« PreviousContinue »
notice, both in ourselves and others, owing to the want of that original rectitude of our nature, which the great author of it implanted in it at its first creation, which was lost by the fall, and for the recovery of which the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, lived, suffered, and died. Having thus explained what we are to understand by the expression “ filthiness of the flesh “and spirit;” it will appear upon a very short survey, wherein consists the “ holiness" here recommended;--in one word, it consists in being purified from all the disorder, pollution, and corruption just mentioned, in “ putting off the old “ man,” according to the expression of the apostle, “ which is corrupt according to the lusts of “ the flesh, and in putting on the new man which " after God is created in righteousness and true “ holiness;" in recovering that image of the Deity which was the glory and happiness of man at his first creation, in having the understanding cleared of error and prejudice, the will renewed and brought to a conformity to the divine will, the affections reduced within their proper bounds, and brought into obedience to the dictates of reason and conscience, and “ the body sprinkled “ as with pure water;" the life and actions regulated according to that holy, and just, and good law of God, which is the standard of all perfection. That such perfect purity is not to be attained in this world will be readily allowed ; at the same time it is no less certain, that whoever expects to have any interest in the promises already explained, will be convinced of the necessity of being “ renewed in the spirit of the mind,” and in the tenour of the life.Which leads me to the
Third head, namely, by way of improvement, to shew the influence which the hope of the promises should have upon our minds. " He that “ hath this hope in him," saith the apostle John, writing upon the same subject,“ purifieth him“ self even as he is pure:” has God promised to be our God, to dwell in us, and walk among us? has he promised to be our father, and to bestow upon us all the blessings and privileges of such a relation, and do we hope and wish for the accomplishment of those gracious promises? is it our chief desire and ambition to be called the sons of God, and to be “ heirs of that kingdom “ which is prepared for his children from the « foundation of the world?" into it, we are assured that nothing which is impure can enter, for“ with“out are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, “ and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever “ loveth and maketh a lie :" if then, we have this glorious hope, it will lead us to comply with the exhortation of the text, to “ cleanse ourselves “ from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” By our fatal apostacy from God, the strength as well as the beauty of the soul was destroyed and lost, man became a weak, as well as a guilty, creature; his appetites and passions, which were designed to be under the direction of reason, usurped the mastery, and continue to counteract and controul its dictates, and to rectify the disorders thereby occasioned, is what we are here called to. It may be laid down as a self-evident proposition, that no person in a natural unrenewed state has any inclination for being a partaker of these promises, and of course no desire after that purity which alone qualifies for it: it iš no less certain, that no person whatever, unassisted by the grace of God, is able to attain this purity, our very righteousness, our best works being “ filthy rags” in the sight of God; as human nature is wholly corrupted, whatever flows from an impure source must of course be impure, for “
corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” It is they, and they only, who by grace are “ re“ newed in the spirit of their mind,” who have “ their fruit unto holiness,” and to such only therefore can the apostle's exhortation be addressed.
Seeing then that we have neither righteousness nor strength of our own, the hope of these promises will naturally engage us, laying aside all confidence in ourselves, to seek to be “ clothed
upon” with the perfect righteousness of the blessed Redeemer, and humbly to implore the Father of Mercies, that“ Christ may of God be “ made to us wisdom and righteousness, and “ sanctification, and redemption;" at the same time, making it our constant and sincere endea
our to “ walk even as he walked ;” imitating that example which he has set us, and transcribing into our life and conversation, those perfections which we are capable of copying ;-“exer
cising ourselves constantly in this, to maintain
a conscience void of offence toward God, and “ toward all men,” that when we come to die, we may
“ have this for our rejoicing; the testimony « of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly
sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the
grace of God; we have had our conversation “ in the world," and seeing it is our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom: “ let us conti
nue stedfast, immovable, always abounding in “ the work of the Lord; for as much as we know " that our labour shall not be in vain in the
LUKE xiii. 6-9.
He spake also this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted
in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years
I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year
al. so, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it beur fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt
cut it down.
ON THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE.
It never was, nor could be, the intention of the all-wise Creator of the world to send
of his creatures into it, especially those endued with reason and understanding, merely to fill up places, for no higher end than to act the part of idle spectators, and to pass their existence in a state of listless, stupid inaction ; much less to indulge at will their passions and appetites to the dishonour of God, the disgrace of human nature, the offence of society, and their own utter de