Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

divina, a particle of the divinity, or commu-Serm.
nication of the divine nature; and which Lu- XXII.
cretius meant by his fourth ingredient of the
soul, his something, he knew not what, which
he called the animam iphus animæ : Andin the
language of the New Testament, it is usually,
expreft by the word aveữua or spirit, as parti-
cularly in 1 Cor. ii. 11. What man knows the
things of a man, save the spirit of man that
is in bin : And it is the more remarkable,
because here there is a comparison made be-
tween ours and the spirit of God in the fore
mer verse,

Lastly, by the foul in that text of St. Paul's
is meant that middle part of us, which in-
cludes our imagination, and is the seat of all
our passions and affections; which is exprest
here by Yugh the Soul; And for this the
Greeks had many names of contempt, they
calledit αλογία unreafonablenefs; επιθυμία con-
cupifcence; ίππος the horfe; το Θηρείον the
wild beast and brutal part of the man.

So that now we may see very distinctly what is meant by the flesh in my text, (i. e.) the body with all its natural appetites; and the lower soul with all its variety of passions and affections; and by the spirit, that immortal immaterial part of us, which is the immediate seat of our understanding.

It will be only necessary to remark farther here, that though the spirit of man is more immediately intended in this text; yet we may likewise understand the spirit of God as

[ocr errors]

SER M. far as it works in concurrence with our spirit,

XXII. and assists it against the opposition given it by m the lower and corrupted part of the man.

II. To consider in what instances they are contrary one to another, and the nature of their opposition. And first, in general they are contrary in this; that the spirit is in itself pure and undefiled in its own nature, as little liable to moral as natural corruption; and can be no otherwise polluted, than by those stains which are derived upon it by its union, and close conjunction with the lower soul and body: It may be so overcome by the force of bodily appetites, and borne down by the violence of our sinful pafsions and affections by giving way to them, that it can no way exert itself: So that there shall not be one virtuous inclination left in the whole man: And then he may properly be said to be corrupted in his very mind and conscience. And again, when by any secret impulse of the spirit of God the mind is rouzed, recovers itself again, so as to bear down all the vitious inclinations of the inferior man, that they become obedient to its motions; that it can sway them which way it will; then he is said to be renewed in the Spirit of his mind : So that my meaning is, that there is a spiritual principle within us, that-must, and will ever acknowledge virtue and goodness, and will it too; insomuch that the wickedest man living would be good and virtuous, if it might be had for a with: Nay,

و

even the Devil himself would be an Angel Se r M. of light again.

XXII. Now that there is such an indelible charac-m ter of goodness, and innate tendency towards it, imprinted upon the spirit of man; '

which though it may be defaced and obscured, yet, can never be totally obliterated; such a portion of heavenly fire, which though it may be buried under a mighty heap of ashes, yet can never be wholly extinguished.

This I say seems to be the sense of most of those divine epithets, given to the superior part of man by the Philosophers; though they took it only for a distinct quality. Among others they gave to the rational foul one was, that it was analng without passion, and therefore not subject to transgress; which in all likelihood

gave occasion to that mistake of the Stoicks apathy, which opinion was true, if applied only to the purely spiritual part. And Plato says, this

like the top of Olympus, enjoys a perpetual serenity; and looks down upon the rational part, bebolding all the storms of its passion and affections, like clouds, and winds, and thunder in the lower region. And the learned Dr. Willis, in that excellent chapter, where he compares the soul of man with that of brutes, speaking to this very purpose hath these words; non ita tamen accipi debet, quafi anima rationalis utpote immaterialis; proindèque, arafas habita a quolibet appulfu boni vel mali, fuccusa turbulentis cupiditatibus, aut aversationum affectibus obnoxia fuerit ; koc enim ..2

rational part

of us,

1

turc

S ER M.turæ ejus incorporeæ, quin & dignitati, fuo XXII. perque aliis potentiis prærogativa repugnat.

Besides the scripture seems to be very express in this; our Saviour says, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And this notion runs through the whole 7th of the Romans, where the law of the mind is supposed to be very good, even in those corrupt and unregenerate persons he is there describing; and

opposes it to the law of fin in their members. And at the 16th verse, he fupposes a man may do that that he would not, (i, e) that in the committing this sin, the inferior man acts in plain contradiction to the purely spiritual part of him ; and therefore it follows, it is no more I that do it, (i. e.) the purely spiritual part, but fin that dwells in me, (i. e.) the vitious inclinations of the lower man, For I know that in me dwelleth no good thing : And he explains himself, (i. e.) in my flesh. So that he all along supposes a spiritual principle within us, pure in its sentiinents, in the midst of all bodily pollutions; the mistaking of which, and imagining that St. Paul meant that of the whole man, which he applies only to one part of him, gave occasion to that damnable heresy of the Gnosticks, who fancied that a spiritual person was no more polluted by his fins than gold is by being rolled in the dirt: And likewise to that fatal error fo near of kin to it, of qur dissenting brethren ; who imagine St. Paul speaks here in the person of a regenerate man;

which I shall have occasion to speak of before Serm. I have done with this subject,

XXII. II. Byt 2dly, as this is in itself pure,

so the lower man composed of the body and sensitive foul, is the immediate seat of all our corruption, and is totally polluted and defiled in all its faculties; there is not by nature one regular motion in our whole frame; and all the inclinations and tendencies of it are so stubborn and inflexible to good, and under so little command, that without the motions and concurrence of God's preventing grace, we are not able so much as to think one good thought; much less to put any good purpose in execution: And now, because the nature of the pure

mind is such, that it can never be brought to approve those corrupt and wicked appetites and inclinations; therefore, there is perpetual war and eternal contradiction between them, There can never be any league or truce, they are implaçable enemies; and there is such innate inveteracy between them, that they can never come to any terms of compofition; and nothing can put an end to the strife, but the abfolute intire conquest of one or the other,

Here is the true cause and ground of that çivil war within us; this spark of divinity which lay buried under the ruins of the fall, iş first blown up by the same spirit that breathed into us the breath of life; then are all endeas vours used to stifle and suppress, and, if it were possible, utterly to extinguish it. As the spirit prevails, so, for a while, the resistance of the

inferior

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »