Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

of Holiness. For as these States of Life have the utmost contrariety to Religion, so every Approach towards them, is in a certain Degree partaking of them.

A Man that lives in such a State, as not to be called either a Glutton, or a Drunkard, may yet be so near them, as to Partake of those Tempers and Inclinations, which are the Effects of Gluttony and Drunkenness.

For there are such Degrees in these, as in other Ways of Life. A Man may be vain and uncharitable, yet not so as to be remarkable for his Vanity and Uncharitablenefs, so he may be also under the Guilt and evil Effects of Eating and Drinking, though not so as to be esteemed either a Glutton or Intemperate.

So that the only Security for a good Christian, is to make it the Care of his Life, to resist all Enjoyments that cherish Vanity and Uncharitablenefs, not only in such Degrees as are scandalous and visible in the Eyes of Men, but such as inwardly hurt the Humility and Charity of his Mind.

I N like manner as to eating and drinking, he is constantly to practice such Abstinence, as may secure him not only from Sensuality in the Sight of the World, but such as may best Alter, Purify, and Humble R 3 his his Body, and make it the holy Habitation of a Soul devoted to a spiritual Life.Advancements in Piety, without this, to be as vain a Labour, as beating the Air (6). and be cloathed with the Humility and Meekness of his true Disciples, if he would love his Enemies and be in Christ a new Creature, if he would live by Faith and have his Conversation in Heaven, if he would be born again of God, and overcome the World, he must lay the Foundation of all these Graces in the Mortification and Subjection of his Body. For not only Religion, but Reason, can shew us, that almost every ill Temper, every Hindrance of Virtue, every Clog in our Way of Piety, and the Strength of every Temptation, chiefly arises from the State of our Bodies.

St. Paul saith, I were fore so run, not as uncertainly ; so fig1 t I, not as one that beatetb the Air. But I keep under my Body, and bring into subjection, lest that by any Mom when I have preached to others, I my felfjkould be a Castaway (a).

List it here be observed, that the Apostle practiced this Seir-denial and Mortification, not only as a good and advisable Thing, and suitable to Holiness, but as of the last Necessity. It was not, as he was an Apostle, and that he might be fitter for the miraculous Gifts of the Holy Ghost, but it was to secure his Salvation, lest when he had preached to others, he should be a Cast.away.

Let it be considered that this Apostle, who lived in Infirmities, in Reproaches, in Necessities, in V erf editions, in Distresses for Christ's Sake, who was also full of Signs, and Wonders and jniglty Deeds, and room had been caught up into the third Heaven, yet reckons all his Virtues as unfecure, and his Salvation in Danger, without this severity of Self-denial; he thought all his other

[ocr errors][merged small]

s o run I, faith he, not as uncertainly, by which he plainly teacheth us, that he who does not thus run, who does not thus mortify the Body, runs uncertainly, and fight- eth to as little purpose, as he that beateth the Air.

Can they therefore who live in Ease, and Softness, and bodily Indulgences, who study and seek after every Gratification, be said to be of St. Paul's Religion, or to be govern'd by that Spirit, which govern'd him i

A N Apostle preaching the Gospel with Signs and Wonders in the midst of Distress and Persecution, thought his own Salvation in Danger, without this Subjection of his own Body, and shall we who are born in the Dregs of Time, who have no Works like his to appeal to, think it safe to feed and indulge in Ease and Plenty?

A Man may indeed practice the outward Part of a Christian, he may be Orthodox in his Faith, and regular in the Forms of Religion, and yet live in Ease and Indulgence. But if he would put on Christ,

[ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic]

CHAP. VIII.

The Subject of Self-denial further continued.

HERE are no Truths of Christianity more plainly delivered in the Scriptures, or more universally acknowledged by all Christians, than these two, viz. the general Corruption of human Nature, and the absolute Necessity of divine Grace. Now these two Doctrines make the Reason and Necessity of a continual Self-denial, plain and obvious to the meanest Capacity ; and extend it to all those Things or Enjoyments, which either strengthen the Corruption of our Nature, or grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and cause him to leave us.

Let any one but reflect upon the Nature of these two fundamental Truths, and he will find himself soon convinc'd,

that

[graphic]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »