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heartfelt joy, that nothing is too hard for thee.
I will plead thy promise, Lord,
Oft I feel an evil heart,
Satan with his crafty wile,
In whatever strait I come,
LIII. ON INDWELLING SIN.
Nothing grieves the believer in Jesus so much, as the sin which dwelleth in him. He can feelingly adopt the language of the Apostle: “O wretched man that I am ;"_and with him acknowledge ; "we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.”
Yet, let not the worldling imagine, that the believer has no inward enjoyment. This very grief on account of sin, is accompanied with holy peace and joy through faith in the atonement of Jesus.
How great is the change which grace makes in the soul! Sin, which once was sweet, now becomes bitter. Sin, which once wore the mask of beauty,
now appears in all its native deformity. The mind enlightened from above beholds sin in the mirror of truth, as hardening and deceiving, (Heb. iii. 13.) unprofitable, shameful, and deadly. (Rom. vi. 21.)
Its evil effects are seen in the destruction of primitive innocence; the desolating judgments of heaven; and the miseries which cover the earth.
Its evil effects are felt in the corruption of our nature; the stings of conscience, and the abounding iniquities of mankind. But above all other views, we behold the infinite evil of sin, in the agonies and death of Jesus the Son of God..
O! that I may have grace to bewail at the foot of the cross, the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There I would confess both my guilt and pollution, and there, looking with an eye of faith to the bleeding sacrifice, I would wait in humble hope, till Jesus speak those soul-transporting words: “ Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.”
Sinless perfection is the bliss of heaven. There, believers who die in the Lord, become “ the spirits of just men made perfect.” Whilst they sojourn here below, they are called to wrestle, and fight both with inbred sin, and outward temptations. Hence we find in that faithful word, which is the “light” and “counsellor” of the church of God, continual calls to vigilance and activity, and reiterated cautions against negligence and sloth. There are four evils against which the most advanced believer has daily, yea hourly, to contend.
The first is UNBELIEF.
This is a powerful enemy to our peace. It was unbelief which gave Satan the first advantage over the once happy pair in Paradise. They doubtedthey disbelieved--they fell. Unbelief is the parent of numberless evils, which, although of different com
plexions, yet, like the human race, may be traced to the same source.
Doubts, distrust, evil-surmisings, murmurings, complainings, slavish fears, despondencies, creature dependencies, contempt of divine threatenings, slight of divine promises, rejection of Jesus, neglect of the Gospel, ridiculing the work of the Spirit, atheism, deism, socinianism, carnal security, lukewarmness, backsliding in heart or life, false profession, hypocrisy, &c. &c. all these, and a thousand other evils, spring from unbelief. Lord, deliver me, I humbly and earnestly beseech thee, from these soul-destroying, hell-deserving sins.
The second inbred evil is PRIDE.
Pride is a subtle enemy: it spoils all that we think and speak, and do, until the Spirit of Christ destroys its power in the soul. Pride is the last sin which dies, and expires only with the life of the believer. Through his whole pilgrimage he has to contend against spiritual pride, in all its specious and multiplied forms.
In heaven pride cannot exist. There all is humility and peace. Self-love, self-seeking, self-will, self-confidence, self-righteousness, all spring from pride. Pride, like unbelief, is a root of bitterness, from whence grow in awful luxuriancy, vain-glory, love of human applause, keen sense of honour, (falsely so called,) independence, rebellion, revenge, anger, contempt of others, resentment of real or supposed injuries, ambition, presumption, &c. &c.
There is no end to this extensive evil, which infects the hearts of sinners, and fills the earth with misery and blood.
Blessed Jesus ! thou didst humble thyself even unto death, to make an atonement for my pride. O! make me humble and lowly in heart.*Clothe me with humility—that with all lowliness of mind, I may walk before thee to thine honour and glory.
The third enemy is SENSUALITY.
This dreadful evil is the parent of crimes, which the Apostle declares ought not so much as to be named among the holy followers of Christ.
How awful then is the thought, that the nominally Christian world is, at this very moment, stained with crimes of so polluting a nature, as to oppose a barrier in many instances, to the conversion both of the heathens and the Jews! Our Lord hath told us that offences will come ; but he hath also denounced a “woe unto him through whom they come.”
Self-indulgence, sloth, luxury, gluttony and drunkenness, unite with carnal gratifications and impure desires in binding chains around the captive sinner, till death consign him to the dungeon of hell. O! thou holy and ever blessed Spirit, purify and purge my heart from this dreadful enemy the flesh, which wars against the soul. Wash me in the precious blood of Jesus. Pardon all my sins of impurity, and fill me with holy affections and pure desires.
The most solemn threatenings are denounced in Scripture against these inbred sins: “ He that believeth not, shall be damned.” “Every one that is proud in heart, is an abomination to the Lord.” “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.”
But there is another enemy which lodges within the human heart:-COVETOUSNESS, or the LOVE OF THE WORLD.
This sin ever opposes the exercise of love to Christ, and heavenly things in the soul of the believer. The world assumes an undue importance, owing to our coming into continual contact with its fleeting possessions; whilst eternal realities are the objects of faith and hope. Hence, even the advanced
in herall be damnered sins:
believer finds frequent occasion to use the lamentation of David : “My soul cleaveth unto the dust : quicken thou me, according to thy word.” The conviction of this evil should lead us to more earnest pràyer for that spiritual-mindedness, which is life and peace..
Worldly prosperity too frequently produces lukewarmness, and declension from the ways of God. But if we possessed more of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen : more of that telescopic eye which looks within the veil, and views, as near, the distant glories of Emanuel's kingdom: we should be less attached to earth ; yea, altogether weaned from it; and be enabled to say with the apostle; “ God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
This proves the necessity of regeneration, since the love of the world is the natural affection of the unrenewed heart. Nothing can eradicate this idolatrous attachment to earthly things, but the love of Christ shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost given unto us. The more we see of the preciousness, glory, and excellency of Jesus, the more we discover of the emptiness, vanity, and insufficiency of all earthly good; and the more will our souls be abstracted from present things, and fixed upon things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.
The evils flowing from this sinful love of the world, are many and great. Idolatry, (for whatever supremely engages the heart, be it a diadem, or a feather, is our idol,) avarice, cupidity, the love of money, of earthly possessions, of splendid equipages, and of all those things " which the nations of the world seek after;" fraud, deceit, over-reaching, theft,