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For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.—Phil. iii. 18.
HERE is the reason given why they should be cautious whose example they followed, because there were crept into the church a licentious sort of christians, who framed and accommodated their principles and practices to the ease and indulgence of the flesh.
In the words there is—(1.) An introduction; (2.) The character and brand which he puts on these false teachers.
I. In the introduction three things are asserted—
1. The multitude of these deceitful workers, ‘Many walk.’
2. His frequent giving warning of this pest formerly, ‘Of whom I have told you often.’
3. His compassionate way of mentioning them for the present, ‘And now tell you even weeping.’
1. The multitude of them. Error fretteth like a gangrene; and God suffereth seducers to multiply in a church, partly to punish the small respect that hath been given to his truth: 2 Thes. ii. 10, 11, ‘With all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish;. because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved: and for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that 121they should believe a lie.’ Partly that the ‘approved may be made manifest,’ 1 Cor. xi. 19, and the light chaff distinguished from the solid grain. The use of this is, we must not follow the drove, nor be carried away with the current and inundation of evil examples. Many walk; yet, ‘Be ye followers of me.’ We should keep with the sounder part. The errors of those that are counted godly draw away many. Vice is a duel, error a war, in which many are killed.
2. His frequent warning. God’s faithful ministers must give frequent warning of hazard from errors. Never any epistle was written by the apostles but you will find in them cautions and warnings of this kind. It, is our duty not only to fodder the sheep, but hunt out the wolf. Error is touchy, and loath to be meddled with; yet we must warn, and warn often.
3. The compassionate manner wherein he speaketh of them. This is mentioned partly to show what a burden this was to his spirit, and a superaddition of sorrow to his sorrow. When Paul was at liberty he told them of these things; now in prison he writeth about them; for they were the same men of whom he spake before, ‘that they added affliction to his bonds,’ Phil. i. 16. Partly that his warning might be the better received. The apostle did not inveigh against them out of envy and ill-will, but speaketh with sorrow and tears, out of pure zeal for the glory of God and love to souls.
Doct. There should be more of compassion than of passion showed in reproving persons that err and go astray from their duty.
Because the apostle’s example is of great use to us in like cases, let us a little inquire into the causes of Paul’s grief.
1. Negatively. It was not hatred and ill-will to their persons, nor emulation of their credit, nor a desire of venting reproaches. Some men’s zeal against error is as much to be feared as others lapsing into it; they encounter sin with sin, and speak against those who dissent from them, and it may be from the truth, out of little affection; as Ithacius had nothing good in him but his hatred of the Priscillianists, who were better men than himself, only fallen into separation from the church, and this so far transported him, that every zealous man was to him a Priscillianist. When wicked men, who have no love of God in their hearts, will be inveighing bitterly against errors, they do not reclaim the wandering, but further alienate and harden them.
2. Positively. The causes were these four—
[1.] Pure zeal for the glory of God, which is more dear to God’s servants than all their own interests. Compare Ps. lxix. 9, with Rom. xv. 3, ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.’ Carnal men are hot in their own cause, cold in God’s; but the contrary is true of gracious spirits; as Moses, who was meek in his own; cause, but zealous in God’s. The dishonour done to God goeth near their hearts.
[2.] The church’s welfare, which is highly prized by them: Ps. cxxii. 9, ‘Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good;’ Isa. lxii. 1, ‘For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace;’ Ps. cxxxvii. 6, ‘If 1 do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.’ Now to persons thus affected, when others do by their false doctrine and disorderly 122life seduce and disturb the church, it is a real grief to them.
[3.] Pity to souls, both of the seducers and the seduced, the ring-leaders and their proselytes, because they brought destruction upon their own heads. It is a grief to a serious christian to see people go to hell by droves. True christians are led by the Spirit of Christ, who was nil made up of bowels of compassion. We find him weeping for friends and enemies. Friends, as Lazarus: John xi. 35, ‘Jesus wept.’ Enemies, as the Jews: Luke xix. 41, ‘When he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.’ Now his people have the bowels of Christ: Phil. i. 8, ‘God is my record how greatly I long after you in the bowels of Jesus Christ.’ When others incur God’s displeasure and endanger their own salvation, it is grievous to them.
[4.] They have a clearer apprehension of the mischievous effects of sin, see more danger in it than the deluded world do: Jer. xiii. 17, ‘If ye will not hear, my soul shall weep in secret places.’ Faith hath a great sagacity and foresight in it. As to things hoped, it is a substance; so it is the evidence of things not seen, which compriseth the threatenings: Heb. xi. 1, 7, ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became the heir of righteousness which is by faith.’ When the merry world, blinded with the delusions of the flesh, never thought of a flood, Noah maketh preparation. Paul is in tears whilst those besotted worldlings glory in their shame. God’s children know that his threatenings are not a vain scarecrow; they see a storm coming when the clouds are a-gathering, a judgment in the causes, and execution in the sentence; and however men slight the word now, it will one day be found true. These things being realised and set before their eyes by a clear faith, they are affected even to weeping.
I have the more dilated upon these things, because they are so useful to us in times of general apostasy and detection from God.
II. The brand and character he puts upon them, ‘They are enemies to the cross of Christ.’
This may be understood either of their doctrine or practice.
1. By their doctrine; and so again two ways—
[1.] As they did detract from the merits of his death by urging the observation of the law of Moses as necessary to justification. They taught sins might be expiated and men saved some other way than by the cross of Christ. The pure gospel is the preaching of the cross; by the adding of the rituals of Moses, they made the cross of Christ of none effect: ‘For if righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain,’ Gal. ii. 21. By the blood of his cross Christ made our peace with God, Col. i. 20, and that was enough; but they cried up the ceremonies as necessary, and so frustrated the grace of God in Christ.
[2.] Another particular doctrine of theirs was, that they might confidently abjure the faith in time of persecution, as Eusebius informeth us. Basil ides and the Gnostics had crept into the church in Paul’s ‘time; and in scripture we may trace the footsteps of this opinion, by which they persuade a compliance with Jews and gentiles, to avoid the 123danger of the cross or persecution. Jews: Gal. vi. 12, ‘As many as make a fair show in the flesh, constrain yon to be circumcised, lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ;’ and Gal. v. 11, ‘If I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.’ Gentiles: that it was an indifferent thing to be present at idols’ feasts, and to eat things offered to idols, 1 Cor. x. This was their doctrine to shun persecution.
2. Their practice, which was suitable to their doctrine. They were of an unchristian spirit and temper, savouring nothing but the world and the commodities and pleasures of the flesh, loath to suffer anything for Christ, or venture on anything that might bring affliction upon them, but wholly gave up themselves to gratify the present life; therefore they are said to be enemies to the cross of Christ.
This interpretation I prefer for these reasons—
[1.] Because in the next verse, where the apostle explaineth this clause, he doth not instance in their opinions, but their practice: ver. 19, ‘Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things;’ where they are set forth as sensual and earthly-minded men, and upon that account enemies to the cross of Christ.
[2.] By the antithesis or description of the opposite state of the true christians, ‘But our conversation is in heaven.’ True christians are not described by their opinions, but their conversations; and the kind of their conversation was heavenly, and carried on with respect to their happy state in another world. These then are worldly, and so enemies.
3. Their temper had an influence upon their opinions, as well as their opinions had an influence upon their practice. Their religion was according to their frame of heart, fitted for the conveniency of the flesh, or their ease and quiet in the world.
Doct. That men of an earthly, carnal spirit are enemies to the cross of Christ.
To clear this, observe—
1. That those that profess friendship to Christ may yet be enemies to him. These Gnostics were a sort of christians. There are open enemies, and secret. The open enemies are such as bid defiance to Christ, and live in professed infidelity; the secret are such as seem to own Christ crucified, yet do really oppose the power and virtue of his passion, not mortifying their fleshly and worldly lusts. So that there are enemies of Christ, not only out of the church, but in the midst, where his kingdom is set up; for he ruleth in the midst of his enemies, Ps ex. 1. Now these secret enemies are of two sorts—such as are enemies to his laws, and enemies to his cross. To his laws, or kingly power: Luke xix. 27, ‘These mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them,’ &c.; Ps. lxviii. 21, ‘He will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such as go on still in their trespasses.’ He is a God of salvation. To his cross: so those who professed the name of christians, but by their sensual walking and worldly-mindedness declared themselves enemies of the cross of Christ.
2. That friendship and enmity to Christ is not interpreted so much by external profession as by the constitution of our hearts, and the course of our conversations. Christ never respected pure profession, 124where men have the hearts of infidels and pagans or the lives of infidels: Luke vi. 46, ‘Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?’ Mat. vii. 21, ‘Not every one,’ &c.; and 1 Peter i. 17, ‘With out respect of persons, he judgeth according to every man’s work.’ God is not προσωπολέπτης. God will not accept of men according to their appearance; as it is a perversion in man’s judgment when persons are accepted for things extrinsical and foreign, and such as have no respect to the merits of the cause. Though you may say, I am a christian, no Jew nor infidel, I am a minister; yet, if carnal, if an enemy to the cross which you preach up, if the constitution of heart he quite opposite to the spirit of religion which you profess, you are reckoned not among the friends, but enemies; Christ will not own you.
3. That the worldly spirit is that constitution of heart which is quite blank opposite to the cross of Christ. This is that which I am to prove;. but before I go about it, let me drop a consideration or two.
The first is, that the cross of Christ is twofold—what he hath endured for our sake, what we must endure for his sake. The worldly spirit is opposite to both, loath to suffer, though Christ hath commanded us to take up the cross daily, Luke ix. 23. In a resolution and preparation of mind we must do so; but then the cross which he endured for our sakes, we are enemies to it whilst we resist the power of it, and are not by it crucified to the world; then this great end o the cross is not fulfilled in us.
The second consideration is, that worldliness is not only opposite to the cross of Christ, but also to the glory of Christ, in several respects. There are two considerations set before us in scripture to wean us from the world—Christ crucified and Christ glorified. Of the former by and by; the latter, Col. iii. 1, ‘Being risen with Christ, seek those things that are above.’ It doth not become the members of a crucified Christ to be earthly-minded, nor the members of a glorified Christ to set their hearts on things so low. A christian should live in a perfect correspondence to all the acts of Christ’s mediation. The two solemn acts are his dying and rising again. As he died and was crucified, we must not mind earthly things; as he rose again, our conversation must be in heaven. The one enforceth mortification, the other vivification, or seeking things above. If we feel not the virtue of the one, or the other, or both, we have lost the benefit of our christianity, and shall not be reckoned among the friends and disciples, but enemies of Jesus Christ.
Now I prove that the worldly spirit is most opposite to the cross of Christ.
1. The scripture clearly asserts it: James iv. 4, ‘The friendship of the world is enmity with God:’ Mat. vi. 24, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon;’ 1 John ii. 15, ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ It is apparent in our baptismal vow we are to renounce the world, as one of the enemies of our salvation, as well as the devil and the flesh, when we first enter upon christianity, and seek after the benefits of the cross.
2. Experience confirmeth it. What is it that most opposeth, and ever hath opposed, the gospel, and lieth point-blank opposite to the spirit of it, but the worldly spirit?125
[1.] It was the worldly spirit which caused the Jews to be such obstinate unbelievers, and to persecute Christ and his servants: James ii. 5, 6, ‘Hath not God chosen the poor to be rich in faith, heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him? Do not the rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment-seats?’ The poor Christ and the poor christians they hated. And Luke xvi. 14, ‘And the pharisees, which were covetous, heard all these things, and derided him.’ And this is that which continueth them in their unbelief unto this very day; they would have a temporal pompous Messiah, which should come in worldly glory and power, and free them from captivity, and make the rest of the nations stoop to them. This humble crucified Jesus is not for their turn.
[2.] This maketh the Turks adore their Mahomet, because he promiseth success in their worldly enterprises in this world, and a sensual happiness in the world to come.
[3.] This maketh the nominal bastard christian to be such an opposer of Christ’s spiritual kingdom, and only to content himself with the name of christianity. When the church ran into the world and the world into the church, religion began to be corrupted. The rabble of nominal christians, they are worldlings, and measure all by outward pomp, pride, and fleshly glory. There is a contest between the evangelical church of Christ and the carnal worldly church of antichrist, who are most esteemers of the cross of Christ. Now of this controversy you shall be judges where the right lieth. The carnal church pleadeth. she is all for the cross; you have crucifixes everywhere painted, carved, gilded; yea, they are ready to worship the cross of Christ with holy worship; they set it in their temples, altars, yea, their highways, market-places; and in every place where they meet with it, bow down to it; they adorn it with gold, and silver, and all costly precious stones; their popes and prelates have it carried before them, their laity wear it in their bosoms; yea, at all times, when they come out of their houses, when they come into churches, when they address themselves to almost anything, sign themselves with the sign of the cross. And are not these better friends of the cross than these new upstart heretics, that are frightened, displeased at the sight of it? But alas! these outward semblances and May-games do but deceive the world, whilst in their doctrine they detract from the merits of Christ crucified, and in their worship turn the simplicity of the gospel into a theatrical pomp, and the discipline of the church into a temporal domination; so that their christianity looketh like another thing than Christ hath established, like a design and frame of religion calculated for the present world rather than a serious preparation for the world to come. Here the evangelical church, they profess to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified; on him is bottomed all their comfort and hope, 1 Cor. ii. 2, and give him the whole honour of our redemption, justification, and salvation, and desire to rejoice in Christ Jesus, and worship him in the spirit, and have no confidence in the flesh, without such pompous and ridiculous ceremonies, or any worship and adoration of the material cross, or the sign of it; but to be crucified to the world, and quit all things, that they may have pardon, and peace, and life by the cross of Christ. Now judge you who are friends or enemies to the cross of 126Christ, those who seek to check their worldly lusts, or they who, since Christ’s religion came in fashion, do rest in an outward pageantry and seeming devotion to the cross?
[4.] It is the worldly spirit that distinguished the hypocrites from the sincere in the true church, and where the doctrine of the cross is purely preached. Hypocrites are of two sorts—either such as have the grace of the stony or thorny ground, more gross and open, or more secret and refined.
(1.) Such as have the grace of the stony ground. They are described, Luke viii. 13, ‘That which fell on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.’ These are such as are impatient of adversity, and therefore change their minds as their carnal interest doth change, and set their sails to that wind which will most bring them to their worldly ends. They have a liking to religion, and are loath to quit the profession of it, but yet loath to endanger their worldly interests; therefore fit their principles to the humours of men, and fashion themselves for all times. This is libertinism, carnal policy, not religion. Of this sort were those spoken of in the text, who would be accounted christians, yet suffer nothing for Christ. To eschew sufferings by lawful means is not culpable: Mat. x. 23, ‘When they persecute you in one city, flee into another.’ Yea, commendable: Prov. xxii. 3, ‘A prudent man foreseeth the evil; and hideth himself.’ But to disguise religion, and to writhe ourselves into all postures and shapes, that we may secure our temporal interest or worldly portion, is the fault of the third ground, or the property of those hypocrites who are represented thereby. And so we see the world was their bane, because, to shun the cross, or avoid hazard and trouble, they were willing to comply with the persecutors, and tamper with them to abate their edge. And therefore till you are so far divorced from the world as to take up with a naked Christ and the hopes of a heavenly felicity which he hath promised, you cannot escape this snare.
(2.) There are another sort of hypocrites, who are represented by the thorny ground. They are described, Luke viii. 14, ‘And that which fell among thorns are they who, when they have heard, go forth and are choked with cares, and riches, and the pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to perfection.’ These either are not assailed with persecutions, or, it they are, endure the brunt, but do not tame their own flesh; though they conquer outward opposition, and keep the profession and form of godliness, deny the power; have not so far felt the power of Christ crucified, as to overcome their worldly affections and sensual inclinations; and so religion is still kept as an underling, and they are not brought into that state of the divine nature or heavenly life that God may have most interest in their hearts, and the main drift and bent of their lives may be for God and the life to come. They do not make heaven their end, so as to part with all to obtain it; therefore they are dwarfs and cripples in religion all their days, never make any sound work of it, so as to honour God, and awaken the careless world to mind better things. Now these are enemies to the cross of Christ, because God hath least of the heart, 127and the world most, and the strongest interest is that which is opposite to God; the cross hath not had its effect in them.
[5.] It is the worldly spirit that is the great let and hindrance to the sincere, that they cannot do for God as they would. The sincere, and christians indeed, are such as do in affection and resolution forsake all that they have in the world, and look for a portion in the world to come. They by experience find the world to be an enemy to the cross of Christ. I say, they are a people who seek more diligently after heaven than earth, and can let go the world when Christ calleth them to it; yet these find the world and the worldly spirit a mighty impediment both in doing and suffering for Christ. Till we put off the flesh, the world will never lay by its enmity.
(1.) For doing. The world is always hindering you in the way to life. It is continually a snare in all that you do, clogging and retarding you in your heavenly flights and motions: Heb. xii. 1, ‘Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,’ &c. Though you do believe a life after this, and are convinced that it is your happiness, and have your estimation and love most set upon it, and do for the main contemn the riches, and honours, and pleasures of the world, yet you find a difficulty to comply with the precepts of christianity, those of mortification, self-denial, charity, meekness, temperance, heavenly-mindedness; cannot do as yon would, because of your inclination to present things, nor so thoroughly comply with that manner of living which Christ hath appointed. Therefore a great part of our religion and constant duty is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, James i. 27. Many christians can hardly escape the blemish of being worldly, and not attending upon communion with God, and the duties of justice and charity, which we owe to men, so entirely as the law of christianity doth enforce. And that is the reason why the doctrine of overcoming the world is subjoined to the warning of keeping the commandments without grievousness: 1 John v. 3, 4, ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.’ He knoweth not his own heart that findeth not this.
(2.) Suffering for Christ. What is it that maketh men so tender of suffering but love of the world? If men were crucified to the world, it would be more easy; for we can readily part with things that we do not much value and esteem. These are but small matters in comparison of what Christ hath promised you and purchased for you. If you must endure disgrace for Christ, ἐλαχιστον, it is a small thing with you, 1 Cor. iv. 3; if bonds, and afflictions, and hard trials, these things will not much move you, Acts xx. 23, 24; Rom. viii. 13, ‘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.’ But alas! every one hath not this constancy of mind, and deep sense of the world to come, this weanedness from the present world, and therefore maintain their resolution for God and heaven with great difficulty; the heavenly life is obstructed and weakened by worldly affections.
(3.) Reason will plainly evidence it to you—(1.) From the intent of the cross; (2.) From the nature of the religion that is founded on 128the cross of Christ, and the graces wherein the life of that religion consisteth.
First, From the end and intent of the cross. Why the Lord did appoint this way to save the world.
1. It was to be an all-sufficient expiatory sacrifice for sin: Eph. v. 2, ‘He hath given himself for us, to be an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour.’ By it satisfaction is made to God for the sin which the world enticed man to commit. Our first sin was a turning from God to the world. Man would be at his own finding, and left the happiness which he had in God for somewhat in the creature. Now by ‘his stripes we are healed,’ Isa. liii. 5. Therefore they cross this end, and so are enemies, who would tear open Christ’s wounds, and make them bleed afresh. These refuse God’s remedy.
2. By this cross Christ purchased for us that Spirit of power, and all those ordinances and helps of grace, by which we may overcome the world: Gal. i. 4, ‘He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.’ Both the internal operation of his Holy Spirit, and the out ward ordinances of God, or means of grace, were given us to this end, that our estimation and love which is set upon the creature might be recovered to God, that we might be called off from the creature, and brought back again to God. Now those who mind earthly things are direct enemies to the cross of Christ, because they go about to defeat the end of it, and this Spirit, which would take them off from the world.
3. By his cross he hath purchased to us that glorious kingdom which is propounded as our happiness; and being formerly shut to all man kind by sin, it is opened by the death of Christ, that believers may enter into it: 1 Thes. v. 9, 10, ‘God hath not appointed us to wrath; but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether we sleep or wake, we should live together with him.’ This was his end; and how do they contradict this end who only aim at a worldly happiness, and live as if they desired no better satisfactions than those of the belly and bodily life. Surely these hate the cross, and lightly esteem the glory purchased thereby.
4. That it might be a pattern and example to us of three things—(1.) Of suffering; (2.) Contentment and patience under suffering; (3.) A glorious issue. Now those that are of a worldly spirit can have no liking to the cross of Christ, but hate, and are enemies to it.
[1.] Of suffering. He endured the cross for our sakes, that we might endure the cross for his sake; take up our cross and follow him, Mat. xvi. 24. We must have our cross, Col. i. 24, ὑστερήματα Χριστοῦ. We have the remnant of those sufferings which Christ began on the cross, that thereby he may convince us of the vanity and emptiness of the world, which is more than doctrine and hearsay. When we are despised and contemned, and become as the filth and off-scouring of the world, it turneth us more against the world than a lecture or speculative contemplation of these things do, and being sanctified by Christ, doth produce in us a low esteem of the world, and a desire of a better portion.
[2.] Of contentment and patience under sufferings: ‘For Christ died, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps,’ 1 Peter ii. 21. And truly to eye our pattern, Christ, hanging and dying on the cross, will pierce the world to the very heart. He was contented to be the most despicable object upon earth in the eyes of men. If christians be not ashamed of their head and glorious chief, this spectacle should kill all our worldly affections, and make us despise all the honour, and riches, and pomp, and pleasure of the world, the favour or frowns, the love or wrath, the praise or dispraise of men, so far as it is opposite to the kingdom of Christ. When it is crucified to us, we should be crucified to it: Gal. vi. 14, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’ The applause of the world should be contemptible unto, and actually abhorred by, a sincere believer; yea, the power, beauty, allurements, as they would interpose to weaken our esteem of Christ, or pursuit of that happiness which he hath offered to us, it should all be trampled upon and rejected by us for Christ’s sake.
[3.] Of a glorious issue; for Christ escaped out of death, and entered into glory, which he promised us, and so still by his example calleth us off from the world to heaven: Heb. xii. 1, 2, ‘Let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ His cross was the ready way to the crown. Now, as it was to him, it will be so to us; for ‘if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him,’ Rom. viii. 17. The way is rough, but the prize is excellent. He endured cruel pains of body, bitter agonies of soul; but there was a glorious estate at the back of it in the close and issue; not only to recompense his sufferings, but to be a pledge of our hopes. This now is the cross interpreted, and judge you what a perfect contradiction here is all along to a sensual and worldly spirit.
Secondly, Consider the religion founded on the cross; which may be considered—(1.) On God’s and Christ’s part, as to its precepts and promises; (2.) On our part, as to the graces wherein it is exercised.
I shall only now touch at the latter, and show you that all grace is at mortal enmity with the world: faith, hope, and love, these all engage us to another world, and do subordinate this unto it.
1. Faith, which is a dependence upon God for something which lieth out of sight. The nature of it is to carry us off from things present to things to come; therefore this being a main grace in the gospel covenant, surely requireth we should be dead and crucified to the world. The spirit of faith spoken of 2 Cor. iv. 13, is a temper of mind prepared for all dangers and hazards, or a ready confession of Christ, with courage, without pusillanimity, or love to our own ease. This is the true spirit of faith, opposite to that spirit of the world which maketh men afraid to venture for Christ.
2. Love. They that love not Christ in sincerity, they are enemies to his cross and kingdom. It argueth such an high esteem of God, and Christ, and his precious benefits, that our souls are drawn off from Other things, and all things are made to give way to them: Ps. lxxiii. 25, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee?’ &c. The love of the world remaining, the love of the Father is not in us.
3. For hope. This wholly carrieth us to a future happiness; for 130hope that is seen is not hope. To long for a better estate: Rom. viii. 23, ‘We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption.’ To look for it and prepare for it: 1 John iii. 2, 3, ‘Now we are the sons of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be,’ &c. So that the spirit which is in religion is not the spirit of the world, 1 Cor. ii. 12; and they that are under the power of a worldly spirit have neither true faith, nor love, nor hope.
Use 1. To show how much they are mistaken who think they shall ever be counted friends of Christ, who would indulge the flesh, and reconcile the love of the world with a profession of godliness. No; be you professors, be you preachers, you are enemies of the cross of Christ, especially they who serve themselves of Christ, and make religion a design and cover to some worldly end. The first sort are confuted by the instance of the young man. He had a mind to be a christian; but when Christ telleth him of selling all, and looking for a reward in another world, he goeth away sorrowful, for he was very rich, Luke xviii. 23. There you see plainly that minding earthly things is enmity to the cross of Christ. For the second, none worse enemies than they that think to serve themselves and their worldly ends upon religion; better keep in the world among worldlings, than creep into the church of Christ, and dishonour religion by greediness of filthy lucre, 1 Peter v. 2; Rom. xvi. 18, ‘They serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly.’ To make that your inducement to be religious, to bring your base earthly minds among Christ’s servants to infect them, it is worse than if you never professed. No; both one and the other must sit down and count the cost. Never dream of being Christ’s unless you can forsake all and follow him under the cross, upon the assurance of a promised treasure in heaven.
Use 2. To press those who would be accounted sincere christians to mortify their affections to earthly things.
1. Else you are not friends to Christ, but enemies. He counteth none friends but those that are prepared to take him and his yoke, take him and his cross; therefore we should examine the strength of our resolution. Can we follow a naked Christ, and be content to obey his counsel for another world, whatever be our lot here? Never dream of building a tower before you sit down and count the cost, whether you have sufficient to finish it, Luke xiv. 28.
2. Else you feel not the true virtue of Christ’s cross. And how will you glory in it when you hear of such a mighty Christ, and feel nothing? Gal. vi. 14, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Christ.’ Therefore consider, What benefit have I found by Christ? I profess to believe the doctrine of the cross, but what good hath it done me? If I pretend it giveth me ease in my conscience, and doth not mortify my lusts, this is the fashion of hypocrites, who would have Christ pacify their conscience, and the world gratify their hearts beside. You will never find rest without taking on Christ’s yoke and taking up his burden, Mat. xi. 29.
3. You are never dead to the world till the flesh be crucified; for they whose god is their belly will mind earthly things; and flesh must be crucified if the world be crucified, Gal v. 24, for the world is the provision of the flesh.131
4. Till you tame the flesh and grow dead to the world yon are under the power of Satan: 1 Peter v. 8, ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.’ The worldly and carnal are ‘led captive by him at his will and pleasure,’ 2 Tim. ii. 26, 2 Cor. iv. 10.
5. Your faith in Christ, love to God, and hope of heaven will still be questionable till you be more mortified to the world. What! do you believe in a mortified Christ? What similitude is there between you and him? a christian, and yet worldly! a christian, and yet sensual! a christian, and yet proud! It is as great a contradiction as to say, a believer, and yet an infidel. You that are given to pleasures, do you believe in Christ, a man of sorrows? You that are carried after the pomps and vanities of the world, do you believe in Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world? You that are proud and lofty, do you believe in him who said, ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly?’
So your love to God is questionable. What! love an invisible God, and yet dote so inordinately on visible things! A mind that is enchanted with the delusions of the flesh, can it be lifted up to God who dwelleth in another world? Can you love God, and do so little for him? Love him, and the world hath so much of your time, and strength, and care, and delight, and God so little? They are a very corrupt sort of men who are described to ‘be lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,’ 2 Tim. iii. 4. So far as we set our hearts upon these things, so far are they deadened and estranged from God. Can you love God when his favour, if not parted with or quite lost, is put to hazard for the world’s sake?
Your hope of heaven is questionable. What are you? whither are you a-going? Are you passing to heaven, and are so greedy of this world? Do you look and long for a better estate, that are so satisfied with your portion here, that seek so earnestly after present things, and so slightly and coldly after those blessed things which are to come? Who is the carnal fool but he that heapeth up treasure to himself, and is not rich towards God? Luke xii. 21. Doth he long for heaven that is so loath to depart, and maketh so little preparation for it, or giveth so little diligence to clear up his title or interest in it? To profess the hope of another life, and yet to be digging like a mole in the earth, is incongruous.
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