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have his presence,
as your desire is in pursuit ; and while you it will be too hard a task for any affliction to dismay you. Have indeed heard Christ speak comfortably to you this day at his holy table? How will this enable the soul, and arm, it against dangers and distracting, distrustful fears! Perfect love casteth out fear, saith St. John: 1 John iv. 18: that is, all base and servile fear; but there is one fear that is in no heart but where love begets it, fear to offend. You know how wary and loth men are naturally to displease those they love; therefore it is, that love to Christ, and a careful observing of his commandments, are inseparable companions. Yea, love itself is the fulfilling of the law, for it gives up the heart to God, and consequently the whole man. Then there is no return of duty which your receiving of Christ calls for, (and what doth it not call for?) there is none, I say, but is comprised under this one of love. Do you owe him praises? Yes, surely. Then love him; that will stir you up to praise him. You never knew, but where much love was in the heart, it made the tongue ready and active upon all occasions to praise the party loved. Love will entertain small courtesies with great thanks; much more where the benefit so far exceeds all possible thankfulness. Ought you to serve and obey him? Doubtless he hath for that purpose redeemed you with his precious blood. And truly there is no obedience or service so full and so cheerful, as that which flows from love. Should you study conformity to Christ, and labour to be like him? Yes, for this is to walk worthy of Christ. Then there is nothing assimilates so much as love. Men delight in their society whom they love, and by their society they do insensibly contract their customs, and become like them. These Virgins who love Christ for his graces, they love to converse with him, and by conversing with him, they receive of his graces, and have a smell of his perfumes. Not only do they, by the smell of his garments, or such imposed rites, obtain the blessing, but they likewise smell like him by the participation of sanctifying grace, of his wisdom and holiness, in a pure and godly con
versation, abstaining from the impure lusts and pollutions of the world; so likewise of his meekness and humility. Never think that one and the same soul can have much pride and much of Christ. Ever, the more grace a man hath, the more sense hath he likewise of his own unworthiness, and God's free mercy, and consequently, the more humility.
If you love Christ, you cannot choose but be like him in love to your brethren. This is expressly compared, by the Psalmist, to the precious ointment poured upon Aaron's head, that ran down to the very skirts of his garments. cxxxiii. 2. Our Head and High Priest, the Lord Jesus, hath incomparably testified his love to believers, whom he is pleased to call his brethren. They are far from equalling him, either in love to him, or in love one to another, but they do imitate him in both. This is his great commandment, that we love one another, even as he loved us, which is expressed both as a strong motive and a high example. It is not possible that a spirit of malice and implacable hatred can consist with the love of Christ.
Finally, Should you be ready to suffer for Christ? Yes. Then love is that which will enable you; and if you were inflamed with this fire, then, though burned for him, that fire would only consume your dross, and be soon extinguished; but this would endure for ever.
By these and the like evidences, try whether you indeed love the Lord Jesus Christ. And by these fruits, you who profess to love him, testify the sincerity of your love; and be assured, that if you be now found amongst these Virgins that love him, you shall one day be of the number of those Virgins that are spoken of, Rev. xiv. 3, 4, who sing a new song before the throne of God.
If you hate the defilements of the world, and be not polluted with inordinate affection to the creature, it shall never repent you to have made choice of Christ. He shall fill your hearts with peace and joy in believing. When you come to his house and table, he shall send you home with joy and sweet consola
tion, such as you would not exchange for crowns and sceptres. And after some few of these running banquets here below, you shall enter into the great marriage-supper of the Lamb, where faith shall end in sight, and hope in possession, and love continue in perpetual and full enjoyment; where you shall be never weary, but for ever happy in beholding the face of the Blessed Trinity: to whom be glory. Amen.
How true is that word of our Saviour, who is truth itself, Without me, ye can do nothing:-severed from me, as that branch that is not in me. They who are altogether out of Christ, in spiritual exercises do nothing at all. "Tis true, they may pray and hear the word, yea, and preach it too, and yet, in so doing they do nothing, nothing in effect. They have the matter of good actions, but it is the internal form gives being to things. They are but a number of empty words and a dead service to a living God. For all our outward performances and worship of the body are nothing but the body of worship, and therefore nothing but a carcass, except the Lord Jesus, by his Spirit, breathe upon it the breath of life. Yea, the worshipper himself is spiritually dead, till he receive life from Jesus, and be quickened by his Spirit. If this be true, then it will follow necessarily, that where numbers are met together, (as here,) pretending to serve and worship God, yet He hath very few that do so indeed, the greatest part being out of Christ; and such being without him, they can do nothing in his service.
ROM. viii. 7.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
THE ordinary workings and actions of creatures are suitable to their nature, as the ascending of light things, and the moving of heavy things downwards; so, the vital and sensitive actions of things that have life and sense. The reasonable creature, it is true, hath more liberty in its actions, freely choosing one thing and rejecting another; yet, it cannot be denied, that in the acting of that liberty, their choice and refusal follow the sway of their nature and condition. As the angels and glorified souls, their nature being perfectly holy, and unalterably such, they cannot sin, they can delight in nothing but in obeying and praising that God, in the enjoyment of whom their happiness consisteth, still ravished in beholding His face. The saints, again, that have not yet reached that home, and are but on their journey, they are not fully defecated and refined from the dross of sin: there are in them two parties, natural corruption, and supernatural grace; and these keep a struggling within them. But the younger shall supplant the elder: Grace shall in the end overcome; and in the mean while, though it be not free from mixture, yet it is predominant. The main bent of a renewed man, is, obedience and holiness, and any action of that kind he rejoices in; but the sin that escapes him, he cannot look upon but with regret and discontent. But alas! they that be so minded, are very thin sown in the world. Even in God's peculiar fields, where the labourage of the gospel is, and the outward profession of true religion unanimously received, yet, the number of true converts, spiritual-minded persons, is very small; the greatest part acting sin with delight, and taking pleasure in unrighteousness, living in disobedience to God, as in their proper element; and the reason is, the contrariety of their nature to our holy Lord. The carnal mind is enmity against God.
The mind, Opornua. Some render it the prudence, or wisdom of the flesh. Here you have it, the carnal mind. But the word signifies, indeed, an act of the mind, rather than either the faculty itself, or the habit of prudence in it, so as it discovers what is the frame of both these, the minding; as it is used, ver. 5, conformably to that of Moses, Gen. vi. Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually. The word indeed signifies the wise thoughts. So then, take the full latitude of it thus: The carnal mind, in its best and wisest thoughts, is direct enmity against God.
Carnal [ns oapuos.] What is meant by the flesh here? It is the whole corrupt nature of man; and that we may know by its opposition to the Spirit: not to the spirit or soul of a man, for so it hath no thoughts nor minding, these being proper to the soul, but opposed to the Spirit of God.
Now, the corruption of nature is called the flesh, not without very good reason, not only to signify the baseness of it, the flesh being the more ignoble and meaner part of a man, but because the greatest part of the sins of men's lives, are about sensitive objects and things that concern the flesh or the body. It lets in temptation of sin to the soul by the doors of the senses, and it gives the last perfection or accomplishment to sin, by the external acting of it. The very first sin, that brought in death and misery with it upon mankind, the pleasures of the eye and of the taste, were sharers in the guiltiness of it.
The carnal mind. Man in regard of his composition, is, as it were, the tie and band of Heaven and earth: they meet and are married in him. A body he has taken out of the dust, but a soul is breathed into him from Heaven, from the Father of Spirits a house of clay, but a guest of most noble extraction. But the pity is, it hath forgot its original, and is so drowned: in flesh, that it deserves no other than to go under the name of flesh. It is become the slave and drudge of the body, and like the Israelites in Egypt, made perpetually to moil in clay. What is all your merchandise, your trades and manufactures,