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abler to bear wrongs, and do good for them, more holy and spiritual in our thoughts and ways, more abundant and fervent in prayer? I know there will be tiines of deadness and winter seasons, even in the souls of living Christians'; but it is not always so, it will come about yet: So that, take the whole course of a Christian together, he is advancing, putting on still more of Christ, and living in him. There is a closer union betwixt the soul and this its spiritual cloathing, than betwixt the body and its garments; that doth import a transformation into Christ, put on as a new life, or new self. The Christian by faith doth this, he puts off himself, old carnal self, and instead thereof puts on Jesus
and thence forward hath no more regard of that old self, than of old cast cloaths, but is all for Christ, joys in nothing else. This is a mystery which cannot be understood but by partaking of it.
My brethren, learn to have these thoughts frequent and occurrent with you on all occasions. Think, when about any thing, how would Christ behave himself in this, even so let me endeavour.
You will possibly say, they that speak thus, and advise thus, do not do thus. O! that that were not too true ; yet there be some that be real in it, and although it be but little that is attained, yet the very aim is excellent, and somewhat there is that is done by it. It is better to have such thoughts and desires, than altogether to give it up; and the very desire being serious and sincere, does so much change the habitude and usage of the soul and life, that it is not to be despised.
Now follows, And make no provision for the flesh, &c. and it will follow necessarily. We hear much to little purpose.
O! to have the heart touched by the spirit with such a word as is here, it would untie it from all these things. These are the words, the very reading of which wrought so with Augustine, that, of a licentious young man, he turned a holy faithful servant of Jesus Christ.
While you were without Christ, you had no higher nor other business to do, but to attend and serve the flesh; but once having put him on, you are other men, and other manners do become you, Alia ætas alios mores postulat.
This forbids not eating and drinking and cloathing, and providing for these, nor decency and comeliness in them: The putting on of Christ does not bar the sober use of them; yea, the moderate providing for the necessities of the flesh, while thou art tied to dwell in it, that may be done in such a way as shall be a part of thy obedience and service to God; but to lay in provisions for the lusts of it, is to victual and furnish his enemy and thine own : For the lusts of the flesh do strive against God's Spirit, and war against thy soul!!
This was the quarrel betwixt God and his own people in the wilderness : Bread for their necessities he gave them, but they required meat for their lusts, (which should rather been starved to death than fed) and many of them fell in the quarrel: He gave them their desire, but gave them a plague with it, and they died with the meat between their teeth. Many that seem to follow God, and to have put on Christ, yet continuing in league with their Iusts, and providing for them, they are permitted a while so to do, and are not withheld from their desire, and seem to prosper in the business; but though not so sudden and sensible as that of the Israelites, there is no less certain a curse joined with all they purchase and provide for that unhallowed use. It is certainly the posture and employment of most of us, even that are called Christians, to be purveyors for the flesh, even for the lusts of it *; these lusts comprehending all sensual, and all worldly flesh self-pleasing projects, even some things that seem a little more decent and refined, come under this account. What are men
i Gal. v, 17. i Pet. ii. 11. * Ad supervacuum sudare.
commonly doing, but projecting and labouring beyond necessity, for füller and finer provision for back and belly, and to feed their pride, and raise themselves and theirs somewhat above the condition of others about them ? and where mens interests meet in the teeth, and cross each other, there arise heart-burnings and debates, and an evil eye, one against another, even on a fancied prejudice, where there is nothing but crossing an humour: So the grand idol is their own will that must be provided for, and served in all things, that takes them up early and late, how they may be at ease, and pleased and esteemed and honoured. This is the provision for the flesh and its lusts; and from this are all they called that have put on Christ, not to a hard, mean, unpleasant life, instead of that other, but to a far more high and more truly pleasant life, that disgraces all those their former pursuits that they thought so gay, while they knew no better. There is a transcendent sweetness in Christ, that puts the flesh out of credit. Put on Christ, thy robe royal, and make no provision, &c. and sure thou wilt not then
and turinoil in the kitchen. A soul cloathed with Christ, stooping to any sinful delight, or an ardent pursuit of any thing earthly, though lawful, doth wonderfully degrade itself: Methinks it is as a king's son in his princely apparel, playing the scullion, sitting down to turn the spits. A soul living in Christ indeed hath no vacancy for the surperfluous luxurious demands of flesh, yea, supplies the very necessities of it with a kind of regret, A necessitatibus meis libera me, Domine, said oir. Oh! raise up your spirits, you that pretend to
! any thing in Christ, delight in him, and let his love satisfy you at all times. What need you go a begging elsewhere; all you would add makes you the poorer, abates so much of your enjoyment of him; and what can compensate that? Put on the Lord Jesus, and then view yourselves, and see if you be fit to be slaves to flesh and earth.
These two, Put on the Lord Jesus, and Make no provision, are directly the representation of the church. A woman cloathed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, needed borrow no beauty from it, or any thing under it. She left the scarlet, and the purple, and gold, to the harlot after spoken of, for her dressing.
The service of the flesh is a work the Christian cannot fold to, till he forget what cloaths he has This is all, my brethren. Oh! that we could be once persuaded to put on Christ, and then resolve and remember to do nothing unbeseeming that
Psal. cvii. 43.
IV hoso is wise, and will observe those things, even
they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.
OST men live a brutal sensitive life, live not
so much as the life of reason; but far fewer the divine life of faith, which is further above common human reason than that is above sense. The spiritual light of Grace is that which makes day in the soul; all other wisdom is but night-light, Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light èrcelleth darknessa. This higher sort of knowledge is that the prophet speaks of.
Having discoursed excellently through the Psalm, of the wisdom, power and goodness of God, so legible in his providence towards men, and often called up the dull minds of men to consider these his works, and bless him for them, he closes with this applaudment of their happiness tliat truly do so, Whoso is wise, &c.
They that spake it, know not how true their speech is, that have called the world a nest of fools. It is true, there is very little, even of natural clearness of judgment amongst men, but sure far less of this true spiritual wisdom ; so that, if we read this as a question, Whoso is wise? Oh! how few, and yet most imagine they are, few convinced they are fools, and that is the height of their folly. That word is most true; Vain man would be wise, though he be born as the wild ass's colt. In youth he runs wild, unbroken, and unuseful, and in fuller a Eccl, ii. 13.
b Job. xi. 12. Vol. III.