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All the sinful lusts of the flesh.-And they are exceeding many. In which regard the flesh is called the body of sin, because like the natural it has many members. Yet they are all reduced to two general heads by St. Paul, when he says, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” Where, by the filthiness of the flesh, he means all such lusts as are properly sensual ; and by the filthiness of the spirit, all such lusts as are properly spiritual. The head of sensual lusts includes the several branches of uncleanness, intemperance, sloth, idleness, ease, pleasure, to all which sensual nature inclines us, and after all which it is perpetually lusting The other head is spiritual filthiness, the sum of which in one word is pride, including self-sufficiency, conceit, self-will, impatience, unbelief, disobedience, covetousness, jealousy, envy, malice, revenge, cruelty, all which are either pride itself or the genuine effects of it, and all of which together (covetousness only excepted, which is appropriate to man) do constitute the character of the devil, and are the real principles of all his conduct.
Now all these sensual and spiritual lusts being naturally in us, and actually having the whole direction of us, until by grace they are dethroned and brought into subjection, the true Christian knowing this, being advised of their sinfulness, being brought to hate and loathe them, and to long earnestly for an increasing freedom from their influence, 'and for a greater mortification of that principle of sin out of which they issue, doth in the strength of God declare his rejection of their dominion, his steadfast purpose to oppose and not to gratify their motions, and to use all possible means for weakening and crucifying their force and
power, saying, “ I renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh.” Including in this expression the following declarations: “ I will no longer serve sin, neither will I yield my members as instruments of unrighteousness to it. I see and detest that accursed body of sin that dwelleth in me, I declare an irreconcilable war against it; too often have I followed the devices and desires of my own heart, I declare war against my natural self, I will be no more the willing ready slave of my sensual and spiritual lusts, by the help of God I will no more obey the brutal and devilish inclination of my most sinful nature ; it shall be my endeavour to watch and to oppose their every motion ; if by force they gain advantage they shall not maintain it, and since I know them to be crafty I will labour to find them out, and, when I see, I will not spare them ; I will not hearken to their importunities, I will not be tired out by the frequency and obstinacy of their pleadings, I will not yield to their cry, be what they contend for of never so great importance to my present interest, ease, or reputation, and if what they ask be never so little, I will not grant it. They will, I know, have an influence in all I think, say, and do; but I will endeavour, by the grace of God, it shall be less and less. I fear and expect they will many times gain incidental advantages over me, but in the might of Jesus, they shall not have possession : I renounce them all. I will no longer seek to please and gratify my carnal proud self; no longer will I give myself up to my sensual inclinations in a life of uncleanness, intemperance, sloth, idleness, ease, or pleasure ; neither any more will I indulge to pride, to direct my conduct on the hellish principles of conceit and self-will, anger and resentment, malice and envy, revenge and cruelty, the praise of men and the pride of life. Such a conduct, both sensual and proud, I absolutely disclaim ; all the motions of my depraved heart that would lead me thereto I will resist ; and that body of sin, out of which such evil motions perpetually arise, I will pursue unto the death. And all this, and whatever else is implied in hating, rejecting, fighting against, and crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts, I do intend and desire, and purpose and promise to perform, when
" I renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh.” Let this suffice for the explanation ; and let us pass on to the improvement.
And here let us make inquiry,
“ Are we living in the outward practice of any of these lusts of the flesh ?" I say, of any of them, because you see our profession is to renounce them all. Are we living none of us in the outward indulgence of any sensual lusts.? I have shown you what is meant by sensual lusts, namely, uncleanness, intemperance, sloth, idleness, ease, and pleasure. Are we living none of us in any of the sins of uncleanness? These for the most part are secret sins, and such as, if known at any time, are chiefly discovered by their effects, which oftentimes bring many
to public shame, and more often others to noisome diseases that will not be concealed. While also there are kinds and degrees of this sin which can only be known to God and a man's own conscience, so closely are they kept from observation. But God knows all their practices ; and all such persons also know in their consciences that he holds them guilty, and that they are the servants of lust. But other sins are not so hid. Let me then inquire further, Are none of us living in intemperance Intemperance especially relates to gluttony and drunkenness. Are we not living in gluttony ? Certainly there is such a sin as intemperance in meat. And if we are grown nice and delicate, if the plain food of our fathers disgusts us, if we are for elegant dishes beyond what we can afford, or, though we can afford them, if we indulge our thoughts in expecting them, and our palates in using them immoderately ; more especially if any of us are so careful to feed our bellies that we let our backs go
without a covering, and, if we like a thing, are resolved to have it without caring what it costs us, it is very evident we cannot clear ourselves of the sin of gluttony. And then, as to drunkenness, how are so many alehouses maintained, how are so many families ruined and brought to live on the public by frequenting them, how are there so many nightly clubs, how is so much precious time spent in places prepared for the purpose, and how are so many grown old before they have attained half their days, if there be no such thing as drunkenness among us? But do we know that sloth and idleness, ease and pleasure (for, that I may not be tedious, I put them together), are also sensual lusts ? and that to live in the practice of them is as much a life of indulgence as if we were to give ourselves up to the grosser sins of lewdness or intemperance ? Surely we know it not, else many would not be content to live in them as they do. For what is the life of many but a mere continuation of doing nothing, because they seem to themselves to have nothing to do, and there is not precisely anything much amiss in what they do, therefore all were well ? But, brethren, to sleep away days and weeks, and months and years, in sauntering, chatting, and visiting, in parties of pleasure abroad, and insignificance at home, however it may appear harmless in the eye of the world, will pass for no better than sensuality in the eyes of God. But
to go on from sensual indulgences in the outward conduct to spiritual. Are we none of us in the outward indulgence of spiritual lusts ? What I mean by the outward indulgence of them is their habitual direction of our behaviour in the world. Wherefore, if you are carried along by conceit and self-opinion in your conversations and conduct, if you are self-willed, rash, and overbearing, if your behaviour be planned upon the calculation of exalting and maintaining your name in the world ; if in your demeanour you endeavour to make every one think you a person of merit and importance; if you will bear no contradiction, but treat all with anger and resentment who do not conform to your ways; if, finally, you live for yourself, and none are the better for you any further than they serve to gratify your humours, or to promote your interests; if any of this be your outward conduct, all who know you are witnessing against you that you are under the influence of unmortified pride. They see it in your whole conduct, though you perhaps suspect it not.
And if you will not see, if you will not consider what you do, nor examine into the principles upon which you act, it cannot be wondered if, while all about you know you to be a slave, you alone suspect nothing of the matter. You can see and complain of the pride that reigns in the conduct of others; their self-seeking, self-will, impatience, conceit, and setting themselves off as they do, render them intolerable to you. You wonder no one tells them of it, you admire they do not see it themselves, while, in the mean time, you are looking upon your own picture, not in the least imagining it to be yours, or that it is anything like you.
Yet methinks there are some circumstances in a proud character and carriage, that you must be wilfully blind if you do not see them in yourself, while every day you are acting them over. What can you think if in all companies you are industriously and artfully setting yourself, your abilities, gifts, or possessions, out to view ? or what, if you can bear no contradiction, but all must be and do as you would have them in every trifle ? What, if everything and nothing puts you in a passion, and if you break every tie of duty to gratify resentment? What, if everywhere and at all seasons you become all things to all men, that you may gain their praise and esteem ? Surely a conduct like this speaks plainly enough ; and if you
do not understand that you are serving your spiritual, or, in another word, your devilish lusts, it is even because you will not.
But from the outward practice of any of these lusts let us pass to the inward. For I would not have
you deceived. And I know there were of old, and that there are still Pharisees in the world, who contrive to keep the outside tolerably clean, at least in their judgment of the matter, while all is defilement within. Now therefore, my dear friends, however it appear without, how is it in truth within ? Are we there renouncing all the sinful lusts of the flesh ? It is an easy matter to say I do; and for the most part they will be most forward to say they do, who are the greatest strangers to the doing so. Wherefore I will propose to you certain questions, whereby you may certainly know whether you be or not renouncing all the sinful lusts of the flesh by a true opposition made to them in your heart. First, Have you found out that there are such sensual and devilish lusts in you? If you have not, it is plain you cannot be rejecting and resisting them; and if you will still say I renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh, when you know not you have any sinful lusts within you, you make it evident that you can mean even nothing by what you say. And accordingly, when you are told that such lusts dwell in
that you are every one of you sensual, prone to every kind and degree of uncleanness, intemperance, and carnality, so that you are naturally ready for the very grossest impurities; when you are told that you are also full of every spiritual lust, that your natural heart is a sink of pride, conceit, envy, malice, revenge, cruelty, and every devilish lust ; I say, when you are told of this, are you not ready to cry out in indignation, “ What! I? I defy the world ; and I will have you to know I am not such a beast and such a devil as you make me.” Well, then, you profess and openly avow you have not such sensual and devilish lusts in you ; so it is past dispute you cannot be renouncing them. O what a lamentable ignorance is there in this Christian country of the fall of man! Every child owns by rote that we are born in sin; but, for any real knowledge of the sinfulness of the heart, not one of a thousand has the least suspicion of any such thing. And yet it is most certain that the knowledge