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whilst that was safe they conceited themselves victorious, even in death. However this case is determined by the light of Scripture and experience, and it is here proposed unto a determination. Thirdly, It is required unto this dominion of sin, that the soul be not under any other supreme conduct; that is, of the Spirit of God, and of his grace by the law. This is that which really hath the sovereign rule in all believers: they are led by the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, acted and ruled by him, and are thereby under the government of God and Christ, and no other. With this the rule of sin is absolutely inconsistent: no man can at once serve these two masters. Grace and sin may be in the same soul at the same time, but they cannot bear rule in the same soul at the same time. The throne is singular, and will admit but of one ruler. Every evidence we have of being under the rule of grace is so, that we are not under the dominion of sin. This therefore is the principal way and means which we have to secure our peace and comfort against the pretences of sin, unto the disquietment of our consciences. Let us endeavour to preserve an experience of the rule of grace in our hearts; Col. iii. 15. Under a conduct and rule whence our state is denominated, we are and must be. This is either of sin or grace. There is no composition nor copartnership between them, as to rule: as to residence there is, but not as unto rule. If we can assure ourselves of the one, we secure ourselves from the other. It is therefore our wisdom, and lies at the foundation of all our comforts, that we get evidences and experience of our being under the rule of grace; and it will evidence itself, if we are not wanting unto a due observation of its acting and operation in us. And it will do it, among others, these two ways. 1. By keeping up a constancy of design in living to God, and after conformity unto Christ, notwithstanding the interposition of surprisals by temptations, and the most urgent solicitations of sin; this is called “cleaving unto God with purpose of heart;’ Acts xi. 23. This will be wherever grace hath the rule. As a man that goeth to sea designs some certain place and port, whither he guides his course; in his way he meets, it may be, with storms and cross winds, that drive him out of his course, and sometimes directly
backward, towards the place where he set forth ; but his design still holds, and in the pursuit thereof, he applies his skill and industry to retrieve and recover all its losses and back-drivings, by cross winds and storms. So is it with a soul under the conduct of grace; its fixed design is to live unto God; but in its course it meets with storms and cross winds of temptations, and various artifices of sin: these disturb him, disorder him, drive him backwards sometimes, as if it would take a contrary course, and return unto the coast of sin from whence it set out. But where grace hath the rule and conduct, it will weather all these oppositions and obstructions; it will restore the soul, bring it again into order, recover it from the confusions and evil frames that it was drawn into. It will give a fresh predominancy unto its prevalent design of living unto God in all things. It will do this constantly as often as the soul meets with such ruffles from the power of sin: when there is a radical . firmitude and strength in a cause or design, it will work itself out, through all changes and variations ; but when the . strength of any cause is but occasion, the first opposition and disorder will ruin us. So, if men's purposes of living unto God, be only occasional from present convictions, the first vigorous opposition or temptation will disorder it, and. overthrow it; but where this is the radical design of the soul, from the power of grace, it will break through all such oppositions, and recover its prevalency in the mind and af-, fections. Hereby doth it evidence its rule, and that the whole interest of sin in the soul is by rebellion, and not by virtue of dominion.
2. It doth so, by keeping up a constant exercise of grace in all religious duties; or, at least, a sincere endeavour that so it may be. Where sin hath the dominion, it can allow the soul to perform religious duties, yea, in some cases, to abound in them; but it will take care that divine grace be not exercised in them. Whatever there may be of delight in duties or other motions of affection, which light, and gifts, and afflictions, and superstition will occasion, there is no exercise of faith and love in them : this belongs essentially and inseparably unto the rule of grace. Wherever that bears sway, the soul will endeavour the constant exercise of grace in all its duties, and never be satisfied in the work done,
without some sense of it. Where it fails therein, it will judge itself, and watch against the like surprisals ; yea, unless it be in case of some great temptation, the present sense of the guilt of sin, which is the highest obstruction against that spiritual boldness, which is required unto the due exercise of grace, that is, of faith and love in holy duties, shall not hinder the soul from endeavouring after it, or the use of it.
If by these means, and the like inseparable operations of grace, we can have an ensuring experience, that we are under the rule and conduct of it, we may be free in our minds from disturbing apprehensions of the dominion of sin : for both cannot bear
in the same soul. Fourthly, It is required hereunto, that sin makes the soul ensible of its power and rule, at least doth that which may do so, unless conscience be utterly seared and hardened, and so past feeling. There is no rule nor dominion, but they are, or may be, sensible of it, who are subject thereunto, And there are two ways whereby sin in its dominion will make them sensible of it, in whom it rules.
1. In repressing and overcoming the efficacy of the convictions of the mind. Those who are under the dominion of sin (as we shall see more immediately), may have light into, and conviction of, their duty, in many things. And this light and conviction they may follow ordinarily, notwithstanding the dominion of sin. As a tyrant will permit his slaves and subjects ordinarily to follow their own occasions; but if what they would do comes either in matter or manner to interfere with or oppose his interest, he will make them sensible of his power. So sin, where it hath the dominion, if men have light and conviction, it will allow them ordinarily, and in many things to comply therewithal. It will allow, them to pray, to hear the word, to abstain from sundry sins, to perform many duties, as is expressly affirmed in the Scripture of many that were under the power of sin, and we see it in experience. How much work do we see about religion and religious duties! what constant observation of the times and seasons of them! how many duties performed morally good in themselves and useful, by them who, on many other accounts, do proclaim themselves to be under the dominion of sin! But if the light and conviction of this
sort of persons do rise up in opposition unto the principal interest of sin, in those lusts and ways wherein it exerciseth. its rule, it will make them, in whom they are, sensible of its power. They that stifle, or shut their eyes against, or cast out of mind, or go directly contrary unto, their convictions ; light, in such cases, will first repine, and then relieve itself with resolutions for other times and seasons; but sin will carry the cause by virtue of its dominion.
Hence two things do follow :
(1.) A constant repugnancy against sin, from light in the mind and conviction in the conscience, doth not prove that those in whom it is are not under the dominion of sin. For until blindness and hardness do come on men to the uttermost, there will be in them a judging of what is good and evil, with a self-judging with respect thereunto, as the apostle declares, Rom. ii. 15. and herein many do satisfy themselves. When their light condemns sin, they suppose they hate it, but they do not; when convictions call for duties, they suppose they love them, but they do not. That which they look on as the rule of light in them, in opposition unto sin, is but the rebellion of a natural enlightened conscience against the dominion of it in the heart. In brief, light may condemn every known sin, keep from many, press for every known duty, lead to the performance of many; yet sin have a full dominion in the soul. And this it will evidence, when it comes to the trial, in those instances where it exercises its ruling power.
(2.) That miserable is their condition, whose minds are ground continually between the conduct of their light, with the urgency of conviction on the one hand, and the rule or dominion of sin on the other. Wherever light is, it is its due to have the rule and conduct. It is that act whereby the mind loads itself; for men to be forced by the power of their lusts, to act for the most part against their light, as they do where sin hath the dominion, it is a sad and deplorable condition. Such persons are said to “rebel against the light,' Job xxiv. 13. because of its right to rule in them, where it is deposed by sin. This makes most men but a * troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and dirt.'
2. Sin will make those in whom it hath dominion
sensible of its power, by its continual solicitations of the mind and affections, with respect unto that sin, or those sins wherein it principally exerciseth its rule. Having possessed the will and inclinations of the mind with the affections, as it doth wherever its dominion is absolute, it continually disposeth, inclineth, and stirreth up the mind towards those sins. It will level the bent of the whole soul towards such sins, or the circumstances of them. Nor is there a more pregnant discovery of the rule of sin in any than this, that it habitually engageth the mind and affections, unto a constant exercise of themselves about this or that, some sin, and evil way or other. But yet we must add, that notwithstanding these indications of the ruling power of sin, they are but few in whom it hath this dominion, that are convinced of their state and condition. Many are so under the power of darkness, of supine sloth and negligence, and are so desperately wicked, as that they have no sense of this rule of sin. Such are those described by the apostle, Ephes. iv. 18, 19. And whereas they are the vilest slaves that live on the earth, they judge none to be free but themselves; they look on others as in bondage to foolish and superstitious fears, whilst they are at liberty to drink, swear, scoff at religion, whore, and defile themselves, without control. This is their liberty, and they may have that which is as good in hell; a liberty to curse and blaspheme God, and to fly with revengeful thoughts on themselves, and the whole creation. The light in such persons is darkness itself, so as that they have nothing to rise up in opposition unto the rule of sin, whence alone a sense of its power doth arise. Others, as we observed before, living in some compliance with their light and convictions, abstaining from many sins, and performing many duties, though they live in some known sin or other, and allow themselves in it, yet will not allow that sin hath the dominion in them. Wherefore there are two things hard and difficult in this case : 1. To convince those in whom sin evidently hath the dominion, that such indeed is their state and condition; they will with their utmost endeavour keep off the conviction hereof. Some justify themselves, and some will make