« FöregåendeFortsätt »
enterest into God's livery. Mark this, for by it I strive only to bring thee back to thyself. Thou enterest into covenant with him; thou bindest thyself to forsake the world, the flesh, and the devil; and we should make this use of baptism, as now to put it in practice. When we promised, there were two things in the indenture; one, that God will give Christ to us, the other, that we must forsake all the sinful lusts of the flesh: this is that which makes baptism to be baptism indeed to us. The other thing required is, that we forsake all'. It is not confined to the very act, but it hath a perpetual effect all the days of thy life. I add, it never hath its full effect till the day of our death, the abolition of the whole body of sin. That which we seal, is not complete till then, till we have final grace. The water of baptism quenches the fire of purgatory; for it is not accomplished till final grace is received. We are now under the physician's hands, then shall we be cured. Baptism is not done only at the font, which is a thing deceives many; for it runs through our whole life: nor hath it consummation till our dying day, till we receive final grace: the force and efficacy of baptism is for the washing away of sin to-morrow, as well as the day past: the death of sin is not till the death of the body, and therefore it is said "we must be buried with him by baptism into his death." Now at our death we receive final grace; till when, this washing and the virtue thereof hath not its consummation.
Let no man therefore deceive you with vain words; take heed of looking on yourselves in these false glasses, think it not an easy thing to get heaven, the way is strait, and the passage narrow. There must be a striving to enter; there must be an ascending into heaven, a motion contrary to nature: and therefore it is folly to think we shall drop into heaven, there must be a going upward, if ever we will come thither.
Rom. chap. 6. ver. 2.
EPHES. CHAP. II. VER 1, 2, 3.
"And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins, where in times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince that ruleth in the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience. Amongst whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath even as others."
THE last time I declared unto you the duty that was necessarily required of us if we look to be saved, that we must not only take the matter speedily into consideration, and not be deluded by our own hearts and the wiles of Satan; but that we must not do it superficially or perfunctorily, but must bring ourselves to the true touchstone, and not look upon ourselves with false glasses, because there is naturally in every one self-love; and in these last and worst times men are apt to think better of themselves than they deserve. If there be any beginning of goodness in them, they think all is well, when there is no greater danger in the world than being but half Christians. He thinks (the half Christian I mean,) that if he hath escaped the outward pollutions of the world, through lust, and be not so bad as formerly he hath been, and not so bad as many men in the world are, therefore he is well enough: whereas his end proves worse than his beginning. This superficial repentance is but like the washing of a hog, the outside is only washed, the swinish nature is not taken away. There may be in this man some outward abstaining from the common gross sins of the world, or those which he himself was subject unto; but his disposition to sin is the same, his nature is nothing changed: there is no renovation, no casting in a new mould, which must be in us.
For it is not a little reforming will serve the turn, no, nor all the morality in the world, nor all the common graces of God's Spirit, nor the outward change of the life: they will not do, unless we are quickened, and have a new life wrought in us; unless there be a supernatural working of God's Spirit we can never enter into heaven. Therefore in this case it behoves every man to prove his "own" work." A thing men are hardly drawn unto, to be exact examiners of themselves, cœlo discendit yvwlɩ σɛavτòv, a heathen himself could say, to know a man's self is a heavenly saying; and it is an heavenly thing indeed, if we have an heavenly master to teach us. The Devil taught Socrates a lesson that brought him from the study of natural to moral philosophy, whereby he knew himself; yet the Devil knew morality could never teach him the lesson indeed. All the morality in the world cannot teach a man to escape hell we must have a better instructor herein than the Devil, or ourselves; the Lord of Heaven must do it, if ever we will be brought to know ourselves aright. St. Paul was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the learnedest doctors of the Pharisees, and yet he could not teach him this. When he studied the law, he thought himself unblameable, but coming to an higher and better Master; he knows that "in him, that is, in his flesh dwells no good thing." By self-examination a man may find many faults in himself, but to find that which the apostle afterwards found in himself, to see the flesh a rottenness, the sink of iniquity that is within him, and to find himself so bad as indeed he is, unless it please the Lord to open his eyes, and to teach him, he can never attain it.
Now we come to this place of the apostle, wherein we see the true glass of ourselves, the Spirit knows what we are, better than ourselves; and the Spirit shews us that every man of us either was, or is such as we are here set down to be. We are first natural before we can be spiritual, there is not a man, but hath been, or is yet, a natural man, and therefore see we the large description of a
a Gal. chap. 6. ver. 4.
b Rom. chap. 7.
natural man before he is quickened, before God, which is rich in mercy, enlivens him being dead in sins, and saves him by grace in Christ. Thus is it with us all, and thus must it be; and we shall never be fit for grace till we know ourselves thus far, till we know ourselves as far out of frame, as the Spirit of truth declares us to be. In this place of Scripture consider we
1. Who this carnal man is; what they are which the apostle speaks of, to be "dead in sins: and that walk after the course of the world, led by the Devil, and have their conversation after the flesh, children of wrath." These are big words and heavy things: consider first the subject, of whom this is spoken.
Then follows the prædicate, or
2. What that ill news is, which he delivers of them. We begin with the first.
1. Who they are of whom this is spoken: and that is you: "You hath he quickened who were dead:" and " ye (in the words following,) that in times past walked after the course of the world:" and in the third verse more particularly: "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past." He speaks now in the first person, as before in the second, so that the subject is we all and ye all. Not a man in this congregation, but is or was as bad as the Holy Ghost here makes him. But
2. To come to that, which is delivered of him he is one not quickened, dead in sins:" no better than nature made him, that corrupt nature which he had from Adam, till he is thus spiritually enlivened.
Now he is described.
1. By the quality of his person.
2. By his company. "Even as others." Thou mayest think thyself better than another man, but thou art no better; never a barrel the better herring (as we say): "Even as others;" thou art not so alone, but as bad as the worst, not a man more evil in his nature than thou art. When thou goest to hell, perhaps some difference there may be in your several punishments, according to your several acts of rebellion; but yet you shall "all come short
of the glory of God," and for matter of quickening, you are all alike.
I. First concerning their quality: and this is declared. 1. By their general disposition, "they are dead in trespasses and sins." Dead, and therefore unable and indisposed to the works of a spiritual living man: besides, not only indisposed and unable thereto, but "dead in trespasses and sins." For, the separation of the soul from God is a more dangerous death, than the separation of the soul from the body, and this is the reason, why St. John calls damnation the second death; reckoning (in comparison) the natural death for none. Accordingly also speaketh the learned patriarch of Alexandria: "eáθάνατοςὰ κυρίως, οὐχὶ ὁ χωρίζων τὴν ψυχὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος, ἀλλ ̓ ὁ χωρίζων ψυχὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ὁ Θεὸς ζωή ἐστιν· ὁ δὲ τῆς χωριζόμενος, τέθνηκε, τὴν πρόσθεν παῤῥησίαν, ὡς τὴν ζωὴν, ἀποβαλών. That is not properly death, which separateth soul from the body, but that which separateth God from the soul. God is the life of the soul, but he that is separated from life is dead, being deprived of alacrity and cheerfulness, as of life." He lies rotting in his own filth, like a rotten carcase, and stinking carrion in the nostrils of the Almighty, so loathsome is he: all which is drawn from original sin. Not only dis-enabled to any good, but prone to all sin and iniquity.
2. By his particular conversation: and that appears in the verse following. "Where in times past ye walked." How? Not according to the word and will of God, not according to his rule, but they walked after three other wicked rules. A dead man then hath his walk you see: a strange thing in the dead, but who directs him in his course? These three, the world, the flesh, and the Devil, the worst guides that may be; yet if we look to the conversation of a natural man, we see these are his pilots, which are here set down.
1. The world. "Wherein in times past ye walked after the course of the world." He swims along with the
e Rev. chap. 20. ver. 14.
d St. Cyril. vol. 6. page 415.