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(4.) If upon intermitting our watch, we fall into the sin that we are prone to, speedy and deep repentance is necessary to recover the favour of God, and to preserve us for the future against it. Sins of relapse more easily prevail than in the first temptation ; because the tenderness and reluctancy of conscience is lessened by the commission of sin : they are more pernicious to the soul, for besides the enhancing of guilt, the unclean spirit returns with more imperiousness from indignation that he was expelled. If we have been effectually tempted to sin, let us presently retract it by repentance : there will be a suspension of God's favour, whilst we continue without a due sense of our sin ; « let not the sun go down upon God's wrath,” but with prayers and tears sue out his pardoning mercy. The neglect of present repentance is a step to final impenitence, that is unpardonable. * Who can tell the degrees of danger in continuing in sin a day? How many have been cut off in their early sins, and lost their time, and hopes, and souls for ever? But that which more specially belongs to the present matter, is this, by the neglect of speedy repentance, sin is more difficultly retracted. By continuance in sin, the heart is more unwilling and unable to mortify it. The habits of the mind differ from the habits of the body: these wear out by continuance, the others are more firm and powerful: they are second inclinations, and as violent as the first that are deeply set in corrupt nature. The healing a fresh wound is much more easy than an inveterate ulcer : the healing the soul, and renewing it by repentance, is much more easy and safe, presently after the wounding it by sin, than after continuance under the power and infection of sin.
A deep heart-breaking sorrow will prevent relapses into sin. When conscience represents our sin in its killing circumstances, as committed against the knowledge of the divine law, and our vows of obedience, against the tender mercies, and dreadful justice of God: that for the low and despicable satisfaction of the sensual part, we have made ourselves unholy and unhappy: from hence the soul is struck with a sorrow so pungent, that the love of pleasure is mortified, and the sweetest sin is imbittered. The
* Omnia vitia penitus insidant, nisi dum surgunt oppressa sint; vehementius contra inveterata pugnandum est: nam vulnerum sanitas facilior est dum a sanguine recentia sunt, ubi corrupta in malum ulcus se verterunt difficilius curantur, Senec, ad Marc,
remembrance of that perplexing anguish will heighten the aversion and resolution against sin : the soul will fly with horror the occasions of offending God, and recoil at the first glance of that sin that cost it so dear, and which if entertained, will renew its agonies. As one that narrowly escapes from being consumed by fire, retains so strong an impression of the terror, that makes him always circumspect to avoid the like danger. broken bones made” him understand what a fearful sin adultery was, and cautious ever after. But a slight confession, a superficial sorrow, a few sad thoughts and tears, are soon forgot : when the sinner presumes by a slight repentance to obtain reconciliation with God, he is ready to answer the next temptation, and return to folly. (5.) Fervent and constant prayer for the renewing grace
of God, is indispensably necessary to preserve us from our sins. It is by the spirit of holiness that " we mortify the deeds of the body:" that we put off the old man, and put on the new. Sanctifying grace introduces a new nature, the prolific and productive principle of a new life: it turns the current of the affections from sin to holiness. This is as astonishing as the miraculous motion of the shadow upon Ahaz's dial, “ that went ten degrees backward.” Unregenerate morality may lop the branches, restrain from the gross acts, but sanctifying grace strikes at the root of sin, the inward affection. There are some medicines that will stop the fits of the falling-sickness for a time, but not expelling the cause, the disease invades nature again: so moral counsels, and politic respects, may stop the breaking forth of the lusts of the flesh, but the inward affection of sin remaining will make us apt to fall by the commission of it. Sanctifying grace makes an inward universal change in the soul : he' that was unclean in his thoughts and desires, by the transforming power of the spirit, “loves pureness of heart," delights in it, and has a fixed hatred against any thing that defiles: the soul that “ cleaves to the dust," and pursues the acquisition of earthly things as his treasure, being refined and elevated by grace, seeks the things above, with vigorous endeavours.
In this the diseases of the body differ from those of the mind : * the first, notwithstanding the most earnest desire of cures, may
* Pars sanitatis velle sanari fuit, Ita est paucos servitus plures servito tem teneant. Senec. Epist, 21,
be incurable: the other when the desires are sincere of spiritual healing, are in the happy way of cure, for vicious affections are the diseases of the soul. This change of the affections, the effect of supernatural grace, is obtained by fervent prayer. Saviour assures us,
our heavenly Father will freely and abundantly give the Holy Spirit to those who ask it” with such ardent affections, as flow from their feeling sense of the want of his influences. In humble prayer we acknowledge our unworthiness, our weakness, our absolute necessity of divine grace to mortify our lusts : in believing prayer we glorify his mercy, and his omnipotence, that he is both willing and powerful to make us victorious over our worst enemies. The prayer of Jehosaphat, when invaded by a vast army, conspiring the destruction of his kinguoin, is a copy tu bc Transcribed by us : “ O our God, we have no might against this great company that comes against us, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” 2 Chron. 20. Thus satan, the world, and the flesh, are combined in warring against the soul, and we are utterly unable to resist them, we must therefore address ourselves “ to the God of all grace, to strengthen our inward man. And since some lusts have such strong possession, that like that stubborn sort of spirits mentioned in the gospel, they cannot be expelled but by fasting and prayer, we must with the most zealous devotion, prayer joined with fasting, implore grace to subdue them.
Prayer must be continual : if we intermit this recourse to heaven, we shall presently find ourselves like Samson when his hair was shaved, weak like other men. Grace in the saints is not like light in the sun, that springs from itself, but like the light of a lamp that is constantly fed with supplies of oil, otherwise the weak light will faint and die. Inherent grace is maintained by the continual emanations from the holy Spirit : nay the habits of grace are drawn forth into act and vigorous exercise, by supervenient exciting grace, without which they would be ineffective and useless. As there cannot be actual sight, unless the light in the eye be irradiated by light of the air : so without special assisting grace we cannot do any spiritual good nor avoid evil : we shall be foiled by every temptation, even the best will leave God, and provoke God to leave them. Our Saviour therefore enjoins his disciples the double duty, 6 watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” David with his severe resolutions to be circumspect, joined his fervent requests to God: “ I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue, I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips.” Psal. 143. 3. His special guidance is necessary to regulate our tongues, that we neither offend God, nor justly provoke men.
(Lastly.) Faith in the Redeemer is a sovereign effectual means for the mortifying sin. The Son of God incarnate is the fountain of inherent as well as imputed righteousness : grace and glory are conveyed to us by the hands of the Mediator. The supernatural power to do good, and vanquish evil is from him: “ Of ourselves we cannot conceive a good thought ; through Christ strengthening us we can do all things.” Spiritual blessings he purchased for us by his humiliation, and confers in his exaltation. “ He gave himself for his church, that he might sanctify it, and cleanse it by the washing of water and the word.” Eph. 4. 8. Psal. 68. Being risen and ascended, he received of his Father divine gifts, and gives grace unto men.
“ He gives repentance," which principally consists in the mortifying sin : “ he blesses us in turning us from our iniquities.” Acts. 5.
The mortification of sin is peculiarly attributed to his death. 1. With respect to its meritorious causality, that reconciled God to us, and obtained of him the sanctifying spirit, that is the seal of his love, to communicate " the divine nature to us, by which we escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The redemption of a captive may illustrate the redemption of sinners : for as in restoring a captive to liberty, there must be the payment of the ransom, and the breaking of his chains, so in redeeming a sinner there was the price laid down, the invaluable blood of the Son of God, to procure our spiritual freedom: for the ignominious and cruel bondage under Satan, was the penal effect of the first transgression, and the invisible chains, the darkness of mind, the hardness of heart, the rebellion of will, the disorder of affections, and all the vicious habits that kept him in the bondage of satan, are to be broken and removed. For this reason it is said, “ God sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemning sin in the flesh :" that is, Christ dying as a sacrifice for sin, reconciled God, and the fruit of that reconciliation, is the breaking the tyrannous empire of sin under which we were involved, that we may enjoy the liberty of the Sons of God. Sin brought our Saviour to the cross, and he brought sin to the cross: when he died naturally, sin died legally, that is, was condemned to lose its power in the hearts and lives of believers. The excellent ends of our Saviour's death are expressed by the apostle ; “ he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, abolish the guilt of sin, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” 2. By way of representation. As Christ died for sin, we must die to sin : he expiated the guilt of all sin for penitent believers; and a universal crucifixion of sin is the imitation of his death. The apostle insists on this as a truth of the clearest evidence to christians, “ know ye not that so many as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ? therefore we are buried with him in baptism ; that as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” The sum of which reasoning is, that our crucifying the corrupt nature, with all its various affections and lusts, is a lively resemblance of the death of Christ, which was designed both to be operative in us of the death of sin, and to be significative of it. From whence it follows, it is the indispensable duty of all christians to transcribe the copy of his death in their hearts and lives. The death of Christ mortifies sin by moral influence, as it is an expression of God's transcendent love to us, and his righteous and holy severity against sin ; both which are such powerful motives to destroy sin, that whoever does not feel their efficacy, is dead as the grave, without the least vital spark of grateful love to Christ.
Now the unfeigncd belief of the meritorious and efficacious sufferings of Christ, is the means by which the value of his death is applied, and the virtue of it derived to us for the killing of our sins. It is by faith we are united to him as our head, the fountain of spiritual sense and active power.
“ He dwells in our hearts by faith, and by the eminent operations of his spirit, strengthens the inner man. Faith excites us to mortify the inhabiting corruption, by arguing from the love of Christ in dying