« VorigeDoorgaan »
inward enemy,) as the Psalmist prayed against his outward enemies, Ps. lix. 11. Slay them not, scatter them by thy power, and bring them down, O Lord our shield." Thus doth the Lord do in respect of sin and corruption in his saints here in this world; those enemies are brought down from that power and dignity, in which they were wont to be, but they are not wholly slain. They are surrounded, are taken, arraigned, a sentence of death is passed upon them, and they are dead in law, but yet they have their lives lengthened out for a season during our bodily life, nor can we till the death of the body, expect perfectly to be freed from the body of death. The wise man proclaims a challenge to all the world, to enter the lists with him upon this account, Prov. xx. 9. “Who can say, I have made mine heart clean?" And though there may be some of mankind, that may falsely and presumptuously say that they have; yet none can truly and safely say that they have: "For if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 John i. 8.
Conclusion 5. Sin not being thus quite overcome and destroyed ; it follows that every man, who hath listed himself under the banner of Christ, hath a diversity of principles in him, between which there can be no amity and friendship, but on the other hand a continual warring. The principles, sin and grace, flesh and spirit, are diametrically opposite one unto another, are the greatest contraries in the whole world, as contrary as light and darkness, as life and death, as good and evil, as heaven and hell. And being so opposite and contrary, they cannot be dormant, and latitant in the soul, but must needs be up in arms, endeavoring to vanquish and expel each other. These two principles are (as it were) the company of two armies, Cant. vi. 13. They lie intrenched and engaged one against the other. As long as a man keeps his league with sin and serves that, he feels nothing at all of this: "While the strong man armed keeps the palace, his goods are in peace." Luke xi. 21. As long as Israel is subject to the Egyptians, and doth their drudgery, all is well, there is no stir; but when once they shake off that servitude, and set out for Canaan, then they are pursued with all the forces and powers imaginable, to be brought back to their former bondage. Especially therefore upon a man's first choosing of the Lord Jesus Christ for the captain of his salvation, is this onset high; and not only then, but when we have made considerable proficiency, and have obtained much victory over sin: Yea, those that have arrived to the highest attainments are not free from this combat within, but like Rebekah, have twins, struggling in their wombs; the flesh and the Spirit, like the twins in her womb, do war and strive one with another. "The law in the members wars against the law in the mind." Rom. vii. 23. "The fleshly lusts war against the soul." 1 Pet.
ii. 11. and the soul also wars against them. Gal. v. 17. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other."
Conclusion 6. This keeping under the body of sin, and bringing it into subjection, consists in such a warring with sin, as to endeavor its death and destruction: and the subjecting all our faculties and members to the service of God and Christ. We must endeavor the death and destruction of sin in this sense; there must be a "resistance unto blood striving against sin," Heb. xi. 4. Sin will have its pleas to be spared and saved alive, and we may be willing to deal gently with it, as David gave charge concerning Absalom: this prisoner of war will cry for quarter when the life of it is in danger, and will speak us fair, and make seemingly great propositions. Some sins will promise us profit and worldly gain, if we will not slay them; as those ten men said to Ishmael, Jer. xli. 8. " Slay us not, for we have treasures in the field:" Others will promise us promotions, and worldly honor, as Balak said to Balaam, "Am I not able indeed to promote thee unto honor?" Others will promise us pleasures and delights, if they may be spared and indulged: Others will plead they are little ones, and therefore will desire they may escape: yea, and others will plead they are our relations and our kindred; flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones, and no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but we must stop our ears against all their most cursed charms, and endeavor to do by every sin, as Joab by Absalom, "thrust it through the heart." 2 Sam. xviii. 14. Both small and great must be dealt with after this manner: The great ones, the champions, the Goliaths, that come out of the camp of these enemies, these Philistines, must be fought with and killed, and the little ones must be also dashed against the stones. This slaughter must be like that which Saul was commanded to effect against the Amalekites: 1 Sam. xv. 3. all sorts both young and old must be put to the sword, and not so much as one Agag must be spared alive. And as there is in the duty we are speaking of, an endeavoring the death and destruction of sin, so an endeavoring to subject all our faculties and members, to the service of Christ: every thought we must endeavor to bring into obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 5. Our members, not only the parts of our bodies, but the faculties of our souls also, these must not be yielded as "instruments of unrighteousness unto siu: but yielded as instruments of righteousness unto God," Rom. vi. 13. "We must not any longer live the rest of our time, to the lusts of men but to the will of God," as it is expressed, 1 Pet. iv. 2. Our bodies, i. e. our whole man I conceive, a part is put for the whole man. Rom. xii. 1. "Our whole man must be presented a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God:" and when we do sincerely endeavor
this, viz. the death and destruction of sin, and the improving the whole man for the service of God; though in many things we may fail, and sometimes by our indwelling enemy, be put to the worst, yet if this be our bent, inclination, sincere desire and endeavor, it will be accepted of God, and we shall be accounted by him, as such as do keep under the body of sin, and bring it into subjection. And thus of the first thing proposed to be spoken to; we pass to the second.
II. We shall endeavor to show, how this keeping under the body of sin is necessary in order to the fighting to purpose in the spiritual war; and here, if we lay these two or three considerations together, it will sufficiently appear.
1. Every one that fights to purpose in this spiritual war, hath given up himself to Christ, he hath listed himself under him, he is engaged to fight under his command and conduct; he is to march and follow him in the spiritual warfare. Christ is their captain, and they are his soldiers; "God hath given Christ to be a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people." Isa. lv. 4. A leader to go before them as their prince and captain, and a commander to give them laws and rules for their obedience. And every one that is indeed engaged in this spiritual war, have listed themselves under the Lord Jesus Christ, to follow him as their leader, and to observe his laws and rules as their great commander, and are willing to follow him whithersoever he goes, and to subscribe all the articles and terms that he shall propose unto them.
2. Hence every such man is under the greatest obligation to endeavor the keeping under the body of sin, and bringing it into subjection. This is the command of Christ; yea this was the very end of the death of Christ: rather than sin should not die, Christ himself became obedient unto death. Now our very baptism doth oblige us unto this, to fight against sin to the very death of it. If that be sacramentum militare, then every one that hath taken that oath, that hath received that press-money, and yet is in friendship with sin, and doth not endeavor the death and destruction thereof, he is proditor militiæ, a flyer from his colors, and runs into the enemies' camp. But when we grow up, and actually give up ourselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ, if we are sincere in our engaging ourselves to serve him; though we are not free from the assaults of sin, yet we resist it steadfastly; yea, we have in some measure and degree mortified and subdued it; it is an inseparable character of those that are Christ's, Gal. v. 24. "That they have crucified the flesh with the affections. and lusts."
3. The body of sin if it be not kept under, and brought into
subjection, will hinder from a faithful serving of Christ: Fleshly lusts are pernicious enemies. Well might he say,
Inimicorum nequissimum carnem meam.
This enemy is always present with us, it encamps in us, round about us, and doth "most easily beset us," Heb. xii. 1. It lies in ambush behind, and in the midst of all our lawful affairs and employments. Yea, it frequently starts out upon us, and surpriseth us in our best duties and performances; when we would do good this is present with us" (Rom. vii. 21.) to impede and hinder us. It is adjacent and always at hand to oppose and hinder us in all our intercourse and correspondence with Heaven. that unless we resist steadfastly, and endeavor to bring it under, it will captivate us, imprison us, and lay such weights and fetters upon us, by reason of which we shall be utterly unable, "to walk at liberty and seek God's precepts." Ps. cxix. 45.
4. A man is exposed to all the assaults of Satan and other enemies, as long as he doth not endeavor to keep under the body of sin, and bring it into subjection. In vain do we pretend to maintain a war with enemies abroad, if so be we are at peace with them at home; we lie open like a prey to our enemies without, if we do not see to it, that we keep under those that are within. The wise man tells us, Prov. xxv. 28, that "he that hath no rule over his own spirit, is like a city that is broken down and without walls;" That man whose spirit, i. e. his passions and unruly affections, be not kept under, and brought into order, that man is like Hazor, which had neither gates, nor bars to keep enemies out. Jer. xlix. 31. He lies open to all the assaults and temptations of the devil and the world; innumerable are the dangers and mischiefs that such an one is exposed to. And since sin let alone doth so expose us; it concerns us to endeavor our own safety and security, to do what in us lies to obviate the danger, which by it we are obnoxious unto, and that by using all good means that it may be kept under, and subdued in us.
5. There can be no obtaining a crown of glory (which is the reward through grace of fighting to purpose in this spiritual war) unless there be an endeavoring to keep under the body of sin, and bring it in subjection. Only those will be found to have fought to purpose, who shall obtain the crown. The apostle exhorts Timothy, 1 Tim. vi. 12. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life;" get a good title to that, then do we fight the good fight to purpose; and hence the same apostle, speaks concerning himself, 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. "I have fought a good fight, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." And only those shall have this crown, as a gracious reward of their fighting the
good fight, who have maintained a war with sin, and have endeavored the death and destruction of that. It is most certain, there are but two sorts of men in the world, there are no neutrals, no middle state: Every man is either under the rule and government of the Lord Jesus Christ, or else he is under the command of the devil, his greatest enemy; he hath either listed himself under Christ's banner, or else he is a soldier in the devil's regiment. He therefore that willingly serves his lusts, and is in friendship with them; yea, that doth not endeavor the death and destruction of them, is an enemy to Christ, refuseth his service and shall such an one ever share in the glorious reward, which they have conferred upon them who are faithful? No, instead of the reward of a friend, such an one shall have the punishment of an enemy. Luke xix. 27. "Those my enemies that would not that I should rule over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me." This is all the crown they shall experience: And therefore,
6. Those that do not endeavor to keep under the body of sin, and bring it into subjection, shall most certainly perish and be destroyed. If we do not endeavor to keep under our body of sin, and bring it into subjection, it will in a sense destroy us here in this world; for it not being subdued, will grow outrageous and foil us before God, angels and men: it will bring us into scandals, and expose us to open shame. How many hath it served thus, who have indeed belonged unto the Lord Jesus Christ? when they have let sin alone, and have discontinued the exercise of the mortification of it: we may see it in David, Solomon and others: this enemy hath cast down many wounded, yea many strong men in this sense have been slain by But that which is the dreadful consequent and effect of not keeping under the body of sin, and bringing it into subjection, is the perdition and destruction that it exposes to in the world to come. This war with sin, will terminate in nothing short of the death of one of the parties engaged in it. If we are not the death of our lusts and corruptions, they will most certainly be the death. of us, of our souls: if we are conquered by them, and brought into subjection to them, we shall have no other stipend and pay for our service, but death. Rom. vi. 23. Our great Captain will not spare any man that spares any of his sins. God hath appointed every lust to death, they are all men of death by his appointment; and whosoever spares them, or lets them go, his life must go for theirs. As it was said to him, 1 Kings xx. 42. "Because thou hast let go out of thine hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore shall thy life go for his life." We must therefore vanquish by endeavoring the subjection of sin, or else we shall be overcome by that, and must die ourselves. So that laying these things together, it is very evident and clear, that those that would fight to purpose in this spiritual war, must endeavor to