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kingdom of Christ, so as to carry away any of its subjects into a state of sin and darkness again. And an interest in this state ought to be pleaded against all the attempts of sin, Rom. vi. 1, 2. There is nothing more to be detested, than that any one who is Christ's freeman, and dead to the power of sin, should give place again unto any of its pretences to, or endeavours for, rule.
Again, there is an internal liberty, which is the freedom of the mind from the inward powerful chains of sin, with an ability to act all the powers and faculties of the soul in a gracious manner. Hereby is the power of sin in the soul destroyed. And this also is given us in the gospel. There is power administered in it to live unto God, and to walk in all his commandments. And this also gives evidence unto the truth of the apostle's assertion.
Thirdly, The law doth not supply us with effectual mo tives and encouragements to endeavour the ruin of the dominion of sin in a way of duty, which must be done, or in the end it will prevail. It works only by fear and dread, with threatenings and terrors of destruction. For although it says also, 'do this and live,' yet withal it discovers such an impossibility in our nature to comply with its commands in the way and manner wherein it enjoins them, that the very promise of it becomes a matter of terror, as including the contrary sentence of death upon our failure in its commands. Now these things enervate, weaken, and discourage the soul in its conflict against sin: they give it no life, activity, cheerfulness, or courage, in what they undertake. Hence those who engage themselves into an opposition unto sin, or a relinquishment of its service, merely on the motives of the law, do quickly faint and give over. We see it so with many every day. One day they will forsake all sin, their beloved sin, with the company and occasions inducing them thereunto. The law hath frighted them with divine vengeance. And sometimes they proceed so far in this resolution, they seem escaped the pollution of the world; yet soon again they return to their former ways and follies, 2 Pet. ii. 20—22. Their goodness is as the morning cloud, and as the early dew so passeth it away. Or if they do not return to wallow in the same mire of their former pollutions, they betake themselves to the shades of some superstitious observances, as it is in the papacy; for they openly succeed into the room of the Jews, who being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and not submitting thereunto, went about variously to establish their own righteousness, as the apostle speaks, Rom. x. 3, 4. For in that apostate church, where men are wrought on by the terrors of the law to relinquish sin, and set themselves in opposition unto its power, finding themselves altogether unable to do it by the works of the law itself, which must be perfectly holy; they betake themselves to a number of superstitious observances, which they trust unto in the room of the law, with its commands and duties. But the law makes nothing perfect, nor are the motives it gives for the ruin of the interest of sin in us, able to bear us out, and carry us through that undertaking.
But the motives and encouragements given by grace to endeavour the utter ruin of sin, in a way of duty, are such as give life, cheerfulness, courage, and perseverance; they continually animate, relieve, and revive the soul in all its work and duty, keeping it from fainting and despondency; for they are all taken from the love of God and of Christ, from the whole work and end of his mediation, from the ready assistances of the Holy Ghost, from all the promises of the gospel, from their own with other believers' experiences, all giving them the highest assurance of final success and victory. When the soul is under the influences of these motives, whatever difficulty and opposition it meets withal from soliciting temptations or surprisals, it will renew its strength, it will run and not be weary, it will walk and 'not faint, according to the promise, Isa. xl. 31.
Fourthly, Christ is not in the law, he is not proposed in it, not communicated by it, we are not made partakers of him thereby. This is the work of grace, of the gospel. In it is Christ revealed; by it he is proposed and exhibited unto us; thereby are we made partakers of him, and all the benefits of his mediation. And he it is alone who came to, and can, destroy this work of the devil. The dominion of sin is the complement of the works of the devil, where all his designs centre. This the Son of God was manifest to destroy.” He alone ruins the kingdom of Satan, whose power is acted in the rule of sin. Wherefore, hereunto our assurance of this comfortable truth is principally resolved ; and what Christ hath done, and doth, for this end, is a great part of the subject of gospel revelation.
The like may be spoken of the communication of the Holy Spirit, which is the only principal efficient cause of the ruin of the dominion of sin ; for where the Spirit of Christ is, there is liberty,' and nowhere else. But we receive this Spirit‘not by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith ;' Gal. iii. 2.
The practical observations drawn from, and application made of, the
Having opened the words, and made some improvement of them, I shall now take one or two observations from the design of them, and issue the whole in a word of application.
Obs. I. It is an unspeakable mercy and privilege to be delivered from the dominion of sin. As such it is here proposed by the apostle, as such it is esteemed by them that believe. Nothing is more sweet, precious, and valuable, unto a soul conflicting with sin and temptation, than to hear that sin shall not have the dominion over them. Ah, what would some give that it might be spoken unto them with power, so as that they might steadfastly believe it, and have the comfort of it! •Fools make a mock of sin,' and some glory in the service of it, which is their shame; but those who understand any thing aright, either of what is présent, or what is to come, do know that this freedom from its dominion is an invaluable mercy; and we may consider the grounds which evidence it so to be.
First, It appears so to be from the causes of it. It is that which no man can by his own power, and the utmost of his endeavours, attain unto. Men by them may grow rich, or wise, or learned; but no man by them can shake off the yoke of sin. If a man had all the wealth of the world, he could not by it purchase this liberty; it would be despised. And when sinners go hence to the place where the rich man was
tormented, and have nothing more to do with this world, they would give it all, if they had it, for an interest in this liberty.
It is that which the law and all the duties of it cannot procure. The law and its duties, as we have declared, can never destroy the dominion of sin. All men will find the truth hereof, that ever come to fall under the power of real conviction. When sin presseth on them, and they are afraid of its consequents, they will find that the law is weak, and the flesh is weak, and their duties are weak, their resolutions and vows are weak; all insufficient to relieve them. And if they think themselves freed one day, they shall find the next that they are under bondage: sin for all this will rule over them with force and rigour. And in this condition do some spend all their days in this world. They kindle sparks of their own, and walk in the light of them, until they lie down in darkness and sorrow. They sin and promise amendment, and endeavour recompenses by some duties, yet can never extricate themselves from the yoke of sin. We may therefore learn the excellency of this privilege, first from its causes, whereof I shall mention some only.
1. The meritorious procuring cause of this liberty, is the death and blood of Jesus Christ. So it is declared, 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. 1 Cor. vi. 20. vii. 23. Nothing else could purchase this freedom. Under the power and dominion of sin we were, and could not be delivered without a ransom. Christ died and rose, and lives again, that he might be our Lord, Rom. xiv. 9. and so deliver us from the power of all other lords whatever. It is true there was no ransom due to sin or Satan, who was the author of it. They were to be dethroned or destroyed by an act of power. Both the devil and sin, which is his work, are to be destroyed, not appeased, Heb. ii. 14. 1 John iii. 8. but the strength of sin is the law,' 1 Cor. xv. 56. that is, through the righteous sentence of God, we were held by the law obnoxious unto the condemning power of sin. From that law we could not be delivered but by this price and ransom. Two things hence follow.
(1.) Those who live in sin, who willingly abide in the service of it, and endure its dominion, do cast the utmost contempt on the wisdom, love, and grace of Christ. They despise that which cost him so dear. They judge that he made a very foolish purchase of this liberty for us, with his dearest blood. Whatever it be, they prefer the present satisfaction of their lusts before it. This is the poison of unbelief. There is in it a high contempt of the wisdom and love of Christ. The language of men's hearts that live in sin, is, that the liberty which he purchased with his blood, is not to be valued or esteemed. They flatter him with their lips in the outward performance of some duties; but in their hearts they despise him, and the whole work of his mediation. But the time is approaching wherein they will learn the difference between the slavery of sin, and the liberty wherewith Christ makes believers free. And this is that which is now tendered unto sinners in the dispensation of the gospel ; life and death are here set before you; choose life that ye may live for ever.
(2.) Let those that are believers, in all their conflicts with sin, live in the exercise of faith, on this purchase of liberty made by the blood of Christ. For two things will hence ensue: 1. That they will have a mighty argument always in readiness to oppose unto the deceit and violence of sin. The soul will hereon say to itself, Shall I forego and part with that which Christ purchased for me at so dear a rate, by giving place to the solicitations of lust or sin ? shall I despise his purchase? God forbid. See Rom. vi. 2. By such arguings is the mind frequently preserved from closing with the enticements and seductions of sin. 2. It is an effectual argument for faith to use in its pleading for deliverance from the power of sin. We ask for nothing but what Christ hath purchased for us. And if this plea be pursued it will be prevalent.
2. The internal efficient cause of this liberty, or (that whereby the power and rule of sin is destroyed in us, is the Holy Spirit himself, which farther evinceth the greatness of this mercy. Every act for the mortification of sin, is no less immediately from him, than those positive graces are, whereby we are sanctified. It is through the Spirit that we'mortify the deeds of the flesh,' Rom. viii. 13. Where he is, there and there alone is liberty. All attempts for the mortification of sin without his especial aids and operations, are frustrate. And this manifests the extent of the dominion of sin in the world. He alone by whom it can be destroyed,