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death of Christ; by virtue of it, and by interest in it.
Crucifixion is a violent and painful death ; and so is the death of sin. Our sins must not be left to die of themselves ;-some people, especially old people, think that they have left their sins, when the fact is, their sins have left them; or one sin has left them to make room for another. Sin must be seized, though in the height of its health and power ; seized as a thief or murderer who breaks into your house. It may be very painful to mortify the deeds of the body. Jesus Christ compares it to cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye ; but he says, this is better than going to hell with two hands or two eyes. It may be very hard to break off from old sins, but it must be done ; and, by the grace of God, may be done.
Crucifixion is a scandalous death ; only the worst of slaves and criminals are put to death in this manner. So the Christian, who, through the Spirit, mortifies the deeds of the body, puts off the old man of sin, and puts on the Lord Jesus Christ, may expect to be despised as his Saviour was. The world will bear morality, but it hates holiness. Religion has generally borne some nicknaine. Formerly, they called pious men Puritans, as if it were a scandalous thing to be purified from the pola lutions of the world ; and now they call religious people Methodists, as if it were shameful to pursue the methods which God himself prescribes. But he that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.''
Crucifixion is a slow and lingering death. Our Lord was several hours on the cross ; and some have been as many days. So sin dies slowly. Mortifying the deeds of the body, is a constant act; to be continued as long as we live. The best believer cannot say sin is dead: but he can bless God that sin is dying. It is nailed to the cross ; has received some mortal wounds-it is gradually weakening ; and ere long God will send death to give the finishing stroke, and the believer shall shout Victory, saying, Blessed be God, who hath delivered me from this body of sin and death ; I thank God, through Jesus Christ my Lord.'
But, by what means or by what help, may we effec
tually mortify sin ? Our text says, “Through the Spirit -by the gracious aid and influences of the Holy Spirit enabling us to do it. Without me,' said Christ, ye can do nothing ;' and experience proves it true. How many poor souls have been sensible of the error of their ways ! at times alarmed about their sins; and have resolved to forsake them, and lead a new life; but knowing nothing of their own weakness or of Christ's strength, they have
“Resolved, and re-resolved, and died the same.'
To as little purpose have others said many prayers, fasted certain days, denied themselves the comforts of life, or submitted to the painful penance of Popish priests: the power of sin was not lessened; the principle of sin was not weakened; the practice of sin was not prevented. When the sense of sin was worn off, and the fears of hell abated, they returned like the dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.'
. A young gentleman, whose sensual lusts were extremely violent, procured an entire female skull ; and every morning, before he went out, spent some minutes in surveying it; expecting that the sight of so unpleasing an object, would operate as an antidote to the power of that temptation, to which he was so subject, But alas ! his corrupt inclination still prevailed, and he sinned as frequently as ever. So he gave 'away the skull, finding it did him no service. Afterwards, God was pleased to convert him ; and vital grace did that for him, which a dead skull was unable to effect. His basy-besetting sin had no more dominion over him, from the day that the Holy Ghost laid effectual hold of his heart.'
We must first have the Spirit, that we may experience his sanctifying power. Having the Spirit, makes all the difference between a true Christian and a man of the world ; ' for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,'- That which is born of the Aesh is Aesh. There is nothing in the flesh, or corrupt nature, that can crucify the flesh, or prevent its corrupt actings. Something of a nature directly contrary to it must be added, and that is a new and divine principle, implanted by regeneration : for that which is born of the Spirit is spirit:' the regenerated person is a spiritual person, possessed of a principle like its author; and this principle acts according to its spiritual nature, in spiritual duties, and particularly in this, the mortification of sin.
The Spirit helps us to mortify sin, by enabling us to discover it, and by showing us its hateful and abomi. nable nature; filling our souls with a sincere dislike to it, and a holy determination to destroy it. He takes away the stony insensible heart, and gives us a heart of flesh, a heart to mourn for sin, a heart to oppose sin, a heart to watch against sin, and shun the first approaches towards it.
But especially he helps us to mortify sin by giving us faith, and leading us to Christ for pardon, righteousness, and strength. In the first verse of this chapter it is said. There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus :' and then it follows, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.' Many of the Jews • followed after righteousness, but they did not attain it. Wherefore ? Because they sought is not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law, for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. Let us beware of stumbling in the same manner. Faith in Christ is the chief instrument for killing sin. Behold the Lamb of God bleeding and dying, not only to take away the guilt of sin, that it may not condemn, but the power of sin also, that it may not prevail. “Sin shall not have dominion over thee, believer; for thou art not under the law, but under grace.'-See, flowing from the wounded side of thy crucified Lord, blood and water; blood to pardon, water to cleanse. It was the design of the dear Redeemer to destroy the works of the devil,' to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.' The Lord Jesus having thus designed the death of sin in believers, by his own death, is ready to apply the power of it for that purpose, to all who believe in him. Come then, by faith, to Jesus ; tell him of the power of thy sins, and of thy inability to destroy them ; plead the fulness that is in him for thy supply; beseech him to subdue thine iniquities, and leave the matter in his hands : his grace is sufficient for thee; his strength shall be perfected in thy weakness. Accept his help : his power, his grace, his faithfulness, are all engaged for thine assistance, and thou shalt not apply or wait in vain.
This promised help of the Spirit does not exclude the use of means on our part. The Spirit so works in us, as also to work by us. The duty is ours; the grace is his. We must watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation. We must remember his eye is always upon us. We must call to mind the obligations we are under from duty, from gratitude, from baptismal and sacramental engagements ; the relation we bear to Christ, to the church, and to the world. We must use with moderation the comforts of life, and instead of pampering the body, bring it under and keep it in subjection.
Thus doing, we shall live. There is no condemnation to persons of this character. Though they find, to their daily sorrow, that the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,' they have reason to rejoice that the Spirit lusteth against the fesh. This is an evidence that they have passed from death unto life,' They live indeed, for Christ liveth in them. They live to purpose, they live to God ;-and in this, their gradual sanctification, consists their meetness for Heaven, where sin shall be all done away. O Christian, go on! Be not weary in well doing; fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life.
But, o sinner, what will be the end of thy present pursuits? • The end of these things is death.' Lay to heart the solemn truths you heard in the beginning of this discourse. Remember that life and death have been set before you : life, if sin be slain; death, if sin prevai). Put home then to thy conscience the important question-Am I living after the flesh, or after the Spirit ? And by this you may determine your present state and future prospects. If thou liveșt after the flesh, thou shalt die; that is, thou shalt be damned. And are you in love with death and destruction : Is it nothing io you that the terrors of the Almighty are sounded in
your ears? Do you love your sins so well as to be damned for them : 0, be wiser! Set eternal pains against momentary pleasures. The pleasures of sin are but for a season; but the pains of sin are for evermore. And 0, do not flatter yourselves that you may enjoy the pleasures of sin in this world, and yet enjoy the pleasures of Heaven in another. The God who says, in our text, “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die,' is a God of truth; he cannot lie. Upon the wicked he will rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup.'-Come, then, forsake the foolish and live. Wrong not your own souls ;-forsake not your own mercies. Let the time past suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, and to have served divers lusts and pleasures. Open your eyes and behold your danger. Flee from the wrath to come;-confess your sins to God-beseech him to pardon them; and pray for the Holy Spirit to work faith in your heart, and to enable you to mortify the deeds of the body, that you may live.'
WRITE these words on our hearts, we beseech thee, O Lord. Thou hast set before us life and death, the blessing and the curse. Help us to shun the road that leads to death, and to choose the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. We confess that we are by nature carnally minded, which is death : O make us spiritually minded, which is life and peace. From uncleanness, drunkenness, profanity, Sabbath-breaking, corrupt speech, and evil thoughts, good Lord deliver us! From every thing earthly, sensual, and devilish, save us, good Lord! The time past of our life may well suffice in which we wrought the will of the flesh. Now may we reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.