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of this is the only groundwork of being in the practice of Christianity. - But you say you do know this, you are fully sensible that all these sensual and spiritual lusts which I have been describing dwell in you, for you find them always at work, and can by experience testify this Scripture to be true, “that every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually.” — In this case, I ask, Secondly, Do you really hate and long to be delivered from them all, whatever they be? This St. Paul certainly did, for he cries, in the sense of his hidden lusts, “ () wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Look at your sensual lusts, and look at your spiritual lusts; look especially at that lust, the indulgence of which is most convenient for you, which you cannot deny without peculiar suffering, which is the very idol of your natural heart, and try if you can say, calling God to witness, “ This I hate, even this I long to be delivered from, with this I would not make the least compliance for his name's sake.” If you can truly say this, concerning every kind of pride, and every kind of sensuality, not cherishing or approving iniquity in your heart, it is manifest that you have the love of God in you, and in the choice of your heart are rejecting all evil ways. But if you only know that you have many lusts of the flesh in you ; if, notwithstanding this knowledge, they be not your burden and your grief; if pride or passion, if resentment or vanity, carry you away, and you take little thought of the matter, are speedily reconciled to yourself, and soon forget it as if nothing had been amiss, it is not conceivable how you can hate the lusts of your flesh. Now if you judge you have a comfortable answer in this respect also, I go on (for preventing mistakes in some, and confirming in others the confidence of God's grace working effectually in them) to ask, Thirdly, Whether your views of the lusts of the flesh are so humbling, that while they bring you to the blood of Christ for remission of the guilt of them, they also bring you to sue with importunity for the Spirit to deliver you from the power of them, and to mortify them in you continually? You do not see your lusts in such a hateful light as shall dispose you to renounce them, unless they bring you thus to the blood and grace of Christ, and that with a suitable importunity. It is the sight of the holiness of God that can alone make any one hate sin within him, and when it does this he sees himself so defiled by it that he cannot think of standing before God but in the righteousness of Christ, while also he will be earnestly calling upon God to deliver him from the detestable power of it. Wherefore, however much you may seem to hate your lusts (and without hating them you cannot renounce them), yet still you are deceived, if they do not bring you on your knees, and cause you to cry frequently and earnestly for forgiveness of them, and for grace against them. Surely you cannot think you are humbled for that which you do not ask the pardon of, or that
you do not pray to be set free from. So that if the deep sense of the sinful lusts of your flesh do not lie at the bottom of your prayers, as the very foundationstone of all your entreaties for pardon, and all your cries for grace, you only pray in formality, and are neither hating nor renouncing them. But if you say you do thus pray against them, I ask yet, Fourthly, Whether you are actually in the strength prayed for fighting against them? It is this which proves the truth of the whole. Are you actually at war with your hidden lusts ? I do not ask, take notice, whether the victory is always on your side: but I ask, whether you be really at war with them? Doubtless you ought to watch and strive that at no time they gain advantage of you. But when they have, do you suffer them to keep it? There lies the point. If they have thrust themselves in unawares, watching an opportunity, and by-and-by you thrust them again as those you will not entertain in your house, it is plain they came in like thieves, and have no right as masters. But now if you give them entertainment, and suffer them to dwell quietly with you, you will never be able to persuade yourself, and much less God, that you hold them as enemies. The main question therefore is, are we at actual war with our lusts ? If not, in the very nature of the thing, they have necessarily the dominion over us, for they are by nature in possession : and, consequently, let us seem to hate them and seem to pray against them never so much, in truth we do not the one nor the other, but love and entertain them at the bottom, although in the apprehensions of God's wrath against us we may in a selfish way wish to be rid of them.
By this time I would hope we are all come to some conclusion,
whether or no we are renouncing all the sinful lusts of the flesh. In the examination of this interesting point I have been the more particular, both that they who are serving their lusts might have no pretence for ignorance that they are doing so, and that they who are set at liberty from them might rejoice and praise God for their deliverance.
We will conclude with this one thought, which is suited to alarm the one and quicken the other of you, namely, there is an infinite sinfulness in the lusts of our flesh, whether sensual or spiritual, because they lead in a direct opposition to God, that as a portion, this as a master. Sensuality says, indulgence is a better happiness for me than God; and Pride cries, it is better to be one's own master than to serve the Most High. But what dishonour is done to God by so base a preference! What, do we set God so very low in our estimation, that we reckon the poor indulgences of brute creatures, to eat, and drink, and play, preferable to the favour, the presence, the joy of communion with the Ever-Blessed! And do we treat God as such tyrant that we cannot endure his laws ? and, holding his service intolerable, do we set up for ourselves ? O, sirs ! the angels above do not thus think of God. How infinite is their joy in beholding his face ! how unmeasurable their pleasure in fulfilling his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his words ! What infinite evil is there not in this carnal, this spiritual lust? My dear brethren, we shall be all fully sensible of it another day. Will not that soul feel it in the bottom of hell, who would not quit his beloved lusts? In the bitterness of his spirit he will cry, “ There is no hope in God now, and without God what horror! I feel, I feel what it is to be without God." And the converted saint, exalted to the highest heaven, when he knows and falls down in ravishing wonder before the Majesty of God, what will he think of pride ? when he enjoys the everlasting pleasures at God's right hand, what will he think of carnal gratifications ? But God and sin are the very same now that they will be hereafter. O that we would be wise, that we would consider our latter end! God give us all grace effectually and more abundantly to do so for his mercy's sake towards us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts xvi. 30, 31.
What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
We have already treated of the first branch of the baptismal vow, namely, the renunciation of the devil, the world, and the flesh ; and pass on now to the second part of it, faith. What this faith is, its necessity unto salvation, and the sure promise of mercy made unto it, are plainly marked out in the question made by the jailer, and the answer given him by Paul and Silas, when he asks them, “ What he must do to be saved ?” They have but one answer to give him, which is, that he must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This was the only way, and it was sufficient; if he did this, he should be saved. True faith in Jesus Christ, that is, such a faith as engages to die unto sin and to live unto God, is the faith here intended. But we are here to consider it in its nature, and not in its effects of renunciation and obedience, the former of which has been already spoken to, as the latter will be in its proper place.
Introductory to a particular explication of the Creed in its several parts, it will be proper, First, to lay before you in one view the whole subject matter of this little, but excellent, summary of Christian principles. Secondly, What is the true nature of faith concerning them.
First.- What is the subject matter of the Apostles' Creed ? Now the faith in question being plainly divine faith, inasmuch as it is purely conversant about God and things of a spiritual nature; and this divine faith being also Christian faith, it must needs be, that that Creed, which contains the articles of this faith, hath regard unto God, in the Mediator Christ Jesus. For which reason, the whole of the Christian faith is often expressed in the Scripture by the single phrase, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ; because in him it is that God presents himself unto us in Scripture as the object of our faith and hope. These articles therefore do not relate to God absolutely, but to God in Christ ; for God, absolutely considered, is not set forth as the object of faith to us sinners; such indeed he is to angels, and to perfect creatures that never sinned, but he is not a God to us otherwise than through a Redeemer. So that the substance of the Creed is God, as a covenant-God in Christ ; consequently, to believe the articles of the Christian faith, is to believe in the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as in the respective offices of the three divine Persons he stands related to us in the Mediator ; in the Father, the Maker of all things, as a Father to us; in the Son, as the Redeemer ; in the Holy Ghost, as the Sanctifier ; and all in and through Jesus Christ ; in whom the living members of his body the church, we are assured, have fellowship and communion with this ever-blessed God as their God, and therewith present forgiveness of sins in this life, and an assured title to a glorious resurrection, and an everlasting life hereafter. In short, as without a Mediator we have no relation to God but that of children of wrath, so in Christ he is a God unto us for time and for eternity.
Take notice, therefore, that whosoever repeats this Creed, as the profession of his faith, does thereby virtually declare, that he steadfastly believes himself, otherwise than in Christ, an alien and an outcast from God, a child of wrath, and an heir of hell; and that it is no otherwise than in Jesus Christ, and for his sake, that he has the least confidence to call God his God, or the least hope of forgiveness of his sins in this life, and of happiness in the life which is to come. Now, brethren, do we seriously mean this when we repeat the Creed? If we do not, we either speak without any meaning or distinct thought at all, when we say over these words (which no doubt is too frequently the case); or else if we do repeat the words, under any knowledge of the sense of them, we do it for decency's sake, to conform to the customary modes of worship in the country where we live, though in reality we believe nothing of the matter. In this case, we do no better than lie unto God. How can we do so more solemnly, and with more sin, than when in his public