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It hath already lost its reigning power in you, and now it retains only its molesting power: it hath already lost the power of a king, and now it only retains the power of a rebel: your Old Man is already crucified; it now wants nothing but piercing: it is, with Absalom, hung up; and wants nothing but to be thrust through. So tender is our God of us, that he will not venture us against corruption, while it is in its full strength: alas! while corruption is entire and unbroken, we are unable to grapple with it: he himself, therefore, crushes the head of this serpent, and breaks the teeth of this lion; and, when it is thus weakened, he calls upon us to destroy it. God might, if he had so pleased, at once have made a full end of corruption; and) in our regeneration, as perfectly have freed us from it, as we shall be hereafter in heaven: no, but he would not so take the whole work out of our hands : we must exercise our courage, and our resolution against it; and, therefore, he so far weakened it, that it might not destroy us, though still it be left so strong and powerful as to molest and trouble us.
So that you see, in these Three things, success is assured to your endeavours: you cannot say corruption is unmatchable in its strength, irresistible in its violence, that we cannot stand before it; no, you shall certainly prevail and overcome it, if you will but encounter it: and what an encouragement is this!
3. Another encouraging consideration is this: The longer thou continued mortifying, the weaker will corruption grow, and the easier thou wilt find this great work to be.
Would you be freed from the continual vexing importunity of corruption? It now haunts and dogs you; and clamours to be gratified in this and in that sin; and 3 ou can find no rest from it: beware how you go about to satisfy it; for, believe it, that doth but the more enrage it. Solomon's insatiables are moderate, in respect of this: it still cries Give, give; and, the more you give it, the louder still and the more eagerly it cries. Have you not found, that, after yielding to this importunity, corruption hath been more fierce than ever before ? it is an impudent craver, that knows neither bounds nor modesty. You may as well quench fire with oil, as satisfy corruption with sinning: no; if you would, in any measure, be free from this perpetual trouble, use it frowardly; deny, reject it: spurn this body of sin and death: this, at last, will discountenance and discourage it from tempting: it will, at last, leave following thee, as one inexorable. Trust the experience of the children of God, in this particular: they
will tell thee, that such and such a prevailing lust, which did ustf perpetually to perplex and disquiet them, which they feared they should never master, yet, by often vexingv crossing, and contradicting it, they have at length tamed; it being brought under command, and made subject to grace: and that though, indeed, there would remain still some grudgings of the distemper; yet it hath been less frequent and less violent in its working. Conclude upon it, that this thou also mayest attain unto. Doth any imperious lust perplex and trouble thee? believe it, through the daily exercise of mortification thou wilt so tire it out and spend it, that, though • it may murmur and repine sometimes, and grudge that it is not satisfied; yet it shall seldom prevail to disturb thy communion with God, and never so far prevail as to destroy thy peace and comfort. Then,
4. Consider, that there is, in the exercise of mortification, though it be so sharp and severe a duty, an inward secret satisfaction of soul, that doth more than recompense all the pains and difficulty.
There is a hidden complacency, even in cutting off righthands, and plucking out right-eyes. There is a double nature in every child of God; the divine nature, and the corrupt nature: and that, which is a torment to the one, is a pleasure to the other. The divine nature takes as much pleasure in mortifying a corruption, as the corrupt nature doth in gratifying it. I wonder, therefore, how rational Christians are to be deterred from the work of mortification, by the harshness and painfulness of the work. If you have no nature in you but corrupt, how are you Christians? If you have, think you it is not as painful and as harsh to your new nature, that you yield to a lust; as it is to your corrupt nature, that you oppose and mortify it? Yes, the new nature groans, and sighs, and mourns in secret, when you sin against it: but it leaps for joy, it springs and exults in the heart, when you disappoint a temptation, and prevail against corruptions: it smiles upon you, when you return red from the slaughter. I appeal to experience: tell me, have you not found more ravishing joy and pleasure in that still insinuating soft delight, that spills itself silently through the soul, while you have been vigorously struggling against your" corruptions, than ever you found in yielding to them? Though the contest be troublesome, yet what a calm follows when grace obtains the victory; not a ruffle, not a wrinkle upon the face of the soul! Oh! how sweetly doth it then enjoy both itself and its God! it twines about him, closely embraceth him, claspeth hands with him ; and then follow those unexpressible mutual congratulations for the success: " Oh! my soul, enter thou into this joy." If lust prevaM, the pleasure may blaze high; but it is impure, dreggy, mixed, and hath in it more of the sting than the honey, besides those many thousand stings it leaves behind in>the conscience. Now baffle a corruption, by that very argument, that it doth chiefly make use of. What is that, which lust useth to plead, when it tempts? is it not pleasure? this is its most taking bait: when, therefore, it tells thee thou shalt have so much pleasure in it, it will bring thee in such an overflowing measure of satisfaction and delight; then answer it; " I can have better satisfaction and more sincere delight, in mortifying it: that will bring me in pure, spiritual, clarified joy: and shall I forego this, for the muddy, impure, short blaze of sinful pleasure?" Thus encourage thyself unto this great duty^
5. i Consider, for thy encouragement, that this work of mortification is but for a short time; for a few stormy winter days, that will soon be blown over.
Though it must be a constant work, while it lasts; yet it is not to last long. Death, at last, will come in for our relief. Look how the scorched traveller longs for a shade to rest in, so doth a truly mortified Christian long to repose himself in the shadow of death: there he shall lie free from the scorchings of temptations, and the heat and swelter of corruption. It will not, it cannot be long, ere it shall be sung over us, "Your warfare is accomplished." Though now we are kicking against the prickles, yet we shall shortly be crowned with roses. Our comfort is, that not a corruption shall enter into heaven with us, there to tempt or molest us. And, therefore, we should not faint nor be weary: though our work be sharp, yet it is but short, and our rest is everlasting.
Now be continually arming and strengthening yourselves with such encouraging considerations as these. You will find them to be of very great moment and influence, in the carrying on of the work of mortification. , .
That is the Fourth Direction. ;..
v. Another direction shall be this: If YOU Would Mortify
YOUR CORRUPTIONS, THEN LABOUR TO IMPROVE THE DEATH OF CHRIST UNTO THE DEATH OF SIN.
There is virtue in the blood of Christ, to staunch the bloody VOL. III. . O O
issue of corruption: he was wounded and crucified for sin, and sin was wounded and crucified with him. And thus Christ doth, by a holy kind of revenge, repay his death upon the Old Man, that put him to death. And therefore says the Apostle, Roth, vi. 6. Our Old Man is-crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed: and, in the former verses, he speaks of being baptized into the death of Christ, and of being planted together in the likeness of his death: all which intimates the death of sin, to be inflicted by the death of Christ. Look, as Moses healed the bitterness of the waters of Marah, by casting a tree into them,; so, truly, that bitter fountain of corruption, which always sends forth bitter streams, is healed by the tree of the cross. Make it, therefore, your daily exercise, to bring the cross of Christ into your hearts, to nail and fasten your lusts unto it; and you shall quickly find them languish and expire.
If you ask what influence the death of Christ hath into the death of sin, I answer, it hath mighty influence, especially these Two ways:
As it is the meritorious cause of mortification: and
1. The death and cross of Christ is the Meritorious Cause of mortification.
Then was the death of sin procured and purchased. We should always have lived vassals and bond-slaves to our lusts, still subject to them and kept under by them, but that Christ by dying, hath redeemed us from their power, and hath laid in store for us that grace whereby we are enabled to resist and prevail. Believe it, there is not a victory, that you obtain, but it cost blood; not your own indeed, but the precious blood of Jesus Christ. What a privilege hath a Christian in this! He conflicts, and conquers, and triumphs at the expence of another's blood. There is not a temptation which you resist, nor a corruption which you subdue, but the grace, that enables you thereunto, is the purchase of your Saviour's death. By death, he destroyed him, that had the power of death. By faith, therefore, draw continual supplies from the death of Christ: tell him, how rebellious and headstrong thy corruptions are grown, what tumults and uproars they make in thy heart: tell him, it was one end and intent of his death, that they might be destroyed in thee: beg of him relief and strength against them: plead with him, that, since he hath procured the death of sin at so high and dear a rate as his own blood, he would not suffer it to live unmortified in thee. Christ, by his sufferings, hath procured grace sufficient to make us more than conquerors: now it is the skill and art of faith, to derive from this full treasury supplies for mortification. ...jj:..
2. The death of Christ hath a mighty influence into our mortification, as it is the Moving Cause unto it.
Certainly, if you do but seriously reflect upon the death of Christ; and consider that all the pains, wrath, and curse which he then underwent, were to free you from your sins; it cannot but embitter your hearts against it: "What! shall I suffer sin in me, which would not suffer Christ to live in the world? Was he crucified for it, and shall not I be crucified unto it?" Oh! say concerning thy corruptions, " It was this and that base lust of mine, which killed my Saviour: it was this and that sin, which squeezed so much gall and wormwood into the bitter cup of his sufferings: I see them stained with his blood: they look guilty of his death: and shall I lodge in my heart the bloody murderers of my Saviour? No; their blood certainly shall go for his." This consideration, had I time to press it upon you, would be of great moment unto the exercise of mortification.
Thus I have, at large, handled to you this great and important Duty of Mortification. It is not that, which concerns only some particular Christians: it is not that, which is to be exercised only at some particular and especial seasons: it is not that, which conduceth only to the ornament and flourish of a Christian? No; it is that, which is the very life and power of Christianity, without which, whatsoever profession you glitter in, and dazzle the eyes of the world with, it is but empty and hypocritical. If any of these truths have taken hold upon your consciences, beware how you shift them off, lest, with them, you together shift off eternal life, and judge yourselves unworthy of it. I know it is indeed a hard duty, and I have endeavoured to arm you against that prejudice:.but pray tell me, is it not more hard to perish? is it not more hard to lie in hell for ever? though it be pleasing to flesh and blood to live in sin, and to give corruption scope to act unopposed and unresisted; oh! but think, will it be pleasing to flesh and blood to lie for ever scorching in eternal burnings? Never flatter yourselves: you or your sins must die: If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die. If, after all that hath been spoken, you will yet indulge your lusts,