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3. Though it do its worst, yet be sure it never prevail to a conquest. Be sure you be not wearied out by its pertinacity, nor driven from your hold by its importunity; do not faint by its opposition. Take the apostle's advice, Heb. vi. 11. We desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end : that ye be not slothful.' Still hold out in the same diligence. There are many ways whereby men are driven from a constant holy performance of duties, all of them dangerous, if not pernicious to the soul. Some are diverted by business, some by company, some by the power of temptations, some discouraged by their own darkness; but none so dangerous as this, when the soul gives over in part, or in whole, as wearied by the aversation of sin unto it, or to communion with God in it. This argues the soul's giving up of itself unto the power of sin, which, unless the Lord break the share of Satan therein, will assuredly prove ruinous. Our Saviour's instruction is, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint;'Luke xviii. 1. Opposition will arise, none so bitter and keen as that from our own hearts; if we faint we perish. * Take heed lest you be wearied,' saith the apostle, “and faint in your minds;' Heb. xii. 3. Such a fainting as is attended with a weariness, and that with a giving place to the aversation working in our hearts, is to be avoided if we would not perish. The caution is the same with that of the same apostle, Rom. xii. 12. ' Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.' And in general with that of chap. vi. 12. 'Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof.' To cease from duty, in part or in whole, upon the aversation of sin unto its spirituality, is to give sin the rule and to obey it in the lust thereof. Yield not then unto it, but hold out the conflict; wait on God and ye shall prevail. Isa. xl. 31. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' But that which is now so difficult, will increase in difficulty if we give way unto it. But if we abide in our station, we shall prevail; the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
4. Carry about a constant humbling sense of this close aversation unto spiritualness that yet lies in our nature. If men find the efficacy of it, what should, what consideration can, be more powerful to bring them unto humble walking with God. That after all the discoveries that God hath made of himself unto them, all the kindness they have received from him, his doing of them good and not evil in all things, there should yet be such a heart of unkindness and unbelief still abiding, as to have an aversation lying in it to communion with him. How ought the thoughts of it to cast us into the dust, to fill us with shame and self-abhorrency all our days? What have we found in God in any of our approaches or addresses unto him, that it should be thus with us? What iniquity have we found in him? Hath he been a wilderness unto us, or a land of darkness? Did we ever lose any thing by drawing nigh unto him? Nay, hath not therein lain all the rest and peace which we have obtained ? Is not he the fountain and spring of all our mercies, of all our desirable things? Hath he not bid us welcome at our coming ? Have we not received from him more than heart can conceive or tongue express? What ails then our foolish and wretched hearts, to harbour such a cursed secret dislike of him and his ways? Let us be ashamed and astonished at the consideration of it, and walk in an humbling sense of it all our days. Let us carry it about with us in the most secret of our thoughts. And as this is a duty in itself acceptable unto God, who delights to dwell with them that are of an humble and contrite spirit, so it is of exceeding efficacy to the weakening of the evil we treat of.
5. Labour to possess the mind with the beauty and excellency of spiritual things, that so they may be presented lovely and desirable to the soul, and this cursed aversation of sin will be weakened thereby. It is an innate acknowledged principle, that the soul of man will not keep up cheerfully unto the worship of God, unless it have a discovery of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men had lost all spiritual sense and favour of the things of God, to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invented outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal ornaments which they have called the beauties of holiness. Thus much however was discovered therein, that the mind of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of God's worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will prevail. Let then the soul labour to acquaint itself with the
spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may be filled with delight in them. It is not my present work to discover the heads and springs of that beauty and desirableness which is in spiritual duties, in their relation to God, the eternal spring of all beauty ; to Christ, the love, desire, and hope of all nations; to the Spirit, the great beautifier of souls, rendering them by his grace all glorious within, in their suitableness to the souls of men, as to their actings towards their last end, in the rectitude and holiness of the rule in attendance whereunto they are to be performed; but I only say at present in general, that to acquaint the soul throughly with these things is an eminent way of weakening the aversation spoken of.
The work of this enmity against God, by way of opposition. First, It
lusteth. Wherein the lusting of sin consisteth. Its surprising of the soul. Readiness to close with temptations. Its fighting and warring. 1. In Rebellion against the law of grace. 2. In assaulting the soul.
How this enmity worketh by way of aversation hath been declared, as also the means that the soul is to use for the preventing of its effects and prevalency. The second way whereby it exerts itself is opposition. Enmity will oppose and contend with that wherewith it is at enmity. It is so in things natural and moral. As light and darkness, heat and cold, so virtue and vice oppose each other. So is it with sin and grace; saith the apostle, These are contrary one to the other;' Gal. v. 17. åvrikeltal állnous, they are placed and set in mutual opposition, and that continually and constantly, as we shall see.
Now there are two ways whereby enemies manage an opposition. First, By force; and secondly, By fraud and deceit. So when the Egyptians became enemies to the children of Israel, and managed an enmity against them, Exod. i. 10. Pharaoh saith, Let us deal wisely,' or rather cunningly and subtilely with this people;' for so Stephen, with respect to this word, expresseth it, Acts vii. 19. by katagopusáuevos, he used all manner of fraudulent sophistry.' And unto this deceit they added force, in their grievous oppressions. This is the way and manner of things where there is a prevailing enmity: and both these are made use of by the law of sin, in its enmity against God, and our souls.
I shall begin with the first; or its actings as it were in a way of force, in an open downright opposition to God and his law, or the good that a believing soul would do in obedience unto God and his law. And in this whole matter, we must be careful to steer our course aright, taking the Scripture for our guide, with spiritual reason and experience for our companions; for there are many shelves in our course, which must diligently be avoided, that none who consider these things be troubled without cause, or comforted without a just foundation.
In this first way, whereby this sin exerts its enmity in opposition, namely, as it were by force or strength, there are four things expressing so many distinct degrees in its progress and procedure in the pursuit of its enmity.
First, Its general inclination, 'it lusteth ;' Gal. v. 17.
Secondly, Its particular way of contending; it fights or wars; Rom. vii. 23. James iv. 1. 1 Pet. ii. 11.
Thirdly, Its success in this contest; 'it brings the soul into captivity to the law of sin ;' Rom. vii. 23.
Fourthly, Its growth and rage upon success; it comes up to madness, as an enraged enemy will do ; Eccles. ix. 3. All which we must speak to in order.
First, In general it is said to lust. Gal. v. 17. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit.' This word expresseth the general nature of that opposition which the law of sin maketh against God, and the rule of his Spirit or grace in them that believe ; and therefore, the least degree of that opposition is expressed hereby. When it doth any thing it lusteth. As because burning is the general acting of fire, whatever it doth else, it doth also burn. When fire doth any thing, it burns; and when the law of sin doth any thing, it lusts.
Hence all the actings of this law of sin are called the • lusts of the flesh.' Gal. v. 16. • Ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Rom. xiii. 14. “Make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Nor are these lusts of the flesh those only whereby men act their sensuality in riot,
drunkenness, uncleanness, and the like; but they comprehend all the actings of the law of sin whatever, in all the faculties and affections of the soul. Thus, Eph. ii. 3. we have mention of the desires, or wills, or lusts of the mind, as well as of the flesh. The mind, the most spiritual part of the soul, hath its lusts, no less than the sensual appetite, which seems sometimes more properly to be called the flesh. And in the products of these lusts, there are defilements of the spirit, as well as of the flesh, 2 Cor. vii. 1. that is, of the mind and understanding, as well of the appetite and affections, and the body that attends their service. And in the blamelessness of all these consists our holiness, 4 Thess. v. 23. · The God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”. Yea, by the flesh in this matter the whole old man, or the law of sin, is intended, John iii. 6. That which is born of the Aesh is flesh;' that is, it is all so, and nothing else : and whatever remains of the old nature in the new man is flesh still. And this flesh lusteth; this law of sin doth so, which is the general bottom and foundation of all its opposition unto God. And this it doth two ways.
1. In a hidden close propensity unto all evil. This lies in it habitually. Whilst a man is in the state of nature, fully under the power and dominion of this law of sin, it is said, that'every figment of his heart is evil, and that continually;' Gen. vi. 5. It can frame, fashion, produce, or act nothing but what is evil, because this habitual propensity unto evil, that is in the law of sin, is absolutely predominant in such a one. It is in the heart like poison, that hath nothing to allay its venomous qualities, and so infects whatever it touches : and where the power and dominion of it is broken, yet in its own nature it hath still an habitual propensity unto that which is evil, wherein its lusting doth consist.
But here we must distinguish between the habitual frame of the heart, and the natural propensity or habitual inclination of the law of sin in the heart. The habitual inclination of the heart is denominated from the principle that bears chief or sovereign rule in it; and therefore in believers it is unto good, unto God, unto holiness, unto obedience. The heart is not habitually inclined unto evil by the remain