Of the Combate between the Flesh and the Spirit, as the Effect of Original Sinne, so that the Godliest man cannot do any holy Duty perfectly in this life.
The Text explained and vindicated from corrupt Interpretations.
GAL. 5. 17.
THe Apostle in the verses before admonished them about the use of their liberty, that it should not be turned into licen∣tiousness, but that they make love the Rule thereof. For though in respect of the right of my Christian liberty, my conscience is to regard none but God, yet the use and exer∣cise of it must be regulated by love and prudence, according as the edification of our brother doth require.
As a remedy therefore to refrain from all excess therein, he giveth us an ex∣cellent precept, with an emphatical Introduction thereunto, [This I say then] that is, This is the summe, the main, the all in all in these cases.
Then you have the Antidote it self, Walk in the Spirit. The only way to prevent all those importunate temptations of the flesh, is to give up your selves to the Spirit, to obtain the direction and illumination thereof, as also the in∣clination and powerfull operation of it, whereby we may be established in that which is good, To know what is good, and then to be inabled to do it, which if done, he declareth the blessed effect and issue thereof, Ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Some (as Beza) readeth this imperatively, because of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but the Text he instanceth in is not parallel to this. And Grotius bringeth in several places, where this 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 relateth to the future. This then is the happy issue of a man, who keepeth wholly to the Spirit of God inlightning and work∣ing by the Word, that he shall get dominion over the lusts of the flesh, He shall not fulfill them: He doth not say, he shall not have them, he shall not feel, and perceive them working in him, for that cannot be in this life; only he shall Page 475 not fulfill them, which is the same as to walk in the flesh, and to mind the things of the flesh, which those that live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit cannot do.
In the next place, The Apostle giveth a reason, why they are thus to give themselves up to the Spirit, else the flesh will quickly prevail, and that is from the contrary nature and inclinations of these two, expressed in that Propositi∣on, The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. By flesh and spirit we are not to understand the body and the soul, nor the spiritual sense and literal sense of the Scripture, as Origen most absurdly; nor as many Papists and others, the rational part, and the sensitive, as if the Apostle were here speaking no more then Aristotle doth about his incontinent person, as di∣stinct from an intemperant one. Therefore that is too frigid and dilute of the late Annatator on this place, in his paraphrase, as if the opposition were between the carnal and rational wils, between the carnal and rational part of a man in∣structed out of the Gospel, for this ariseth to no more then that ethical and moral conflict, which Heathen Philosophers describe; whereas the Apostle is here speaking of that which the godly find in themselves, and that from the two contrary principles of the flesh and spirit within them.
Neither are we to understand this with the Remonstrants, as if the Apostle spake in the general, or Idea only, making the sense to be no more, then the flesh of a man, opposeth the Spirit of God, putring it self forth in the powerfull preaching of the Word; for the context maketh it evident, that he speaketh of this opposition, as it is in the subject, by which no godly man can do the things that are holy with that perfection, as he desireth.
Lastly, Neither are we to understand this of persons, as if the Apostle meant the carnal man, and the spiritual man, as Isaacl did Isaac, will alwayes op∣pose one another: For it is clear, he speaketh of two principles within us, the one whereof is flesh, that is, our whole man so farre as it is unregenerate, the mind and the will as well as the affections; (for by sinne incarnavimus animas nostras, as the Ancient said, our souls are become flesh,) and the whole man so farre as he is regenerate: For this in several respects, a godly man is both flesh and Spirit.
This contrariety in their nature is declared by the effect thereof, They lust one against another: He doth not say, they work one against another, though that be true; but the Apostle would direct us to the head and spring of all out∣ward evil or good, and that is the desire within.
In the next place, the Apostle amplifieth this contrary motion between the flesh and the Spirit from the nature of them; They are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, immediately set one against another, even as darkness and light, as fire and water. Now although it be a Rule, That contraries do expell each other; yet it is also ano∣ther Rule, That contraries while they are in pugnâ, in fighting with one ano∣ther, they may be together, as also in remisse degrees: And thus it is with the godly, the flesh and the Spirit are alwayes in conflict; These are the twins in the womb, that by their opposition make the godly mourn, and long for Hea∣ven, where the flesh shall be wholly overcome.
Lastly, Here is the consequent and issue of this Combate, So that the things ye would not, those ye do; which words are subject to many interpretations: Some say, they are only to be interpreted as the end to which these contrary principles do encline, not that they do denote the event. By the flesh we are carried out to this end, not to do the good things we would do; yet this event doth not alwayes at least follow, because Gods Spirit worketh in us both to will and to do; This exposition they are the more confirmed in, because in the Greek it is not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which would denote the event, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: This seemeth to have no great strength, for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is taken eventually sometimes. But then if so, Page 476 still there is a difference among▪ Interpreters: Some understand it of the good will only, as if the meaning were those good things you would do, the flesh doth hinder and retard you therein. Grotius with others that follow him, un∣derstand it of the evil will, in this manner, The Spirit lusteth against the flesh, so that those evil things, which otherwise you would doe, if the flesh did prevail in you, now ye cannot do. And the late Writer (Vnum Necessa∣rium, cap. 7. pag. 482.) is so peremptory for this Exposition,
But to answer this, Some read all the former verse by a parenthesis, and make this clause to belong to the precept, vers. 16. Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, so that ye cannot do those things, which the flesh would incline you unto: But this seemeth too much forced. Though therefore we understand it of the good will, as well as the bad, yet the sense runneth smoothly; neither is this brought as a reason of the later part, You shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for so it would have some apparent con∣tradiction, but of the duty commanded, why they should walk in the Spirit. For if they do not, such is the contrariety of the flesh to every thing that is spi∣ritual, that if yeelded unto, it will carry you away to act those lusts, which otherwise you would not do, and so the connexion is very harmonious. But for my part, I think this must be understood generally, both of the good will, and bad also. For the Apostle having named two contrary principles, and their lustings one to another, there is no reason to limit it to one; but that we understand it thus, That even in had things a godly man is not carried out with the full command of the flesh, but the Spirit of God doth in a great measure check and prohibit it. And also in good things, though the Spirit of God doth enlighten and enlarge the soul, yet the flesh doth something retard, and by its opposition, causeth that we cannot do holy things with that fulness, purity and perfection as we would do.
Thus you have this noble Text explained, which will afford excellent practi∣cal matter, concerning that property of original sinne, that it remaineth in some measure even in the most holy, and that therefore there is no perfection in this life. None is all spirit without any flesh at all in them. Therefore the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the Text may have its emphasis, The same things ye cannot do, that ye would. For what godly man doth not feel, that it is not the same prayer, the same faith, the same repentance he desired? The duty like Jeremiah's vessel cometh to be marred upon the wheel in the very doing; so much deadness, di∣straction, lukewarmness and senslesness of spirit appeareth, that he wondereth to see how different the duty exercised is from the desire and purpose in his soul. From the words thus declared observe,
That original sinne remaineth in every man, though never so godly in some measure, whereby there is a combate between the flesh and the Spirit, so that we cannot do any holy duty perfectly in this life. I limit my Discourse only to the good will in the Text, not the bad, because that is most homogeneous with my subject. And besides, The Pelagians calumniated this Doctrine of original sinne, as a discouragement unto holiness, and that hereby perfection could never be attained, because this sinne is said to have some being and working in the most holy, though it have not dominion. It is from original sinne, that the most holy men find a combat within them more or lesse; that alwayes in this life they find a need both of pardon of sinne, and of the righteousness of Page 477 Christ, which if any deny, as the Pelagians did, we will not believe them with Austin, in that they say, but attribute it to their arrogancy and hypocri∣sie, pretending more holiness to the world then they have, for their self-ad∣vantage, or else to their stupidity and senslesness, not feeling what doth indeed annoy and oppose the Spirit of God; and truly they who have not the Spirit of God abiding in them, How can they discern of such a combate? That moral conflict which Aristotle speaketh of in the incontinent person, he may perceive within himself, but this of the Spirit and the flesh, He cannot know, because it is spiritually discerned.
Several Propositions clearing the truth about the Combat between the Flesh and Spirit in a godly man.
The Difference between Original and Actual Sinne.
THe only way to comprehend the latitude of this excellent truth about the Conflict between flesh and spirit in the true believer, because of origi∣nal sinne still adhering to him, is to lay down several Propositions, wherein we may at the same time assert truth, and obviate some error.
First, Original sinne doth greatly differ from actual sinne in this particular, that when an actual sinne is committed, there remaineth no more but the guilt of it, which upon repentance by justification is wholly removed away, and thus an actual sinne is as if it had never been; but in original sinne, although the guilt of it be taken away, yet the nature of it abideth still, though not with such dominion as for∣merly it did. It is true the Schoolmen, except Biel and some others, say, actu∣al sinnes leave a macula, a blot or defilement upon the soul, as well as a reatus, or guilt; and what this macula is, they are different in their explication of: but we must necessarily grant, that every actual sinne doth defile the soul, de∣priving it either of the beauty it hath, or ought to have, but yet still the act of sin is passed away, whereas in original sin, the sin it self doth still continue, by which it is, that though to those who are in Christ, there is no actual condemnati∣on, yet there is that which is damnable in them; insomuch as without Christ there is a wo to their most holy and praise-worthy actions. It is true, the Papists and o∣thers look upon this as non-sense, or a contradiction, that sin should be in a man, and not make him guilty; as if actual condemnation might not be separated from sinne, though indeed the desert of condemnation cannot. It cannot be but wheresoever sinne is it doth deserve hell, it hath enough in it to provoke God to wrath, but yet when humbled for and withstood, then through the bloud of Christ, this actual guilt, though not the potential one, is taken away. Yea original sinne doth not only differ from actual sinne, but also habitual, be∣cause though habitual sinnes do abide in a man, yet when a man is regenerated, and made a new creature, all the habits of sinne are expelled; for if the habits of sinne and grace should abide together, then a man might at the same time be holy and unholy, the sonne of God, and the sonne of the Devil, seeing our denomination is from the habits that are within us; therefore that cannot be. But though in our Regeneration the habits of sinne are removed, yet it is not so with original corruption, that is not an acquired, but an innate habit of Page 478 sinning within us. Thus our original corruption is farre more pertinaciously cleaving unto us, then any habits or customs of sinne can be, though of never so long continuance.
IN the second place, That is a false position which the Remonstrants have (Ex∣am. Censurae cap. 11. pag. 128.) that the difficulty which new converts have to leave their former lusts, doth arise chiefly from their former custome and exer∣cise in wayes of impiety, not from original sinne. For they distinguish of godly men such as are incipients, new beginners, that are but newly converted unto Christ, and these they say have a great conflict within them, they have much ado to leave their former lusts and impieties they have been accustomed unto: and then there are the Adulti, such who are proficients, and grown up; now these they say may arise to such a measure of holiness, as to be without any con∣flict at all between flesh and spirit, or to feel it very rarely: but that is directly to contradict this Text, which speaketh it universally of all that have the Spirit of God in them while in this life, they do meet with opposition not only from the devil without, but the flesh within: Therefore they would elude this Text, as if it did not mean an actual reluctancy or lusting against one another, but only po∣tential, that it is the nature of the flesh and Spirit thus to oppose one another, for this is say they against the nature of habits, seeing it is the property of ha∣bits to make the will readily and willingly will and do those things, which for∣merly were grievous and troublesome, but the Scripture speaketh of the actual reluctancy; it doth not say it may or it can, but it doth lust; and as for habits, though we grant when these supernatural habits of grace are infused into the soul, we are carried out with readiness, delight, and willingness in those holy duties which formerly were tedious and grievous unto us; yet because neither the habits of grace are perfect within us, nor the acts that flow from them, therefore it is that there is a mixture of our dross with the spirits gold. For al∣though the habits of grace are immediately inspired or infused from God, and so as they come from him are perfect; yet because that is a true rule, Quicquid recipitur, recipitur ad modum recipientis; whatsoever is received, is received according to the capacity and qualification of the subject: Hence it is, that these habits of grace are imperfect as received and seated in us; and whereas again they reply, that suppose this Text be understood of actual reluctancy, yet it is not generally to be extended to all, but limited to the Galathians, who were but new converts, but beginners, and therefore had this fight within them; that is also false: The Apostle saith the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh in the general: It is an universal Proposition, neither is it any more to be limited to the Galathians, then the duty enjoyned, which is to walk in the Spirit; so that as the duty belongeth to every godly man, the reason likewise must, and therefore the Apostle doth not say, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit in you, (they put (in vobis) into the Text) but speaketh uni∣versally of all that have the Spirit of God: Besides this Text opposeth them, for grant these Galathians were new converts, yet the cause of the combate within them, is not attributed to their former custome of impiety as they would have it, but to the flesh, which is original sinne within them, when therefore a man is truly converted, that difficulty to leave his former lusts doth not arise because the habits of sinne do still abide in him, but because original sinne is still living in us; and therefore according to the greater or lesser measure of grace healing and sanctifying of us, so we find the greater opposition in parting with the sinnes we formerly committed.
WE are to lay it down for a certain foundation to build upon (as hath formerly been delivered) That this spiritual conflict was not in the state of integrity. Adam before his fall could not find such a rebellion in him; for if so, this would greatly have interrupted all his blessedness; and withall such a duell within him, and that necessarily flowing from his creation, would have redounded to the great dishonour of God his Maker. Now the Adversaries of original sinne, whether Papists, Remonstrants or Socinians, who do usually traduce the orthodox Doctrine about it, as if horribly injurious to God, do in this particular farre transcend all such supposed reflections, either upon the justice or mercy of God. For they do boldly affirm, That by the very natural consti∣tution of man, there is a necessary conflict between the rational and sensitive part; only say the Papists, original righteousness (which the Socinian deri∣deth as much as original sinne) did keep down this repugnancy, so that Adam had not any actual rebellion within, though it was there potentially and radically. Thus Soto (though Stapleton fluctuateth, and seemeth to be his Adversary therin) expresly affirmeth (Lib. de Naturâ & Gratiâ, c. 3.) that the conflict mentioned by the Apostle, Gal. 5. 17. is Homini â naturâ ingenita, inbred in the very nature of a man, which he would prove from a philosophical Discourse out of Aristotle, who divideth man into two parts: his rational and sensitive, adding that the sen∣sitive part obeyeth the rational, not despotically, as servants who have no right of their own do to their masters (for so the members of the body only do serve the mind) but politically and civilly, as a Citizen doth his Prince, in whose power it is to disobey. But as Aristotle knew nothing of mans creation, or the Image of God put upon him, nor of his fall, and the utter depravation of mans soul thereby, so it would be absurd to runne to his darkness to fetch light about these things. Hence also it is, that the same Author (Cap. 13.) in another place, compareth man fallen with man standing to some weighty piece, that hangeth on high, but is hindred that it cannot fall; and the same piece, when the impediment is removed. For as such a piece of timber had the same proneness to fall to the ground, while it was hindred, as when the obstacle was removed, only it did not actually fall: Thus man abiding in his state of inte∣grity had this principle within, to carry him more affectionately to sensible things then spiritual; only original righteousness did stop and hinder the actual motions thereof. It is true, that all Papists do not assert this repugnancy from our primitive constitution: For Cajetan upon the place doth note truly, Sermo est, &c. saith he. The speech is of the flesh, as infected with original sinne, for thence the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, not from the primary Creation. Yea their admired Thomas a Kempis, (Pag. 77.) for his practical devotion, confes∣seth that Adam in the state of innocency had not this conflict. And no wonder that Papists thus dogmatize, when Arminius, who useth to be very wary, be∣ing he was the first that was to broach those dangerous errours, the Devil de∣lighting to use a Serpent, not an Ass, because he was more subtil then other beasts of the field, yet asserteth that the inclination to sinne was in Adam be∣fore his fall, Licet non ita vehemens & inordinata ut nunc est, although not so vehement and inordinate as now it is. It is true, the whole Paragraph is put by way of question, but in the procedure thereof, this is spoken affirmatively, (Articul. perpendendi, cap. de peccato originis.) And with the Socinians nothing is more ordinary then to affirm such a rebellion in man, and that so perempto∣rily, that from this they conclude, Adam did sinne, it was from his concupi∣scence that he did break the Law of God; Yea some are not afraid to attribute this repugnancy and conflict to Christ, as if when he prayed, Father, if it be Page 480 possible let this Cup passe away, that this came from the Agony between the ra∣tional, and sensitive part within him. It is wonder that these do not also hold, that it will continue in Heaven also: so that as long as man hath a soul and a body, this opposition cannot be removed; but surely the naming of this to tender hearts and ears is confutation enough. For is not this truly and properly to make God the Author of sinne, that he put a rebellious thorn in our sides at first, and that because we are his creatures, made of a soul and a body, there∣fore we must necessarily be divided within our selves. Thus those who charge original sinne with Manichism do herein exceed the Manichees themselves; for they attribute this evil in a man to an evil principle; but these make the good and holy God to be the Author of this rebellion. Neither is it any evasion to say, This rebellion of the sensitive part is no sinne, unless it be consented unto; for it is such which is contrary to the Law of God, it is to be resisted and fought against. And certainly that demonstrateth the evil nature thereof. Luther in∣deed speaks of a Franciscan, which maketh this concupiscence to be a natural good in a man, as it is in the fire to burn, or the Sunne to shine: But certainly such qualities or actions are not to be resisted, or fought against, as these are; How can that be good, which is confessed to be a sinne, if consented unto?
VVHen we say the flesh and the Spirit do thus conflict with one ano∣ther,*you must not understand it of them as two naked bare qua∣lities in a man, but as actuated and quickned from without. For the gracious ha∣bit in a man, is not able to act and put it self forth vigorously without the Spi∣rit of God exciting and quickning of it. And although inherent sinne of it self be active and vigorous, yet the Devil also he continually is tempting and blow∣ing upon this fire to make it flame the more impetuously: So that we are not to look upon these simply as in themselves, but as subservient to the Spirit of God, and the Devil. The Spirit of God by grace in the heart doth promote the Kingdom of God, and the Devil by suggestions, doth advance the king∣dom of Satan in our hearts: So that grace and sinne are like the Deputies and Vicegerents in our souls to those Champions that are without us. Now because the Spirit of God is stronger, and above the Devil, therefore it is that the flesh shall at last surely be conquered. Nay, if the godly at any time fail, if sinne at any time overcome, it is not because the Spirit of God could not overcome it, but because he is a free agent, and communicateth his assistance more or lesse, as he pleaseth; only in this combat the godly are to assure themselves, that they shall overcome all at last, that the very root of sinne will be wholly taken away, never to trouble or imbitter the soul any more.
FIfthly, In natural and corrupt men, there is no sense or feeling of any such conflict. They never groan and mourn under such wrestlings and agonies within them, and the reason is, because they are altogether flesh, and flesh doth not oppose flesh; neither is Satan set against Satan. It is true, there is in some natural vicious men, sometimes a combate between their conscience and their appetite; their hearts carry them on violently to sinne, but their consciences do check them, and they feel a remorse within them, but this is farre different Page 481 from that spiritual conflict, which the Apostle doth here describe, and is to be found only in such men, who have the Spirit of God: No wonderthen if there be so many who look upon this as a figment, if so many even learned men write and speak so ignorantly and advisedly about it; for this truth is best ac∣knowledged by experience: It's not the Theologia ratiocinativa, but experimen∣talis, as Gerson divideth Divinity, that will bring us to a full knowledge of this, It cannot then but be expected that you should see men live at ease, and have much quietness and security in their own breasts, thanking God, as if their souls, hearts, and all were good within them, all were as they desire it; for the strong man the Devil keepeth all quiet; flesh would not oppose flesh: It is true, one sinne may oppose another, covetoufness; drunkenness; and so a man who would commit them both be divided within himself; one sinne draweth one way, and another sinne the other way: but still in the general here is an agreement; all is sinne, all tendeth one way still, and therefore is not like this combate in the Text; but of this more in its time.
SIxthly, In all regenerate persons though never so highly sanctified, there is a conflict more or less: It is true, some are more holy then others; some are babes, and some are strong men; some are spiritual, some in a comparative sence are carnal; some are weak, some are strong; and according to the mea∣sure of grace they have received, so is this conflict more or less, Amyraldus a much admired Writer by some, (neither do I detract from that worth, which is due to him,) doth industriously set himself. (Constd. cap. 7. ad Rom.) to ex∣pound the 7th of the Romans of a person not regenerated, but in a legal state, yet disclaiming Arminianisme and Socinianisme: which Exposition being offen∣sive and excepted against, (as justly it might) by William Rivet; he maketh a replication thereunto, wherein he delivereth many novel assertions. Among which this may be one;
First, Because the most holy that are, have used all. meanes to mortifie and keep down the cause of these sinful motions; If they did not continually throw water as it were upon those sparks within, the most holy man would quickly be in a flame. Even this Apostle Paul, doth not he confess this of himself, 1 Cor. 9. 27. I keep down my body, and bring it into subjection, &c. He doth not mean the body, as it is a meer natural substance; for the glorified Saints will not keep down their bodyes. but as it is corrupted, and made a ready instrument to sin: for though the Apostle call it not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, yet these are not opposite, but suppose one another, as Rom. 6. 12. Let not sinne reign in your mortal body, and it is a very frigid and forced Exposition of Amyraldus, as if the Apostle did understand it of the exposing his body to hunger and thirst, and all dangerous persecutio•s for the Gospels sake. For this was not Paul's voluntary keeping down of his body; those persecutions and hardships to his body, were against his will, though he submitted to them, when by Gods providence he was called thereunto; but he speaketh here of that, which he did readily and volun∣tarily, lest from within should arise such motions to sinne, as might destroy him; yea it is plain that even in Paul there was a danger of the breakings forth of such lusts, because 2 Cor. 12. God did in a special manner suffer him to be buffetted and exercised by Satan, that he might not be lifted up through pride: neither is this any excuse to say with Amyraldus, That such sinnes are apt to breed in the most excellent dispositions; for it is acknowledged by all, that such sinnes have more guilt in them then bodily sinnes, though not such infamy and disgrace amongst men; Luther calleth them the sublimia peccat; the sublime and high sins, such the Devil was guilty of, and they were the cause of his final overthrow and damnation: If then the most godly have used all means to mor∣tifie sinne within them; it is plain they found a combate; and that if sinne Page 483 were let alone, it would quickly get the upper hand.
Secondly, That there is a conflict of sinne appeareth in those duties enjoyned to all the godly, that they watch and pray, that they put on the whole armour of Christ. Yea the Disciples are commanded to take heed of drunkenness and sur∣fetting, and the cares of this world, Luke 21. 34. and generally Paul's Epistles are full of admonitions and exhortations to give all diligence in the wayes of holinesse: especially that command is very observable, 2 Cor. 7. 1. Having these promises, let us cleanse our selves from all filthinesse of flesh and spirits, perfect∣ing holinesse in the fear of God. Here you see both flesh and spirit, that is the rational and sensitive part, have filthiness; and that those who are truly godly are to be continually cleansing away this filthiness, and to perfect what is out of order. What godly man is there, that can say, This command doth not be∣long to me, I am above it, I need it not? No lesse considerable is that command of Peter, 1 Pet. 2. 11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as pilgrims and strangers, abstain from fleshly lusts, which warre against the soul. Not as if this were wholly parallel with my Text, as Carthusian is said to bring it in, thereby proving that by flesh is meant the body, and by spirit the soul; but onely it sheweth, that no godly man in this life is freed from a militant condition, and that with his own flesh, his own self, which maketh the combate to be the more dangerous. For this cause David, though a man after Gods own heart, though Gods servant in a special consideration, yet prayeth Psal. 19. 13. Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; which expression denoteth, that even a godly man hath lust within him, that would carry him out like an untamed horse to presumptuous sins, did not the Lord keep him back. But we need not bring more reasons to confirm that which experience doth so sadly testifie.
A Consideration of that part of the seventh Chapter to the Romans, which treats of the Conflict within a man: Shewing (against A∣myraldus and others) that it must be a regenerate person onely, of whom those things are spoken.
THe next Proposition that may give light to the weighty truth about the spiritual conflict that is in the most regenerate persons is this, That be∣sides the reasons formerly produced, and many others which might be named, there are two famous places of Scripture, which do most signally and eminent∣ly declare such a combate in the most holy men. The first is this of my Text, which hath sufficiently been explained and vindicated from corrupt Interpreta∣tions. And truly the light of this Text shineth so clearly, that there are very few who are not convinced that this speaketh of the fight which regenerate per∣sons find in themselves between those two contrary principles of the Spirit and flesh which are within them. The second place, which doth so firmly establish such a conflict in those who by grace are made new creatures, is Rom. 7. from v. 14. to the end of the Chapter, where we have a most palpable delineation of this duel that is fought in the inwards of a godly man; but that place is not so freely consented unto, as this Text I am upon.
Page 484 Now because the clearing of that is of special use, and because it is of such affinity with my Text, I shall inlarge my self (for I will not call it a digression) in the full explication of that part of the Chapter, shewing, How that it must be a regenerate person, and him only of whom those things are there spoken. And you will find that the distinct opening of that portion of Scripture will afford us many necessary things both for Instruction, Consolation and Admonition, and all immediately adhering to this point I am now upon. This I intend to di∣spatch in several particulars, which will be as so many branches growing from the flock of that Proposition I have already named. And
First, You are to know, that the Discourse which Paul there useth concern∣ing the combate within himself, is by some interpreted, as if Paul, though he name himself, Yet doth not mean himself, while regenerated, but while unregene∣rated. So that (say they) Paul doth therein take upon himself the person of one that is not yet in the state of grace. This they conceive must necessarily be so, because such a person is said to be carnal and sold under sinne. The flesh is alwayes said to have the better, whereas regenerate persons they have crucified the flesh and the Spirit; And the Law of the Spirit of life hath freed them from the Law of sinne and death, Rom. 8. 2. Onely when they expound it of an unregenerate person, they distinguish of such,
1. One who is grosly ignorant and prophane, wallowing in his sinnes in a most senslesse and stupid manner, whose conscience are wholly dead within them; and such are carried out to sinne with all impetuousness, having no check or re∣morse of conscience within them, of such the Apostle doth not speak. But
2. There are others who are in a Legal state, under the powerfull convictions and operations of the Law, as Amyraldus expresseth it: Men who besides the meer knowledge of the Law have by the efficacy of Gods Spirit the convincing power of it so set home, that now their inlightned minds do greatly incline them to that which is good; but because their hearts are not sanctified, their affections are not mortified, therefore these lusts do hurry them away against those legal convictions that are upon them; or as Arminius expresseth it (in cap. 7. ad Rom.) not in a much different way, the Apostle speaketh of one, who is in some preparatory way to conversion. By the Law he is so farre wrought upon, that he is afraid because of his sinnes, he cryeth out of them, mourneth because of them, hath many wishes and desires: Oh that I could leave these lusts, I do not like or consent to such evil things that I do! Thus this person is supposed to have a servile fear, which is initial to the work of conversion. And this frame of spirit, although it be not regeneration, yet is to be reckoned among the good and spiritual gifts of God.
In the second place, There are others who do zealously contend, that that discourse cannot be applied to any, but a regenerate person; and to understand it otherwise would be to plunge the godly in a deep gulph of discouragements, and to attribute such things to unregenerate persons, which those that are truly sanctified cannot go beyond; And this way Austin, and others of old do, wil∣lingly go. Yea most of the Popish Interpreters, Estius, Contzen, Pererius, Sasb•lt, &c. Tolet is taken notice of, as the most eminent dissenter. The Lu∣therans also generally, and the Calvinists, yea most Protestant Writers. Even Musculus, whom the adversaries of this Interpretation do so much alledge in this point, and labour to decline all suspicion by his name, yet doth clearly and fully expound it of a man truly regenerated and converted, but in the lowest degree and initials of grace; although in the lowest form, yet sanctified and regenerated he confesseth him to be. Arminius and Amyraldus have indeed in a peculiar manner set themselves against this Exposition. Yea there is an Eng∣lish Writer, who goeth so high, as to call the explication of this portion of Scripture, as spoken in the person of a regenerate man, An encouragement of an evil life, and a scorn cast upon the holy Ghost; yea that it is verbum dictum contra Spiritum sanctum. (Vnum Necessarium, chap. 7. pag. 456.) But here∣in he followeth Arminius, out of whom also he seemeth to borrow all that he hath in this point of any appearing strength and validity. In cap. 7. ad Rom. where he would have it considered, whether this fight described here in the Text, can be attributed to the Spirit of God, Citra apertam gratiae Christi, & ejus Spiritus contumeliam & ignominiam. And a little after, Constabit diligenter inspicienti, citra enorme Spiritus sancti dedecus, illi luctam istam attribui non posse. Thus Aristotles speech is very true, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Ethi•. lib. 7. cap. 10. Yea the late Annotatour is so farre from thinking, That doing the ill we would not, and the not doing the good we would, to be a fit ingredient in the character of a regenerate man, that he maketh it the aggravation of a wic∣ked man. Thus he saith, The Heathens made the highest pitch of villany in Me∣deas person, when she is said to see and like that which was good, and do the direct contrary. So that it should seem by this, That the Annotatour would think Arminius, and those who think this Discourse to be understood of a man in a preparatory way to conversion, and as it were not farre from the kingdom of God, to yeeld too much: We must rather look upon it as spoken in the person of some enormious and transcendent sinner: but I think herein he is primus and solus. Besides his assertion is against Aristotle, who writing of the incon∣tinent person, that in some respects knoweth the actions to be sinnes, yet doth them, saith notwithstanding, that he is not a wicked man, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a se∣mi-wicked man, Ethic. lib. 7. cap. 9. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. But concerning this sin∣ning against knowledge in a regenerate person, as also the collation of him with an incontinent person more hereafter. Only by the way we may wonder, why Page 486 the above mentioned Annotatour in his Annotations on this place, is so industri∣ous to prove this passage cannot be meant of a regenerate person, from verse the eighth and the ninth in this Chapter, where it's said, Sinne wrought all man∣ner of concupiscence in him, that sinne revived and he died. For surely he cannot but know, That none of the Dissenters from him in this Exposition, do apply those verses to a regenerate man; but that the application to such a person begin∣neth at the fourteenth verse, or else as Calvin, at the fifteenth verse; But it is not so material to know what men say, as what may be evinced out of the Chapter it self. Only we may adde, That the Socinian is likewise very stiff and zealous in the Interpretation of this Chapter concerning a non-regenerate person. Yea the Polonian Knight, that writeth the life of Socinus, would have us take no∣tice of a wonderfull work of God, convincing an eminent man of this Expositi∣on; for thus he relateth, Pag. 21.
Thirdly, We cannot say it is heresie and an errour in fundamentals, to expound this place of an unregenerate person; yet as the grounds and reasons may be, such an exposition may be either heretical, or bordering thereupon. For there are two prin∣ciples, which may be supposed, upon which the Exposition of this Discourse concerning an unregenerate person may be built; for either some will not un∣derstand it of a regenerate person, Because they think it opposeth perfection in this life, whereas they think a man may and ought to be altogether pure and without sinne in this life; or else they do acknowledge the imperfection of out regeneration, and the reliques of original sinne abiding in us, whereby we are not able to answer the purity and holiness of the Law: Only they think this is not a proper place to prove such a truth, but is rather injurious to the grace of God work∣ing in believers. And in the number of these later Arminius doth acknowledge himself: Now if such men be real in what they say, and do not secretly nourish some monster within, till they have a fit time to bring it forth, they are not much to be blamed. For as long as they agree in the true Doctrine, though they differ in the Texts, that do prove it, that is not so material. Certainly Cal∣vin was most unjustly traduced by Hunnius the Lutheran, for Judaizing and de∣nying the Trinity; yet he did not think that Doctrine was to be proved out of every Text, that the Ancients did make use of. But then to deny the exposition of this place concerning a regenerate person, Because they hold perfection in this life, and an immunity from sinne, for which end the Pelagians of old did seem to oppose it; yea and that this perfection was to be obtained by our own free-will, this may justly be looked upon as heretical, Upon which account Castalio is inexcusa∣ble, for he interpreteth it of an unregenerate man, only subject to the Law, meerly to establish perfection; affirming, that the old man is wholly crucified in this life, denying Christs imputed righteousness, and affirming men may be without sinne. (De Justific. pag. 67. & frequenter alibi.) This is certain that the true Exposition of this place doth powerfully overthrow the Doctrine of perfection in this life: For if a Paul doth find this civil warre within himself; if Page 487Paul creep thus upon the ground comparatively to the admirable holiness requi∣red in the Law, who then may not have cause to be humbled for that spiritual agony he feeleth within himself?
Fourthly, Although we affirm this later part of the Chapter is to be under∣stood of a regenerate person, yet we also acknowledge, that a Minister is to manage this truth with much wisdom and dexterity, that so the Doctrine of imper∣fection in regenerate persons, may not be an occasion to •ull men a sleep in their lazinesse, that hereby they do not content themselves with incompleat and sluggish wishes in the wayes of holinesse. If any do abuse this Doctrine to lukewarmness or indulgence in sinfull wayes, saying, their estate is like Paul's the evil they would not do, they do: This is not the fault of the Doctrine, but either of the Minister, who doth not wisely dispense it; or of the hearer, who doth wilfully suck poison out of the sweet herb: Even as the whole Doctrine of the Gospel, and Gods grace, may be abused to licentiousness. It is true, that the proper character of Christianity is, That it is an acknowledgement of the truth, which is after godlinesse, Tit. 1. 1. And certainly there is no point may more quicken up to godliness, s•ur on the most holy to greater growth in piety, then this truth about the imperfection of the graces, that are in the best; and also that we have a treacherous enemy within us (the reliques of original sinne) which without daily watching and praying, will quickly plunge us into confusion, Now the Minister of Christ will so handle this Exposition, though of a regene∣rate person, very profitably and advantagiously to the increase of godliness, if he adde these qualifications to his Interpretation:
1. That the evil which this person is said to do, is not to be understood of grosse and enormieus crimes, but partly of the very motions to sinne within us, and sometimes a consent thereunto, and (it may fall out so, as to be) an acting of them in our lives; but this is not of grosse sinnes, or if of a foul sinne, yet not continued in, but with repentance and greater hatred recovered out of it. Unlesse the Preacher do thus limit his Exposition, he leaveth the battlements without rails, he doth not fence against the pit wherein some may fall. Let no man therefore think that this passage of Pauls is to be extended to grosse sinnes, as if many prophane sinners, who sinne, and their consciences check them, and then they sinne again and have remorse again, could take any comfort from these places, as if they might say with Paul, It is not I, but sinne that dwelleth in me; The evil that I would not, that I grieve for, in the temptation, I do: Oh take heed of abusing the holy Word of God to such corrupt ends! Austin some where speaketh to this occasion, when this part of Paul's Epistle was read, I fear (saith he) left this may be ill understood, but let none think, as if Paul's meaning was, he would be chaste, but he was an adulterer, he would be mercifull, but he was cruel, &c. Thus it would be very dangerous to interpret this passage of grosse sinnes, and yet it cannot be denied, but that men who sinne grosly, yet with some remorse and grief of conscience are apt to cover themselves with these fig-leaves, and think this is sanctuary safe enough to runne unto, that though they do sinne, yet it is not with full consent and delight. Arminius affirmeth (in cap. 7. ad Rom. pag. 753. as he saith, Verè & sanctè)
Secondly and lastly, This Exposition will be advantagiously managed for godliness, 〈…〉 also inform, That Paul doth not here speak of every particular temptation, as if in every conflict he had the worse, and the flesh had the better; but he speaks of good and evil in the general, and that in the whole course of his con∣versation. In the general his heart was set upon the good commanded, and against the evil forbidden, but yet he could never attain to his fulness of desire, though in several combars, the spirit might and did conquer the flesh. And certainly the Arminians, who will hold us to the rigid letter, as if this person never had he better, no not at any time in any sinne, must take heed of that fault they charge upon us (viz.) that they be not injurious to the grace of God, even according to their own Exposition; for they acknowledge those workings of the Law in this person against sinne, are from the Spirit of God: These are the good gift of God, and although they come not from the Spirit, as regenerating, yet as moving and preparing the heart for Regeneration. Now will it not be derogatory to say, that in this conflict the Spirit of God is over∣come in every conflict, that at no time he cannot do the good he would? This is to make the conflict of a man in this legal estate inferiour to Aristotle's incontinent person, who hath only the meer light of natural reason to help him; for he compareth (Lib. 7. Ethic. cap. 9.) intemperance to the disease of a Dropsie or Consumption, because incurable, but incontinency to the falling-sickness, because curable. And then because the former is continual, the later some∣times only. If then in very Heathens, whose conflict is only between a natu∣ral conscience, and their lusts, conscience doth sometimes prevail, their lusts do not alwayes overcome; Shall we think lesse is done by the Spirit of God in Page 489 them, who are in this legal conflict? It is true, if we speak of perfect obedi∣ence to the Law of God: so at all times in all things, the Law of sinne within a godly man doth retard and make him to come short; but then in particular combates, there the flesh doth not alwayes prevail; only the Apostle instanceth in the tyranny of sinne, and not the dominion of grace, because hereby he would inform the Jews how much they were to sigh and groan under this bur∣den, and thereupon to have higher thoughts of Christ. For seeing there were two things that did keep them off from Christ, The ignorance of the power of original sinne, and a desire to find out a righteousness by the works of the Law: The Apostle doth take an excellent way to cure them of these two evils, by shew∣ing what deep root original sinne hath in the most holy, and how opposite and fighting it is against the grace of God within us, insomuch that we cannot have our full comfort but in Christ alone.
Reasons for this Exposition.
THat there is no godly man living free from this spiritual combate, because of the flesh which still abideth in him, hath been proved by Reasons and Scripture. To this Text we have joyned Paul's Discourse, Rom. 7. which you heard was to be understood of no other then a regenerate person. But because such an Exposition, as also the Doctrine of the imperfection of Regeneration may be abused; You heard with what limitations that Chapter was to be inter∣preted, though of a godly man.
It is remarkable what Austin saith in defence of himself, expounding this place of a regenerate person, whereas he had interpreted it otherwise former∣ly, Non ego primus aut solus, &c. (Lib. 6. contra Julianum. lib. 11.) He was not the first, or only man that did interpret it so. Yea he confesseth he under∣stood it of unregenerated persons once himself; and his greatest reason was, because he thought Paul could not say of himself, That he was carnal and sold under sinne; but afterwards (saith he) Melioribus & intelligentioribus cessi, vel potius ipsi veritati, &c. The example of this excellent man might much con∣vince, but that prejudice doth blind mens eyes.
Let us see what Reasons are cogent for this Exposition.
First, This is very considerable, That the Apostle in the former verses speaking of himself, useth the Preterperfect tense, speakth of that which was past: onely at the fourteenth verse, there he changeth the tense, and speaketh of the present time; which may perswade us, that he speaketh of himself, what he was once, before regenerated, and what he hath experience of in himself, though sanctified. This changing of the time, argueth a change also in the person; for so his Discourse run∣neth from the seventh verse to the fourteenth, I had not known lust, and sinne wrought in me all manner of concupiscence, I was alive without the Law once, and sinne deceived me, &c. All these expressions are concerning what was done in him. Then at the fourteenth verse, with the rest following, he speaketh of the present time, I am carnal, I do that which I allow not, &c. This altering of the time may incline us to think, that it is very probable the Apostle doth compare his former estate of unregeneracy with the present of sanctification that he is now in. It is true indeed, we grant that the Apostle doth sometimes assume the person of another man; he supposeth such a thing in himself, which yet we must not conclude to be in him, as Rom. 3. 7. For if the truth of God hath abounded more through my life unto his glory, why yet am I judged as a sinner?Page 490 Here it is certain, he personateth a wicked object or and caviller. So 1 Cor. 13. 2. If I have all faith, and not charity, &c. As also Gal. 2. 18. If what I have destroyed, I build the same again, I make my self a transgressor. But who doth not see a vast difference between these expressions and Paul's Discourse in this Chapter? For they are spoken hypothetically by way of supposition. And therefore every one may perceive that the Apostle doth not intend an absolute speech of him∣self. Had the Apostle used such conditional expressions here, then there had been some colour, If I do the evil I would not, if I do not the good I would, if I delight in the Law, if the Law of God, &c. then we might have doubted whether he spake of himself or no. Or had the Apostle as absolutely and peremptorily spo∣ken in those places, as he doth here, we should have wondred at it. Should he after a large Discourse to that purpose have concluded, So then I my self distroy what I have built, it would have greatly amazed us? As for that place insisted upon by so many, 1 Cor. 4. 6. These things I have in a figure transferred to my self and Apollo, &c. and from thence gathering, That it is ordinary with Paul by a figure to assume another habit (as it were) then his own. Suppose it be grant∣ed, Doth it therefore follow he doth here in this place? What, doth the Apo∣stle never speak in his own person? If we will not take this as spoken of him∣self, Why do the Dissentients take the second verse in the next Chapter, as to be understood of his own person? The Law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath freed me from the Law of sinne and death. Besides this very place maketh against them: for when the Apostle doth thus assume a person, he plainly dis∣covereth he doth so; you see he doth expresly say, that what he did, he did by a figure, but here is not the least hint given of any such thing, there is not a syllable by which we may gather any such transfiguration: So that it is a won∣der that the Apostle should continue in such a long discourse, and that with so much vehemency, and yet give no discovery that he doth not mean it of him∣self, especially when the Adversaries to this Exposition say, That to understand it of Paul, is so contumelious to the Spirit of God, and so destructive to all godliness. Certainly if so, the Apostle would have manifested something to remove this stumbling block. Although I may adde that even that very Text, I have in a figure transferred to my self and Apollo, &c. doth not necessarily allude, to that mention made of th••, 1 Cor. 2. 12. where speaking of their factions, some said they were of Paul, others of Apollo; as if the Apostle did by figure, use their names, intending thereby the false Apostles; for (say they) The Corinthians made their divisions by occasion of the false Apostles glorying in them, and exalting them against those that were faithfull. But if so, what argument could there be in Paul's words? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? If he did mean false Apostles, and not him∣self, why should he thank God that he had baptized so few? Therefore Pareus acknowledgeth, that the common Interpretation of that Text, as if Paul by a figure use his name and Apollo for the false Apostles, is no wayes agreeable with the scope of the place: For how could that be an example to teach them humility, as he there enlargeth himself. Heinsius also doth not like the translation of the Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for such a transmutation of names and persons, but maketh it the same with 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but enough of this.
2. A second Argument is, In that this person is said to hate evil, not to will what is evil, not to know or approve of it, and then he is said to will that which is good. Now this is the Description of godliness, to love good, and to hate evil. It is true, that in convinced men, who yet retain their lusts, as also in legal men, they would not do the evil that they do, but yet they cannot be said to hate it: No they love their lusts; therefore when any fear doth abate, they presently fall unto those sinnes again, but this man doth hate sinne; So that Page 491 in this property two things discover a regenerate person, 1. That not only his conscience and his judgement is against sinne, but his will, his heart and affecti∣ons also, whereas in all unregenerate men, their judgements, and their conscien∣ces being enlightned and terrified, maketh them afraid to commit sinne; but their will, then affections 〈◊〉 not against it. And then secondly, The Apostle speaketh generally of evil and good, he doth not say, I do this evil, I would not, or I do not this good that I would, but evil and good indefinitely, and this is only proper to the regenerate, he only hateth all evil, be only loveth all good, whereas the unregenerate person doth hate only some evil, and it is some good only that he would do, though if a man truly hate any sinne, he hateth all sin, because odium is circa genus.
Thirdly, This person must be a regenerate person, because there are two distinct principles in him, Sinne and He are made two different things, vers. 17. It is no more I that do it, but sinne that dwelleth in me: And ver. 18. I know that in me (that is my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; Here then are (as it were) two distinct persons; this person hath two selfs, which doth necessarily demonstrate that this is a sanctified person. For can a man under legal convictions say, It is not I, but sinne within me? Can he that hath only errors upon his soul say, It is not I, but sinne within me? How absurd and false were that, for their hearts are set upon evil, only the terrours of the Law restrain them? Now a man is, what his heart is, not what his conviction is. It is true, the Libertines did abuse this Doctrine, and would thereby acquit themselves, it was not they, but the flesh: Yea some blasphemously would attribute it to God himself; but till a man be regenerated, he hath but one self, and that is the flesh. But (saith
Fourthly, The person here spoken of must needs be a regenerate person, Because it is said, He delighteth in the Law of God after the inward man, ver. 22. This is one of the places that compelled Austin to change his former opinion. Certainly to delight in the Law of God, is an inseparable property of a regene∣rate person: David expresseth his holy and heavenly heart thereby; yea the Greek word is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I delight with. Arminius doth well observe the em∣phasis of the word, for he maketh the Preposition 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 not redundant, but signi∣ficant. Page 492 So that the meaning is, he delighteth in the Law of God, that is, he delighteth in Gods Law, and Gods Law delighteth in him; there is a mutual sympathy and delight (as it were) which maketh the reason the stronger for a regenerate person. For can any but he delight in Gods Law, and Gods Law (as it were) delight in him again? It is true, it is 〈◊〉in the inward man, but that is not a diminution, but a specification of the cause, whereby he doth de∣light in Gods Law. I will not say that the inward man doth alwayes signifie the regenerate man, and so is the same with a new-creature. For although some understand that place so, 2 Cor. 4. 16. The outward man perisheth, but the in∣ward man is renewed daily; yet happily the context may enforce it another way, yet here it must be understood of the mind as regenerated, because it is opposite to the flesh, and so signifieth the same with the hidden man of the heart, in which sense a Jew is called one inwardly, because of the work of grace upon his soul.
Fifthly, The sad complaint he maketh concerning his thraldom, doth evidently shew, that it is a regenerate person: O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! If we take body for the material body, which is mortal, and so sinfull; or else for that body of sinne, which abideth in the godly, it cometh much to one point. It argueth that the person here spoken of, feeling this weight, this burden upon him, is in sad agonies of soul, judgeth himself miserable and wretched in this respect, and thereupon doth earnestly groan for a total redemption; he longs to be in heaven, where no longer will evil be present with him, where he shall do all the good, and as perfectly as he would. It is true, a godly man cannot absolutely be called a wretched and mi∣serable man, but respectively quoad hoc, and comparatively to that perfect holi∣ness we shall have hereafter. So we may justly account our selves miserable, not so much from external evils, as from the motions and stirrings of sinne within us, that do press us down, and thereby make our lives more discon∣solate. Hence it is that Austin calleth this Gemitum saactorum, &c. the sighs and groans of holy persons fighting against concupiscence within them.
Sixthly, The affectionate rejoycing and assured confidence that he hath, about the full deliverance of him from this bondage expressed in those words, I thank God through Jesus Christ, doth greatly establish this exposition also of a regenerate ate per∣son. It is true, there is variety about reading of this passage; however this plainly cometh from an heart affected with assurance of Gods grace to give him a full redemption, though for the present he lie in sad conflicts and agonies. This is so palpable a conviction, that some of the Dissentients will make Paul here to speak in his own person, as if he did give God thanks for that freedome which the person spoken before had not obtained. Neither is it any wonder to see such a sudden change in Paul from groaning under misery, presently to break forth into thanks and praises of God: For we may often observe such ebbings and flowings in David's Psalms, that we would hardly think the same Psalm made by the same man, at the same time; one verse speaking dejection and disconso∣lateness, the next it may be strong confidence, and rejoycing in God.
Lastly, The conclusion which Paul maketh from this excellent experimental Discourse, is fully to our purpose, So then I my self serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. To serve God, and to serve the Law of God is all one, and this none but a godly man doth. Yea to serve him with the mind and the spirit is a choice expression of our grace. But because this is not perfect and compleat, he addeth, He serveth also the flesh, and the law of sin. It is true, None can serve God and mammon, Christ and sin, but yet where there is not a perfect freedom from thraldom to sin, there, though in the principal and chief manner we are carried out to serve God, yet the flesh retardeth, and so snatcheth to it some service: you heard contraries might be together, while they are in fight. Neither is our redem∣ption from sin full and total. It is to be done successively and by degrees, that so Page 493 we may be the more humbled and grace exalted. Besides that expression 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is emphatical; this is used when Paul expresseth himself in some remarkable manner, I the same, and no other man, as it is used in other places, 2 Cor. 10. 1. Now I Paul my self beseech you, &c. 2 Cor. 12. 13. except it was, because I my self was not burdensom to you. Rom. 9. 3. I could wish that myself were accursed, &c. which is enough to convince such as are not refractory.
I Shall now consider what is objected against this Interpretation, and shall not attend to the general objections, such as that, That who are Christs and rege∣nerated have higher things attributed to them; They have crucified the flesh, they have mortifiedeth old man, &c. As also this seemeth to be injurious to Gods grace, it will encourage men in slothfulness and negligence, &c. for these shall be answered in the general. I shall therefore only pitch upon two objections, which the Adversaries insist upon.
The first is, That this person here spoken of, is said to be once without the Law, which (say they) is the description of a Gentile in Paul's language; therefore he assu∣meth some other person then his own; for Paul alwayes lived under the Law. Austin indeed expounds it thus, I did live once without the Law. that is, saith he, when he was a child, before he had the use of reason. This is too harsh. Therefore it is better answered, The person here spoken of, is not said to be without the Law, which is indeed the description of a Gentile, but that he was alive without the Law once, that is, he, as all the Pharisees understood the Law of God, as forbidding only external sins, and Paul living unblameably as to that respect, thought to have life and righteousness by the Law, but when the commandment came in power to him, and he was convinced that it did prohibit not only outward sins, but inward lustings of heart, then he began to find himself a greater sinner than he was aware of; then he found the Law to be death to him, so that he lived with∣out the Law, because he was not affected with the full and exact obligation therof.
The second thing much insisted upon is, That the person here spoken of, is said to be carnal and sold under sinne, which (they say) is made by the Scripture a certain property of a wickedman. Thus it is said of Ahab, Thou hast sold thy self to do wickedly, 1 Kin. 21. 10. yea of all the children of Israel, 2 Kin. 17. 13. They caused their children to pass through the fire, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord. But first, Calvin doth grant, that this is spoken of Paul, while unrege∣nerate, and therefore beginneth his Exposition at the 15th verse of a sanctified person: yet that cannot well be, because there the Apostle beginneth to alter the tense; There he saith, I am carnal, I am sold under sinne, whereas before he had used the past time. We grant it therefore, that Paul saith this of himself, though regenerated, that he was sold under sin. But then we say, The expressions above named, and this is not a like; here it is in a passive sense, there in an active sense; of those wicked men it is said, They sold themselves, which denoteth their wilfulnes and obstinacy; of this, he was sold, which implieth it to be done against his will, as captives are; there it is absolutely, here it is limited to the flesh: And if this phrase did denote a wicked man in an high degree, then how can they apply it to a man under legal convictions, and in a preparatory way to conversion? It would be ve∣ry hard to say of such men, that they sold themselves to do evil. Besides, there is a two-fold bondage and captivity under sin, even as the Israelites had a two-fold one they were born in, that of Egypt, and another they voluntarily by their sin sell into, which was that of Babylon. Thus there is a bondage unto sin, we are all Page 494 born in; for in Adam we were all sold to sinne, and so needed a Christ, Reder∣mer. And secondly there is a bondage unto sinne, by our own voluntary transgressions; It is true a regenerate person cannot be sold under sinne in this later sence, but he is in the former, and so it is no more injurious unto the grace of God, as Austin noteth, then that he is yet mortal and corruptible. Thus you have this great and necessary truth established: Paul speaketh here of a regenerate person, and that not only of him, as he is in the lowest estate, and initials of grace, as Musculus thinketh; but of every godly person while in this life, even the most perfect that is, though this conflict be more applica∣ble to some then others; yea if we do regard the exact purity of the law, the most holy do most humble themselves under it.
The several Wayes whereby Original Sinne doth hinder the godly in their Religious Progress, whereby they are sinful and imperfect.
THe next Proposition in order is, That this flesh, this original sinne in a man doth several wayes hinder the godly in their religious progress, whereby they are sinful and imperfect, whereby every one is forced to cry out, as he; O me nunquam sapientem! so, O me nunquam pium! Oh me never godly, never believing, never answering the holy Law of God! This treacherous enemy within us is so multi∣forme, putteth it self Chamelion-like into so many shapes, that the most holy men have cause to be alwayes on their guard, to keep continual watch, lest sometime or other this Daliah betray them into the hands of the Philistines. How were it possible that some eminent servants of God, as David and Peter, have fallen so grievously, and committed such sinnes which some Heathens by the light of nature would have abhorred? but that there is this fuel and spawn of sinne abiding in every regenerate person. It may well be affirmed, that the reliquiae peccati originalis; the reliques of original sinne are in the most holy: for as when an house hath been for the greatest part consumed, but at last the fire is quenched, yet there remains some little sparks and embers, which cause a constant watch, lest they kindle and consume whatsoever is left yet unde∣stroyed: Such care and fear ought the godly to have, lest the remaining cor∣ruption break out suddainly, and so destroy them.
I shall instance in some particulars whereby original sinne doth thus hinder and retard the work of grace in us. As
First, This flesh within the godly maketh us imperfect in this life by its strong op∣position; and contrary thwarting it hath to the grace of God within us. These two saith the Text are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they are two adversaries daily combating with one another; Insomuch that what the Spirit saith, do, the flesh saith do it not. Thus original corruption is like Solomons brawling woman, whose contentions are a continual dropping, Prov. 19. 13. What rest can such a man have? no more then he that lyeth in his bed, and hath constant droppings of rain upon him: Such a disturber, and farre more troublesome inmate is original sinne to a believer, grace hath no rest, no quietnes, but the flesh is alwayes raising up oppo¦sitions against it, alwayes crossing it, what the Spirit would not, that the flesh would. Therefore Rom. 7. 23. the Apostle expresseth the violent actings thereof by military termes, it warreth, and it bringeth into captivity; In this sence we may say, the flesh is Satan, for that is an adversary in our way, that riseth up and stoppeth us in our spiritual progress: It is true, the natural and carnal man findeth no such opposition; he never cryeth out, Oh how hard a Page 495 thing is it to be heavenly minded, to be godly indeed, to live a life of faith? how difficult to live and die upon Scripture and spiritual grounds? for all is flesh within, dead men feel no pain, they find no opposition; Mortuus non belligerat, is the Proverb, but the godly are in continual exercises, no sooner doth grace begin to work, but the flesh presently beginneth to counter∣work.
Secondly, The flesh doth retard and hinder the work of grace by subtil al∣lurements and enticements: Thus as the Devil sometimes appeareth as a roaring Lion, and sometimes again as a glistering Serpent, and in this latter way is most dangerous; so it is with this flesh within us; sometimes it grosly, and violently opposeth the grace of God, at other times it craftily insinuateth, It rea∣dily interposeth, it propounds many sweet baits; thus what it cannot do as a Lion, it accomplisheth as a Fox, so that what counsell is given, Mis. 75. Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lyeth in thy bosome, implying there would be treachery in the nearest relations: This is much more to be observed against original sinne that lyeth in thy own bosome, yea it is thy own self; and therefore how easily may it perswade thee, yea no temptations without could do thee any hurt, did not this flesh within betray all: Thus it craftily insinua∣teth, and surprizeth the strongesth holds of the soul, before we are aware: so you heard from that of James 1. 17. Every man is tempted and drawen aside with his own lust. Sweet poison doth more easily destroy, white powder that giveth no noise more certainly kills; and this is the Reason, why the godly may be carried away to sinne of profit, and pleasure, and not judge them to be so, their hearts may not condemne them, and all because the flesh can so bewitch us; it doth cast such mists before our eyes, that we are not able to dis∣cern between things that differ.
Thirdly, The flesh within us doth keep off grace from its perfect work, by depressing it and weighing it down; that when grace would lift up the soul to heaven, that is like a milstone about our neck, and pulleth us back again, it is lime to the birds wings, it is the string to her feet: This made Paul cry out of it as a weight lying upon him, Rom. 7. O wretched man that I am who shall de∣liver me from the body of this death? yea Heb. 12. 1. it is called a weight; now as that must needs be an impediment to any who run in a race, no less burden∣some is original sinne to a godly man in his way to heaven.
Fourthly, It hinders the perfection of grace, cooling and remitting the fervour and zeal thereof; and herein chiefly the mischievous effect of original sinne is discovered, it maketh the soul halt in his progress, it allayeth the heat of grace, it is like smoak to put out the fire. The adversaries to this Truth say, it is not intelligible how the Spirit can make us will one thing, and the flesh another, seeing a man hath but one will, and he cannot velle & nolle, will and nill at the same time about the same object; But they may know that by such expressions are chiefly meant, That the hearrt of a man through this flesh within him, is very faint and remiss in all its actions about that which is good; when he doth will it, it's so inefficaciously, so slluggishly, so imperfectly, that it may be called a nilling as well as a willing; and this is the sad issue of original sinne, it maketh us go hal∣ting to the grave, it abateth that activity and zeal of spirit, which ought to be in holy things.
Fifthly, The flesh hindereth absolute compleatness of grace, by soiling, de∣basing, and infecting our holy duties; It is as some mud cast into a pure stream, it is as some poison mingled with wine; and for this it is, that the most holy have prayed, God would not enter into judgement with them, because in his sight no flesh could be justified, Psal. 143. 2. For this, the Scripture compareth even our righteous actions to a menstruous cloath, Isa. 30. 22. This is the frog that is drawen up with the pure water out of the well; though our godly duties Page 496 are not sinnes, yet they are sinful, they are damnable in themselves, and there∣fore need the mercy of God to forgive the imperfections adhering to them.
Lastly, The flesh is an hindrance in the way of grace, by dividing and di∣stracting of the heart. In the stare of integrity when there was no such intestine warre, then the whole strength of the soul emptied it self one way; but now though grace hath for the main setled our hearts upon God, yet the flesh inter∣poseth, that propoundeth other objects, and thus because the pool runneth into divers streams, it is not so full and plentifull, so that it is impossible there should be any perfection, where there is any distraction or division; and there∣fore we may justly expostulate with all those, who plead they are without sin, Whether they never have so much, as one wandring thought in any holy duty they go about. If they should say they have not, it is our duty to flee from such per∣sons as are puffed up with such self-love, and self-confidence, that they know not, or feel not what they are, or do: Such are like those distracted persons, that conceit themselves Kings and Emperours, when at the same time they are miserable and indigent. Now by these several actings of the flesh within us, the godly man may perceive what little cause he hath to trust in himself: thou canst not be secure, while in this mortal body; the wound original sinne hath given thee is not wholly cured; sometime or other this close secret enemy may rob thee of thy Pearls and Jewels, if thou art not diligent in praying and watch∣ing over thy self.
In the next place, I shall proceed to a second Proposition, and therein shall answer such general Objections that may plausibly be urged against the actings of original sinne within us, and thereby against the imperfection of regenera∣tion: for some have thought it no dangerous errour to plead for a perfection even in this life: Therefore Arminius his heires (Epistola dedecati. ad cap. 7. ad Rom.) say that the unseasonable and excessive urging of the constant imperfe∣ction of regenerate persons, and the impossibility of keeping the Law in this life, without adding what the godly might do by faith and the Spirit of Christ, such a thought as this might easily enter into the hearts of the hearers, that they can do no good at all; and they adde, the ancient Church thought not the question about the impossibility of the law, to be reckoned among capital ones, which is apparent (say they) from Austin, which wisheth the Pelagians would acknowledge it might be performed by the grace of Christ, and then there would be peace between them. But certainly Austin may best explain himself, (De perfectione justitiae ad Caelestiam, ad finem) where he saith, he knoweth some who hold there either have been, or are some, that were with∣out sinne: Quorum sententiam de bâc re non audeo reprehendere, quanquam nec defendere valeam; as he dared not reprove it, so he could not defend it. This is his modest expression, but if Austin could not defend it, I do not know who in that age could, seeing Austin by the gloss in the Canon law, hath justly the preheminence above all the Ancients for Disputations, as Hierom for the Tongues, and Gregory for Morals; and certainly the places brought to prove this point, do argue that no man is without sinne, that none can be justified, if God enter into judgement: It was also Pelagins boast in that Epistle ad De∣metriadem, (for it's taken to be his) That in the first place he doth enquire what men are able to do, how farre their own power extendeth as if this foundation were not laid, there could be no exhortation to godliness. Hence the Pelagians charged it as a consequence upon the Doctrine of original sinne, that it would work in men a despair about perfect righteousness, (lib secundo coutra Julianum in initio) But of late Writers setting aside Papists, Castellio, (for we must not call him Castalio, seeing he bewaileth his pride, (Castel. De∣fens. page. 356.) for assuming that name to him from the fountain of Muses) Page 497 doth with the greatest earnestness propugn the perfection of regenerate per∣sons and immunity from sinne, understanding that prayer for pardoning of sinne, like as that duty to forgive our enemies, viz. when we have them: This Writer calleth that question, Whether a man may by the Spirit of God perfectly obey the law, a very profitable question, but addeth that the errour on the right hand, viz. that we are able perfectly to fullfill it, is farre less dan∣gerous then the contrary; for God will never find fault with that man, who doth endeavour for a perfect obedience, and that by the help of God, (De obe∣dientiâ Deo praestandâ pag. 227, 228.) but his arguments are as weak as his af∣fections are strong in this point.
Objections against the Reliques of sinne in a regenerate man answered.
LEt us examine what is usually objected against this truth. And
Page 498 Secondly, When we say no man is able to fullfill the Law of God in this life, because the flesh doth still abide in us; We mean not as if this were so, because God could not subdue it, or sinne and the Devil were more potent then Christ, but he hath in his Word declared, that he will not give such a measure of grace in this life, by the righteousness whereof we should be justified. So that Ca∣stellio's exclamations in this case are ridiculous; here is no injury done to the Spirit of God; we do not make Christ a semi-Saviour; for we readily grant, That the Spirit of God could make us absolutely free from sinne in the twink∣ling of an eye. In the hour of death we are immediately purged from all evil. So that it's plain, the Spirit of God could make us thus compleat, but he will not; neither doth this tend to his dishonour, no more than that we die, that we are ••ck, and carry about with us corruptible bodies. For did not Christ die that we might have glorious bodies, that we might be redeemed from this corruption? Yet this is not done immediately. Seeing then Christ hath assured us, that both soul and body shall be made perfectly holy and happy in time, though it be not done as soon as we would have it; we are not to cavil herein, but satisfie our selves with the wisdom of God, who doth every thing beautifull in his season, It is true, Christ when he cured bodily diseases, he did perfectly cure them; but doth it therefore follow, that he must do so in soul-diseases, as Castellio urgeth? No certainly, but rather as Christ, though he healed some perfectly of their diseases, yet he did not take away their mortality from them: So though by the grace of God, we have strength to overcome gross sinnes, yet we are not made impeccable, as the glorified Saints in Heaven are, but there remaineth the fuell of sinne still within us; not but that God could remove it, as he could have inabled the Israelites to have conquered all the Canaanites, but because he will not; God could have made all the world at once, but he proceeded by degrees; and thus he doth in our sanctification. So that herein we are daily taught to be humble in our selves, and to depend alone upon the grace of God. It is true, if all sinne were removed, and we confirmed in a state of grace, then there would be no danger of pride, as there is not in those who are made glo∣rious in Heaven: But were were we made perfect and delivered from all sinne, yet abiding still in a mutable condition, we should quickly be drunken with the thoughts of our own excellencies; so that perfection, while we are in the way, would not be so advantagious unto us, unless to perfection God should also add confirmation, and this would be to confound Heaven and earth together. And thus much for the first Objection.
I Shall onely name a second Objection made in the general against the reliques of original corruption in a man, though regenerated, and thereby the im∣perfection of our renovation, because this doth more properly belong to ano∣ther head in Divinity, which is much disputed, viz. De Perfectione Justitia, Of the Perfection of righteousness in this life.
The Objection which is plausibly and speciously urged against this truth is, That this Doctrine is an enemy to a holy life, it is pernicious to godlinesse, that it is a pleading for sinne, and an encouragement to men to content themselves in their formal and sluggish way, because they cannot be perfect.
What a boasting Goliah is here, or a railing Rabshaheb, as if the holding of this corruption adhering to a man, though godly, did proclaim war against all godli∣ness, and did overthrow the City of God. Cassalio also maketh such preaching as this, to be to sow thistles that we may reap figs,
To the Objection we answer, There is no injury to godlinesse offered by this truth.
First, Because we say it is every mans sinne that he is not perfect, therefore we ought to humble our selves under all our failings. As it was the Israelites disobe∣dience, that they were not active to destroy every Canaanite; whatsoever cometh short of the exact Rule of the Law is sinfull, and thereby damnable: Hence God is angry, not only with gross sinnes, but the imperfect graces of his people, Revel. 3. 2. I have not found thy works perfect〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉before God. I here was much emptiness, much vacuity, the Church wanted solidity and fulness in her duties: For this it is that the godly are subject to many af∣flictions and temptations, they are under divers chastisements, because all the drosse of corruption is not yet purged from them. So that the godly man is so farre from delighting and contenting himself in these imperfections that he mourneth and groaneth under them.
Secondly, Here is no impediment to godliness, because we press it as a duty upon the godly, to be pressing forward every day, to be perfecting holinesse con∣stantly, and that they are to take heed of self-fulness, or to rest contented in low principles. Hence the Apostle, Heb. 5. 11, 12, 13. and Chap. 6. 1. speak∣eth very terrible to such as remain in their rudiments (as it were) and are not carried out to perfection. The Corinthians also, 2 Cor. 7. 1. are commanded to perfect holinesse in the fear of God. It is therefore our duty to endeavour after perfection, as Paul professeth he did, Phil. 3. though he had not attained unto it; but yet when all is done, Our perfection will be to bewail our imperfection; we shall find absolute purity is Res voti magis quam eveniûs, as Ambrose of old. Hence the most godly have failed in the exercise of those graces, which they have been most eminent in; Abraham is called the father of the faithfull, whose steps we are to follow; yet through fear in his lying or equivocating, he manife∣sted unbelief. Sarah is noted for obedience to her husband, and propounded as a patern to all wives; yet in what a sinfull and sad passion did she break out against Abraham, when he was innocent, and she was in all the fault that was about Hagar? The Lord (saith she) judge between me and thee, Gen. 16. 5. Thus David for his sincerity, called a man after Gods own heart; but how false and hyporitical in the matter of Ʋriah? Here then is no encouragement to stand still; we are not come to our races end, we are to grow every day, there is more to be done, then yet we have performed; and this Page 500 striving after further holiness will be while we are in this life.
The Objection return'd upon the Perfectionists.
THirdly, Those that plead for perfection, they hinder the progress of godliness; they perswade men with foolish and ablurd conceits, that they •ay attain to perfection; for when men do believe, they are perfect; What ••ed they labour more, if they be at the races end? What need they runne still? Nothing doth more destroy the life and power of godliness, than such arrogant and proud conceits: So that as Seneca said, Many had been learned men, if they had not been conceited of their learning; so many might profitably proceed in the mortifying of sinne, if they were not perswaded, it was mortified already. Thus these Perfectionists preach men into arrogant perswasions of their own righteousness, and thereby hinder them from a true progress in holiness. Be∣sides such Doctrine is in an high degree injurious to the grace of the Gospel, to our Evangelical Justification; if we be whole, we do not need the Physician. Though God vouchsafe inherent grace to us, so farre as to be delivered from the dominion of sin, and also to be subduing of it daily, yet the grace of God exal∣ted in this life is by imputation. The grace without us, not the grace within us is that which doth justifie. This is the grace so frequently spoken of in the New Testa∣ment, and to which all the godly make their recourse under the guilt of sinne, and the accusations of the Law; whereas the Doctrine of Perfection wholly evacuateth this admirable and precious way of Gospel-grace. But enough of this.
The several Conflicts that may be in a man.
I Come to another Proposition, which is, That we may conceive of three con∣flicts and contrary lustings that may be in a man; not at all naming that which is for the most part in every sinner, that he would have the profit of a sinne, the pleasure of a sinne, but not the bitterness of it. Such a conflict is in most sinners, they would have the advantage by sinne, but not the damage by it. Thus Arianus (Epictetus lib. 2. cap. 26.) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Every sinne hath division in it self, and so goeth on saying, That every rational soul is obnoxi us to this fight. The thief would not steal, as it is a sinne, but as it is profitable. Hence it is, that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that what he would that he doth not, and what he would not do, that he doth, which are almost the same words with the Apostle. But this I do not insist on.
The first combate is, That which may be in Heathens, between their conscience and their appetite. The light of nature inclining one way, and their lust another way, which is notably taken notice of by Aristotle; a man in such a conflict is called by him an incontinent person, as distinct from an intemperate, who having the habit of sinne, is carried out to the actings thereof without any remorse or regretings of conscience or reason. To clear this, he speaketh of a two-fold Page 501 part of the soul, the rational, and that which hath not reason, or which doth re∣pugn reason. The rational part (saith he, Lib. 1. Ethic. cap. 13.) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, doth provoke and incite to what is good; but the rebellious part gain-sayeth. Even as in the paralytical parts of the body, when a man would move such to the right side, they fall to the left side. Now this Discourse of Aristotles we acknowledge, as having some truth, for even Heathens have by nature their consciences accusing or excusing of them, Rom. 2. 15. But Papists and others do horribly perve•t this, when they bring it into Divinity, and so put a new piece of garment into the old, thereby making a rent, because there is no agreement with them; otherwise we grant such a combate: yea it is in too many men, whose convictions are strong, but their lusts stronger; and no doubt this is in a regenerate person so farre, as nature still abideth in him; but such mens dislike and renitency of conscience doth not excuse them, though they be not such great sinners, as those that sinne without any remorse, yet their condition is damnable. Though such have many good sentences, and you shall hear many good speeches come from them, yet they are still under the bondage of sinne; for though they have a knowledge condemning their sinne, yet it is but universal; when they come to the particular, then they are carried away, or their knowledge is but habitually in them, not actually; as with drunken men, or men in a sleep; so that the good sayings they utter, they have no practical application of them, and therefore compared by Aristotle (Lib. 7.) to a City, which was derided by this saying, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, The City consulteth and adviseth, that yet regardeth not Laws, or like such who did utter Empedocles his grave sentences. A sad thing it is: And oh how often is it for some men to speak excellent religious truths in discourse, of which they have no practical power? Solomon hath two excellent expressi∣ons to this purpose, Prov. 26. 7. The legs of the lame are not equal, so is a pa∣rable in the mouth of fools. As the legs of a lame man being not equal, make the going uncomely; so it is when a man hath good speeches, but evil actions. Again vers. 9. As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools; As a drunkard feeleth not the sharpness of a thorn running into his hand; so neither doth such an incontinent person, the power and effi∣cacy of the most excellent and savoury truths which he speaketh: yet all the while such convictions of light are upon man, there is the more hope, and he may be the more easily cured, insomuch that he is not as evil, as a man habituated and sensless in his sinne. Hence Aristotle saith, That though an incontinent person doth the same things with an intemperate, yet he is not an intemperate person, as was said of the Milesians, They are not fools, but they do the things that fools do, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Lib. 7. Ethic. cap. 9.
Another Combate in those within the Church, which yet may not be godly.
IN the second place, There is a second Conflict that is in those who are in the Church of God, and are in a preparatory way to conversion: These besides the natural light of conscience, have the supernatural light of the Word, which doth powerfully awaken them, enlighten and humble them; so that they feel a trouble∣some warre within themselves, yet for the present obtain not that grace which setteth Page 502 them at full freedom. Many men before their conversion have been in this soul-fight a long time. Prudentius the Christian Poet hath his Psycomachia, wherein some sins and virtue, as chastity and uncleanness, covetousness and liberality are brought in combating with one another. And thus many times some godly persons in their unregenerate time have been entangled in some special lust or other. There are many assaults and skirmishes ere the work of grace doth take full possession. Austin doth excellently declare this in his own experience (lib. 8. Confess.) Velle meum tenebat inimicus meus, &c. My enemy did take hold of my will, and made a chain thereof, whereby he was fast bound; and hereupon he did sigh and groan to be delivered, being ligatus non ferro alieno, but ferreâ meâ voluntate, bound with his iron will. In these aestuations of spi∣rit he lay wearying himself, till at last the grace of God came in with full power upon him, making a through change, cutting off the fetters that were upon his soul.
Of the Combate in the godly between the Flesh and the Spirit, and how it may be discerned from the former.
IN the third place, There is the Combate in regenerate persons between the work of grace, and the flesh in them. The former was only between the natural conscience and lust; The second between the Spirit of God, but moving and working only in a man, and his corruption; The last between the Spirit of God inhabiting and dwelling in a man, and the flesh in him. So that if a Christian ask, How shall I know whether the combate I feel be between the Spirit and the flesh, or conscience, and my lust? Though practical Divines give many differences, yet briefly in these three particulars, one conflict may be discovered from the other.
1. From the principle and root. In the godly this ariseth from a total renova∣tion, or the Image of God placed in a man: In the other it is only from partial illumination or natural light.
2. In the motive. This combate in the godly is upon holy grounds, out of hatred to sinne, out of love to that which is holy. In the other it is out of ter∣rour and slavish fear, it is because they would not be damned, it is because of horrour upon them, not any delight in God.
3. In the manner. In the other the fight is between two parts of the soul, only the mind against the appetite; or if there be any work upon the heart, it is but transitory and vanishing; whereas in the godly man this combate is univer∣sal, he hath will against will, love against love, as well as his mind against these. Thus Austin (ibidem.) speaketh of the two wils he had, his carnal will, and his spiritual will; his meaning is, that because his will was not so full and effica∣cious as it should, therefore he had two wils, as it were, Non igitur monstrum, &c. saith he: It is not therefore a monster partly to will, and partly to will; but the sickness of the mind that cannot rise up fully to what is good; and therefore there are two wils, because one is not wholly and fully carried out to that which is good. This expression of Austin fully answereth that Objection, when they demand, How can the will, will and nill at the same time? It is a con∣tradiction to say so. But Austin answereth, It's therefore called two wils, or therefore it is said to will and nill, because it doth will sickly and faintly, It's Page 503 not so throughly and totally carried out to God as it ought to be; and this halt∣ing like that of Jacobs thigh will go with us to the grave. Thus we are as weak men that are partly well, and partly sick, as the twy-light, when it is partly light, and partly darkness, or as wine mingled with water; not that in such a mixture we are able to say, this part is water, and the other part is meer wine: So we must not think that in a regenerate man, one part is meerly spiri∣tual, the other meerly carnal, but the corruption in a man doth adhere to every part that is sanctified; and therefore as the principle is mixed, so are the actions which flow from it. But it is time to hasten to the last Proposition, which is,
Of the Regenerates Freedome from the Dominion of sinne; And whether it be by the Suppression of it, or by the Abolishing part of it.
THat though original sinne be in a regenerate person, yet it is not in its domini∣on there, it is in part abolished. For there are these things to be consider∣ed in this inbred defilement; there is,
1. The Guilt.
2. The Dominion, and both these are removed in a regenerate person.
3. There is the sense or presence of it, and that is not taken away but by death.
4. Some adde the Root of it, and that (they say) is not destroyed till the body be consumed to ashes. For although it be true, that death put∣teth an end to all sinne, yet that must be understood of an ultimate and final death; otherwise if it be a dispensatory death, as it was to Lazarus and some others; as that did not put a period to their bodily miseries, when they lived again, so neither did it to sinfulness in their souls. But even Lazarus and such like persons raised upon a special economy were regenerated but in part; and this conflict of flesh and Spirit was in them, and so they needed to pray for forgiveness of sinne. But though we must acknowledge, that original sinne hath not the power in a godly man it once had. All the difficulty is, Whether it be by suppression of it one∣ly, or abolishing part of it; and if original sinne be in part diminished, How can the whole of it be propagated to the child? Or why may not the last part of it be consumed in this life? It may be this Question may be more subtil then profitable. Scotus, as Pererius alledgeth him (in Rom. cap. 7.) thinketh that in a godly man original sinne is not at all a∣bated, onely grace is every day augmented, and so that cannot weigh us down, as it did before: As (saith he) if an Eagle should have any weight upon her, but the strength of her wings be increased, then though the weight were not diminished, yet because her strength is increased, it would not hinder her in flying. But to answer this Question, we must conclude, that in regeneration original sinne is more then suppressed, there is a qualitative change, and so a diminishing of darknesse in the mind, by light; of evil in the will by holinesse: So that the encreasing of Page 504 these graces do necessarily argue the decreasing of original sinn. And For this purpose the Scripture useth those termes of crucifying and morti∣fying; onely when we say, original sinne is diminished: You must not understand it hath quantative parts, as if they were cut off by degrees, but potestative, that is, the power and efficacy of original sinne is not so lively, so vehement as it was once, yet where it is thus weakned, a regenerate person begetteth a sonne in an unregenerate estate, because he is the sonne of Adam fallen, and is not a father as he is godly, but as he is a man. Now though it doth thus tenaciously adhere unto us, yet death will give it a final and full blow: not death meerly, as it is a dissolution in a na∣tural way (so that Castellio doth absurdly endeavour to perplex this Do∣ctrine with curious interrogatories) but as the nature of it is altered by Christ, the Spirit of God putting forth its greatest efficacy at that time: Yea though a godly man should be so overcome by a disease, that he were not able to act faith in Christ at that time, for the utter sub∣duing of sinne in him, yet his faith formerly put forth on Christ for that pur∣pose, and the promise of God at that time will effectually conquer all. This being so, how ought the godly gladly to submit to death? The terrible vi∣zour of it is now taken away. No vain thoughts, no wordly or distempered affections shall ever molest thee more. It is not death to thee, but to thy sinne. It is not a death to thy graces and comforts, but to thy corruptions, Miseria non home moritur, said the Martyr, when he was to die. It is misery not man that dieth.