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rupt state of man's mind since the first transgression, and all those depraved dispositions and affections which naturally flow from the corrupt principle, and which incline us to seek happiness from earthly things, indepen. dent of God. We learn too what is meant by “ crucifying the lusts and affections of the flesh;" namely, that tbis natural depravity of mind is subdued ; that the car. nal principle, like a crucified malefactor, languishes and decays; until, by degrees, gracious or renewed habits are formed in us, which at last obtain the full possession of our minds.
What hath been said may suffice to give a plain and intelligible explanation of the terms in the text; and to pursue the metaphor farther, would neither be profitable to you por agreeable to myself. The words thus explain. ed give us a very distinguishing character of a true Chris. tian. He is one who, by the grace of God, hath obtained the victory over bis corrupt appetites and inclinations. He is in a great measure rescued from the ruins of the fall, and is no longer a servant of sin, that he should obey it in the lusts thereof. “ He hath put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and being renewed in the spirit of his mind, bath put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.'
.“ The law of the spirit of life, which is in Christ Je. gus, hath made him free from the law of sin and death." Conscience, long dethroned by imperious passions, hath reassumed its authority; and all the faculties of his mind, purified and exalted, unite in the pursuit of spiritual en. joyments.
And now, my brethren, let me entreat you to stop your ears for a little against the suggestions of self-love, and let conscience bear testimony, whether you have
indeed a claim to this character. Alas! if you have no claim to it, this can be no day of thanksgiving to you. If you have adventured to approach the table of the Lord with all your unmortified lusts about you, ye have been guilty of the body and blood of Christ; ye have sealed the sentence of your own condemnation; and lamenta. tion becomes you better than the voice of praise. You may, perhaps, complain of this as a severe and heavy message; but dare any of you say that it is a message without a warrant? Shall I speak peace to those to whom God hath not spoken peace? Shall I sooth you with false comforts, wbich might lead you down to the grave with a lie in your right hand ? No; I remember too well the wo pronounced against the prophet “who dealeth falsely, and healeth the wound of the daughter of God's people slightly." I should not wish to be an eternal subject of imprecation to hopeless souls, which I should well deserve to be, if I spoke any other language to you than what I now speak.
But you have as yet no cause to complain : I have indeed set before you the danger, but I have not said you must despair. On the contrary, my only object is to prevent your everlasting despair, by awakening your fears ere it be too late, and the door of mercy be shut against you. That door is still open, and the call is yet, “ To. day hear his voice.” O then harden not your hearts against conviction. Decline not an impartial scrutiny in. to your real state. Let this passage of Scripture inform you, whether you indeed belong to Christ. If you do possess the marks of those who are his, take the comfort of your sincerity, and give God the glory. But if the issue of the inquiry should turn out otherwise, O beware of resting in this dreadful condition. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eye-lids, till you have
secured an interest in that blood of sprinkling which cleanseth from all sin.
Need I enter on a detail of those lusts and affections which flow from a corrupt and depraved principle with. in ? “ The works of the flesh," saith the Apostle, (at the 19th verse of this chapter) are “manifest; which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunken. ness, revellings, and such like; of the wbich I tell
you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they wbich do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
I am sensible, that, after the recital of so black a cata. logue of crimes, the most of you will already have ac. quitted yourselves of such enormous degrees of guilt. And I am afraid, that this general acquittal from the charge of heinous transgressions, lulls the consciences of many into a fatal security. I will not go so far as to say, that it were better for the unconverted sinner, that his conscience could charge him with some of these glaring iniquities, although our Saviour's saying seems to imply as much, viz. That the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before the scribes and pharisees. All that I assert is, that you ought not too hastily to conclude that the flesh is crucified with its affections and lusts, merely because your lives have not been spotted with any of those gross and scandalous sins. In these days of light and knowledge, Satan doth not find it for his interest to push men to the extremities of vice. He rather endeavours to keep the garrison in peace, by blunting the edge of conviction with the fair shows of outward decency and formality. Be persuaded then to go deeper into your inquiry. Search
the very inmost corners of your hearts. Put the authority of God in one scale, and the interests of the flesh in another, and see which of the two weighs heavier in your affections. You frequent the church, you attend un ordinances, and perform the external parts of religion with an apparent relish and alacrity. All this is good; but be. ware of building too much on it. Consider that these observances do not in any great degree thwart the interests of the flesh. The laws and customs of the land favour you; your estates are not thereby impaired, nor your lives endangered; nor is your reputation hurt, but rather advanced. But suppose the case to be otherwise, and let your bearts give the answer.—Would you persist in the same course at all risks, though your estates were exposed to confiscation, though your names were to be branded with every term of reproach that malice could devise; yea, though all the engines of torture lay in the road of duty ? Would no prospect of gain, however secure from human discovery, tempt you to encroach on the divine rules of justice and equity ? Can you
bless them that curse you, and render good for evil, and forgive the most galling injuries, even when Providence puts your enemies in your power ? Did the objects of criminal desire not only tempt but solicit you; were you favoured with every circumstance of time and place, could you check the career of passion, with Joseph's reflection, “ How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?" These, indeed, are sure signs that the flesh is crucified with the affections and lusts. But if, on the contrary, the fear of man's censure or punishment would turn you aside from the practice of your duty, if the pros. pect of secret gain could tempt you to lie or cheat or dissemble ; if any injury appears too great to be forgiven, or any sensual appetite too importunate to be denied ; in a word, if any temptation, be its circumstances what they will, would prevail on you to indulge yourselves in the deliberate omission of any known duty, or in the practice of any known sin ; then, whatever your preten. ces are, the flesh, with its affections and lusts, is not yet crucified in you. But do not mistake me, as if I meant to assert, that none have crucified the flesh but those who are perfect in holiness. No; the righteous man falleth seven times a day, and riseth again. Nay, there is not a just man upon earth that doth good, and sinneth not. And therefore I speak not of those false steps to which the best are liable through the remainders of corruption; but of known and habitual sins, committed with the full bent and inclination of the will. These plainly betray the predominancy of the flesh, with its affections and lusts; and show, that the person who is under the dominion of them, has no just or Scriptural claim to an interest in Cbrist. For a worldly Christian, or a carnal Christian, or a dishonest Christian, are as gross contradictions in terms as an infidel Cbristian. And this naturally leads me to the
Second thing proposed; which was to show that it is the distinguishing character and the real attainment of all who are Christ's, to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. This is so much the uniform language of the New Testament, that one should hardly think it required a proof. The great lesson which our Lord taught his disciples was expressed in these words: “ If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” This he repeated nu various occasions, as a subject that ought to employ their constant attention. “ He that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."--" If any
man come after me, and hate not his father and mother, and