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meanest capacity may, by this, apprehend, that so long as we are in the body, we are in a state of weakness and disorder that is full of such blindness and delusion, as attends a state of drunkenness and passion.
It is intended, by this account of human nature, to convince us of the absolute necessity of renouncing ourselves, of denying all our tempers and inclinations, and resigning ourselves wholly to the light and wisdom of God. For since, by our state of corruption and slavery to the body, we are always under the power of its blind motions ; since all our inclinations and judgments are only the judgments of heated blood, drunken spirits, and disordered passions, we are under as absolute a necessity of denying all our natural tempers and judgments as of refraining from intemperance.
For must a man, that is in a fit of violent passion, silence that passion before he can judge of the ordinary things of life? Is it a state of such blindness as makes him blind in the plainest matters, and unable to judge rightly, even of things which he is acquainted with? And can we think, that our more still and secret passions of self-love, pride, vanity, envy, and the like, make us less blind as to the things of God, than a heated passion does as to the things of this world ?
Will an inflamed passion disorder a man too much to judge of any thing, even in his own business? And will not a passion of less violence disorder a man's judgment in things of a spiritual nature, which he never was rightly acquainted with, which he never saw, or understood, in the manner that he ought, and which are all contrary to the impression of his senses?
Every one sees people in the world, whom he takes to be incapable of sober judgments, and wise reflections, for this reason; because he sees that
they are full of themselves, blinded with prejudice, violent in their passions, wild and extravagant in their imaginations.
Now as often as we see these people, we should reflect that we see ourselves; for we as certainly see a true representation of ourselves, when we look at such people, as we see a true picture of our state, when we see a man in the sorrows and agonies of death.
You are not dy nig as this man is; you are not in his state of sickness and extremity; but still his state shows you your own true picture; it shows you, that your life is in the midst of death; that you have in you the seeds of sickness and mortality; that you are dying, though not in his degree; and that
you are only at a little uncertain distance from those who are lying upon their last beds.
When therefore you see men living in the disorders of their passions, blinded with prejudices, swelling in pride, full of themselves, vain in their imaginations, and perverse in their tempers, you must believe that you see as true a representation of your own state, as if you saw a man in his last sickness.
You, it may be, are not in the extravagance of his disordered tempers, you are at some uncertain distance from his state; but if you fancy, that you are not corrupted with self-love, not weakened by prejudices, not blinded with pride, not vain in your imaginations, not ridiculous in your temper, because you are not in such disorders as you find some people, you think as absurdly as if you was to imagine yourself to be immortal, because you are not in that extremity of death in which you see some people.
And as the true way of knowing, and being, rightly affected with the weakness and mortality of our state, is frequently to view the condition of dying men as pictures of ourselves; so the most likely means to affect us with a just sense of the corruption and disorder of our hearts, is to consider the frailties, corruptions, and disorders of other people, as certain representations of the frailty and corruption of our own state.
When, therefore, you see the violence of other men's passions, the irregularity of their tempers, the strength of their prejudices, the folly of their inclinations, and the vanity of their minds, remember that you see so many plain reasons for denying yourself, and resisting your own nature, which has in it the seeds of all those evil tempers which you see in the most irregular people.
From the foregoing reflections upon human nature, we may learn thus much, that abstinence, as to eating and drinking, is but a small part of Christian self-denial.
The corruption of our nature has its chief seat in the irregularity of our tempers, the violence of passions, the blindness of our judgments, and the vanity of our minds; it is as dangerous, therefore, to indulge these tempers as to live in gluttony and intemperance.
You think it shameful to be an epicure; you would not be suspected to be fond of liquor ; you think these tempers would too much spoil all your pretences to religion: you are very right in your judgment; but then proceed a step farther, and think it as shameful to be fond of dress, or delighted with yourself, as to be fond of dainties; and that it is as great a sin to please any corrupt temper of your heart as to please your palate: remember, that blood, heated with passion, is like blood heated with liquor; and that the grossness of gluttony is no greater a contrariety to religion than the politeness of pride, and the vanity of our minds.
I have been the longer upon this subject, trying every way to represent the weakness and corruption of our nature; because so far as we rightly
understand it, so far we see into the reasonableness and necessity of all religious duties. If we fancy ourselves to be wise and regular in our tempers and judgments, we can see no reason for denying ourselves; but if we find that our whole nature is in disorder, that our light is darkness, our wisdom foolishness, that our tempers and judgments are as gross and blind as our appetites, that our senses govern us as they govern children, that our ambition and greatness is taken up with gewgaws and trifles, that the state of our bodies is a state of error and delusion, like that of drunkenness and passion.
If we see ourselves in this true light, we shall see the whole true reason of Christian self-denial, of meekness, and poverty of spirit, of putting off our old man, of renouncing our whole selves, that we may see all things in God; of watching and prayer, and mortifying all our inclinations, that our hearts may be moved by a motion from God, and our wills and inclinations be directed by the light and wisdom of religion,
Religion has little or no hold of us, till we have these right apprehensions of ourselves; it may serve for a little decency of outward behaviour, but it is not the religion of our hearts, till we feel the weakness and disorder of our nature, and embrace piety and devotion, as the means of recovering us to a state of perfection and happiness in God.
A man that thinks himself in health cannot lament the sickness of his state.
If we are pleased with the pride and vanity of our minds, if we live in pleasure and self-satisfactions, we shall feel no meaning in our devotions, when we lament the misery and corruption of our nature. We may have times and places to mourn for sins; but .we shall feel no more inward grief than hired mourners do at a funeral.
So that as the corruption of our nature is the foundation and reason of self-denial, 80 a right
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sense and feeling of that corruption is necessary to make us rightly affected with the offices and devotion of religion.
I shall now show, that the reasonableness and necessity of self-denial is also founded upon another fundamental doctrine of religion, namely, the necessity of divine grace, which I shall leave to be the subject of the following chapter.
of the Necessity of divine Grace, and the several
Duties to whichit calleth all Christians.
Come now to another article of our religion,
namely, the absolute necessity of divine grace, which is another universal and constant reason of self-denial.
The invisible operation and assistance of God's Holy Spirit, by which we are disposed towards that which is good, and made able to perform it, is à confessed doctrine of Christianity.
Our natural life is preserved by some union with God, who is the fountain of life to all the creation, to which union we are altogether strangers; we tind that we are alive, as we find that we think; but how, or by what influence from God our life is supported, is a secret into which we cannot enter. It is the same thing with relation to our spiritual life, or life of grace; it arises from some invisible union with God, or divine influence, which, in this state of life, we cannot comprehend. Our blessed Saviour saith, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, and whither
John iji. 8. it goeth; so is every one that is born of God. This shows us how ignorant we are of the manner of the