« AnteriorContinuar »
things, and enjoyments of them, whether lawful or unlawful. Hence on all occasions, yea, in holy duties, it will be ready to turn aside, and take a taste of them, and sometimes to take up with them; like a tippling traveller, who, though he be engaged in a journey on the most earnest occasion, yet he cannot but be bibbing here and there as he passes by, and it may be, at length, before he comes to his journey's end, lodgeth himself in a nasty alehouse. When men are engaged in important duties, yet if they always carry about them a strong gust and relish of earthly things, they will ever and anon in their thoughts divert unto them, either as unto such real objects as they are accustomed unto, or as unto what present circumstances do administer unto corrupt affections, or as to what they fancy and create in their own minds. And sometimes, it may be, after they have made them a few shorter visits, they take up with them, and lose wholly the work they were engaged in. Nothing, as was said, will give relief herein, but the vigorous and constant exercise of our affections on heavenly things. For this will insensibly take off that gust and relish which the mind hath found in things present, earthly, and sensual, and make them as a sapless thing unto the whole soul. They will so place the cross of Christ in particular on the heart, as that the world shall be crucified unto it, losing all that brightness, beauty, and savour, which it made use of to solicit our minds unto thoughts and desires about it.
Moreover, this frame of spirit alone will keep us on our watch against all those ways and means whereby the vanity of the mind is excited and maintained. Such are the wandering and roving of the outward senses. The senses, especially that of the eye, are ready to become purveyors to make provisions for the vanity and lusts of the mind. Hence the psalmist prays, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity. If the eyes rove after vain objects, the 'mind will ruminate upon them; and another affirms, that he had 'made a covenant with his eyes,' to preserve them from fixing on such objects as might solicit lust or corrupt affections. And it were a useful labour, would this place admit of it, to discover the ready serviceableness of the outward senses and members of the body unto sin and folly, if not watched against ; Rom. vi. 13. 19. Of the same nature is the incessant working of the fancy and imagination, which of itself is evil continually, and all the day long. This is the food of a vain mind, and the vehicle or means of conveyance for all temptations from Satan and the world. Besides, sundry occasions of life and conversation are usually turned, or abused unto the same end, exciting and exercising of the vanity of the mind. Wherever our affections are fixed on spiritual things, our minds will constantly be under a warning or charge to keep diligent watch against all these things, whereby that vanity, which it so abhorreth, which it is so burdened withal, is maintained and excited. Nor without this prevalency in the mind, will ever a work of mortification be carried on in the soul; Col. iii. 2. 4, 5.
Having declared wherein this duty of being spiritually minded doth consist, that which remains in compliance with the text, from whence the whole is educed, is to manifest how it is life and peace, which is affirmed by the apostle. This shall be done with all brevity, as having passed through. that which was principally designed.
And two things are we to inquire into.
Secondly, In what sense to be spiritually minded, is both of them.
First, That spiritual life whereof we are made partakers in this world, is threefold, or there are three gospel privileges or graces so expressed.
1. There is the life of justification. Therein the just by faith do live, as freed from the condemnatory sentence of the law. So the righteousness of one comes on all that believe unto the justification of life;' Rom. v. 18. It gives unto believers a right and title to life; for they that receive the abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Christ Jesus ;' ver. 17. This is not the life here intended, for this life depends solely on the sovereign grace of God by Jesus Christ, and the imputation of his righteousness unto us, unto pardon, right to life and salvation.
2. There is a life of sanctification. As life in the foregoing sense is opposed unto death spiritual as unto the guilt
of it, and the condemnatory sentence of death wherewith it was accompanied; so in this it is opposed unto it, as unto its internal power on, and efficacy in, the soul, to keep it under an impotency unto all acts of spiritual life; yea, an enmity against them. This is that life wherewith we are 'quickened by Christ Jesus,' when before we were · dead in trespasses and sins;' Ephes. ii. 1–5. Of this life the apostle treats directly in this place; for having, in the first four verses of the chapter, declared the life of justification in the nature and causes of it; in the following he treats of death spiritual in sin, with the life of sanctification, whereby we are freed from it.
And to be spiritually minded is this life in a double
1. In that it is the principal effect and fruit of that life. The life itself consists in the infusion and communication of a principle of life, that is, of faith and obedience, unto all the faculties and powers of our soul, enabling us to live unto God. To be spiritually minded, which is a grace whereunto many duties do concur,
and that not only as to the actings of all grace in them, but as unto the degree of their exercise, cannot be this life formally. But it is that wherein the power of this principle of life doth in the first and chiefest place put forth itself. All actings of grace,
all duties of obedience, internal and external, do proceed from this spring and fountain. Nothing of that kind is acceptable unto God, but what is influenced by it, and is an effect of it, but it principally puts forth its virtue and efficacy in rendering our minds spiritual, which if it effect not, it works not at all; that is, we are utterly destitute of it. The next and immediate work of the principle of life in our sanctification, is to renew the mind, to make it spiritual; and thereon gradually to carry it on unto that degree which is here called being spiritually minded,
2. It is the proper adjunct and evidence of it. Would any one know whether he be spiritually alive unto God, with the life of sanctification and holiness? The communication of it unto him, being by an almighty act of creating power, Ephes. ii. 10. it is not easily discernible, so as to help us to make a right judgment of it, from its essence or form.
But where things are themselves indiscernible, we may know them from their proper and insepa
rable adjuncts, which are therefore called by the names of the essence or the form itself. Such is this being spiritually minded with respect unto the life of sanctification; it is an inseparable property and adjunct of it, whereby it infallibly evidenceth itself unto them in whom it is. In these two respects it is the life of sanctification,
3. Life is taken for the comforts and refreshments of life; so speaks the apostle, 1 Thess. iii. 8. “Now we live, if
stand fast in the Lord ;' now our life will do us good, we have the comforts, the refreshments, and the joys of it. Non est vivere, sed valere vita.' The comforts and satisfactions of life, are more life than life itself. It is life, that is, that which makes life to be so, bringing in that satisfaction, those refreshments unto it, which make it pleasant and desirable. And I do suppose this is that which is principally intended in the words of the apostle; it is life, a cheerful joyous life, a life worth the living. In explication and confirmation whereof, it is added, that it is peace also.
Peace is twofold. 1. General and absolute, that is, peace with God through Jesus Christ, which is celebrated in the Scripture, and which is the only original spring and fountain of all consolation unto believers ; that which virtually contains in it every thing that is good, useful, or desirable unto them. But it is not here precisely intended. It is not so,
1. As to the immediate ground and cause of it, which is our justification, not our sanctification, Rom. v. 1. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.' So Christ alone is our peace, as he who hath made peace for us by the blood of the cross;' Ephes. ii. 14, 15. Hereof our being spiritually minded is no way the cause or reason, only it is an evidence and pledge of it, as we shall see. '
2. Not as unto the formal nature of it. Peace with God through the blood of Christ, is one thing; and peace in our minds through a holy frame in them, is another. The former is communicated unto us by an immediate act of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; Rom. v. 5. the latter is an effect on our minds begun, and gradually carried on, by the duties
we have before at large declared. The immediate actings • of the Holy Spirit, in sealing us, witnessing unto our adop
tion, and being an earnest of glory, are required unto the former; our own sedulity and diligence in duties, and the exercise of all grace, are required unto the latter.
2. Peace is taken for a peculiar fruit of the Spirit, consisting in a gracious quietness and composure of mind in the midst of difficulties, temptations, troubles, and such other things as are apt to fill us with fears, despondencies, and disquietments. This is that which keeps the soul in its own power, free from transports by fears or passions, on all the abiding grounds of gospel consolation. For although this be a peculiar especial grace, yet it is that which is influenced and kept alive by the consideration of all the love of God in Christ, and all the fruits of it.
And whereas peace includes, in the first notion of it, an inward freedom from oppositions and troubles, which those in whom it is are outwardly exposed unto, there are two things from which we are secured by this peace, which is an effect of being spiritually minded.
1. The first is offences. There is nothing of whose danger we are more warned in the gospel, than of offences. Woe to the world,' saith the Saviour, because of offences. All ages, all times and seasons, are filled with them, and they prove pernicious and destructive to the souls of many. Such are the scandalous divisions that are among Christians; the endless differences of opinions, and diversity of practices in religion and the worship of God; the falls and sins of professors, the fearful end of some of them; the reproaches that are cast on all that engage into any peculiar way of holiness and strictness of life; with other things of the like nature, whereby the souls of innumerable persons are disquieted, subverted, or infected, are to be reckoned unto this head. Against any hurtful or noxious influence on our minds from these things, against disquietments, dejections of spirit, and disconsolations, are we secured by this peace. So the psalmist assures us, Psal. cxix. 165. Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. The law, or the word of God, is the only way of the revelation of God and his will unto us, and the only outward way and rule of our converse and communion with him. Wherefore, to love the law, is the principal part of our being heavenly minded; yea, virtually that which comprehends the whole. For such as do so, nothing, none of the things before-mentioned, nor any other of the like nature, shall be an offence, a stumbling-block, or cause of falling into sin. And the reason is, because they have such an experience in them