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ROMANS vi. 12, 13.
Let not sin therefore reign in
mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto GOD.
The Apostle had, in the preceding part of the Epistle, opened at great length that fundamental doctrine of our holy religion, the justification of a sinner through faith in Jesus Christ. In the chapter from which the text is taken, he proceeds to guard the Christians to whom he wrote against those false conclusions which they might be in danger of inferring from this doctrine. And, that none might pretend to turn the grace
of God into lasciviousness, he shews, with great strength of evidence, that the truths which he had been stating, so far from giving encouragement to a licentious life, on the contrary, laid pe
culiar obligations on all who embraced them to a strict and universal holiness.
This he argues from the nature of Christian baptism, the initiating seal of the covenant of grace, showing, that by this rite we are solemnly engaged to die unto şin and live unto righteousness, in conformity to Christ's death and resurrection, signified in that ordinance. Afterwards he goes on to dissuade them from giving indulgence to sin in any kind er degree, and to enforce the obligations to universal purity by a variety of weighty arguments. “ Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.” Sin is said to reign, when it bears chief sway in the soul, and the person is wholly subject to its influence. The best and most sanctified Christian on earth hath still some remainder of corruption abiding in him : For perfection doth not belong to the present state; and he that saith he hath no sin, deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him. The apostle therefore expresseth himself in this qualified manner, Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Beware of giving way to ‘your sensual appetites, otherwise you forfeit all the comfort of the doctrine wbich I have been teaching, and must be concluded strangers to that grace of God, which effectually teacheth those who are partakers of it, to “ deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the world.”.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that
ye should obey it in the lusts thereof : neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; “ but yield yourselves unto God.” It is this last exhortation which I propose to make the subject of the present discourse; and I intend, in the
First place, To explain what is implied in yielding ourselves to God;
Secondly, To offer some directions as to the right manner of performing this duty; and
Thirdly, To enforce the exhortation by some arguments.
I begin with explaining the duty itself. And, in general, it implies, that whatever we possesse all that we are, or have, or can do, should be consecrated to God, and devoted to his service and honour. The being which we have is derived from him ; every blessing which we enjoy is the fruit of his bounty ; every talent with which we are distinguished was freely bestowed by him. To him, therefore, they ought to be entirely surrendered, and in the advancement of his glory at all times employed. When we serve God with the best of our faculties, and with the most valuable of our possessions, What is the whole amount of our offeriog? Surely if ever self-complacent thoughts on this point might have been indulged, David might have indulged them, when be, and a
willing people with him, offered unto the Lord of their most precious substance with a perfect heart. Yet hear how humbly he speaks of all the costly oblations wbich he had brought.
6 Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ; for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and the earth are thine ; thine is the kingdom, and thou art exalted as head above all.”
More particularly, we must yield to God our immortal souls, with all the intellectual powers which they possess. We must dedicate our understanding to the Father of Lights, to be illuminated by him with saving knowledge, to be employed in contemplating his nature and perfection; above all, to know Jesus, and him crucified, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We must dedicate our will to that holy rule of resignation which David expressed when he said, “ Here I am, let the Lord do unto me what seemeth good in his sight;" and which David's Lord expressed in circumstances infinitely more trying : “ Father, not my will, but thine be done." We must consecrate our memories to be treasuries of divine truth, our affections to the pursuit of those things which are above, our senses to the salutary discipline of self
denial, and our members as instruments of holiness to God.
All our possessions and enjoyments must be devoted to God. Our wealth and power, our time and our faculties, nay life itself, which is the foundation of all our comforts, must be entirely resigned to him. Neither must we count death itself grievous, so that we finish our course with joy and true honour. We must yield ourselves to God in all capacities and relations wherein his providence may have placed us, and improve the advantages of our different conditions in life for the advancement of his glory. Are we masters or servants, parents or children, pastors or people, rulers or subjects, let us, in all these relations, be devoted to God, and discharge the various duties which result from them with fidelity and zeal, that we may glorify our Father in heaven, who hath appointed to every man his proper work, and will at length demand an account of the manner in which we have performed it.
If it be inquired for what purposes we are thus to yield ourselves unto God, the following particulars will furnish the answer.
1st, We are to yield ourselves to God, to do whatsoever he commands; in all instances of duty, to give a prompt and cheerful obedience to his authority. It ought to be sufficient for us, in every case, to know what God hath pronounced to be an obligation, whatever the world or the