Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
~ Romans 8:26
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
~ Psalm 6:6, Ezekiel 9:4
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
~ Matthew 5:4, Psalm 72:12, Micah 7:19
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
~ Romans 6:6, Romans 8:13
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
~ Colossians 2:11
Paul, His Complaint Against His Naturall Corruption, With the Meanes How To Be Delivered From the Power of the Same, by William Teelinck (1579 – 1629), Preacher of the Word of God at Middleburgh.
Set forth in two sermons upon the 24 verse of the 7. chapter of his epistle to the Romanes, O miserable man that I am, who shall deliver mee from this body of death?
The Apostle Paul having declared at large, in the foregoing verses, the cumbersome contention he had with his flesh, and naturall Corruption, the which was alwayes in his way, and exceedingly hindered him in the service of his God; and now finding himselfe dangerously beset with this enemy, he cryeth out for helpe, as it were, with a loud voyce, saying, O miserable man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
The summe. A mournefull Lamentation, or Complaint against that naturall corruption wherwith the Apostle found himselfe oppressed.
The parts are these,
1. Against what hee complaineth; against the body of death.
2. Who complaineth; The Apostle himselfe; I miserable man. 3. How he complaineth; Two manner of wayes, First he declareth himselfe therefore to be miserable, in that he hath this body of death about him; secondly, he wisheth to bee delivered from it.
1. Of what he Complaineth.
He complaineth of the body of death, by which we must understand, (as it appeareth in the former Verses) our naturall corruption, which makes us in our selves unapt to any good, and prone, and readie to all evill; even that originall sinne wherin we were conceived, and borne; concerning which the Apostle formerly testifieth, that it worketh death, Ver. 13. And in another place is termed by him, the body of sinne, Rom. 6.6. in which respect also he declareth himselfe to be carnall, sold under sinne. ver. 14. and witnesseth, that it is in him a Law in his members, whereby he is greatly hindered in the performance of obedience unto the Law of God. ver. 22.23. But we shall better judge of the meaning of this manner of speech, if so be we observe the reasons why originall sinne, or naturall corruption is called a body, yea, a body of death.
Our naturall corruption is named a body for these reasons following:
1. As a body hath many members, so also hath this naturall corruption; it is a conjunction, or knitting together of many evill members; or rather, it spreadeth it selfe through all the powers, and parts of the whole man: therefore it is not onely called a body, but also a Man, even the olde Man. Ephes. 4.22. Implying, that there is nothing in man which is not defiled, and polluted with this naturall corruption: the understanding is hereby darkened: the will, perverted: the affections disordered: the members of the body, fit, and readie instruments, and weapons of unrighteousnesse, &c. yea, the unregenerate man, which is nothing but flesh, having not the spirit, Jud. ver. 19. is in regard of this naturall corruption, named darknesse it selfe. Eph. 5.8. And in the regenerate man himselfe (which hath now received the spirit 1. Joh. 3.24. and in that respect is called Light it selfe. Ephes. 5.8.) yet this corruption spreadeth it selfe in such sort, thorough all the parts, and powers of his soule, and body, that it is as a Law in his members, Rom. 7.23. there is no more difference herein betweene the regenerate, and the unregenerate, then betweene the darke night, wherein there is no light at all, and the breake of the day, wherein the light beginneth to appeare, but is not wholly broken forth, the light & darkenesse being mixt together, thorough the whole ayre. For the unregenerate are totally possessed with this corruption in all the parts, and powers of their soule and body, so that in them there is not any spirituall light; and therefore they are called children of the Night, and of Darkenesse. 1. Thes. 5.5. But on the contrary side, the regenerate are onely so overcome with this naturall corruption, in all the parts and powers of their soule, and body, as the ayre is with darkenesse when the day beginnes to breake; at which time the light, and darkenesse doe, as it were, struggle together thorough the whole ayre: in which regard the break of the day is called light; and men are wont to say, beholde, it is day, although that there bee much darknesse in the ayre: and in this sence are the regenerate in the Scripture named light. Eph. 5.8. And children of the light, and of the day. 1. Thes. 5.5. although that there be much spirituall darkenesse in them, and that they are not wholly free from the sinfull flesh, but are in every part polluted therewith: and for this cause in the regenerate themselves is this naturall corruption called a body of sinne, Rom. 6.6. For it is crept thorough every part, and power of their soule and body.
So then this naturall corruption is a body, but it is a body altogether ugly, and monstrous, the parts whereof are wholly inverted, or rather perverted, as if the eyes stood in the place where the eares should; and the mouth were set in the forehead; and all the rest of the members were most deformedly mis-placed. To be short, it is a simple body of confusion, and darknesse: it is the image of the Devil; the draught, and proportion of Satan: it is in every degree contrary to the image of God wherein at first he made Man.
It is therefore idle, and foolish that the Papists pretend, who say, that this naturall corruption, or concupisence which lusteth against the spirit, is not finne. For there is nothing more abominable in the eyes of God then this body: for there is nothing in the world more dissonant, and contrarie to the will of God, and the image that he himselfe hath made; he seeth that the image of the Devil is therein. It is truely a monster, mishapen in every member with sinne: yea, when it worketh not, but lyeth still without stirring, or mouing, it is altogether hatefull before God, even as a wolfe, or a Beare is to us when he lieth still, and sleepeth; and as we know the Devil is abominable before God, although hee lyeth bound in chaynes of darkenesse, and sealed up in the bottomlesse pitt. Jud. 6. Reu. 20.
Secondly, this naturall corruption is called a body, and likewise the flesh, Gal. 5.17. because it lyeth, and hangeth upon us, even as our owne bodie, or flesh: therefore it is called the sinne that hangeth so fast on, Heb. 12.1. For whither we goe or stand, we carry it with us as we doe our owne body, and flesh. Yea, when wee were conceived, formed, & had our being in our mothers wombe, it received also forme, and being with us, and in us, and sticketh in us as it were in our marrow, and bones; and hangeth as fast upon us, as the blacke skinne upon the Moore, and the spotts upon the Leopard, which doe spring of their owne nature. Jer. 13.23. Hence it is that the restraining, and bridling of our sinfull Concupiscence is termed in holy Scripture, hands cut off, and eyes put out; it being as grievous for us to doe it, as to dismember our selves: yea, we are as unable of our selves, to put away this naturall corruption, as the Leopard his spotts; and as we our selves are, to plucke of our skinne, and lay aside our flesh: nothing but the hand of God is able to doe it.
Now it followeth, that wee enquire why. It is named a body of death: and for that there are these reasons.
First, it is so called, because ir worketh the death both of the soule, and body of man.
This naturall corruption no sooner entereth upon the soule, but it killeth it spiritually, leaving it no more power to doe the will of God, then a bodie without a soule hath, to performe the office of a man; yea, it maketh it stinke like a dead karkase in the nostrills of God, Psal. 53.2. There is no carrion that hath lieu long stinking in a corner, cralles so full of filthy Maggotts and wormes, as the soule of that man, in whom this corruption hath had undisturbed possession but a little while.
Hence it is that the Scripture sayth of unregenerate men, that their throte is an open Sepulchre, Rom. 3.23. Out of which corrupt, and rotten conuersation proceedes. Ephes. 4.29. And from whence is it (thinke you) that this noysome stench of sins, breakes forth thorough the whole world? but from the soules of men, which lie dead, and stinking, by meanes of this naturall corruption.
And looke, what it hath done no the foule, the like also hath it done to the bodie, it eates and consumes that as a moath doth a Garment, Psal. 39.12. It is like a wolfe, or a beare; which having taken a man by the throte, still suckes his bloud, and never leaves, till all be up. From whence comes it (thinke you) that man being such an admirable peece of worke, decayes, consumes, and with e•s away in such short space as wee see? It ariseth originally, and principally from this naturall corruption, which is in our bodies, as a moth in a garment, eating them, and consuming them by a little, and a little: whereby it plainely appeares, that this sinne is the sting of death, both of soule, and bodie, 1. Cor. 15.56.
The lamentable experience hereof, had our first Parents, Adam, and Eue, who, as soone as by their disobedience they had pluckt upon themselves this corruption, (for it is the very same wherwith they were polluted, from whom it is descended unto us) they felt in themselves the sting of death; Foreven then their soules utterly lost their spirituall life; and their bodies, as it were, receiving their deaths wound, beganne presently to decay, being in the first place deprived of that excellent beautie, and luster wherewith they were cloathed. For at first, they were more glorious and beautifull in their bodies, then the Lillyes in Paradise; but when this filthie pollution had once overrunne them; then beganne they to be ashamed of their owne bodies, and to cover them: yea, this sinne so wrought upon them, that by reason therof, they could not remaine in Paradise, but went and hid themselves amongst the trees of the Garden. Gen. 3. Such deadly, and destroying poyson both to soule and bodie there is in this corruption.
This naturall corruption, is also called a bodie of death, because it engendreth, and bringeth forth a broode of deadly sinnes, Jam. 1.14.15. Which are nothing else but dead workes. Heb. 6.1. David having committed those two great, and haynous sinnes of Adultery, and Murther; and being greatly humbled, and broken in hart for the same, went (as one would say) to seeke out the fountaine by the streame, and to enquire, how it might come to passe that he should so exceeding foolishly forget himselfe; and he findes his naturall corruption to be the originall cause from whence those most hatefull, and deadly crimes did proceede, Psalme 51.5. Wherefore in this regard, with good cause is it termed, a bodie of death.
It is likewise called a body of death, because it is destined to everlasting death, as the man in whom it raigneth, Rom. 6.23. even as David was called a Childe of death, not onely, because he had killed another, but because he himselfe had deserved to die: So, this corruption is likewise called a bodie of death, because it is condemned to die, and to death it must goe, Colos: 3.5. Gal. 5.24. Yea, it is a matter of such consequence, that what man soever doth not in this life begin to kill, and crucifie this monster, he himselfe shall die eternally. As the Apostle sayth, Rom: 8.13. If you live after the flesh yee shall die, (that is to say, eternally, for wee must all die once, Heb: 9. ver: 27.) but if by the spirit yee mortifie the deedes of the bodie, that is, of this wicked body of sinne, which is condemned to die, Rom: 6.6. yee shall live. Thus then stands it with this naturall corruption, this hatefull ugly monster, that unlesse we begin to kill it while we are here, it will not onely bring upon us the spirituall death of our soules, and the temporall death of our bodies, but also the eternall death of both, whereby we shall perish for ever. Yea, wee have all of us alreadie deserved, that we together with our naturall corruption, or sinful flesh, should be pluckt out of the Land of the living, and cast into everlasting darkenesse, where is weeping, wayling, and gnashing of teeth. But here in appeareth the wonderfull, and unspeakeable loving kindnesse, patience, and long suffering of God, inviting us to repentance, and salvation, in that there is space given us here wherin to repent, and crucifie this body of death. Therefore it is the greatest madnesse that can be in the world, that a poore, wretched condemned caytiffe, dares be so bold, as to put off from day to day his Repentance, and the mortifying of the wicked body of his originall corruption, which he knowes not in how short a time may bring him into everlasting perdition.
Behold, these are the reasons for which the Apostle nameth our naturall corruption, a bodie of death, from whence ariseth this observation; that the originall corruption, wherein wee were all conceived, and borne, is a most deformed, mishapen bodie of death; a monster altogether ugly, and fearefull. Which is manifest, in that it not onely corrupteth, and destroyeth soule, and bodie; but also bringeth them both into everlasting condemnation, unlesse a course be taken in time, as it was plainely proved in the opening of the Text; and may also further be gathered, out of this, that the Apostle himselfe cryeth out so earnestly, and complaineth that he is a miserable man, because hee was troubled, and oppressed therewith.
For this cause is it, that naturall, unregenerate men, in whom the corrupt flesh hath the upperhand, are so commonly in the Scriptures compared to most noysome, and hurtfull Creatures, as Serpents, and Vipers, Mat: 23.33. Lyons, Psal: 10.9. Beares, Pro: 28.15. Ravening Wolves, Mat: 7.15. Wilde Swine, Psal: 80.13. wilde Asses, Job 1.12. Foxes, and young Foxes which spoyle, and bring to naught every thing about which they come, Cant: 2.15. Yea, the naturall man is sayd to have the Devil to his Father, Joh.: 8.44. So that a child is not more like to his Father, then an unregenerate man, spiritually, is to the Devil; and judge you, what a monstrous thing this is, that man, which was created after God’s owne image, should now bee likened unto those Creatures aforesaid, not onely in some respects (as God himselfe is, unto some of them) but even in the most odious, and hatefull things that are in them; and not onely so, but in sinne and wickednesse to resemble the Devil himselfe too; therefore the Scripture sayth of carnall men, which have nothing in them but nature, that their throte, is an open Sepulchre: the poyson of Aspes, is under their lips: their mouth is sull of cursing, and bitternesse: their feete are swift to shed bloud: destruction and calamity are in their wayes, as in the way of some devouring Monster, which destroyes, and spoyles all things where he passeth, or comes.
For this cause is it, that the Saints of GOD, whose eyes he hath opened for to see the hatefulnesse of this Monster, our naturall corruption, (which wee all brought with us into the world, from our Mothers wombe) had rather die, then fulfil the lusts thereof, which are alwayes against God, and contrary to his holy Commandements: Such is the nature of this body of death, that it will no longer do any worke of God, then it may with profit, or pleasure; and when eyther of these is crost, then farewell obedience.
If Nabuchadnezzar commands contrary to the Law of God, that all men must worship the Golden Image, or else be cast into the fiery furnace; naturall corruption, flesh, and bloud will straight way conclude, that it is best to obey the King; but the Saints of God, which know the hatefulnesse of this Monster, will rather undergoe the punishment then give it his desire. If that adulterous woman Potiphar’s wife, should goe about to draw Joseph to commit folly with her, this monster, our naturall corruption would presently consent; but Joseph the servant of God, rather then he will doe so, will leave his garment behinde, and venture his life too, for he knoweth that this body of death is a fearefull, ugly monster, the lusts whereof are enmitie to God.
Yea, the accursed, unregenerate wretches themselves, whose joy, delight, and chiefest happines is placed in pleasing their corrupt, & sinfull flesh, and whose onely care, and studie, is to satisfie the lustes of this vile, and filthy monster, so that they cannot sleepe, till such time as they have given it its fill of disobedience and iniquitie; when they once, thorough some stirring of their conscience come to have their eyes opened, whereby they beginne to perceive the terriblenesse of this monster, they become hatefull, and fearefull unto their owne selves, and oftentimes murther themselves, hoping thereby to get out of the sight, and presence of that grim, & hellish monster, which now they begin to see in themselves, whereat they are affrighted: as it came to passe with Judas, and many others.
Now, the reasons for which originall sinne, or naturall corruption may truly be held to be such an hatefull, and deadly monster, may (besides that which shall be hereafter spoken) be taken out of those reasons which we have already given in the opening of the Text, wherein wee shewed wherefore this naturall corruption is termed a bodie of death. And if so be, that it bee a monstrous thing when in a bodie, the members are all mishapen, and misplaced, and moreover, in themselves exceedingly depraved; so must this naturall corruption needs be held to be a monstrous thing, wherin the understanding, which should be governour and leader of the will, and fleshly lustes, and affections, not onely lieth subdued under them both, but also is in it selfe utterly obscured, & darkned: and the will, and affections in themselves altogether perverted, and disordered.
Furthermore, if the death, and pollution of body, and soule; if a deadly broode of all manner of haynous, and deadly sinnes; nay, if eternall death and damnation are most odious, and terrible things, then this naturall corruption must needes be judged to bee a hatefull, and fearefull thing, which occasioneth, and bringeth forth all these things, as was made manifest before in the opening of the Text: Wherefore we conclude, as wee beganne, that the naturall corruption wherein we were all conceived, and borne, and which we all brought into the world with us from our mothers wombe, is a most ugly, deformed body of death, a fearefull, and deadly monster.
Now, let us see what use we can make of that which hath beene spoken, and in the first place here is great cause of mourning, and lamentation, even, because that although this body of death our naturall corruption, which in every place is knowne by the name of brittle, weake, and corrupt flesh, bee such an abominable, and deadly monster, as that it deserves, and ought to bee of every one persecuted, and hunted, even to death; yet, is so generally served, and obeyed in the lusts thereof as at this day it is. Behold, and marke the course of the world, and consider well the actions of the most part of men, and you shall finde, that they tend chiefely to the fulfiling, and satisfying the desires of this horrible monster, their corrupt flesh, to the susteyning and supporting of it, and to the giving it the fill of whatsoever it requireth: if it will have men eat till they surfet, and drinke till they be drunke, you shall find multitudes of them that will doe it, although they should eat and drinke up goods, bodies, and soule, and all: if it lusteth after wantonnesse, you shall find those that fit, and addresse themselves for that also, by lurking here and there in corners, gazing, and staring out at Windowes, and doores, and frequenting dishonest places; or by using idle, and immodest exercises, as lasciuious dauncing, wanton sporting, amorous songs, corrupt and rotten communication, stuffed with vaine, and unfruitfull iestes, and prophane passages, and that, upon the Sabboth day, the which although some seeme to observe and keepe, by resting from the workes of their calling, and serving the world; yet you shall have the same men prophane, and violate that blessed day, which God hath set apart for his own service, by doing the workes of their corrupt flesh, and toyling to serve it in the lustes thereof, as in taking their carnall sports, and such pas times as their base and sensuall affections shal lead them unto, when they should be best employed in spirituall exercises. Wheras, if they saw their spirituall estate, and were sensible of the wants thereof, they would thinke one day too little for them to spend in bewayling their sins & miseries, in prayer, meditation, reading, and hearing the word of God: or if they did but know, and duely consider the wonderfull bountifulnesse, mercy, patience, and long-suffering of God, who hath so safely protected them, so carefully provided for them, and so mercifully spared them, notwithstanding their sinnes & unworthinesse; they would thinke that time rather too short then too long for them to blesse him, and prayse him enough; and to spend in godly and sanctified discourse, and conference upon those things which appertaine and tend to God’s glory, and their owne mutuall comfort, and edification in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, how many doe wee see, whose daily practise and trade of life is, to fulfil, and satisfie the lustes and desires of this vile, and ugly monster, their corrupt flesh, in lying, deceiving, usury, seeking unlawfull and ungodly gaines, slandering, and backbiting their neighbours, undermining for offices, and places of dignitie, by a thousand ungodly, and sinister meanes, and devises, and infinite wayes else, which would be too long here to be repeated, so that it is a thing most lamentable, and never enough to be bewayled, that Man, that excellent creature, which at first was created, to serve the Lord his God in holinesse, and righteousnesse all the daies of his life, to his everlasting comfort, should be found to be so base, as to sell himselfe to be a slave, and a drudge to his corrupt and sinfull flesh, and to serve it in the vile, and contemptible lustes and appetites thereof, to his everlasting woe and destruction: yea, I say, that it is a thing altogether lamentable, that this bodie of death, this pernicious, and deadly monster, our naturall corruption should be thus diligently obeyed, and served, notwithstanding the wages thereof be death eternall both of soule, and bodie; when in the meane time, the service of our good, and gracious God, is utterly neglected, and yet the reward which hee offereth is everlasting joy, and happinesse.
In the second place, this serves to warne, and admonish all the children of men that they take good notice of this cruell, and deadly monster which keepes all this quarter in the world, and which they all have brought with themselves into the world. When some noysome beast is discovered to be in a Countrey, the people of the same are not a little moved therewith: how doe they bestirre themselves, consult, and lay their heads, and helpes together, to chase it, or ensnare it, that they might by some meanes bring it to death? how shall we then behave our selves, which have received such credible, and certaine information, that such a pernicious, and deadly monster, as the corrupt flesh, is risen up amongst men? shall we be idle, and secure? shall wee not bestirre our selves, and looke about us, and joyne all our forces together to kill, and destroy this fell, and cruell monster? Seeing it hath beene so manifestly, and undeniably made to appeare unto us, that unlesse we kill it, it will kill and destroy us, and that eternally, Rom. 8.13. And to the end that the Apostle might the more thoroughly make us to understand this, and consequently the better deterre, and affright us from the love and service of this our corrupt flesh, which we so gladly and readily obey; he calls it in our Text, a bodie of death: now there is nothing more terrible, and fearefull to man then death; yet there is nothing more pleasing unto him, then to obey his corruption in all its filthy lustes, notwithstanding the Apostle declareth it (how-soever it slatteringly laugheth, and smileth upon a man) to be a deadly, and destroying monster, a body of death, having in it selfe the sting both of temporall, and eternall death, wherwith it giveth the deaths-wound to every carelesse, and unprovident person which serveth, and obeyeth it: even as Joab did unto Amasa when he embraced him, 2. Sam. 3.
Wherefore every one that loveth his soule, must lay to heart the Apostles admonition, Rom. 13.14. Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and take no care for the flesh, to obey it in the lustes thereof; yea, hee must set himselfe against his corrupt flesh, which is no other thing then a most dangerous monster, how sweet, and lovely soever it seemeth to be: he must in nothing take care to please, and obey it, for then it will grow more strong, and hurtfull; but he must weine it of its lust, and denie it of whatsoever it desireth, and so crucifie it, and by little and little, as it were, hunger-sterue it, that he himselfe may live. What we are to know and doe further as touching this body of death, shall be declared in the parts of the Text, which now follow to be handled.
2. Who it is which here complaineth against this body of death?
It is the Apostle himselfe which complaineth against the body of death, which was in him: for in the verse following, he speaketh of himselfe, and sayth , I my selfe, and thus speaketh he every where, not as being unregenerate, but as having an unfained, and sincere love and delight in the law of God, which flesh and bloud did never teach him, in which regard also, by the testimony of the Psalmist, he may be knowne to bee blessed, Psal. 1.2. From hence followeth this observation.The body of sinne, and of death is in the best, that is, the naturall corruption which maketh man of himselfe unapt, and unfit to any good, and prone and readie to all evill, is even in the best and most holy of all; This appeareth out of that the Apostle himselfe here complaineth that it was in him, who without doubt, was one of the best Christians in the world at that time: and he further declareth unto us that the faithfull (among whom he shuts himselfe also) while they are here upon earth (how farre soever they are proceeded in the new birth) doe know but in part, 1. Cor. 188.8.131.52. And he sayth of the Thessalonians, that there was something wanting in their faith, 1. Thes. 3.10. When in another place, he witnesseth of them, that unto other Christians they were notable examples, and patternes of true faith. 1 Thes. 1.7.8. Yea, in this regard Elias himselfe, was subject unto the same passions unto which other of God’s children are. Jam. 5.17. and all the children of God are sayd to have in them fleshly concupiscences, which strive against their soule. 1. Pet. 2.11. The best as long as they remaine in this life have alwayes somewhat in them which they must crucifie, which they must mortifie thorough the spirit. Whereby it manifestly appeareth, that there is in every one an evill eye, which must be pluckt out; and a bad hand, that must be cut off. Mar. 9.43. &c.
Here it may be asked, why God doth suffer his best Children thus to be oppressed, and cumbered with this body of death, so long as they live here upon earth?
First, God doth it for the greater glory of himselfe, and of his children, and the greater shame, and disgrace of the Devil: for truely, it tendeth greatly to the prayse and glory of God, and to the honour of his children, and to the shaming of the Devil; that he knoweth how, & is able to keepe, and preserve such weake and feeble vesselse against all the power of Hell, and to make them conquerours over Satan, in that very flesh which is so polluted with sinne, and was once depraved by the Devil.
Secondly, the Lord doth it because it is fit that there should bee a difference put betweene the cursed earth, and blessed heaven; to be without finne, and free from combat with it, is a prerogative and priuiledge belonging onely to the seate royall, and court of heaven: it cannot be that we should enjoy it here upon earth; no we must long after the fruition of it in heaven.
It may be demanded againe, that seeing the very best are polluted with this naturall corruption, what difference is there then betweene the children of God, and the children of the world, betweene true beleevers, and carnall men?
There is as great difference betweene them as is betweene the darkenesse of the darkest night, and the light of the morning at the breake of the day, as we heard before; yea, the difference betweene the carnall, and spirituall man, in respect of this inherent corruption, is great every manner of way: for in the unregenerate man, this monster of sinne, sitteth, as it were, upon a throne, ruling, and having dominion in his heart, where it commandeth, and is obeyed in every thing. For experience makes it plaine, that there is nothing wherein worldly men doe take more delight and pleasure, then in serving their corrupt flesh in all its lustes, whether it be in covetousnesse, voluptuousnesse, pride, ambition, or in any thing else whereunto their appetites carry them. But on the contrary side, in the children of God, (how soever it hath place in them, yet) it sitteth not as upon a throne, ruling, and commanding as a King, but lyeth, as it were, stretched out upon a racke, where thorough the working of the spirit it is every day more and more disjoynted, weakned, and mortified. Furthermore, the daily practise of the true Children of God is, not to take care for the flesh, to obey it in the lustes thereof, as carnall men doe, but to beate it downe, and bring it in bondage to the will of God, as the Apostle did. 1. Cor. 9.27.
Here by the way we may consider the exceeding sottishnesse of many poore, and wretched persons which serve the flesh, and live in sinne, who when they once heare, that all men, yea, the very best are sinfull, and that the most holy and sanctified have their wants and defects, and are clogged with the sinfull flesh; then beginne they to justifie themselves, and to say, we have all drunke of one cup; he that is without sinne let him cast the first stone at me; have I my imperfections? Another hath his; I am not alone, I hope I shall get into heaven as well as another; and so they set themselves in equall degree with the true Children of God; they themselves being no other then fleshly men, and children of the world.
But thou miserable man which speakest after this manner, understandest thou not? or wilt thou not understand, that there is a great difference betweene having the sinfull flesh in one, and fighting with it; and having it in one, and loving and serving it in the lustes thereof? Is there no difference betweene chast Joseph, who being set upon by Potiphar’s wife, and tempted to commit folly, ranne away; and betweene the light, and wanton woman, who sought to draw him unto it? Is there no difference betweene a modest, and chast Matron, who having a Ruffian in her house, resisteth him, striveth against him, seeketh by all meanes to drive him out, and cryeth out earnestly, O wretched woman that I am, who shall deliver me from this wicked villaine? and betweene a lasciuious woman which rejoyceth, and is glad that the Ruffian is in her house; which maketh a bed for him, and solaceth her selfe with him: so is there great difference betweene you, which let sin raigne in your mortall bodies, that you might obey it in the lusts thereof. Rom. 6.12. and betweene the servants of God which wrestle, and fight with it, and labour to beat it downe, and bring it in subjection. 1 Cor. 9 27. Yea, there is so great difference (marke it well) that you with your sinfull flesh shall be cast into Hell, where you shall eternally be tormented, if in time you repent not; where on the contrary side, the Children of God shall be freed, and delivered from their sinfull flesh, and be exalted into heaven: yea, behold, there is so great difference betweene you two, that the one shall be damned, and the other saved; the one goe to heaven, and the other to hell.
But although this naturall corruption is not alike in all men, yet it is truely in all men, and that in the very best, as daily experience teacheth: for who is there among the most holy and sanctified that live, which feeleth not in himselfe the pricke of the corrupt flesh? and findeth not something to be in him, which standeth in his way, & keepeth him from doing the good which he would doe, greatly hindering him in the service of the most high.
First, this serveth to incite, and stirre up every one to walke warily and circumspectly, seeing that we carry about us, and in us such a bodie of sinne, and of death; such a deadly and deceitfull monster as the flattering flesh, which alwayes lieth in ambush to entrap the soule, and is conspired with the Devil to bring it unto destruction. Shall we not then stand upon our gard? Shall wee not watch and pray, and put on all the Christian Armour of proofe to defend our selves withall? how can a poore man escape destruction, and condemnation, if he looketh not well to himselfe, seeing he is so beset on every side, within and without with such dangerous, and cruell enemies. Admit that a FrontJer. towne be straightly besieged with a strong Army without; and hath within it mutinous souldJer.s, which alwayes seeke their opportunitie to betray, and deliver it over into the enemies handes; how can such a Towne bee safe if good watch be not kept? Must it not of necessitie be wasted, and ransacked, unlesse the Citizens doe take more then common care, and diligence to secure themselves? We see it is bad enough with a Cittie in such a case, let it doe the best it can: and even thus standeth it with us; the Devil runneth round about us, seeking to devoure our soules, the corrupt flesh is within us readie to betray our soules into his hands; how then can wee avoid destruction, if we be secure, and negligent, For this cause sayth the Scripture, If the righteous shall scarcely be saned, where shall the sinner, and ungodly man appeare. 1. Pet. 4.18. If that the Apostle Paul was thus troubled, and grieved with the sin that cleaved so fast unto him, which was then upon his guard, and stroue manfully with it; which had then denied himselfe, and made it his continuall practise, and trade to beate downe and kill this bodie of sinne, 1. Cor. 9.27. What will then become of secure and negligent men, that take no more care for their noble and precious soule, then as though there were no deceitfull Satan alwayes seeking his advantages to enter upon it, nor any corrupt flesh, and body of death to kill and putrifie it? It shall surely come unto them as the Apostle sayth, when they shall say peace and safetie, then shall come upon them, suddaine destruction, as the trauayle upon a woman with childe, and they shall not escape, 1. Thes. 5.3. unlesse in time they prevent it.
And it is most certaine, that all this securitie, which is in worldly and carnall men, ariseth onely from this, that they neither thinke, nor consider that there is a whole kingdome of darknesse, and all the power of hell up in armes for to destroy their soule: and a whole bodie of death, and of sinne within them, which is evermore readie to betray them into the hands of the destroyer: this ignorance is the cause, and ground of all their securitie; for did they but see how mighty and cruell their enemies are; and what deadly, and poysonous concupiscences they carry in their bosomes, they would surely be affrighted, and tremble, and cry out with the Apostle, as if they were in some great exigent, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this bodie of death?
Wherefore we must suffer our selves to be admonished, evermore to stand upon our guard, to pray, to have God alwayes before our eyes, and often to heare, read, and meditate on his Word, and to follow his will revealed therein: those that are subject to any disease in their bodie, as the stone, the gout, or the like, when they beginne to perceive any signe of their old griefe, they presently make their moane, and complaine of it, and live more carefully, & respectively, avoiding whatsoever may further and encrease their disease, & using all meanes to have it cured; so must we also doe for our soules, unlesse by giving over all care of them, we brand our selves with the marke of men reprobated, and given up of God.
In the second place, this serveth for the iust reproofe of the exceeding great blindnesse, and sottishnesse of many worldly, and carnall men, who because they lead an outward ciuill life among their neighbours, paying every man his owne, and defrauding no man of a penny, as their manner of speech is, are therefore accustomed to justifie themselves before God, and beare themselves in hand, that they have no need to feare hell, yea, heaven is their due; notwithstanding, they are convinced in conscience, that they are sinfull, yet they know no other sinnes that they have, then some small sinnes, which they hold to be veniall, and those they thinke are so few in number, that they need not to make any doubt of their salvation; and in the meane time they forget that (howsoever they carry it outwardly) there is a whole body of death in them, which maketh them accursed before God, and lyable unto eternall condemnation: this they consider not, but say in their heart, I am no thiefe, no murtherer, no drunkard, no cheater, no whore-monger, I can go to Church with my neighbours, I need not hide my head for any man; and why should they tell me then that I shall not come to heaven as well as another? And in the meane while (poore men) they thinke nor what God hath to say unto them, and what he can alledge against them; they weigh and consider not that there is a body of death in them, which maketh them to be damnable and accursed before God, yea, though while they live they should neither move, nor stirre, and doe neither good, nor bad.
But O thou poore man that art thus minded, how lamentable is thy case? Thou hasf a whole body of sinne with in thee, and that as thou liest, and sleepest: there is a moustrous deformitie in thee, which maketh thoe most abominable before God, and being not covered will certeinly bring thee to hell: thy naturall corruption possesseth thy soule, killeth it, and maketh it stinke before God, Psal. 53.2. It destroyeth thy body also; for from whence (thinkest thou) doth it come, that thy body is subject unto so many paines, and difeases; that it so decayeth, and consumeth away? commeth it not from this inward bodie of sinne, which hath in it selfe the sting of temporall and eternall death. 1 Cor. 15.56. So then yee need not be a thiefe, or a murtherer, or an adulterer, or a drunkard, or a deceiver, or an usurer: thou mayest chuse whether thou wilt take so much paines for to goe to hell: remaine the same that thou art by nature, and thou shalt not escape it: continue still an olde wife unto the olde Man, as by nature thou art, and thou canst not be saved; thou must perish, Luc. 13.3.5. if so be thou art not renewed in the spirit of thy minde; if the hand of God come not upon thee; if his spirit worketh not in thy heart, and create in thee a new heart, and a new spirit; if hee causeth not the light of his grace to arise in thy heart, that thou mayest no longer remaine darkenesse, but mayest be light as the day beginning to breake: if this (I say) be not wrought in thy heart, it is not possible that thou shouldest ever enter into the kingdome of heaven; or inherite eternall life; for thou hast a bodie of death in thee which will bring thee into everlasting death, except thou begin to kill the works of this body, which thou canst not doe but thorough the spirit, which by nature thou hast not, neither canst have, but from God alone.
O what a lamentable thing is it, that the naturall man is so blockish, and dull that hee not so much as once thoroughly considereth this; admonish, and exhort these men to marke God’s word, diligently to repaire to the Congregation of the faith, to watch and pray, to redeeme the time, and to worke out their salvation with feare and trembling; they cast it in the wind; they see no reason why they should so trouble themselves: they suppose it standeth well enough with them, because they are not so openly scandalous and offensiue in their conuersation as others, and peradventure somewhat better then some of their neighbours, of whom they report that there is no goodnes in them: when as they themselves know not yet what it meaneth to be renewed in the spirit of their minde; and what it is to mortifie the deeds of the body thorough the spirit.
Thirdly, let this serve to exhort all the people of God to put farre from them this opinion, and conceite of worldly, and carnall men; let us give out selves no rest, till we finde that we are renewed in the spirit of our minde, and that wee have some power thorough the spirit to mortifie the workes of this body of death: let us also take heed, that we be not so foolish, as to seeke our justification in our selves, or in our owne works: nothing but that which is perfect can stand before the judgement of God: but wee have a body of sinne in us, which hinders us from perfection; therfore let us seeke it onely in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Fourthly, this may move us to humilitie; shall we be proud, and insolent, which beare about us, and in us a body of death; which are condemned men, upon whom by the law of God the sentence of death hath already passed? Is it a seemely thing that persons condemned, and readie to be executed, should be proud and arrogant? shall we then be high minded, and grudging? shall we be enuious, and malicious? shall we be wanton, and carelesse, which have in us a body of death, whereby we are lyable unto eternall death? Shall wee in the pride of our hearts, make of our body of death, a body of insolencie, and murmuring; a body of voluptuousnesse, and mirth; a body of wantonnesse, and jesting? let that be far from us: humilitie becommeth condemned men. Abraham was humbled, because he was but dust and ashes, Gen. 18 27, and shall not we be so too, which are nothing else but an accursed lumpe? Job was humbled, because the fores had over-runne his body: but the naturall corruption hath runne thorough all the parts and powers of our soule, and body, and shall we not be humbled? shall a man be cast downe for a disease in the body? and shall wee that are so deadly sicke in soule, not be cast downe at all.
Fiftly, here is matter of comfort, and encouragement to all good hearts, who knowing that there is a body of death in them, are therewith unfainedly grieved, and troubled, and earnestly busied, and exercised in mortifying, and killing the same by the spirit, doe notwithstanding feele in themselves the prickes of the flesh, and the continuall buffetts, and assaults of this body of sinne: Behold my beloved brothers, and sisters, bee not dismayed, and thinke not therefore that you are Bastards among the sonnes of God: No, as you have before heard, it is the lot of all the Children of God: marke in all the foregoing verses of the seventh chapter to the Romanes, what the Apostle himselfe had to doe with his naturall corruption; be not then discouraged, but stand to it stoutly, and although the Devill goes about to perswade thee, that thou art no child of God, because thou feelest the pricke of the flesh so strong in thee; yet know for certaine that in as much as thou strivest manfully with thy corruptions, and doest not studie to obey, and please them, but seekest by the spirit to mortifie, and kill them; know (I say) that thou art a childe of God: continue therefore in thy spirituall combat; fight valiantly; and put on all the Christian armour of proofe; and let this serve to make thee long and desire to be delivered from this body of death, and to be with Christ; and in the meane time be humbled in thy selfe, and patient toward thy brother, out of the sense of thine owne imperfections: and strive not onely against this, or that sinne, according to the manner of worldly men, (whereby it appeareth that their heart is not upright with God:) but with the Apostle, fight against the whole bodie of sinne, using the meanes that God hath ordained whereby thou mayest overcome, and avoiding all occasions that may make thee fall: and so doing be assured in thy selfe, that thus to strive against thy naturall corruption, is an infallible marke, that thou art a Childe of God, and a sure ground of unspeakeable comfort.
The second Sermon.
Thirdly, How the Apostle lamenteth over the bodie of Death?
The Apostle his lamentation is two-fold: first, he declareth himselfe therefore to be miserable: secondly, he wisheth to bee delivered. Of both which wee shall speake by God’s assistance: and first of this, that the Apostle declareth himselfe to beo miserable, because he had the bodie of death in him. O miserable man (sayth the Apostle) who shall deliver me? It is very strange the Apostle lamenteth here after this manner: in other places he affirmeth, and that confidently, that hee rejoyced even in the greatest tribulations, 2 Cor. 4.8. &c. 2 Cor. 6.4. &c. How doth he here then so mournefully complaine? Did he speake from his heart, when he said, O miserable man? Was he not then a man blessed of the Lord? Was he not then assured of his salvation? How commeth it then that he calleth himselfe miserable?
Without doubt the Apostle speaketh here in good earnest, for he was then in a hot skirmish, and had little time, or cause to dally, or lest: yea, he spake not onely in earnest, but also upon good groundes, for the other afflictions wherein hee sayth, he did glory, and rejoyce, were outward afflictions, wherein in truth hee might well rejoyce: but here he speaketh (as wee have heard before) of his naturall corruption; of the sinne that hanged fast upon him, and of the olde man, which he began to behold in all the parts, and members thereof. The which made him lament and complaine in good earnest, as being a thing out of which he could draw no comfort at all: in which regard he might instly account himselfe to be miserable: For this body of death considered in it selfe, maketh a man truely wretched and miserable, the which may sufficiently be gathered out of the first part of our Text, whereunto wee will briefely adde, that the body of death, in respect of which the Apostle so earnestly complaineth, hath these miserable, and cursed effects which follow.
( 1) First, it defaceth, and depraveth the Image of God, the which is a thing altogether lamentable, and miserable. If a man doth breake a leg, or an arme, how doth he cry out, and complaine of his misery? What cause then is there of mourning and complaint, when the soule of man is broken to peeces, and made unfit for every good use? When the most noble and eminent of man is utterly depraved, and corrupted? Wee see that in a mans body, when any member is wounded, or afflicted with any griefe, the more worthie and excellent that member is, the greater is both the griefe, and danger of the sore: prick a man in the arme, or the legg with the point of a Needle, and he will both feele it & complaine of it; but pricke him in the apple of his eye, and that shall pierce him to the heart, and make him cry out. If it bee so with the eye of the body, how great is the paine and griefe, when the eye of the minde is not onely prickt, but wholly put out? When the most noble, and precious soule is wounded, and that to death? this is it that made the Apostle cry out, O miserable man.
Secondly, Man thus depraved in soule by originall ( 2) corruption, is by nature a childe of disobedience, and a child of wrath, Ephes. 2.2.2. That is, unfit for the service of God, & liable to the curse of God; both which are miseries beyond comparison.
First, he cannot doe the workes of God: for he is as a broken tooth, which serveth for no use at all; and as a broken arme wherewith a man cannot worke. As soone as a man beginnes to frame himselfe unto the service of God, hee findeth his corruption ever to be in his way, so that the good that he willingly would doe, he cannot doe as he would: With this are the children of God greatly moved, howsoever the children of the world, which put not forth their strength to the service of God, feele no inconvenience herein: even as one that hath a broken legge, and lyeth still, feeleth not the smart thereof so much as he that is ever assaying to walke; and therefore they complaine not; neverthelesse, this exceedingly grieveth the servants of God, and they account it as a great misery, that they can no better performe their dutie to God.
Secondly, the naturall man is liable to the curse of God, Deut. 27.26. He that destroyeth the image of God, him will God destroy: This is it that did cast many of the Angells out of heaven into hell: this drove Adam out of Paradise, and maketh all the sonnes of men subject unto eternall death: and from hence doe arise all the plagues and punishments which are inflicted upon man: now, as a man having committed murther, & being come to himselfe, accounteth himselfe to be miserable, in regard of the offence, which maketh him worthie of death, although he be neither apprehended, nor condemned to die: even so it is with the children of God, who notwithstanding that they are delivered (as the Apostle was) from the feare of death, thorough our Lord Jesus Christ, Heb. 2.15. yet because they know that their sinfulnesse causeth God to hide his cheareful countenance from them, Esay 59.2. Which is unto them as bitter as death it selfe, therefore they cry out unfainedly because of this bodie of death; O miserable man.
Now in that the Apostle himselfe which had alreadie in a great measure mortified, and subdued this body of death, 1 Cor. 9.27. yet neverthelesse so pitifully complaineth against it, whereas there are many thousands that goe frolikely along being never touched, much lesse troubled therewith, yet are as it were wrapped, and plunged over head and cares, in sinne and iniquitie: from thence followeth this Doctrine; The more sanctified, and holy that a man is, the more sensible is he of his corruptions, and the more troublesome are they unto him. This is manifest, in that the Apostle that was none of the greatest sinners, but one of the holiest upon the earth, yet maketh the greatest complain against his corruptions: he reckoneth up 2 Cor. 11. many, and sundry bitter afflictions, and persecutions, yet none of them maketh him cry out, and complaine so mournefully as he doth here, because of his naturall corruption, which he saw to be the mother of all misery.
Thus David, when through his folly hee had wounded himselfe with sinne, goeth weeping unto the bosome of his heavenly Father, and cryeth out with a loud voyce, Heale my soule O Lord, for against thee have I sinned: But the Children of the world in the same case, wipe their mouth with the Harlot, and aske what cuill they have done.
Now the reasons for which the regenerate, and true Children of God are so grieved with sinne, whereas the children of the world are never touched, much lesse troubled therewith, are chiefly these.
First, the regenerate and true Children of God have received spirituall life in them, whereby they have a quicke, and feeling conscience, which the Lord giveth them to keepe them from sinne; But on the contrary side, the naturall man is dead in sinne, Ephes. 2.1. and hath a seared Conscience 1 Tim. 4. which is utterly past feeling, as it is sayd, their heart is waxed fat, that they cannot understand Mat. 13.15. Hence it is that the Children of the world, being dead in sinne, and dead in conscience, can so easily digest all manner of sinnes, and make so light of them; being accustomed never to lament for the iniquitie, & offence of their sins, but for some outward inconvenience, which they have procured unto themselves in the world by their sinnes, as losse, reproch, or the like: but the regenerate, being living in soule, and quicke in conscience, are sensible of the least prick of sin, the smart whereof causeth them to cry out, O miserable, &c.
Secondly, the regenerate have their eyes open to see the uglinesse of sinne, and the hatefull deformitie of this body of death: they see that it defaceth the image of God in Man, maketh him unfit for the service of God, and lyable to the curse of God: they see that it dishonoureth God, and provoketh him to anger; scandalizeth the Church, grieveth the godly, and rejoyceth the wicked, and causeth the name of God to be blasphemed, and his Gospell to be disgraced: they see also, that hell, and eternall damnation doe hang at the tayle of sinne, how sweete, & pleasing soever it seemeth to be: all this doe they see, as a people that is neere unto God, who giveth great light unto all them that are about him: they see also, that it shutteth heaven, and openeth Hell: encreaseth the heat of Hell-fire, for the ungodly, and hideth the comfortable light of God’s countenance many times from his owne children: All this doe the Saints of God see, which maketh them so lament, and complaine of sinne; but the children of the world because they neither see, nor understand this, are nothing troubled with sinne, notwithstanding they are from top to toe polluted therewith.
Thirdly, the regenerate and true Children of God, doe hate sinne with a perfect hatred, Psalme 97.10. Where on the contrary side, the unregenerate doe love it as much: yea, they have their speciall beloved sinnes, Job 20.12. Now wee know it is a thing not a little grievous for a man to have one whom he hateth alwayes to be present with him, in his house, at his table, at his fire, in his bed, and every where else, under his nose; So it grieveth the children of God not a little, that the bodie of sinne, and of death is in them, which they hate with all their hearts, and wish that it were drowned in the bottome of the sea: but it is not so with the children of the world, for they loving sinne, or not hating it, are nothing troubled therewith, although they know it to be in them.
Fourthly, The Saints of God have learned to judge of sin, according to the word of God, which declareth it to be the most odious, and abhominable thing that is, Deut. 25.16. and herein have they also learned to renounce their owne understanding: but naturall men doe judge of sinne according to their owne carnall conceite, and good meaning; and being by nature lovers of sin, they cannot, nor will not understand that it is so hatefull as truely it is; and therefore, where they should condemne themselves for sinne, they condemne the law as if it were too strickt, and judged too severely of sinne.
Lastly, as no element in his proper place is heavie; So sinne in the naturall man, being in its right place is not grievous: but it is otherwise with the children of God.
Now come we to the uses that may be made of this that hath beene spoken; and the first shall be for Examination, and triall: for, by this Doctrine may every man prove, and try himselfe whether he be a childe of God, or not; in which the most part of men are wanting, suffering themselves to be deceived in the case of assurance of salvation; but it must not be so; for, would a man be willing without proofe, and triall of himselfe to go along merrily, and laughing, with a hope of inheriting eternall life, and at last thorough want of tryall, and examination, finde himselfe deceived in his expectation, and be cast into eternall damnation, without hope of ever being delivered? Verily, I thinke not: therefore enery one must take the paines to prove and examine himselfe.
Now, here is an infallible Rule, for proofe, and tryall: See how thou art minded concerning sin; is it so, that when thou hast thoroughly considered thy whole estate, and condition, and weighed in thy heart how every thing standeth with thee, thou findest nothing that troubleth, and grieveth thee so much as sinne: and canst thou, having all things at will, sit downe with the Apostle and mourne because of thy finnes, and cry out unfainedly, O miserable man, who shall deliver me? Wishing above all things to be delivered from the bodie of sinne, and to be freed from the power therof; oh that is a good signe that there is spirituall life in thee; that thou hast a spirituall eye open to see the hatefulnesse of sinne: that thou thy selfe hatest sinne, and judgest thereof according to the word of God, denying thine owne carnall conceit therein: and that sinne being in thee, is not in its proper place.
But on the contrary side, if it bee so with thee that thou canst lament, and bewayle thy losses, and crosses in outward things, and art nothing troubled for thy sins; it is a very evill signe: canst thou mourne, & grieve when thou hast wounded thine arme; and doest thou make nothing of it when sin hath wounded thy soule, even to death? canst thou frowne when others have displeased thee; and art thou not mooued at all, when thou thy selfe hast displeased the God of heaven and earth? canst thou rage, and take on with thy servants for breaking a glasse, or a pot; and hast thou no holy indignation with thy selfe, when thou hast broken the law of God? Behold, it is a signe thou art in a bad case. Furthermore, canst thou, being poore and needie, lament, and bewayle thy state, and cry out, O miserable man? and canst thou not because thou art sinfull cry out unfainedly, O miserable man? Then it is greatly to bee feared, that thou art not onely poore in body, but also accursed in thy povertie, and want, if so be thou remainest the same in soule as thou art, Againe, if thou having spoken a lye, beene angry, or peradventure drunke the last night, canst easily disgest it, and goe on frolickly, without once being touched at heart with any sorrow for it; behold, it is a lamentable signe, that thou art dead in sin, and art blind, not having an eye to see the hatefulnes of sinne; that thou hatest not sinne as thou shouldest, nor judgest of it as God doth: yea, that thou art altogether in sinne, and sinne in thee, is in its owne place: And to be short, it is an infallible signe, that if thou cryest not out because of thy sinnes, O miserable man, who shall deliver me? Thou thy selfe art one of the most miserable men that liveth upon the earth.
Secondly, here is great cause of mourning, and lamentation: For is it not a miserable thing, that sinne, which is so common in the world among name-bearing Christians, and hath so many lamentable effects, is so little complained of by men and yet the want of being troubled with it, is such an infallible signe of a miserable soule. Hath not sinne, as a sea, over-flowne all places? goe unto the houses, shopps, markets, counsells, Courts, Consistories, Churches, or any place else, and if it bee full of men, you shall finde it to be full of sinne also: but where shall you finde the holy complaint and outcry of Paul against sinne? Where shall you find those that from their hearts hold themselves to be miserable, because they be sinfull? and make the sorrow for their sinnes, to exceed all their other sorrowes, as the Saints of God were wont to doe? Nay, are there not multitudes to bee found which harden themselves in sinne? and are so far from any remorse of Conscience for sinne, that they rejoyce, and take pleasure in it, and are at no time so much grieved, as when they cannot bring their sinfull intents to effect, not making a meale but it must be with sinne, to whom it is not enough that they eat, and drinke, but they must eat, and drinke sinfully, or else they cannot bee merry: there are also those that plough iniquitie, Hosea 10.13. that are inventers of wicked things, Rom. 1.30 Workers of unrighteousnesse, practitioners in sinne, whose will, and understanding are onely imployed to plot, and devise iniquitie, to cover, extenuate, and defend it with subtle Arguments, or so cunningly, and cleanly to carry their sinfull, and ungodly proiects, that they may not be perceived. There are likewise those that live onely in sinne, whose meate, and drinke it is to worke iniquitie, Pro. 4.16. There are also those that build their houses, and hold them open in sinne, as those wicked and filthy Alehouses, and worse; & yet all these will give themselves out for true Christians, and appropriate unto themselves the comforts and prerogatives of the Children of God, when, remaining as they are, they have no part in them, which is a thing altogether lamentable, and miserable.
Thirdly, this serveth to terrifie, and affright all abstinate, and hard hearted men, which drinke in iniquitie like water, and can without any sorrow, or remorse of conscience, commit, and digest the most grosse, and abominable sinnes; which can lye, sweare, deceive, drinke drunke, prophane the Sabboth, or doe any wicked thing else, and yet passe away their time in joy, and mirth; yea, and boast of their strong faith; and that they are sure of the pardon of their sinnes, and the salvation of their soules: But the faith of these men is mad, and foolish: it is no Apostolicall faith; it is not of the nature of the Apostle Paul’s faith, who being upon good groundes assured, that his sinnes were forgiven, yet was troubled, and grieved with them; even as a maide who having slipt into folly, and now liveth chastly, mourneth, and lamenteth all her life long, because of the scandall & reproach where with shee hath steined her selfe, although shee be forgiven of her friends, and companions, and as well respected and esteemed by them, as she was in times past: but the peace, and securitie of those idle, and vaine boasters, ariseth not from the strength of their faith, but onely from this, that they have a dead, and benummed Conscience, and are still in their naturall state, where sinne being, as in its proper element, is not heavie, and grievous. But looke before thee thou wretched man, behold, there shall a judgement come, and then thou shalt know, that this thy idle joy, and mirth, is nothing else, but the seede of thine eternall paine, and torment, unlesse thou doest in time turne and repent: for it is most certaine, that thou must either temporally, here; or else eternally hereafter, lament, and bewayle thy sinnes.
Fourthly, this serveth to reprove those large Consciences, which when they see the Childe of God humbled, and grieved for his sins, are wont to marvaile, and say, they know not wherefore one should be so troubled for sinne, for God is mercifull, say they, Christ is dead, and all things are well: but did not the Apostle know what hee did when he cryed out so earnestly because of his sinnes, O miserable man, who shall deliver mee? But these men doe not know, that it is the property of the childe of God to mourne, and grieve because he hath displeased his good and gracious Father by his sinnes, although (with the Apostle) he be confident, that they be remitted, even as a good natured childe, when he hath committed a fault, will be sorry that he hath offended his Father, although he hath forgiven him.
Lastly, here is matter of comfort, and encouragement, for all those which out of the sense and feeling of their sinnes and corruptions, are unfainedly grieved, and troubled with them, complaining, and crying out from their harts with the Apostle, O miserable man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? Oh my beloved brethren, and sisters, be not dismayed because you find sinne to be so heavie a burthen; behold, it must be so, if you wil be eased of it: the more light a man thinks it is, the more heavie, and grievous it shall fall upon him: it is a signe that you are in a joyful estate, if your greatest sorrow be for your sins: a wound being full of dead flesh smarteth not; but then it is the more incurable: it is a living, and quicke conscience that feeleth the smart of sin: this corruption is not felt by corruption: it is a signe that there is spirituall life in us, when we can mourne for the transgression, and iniquitie of our sinnes: I say, for the transgression, & iniquitie of our sins, because they are contrary to the will of God, and do displease him: the children of the world which are dead in sinne, can mourne, and lament enough for the punishment which is, (or they feare will) come upon them, by reason of their sinnes: but it is the propertie of the children of God to sorrow, and grieve because by their sins they have offended, and displeased their good, and gracious Father: so then, goe forwardes, thus must it be with you, if you will have it be well with you: step one step further with the Apostle, and as with him you mourne because of the wickednesse of your sins, so cease not, and give your selves no rest, till with him also you finde your selves to bee delivered both from the guilt, & dominion of sin, thorough Jesus Christ our Lord, whereof by his assistance wee purpose to speake in this part of the Text which now followeth.
Here the Apostle wisheth to be delivered from the body of death: O miserable man (sayth he) who shall deliver me from this body of death? Now, we are delivered from the body of death in this life (for therunto hath the Apostle respect, as it appeareth in the verse following) when in this life we are saved from our sinnes, Mat. 1.21. namely, when we have not onely obteined forgivenesse of our sins, but are also strengthened against the power of sin, & more and more set free from the bondage therof, Joh. 8.32.36. thus the Apostle wisheth here that the power of his corruptions might more & more be broken, and decayed.
Moreover, the Apostle here wishing, asketh who shall deliver him? which we must not understand as though he did not know thorough whom hee should be delivered; for he declareth in the verse following, that he knew it well enough; but here he asketh the question, onely, to let us understand, that in himselfe he found no meanes whereby he might be delivered: Like Josaphat being environed with his enemies, & seeing no way to escape, cryed unto God for helpe, 2 Chron. 18.31. Or as the sea-faring men, who in time of storme, and tempest, when their owne art, and industrie cannot helpe them, doe cry unto the Lord, Psal. 107.28.29. So the Apostle cryeth here, as out of great miserie, and affliction, unto God for helpe, knowing that it must come onely from him; for sinne maketh man so miserable, that nothing but the almightie power of God can deliver him: for by sinne we are cast under the feete of Satan; we lie condemned unto eternall death; and the wrath of God is incensed, & kindled against our soules, for which who knoweth in himselfe any remedy? Judas finding none, ran unto the tree: but Paul runneth unto Christ, vers: 25. For it is the sonne of God alone, which can deliver the wretched sons of men from the misery of their sinnes.
But some man may aske, how commeth it to passe, that the Apostle Paul, which was none of the greatest sinners, yea, which was alreadie in a great measure freed from the might of sinne; yet wisheth thus earnestly to bee delivered more and more from it; whereas the children of the world, which lie even drowned therein, and are very slaves unto it, yet speake not once of this deliverance.
Beloved, it came from this, that the Apostle had a feeling, and experimentall knowledge of the misery that ariseth from sinne, and therefore hee wisheth to be delivered from it: this the children of the world doe not feele, and therefore they thinke not of deliverance: he that can feelingly, and unfainedly complaine, that he is miserable, because he is sinfull, he will also heartily cry out, and wish to be delivered from sinne; from hence followeth this observation; The true sense, and feeling of the misery which sinne bringeth us into, causeth us unfainedly to seeke our deliverance out of sinne by Jesus Christ: This we see manifestly in the Apostle Paul: For this cause was it that our Lord Jesus Christ according to his infinite wisedome, sent John the Baptist before him, as a forerunner to prepare the way for him, by teaching men to know their misery, whereinto they were brought thorough sin, to the end, that they might seeke their deliverance out of sinne thorough Christ, Mat. 3. For this cause also is the law preached, that me being thereby brought to the knowledg of their misery through sin, Rom. 7.7. might the better be driven to Christ: in which respect, the Law is called our leader to Christ, Gal. 3.24. In this regard also Christ sayth, that those that are whole have no neede of the Physitian, but those that feele their maladies, they call, and cry for him. And the reason is, because it is by nature ingrafted into all Creatures when they are in distresse, and misery, to seeke ease, and deliverance: as the young Ravens in the wood when they are hungry, doe cry unto God, Psal. 147.9. And the greater the misery, and affliction is, the greater is the desire to be delivered. Now there is no smart like unto the smart of sin, unto a feeling conscience: and there is no affliction, like unto the affliction of the conscience, for (as wee sayd before) the more noble, and excellent that member is which is affected with any sore, the greater is the griefe, and paine thereof; So, the soule being the most worthie, and eminent part of Man, and in misery, and distresse; the sorrow and griefe must of necessitie be great, and the desire to be delivered from it equall thereunto.
First, this serveth for to discover unto us, from whence it commeth, that there are so many which notwithstanding they are miserably possessed with this body of sinne, and polluted with all manner of impious transgressions, the damnable brood thereof; yet never seeke for their deliverance, truly, it commeth onely from this, that they know not the misery wherein they are by sin: yea, from whence commeth it that many a man goeth under the curse of God because of his sinnes, and never thinkes of his deliverance, passing along, as it were, with an easie gale in a smooth Sea, without any perturbation at all: and many also who knowing that they are sinfull, and being ignorant of the meanes whereby they may be delivered, yet are not a whit troubled: aske them, have you not sinned against God? they will answere, yes; then aske them, whether they by their sinnes have not deserved eternall death, even as others? they confesse that also: aske them then, what meanes they know whereby to be delivered from the body of death? they answere, that God is mercifull, and they trust that he will not cast them away, because of their sinnes, but will save them for his mercies sake. Demand of them then whether God saveth all, and condemneth none; they must needs acknowledge, that the way is broad that leadeth into destruction, and many there be that enter into it; and that there be goates, as well as sheepe: then come nearer unto them, and demand of them upon what ground they hope that God will be more mercifull unto them, for to save them from hell, and bring them to heaven, then he is to many other whom he casteth into destruction? then they are at a stand, not knowing what to say, or doe; or, it may be run unto their workes, for to seeke their salvation there: or else answere you, that it is too high a question for them, and that they are not so deepely learned: and albeit they are convinced, that they are ignorant of the meanes wherby they may be delivered from eternall perdition, yet they let it sticke there, troubling themselves no further, but goe on carelesly, and securely, not so much as once asking, or inquiring of that man of God which hath so convinced them, how, and which way they may be delivered; but let it so remaine, being negligent of their eternall good: and this their fearefull, & miserable blockishnesse, and dotage ariseth onely from this, that they have no sense, nor feeling of the miserable estate wherein they are by sinne, but onely prate, and discourse of it, because they heare others doe so, thinking that men must say so: and because for the present, they have their bodily health, and the things of this world at will; and feele no smart in their consciences (for they are dead in sinnes, and trespasses, and consequently without feeling) therefore are they secure, and seeke not to bee delivered from their sinnes; but live, taking their pleasure, and delight therein, for they have neither true knowledge, nor feeling of the misery, and wretchednesse whereinto their sinnes have brought them: how their soule is depraved, and corrupted, and what a curse hangeth over them: but this securitie of theirs, is like unto that of a condemned person, who sleeping before execution, is secure no longer then his sleepe dureth: for from this that worldly men are ignorant of the misery wherein they are thorough their sinnes, ariseth it that they are so negligent, and carelesse, not troubling not themselves with the Apostle about their deliverance; nor yet once looking after Christ Jesus unfainedly, and heartily: whereas had they learned tightly to know, and understand the misery wherein they are by reason of their sinnes, they would with all earnestnesse, and vehemencie have sought their deliverance from the body of death, as the Apostle did.
Secondly, this sheweth how necessary it is that the Law should be thoroughly Preached, to the end, that men being made thereby to know the miserable, and woefull estate whereinto their sins have brought them, might the better be driven to seeke their deliverance thorough Jesus Christ. For it is most certain, that neither the deliverance is heartily sought after, nor Jesus Christ the Physitian worthily esteemed, there where the hate fulnesse of sinne, and the greatnesse of the misery by reason of sinne is not thoroughly knowne.
Goe tell a man, which feeleth no griefe, and thinketh himselfe to be well, and in health, that he should seeke for helpe, and goe unto the Physitian for to be cured; and he will mocke, and deride you: but one that findeth his disease, and feeleth the paine thereof will thanke you for your counsell: so untill such time that men have learned thoroughly to know their misery; Jesus Christ the Physitian is not respected, nor accounted off according to his worth, and desert: and although the Ministers of Christ come unto them praying, and beseeching them in the name of Christ, and entreating them for the love of Christ, to carrie themselves so and so; yet these men which know not their misery regard it not at all, but set light by all the requestes, and entreaties of Christ, and suffer his Ministers to pray, and entreate as much as they will, passing away their time without any care, or thought at all: and no marvayle; for they feele no want of Christ, neither finde they any more sweetnesse in the Lord Jesus, then in a dry Wort-stalke. But on the contrary side, those that have learned truely to know their misery, and which give up their hearts, & soules unto Christ, for to be delivered thorough him; those esteeme and count of all things as dung, and drosse for the excellencie of the knowledge of Jesus Christ: whatsoever is required of these in the name of Christ, as soone as they truely know it to bee his will, they fashion themselves according unto it, they onely being those that honour, and esteeme of Christ, according unto his worth, and excellencie, as daily experience maketh it undeniably manifest: for this cause, we see it to be most necessary, that men should learne to know their misery by the preaching of the law, to the end, that they may come unto the Gospell for their deliverance, in, and thorough Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, This serveth to admonish all those which seeke to be delivered from the bodie of death, that they willingly, and gladly suffer the reproofe and reprehension of their sinnes, and the discovery of the filthinesse, and hatefulnesse of them: but men are impatient of this, avoyding, & shunning it as the death, yet without this they cannot be delivered from the body of death: some when they heare sinne sharply reproved, cry out, that it is the way to preach men to destruction; but truely they know not what they say: are they those that thinke to bee delivered by their owne workes, that they cannot suffer to have it truely declared unto them, that the very best of them according to the tenor, and strictnesse of the Law, hath by their owne actions deserned no lesse then hell and damnation? But if they be wise, & right minded Christians, let them be willing to heare their owne insufficiencie, and unworthinesse discovered, and layd open unto them, that they may the more reverence, and esteeme of Jesus Christ, and learne, not in their owne workes, but in his worthines, and merites to seeke their deliverance, and salvation; and to acknowledge, and follow him, not from the teeth outwardes, like hypocrites, but unfainedly, and from their hearts, as the onely Physitian, and Saviour of their soules.
Therefore most commendable is the practise of those Ministers of God which are carefull, & earnest to lay open before mens eyes their insufficiencie, vilenesse, and cursed estate by nature, endeavouring by that meanes to bring men highly to esteeme of Christ (whom the end of all our preaching is to make knowne unto them) for by experience we finde, and the truth it selfe maketh it cleare, that our Lord Jesus Christ is worthily esteemed, and honoured of none, but of such as by the feeling of their misery are brought into the estate of the Apostle when he cryed out, O miserable man, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Fourthly, this serveth to admonish us, whensoever we finde our selves wanting in our love, and due estimation of Christ, and feele that wee have not such a heartie, and grounded affection unto him, and such a hungry desire, and longing after our deliverance from the body of death, thorough this Prince of life as we should; that then we betake our selves unto a serious, and due consideration of the manifold, and wonderfull hatefulnesse, and vilenesse of our sinnes; how miserably the image of God is thereby depraved, and defaced in us: how unfit it maketh us for the service of God: how fearefully by it the wrath of God is kindled against us: how thereby wee have deserved eternall death, and damnation: and consequently what great neede we have of the mediation of Jesus Christ: and this will make us above all things (unlesse we are dead in sinne) seeke our deliverance from this body of death, thorough Jesus Christ our Lord, as the Apostle did.
Now in that the Apostle thus earnestly, and above all things in the world (as here it is manifest) wisheth, desireth, and longeth more and more to be delivered, and freed from the power of sinne: and in as much as he elsewhere requireth us to be his followers: from hence ariseth this instruction, that it behooveth us above all things in the world, with all diligence to endeavour more and more to be delivered from the power of sinne: We see here in our Text that it is the practise of the Apostle, and his example being good, we ought to make it our rule. This hath evermore beene the opinion, and practise of all the servants of God, as it is here the out-cry of the Apostle, Who shall deliver me from this body of death? Such is Davids wish, Psal. 119.5. O that my way were directed to keepe thy statutes: and it hath not onely beene the longing, and desire of the servants of God: but also their daily practise, and endeavour to attaine unto it, as the Apostle Paul witnesseth of himselfe, that he desired in all things to walke honestly, Heb. 13.18. Yea, that it was his daily occupation, his greatest exercise, and endeavour, to have alwayes a cleare conscience toward God, and towardes men, Act. 24.16. And David also testifieth as much of himselfe, that he refrained his feete from every evill way, that he might keepe God’s word, Psal: 119.101.
First, This must be the endeavour of every one that will serve God, because true Religion, and undefiled before God, even the Father, is, to visite the widdow, and fatherlesse in their aduersitie, and to keepe himselfe unspotted of the world.
Secondly, If so be we were in slavery under the Turkes, should wee not by all meanes labour for our libertie? If we were griped in the clawes of a Lyon; should we not desire, and strive to come forth? If we were in danger of some fearefull fire, or over-flowing of water, should we not make the best speed we could to escape? Now, the bondage, the tyranny, the brunt, the flood of sinne is worse then the bondage of the Turkes, the crueltie of a Lyon, or the unmercifulnesse of fire, or water: for these fasten onely on the body, and but for a short space: but the other on the soule, and that for ever. Therefore, unlesse wee will make it appeare, that we be unbeleeving contemners, and mockers of the Doctrine of heaven and hell, and whatsoever appertaineth thereunto, accounting it as meerely verball, and vaine babbling; Let us above all things in the world, labour, and endeavour more and more to be delivered, and freed from the bondage of sinne.
First, Here is matter of mourning, and lamentation, even that there are so few that labour, and exercise themselves in this, notwithstanding it be matter of such necessitie, and consequence. You shall find men that are plunged up to the eares in sinne, yet neverthelesse take no paines at all to get out of it: yea, they are so farre from using any diligence of themselves, to worke out their libertie, and freedome from the bondage of sinne, as that they cannot suffer any man to admonish them of their sinnes, or to lend them a hand to pluck them out of them, being in madnesse, and folly like unto him which being possessed with a deep sleepe, and having an Adder creeping upon him is angry and taketh it in ill part, when his friend awaketh him, to the end, that he might avoyd the present danger: so truely is it a miserable, and lamentable thing (and yet common) that worldly men, which doe lie in wickednesse, 1 Joh. 5.19. as a beast lyeth in hay, (for so the word there signifieth) , are so farre from stirring, and rousing up themselves to rise out of their sinnes, and to harken unto the voyce which cryeth, awake thou that sleepest, stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light, as that they had rather goe seeke some bodie to set a cushin under their elbow, to the end that they might sleepe the more easily, and soundly in their sinnes: but it shall be with them as the Lord protesteth, Ezech. 13.18.19.
Secondly, let this move us to stirre up our selves above all things (according to the manner of the Apostle) to labour, and endeavour to have our selves delivered from the body of death, and set free from the power thereof; for, we see that we are altogether, and wholly in the captiuitie, and bondage of sinne, therefore to endeavour to get our libertie, must we preferre before all our workes; and especially, seeing the glory of our good, and gracious God, and the eternall well-fare of our owne soules, doe stand upon it: yea, it is most certaine, that whosoever setteth not himselfe against his sinnes, for to be freed, and delivered from his sinnes, shall die in his sinnes, John 8.24. For this body of sinne shall peirce him with the venemous, and cursed sting thereof, which shall bring him, not onely to temporall, but also to eternall death, 1 Cor. 15.56. For as those that die in the Lord, are blessed, and rest from their labours, and enjoy eternall happinesse, Reuel: 14.13. So those that die in their sinnes, are certainely accursed, and shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone: Reuel: 21.8. Therefore must wee make it our chiefest worke to get our selves delivered from the power of sinne, unlesse we be willing thereby to bee brought into eternall condemnation.
But if we find our selves to bee alreadie truely delivered from the power of sinne, so that it hath no dominion over us, howsoever it remaineth in us, Rom. 6.12. yet we must with the Apostle Paul, earnestly labour, and endeavour more and more to be freed from it, because the comfort of our souls, and the peace of our consciences, doe stand upon it: for it is most sure and certaine, that we can no further rejoyce, & comfort our selves in our faith, and good conscience, then we refraine our selves from sinne, and endeavour in all things to walke honestly, Psal. 119.101. Heb. 13.18.
Here may some man demand, What are we to doe, to the end that we may be delivered from the power of sinne, and more and more set free from the bondage thereof?
To the end, that we may be set free from the power, and servitude of sin, we must be made partakers of Jesus Christ, for his death is the death of our death, and by his wounds are we healed, his bloud being the medicine of our soules, Esay 53. Heb. 9.14. Now that we may be made partakers of Christ, we must beleeve in him, for it is faith in him that maketh us free, Joh.: 184.108.40.206. Which the Apostle having in the verse following our text, he thanketh God through our Lord Jesus Christ, namely, for this, that he, thorough the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered from the body of death. Therfore thus speaketh Christ of himselfe, Joh.: 8.36. If the sonne make you free, you shall be free indeed: thus doth John also testifie, even that wee thorough faith in Christ doe overcome the world, John 15.5.
But we finde by experience, that the faith of many men consisteth onely in words, being nothing else but an idle conceit swimming in their braines: for there be many who when they understand that men by faith are made free from their sinnes, and blessed, doe presently perswade themselves, that they also beleeve, whereas alas, they know not what it is truly to beleeve in the Lord Jesus Christ, nor yet what is the nature, and vertue of true faith. Wherfore let every one in few words understand, that whosoever would be found truely to beleeve in Christ, must make it appeare, that he beleeveth, and holdeth for good all the words, & counsell of Christ, & consequently must practise the same, Joh.: 3.36. Luc: 6.46. Or else let him know that his faith is nothing worth; and that he shall not be saved, although he suffers himselfe a thousand times to be perswaded, that he shall obtaine salvation, and happinesse thorough Jesus Christ.
For as we know, it is not enough for one that would be cured of some perillous disease, onely to beleeve that such an expert Phisitian can, and will cure him; but if he will be holpen, he must follow the advise of the Phisitian, and use the medicines which shal be prescribed unto him, or else he is like to be never the better: So it is not enough, that a man, to the end that he might be cured of the body of death, by the onely Phisitian of the soule, Jesus Christ, Mat. 9.12. perswadeth himselfe that Christ can, & will helpe him; but he must also follow the counsell of Christ, if he will be cured by him, according to that which the holy Scripture so expressely declareth, even that Christ is the author of salvation unto all that obey, Heb. 5.9. In which sense also speaketh John the Baptist most plainly, He that beleeveth in the sonne hath eternall life, but he that obeyth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him, Joh.: 3.36. From whence it may fully be gathered, that that faith which maketh not us obedient to the sonne, is not that faith wherby we can be healed; so James also confidently affirmeth, that that faith is dead, and nothing worth, which maketh not us as well followers, as beleevers of the words, and will of Christ. For it is most certaine, that wheresoever true faith is, there is also the practise & endeavour of obedience unto the will of Christ.
Now, what the will of God is in this, that men might thorough our Lord Jesus Christ be delivered from the body of death, very much might be spoken thereof, but my purpose is here briefly, & in a word, to touch the most necessary things, and so to conclude, because I have largely handled it in another place; and, that wretched, and sinful man might be delivered from the body of death, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of life, & be more and more set free from the power of sinne, he must practise, and endeavour these three things according to the will, and counsell of Christ.
First, he must forsake himselfe, He that will follow me (sayth Christ, namely, that will be led & healed by me) let him for sake himselfe, Mat. 16.24. that is, let him cast away, and renounce his owne understanding, & judgement; let him breake himselfe of his owne will and affections: let him in nothing yeeld unto his sinful flesh, nor take any care to obey it in the lustes thereof, Rom. 13.14. And let him not please, or uphold this body of sin, by giving it any of those deadly, & pernicious things it lusteth after: but let him herin circumcise himself; let him deale harshly and roughly with this body of sin, keeping from it, and denying it of every thing it would have, so shall the strength therof decay; for as it was the meat of Christ, to do his Fathers will. So is it the nourishment, & strength of the corrupt flesh to doe against the will of God, by committing sin, from which we must bridle it, if we will kill it. Behold, this is the counsell of Christ, speaking after the manner of a Phisitian, who when he taketh a man in hand to cure him, requireth of him, that by all meanes he would keepe a good dyer, & refraine to eate those things which nourish, & feede his disease, the which the Christian man must doe that willingly would be cured of the body of death; for we find it to be a common, and familiar thing, that those which be sicke in body, doe most desire those things that doe them least good; So is it also with men that are sick in soule: they evermore desire, & lust after sinne, which is most hurtfull unto them: therfore those that would be cured in their soules, must deny themselves, according to the prescript rule of Christ: yea, they must renounce, and forsake the whole body of death (as the Apostle cryeth out against the whole body of death) & not only this, or that part, or member thereof, as some doe, who, to be cured forsake, & strive against some sins retaining stil other some pleasing & beloved ones, whereby they become the more incurable, & continue sick even unto the death, as the scripture teacheth us, Eze: 18.31.32. for although the very best, so long as they remaine here, are not free from all sinnes, yet, every one that would be cured, & healed of his sinnes, must strive, and fight against all of them, Job 20.12.
But this is very grievous unto a naturall, and corrupt man, to weane his lustes of their desires, and to deprive himselfe of those thinges with which his heart is most in love: Oh, it is as death unto sinfull man: it is, as if he should put out his eye, or cut off his hand, as Christ himselfe gives us to understand, Mat: 5. Neverthelesse, it must be done, as he that cannot lye teacheth us in the same place, vers: 29.30. And looke, by how much the more this body of death, that hatefull monster, the corrupt flesh, doth flatter, and embrace us, for to entice us to serve it in the lustes thereof, by so much the more, must wee set our selves against it, and seeke to subdue it, and bring it under, 1 Cor. 9.27. For our sinfull flesh is like unto a wicked Enchantresse, which smileth upon us when she purposeth to destroy us; the pleasing and delightfull concupiscences thereof, are like Joab’s kisses, who killed Amasa when he seemed to kisse him, 2 Sam: 20.9.10. Therefore wee must not favour and please this monster of sinne: but we must in this thing, denie our selves, and kill our earthly members, Col. 3.5. And crucifie our old man, Gal. 5.24. If we will live, and be delivered from the eternall crosse, and the eternall death. Neither must we shrinke, or be afrayd to doe it; for, the lustes of our flesh, which we are to cut off, are as rotten members; members of the bodie of death, cankered, and putrified members, which if we cut them not off in time, will corrupt, and destroy our whole man; yea, and bring us also into eternall death, as the truth it selfe teacheth us expressely, testifying, that if we favour and make much of the members of this body of death, that is, our sinfull lustes, and cut them not off, we shall with them be cast into hell, where the Worme never dyeth, and the fire never goeth out, Mar. 9.44.
Secondly, the man that would willingly bee more and more delivered from the body of death, thorough Jesus Christ our Lord, must not onely denie, and forsake himselfe, but also, with all his affections, and the deepest desires of his heart, make all possible speede to come unto Christ, that he may be cured of him, as he himselfe teacheth, namely, that all that are wearie, and laden must come unto him, and he will ease them, Mat. 11.28.29. and Mat. 13.15. He then that would be healed by Christ, and delivered from the bodie of death, must give up himselfe unto him, to be cured by him, even as a poore patient which having long beene possessed with a grievous disease, putteth himselfe into the hands of a skilfull Phisitian (which by God’s helpe can cure him) to be ruled and handled according unto his will, & prescription.
Now the dyet, the phisicke, the receipts which Christ the onely Phisitian of the soule prescribeth unto his patients (that I may so speake) for their curing, are found onely in the holy Scripture, Joh.: 5.39. which is the Phisick booke wherein are plentifully conteined the words, which are life to them that finde them; and health unto their flesh, Pro. 4.22. Therefore the poore sinfull man that would have helpe, must order, and governe himselfe according to the rule, and true meaning of the holy Scripture, wherein is comprehended the great wisedome of God, and all the mysteries of spirituall Phisicke, according to which whosoever truely frameth, and carrieth himselfe, shall certainely, and undoubtedly be healed. Therefore it is the greatest folly, and madnesse in the world, and a sinne whereof very many stand guiltie before God, that wretched sinfull men should be slacke, and negligent to enquire, and search after the wisedome, and counsell of God, and to frame, and fashion themselves according unto it, notwithstanding, the great, wife, and mercifull God hath revealed unto them in his word (which he hath put into our handes,) how they should walke, to the end, that they may be healed of the bodie of death; but run unadvisedly after the blind conceipt of their owne head, without once rightly considering, what the Lord Jesus Christ, the onely Phisitian of the soule hath prescribed, and delivered in the holy Scripture, for poore soule-sicke man to practise, and apply unto himselfe, to the end that he may bee cured; yea, the great stayne of this sinne of the godlesse children of the world, shall never be purged from them unlesse they amend, therefore those that would bee delivered from the body of death, thorough our Lord Jesus Christ, must so give themselves up unto him to be cured of him, as that they diligently search, and learne out of his word how they must order, and addresse themselves, to the end, that they may bee healed.
Thirdly, He that would be delivered from the body of death thorough our Lord Jesus Christ; must by all meanes endeavour to beleeve, and hold as firme, and certaine, that he thus denying, and giving up himselfe unto Christ, shall truely bee delivered, and cured by him: this did Christ require in the curing of bodily diseases, Mark. 9.23, and else-where; teaching us thereby that this faith is above all things necessary, and requisite unto the curing of the mortall disease of our soules, it being the Conduit which conueyeth unto us vertue from Christ, whereby we are healed of our corruptions.
But the Devil which setteth up himselfe as a God of the world, laboureth by all his might, and pollicie, to hinder and stop this: for hee will eyther perswade a man that he shall live, and bee saved by his faith, and beliefe in Christ, when hee liveth in a course of perdition, serving the flesh, wherein if he continueth, it is not possible that he should be saved, Rom. 8.13. or else hee will make him beleeve if he can, that his sinnes are so great, that he shall not obteine pardon and remission of God, when he hath denied himselfe, forsaken his sinnes, laboureth to be conformed unto the will of God, and is heartily grieved because he cannot performe such obedience unto him, as hee should, and as hee would: but let us take heede of both these Rockes: let us not presume of the mercy of God, when wee are not fit Objects of mercie, standing in open rebellion against God, being friendes of sinne: and let it also bee farre from us to thinke, that God will not have mercy upon us, when wee come unto him for mercie, with true sorrow and griefe because wee have offended him; for it is his glory to have mercie, and to have respect unto them that humble themselves: but let us wrestle with our unbeleiefe, and beleeve, that thorough the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ wee shall bee saved, Act. 15.11.
This faith, thus being founded, not upon an idle conceipt of our owne braynes; but upon the fore-named groundes, the word, and councell of Christ, wee accordingly endeavouring truely to forsake our selves, and to put our selves into his hands, to be ruled and governed by him: This faith (I say) is mightie, and worketh wonders; and there is no disease of the soule so mortall, or incurable, of which wee shall not bee cured, if so be wee hold fast, and continue in this our true, and holy faith, following the councell of Christ: for then may wee expect, the blessing of Christ, more and more to bee delivered from the bodie of death: Then shall it bee done unto us, according to the words of Christ, Mathew the fifteenth Chapter, and the twentie eyght verse, Be it unto thee as thou wilt; Then shall wee be more and more freed from the power of sinne, and assured of our salvation, to our great, and never ending comfort.
Laus honor & gloria sole Deo.