known and natural Consequence of these things.
Lastly, To bring up the Rear, come 'Drunkenness, Revellings, and such like, which are the grofs Abuses of God's Creatures, and the miserable Evils of a sensual and licentious Appetite.
This is a brief account of the sinful Lasts of the Flesh* which in our Baptism we renounce, and of which the Apostle declares, That they ixho do such things, shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. From whence I proceed,
Secondly, To shew how we are to renounce or abstain from these fleshly Lusts. And here we may note,
1. That there is an innocent and lawful Use of sensual Pleasures, tending to the Refreshment of human Nature, and to ease the Cares of human Life ; so that these are not absolutely to be renounc'd, but only when they become sinful bylnordinacy and Excess.
2. We are to abstain not only from the outward Acts of thofe Sins, but from the inward Motions and Desires after them; hating the very Garment spotted with the Flesh, and avoiding all the Occasions and Appearances of Evil. 'Tis not enough to abstain from these fleshly Lusts from
a Principle of Shame or Fear of Punishment ; for such will commit all Uncleanness with greediness, it they can but escape the Eye and Censure of the World. But it must proceed from an inward Hatred and Detestation of them, not cherishing any unchaste Hankerings or Desires, nor suffering vain Thoughts to lodge or harbour within us.
3. We must renounce All the sinful Lusts of the Fle/h; not lopping off this or that Limb or Branch only, bus laying the Ax to the very Root, and cutting down the whole Body of Sin. There must be no Indulgence given to any one fleshly Lust, nor must any vicious Inclinations reign in us ; For the Wrath of God is reveal'd from Heaven egainll all Ungodliness of Men: Rom. 1. 18. And whoso hepetb the whole Law, and offends in one point, is guilty of all: Jam. 2. 10. One Breach in a Wall may let in the Enemy, and one Leak in a Ship may sink the whole Vessel: in like manner, one Lust unmortify'd may sink the Soul, and drown it in Destruction and Perdition. This Renunciation must be universal, extending to all the sinrul Lusts of the Flesh; not sparing Agag, or cherishing a reserve of kindness for any beloved Lust; but breaking off Correspondence with all, even the most darling Vice, tho it may be as dear to us as a right Eye, and we as loth to part with it as with a right Hand: Mat. 5^ »9. 30.
Lastly, Our renouncing these sinful Lusts must be universal in respect of Time too; that is, we must so cast them off, as not to turn to them any more. Our being wash'd in the Waters of Baptism will be of no avail, if we return with the 'Dog to his Pomit, and the Sow that was wash'd to her -wallowing in the Mire. If we hope to receive the Benesits and Privileges of Baptism, we must utterly abandon these fleshly Lusts, and so bid adieu to them as not to return again to Folly.
Having then such rich and precious 'Promises made to us in Jesus Christ, let us (as the Apostle directs) cleanse ourselves from all Filthinefs of Flesh and Spirit, and perfecl Holiness in the Fear of God. Thus we fee what the sinful Lusts of the Flesh are, and how we are to renounce them. I proceed then,
Thirdly, To the Obligation that lies upon all Christians 10 to do; and this is very strong and indifpcnsible: arising,
Vot. I. H 1. From