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Thanksgivings: and whoso is wife will pender these things, and be Mall understand the Loving-kindness of the Lord.
Thus we see the Miracle held forth in the Gospel for this Day; the Improvement and Application whereof being made at large in the Gospels for the fourth Sunday in Lent, and the last Sunday after Trinity, I shall not need to repeat it here, but refer the Reader to them.
DISCOURSE XXVI. The Epistle for the Eighth Sunday after
Rom. viii. 12-18. Brethren, we are Debtors, not to the Flesh, to live
after the Flesh; for if ye live after the Flesh ye Jall die ; but if ye, thro the Spirit, do mortify the Deeds of the Body, ye fball live: for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God, &c.
HE Colleet for this Day beseeches God, whose ne
ver-failing Providence ordereth all things, both in
Heaven and Earth, to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us.
Now the things hurtful to us are chiefly the Works of the Flesh, which lead to Death and Damnation; and the things profitable for us are the Fruits of the Spirit, which lead to Life and Salvation. Accordingly, the Epiftle for the Day treats of both these, exhorting us to put away the one, and to put 'on the other. It begins with the kind Compellation of Brethren; Brethren (faith he) we are Debtors, &c. Where the Apostle takes these new-converted Romans into the Relation of a spiritual Fraternity, stiling them Brethren, hoping by that loving and endearing Title the better to in
itil his Advice and Precepts into them. To which end, he first puts them in mind of the great
Debt that lies upon all Christians, by virtue of that Holy Profession they have taken upon them Brethren, we are Debtors: that is, we have many Obligations lying upon us by our receiving the Gof pel, and enabracing Christianity, being bound, by the Condition of our fpiritual Being, to lead another Course of Life than we did before. And this Debt is contracted not barely by our Christian Profession, which obliges us to all Purity and Holiness; but likewise by the Covenant and Pro mife we thereby enter into; as alfo by the many Benefits and Privileges that we are entitled to, and receive by it: all which are strong Engagements to leave our former finful Courfes, and to live in Newness of Life, now we have enbrac'd the Christian Faith. ; But the Apostle proceeds, in the next words, to declare more particularly the Debt that lies upon us on these accounts, which he expresses first negatively, We are Debtors (faith he) not to the Flesh, to live after the Fleso: that is, tho our flefly Part hath many natural Appetites and Defires, that call upon us to be gratify'd; and we are so far indebted to Nature, as to be oblig'd to answer and fatisfy the regu: lar Demands of it; yet we are not bound to hearken to the irregular Motions of corrupt Nature, or to follow the Sway of our sinful Lufts: yea, we are oblig'd to the contrary, to mortify our earthly Members by Fafting and Prayer, and to make no provision for the Flesh, to falfit the Lufts thereof. To which the Apostle adds a strong Reafon or Inducement; For if ye live after tbe Flesh ye mall die : If ye give up your felves to the Command of a carnal and sensual Appetite, and suffer your felves to be carry'd away by the Temptations of your Bethly Lusts, ye will in evitably expose your felves to the Destruction of Body and Soul; Death will be the certain End and issue of such un. mortify'd Lufts: for to be carnally minded. is Death, ver. 6. And that not a temporal Death only, or a short Separation of Body and Soul, but eternal Death, which is a Separation of both from God for ever. For the carnal Mind i Enmity against God; it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be: and what carries such a direct Enmity and Opposition against God, can never befo reconcil'd as ever to enjoy him. So that we cannot be Debtors to the Flesh, to live after the Flesh, which is attended with such a fatal Destruction,
Bat But how then are we said to be Debtors? Why, 'tis to the Spirit, to live after the Spirit, who hath regenerated and begotten us again to a new Life ; 'tis to him we owe our Reception into Christ's Church, and being call'd thereby into à State of Salvation. This hath laid upon us a Debt of Thankfulness and Obedience, which we are to be always paying; and that is to be done by living after the Spirit, by observing and obeying its godly Motions, and by govern ing our felves and Actions by the Gifts and Graces of it : for as to live after the Flesh is to follow the corrupt Inclinations of the Flesh, and to obey it in the Lufts thereof; so to live after the Spirit is to follow the Conduct of God's Holy Spirit, and to observe the Dictates and Directions of that Divine Guide. As for the former, we have no Obligation, but to renounce and forfake all the Works of the Flesh; which are hurtful to all that indulge themselves in them: for the latter, we are indebted to labour for, and to bring forth the Fruits of the Spirit, which are highly useful and profitable for us. And to this our Christian Profeftion, and the Hopes we have from it, Itrongly oblige us : for 'tis but reafonable that we should act and live up to what we pretend to; and being enter'd upon a new and better Cove: nant, that is establish'd upon better Promises than we had before, we should answer it by a suitable Conversation. Hence St. Peter, mentioning the exceeding great Dignity and Advantages of our Christian Profeslion, stiling Chrif tians, A chofen Generation, a Royal Priethood, a Holy Nao tion, a peculiar People'; wills them not to do any thing un. worthy of themselves, that might debase the Honour, or deprive them of the Benefit of their high and holy Calling. And because nothing could more 'endanger both, than living after the Flesh, he beseeches them, as Strangers and Pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly Lufts, which war againyt the Soul; 1 Pet. 2. 9, 10, 11. And to this St. Paul here gives us abundant Encouragement; for tho he before told us, that if we live after the Flesh, we shall die, yet he adds, that if we thro the Spirit do mortify the Deeds of the Body, we shall livé. And tho 'to be carnally minded is Death, yet to be Spiritually minded is Life and Peace: where, as eternal Death is the Wages and Confequent of a sinful and sensual Course of Life ; fo eternal Life will be the End and Reward of a spiritual and heavenly Conversation. The Proof whereof the Apostle gives us in the following words:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God; they are the Sons of God; meaning, that being led by the Spirit of God, and living by the Dictates and Directions of it, we become the Sons and Children of God, and consequently he will deal with us as his Children, and bestow upon us the Inheritance of eternal Life. And this Sonship we have not. barely by Right of Creation; for in that respect all, even the worst of Men, are said to be the Sons of God; but by a new Title of Regeneration and Adoption, whereby from Aliens and Outcafts we are taken into Christ's Family, and entitled to all the Privileges of the Sons of God. This he farther confirms in the next words, saying, For ye have nog received the Spirit of Bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby, ye cry, Abba, Father : meaning, that we are not now in the Condition of Servants or Slaves, who are call’d upon to do their work, and instead of Wages are in continual fear of the Lash; neither are we now, as the Jews sometimes were, in Bondage to the beggarly Elements of the World, or the childish Rudi. ments of Moses's Law, which was a State of Servility and Thraldom: but now our Condition in Christ is mightily alter'd; we have another Spirit that carries us above all such fervile and Navish Fears, and gives us the Boldness and Confidence of Children, even the Spirit of Adoption, which enables us to go freely to him, and cry, Abba, Father : a Form of Speech whereby Children were wont to addrefs their Parents, signifying that we are allow'd to come to God, not as Servants to a hard Master, but as Sons to a tender and loving Father, expecting all fatherly Usage from him, even Assistance to perform his Commands, and Afsurance to receive the Reward of them.
But how are we confirne'd in the Belief and Certainty of our Sonship? Why, that the next words declare, The Spirit it self beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God; meaning, that we have the Testimony of God's Holy Spirit, concurring with our own Spirits, to confirm us in the Truth of our filial Relation to him. Our own Spirit of it self is fallible, and might be apt to flatter and deceive us in this matter ; but the Testimony of God's Holy Spirit is infallible, and cannot deceive us: The Heart of Man is deceitful, faith the Prophet, and not to be trusted alone; but the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Truth, that leads into all and nothing but Truth: and having the concurrent Testimony of both these for the Truth of our Sonthip, we may safely rely upon it, that we are the Children of God. And this Evidence we have by the Spirit's bearing witness with our Spirits, testifying to our Consciences that we are more than Servants (the highest Privilege that the Jews could boast of) even the Sons of God. And yet this is not all; for
If Children, then Heirs, Heirs, of God, and Joint-Heirs with Jesus Chrift. 'Tis, we know, the Custom of all Places and Countries, that Children should be Heirs to their Father: in like manner therefore God being our Father, we thereby become Heirs of God; and being our heavenly Fa. ther, we are thereby entitled as Heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven: to which we are Joint-Heirs with Chrift; He indeed, as a Son by natural Generation, and so the Firft-born, and in that sense the only-begotten Son of God, and fo fole Heir by Nature ; We, as Sons by Adoption and Grace, and by virtue of that having a share in the Inheritance, and fo are Co-heirs with Christ. In earthly Kingdoms the Inheritance goes
only to the elder Brother, but God makes all his Children Heirs, and Joint-Partakers of his heavenly King. dom. But how come we, who had forfeited both our Sonfhip and Right to the Inheritance by the first Transgression and Rebellion against our heavenly Father, to be thus reftor’d by Adaption, and reinstated again into the Privileges of Sons? Why, this was done for us by the Merits and Mediation of Chrift: for fo faith the Apostle, If a song then an Heir thro Clarift, Gal. 4. 7. And tho no elder Brother is wont to divide the Inheritance with the younger, and make him Co-heir with himself; yet Christ, our elder Brother, hath taken us into Co-partnership with him; and by his Sufferings purchas'd and procur'd Redemption for us, and by that means hath made us Heirs of Salvation, and entaild this Inheritance upon us; Heb. 1. 4. 1 Pet. 1.4. So that we need not be dismay'd at any Sufferings that may befal us for his fake: for
If so be that we suffer with him, we Mall also be glorifild together. Christ himself was made perfect by Sufferings, and is thereby become our powerful and all-sufficient Saviour; he went to Heaven by the Cross, and we must go the same way to obtain the Crown. The Happiness that he procurd for us by his Sufferings, we are to be prepard for, and possess by our own : For God hath predeftinated '88 to be conform’d to the Image of bis Son, that he may be the