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METHOD Of GRACE.
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Gal. v. 24. y/ni they that are Christ's, have crucified the slesh, . with the affections and lusts.
From hence our observation was,
TII AT a saving interest in Christ, may be regularly and strongly inferred and concluded, from the mortification of theslesb, -with its affections and lusts.
Having opened the nature, and necessity of mortification ia the former sermon, and shewn how regularly a saving interest in Christ may be concluded from it; we now proceed to apply the whole, by way of
4. Examination. „ j. Consolation.
First use, for information.
Infer. 1. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh. Then the life of Christians is no idle or easy life: the corruptions of his heart continually fill his hands with work, with work of the most disficult nature; sin-crucifying work, which the scripture calls the cutting off the right hand, and plucking out of the right eye: sin-crucifying work is hard work, and it is constant work throughout the lise of a Christian; there is no time nor place freed from this conflict; every occasion stirs corruption, and every stirring of corruption calls for mortification: corruptions work in our very best duties, Rom. vii. 23. and put the Christian upon mortifying labours. The world and the devil are great enemies, and fountains of many temptations to believers, but not like the corruptions of our own hearts; they only tempt objectively and externally; but these tempt internally, and therefore much more dangerous; they only tempt at times and seasons; these continually, at all times and seasons: besides, whatever Satan, or the world attempts upon us, would be altogether ineffectual were it not for our own corruptions, Jahn-xiv.
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30. So that the corruptions of our own hearts, as they give us most danger, so they must give us more labour; our lite aud this labour mult end together; for sin is long a dying in the best heart: those that have been many years exer.cised in the study of mortification, may haply seel the fame corruption tempting and troubling them now, which put them into tears, and many times brought them to their knees twenty or forty years ago. It may be said of sin as it was of Hannibal, that active enemy; that it will never be quiet, whether conquering or conquered; and until sin cease working the Christian must not cease mortifying
Infer, 2. If mortification be the great work of a Christian, then certainly thofe that give the corruptions of Christians an occasion to revive, must needs do them a very ill office: they are not our best friends that stir the.pride of our hearts by the flattery of their lips. The graces of God in others, I consess, are thankfully to be owned, and under discouragements, and contrary temptations, to be wisely and modestly spoken of; but the strongest Christians do scarcely shew their own weakness in any oue thing more than they do in bearing their own praises. Christian, thou knowest thou earnest gunpowder about thee, desire those that carry sire to keep at a distance from thee; 'tis a dangerous crisis when a proud heart meets with flattering lips; auserte ignem, &c. take away the fire, (said a holy divine of Germany, when his friend commended him upon his death-bed) for I have yet combustible matter about me; faithful, seasonable, discreet reproofs are much more sase to us, and advantageous to our morn* fying work; but alas, how sew have the boldness or wisdom duly to administer them-? ,It is said of Alexander, that he bid a philosopher (who had been long with him) to be gone; for, said he, so long thou hast been with me, and never reproved me; which mult needs be thy fault; for either thou sawest nothing in me worthy of reproof, which argues thy ignorance; or else, thou durst not reprove me, which argues thy unfaithfulness. A wise and faithful reprover is of singular use to him that is heartily engaged in the design of mortification; such a faithful friend, or some malicious enemy, must be helpful to us in that work.
Infer. 3, Hence it follows, that manifold and successive asjlitlions are no more than what is necessary for the best of Christians; the mortification of our lusts requires them all, be they never so many, 1 Pet. i. 5. "If need be, ye are in heaviness;" it is no more than need, that one loss should follow another, to mortify an earthly heart; for so intensely are our affections set upoa the world, that ic is not one, or two, or many checks of providence, that will suffice to wean and alienate them. Alas, the earthliness of our hearts will take all this, it may be much more than this, to purge them: the wise God sees it but necessary to permit frequent discoveries of our own weakness, and to let loose the tongues of many enemies upon us, and all little enough to pull down our pride, and the vanity that is in our hearts: Christian, how disficult soever it be for thee to bear it; yet the pride of thy heart requires all the scoffs and jeers, all the calumnies and reproaches, that ever the tongues or pens of thy bitterest enemies, or mistaken friends, have at any time • thrown upon thee. Such rank weeds as grow in our hearts, fc'iil require hard frosts and very sharp weather to rot them; the straying bullock needs a heavy clog, and so doth a Christian, whom God will keep within the bounds and limits of his commandments, Psal. cxix. 67- Dan. xi. 35.
Infer. 4. If they that be Christ's have crucisied the flesh *, Then the number of real Christians is very small. It is true, if all that seem to be meek, humble, and heavenly, might pass for Christians, the number would be great; but if no more must: be accounted Christians, than those who crucify the flesh, with its afsections and lusts, O how small is the number! For, O how many be there under the Christian name, that pamper and indulge their lusts, that secretly hate all that saithfully reprove them, and really assect none but such as seed their lusts, by praising and admiring them? How many that make provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts, who cannot endure to have their corruptions crossed? How many are there that seem very meek and humble, until an occasion be given them to stir up their passion, and then you shall see in what degree they are mortified: the flint is a cold stone, till it be struck, and then it is all fiery. I know the best of Christians are mortified but in part; and strong corruptions are oftentimes found in very eminent Christians; but -thsy love them not so well as to purify for them; to protect, desend, and countenarce them; nor dare they secretly hate such as saithfully reprove them: as many thousands that go under the name of Christians do. Upon the account of mortification it is said, Mat. vii. 13. "Narrow is "the way, and strait is the gate that leadeth unto lise, and sew "there be that find it."
Infer. 5. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh, i.e.
* He who is not crucified with Christ, and who is not a member of Christ, is not saved by his cross. Profper.
Mortification is their daily work ,apd study; thtn how falsely are Christians charged as troublers of the -world, and disturber r ef the civil peace, and tranquillity of the times, and places they live in? Justly may they retort the charge, as Elijah did to Ahab, "It is not I that trouble Israel, but thou and thy sather's houle It is not the holy, meek, and humble Christians that put the world into confusion: this is done by the prosane and atheistical; or by the designing and hypocritical world, and laid at the innocent Christian's door; as all the public calamities which from the immediate" hand of God, or by foreign, or domestic enemies besel Rome, were constantly charged upon Christians; and they condemned and punished, for what the righteous hand of God inflicted, on the working heads of the enemies of that state, without their privity, contrived. The apostle James propounds, and answers a question, very pertinent to this dilcourse,' James iv. 1. "From whence come wars and sightings amonr^ "you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in "your members ?" O if all men did but study mortification and self-denial, and live as much at home in the constant work of their own hearts, as some men do; what tranquillity and peace, what blessed halcyon.days should we quickly see! it is true, Christians are always sighting and quarrelling, but it is with themselves, and their own corrupt hearts and affections; they hate no enemy but sin; they thirst for the blood and ruin of none but of that enemy i they are ambitious of no victory, but what is over the corruptions of their own hearts; they carry no grudge except it be against this enemy, sin: and yet these are the men who are the most suspected and charged of disturbing the times they live in; just as the wolf accused the lamb, which was below him, for puddling and defiling the stream. But there will be a day, when God will clear up the innocency and integrity of his mistaken and abused servants; and the world shall see, it was not preaching, and praying, but drinking, swearing, profaneness, and enmity unto true godliness, which disturbed and broke the tranquillity, and quietness of the times: mean times Jet innocency commit itself unto God, who will protect, and in due time vindicate the fame.
Infer. 6. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh, Then "whatsoever religion, opinion, or dotlrine doth in its own nature countenance and encourage sin, is not of Christ. The doctrine of Christ every where reacheth mortification: the whole stream of the gospel runs against sin; the doctrine it teacheth is holy, pure and heavenly, it hath no tendency to extol corrupt mature, and seed its pride, by magnifying its freedom and pow