« FöregåendeFortsätt »
lime, is brought down to our view in Christ; the brightness of God is veiled, and veiled in our own flesh that we may be able to look on it. The inaccessible light of the Deity is so attempered in the humanity of Christ, that we may read our lesson by it in him, and may direct our walk by it; and that truly is our only way; there is nothing but wandering and perishing in all other ways; nothing but darkness and misery out of him; but he that follows me, says he, shall not walk in darkness'. And therefore is he set before us in the gospel, in so clear and lively colours, that we may make this our whole endeavour to be like him.
Consider here: 1. The high engagement to this conformity. 2. The nature of it. 3. The actual improvement of it. 1. The engagement lies in this, that he suffered for us. Of this before; only in reference to this, had he come down, as some have mis-imagined it, only to set us this perfect way of obedience, and give us an example of it in our own nature; this had been very much. That the Son of God should descend to teach wretched man, and the great King to descend into man, and dwell in a tabernacle of clay, to set up a school in it, for such ignorant accursed creatures ! and should in his own person act the hardest lessons, both in doing and suffering, to lead us in both. But the matter goes yet higher than this. Oh! how much higher hath he suffered, not simply as our rule, but as our Surety, and in our stead. He suffered for us in the flesh. We are the more obliged to make his suffering our example, because it was to us more than an example, it was our ransom.
This makes the conformity reasonable in a double respect: 1. It is due that we follow him, who led thus as the Captain of our Salvation; that we follow in suffering, and in doing, seeing both were so
It is strange how some armies have addicted themselves to their head, to be at his call night and day, in summer and winter; to refuse no
's John viii. 12.
travail or endurance of hardship for him; 'and all only to please him, and serve his inclination and ambition; as Cæsar's trained bands, especially the veterans, what hardships did they not endure in counter-marches, and in traversing different and distant countries? But besides that, our Lord and leader is most great and excellent, and so well deserves following for his own worth. This lays upon us an obligation beyond all conceiving, that he first suffered for us; that he endured such hatred of men, , and such wrath of God the Father, and went through death, so vile a death, to procure our life. What can be too bitter to endure, or too sweet to forsake, to follow him? Were this duly considered, would we cleave to our lusts, or to our ease? Would we not go through fire and water, yea, through death itself, and, were it possible, through many deaths, to follow him?
1. Consider, as it is justly due, so it is made easy by that his suffering for us. Our burden, that pressed us to hell, being taken off, is not all that is left, to suffer or do, as nothing? Our chains, that bound us over to eternal death, being knocked off, shall we not walk, shall we not run, in his ways? Oh! think what that burden and yoke was he hath eased us of; how heavy, how unsufferable, it was, and then we shall think what he so truly says, that all he lays on is sweet; His yoke easy, and his burden light. Oh! the happy change, to be rescued from the vilest slavery, and called to conformity and fellowship with the Son of God.
2. The nature of this conformity (to shew the nearness of it) is expressed in the very same terms as in the pattern; it is not a remote resemblance, but the same thing, even suffering in the flesh. But that we may understand rightly what suffering is here meant, it is plainly this, ceasing from sin; so suffering in the flesh here, is not simply the enduring of afflictions, which is a part of a Christian's conformity with his head Christ', but implies a i Matth. xi. 30
u Rom. viii. 29.
more inward and spiritual suffering. It is the suffering and the dying of our corruption, the taking away the life of sin by the death of Christ; and that death of his sinless tlesh, works in the believer the death of sinful flesh, that is, the corruption of his nature, which is so usually in scripture called flesh. Sin makes man base, drowns him in flesh, and the lusts of it; makes the very soul become gross and earthly; turps. it as it were to flesh : So the Apostle calls the very mind that is unrenewed, a carnal mind*. And what doth the mind of a natural man hunt after and run out into, from one day and year to another? Is it not on the things of this base world, and the concernment of his flesh'? What would he have, but be accommodated to eat, and drink, and dress, and live at ease? He minds earthly things, savours and relishes them, and cares for them: examine the most of your pains and time, and your strongest desires, and most serious thoughts, if they go not this way, to raise yourselves and yours in your worldly condition. Yea, the highest projects of the greatest natural spirits are but earth still, in respect of things truly spiritual. All their state designs go not beyond this
perishes in the flesh, and is daily perishing, even while we are busiest upholding it, and providing for it. Present things, and this lodge of clay, this flesh and its interest, take up most of our time and pains; the most, yea all, till that change be wrought the Apostle speaks of, till Christ be put on", Put ye. on the Lord Jesus Christ; and then the other will easily follow that follows in the words, Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Once in Christ, and then your necessary general care for this natural life will be regulated and moderated by the Spirit. And for all unlawful and enormous desires of the flesh, you shall be rid of providing for these. Instead of all provision for the life of the flesh in that sense, there is another guest, and another life, for you now to wait on and furnish
x Rom, viü. 7. y Corporis negotium. z Rom. xiii. 14.
poor life that
for: in them that are in Christ, that flesh is dead, they are freed from its drudgery; He that hath suffered in the flesh hath rested from sin.
Ceased from sin.] He is at rest from it, a godly death, as they that die in the Lord rest from their labours?. He that hath suffered in the flesh, and is dead to it, dies indeed in the Lord; rests from the base turmoil of sin; it is no longer his master. As our sin was the cause of Christ's death, his death is the death of sin in us; and that not simply, as he bore a moral pattern of it, but as the real working cause of it. The death of Christ has in this respect an effectual influence on the soul, kills it to sin: I am crucified with Christ, says St. Paul'.
Faith so looks on the death of Christ, that it takes the impression of it; sets it on the heart, kills it unto sin: Christ and the believer do not only become one in law, so as his death stands for theirs, but are one in nature, so as his death for sin causes theirs to it", Baptized into his death.
This suffering in the flesh being unto death, and such a death (crucifying), hath indeed pain in it; but what then, it must be so like his, and the believer like him, in willingly enduring it. All the pain of his suffering in the flesh, his love to us digested and went through it; so all the pain to our nature in severing and pulling us from our beloved sins, and our dying to them, if his love be planted in our hearts, that will sweeten it, and make us delight in it.
Love desires nothing more than likeness, and shares willingly in all with the party loved ; and above all love, this divine love is purest and highest, and works most strongly that way; takes pleasure in that pain, and is a voluntary death, as Plato calls love. “It is strong as death, says Solomon.. As death makes the strongest body fall to the ground, so doth the love of Christ make the most active and lively sinner dead to his sin : and as death severs a man from his dearest and most fa.
% Rev. xiv, 13.
b Rom. vi. 3,
a Gal. xi. 20. c Cant. viii. 6.
miliar friends, thus doth the love of Christ, and his death flowing from it, sever the heart from its most beloved sins.
I beseech you seek to have your hearts set against sin, to hate it, to wound it, and be dying daily to it. Be not satisfied, unless ye feel an abatement of it, and a life within you. Disdain that base service, and being bought at so high a rate, think yourselves too good to be slaves to any base lust. You are called to a more excellent and more honourable service. And of this suffering in the flesh, we may safely say what the apostle speaks of the sufferings with and for Christ, that the partakers of these sufferings are co-heirs of glory with Christ; If we suffer thus with him, we shall also be glorified with him? If we die with him, we shall live with him for ever.
3. We have the actual improvement of this conformity; Arm yourselves with the same mind, or thoughts of this mortification. Death, taken naturally in its proper sense, being an entire privation of life, admits not of degrees : but this figurative death, this mortification of the flesh in a Christian, is gradual; in so far as he is renewed, and is animated and acted by the Spirit of Christ, he is thoroughly mortified; (for this death, and that new life joined with it, and here added, ver. 2. go together and grow together); but because he is not totally renewed, and there is in him of that
corruption still that is here called flesh, therefore it is his great task to be gaining further upon it, and overcoming and mortifying it every day; and to this tend the frequent exhortations of this nature ; Mortify your members that are on the earth; so", likewise reckon yourselves dead to sin, and let it not reign in your mortal bodies. Thus here, Arm yourselves with the same mind, or with this very thought. Consider and apply that suffering of Christ in the flesh, to the end that you with him, suffering in the flesh, may cease from sin. Think it c Rom, viii, 17.
d Rom. vi.