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that if your heart hath not freely owned his mediation, his blood cannot be witnessing; but the heart's freeness in choosing and accepting of the blood of Christ, for the ends and uses for which it is designed, may discover that we have the witness of blood.
[3.] How may a soul know if he hath the witness of water; or, if the Spirit witness in him by water in sanctification ? There are two parts of sanctification, namely, mortification, and vivification; and the Spirit witnesses by water with respect to both.
1st, The Spirit witnesses by water in respect of mortification, or dying unto sin. That this is a witnessing thing is evident from Rom. vi. 16. " His seryants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness."
QUEST. How shall I know if sin be mortified in me, or the dominion of it broken?
Answ. This may be known by the choice of the heart to part with sin. The very reign of sin consists in the voluntary subjection of the whole man to it; and therefore, a thorough unwillingness to sin, must argue freedom from the reign of it. A choosing and consenting doth express Paul's subjection to God's law, when he falls short in practice, Rom. vii. 16.; and so a hearty consenting to part with sin doth argue freedom from the reign of it, even though you may be rushed into the act of it. Measure yourself by your choice. You may be restrained from gross sins, which others commit; but, if you choose sin, it is all one in God's account as if you acted it, Mat. v. 28. But because wicked men may have some unwillingness to commit some sins, I would give you some account of this right choice of freedom from sin.
1. It is free. When a man is free in his choice, and without co-action, then it evidences liberty from the dominion of sin. The apostle makes an opposition be. twixt doing by constraint, and doing willingly, i Peter V. 2. Many would choose rather to part with sin, than be damned, as the mariner would rather part with bis goods, than be drowned : this is not willingly. But if it be a free choice, that though there was no VOL. IX.
danger, no fear of hell, yet the nature of sin would make you deny subjection to it; then you are not under the dominion of it, Romans vi. 16. 22. John viji.
2. When the choice is universal, then it evidences freedom from the dominion of sin; when the man consents to part with all sin. Not that a man can really be freed from one sin, who is under the reigning power of other sins : but he may be restrained from many, and yet not be freed from the ruling power of any, Ps. cxix. 104. 128. The subduing of one sin may discover freedom from the dominion of all, when the heart is carried out against the nature of sin in that one; but the heart indulging one sin, though never so small, argues the dominion of all, James ii. 10, 11.
3. When the choice is absolute, without condition, If there be any condition in the world, that will allure you to sin, it is not a hearty choice. Herod was unwilling to behead John the Baptist ; but, for Herodias' sake, he would do it. A true choice is absolute, without condition : as also without parley, or any condition of agreement with sin. When there is a conflict betwixt the flesh and the Spirit, it discovers the truth of this choice, Gal. v. 17, 18, 19.
QUEST. But may there not be a conflict with sin, that doth not evidence the dominion of sin being broken?
ANSW. Yea, when it is not between the right parties, the flesh and the Spirit. There may be a struggle in a man's spirit, by the interfering of one sin with another: or betwixt the inclination of the will to the commission of some sin, and the dictates of the natural conscience; but the true conflict is betwixt the flesh and the Spirit, corruption and grace : but then is the opposition and war with sin, an evidence of sin's dominion being broken, when the opposition is made by the hiding of the word in the heart; “ Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee,” Psalm cxix. 11. When the word within us is a seed that opposes sin, then it is evidential of sin's power being broken, 1 John iii. 9. You may have an hundred scriptures forbidding sin, which the flesh lusteth after: and as many promises of help against it: all sin may be eyed and thought upon, and your affections may be slightly touched therewith : but if these words be not treasured up
your hearts, you may be into sin in the face of all these': but when the heart engages against sin, by the word, then it is evidencing; for, the word is the sword of the Spirit; when, for example, faith acted upon a word of promise discerns the love of God, which constrains the soul not to meddle with the abominable thing he hates, and discerns the power of God therein engaged for its through-bearing, and hereupon is encouraged to oppose sin; the choice, I say, of free. dom is absolute, without condition of agreement. A right choice is also absolute, without condition of reconciliation. There is an irreconcileable opposition in the soul against sin: mountains of gold cannot win the least token of favour or respect in the soul towards sin; but it cries out under it; “ Oh! wretched man that I am! who will deliver me from the body of this death ?”? In this case the soul may conclude, that it is free from the dominion of sin, having the Spirit witnessing by water; for such a choice of freedom from sin does lead to, and end in the mortification of it, which is an evi. dencing adoption and spiritual life; “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ; but if ye, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live,” Rom. viii. 13. There may be cessation from the actings of sin, and yet no mortification of it; there may be a change of sin, and no change of heart: but mortification strikes at the root of sin, and aims at the destruction of it, Rom. vii. 24. vi. 6.
4. When the choice of freedom from sin is evangeli. cal, and upon evangelical accounts
. A man may be incensed against sin, upon natural accounts: and yet be under the dominion of sin still, Rom. x. 2.
QUEST. When is a man's choice of freedom from sin evangelical, or upon evangelical accounts ?
This being a material question, I would answer it in some particulars. 1. When the heart is disengaged from sin upon the
account of its contrariety to the will of God in Christ. We are, indeed, to look upon sin as a violation of the Father's will ; but it is his will, not according to the tenor of the old covenant, Gal. jii. 10, 11, but as he hath revealed his will in the new covenant. The least duty you perform, ought to be done as a service to Christ. If your heart be carried out to duty, as a service to Christ as Redeemer, then it is evangelical
. And if your heart be not carried out against sin, as striking at Christ the Redeemer, it is not evangelical: but if a sight of the injury offered to Christ, by sin, doth carry out your heart against it, then it is evangelical. Å man may have sorrow for, and hatred of sin, as it pro cures discredit, suffering, or the like; but when the soul is touched with a deep sense of it, in Christ's suf. ferings for and by it, when its piercing, wounding, and grieving of Christ does melt the heart for it, then the soul acts evangelically.
2. When a discovery of the love, goodness, and kind. Ness of God in Christ is the constraining thing that keeps you from sin; or when the appearing of bis grace teaches you sweetly to deny all ungodliness and worldly Justs, Tit. ii. 13.; when the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; and when love overcomes the beart to the acknowledgment of sin ; when the remembrance of the former loving-kindness of the Lord doth melt the heart for sin, this is soon swallowed up with a tes. timony of remission. See an instance of this, 2 Sam. xii. 7, 8, 9. 13. avi
3. Then the choice is evangelical, when the man aims at a conformity to Christ in his seeking freedom from sin, 1 Pet. ii. 21, 22, 23, &c." Custom, example, education, credit, and the like, may make a man to disconntenance sin in some measure: but except Christ be the pattern of your imitation, and your sorrow be, that you fall so short of him, he regards it not.
4. When the man aims at the coming up to some special gospel grace, or the attainment of some special gospel privilege, in seeking freedom from sin, then it is evangelical. A man may see that sin is cross to his carnal interest, brings on diseases on his body, and the
like; but then 'he acts evangelically, when he is sorrowful for sin, and hates it because it hinders the exercise of some grace, or the performance of some duty, or the attainment of communion with Christ.
5. Then is it evangelical when it is by the application of the death of Christ, in a promise, that be makes resistance against sin, Rom. vi. 4. 14. Heb. ix, 14. Acts v. 31. Rev. xii. 9. 11. “ They overcame by the blood of the Lamb." This must be an ingredient in all the former particulars; no freedom but by Christ, Luke i. 71,75.
6. When sin is really subjected. Sin cannot be both king and subject, in the same soul, at the same time. There may be a conflict with sin, and yet it may seem to have the upper hand for a time; but when the soul hath gotten sin under it, then it is evident that sin doth not reign.
QUEST. How doth it appear when the soul hath gotten sin under it?
Answ. Sin is subjected and brought under the soul, when the soul is enabled to a speedy mortification of it upon all its rebellions; when sin, like a cowardly conquered enemy, comes out to the field, but is presently beat off the field again, and is not able to keep the field any longer. As a conquered enemy may run about and make resistance, but they hasten on their own ruin thereby; so the motions of sin may be felt, but the soul is enabled to look to Christ, and to oppose the word and blood of Christ to sin, and is speedily saved, Revelation xii. 8,9. 11. When corruption is laid lower by every onset, this says that it hath not the dominion.
Again, then is sin subjected under the soul, when even the former prevalency of corruption is made serviceable for spiritual ends; as when the prevailing of sin doth produce soul-bumiliation, self-abasement, and fills it with more admiration of, and study after the advancement of the riches of free grace, in opening a way of deliverance from sin, Ezek. xvi. 61.63. Eph. ii. 5, 6, Thus tlie soul can triumph over sin through Christ;