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ought to be thus, and seek that it may be thus, with you.
Arm yourselves.] There is still fighting, and sin will be molesting you; though wounded to death, yet will it struggle for life, and seek to wound its enemy; will assault the graces that are in you. Do not think if it be once struck, and you have given it a stab near to the heart, by the sword of the Spirit, that therefore it will stir no more. No, so long as you live in the flesh, in these bowels there will be remainders of the life of this flesh, your natural corruption; therefore ye must be armed against it. Sin will not give you rest, so long as there is a drop of blood in its vein, one spark of life in it; and that will be so long as you have life here. This old man is stout, and will fight himself to death; and at the weakest it will rouse up itself, and exert its dying spirits, as men will do sometimes more eagerly than when they were not so weak, nor so near death.
This the children of God often find to their grief, that corruptions which they thought had been cold dead, stir and rise up again, and set upon them. A passion or lust, that after some great stroke, lay a long while as dead, stirred not, and therefore they thought to have heard no more of it, though it shall never recover fully again, to be lively as before, yet will revive in such a measure as to molest, and possibly to foil, them yet again: therefore is it continually necessary that they live in arms, and put them not off to their dying day; till they put off the body, and be altogether free of the flesh. You may take the Lord's promise for victory in the end; that shall not fail; but do not promise yourself ease in the way, for that will not hold. If at some times your enemy have the advantage, give not all for lost. He hath often won the day that hath been foiled and wounded in the fight. But likewise take not all for won, so as to have no more conflict, when sometimes you have the better, as in particular battles. Be not desperate when you lose, nor secure when you gain them: when it is worst with you do not throw away your arms, nor lay them away when you are at best.
Now, the way to be armed is this, the same mind: how would my Lord, Christ, carry himself in this case ? and what was his business in all places and companies ?. Was it not to do the will, and advance the glory, of his Father? If I be injured and reviled, consider how would he do in this? Would he repay one injury with another, one reproach with another reproach? No, being reviled, he reviled not again". Well, through his strength, this shall be my way too. Thus ought it to be with the christian, framing all his ways and words, and very thoughts, upon that model, the mind of Christ, and to study in all things to walk even as he walked'; studying it much, as the reason and rule of mortification, and drawing from it, as the real cause and spring of mortification.
The pious contemplation of his death will most powerfully kill the love of sin in the soul, and kindle an ardent hatred of it. The believer, looking on his Jesus crucified for him, and wounded for his transgressions, and taking in deep thoughts of his spotless innocency that deserved no such thing, and of his matchless love that yet endured it all for him, will then naturally think, “Shall I be a friend to that which was his deadly enemy? Shall sin be sweet to me, that was so bitter to him, and that for my sake? Shall I ever lend it a good look, or entertain a favourable thought of that which shed my Lord's blood ? Shall I live in that for which he died, and died to kill it in me?” Oh! let it not be.
To the end it may not be, let such really apply that death to work this on the soul; for this is always to be added, and is the main thing indeed, by holding and fastening that death close to the soul, effectually to kill the effects of sin in it; to stifle and e 1 Pet. ii. 23.
1 John ii. 6.
crush them dead, by pressing that death on the heart; looking on it, not only as a most complete model, but as having a most effectual virtue, for this effect, and desiring him, entreating our Lord himself, who communicates himself, and the virtue of his death, to the believer, that he would powerfully cause it to flow in upon us, and let us feel the virtue of it.
It is then the only thriving and growing life, to be much in the lively contemplation and application of Jesus Christ; to be continually studying him, and conversing with him, and drawing from him ; receiving of his fulness, grace for grace'. Wouldst thou have much power against sin, and much increase of holiness, let thine eye be much on Christ; set thine heart on him; let it dwell in him, and be still with him. When sin is like to prevail in any kind, go to him, tell him of the insurrection of his enemies, and thy inability to resist, and desire him to suppress them, and to help thee against them, that they may gain nothing by their stirring, but some new wound. If thy heart begin to be taken with, and move towards, sin, lay it before him; the beams of his love shall eat out that fire of these sinful lusts. Wouldst thou have thy pride, and passions, and love of the world, and self-love, killed, go sue for the virtue of his death, and that shall do it; seek his Spirit, the Spirit of meekness, and humility, and divine love. Look on him, and he shall draw thy heart heavenwards, and unite it to himself, and make it like himself. And is not that the thing thou desirest?
f John i. 16.
Ver. 2. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in
the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought
the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.
The chains of sin are so strong, and so fastened on our nature, that there is in us no power to break them off, till a mightier and stronger Spirit than our own come into us. The Spirit of Christ dropped into the soul, makes it able to break through a troop, and leap over a wall, as David speaks of himself furnished with the strength of his God". Mens resolutions fall to nothing : And as a prisone that offers to escape, and does not, is bound faster, thus usually it is with men in their self-purposes of forsaking sin: they leave out Christ in the work, and so remain in their captivity, yea, it grows upon them; and while we press them to free themselves, and shew not Christ to them, we put them upon an impossibility : but a look to him makes it feasible and easy. Faith in him, and that love to him which faith begets, breaks through and surmounts all difficulties. It is the powerful love of Christ that kills the love of sin, and kindles the love of holiness in the soul; makes it a willing sharer in his death, and so a happy partaker of his life: for that always follows, and must of necessity, as here is added, He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin, is crucified and dead to it, but he loses nothing: yea, it is his great gain, to lose that deadly life of the flesh for a new spiritual life; a life indeed, living unto God. That is the end why he so dies, that he may thus live, That he no longer should live, &c. and yet live far better, live to the will of God. He that is one with Christ by believing, is one throughout in death and life. As Christ rose, so he that is dead to sin with him, through the power
of a Psal. xviii. 29.
his death, rises to that new life with him, through the power of his resurrection. And these two are our sanctification, which, whosoever do partake of Christ, and are found in him, do certainly draw from him. Thus are they joined'; Likewise reckon you yourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God, and both through Christ Jesus our Lord.
All they that do really come to Jesus Christ, as they come to him as their Saviour to be cloathed with him, and made righteous by him; they come likewise to him as their sanctifier, to be made new and holy by him, to die and live with him, to follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes, through the hardest sufferings, and death itself. And this spiritual suffering and dying with him, is the universal way of all his followers: they are all martyrs thus in the crucifying of sinful flesh, and so dying for him, and with him; and they may well go cheerfully through, though it bear the unpleasant name of death : yet as the other death is (which makes it so little terrible, yea, often to appear so very desirable to them, so is this) the way to a far more excellent and happy life, so that they may pass through it gladly, both for the company and end of it. It is with Christ they go into his death, as unto life in his life. Though a believer might be free upon these terms, he would not. No, sure: could he be content with that easy life of sin, instead of the divine life of Christ ? No, he will do thus, and not accept of deliverance, that he may obtain (as the apostle 'speaks of the martyrs), a better resurrection. "Think on it again, you to whom your sins are dear still, and this life sweet; you are yet far from Christ and his life.
The apostle, with intent to press this more home, expresses more at large the nature of the opposite estates and lives that he speaks of, and so sets before his Christian brethren, 1. The dignity of that new life; and then, 2. By a particular reflection upon the former life, he presses the change. The former b Rom, vi. 11.
© Heb, xi. 35.