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slave to sin. Therefore, you suppose a man to be justified^ while he is a slave to sin. Now if you allow men may be justified while they have pride, auger, or unbelief in them: nay, if you aver, tiiese are (at least for a time) in all that are justified; what wonder that we have so many proud, angry, unbelieving believers?"
I do not suppose any man who is justified is a slave to sin: yet I do suppose sin remains (at least for a time) in all that are justified.
"Hut, if sin remains in a believer, he is a sinful man : if pride, for instance, then he is proud; if self-will, then he is self-willed; if unbelief, then he is an unbeliever; consequently, no believer at all. How then does he differ from unbelievers, from uuregcneiate men?" This is still mere playing upon words. It means no more than, if there is sin, pride, self-will in him, then—there is sin, pride, self-will. And this nobody can deny. In that sense then he is proud, or self-willed. Rut lie is not proud or self-willed in the same sense that unbelievers are, that is, governed by pride or self-will. Herein he differs from unrcgenerate men. They obey sin; he does not. Flesh is in them both: but they walk after the flesh; he walks after the Spirit.
"But how can unbelief be in a believer?" That word has two meanings. It means either no faith, or little faith; either the absence of faith, or the weakness of it. In the former sense, unbelief is not in a believer; in the latter, it is in all babes. Their faith is commonly mixed with doubt or fear, that is, in the latter sense, with unbelief. "Why are yc fearful, says our Lord, () ye of little faith?" Again, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" You see here was unbelief in believers; little faith and much unbelief.
13. "But this doctrine, That sin remains in a believer; that a man may be in the favour of God, w hile he has sin in his heart; certainly tends to encourage men in sin." Understand the proposition right, and no such consequence follows. A man may be in God's favour though he feel sin; but not if he yields to it. Hal ing sin, does not forfeit the favour of (idd ; giving waif to sin does. Though the flesh in yon ' Imsl au'a'm^t the Spirit,' you may still be a child of God; Mir if yon 'wall al'U'rthc Ibsh,' you are a child of the Devil. Now this doctriiu does not encourage to obey sin, but to resist it with all your might.
V. 1. The sum of all is this: There are in every person, even after he is justified, two contrary principles, nature and ?racc, termed by St. Paul, the flesh and the spirit. Hence, although even babes in Christ are sanctified, yet it is only in part. In a degree, according to the measure of their faith, they arc spiritual; yet, in a.degree they are carnal. Accordingly, believers are continually exhorted to watch against the flesh, as well as the world and the Devil. And to this agrees the constant experience of the children of God. While they feel this witness in themselves, they feel a will not wholly resigned to the will of God. They know they are in him; and yet find an heart ready to depart from him, a proneness to evil in many instances, and a backwardness to that • which is good. The contrary doctrine is wholly new; never heard of iu the Church of Christ, from the time of his coming into the world, till the time of Count Zinzendorf; and it is attended with the most fatal consequences. It cuts off all watching against our evil nature, against the Delilah which we are told is gone, though she is still lying in our bosom. It tears away the shield of weak believers, deprives them of their faith, and so leaves them exposed to all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
2. Let us, therefore, hold fast the sound doctrine "once delivered to the saints," and delivered down by them, with the written Word, to all succeeding generations; That, although we are renewed, cleansed, purified, sanctified, the moment we truly believe in Christ, yet we are not then renewed, cleansed, purified altogether; but the flesh, the evil nature, still remains, (though subdued,) and wars against the Spirit. So much the more let us use all diligence in "fighting the good fight of faith." So much the more earnestly let us " watch and pray" against the enemy within. The more carefully let us take to ourselves, and "put on, the whole armour of God;" that, although " we wrestle" both " with flesh and blood, and with principalities, and powers, and wicked spirits in high places," we "may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS.
"Repent ye, and believe tlic Gospel." Mark i. 15.
1. It is generally supposed, that Repentance and Faith arc only the Gate of Religion; that they arc necessary only ;vt the beginning of our Christian course, when we are setting out in the way to the kingdom. Anil this may seem to be confirmed by the great Apostle, where, exhorting the HebrewChristians to "go on to perfection," he teaches them to leave these " first principles of the doctrine of Christ;" "not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God;" which must at least mean, that they should comparatively leave these, that at first took up all their thoughts, in order to "press forward toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
2. And this is undoubtedly true, that there is a Repentance and a Faith, which are, more especially, necessary at the beginning: A Repentance, which is a conviction of our utter sinfulness, and guiltiness, and helplessness; and which precedes our receiving that kingdom of God, which, our Lord observes, is " within ns;" and a Faith, whereby we receive that kingdom, even "righteousness, and peace, and jov in the Holy Ghost."
3. But, notwithstanding this, there is also a Repentance and a Faith, (faking the words in another sense, a sense not quite the same, nor yet entirely different,) whic h are requisite after we have "believed the Gospel;" yea, and in every subsequent stage of our Christian course, or we cannot "run the race which is set before u>." And this Repentance and Faith are full as necessary, in order to our continuance and growth in grace, as the former Faith and Repentance were, in order to our entering into the kingdom of God.
But in what sense are we to Repent and Believe, after we are Justified? This is an important question, and worthy of being considered with the utmost attention.
I. And, first, In what sense are we to Repent?
1. Repentance frequently means an inward change, a change of mind from sin to holiness. But we now speak of it in a quite different sense, as it is one kind of Selfknowledge, the knowing ourselves sinners, yea, guilty, helpless sinners, even though we know we are children of God.
2. Indeed when we first know this; when we first find redemption in the blood of Jesus; when the love of God is first shed abroad in our hearts, and his kingdom set up therein; it is natural to suppose that we are no longer sinners, that all our sins arc not only covered but destroyed. As we do not then feel any evil in our hearts, we readily imagine none is there. Nay, some well-meaning men have imagined this not only at that time, but ever after; having persuaded themselves, that when they were justified, they were entirely sanctified: yea, they have laid it down as a general rule, in spite of Scripture, reason, and experience. These sincerely believe, and earnestly maintain, that all sin is destroyed when we arc justified; and that there is no sin in the heart of :i believer; but that it is altogether clean from that moment. But though we readily acknowledge, he that believeth is born of God," and "he that is born of God doth not commit sin;" yet we cannot allow that he does not feel it within: it docs not reign, but it does remain. And a conviction of the sin which remains in our heart, is one great branch of the Repentance wc are now speaking of.
3. For it is seldom long before he who imagined all sin was gone, feels there is still Pride in his heart. He is convinced both that in many respects he has thought of himself more highly than he ought to think, and that he has taken to himself the praise of something he had received, and gloried in it as though he bad not received it; and yet he knows he is in the favour of God. He cannot, and ought not, "to cast away his confidence." "The Spirit "still "witnesses with" his "spirit, that he is a child of God."
4. Nor is it long before he feels Self-will in his heart; even a will contrary to the will of God. A will every man must inevitably have, as long as he has an understanding. This is ;m essential part of human nature, indeed of the nature oi every intelligent being. Our blessed Lord himself had a will as a man; otherwise he had not been a man. Hut his human will was invariably subject to the will of his Father. At all times, and on all occasions, even in the deepest affliction, he could say, " Not as 1 will, but as thou wilt." Hut this is not the case at all times, even with a true believer in Christ. He frequently finds hi^ will more or less exalting itself against the will of God. He wills something, because it is pleasing to nature, which is not pleasing to God; and he nills (is averse from) something, because it is painful to nature, which is the will of Ciod concerning him. Indeed, suppose he continues in the faith, be fights against it with all his might: but this very thing implies that it really exists, and that he is conscious of it.
5. Now Self-will, as well as Pride, is a species of Idolatry; and both are directly contrary to the love of God. The same observation may be made concerning the "Love of the World.'" But this likewise even true believers are liable to feel in themselves; and every one of them docs feel it, more or less, sooner or later, in one branch or another. It is true, w hen he first "passes from death unto life," he desires nothing more but God. He can truly say, " All my desire is unto thee, and unto tlie remembrance of thy name:" "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee!" But it is not so always. In process of time he will feel again, though perhaps only for a few moments, cither " the desire of the flesh," or "the desire of the eye," or " the pride of life." Nay, if he docs not continually watch and pray, he may find Lust reviving; yea, and thrusting sore at him that he may fall, till he has scarce any strength kit in him. He may feel the assaults of inordinate Affection; yea, a strong propensity to "love the creature more than the Creator;" whether it be a child, a parent, an husband or wife, or "the friend that is as his own soul." He may feel, in a thousand various ways, a desire of earthly things or pleasures. In the same proportion he will forget God, not seeking his happiness in him, and consequently being a "lover of pleasure more than a lover of God."
(i. If he docs not keep himself every moment, he will again feel the Desire of the Eye: the desire of gratifying his imagination with something great, or beautiful, or uocom