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not in the multitude, greatness, or prevalency of sins; for all these are consistent with a state of grace, and may be in a child of God, in whom sin doth not nor cannot reign: but in the inbeing of sin without grace, whether it acts more or less violently, yea whether it acts at all or no; yet, if the habit of sin possess the soul without any principle of grace implanted which is contrary to it, that man may be said to be still under the dominion of sin. This mortification, then, of sin as to its reigning power, is completed in the first act of conversion and regeneration; for, in that very instant that any is born again, he hath a principle of spiritual life put into him: the habit of supernatural grace, which lusteth against the flesh, weakens the whole body of sin, and crosses and contradicts every corrupt motion; so that, -4jiough he cannot do what he would, yet he would not do what he doth: and this breaks the tyranny of sin, and mortifies it as to its reigning power.
iii. There is a mortification of sin, in regard of its CaptiVating and Indwelling power.
And this is that, which the text chiefly aims at.
Corruption, wheresoever it is, doth not use to lie dormant; but, where it cannot reign, there it will molest: stir, and struggle, and fight it will; and, it may be, prevail to a victory, even over those, over whom it shall never prevail unto condemnation. This calls for a constant work of mortification: every day and hour there are corrupt propensions to be reined in, sinful thoughts to be struggled against, sinful motions to be suppressed; and it is pot the mere habit and principle of grace, without a vigorous and continued exercise of it in a way of mortification: that, indeed, gave sin its death's wound in our regeneration; but still we must follow it, doubling stroke upon stroke, while it hath any life and motion in it. We do not content ourselves that we crush the head of a serpent: no; but, while it stirs and writhes itself, we still lay on. So should we do with lust: it is not enough that the head of it is crushed, that its first wound in our conversion is incurable; but still, so long as it stirs and moves within us, we must be continually striking at it by continued acts of mortification: nor must all suffice, till death comes in to our part, and by one blow destroys it.
In these Three senses, sin may be said to be mortified. In its Condemning Power: and, so, it was at once mortified for all the elect, by Christ hanging on the cross: and this mortification is particularly applied to them, when they believe. In its Reigning Power: and, so, it is mortified in the first moment of regeneration, by the implantation of an active principle of grace and holiness, which dissolves its government, and frees the soul from its dominion. And, lastly, in its Captivating Power, as it rebels and makes an insurrection against the sovereignty of grace: and, so, it is mortified by weakening its forces, hindering its inroads, resisting its assaults, beating down its first risings and motions; and all this, by constant, careful, and sincere endeavours, even all our days.
II. I might now easily demonstrate, in several particulars, HOW ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY IT IS, EVEN FOR THE BEST AND HIGHEST CHRISTIANS, TO KEEP UP THE CONSTANT EXERCISE OF MORTIFICATION.
Take only some few.
i. IN AN UNMORTIFIED COURSE, YOU FRUSTRATE THE VERY END OF YOUR GRACES.
Hath God implanted in you a noble, active, and divine principle, that will certainly in the end prove victorious if it be employed? and will you, while lusts and temptations are overrunning your souls, and making a prey of you, will you, I say, check it, and keep it under a restraint? Grace hath in it a natural antipathy and repugnancy against sin; and would, where it hath its free scope, naturally and necessarily destroy it. Gal. v. 17. the Apostle tells us the flesh lusteth against the Spirit. And, what! doth the Spirit sit down tame and quiet under such an affront and opposition? no, saith he, the Spirit also lusteth against the flesh: it doth no sooner see a corruption begin to heave and stir in the heart, but it would be presently upon it: it would beat it down and keep it under, did not your deceitful hearts betray it, or did they but concur with it.
1. Is not this afoul piece of ingratitude and disingenuity against God, the God of all Grace?
He, seeing thy weakness and impotency to deal with those mighty corruptions, that storm, rage, and domineer within thee, hath sent the auxiliaries and succours of his divine grace to aid thee: and thou either turnest treacherous, and deliverest them up bound to be abused, yea if possible to be slaughtered by thy lusts; or, else, cowardly desertest them in the combat. How canst thou answer it to God, that thou goest the way not only to betray thine own soul to ruin, but his grace; that grace, which doth so naturally oppose, and would in the end infallibly subdue all the corruptions thou strugglest with?
2. Is it not desperate Madness and Folly, to neglect or hinder that, which would side with thee, and fight for thee?
Alas! the quarrel is not grace's, but thine: and it is no less than thine eternal salvation or thine eternal damnation, about ,which this war is commenced. When corruption comes up against thee in a full body, and the Devil in the head of it leading it on, dost thou think thou canst of thyself stand against these many legions? and, yet, shall grace stand by and proffer thee a sure aid, and thou refuse or neglect it? what else is this, but to make void the use and office of grace, and to be injurious to the goodness of God; who hath therefore given thee grace to this very end, that thou shouldst employ it against thy lusts?
That is the First thing.
ii. Unmortified sin doth not only frustrate the end and use of grace; but, what is worse, it doth also Miserably Weaken And
It is impossible, that both grace and corruption should, at once, be strong and vigorous, in the same soul. If the one thrive, the other must needs languish: if corruption prosper and be well-liking, grace must needs pine away into a consumption. They are like plants growing together in the same soil, that have a mutual antipathy: they cannot both flourish at the same time. If a garden be overrun with weeds, they choak up and starve the profitable herbs, that they cannot live there; and and why is it, but because they draw away the sap and moisture that should feed them? so is it with grace and sin in the soul: if thy soul be overspread with unmortified sins, like so many stinking and hurtful weeds sprouting up in it, grace must needs decay and wither, for it cannot have its sap to nourish it.
There are Two things, that do as it were nourish grace unto a mighty increase, both of strength and beauty: and they-are Holy Thoughts, and Holy Duties. A man ordinarily needs nothing more to strengthen him but food and exercise: holy thoughts are, as ft were, the food of grace; that provision, which we are always to lay in to sustain it in life: and holy duties are,
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as it were, its exercise; whereby grace is breathed and preserved in health.
But an unmortified lust hinders grace from gathering strength from thoughts or duties. For,
1. An unmortified lust doth usually sequester a man's Thoughts to itself.
How doth such a lust summon all the thoughts to attend upon it! some it sends out upon one errand, and some upon another, and all must be busied about its object. Where covetousness, or pride, or wantonness is the unmortified sin, how is the imagination crowded full of thoughts that are making provision for these lusts! some fetch in their objects, and some beautify and adorn them, and some buz and whisper the commendations of those objects to the soul: nay, and lest any thought should be vacant, some it will employ in fancying fictions and chimseras. things that never were nor are like to, be, if they have but any tendency to the feeding and nourishing of that corruption. I appeal to your own experience, for the confirmation of this. And, this, indeed, is a good mark, whereby we may find out what is our unmortified sin: see what it is, that most of all defiles your fancy, that the stream and current of your thoughts most run out after. Do your thoughts, when they fly abroad, return home loaded with the world? do they ordinarily present to you fantastic riches, possessions, gains, purchases; and still fill you with contrivances how to make them real? then Covetousness is your unmortified lust. Do they dwell and pore upon your own perfections? can you erect an idol to yourselves in your own imaginations, and then fall down and worship it? or do your thoughts, like flies, pitch only upon the sores and imperfections of others? then your unmortified sin is Pride. And the like trial may be made of the rest. Now, I say, when an unmortified lust hath thus seized all the thoughts, and pressed them to the service of a corrupted imagination, grace then wants its food: it is ready to be starved; and no wonder, if it languish and decay. And,
2. An unmortified lust doth much hinder and interrupt the life, vigour, and spiritualness of Holy Duties.
And this it doth Two ways: either by deadening the heart, through the guilt of it; or, by distracting the heart, through the power of it.
(1) An unmortified' lust deadens the heart in holy duties, through the sense of the guilt of it lying upon the conscience.
Alas! how can we go to God with any freedom of spirit, how Gan we call him Father with any boldness, while we are conscious to an unmortified lust that lies still at the bottom? Speak: do not your consciences fly in your faces, and even stop your mouths, when you are praying with some such suggestions as these? "What! can I pray for pardon of sin, for strength against sin, who yet do harbour and foster a known lust unmortified? Do I beg grace against sin, and yet maintain a known sin? What! dare I beg grace, to have it abused, to have it baffled, to have it destroyed by this sin of mine, that is yet unsubdued? Is not such a prayer mere hypocrisy and dissimulation? Will the Lord hear it? or, if he doth hear it, will he not count it an abomination to him?" You, now, whose consciences thus accuse you, do you not find such reflections to be a great deadening unto duty? such, as clip the wings of the spirit, and take off the wheels of the soul, that it can drive on but heavily and slowly? Certainly, guilt is the greatest impediment to duty in the whole world: it takes off from the freeness and filialness of our spirits; and fills us with distrust, diffidence, and a slavish fear of coming before God, rather as our Judge than as our Father.
(2) An unmortified lust hinders holy duty, by distracting the heart through the power of it.
It draws away the heart from God: it entangles the affections: it scatters the thoughts: it discomposes the whole frame of the soul: so that, at the best, it proves but a broken and a shattered duty. And herein lies the cunning of Satan, that, if there be any corruption in the soul more unmortified than another, that corruption he will be sure to stir up, and interpose betwixt God and the soul in the performance of duty. Now when lust thus hinders duty, grace hath not its breathing nor exercise; and no wonder, if it grow faint and decay.
That is the Second thing.
iii. Some Foul And Scandalous Actual Sin Lies At The
DOOR OF A NEGLECTED MORTIFICATION.
Do we see a professor at any time break out into the commission of some notorious wickedness, what can it be imputed unto, but that corruption took advantage of his neglect of mortification? When inward motions are suffered perpetually to solicit, tempt, apd importune the soul, it is a sign that lust hath