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'Tis virtue only, that is truly honourable and praise-worthy : and nothing surely can entitle us to so noble a relation : for this allies us to God. For, as our Saviour speaks, they only are the children of Abraham, who do the works of Abraham; the children of God, who do the works of God. These are they, who are born a. gain: not of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man; but of God. These are they, who are incorporated into the body of Christ, and being ruled and animated by his Spirit, are entitled to all the blessed effeEts of his merit and intercefsion. These are they, in a word, who have overcome, and will, one day, fit down with Christ in his throne ; even as he also overcame, and is set down with his Father in his throne, Rev. iii. 21. Good God! how absurd and perverse all our desires and projects are ! we complain of the evils of the world; and yet we hug the causes of them, and cherish those vices, whose fatal wombs are ever big with numerous and intolerable .plagues. We fear death, and would get rid of this fear, not by difarming, but sarpening its jting ; not by subduing, but forgetting it. We love wealth and treasure : but 'tis that which is temporal, not eternal.: We receive honour of one another; but we seek not that which comes from God only. We are fond of ease and pleasure ; and at
the same time we wander from those paths of wisdom, which alone can bring us to it. For, in a word, 'tis this Christian Liberty that makes men truly free : not the being in bondage to no man, but to no fin : not the doing what we lift, but what we ought. 'Tis Christian Liberty that makes us truly great, and truly glorious : for this alone renders us serviceable to others, and easy to our felves; benefactors to the world, and delight some at home. 'Tis Christian Liberty makes us truly prosperous, truly fortunate ; because it makes us truly happy, filling us with joy and peace, and making us abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
CH A P. IV. Of liberty, as it relates to original fin. The
nature of which confidered chiefly with reSpect to its corruption. How far this dis temper of nature is curable. Which way this cure is to be effected.
Hatever difficulties the doctrine of W original sin really be involved in, or seem at least to some to be so, they will not concern me, who am no further obliged to consider it, than as it is an impediment of Perfection : for though there
be much dispute about original fin, there is little or none about original corruption; the reality of this is generally acknowledged, though the guilt, the finfulness or immorality of it, be controverted. And though here be diversity of opinions concerning the effects of original corruption in eternity; yet there is no doubt at all made but that it incites and inftigates us to a&tual fin, and is the seed-plot of human folly and wickedness. All men, I think, are agreed, that there is a byass and strong propension in our nature to wards the things of the world, and the body: that the fubordination of the body to the soul, and of the soul to God, wherein consists' righteousness, is subverted and overthrown : that we have appetites which clash with, and oppose the commands of God; not only when they thrcaten violence to our nature, as in the cafes of confession and martyrdom, but also when they only prune its luxuriancy and extravagance ; that we do not only desire fenlicive plea fure, but even to that degree, that it hurries and transports us beyond the bounds that reason and religion fet us: we have not only an aversion for pain, and toil, and death; but to that excess, that it tempts us to renounce God, and our duty, for the fake of carnal ease, and temporal safety. And
finally, that we are so backward to entertain the belief of revealed truths, so prone to terminate our thoughts on, and confine our desires within this vifible world as our portion, and to look upon our felvés no other than the mortal and cortuptible inhabitants of it, that this makes us selfish and fordid, proud and ambitious, false, subtle, and contentious, to the endless disturbance of mankind and our felves. That this, I say, is the state of nature; that this is the corruption we labour under, all men, I think, are agreed : and no wonder; for did a controversy arise about this, there would be no need to appeal any farther for the decision of it, than to one's own experience; this would tell every one that thus it is in fact; and reafon, if we will consült it, will tell us why it is fo: for what other than this can be the condition of man, who enters the world with a foul fo dark and destitute of divine light, so deeply immersed and plunged into flesh and blood, so tenderly and intimately affected by bodily sensations ; and with a body fo adapted and fuited to the things of this world, and fastned to it by the charms of pleasure, and the bonds of interest, convenience and neceffity? This account of original corruption agrees very well with that St. Paul gives
us of it, Rom. vii. and elsewhere: and with that assertion of our Lord and Master, on which he builds the necessity of regene. ration by water and the Holy Spirit, John iii. 6. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is Špirit. Having thus briefly explained what I mean in this chapter by original fin, I am next to consider these two things.
1. How far this distemper of nature is curable.
2. Which way this cure is to be effected.
As to the first enquiry, I would not be understood to proceed in it with a regard to all the regenerate in general, but only to the perfečt; for the strength of original fin cannot but be very different in new converts, or babes in grace, and in such as are advanced to an habit of righteoulness. . This being premised, I think, I may on good ground resolve, that original' sin in the perfe&t man, may be so far reduced and mastered, as to give him but very rare and sight disturbance. This seems to me evident from the great change that must be wrought in him who is converted from a sinner into a saint ; If any man be in Christ, be is a new creature: old things are.