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science. And therefore the Apostle, 1 Tim. i. 5. joins them together, speaking of a pure heart and a good conscience. But, if the steams of lust rise up thick in the heart, they defile and pollute the conscience: hence the Apostle, again, joins them together, Tit. i. 15. a defiled mind and a defiled conscience: the mind and conscience, says he, is defiled. How can the mind be defiled, unless it be with sins of the mind? Evil thoughts and evil affections, as sprightly and aerial as they seem to be,, yet leave a stain upon the conscience: as the breathing upon a glass sullies it, and dims the representation of the face that looks into it; so the breathing of evil cogitations upon conscience, the glass of the soul, leaves a mist and cloud upon it, that it can but dimly and darkly represent to us our true state.
(2) Watch diligently, as the heart itself, so all the Approaches unto the Heart.
The approaches to the heart are like your roads to a great city, which are full of passengers, and usually full of dirt also. And these are the senses, by which and through which objects are continually travelling to the heart, and cany with them a world of wickedness. These are sluices, which, instead of letting in pleasant streams to refresh, commonly let in nothing but mud, which pollutes the soul. There is no actual filthiness in the hearts of any, but what enters in by these inlets. Through these the Devil casts in abundance of filth ; stirs up and encreases indwelling lust; and, by sinful objects that the senses convey to the soul, dungs that ground, which is of itself but too too fruitful. Thus, the Devil makes use of the ear; through it he blows up the bladder of pride, by the breath of popular applause and praise: and thus he makes use of the lascivious eye, as a burning glass to set the heart on fire: and so also he makes use of the other senses, as sinks of luxury and intemperance. Now if you would keep your consciences clear and undefiled, set a strict guard and narrow watch upon all these passages to your hearts: critically examine every thing that goes in, and every thing that comes out by these gates: arrest whatever cannot produce its pass and warrant from the word of God: keep the same watch upon these gates, that God would keep on the gate of the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem. It is said, Rev. xxi. 27. that there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that dtjileth. Let us, who would keep our consciences clear, guard all the approaches to them, with the same strictness; and let nothing, that defileth, enter in by these approaches to our hearts.
6. Take this direction: Be sure to listen to the Voice of Conscience.
Those, that stop their ears and will not hear conscience when it directs and reproves, shall be sure to hear it loud enough when it shall accuse and condemn them. Conscience is the voice of God in the soul: now if this voice be slighted, beware lest the next time it speak to you in thunder. Do nothing contrary to the dictates of your consciences; for this will provoke God to give you up to a reprobate sense, and j udicially to harden you in your sins: for, if sinning against your consciences doth not corrupt them by making them insensible and stupid, it will certainly corrupt them by making them enraging and despairing.
Now, for your encouragement, let me tell you, while you are careful, by following these directions, to keep your consciences clear, you shall also keep them peaceable. It is the foulness of a gun, that makes it recoil in discharging: and, so, it is the foulness of men's consciences, that makes them recoil back again upon them in discharging of their offices. But, while conscience is kept clear and void of offence, it will be also kept free from quarrelling with you, and from accusing and condemning you.
So much for this time and text.
GREAT DUTY OF MORTIFICATION.
ROMANS viii. 13.
IP YE LIVE AFTER THE FLESH, YE SHALL DIE: BUT IF YE, THROUGH THE SPIRIT, DO MORTIFY THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, YE SHALL LIVE.
In these words, without any preface or account of their coherence, are,
First. A Promise: the greatest promise, that God can make, or the Scripture propound, or we embrace : Ye shall live: that is, first, ye shall live a life of grace and comfort here; and, secondly, ye shall live a life of immortality and eternal glory hereafter. _^
Secondly. We have the condition, upon which this life, both of grace and glory, is propounded: If ye mortify the deeds of the body: et SuvciTUTe: the word signifies to kill or put to death: If ye KILL the deeds of the body, ye shall live. The life of sin and the life of grace and glory are utterly inconsistent and repugnant: you must live, upon the death of sin.
Now, here, we have
First. The object of this mortification: what it is, that thev must put to death: and that is, the deeds of the body.
By the body we must here understand the same that the Apostle speaks of in the beginning of the verse: If ye live after the flesh. Flesh and body are but equivalent terms; both of them signifying one and the same corruption of nature. Indeed, the proper seat of sin is the soul; and they are the deeds