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CH A P. VI.
Christianity calleth all Men to a
State of Self-denial and Mortification.
HRISTIANITY is a Doctrine of the Cross, that teaches the Restoration of Mankind to
the Favour of God, by the Death and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
This being the Foundation of the Christian Religion, it shews us, that all Persons who will act conformably to the Nature and Reason of Christianity, must make themselves Sufferers for Sin.
For if there is a Reasonableness between Sin and Suffering, every Christian acts against the Reason of Things, that does not endeavour to pay some part of that Debt which is due to Sin.
INDEED it would be strange to suppole, that Mankind were redeemed by the Sufferings of their Saviour, to live in Ease
and Softness themselves; that Suffering fhould be the necessary Attonement for Sin, and yet that Sinners should be excused froni Suffering.
Such an High Priest became us, says the Apostle, who is holy, harmless, undefiléd, feparate from Sinners.
Now if the Holiness of Christ rendered his Sacrifice acceptable to God, does not this teach us that we must labour to be holy in order to be accepted of God?
But is there not the same Reason, and the same Example in the Sufferings of Christ, if they made God more propitious to Sin, must we not as well take this Way of Suffering, to make our selves fitter Objects of Divine Pardon?
THERE is therefore the same Reason in the Nature of the Thing, for us Sinners to endeavour to conform our selves to the Sufferings, as to labour after the Holiness of Christ; since they both jointly conspired to recommend the great Attonement for Sin, and must jointly conspire to render us proper Objects of the Benefits of it.
NOR is the sinless State of Christ a better Reason for us to avoid and free from Sin, than his suffering State is a Reason for our renouncing all Softness and Indulgence in Pleasures.
HAD Christ wanted either Holiness or Sufferings, bis Sacrifice had been wanting in an essential Part. If therefore we think to be accepted of God by Holiness, without Suffering, we seem to contradict the Nature of our Religion as much, as if we thought to be accepted through Sufferings without Holiness.
It may perhaps be said, in the Words of our Liturgy, That Christ having by his one Oblation of himself once offered, made a full
, perfeet, and sufficient Sacrifice, Oblation, and Satisfa&tion, for the Sins of the whole World, that Christians have no Occasion to make any Suffering for Sin.
To this it may be answer'd,
THAT the Sacrifice of Christ is full and sufficient, first, as it takes away the Necessity of all the legal Sacrifices: Secondly, as it has no Need to be repeated again : And thirdly, as it fully reconciles God to accept of us upon the Terms of the New Covenant.
Now there is no Occasion to suffer for Sin, in order to make the Sacrifice of Christ more compleat, or to add a farther Value to the Attonement for Sin; but then it is to be considered, that if Self-suffering for Sin be a good and reasonable Duty in it felf, and proper for a Sinner, that the Fulness of Christ's Sacrifice has no more
taken away the Necessity of it, than it has taken away the Necesity of Humility, or any other Virtue.
CHRIST is as well said to be our Sanétification, our Holiness and Righteousness, as our Attonement for Sin, yet we should much mistake the Scripture, if we should think, that because he is our Holiness, therefore we need not endeavour to be Holy our selves.
Yet this is as good a Conclusion, as to imagine, that we need not suffer for our Sins our selves, because Christ's Sufferings are a full Attonement for Sin.
For they are no otherwise a sufficient Attonement for Sin, than as Christ is our stefficient Holiness, so that we may as well trust to his Holiness, without labouring to be Holy ourselves, as trust to his Sufferings, without making our selves alío Sufferers for Sin.
Let it now therefore be observed, that were there no particular Precepts or Doctrines, that expresly called us to a State of Self-denial, and Self-suffering, the very Nature of Religion, is an undeniable Argument, that the Way of Suffering, is the right and certain Way for Sinners to find God more Propitious to their Sin.
He that can doubt of this, must suppose, that God required a Way of At
tonement in Jesus Christ, that had nothing of Attonement in it ; for if it had, it must be undeniable, that all, who, as far as their Natures will allow, conform themselves to the Similitude of Christ's Sacrifice, must make themselves more acceptable to God.
THAT Christ's Sufferings have not made all other Sufferings for Sin needless, is plain from hence, that all Christians are still left subject to Death. For surely it may with Truth be affirmed, that Death is a Suffering for Sin.
Now since all Christians are to offer up their Bodies at Death, as a Sacrifice or Suffering for Sin, this plainly teaches us that à State of Self-denial and Suffering is the proper State of this Life.
For surely it must be proper to make every Part of our Life suitable to such an End.
Does God unmake us, and dash our very Form into pieces? and can we think that á Life of Pleasure and Self-indulgence, can become us under such a Sentence ?
WHAT plainer Proof can we have, that we are devoted Sufferers for Sin, than that we are devoted to Death ? for Death hath no place in a State of allowed Pleasure and Enjoyment. When the Suffering for Sin is over, there will be no more Death; but so long as Death lasts, so long are all Beings that are subject to Death, in