« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
of Holiness. For as these States of Life have the utmost Contrariety to Religion, so every Approach towards them, is in a certain Degree partaking of thern.
A MAN that lives in such a State, as not to be called either a Glutton, or a Drunkard, may yet be so near them, as to Partake of those Tempers and Inclinations, which are the Effects of Gluttony and Drunkenness.
For there are such Degrees in these, as in other ways of Life. A Man may
be vain and uncharitable, yet not so as to be remarkable for his Vanity and Uncharitableness, so he may be also under the Guilt and evil Effects of Eating and Drinking, though not so as to be esteemed either a Glutton or Intemperate.
So that the only Security for a good Christian, is to make it the Care of his Life, to resist all Enjoyments that cherish Vanity and Uncharitableness, not only in such Degrees as are scandalous and visible in the Eyes of Men, but such as inwardly hurt the Humility and Charity of his Mind.
In like manner as to eating and drinking, he is constantly to practice such Abstinence, as may secure him not only from Sensuality in the Sight of the World, but such as may best Alter, Purify, and Humble
his Body, and make it the holy Habitation, of a Soui devoted to a spiritual Life.
ST. PAUL faith, I tberefore so run, not as imcertainly ; lo fio't I, not as one that beateth the Air. But I keep under iny Body, and bring into fubjeftion, left that by any Means when I have preached to others, I iriy self pould be a Cast-away (a).
LET it here be observed, that the Apostle practiced this Self-denial and Mortification, not only as a good and advisable Thing, and suitable to Holiness, but as of the last Necessity. It was not, as he was an Apostle, and that he might be fitter for the miraculous Gifts of the Holy Ghost, but it was to secure his Salvation, lest when he had preached to others, he should be a Cast-away.
LET it be considered that this Apostle, who lived in Infirmities, in Reproaches, in Necessities, in Persecutions, in Distresses for Christ's Sake, who was also full of Signs, and Winders and mig ty Deeds, and who had been caught up into t'e third Heavens, yet reckons all his Virtues as unsecure, and his Salvation in Dinger, without this severity of Self-denial; he thought all his other
(a) I Cor. ix.
Advancements in Piety, without this, to be as vain a Labour, as beating the Air (6).
So run I, faith he, not as uncertainly, by which he plainly teacheth us, that he who does not thus run, who does not thus mortify the Body, runs uncertainly, and fighteth to as little Purpose, as he that beateth the Air.
CAN they therefore who live in Ease, and Softness, and bodily Indulgences, who study and seek after every Gratification, be said to be of St. Paul's Religion, or to be govern'd by that Spirit, which govern'd him?
AN Apostle preaching the Gospel with Signs and Wonders in the midst of Distress and Persecution, thought his own Salvation in Danger, without this Subjection of his own Body, and shall we who are born in the Dregs of Time, who have no Works like his to appeal to, think it safe to feed and indulge in Ease and Plenty?
A MAN may indeed practice the outward Part of a Christian, he may be Orthodox in his Faith, and regular in the Fornis of Religion, and yet live in Ease and Indulgence. But if he would put on Christ,
(6) 2 Cor. xii.
and be cloathed with the Humility and Meekness of his true Disciples, if he would love his Enemies and be in Christ a new Creature, if he would live by Faith and have jis Conversation in Heaven, if he would be born again of God, and overcome the World, he must lay the Foundation of all these Graces in the Mortification and Subjection of his Body. For not only Religion, but Reason, can fhew us, that almost every ill Temper, every Hindrance of Virtue, every Clog in our Way of Piety, and the Strength of every Temptation, chiefly arises from the State of our Bodies.
HERE are no Truths of Christianity more plainly delivered in the Scriptures, or more uni
versally acknowledged by all Christians, than these two, viz. the general Corruption of human Nature, and the absolute Necessity of divine Grace. Now these two Doctrines make the Reason and Necessity of a continual Self-denial, plain and obvious to the meanest Capacity; and extend it to all those Things or Enjoyments, which either strengthen the Corruption of our Nature, or grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and cause him to leave
LET any one but reflect upon the Nature of these two fundamental Truths, and he will find himself soon convinc'd,