« PreviousContinue »
Reasoning in the next words, Now if we be dead with Chrift, ipe believe that we Mall also live with him ; that is, if we truly and fincerely perform our part in imitating of Chrift's Death, by dying unto Sin, and transcribe his Rea furrection by rifing to a new and holy Life, we shall toge. ther with hiin have a joyful Resurrection to eternal Life: if the Death of Christ' have that good effect upon us, as to weaken the Strength, and extinguish the Life of Sin in us, nothing can hinder us from living unto God here, and with him for ever hereafter.
But left any fhould mistake here, and think that the leaving of Sin for a while would fufficiently answer the End of Christ's Death, or prefume that a few Acts of a holy Life perform'd now and then, would intitle them to all the Benefits and Privileges of his Resurrection; the Apostle would have them know other and better things: and to that end acquaints them in the next Verse, That Chrif being rais'd from the Dead, dietb. no more ; Death hath no more Dominion over him: meaning, that the Copy of Christ's Death, which we are to follow and write af. ter, teaches us fo to die unto Sin, as to live no longer therein, nor to suffer any Sin to have any more Dominion over us; and the Copy of his Resurrection, which we are to transcribe and imitate, directs us so to lead a Life of Grace, as not to come under the Power of fpiritual Death any more : for in that he dy'd, be dy'd unto Sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. The Sense whereof is, that when Chrift dy'd for our Sin, he did it but once for all, and never underwent that Death again : Even so we who are baptiz’d into his Death, should bid a total and fi. nal Adieu to all Sin, and never more be brought into Bondage to any. But when he rose from the Dead, he rose not to one single A&t of Life and no more, or so as to live a while, and then to cease from it again ; but he rose to an eternal, immortal, endless Life, that fadeth not away: to our rising with Christ, and living unto God, betokens our rising to a spiritual Life of Grace, that never ends, but flows into an eternal Life of Glory, persevering here, in alt vertuous and godly Living, according to the Precept and Example of our Saviour Chrift, who rose again never to die more, on purpose to quicken us to everlafting Life. In short, the Example of Christ's Death and Resurrection, to which we are here bid to conform, teaches us two very excellent and useful Lessons.
1. That well
1. That our dying unto, or forsaking of Sin, must be total or univerfal, from all Sin, without allowing our selves in any.
2. That'our living unto Righteousness must be constant, and hold out to the end.
1. I say, our forsaking of Sin must be total and univerfal, extending to all Sin, without the least Indulgence to any. This was the end of Christ's Death, so to kill all Sin in us, that' none might continue or revive in us any more: How mall we that are dead' to Sin (saith the Apoftle) live any longer therein. A dead Man, you know, hath no Sensation or Perception of any thing; and if we are dead to all Sin, as Christ's Death teaches us to be, we shall have no Motion or Inclination to any. There are fome'who can well enough dispenfe with this or that Sin, whichi croffes not their Interest or Humour, but stick close to others, that better administer to their Lusts or Designs, and what they feem to take away froni one Vice, they make up with advantage to another. The Apostle speaks of some who abhord Idols, but could greedily enough commit Sacrilege, Rom. 2. and we have known many great Enemies indeed to Idolatry, who yét are well enough reconcil'd to Schism and Sacrilege. Sach as thefe are not dead, but alive unto Sin, to which they moft clofely adhere ; and are not fo much alive, as dead unto Righteousness, whose ways they utterly forsake. Such partial and nominal Christians, like those in the Church of Sardis, have a Name to live, but are indeed dead as to all the Purposes of a spiritual Life ; which will not permit in us the Love or Practice of any one known Sin, but lays the Axe to the very Root, and cuts down all the Branches of Iniquity. In a word, we are to imitate Christ's Death, by dying unto all Sin, not sparing. Agag, or any darling Inipiety, but laying aside every Weight, and the Sin that doth fo easily befet us.
2. Our living unto Righteousness must be constant, and persevering unto the end; not living to it a while, and then leaving it, but making it the Work and Business of our whole Life, and continuing faithful in it, even unto Death. There are some who seem zealous and good Chriftians for a time, running with great Alacrity and Chearfulness the Ways of God's Commandments; but after a while flag, and tire, and forfake all : Te did run well (faith the Apostle to the Galatians) who did hinder you, that ye Mould not obey the Truth? that is, ye began and' set out
well in your Christian Race, receiving the Gospel as it was preached unto you, and so were in a good way of Faith, and by it went happily forward towards the Mark of your high Calling in Christ Jesus-; but you have falter'd fince, and not continu'd on in that Course, and so have lost the Prize for not holding out to the end of the Race : And so shall we too, if we persevere not, and keep not in it to the laft. You hall reap (faith St. Paul) a good Crop of Glory, if ye faint not; but if you give out and grow weary, ye jhall reap only the fad Fruit of Shame and Confusion. In short, you must live on a Life of Grace to the end, if ever ye hope to arrive to a Life of Glory.
This is the Sense and Drift of the Epistle for this Day; which shews us how we are to imitate Christ's Death, by dying unto Sin, and likewise how we are to shew forth the Virtue of his Resurrection, by living unto Righteousness.
The Application of the whole Discourse, the Apostle gives us in the last Verse of the Epistle, saying, Likewise reckon ye alfo your selves to be dead indeed unto Sin, but do live unto God, thro Jesus Christ our Lord: that is, take this home to your felves, and count upon it, that by your Baptism you are in a State of Death, as to all sinful Practices, never to love or live in such Courses any more ; and that by Christ's Resurrection you are rais'd to a new State of Life, to be led in the Practice of Holiness and Vertue, which you are to live for ever, without ever returning again to any vile or vicious Courses. And this thro Jesus Chrift our Lord, that is, by the Aid and Afgistance of his Holy Spirit, who is both the Author and Cherisher of this fpiritual Life, from whom, as from the Root and Foundation, all our Graces spring.
All that remains is, to exhort you to answer these two great Ends and Effects of Christ's Death and Resurrection, by:a total abandoning of all kinds of Sin, and by a coné stant Practice of all sorts of Vertue. These are the two Parts of that Sanctification, which we have by Baptism ; they are commonly express'd by Mortification, which is a dying unto Sin; and Vivification, which is a living unto Righteousness. These likewise are the two great Parts of Repentance, which is a turning from Sin unto God. They are express’d in Scripture, sometimes by eschewing Evil and doing Good; sometimes by abhorring that which is Evil, and cleaving to that which is Good; sometimes by denying Ungodlie
ness and worldly Lusts, and living righteously, Soberly, and godly in this present World: All which are but different Expreslions of what we are call’d upon to do this day, namely to die unto Sin, and to live unto God.
Let this therefore be henceforth our main Study and Exercise. To which end, let us often meditate on the Merits and Virtue of Christ's Death, and the Power of his Resurrection to work these things in us: the one to mortify and kill Sin in us, which is to put off the old Man; the other
l to quicken and enliven our Graces, which is to put on the new Man, that after God is created in Righteousness and true Holiness. This is the great Work and Duty of Repentance, to which we are so often call'd, and encourag'd by many Promifes; and the Neglect whereof is so severely threaten'd with many Punishments. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, said St. Fohn, upon our Saviour's first Coming into the World ; that being his main Design
in it, to bless Mankind by turning them from their Iniqui· ties.' Repent, and be converted (faith St. Peter) that
your Sins may be blotted out, when the times of Refremment mall come from the Presence of the Lord; Acts 3. 19. that being the only means to procure ,our Pardon, and to gain Admission into the Presence of God. Except ye, repent (faith our Saviour) ye Mall all likewise perish; Luke 13.5.. All which are so many Warnings and Exhortations to the great Duty of this Day, viz. to die unto Sin, and to live unto Righteousness. I shall conclude all with the following words of our Apostle, Ler not Sin reign therefore in your mortal Bodies, that ye mould obey it in the Luft's thereof ; neither yield ye your Members as Instruments of Unrighteousness unto Sin, but yield your felves unto God as those that are alive from the Dead, and your Members as Instruments of Righteousness unto God: So shall you e'er long receive a Crown of Righteousness, which God the righteous Judg shall give you at the last Day: Which God
The GOSPEL for the Sixth Sunday after
Trinity. St. Matthew v. 20-27. Jefus faid to his Disciples, Except your righteous
ness Thall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye Jhall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Te have heard that«it was faid by them of old, Thou sbalt not kill, and whofoever shall kill Doill be in danger of the Judgment; but I say unto you, &c.
HIS Gospel for the Day contains another Part of
cates the Law from all false Glosses, and refines it into a more pure and perfect Rule of Life and Manners. He had before told his Disciples, that he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it, ver. 17. He freed them indeed
from the Rites and Ceremonies, but not from the Rules and Pręcepts of Moses's Law. Instead of loosening the Obligation, he expected a Itricter Obedience and Conformity to it. And because the Scribes and Pharisees had corrupted the Law, by: false Glosses, and their Lives by false and glozing Pretences, he endeavours here to reform and regulate both; beginning with this Caution,
'Except your Righteousness Mall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye Mall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The Scribes and Pharisees were the great Doctors and Rabbies among the Jews; the one being the Name of an Office, and the other of a Sect, and both eminent Teachers and Expounders of the Law: which they had done so fallly and corruptly, that our Saviour found it necessary to expound it over again, to rescue it from their evil Interpretations, and to bring it up to its just height