Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rits be presented to God pure and unblamable, this great xáploua, this talent, which God hath given to all Christians to improve in the banks of grace and religion, if they bring this to God increased and grown up to the fulness of the measure of Christ (for it is Christ's Spirit; and as it is in us, it is called “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ " "), then we shall be acknowledged for sons, and our adoption shall pass into an eternal inheritance in the portion of our elder brother.

I need not to apply this discourse : the very mystery itself is in the whole world the greatest engagement of our duty that is imaginable, by the way of instrument, and by the way of thankfulness.

Quisquis magna dedit, voluit sibi magna rependi; He that gives great things to us, ought to have great acknowledgments :”—and Seneca said concerning wise men, That he that doth benefits to others, hides those benefits; as a man lays up great treasures in the earth, which he must never see with his eyes, unless a great occasion forces him to dig the graves, and produce that which he buried; but all the while the man was hugely rich, and he had the wealth of a great relation.” So it is with God and us: for this huge benefit of the Spirit, which God gives us, is for our good deposited into our souls; not made for forms and ostentation, not to be looked upon, or serve little ends; but growing in the secret of our souls, and swelling up to a treasure, making us in this world rich by title and relation; but it shall be produced in the great necessities of doomsday. In the mean time, if the fire be quenched, the fire of God's Spirit, God will kindle another in his anger that shall never be quenched : but if we entertain God's Spirit with our own purities, and employ it diligently, and serve it willingly (for God's Spirit is a loving Spirit), then we shall really be turned into spirits. Irenæus had a proverbial saying, “ Perfecti sunt, qui tria sine querela Deo exhibent;" “ They that present three things right to God, they are perfect;"-that is, a chaste body, a righteous soul, and a holy spirit. And the event shall be this, which Maimonides expressed notamiss,—though he did not at all understand the secret of this mystery ; the soul of man in this life is “in potentia ad esse spiritum,”

u Phil. i. 19.

“it is designed to be a spirit,” but in the world to come it shall be actually as very a spirit as an angel is. And this state is expressed by the apostle, calling it “the earnest of the Spirit :” that is, here it is begun, and given as an antepast of glory, and a principle of grace; but then we shall have it “in plenitudine.

regit idem spiritus artus

Orbe alio

Here and there it is the same; but here we have the earnest, there the riches and the inheritance.

But then, if this be a new principle, and be given us in order to the actions of a holy life, we must take care that we receive not the Spirit of God in vain,' but remember that it is a new life: and as no man can pretend that a person is alive, that doth not always do the works of life; so it is certain no man hath the Spirit of God, but he that lives the life of grace, and doth the works of the Spirit, that is, 'in all holiness, and justice, and sobriety.”

•Spiritus qui accedit animo, vel Dei est, vel dæmonis," said Tertullian : “Every man hath within him the Spirit of God or the spirit of the devil.”—The spirit of fornication is an unclean devil, and extremely contrary to the Spirit of God; and so is the spirit of malice or uncharitableness; for the Spirit of God is the Spirit of love: for as by purities God's Spirit sanctifies the body, so by love he purifies the soul, and makes the soul grow into a spirit, into a divine nature. But God knows that even in Christian societies, we see the devils walk up and down every day and every hour; the devil of uncleanness, and the devil of drunkenness; the devil of malice, and the devil of rage; the spirit of filthy speaking, and the spirit of detraction; a proud spirit, and the spirit of rebellion: and yet all call. Christian.' It is generally supposed, that unclean spirits walk in the night, and so it used to be; " for they that are drunk are drunk in the night,” said the Apostle. But Suidas tells of certain ‘empusæ' that used to appear at noon, at such times as the Greeks did celebrate the funerals of the dead; and at this day some of the Russians fear the noon-day devil, which appeareth like a mourning widow to reapers of hay and corn, and uses to break their arms and legs, unless they worship her. The prophet David speaketh of both kinds: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror

by night; and,'à ruina et dæmonio meridiano,' from the devil at noon thou shalt be freet.” It were happy if we were so: but besides the solemn followers of the works of darkness, in the times and proper seasons of darkness, there are very many who act their scenes of darkness in the face of the sun, in open defiance of God, and all laws, and all modesty. There is in such men the spirit of impudence, as well as of impiety. And yet I might have expressed it higher; for every

habitual sin doth not only put us into the power of the devil, but turns us into his very nature: just as the Holy Ghost transforms us into the image of God.

Here, therefore, I have a greater argument to persuade you to holy living than Moses had to the sons of Israel.

Behold, I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing;" so said Moses: but I add, that I have, upon the stock of this scripture, set before you the good Spirit and the bad, God and the devil : choose unto whose nature you will be likened, and into whose inheritance you will be adopted, and into whose possession you will enter. If you commit sin, you are of your father the devil,' ye are begot of his principles, and follow his pattern, and shall pass into his portion, when ye are led captive by him at his will; and remember what a sad thing it is to go into the portion of evil and accursed spirits, the sad and eternal portion of devils. But he that hath the Spirit of God, doth acknowledge God for his Father and his Lord, he despises the world, and hath no violent appetites for secular pleasures, and is dead to the desires of this life, and his hopes are spiritual, and God is his joy, and Christ is his pattern and support, and religion is his employment, and 'godliness is his gain:' and this man understands the things of God, and is ready to die for Christ, and fears nothing but to sin against God; and his will is filled with love, and it springs out in obedience to God, and in charity to his brother. And of such a man we cannot make judgment by his fortune, or by his acquaintance; by his circumstances, or by his adherences; for they are the appendages of a natural man: but the spiritual is judged of no man;' that is, the rare excellences, that make him happy, do not yet make him illustrious, unless he will reckon virtue to be a great fortune, and holiness to be great wisdom, and

* Psal. xci, 5.

God to be the best friend, and Christ the best relative, and the Spirit the hugest advantage, and heaven the greatest reward. He that knows how to value these things, may sit down and reckon the felicities of him, that hath the Spirit of God.

The purpose of this discourse is this : that since the Spirit of God is a new nature, and a new life put into us, we are thereby taught and enabled to serve God by a constant course of holy living, without the frequent returns and intervening of such actions, which men are pleased to call' sins of infirmity.' Whosoever hath the Spirit of God, lives the life of grace. The Spirit of God rules in him, and is strong according to its age and abode, and allows not of those often sins, which we think unavoidable, because we call them ‘natural infirmities.'

“ But if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” The state of sin is a state of death. The state of a man under the law was a state of bondage and infirmity, as St. Paul largely describes him in the seventh chapter to the Romans : but he that hath the Spirit, is made alive, and free and strong, and a conqueror over all the powers and violences of sin. Such a man resists temptations, falls not under the assault of sin, returns not to the sin which he last repented of, acts no more that error which brought him to shame and sorrow : but he that falls under a crime, to which he still hath a strong and vigorous inclination, he that acts his sin, and then curses it, and then is tempted, and then sins again, and then weeps again, and calls himself miserable, but still the enchantment hath confined him to that circle; this man hath not the Spirit: "for where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty;" there is no such bondage, and a returning folly to the commands of sin. But, because men deceive themselves with calling this bondage a pitiable and excusable infirmity, it will not be useless to consider the state of this question more particularly, lest men, from the state of a pretended infirmity, fall into a real death.

1. No great sin is a sin of infirmity, or excusable upon that stock. But that I may be understood, we must know that every sin is, in some sense or other, a sin of infirmity. When a man is in the state of spiritual sickness or death, he is in a state of

infirmity; for he is a wounded man, a prisoner, a slave, a sick man, weak in his judgment, and weak in his reasonings, impotent in his passions, of childish resolutions, great inconstancy, and his purposes untwist as easily as the rude conjecture of uncombining cables in the violence of a northern tempest: and he that is thus in infirmity cannot be excused; for it is the aggravation of the state of his sin; he is so infirm that he is in a state unable to do his duty. Such a man is a 'servant of sin,' a slave of the devil, an heir of corruption, absolutely under command: and every man is so, who resolves for ever to avoid such a sin, and yet for ever falls under it. For what can he be but a servant of sin, who fain would avoid it, but cannot? that is, he hath not the Spirit of God within him; Christ dwells not in his soul; for where the Son is, there is liberty: and all that are in the Spirit, are the sons of God, and servants of righteousness, and therefore freed from sin. But there are also sins of infirmity which are single actions, intervening seldom, in little instances unavoidable, or through a faultless ignorance: such as these are always the allays of the life of the best men; and for these Christ hath paid, and they are never to be accounted to good men, save only to make them more wary and more humble. Now concerning these it is that I say, No great sin is a sin of excusable or unavoidable infirmity: because, whosoever hath received the Spirit of God, hath sufficient knowledge of his duty, and sufficient strengths of grace, and sufficient advertency of mind, to avoid such things as do great and apparent violence to piety and religion. No man can justly say, that it is a sin of infirmity that he was drunk: for there are but three causes of every sin; a fourth is not imaginable. 1. If ignorance cause it, the sin is as full of excuse as the ignorance was innocent. But no Christian can pretend this to drunkenness, to murder, to rebellion, to uncleanness : for what Christian is so uninstructed but that he knows adultery is a sin ? 2. Want of observation is the cause of many indiscreet and foolish actions. Now at this gap many irregularities do enter and escape; because in the whole it is impossible for a man to be of so present a spirit, as to consider and reflect upon every word and every thought. But it is, in this case, in God's laws otherwise than in man's: the great flies cannot pass through without observation, little ones do; and a man

« AnteriorContinuar »