John Brown.

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and find out; such as love to ease, quietness, applause and commendation
of others, or the like.

But, in the _third_ place, it may be objected, is it not promised that
sin shall not have dominion over us, as "not being under the law, but
under grace," Rom. vi. 14. How can we then but be troubled, when we find
not this promise made good?

I answer, 1st, Sin is not always victorious and domineering, when it
seemeth to rage and stir most. Your opposition thereunto, fighting and
wrestling against it, sheweth that it hath not full dominion. So long as
an invading usurper is opposed, he hath not full dominion, not having
peaceable possession of what he is seeking; and thus the promise is in
part accomplished.

2. Victory and a full conquest over the flesh, and lusts thereof, is not
promised to any believer, at his first appearing in the fields to fight;
nor granted to all in any measure, at their first putting on their

3. Therefore it is thy part to fight on, and wait for that full victory,
viz. that sin shall not have dominion over thee, for it shall come in
due time.

4. God hath his own time and seasons wherein he accomplisheth his
promises; and we must leave him a latitude, both as to the time when,
and as to the manner how, and as to the degree in which he shall make
good his promises; and he is wise in his dispensations.

Therefore, though the promise as yet appeareth not to be accomplished,
there is no true cause of trouble of mind, because it shall be afterward
fully accomplished; and the wrestling against sin, saith that it is in
great measure accomplished already; because where it hath a full
dominion, it suppresseth all opposition or contradiction, except some
faint resistance, which a natural conscience, for carnal ends, on carnal
principles and grounds, may, now or then, make against this or that
particular corruption, which occasioneth shame, disgrace, loss,
challenges of a carnal conscience, and disquietness that way, when yet
it is not hated nor wrestled against as sin, or as a member of the old
man, and the body of death. The objector would consider, that having
subjected his consent to Christ, he is delivered really from that
natural state of bondage under sin as a lawful lord, howbeit the old
tyrant, now wanting a title, is making new invasions, to trouble the
peace and quiet of the soul.

_Fourthly,_ It may be said, but what can then, in the mean time, keep up
the heart of a poor soul from sinking?

_Ans._ Several things, if rightly considered, might help to support the
soul in this case, as,

1. That they are helped to wrestle against this body of death, in all
the members of it, so soon as they discover themselves, were it their
right eye and right hand.

2. That these lusts gain not ground upon them; or if they do seem to
gain ground, yet they attain not to a full dominion, not gaining their

3. That God is faithful, and therefore the promised victory shall be had
in due time, and Satan's head shall certainly be bruised.

4. That the wrestling soul is about his duty, carrying as a good soldier
of Jesus Christ, fighting the battles of the Lord, and waiting on him in
faith and hope.

But further, _fifthly,_ some may say, If I were kept from yielding, my
wrestling and standing would yield me some comfort; but when lust so
stirreth, as that it conceiveth and bringeth forth sin, (James i. 15,)
what can support or comfort me then?

_Ans._ 1. Corruption cannot stir in us, but therein we sin, for the very
first rise, the _motus primo-primi_, as they are called, are sinful,
being contrary to the holy law of God; and the very in-being of that old
man is our sin; for it is sinful, and rebellious against God, yea it is
very enmity and rebellion itself. When Satan cometh with a temptation
from without, he findeth always much in us to entertain the temptation.
So that the very stirring of corruption, which is occasioned by the
temptation from without, is our guilt.

2. It is true it is our duty, to set against the first risings and
motions of corruption, when it first enticeth, before it hath conceived
or brought forth sin; and it will argue grace in life and in action, to
be able to hinder the motions of lust so far, that it shall not conceive
and bring forth sin. Yet we may not say, that there is no grace in the
soul, or no measure of mortification attained, where lust sometimes not
only enticeth, but conceiveth and bringeth forth sin. The sad experience
of many of God's worthies, registrated in the word, cleareth this
abundantly. We must not say, such an one is fallen, therefore he is
dead. Paul reasoneth otherways, Rom. vii.

3. Yet even then, when lust conceiveth and bringeth forth sin, this may
comfort and bear up the heart of a poor believer. (1.) That though
corruption prevail so far, as to bear down all opposition, and run down
all that standeth in its way, yet it getteth not the full consent of the
soul: there is still a party for God in the soul, that opposeth so far
as to protest against it, or at least to dissent from it, and not to
will that which yet is done, and positively to will that which cannot be
gotten effectuated, (2.) And further, this may bear up the poor soul,
that there is a party within, which, though for a time, during the
violent overrunning of corruption, can do little more than sigh and
groan in a corner, yet is waiting and longing for an opportunity when it
may appear more for God, and against that wicked usurper. (3.)So also
this may comfort the poor soul, that as it perceiveth corruption
stirring, and the old man moving one member or other, it runneth away to
the king; and when it is not able to apprehend the traitor, and take him
captive to the court of justice, doth there discover the traitor, and
tell the king that there is such or such a traitor acting such and such
rebellion against him and his laws, and complain and seek help to take
the rebel prisoner, and bring him bound hand and foot to the king, that
he may give out sentence against him; that is, when he can do no more
against that raging enemy, maketh his complaint to the Lord, and lieth
before him, sighing and groaning for help and strength to withstand and
oppose more this enemy.

_Lastly,_ Some may yet object, and say, If it were not worse with me
than it is with others, I could then be satisfied; but I see some
mightily prevailing over corruption, and I am still at under, and can
get no victory; and can I choose but be sad at this?

I answer, 1. Dost thou know for a certainty, that those persons whose
condition thou judgest happy, are altogether free of the inward
stirrings of those lusts that thou art brought under by? Or dost thou
know for a certainty that they are not under the power of some other
corruption, as thou thinkest thyself under the power of that corruption
whereof thou complainest? What knowest thou, then, but they may be as
much complaining on other accounts as thou dost on that?

2. But be it so as thou supposeth, that there is a difference betwixt
thy condition and the condition of others, knowest thou not, that all
the members of the body are not alike great and strong, as not being
equally to be employed in work requiring strength. Are there not some
young strong men in Christ's family, and some that are but babes? May
not a captain send some of his soldiers to one post, where they shall
possibly not see the enemy all the day long, and some others to another
post, where they shall have no rest all the day? And why, I pray, may
not God dispose of his soldiers as he will? He knoweth what he is doing:
It is not safe that every one of the soldiers know what are the designs
of the commander or general; nor is it always fit for us to know or to
inquire what may be the designs of God with us, and what he may be about
to do. He may intend to employ one in greater works than another, and so
exercise them otherways for that warfare and work. It may suffice that
the prevailing of others may encourage thee to hope, that at last thy
strong corruptions shall also fall by the hand of the grace of God.

3. If thy sadness savour not of envy and fretting, thou should bless him
that hereby thou art put to the exercise of spiritual sorrow.

4. It is well if this bring thee to bless God for the success of
others, because hereby his grace is glorified, 1 Cor. xii. 26.

Therefore, 5. Let this satisfy us, That he is the Lord, who doeth what
he will in heaven and in earth, and may dispose of us as he will, and
make of us what he will, for his own glory. And that we are to mind our
duty, and be faithful at our post, standing and fighting in the strength
of the Lord, resolving never to comply with the enemy, and to rejoice in
this, that the enemy is already conquered by the captain, and that we
share in his victory, and that the very God of peace shall quickly
bruise Satan under our feet, Rom. xvi. 20.



I come now to speak a little to the other part of sanctification, which
concerneth the change of our nature and frame, and is called
vivification, or quickening of the new man of grace; which is called the
new man, as having all its several members and parts, as well as the old
man; and called new, because posterior to the other; and after
regeneration is upon the growing hand, this duty of growing in grace, as
it is called, 2 Pet. iii. &c. is variously expressed and held forth to
us in Scripture; for it is called "an abiding and bringing forth fruit
in Christ," John xv. 5; "adding to faith virtue, and to virtue
knowledge," 2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 7; "a going on to perfection," Heb. vii. 1;
"a growing up in Christ in all things," Eph. iv. 15; "a working out our
salvation," Phil. ii. 12; "a perfecting of holiness," 2 Cor. vii. 1; "a
walking in newness of life," Rom. vi. 4; "a yielding of ourselves unto
God, as alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of
righteousness unto God," Rom. vi. 13, 18; "a bringing forth fruit unto
God," Rom, vii. 4; "a serving in newness of spirit," Rom. vii. 6; "a
being renewed in the spirit of our minds, and a putting on the new man,
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv.
23,24. Col. iii. 10, and the like: some whereof do more immediately
express the nature of this change, as to the root, and some as to the
fruit and effects thereof, and some the progress and advancement that is
made or to be made therein. And all of them point out a special piece of
work, which lieth on all that would see the face of God, viz. to be
holy, gracious, and growing in grace.

This, then, being a special piece of the exercise and daily work of a
Christian, and it being certain, as some of the places now cited do also
affirm, that without Christ they cannot get this work either begun or
carried on, the main difficulty and question is, How they are to make
use of Christ for this end?

For answer whereunto, though by what we have said in our former
discourse, it may be easy to gather what is to be said here; yet I shall
briefly put the reader in mind of those things, as useful here.

1. The believer would consider what an ornament this is to the soul, to
have on this new man, which is created after the image of God, Eph. iv.
23. What an excellency lieth here, to recover that lost glory, holiness
and the image of God? and what advantage the soul reapeth hereby, when
it "is made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in
light," Col. i. 12; "and walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of
God," Col. i. 10; "and strengthened with all might, according to his
glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness,"
ver. 11; and when the abounding of the graces of the Spirit maketh them
"that they shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of
our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 8; "and to be a vessel unto honour,
sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every
work," 2 Tim. ii. 21. What glory and peace is here, to be found obedient
unto the many commands given to be holy: what hazard is in the want of
holiness, when without it we cannot see God, Heb. xii. 14: how
unanswerable it is unto our profession, who are members to such a holy
head, to be unholy: what profit, joy, and satisfaction there is, in
being temples of the Holy Ghost, in walking after the Spirit, in
bringing forth fruit unto the glory of the Father, &c. The consideration
of these and other motives unto this study of sanctification, would arm
the soul with resolution, and harden it against opposition.

2. It would be remembered, that this work, though it be laid upon us, as
our duty, and we be called thereunto of God, yet it is beyond our hand
and power. It is true, at conversion, the seed of grace is cast into the
soul, new habits are infused, a new principle of life is given, the
stony heart is changed into an heart of flesh; yet these principles and
habits cannot act in themselves, or be brought into act, by any thing
that a believer, considered in himself, and without divine help, can do.
But this work of sanctification and growth in grace must be carried on
by divine help, by the Spirit of Jesus dwelling and working within; and
therefore it is called the sanctification of the Spirit, 2 Thess. ii.
13. 1 Pet. i. 2. The God of peace must sanctify us, I Thess. v. 23. We
are said to be sanctified by God the Father, Jude 1.; and by the Holy
Ghost, Rom. xv. 16; see also 1 Cor. vi. 11. "We would remember that of
ourselves we can do nothing," 2 Cor. iii. 5, and "that he must work in
us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure," Phil. ii. 13.
Albeit no believer will question the truth of this; yet it may be, it
shall be found after trial, that one main cause of their not growing in
grace, and making progress in this work, is their not acting as
believing this, but setting about the work, as if it were a work which
they themselves could master and do without special divine help.
Therefore the believer would abide, live, and act, in the faith of this

3. Therefore believers would not, in going about this work, either trust
to their own strength, to the habits of grace, to their former
experiences, to their knowledge and parts, or the like; nor yet would
they trust to any external mean, which they are to go about; because the
wisdom, strength, and help, which their case calleth for, is not to be
found in them; yet they should not think of laying these means and
duties aside, for then should they sin against God; they should prejudge
themselves of the help, strength, and supply, which God useth to convey
to the soul, in and by the use of the means. And withal, they should
tempt the Lord, by prescribing another way to him than he hath thought
good to take. The believer, then, would use the means and duties
prescribed, and that diligently, seriously, and constantly; and yet
would lean as little to them, and expect help and relief as little from
them, as if he were not using them at all, as we said above. And indeed
this would be a right way; yea, the most advantageous and profitable
way, of going about duties, to be diligent in the use of them, because
of God's command, and yet to place our hope and expectation in God
alone, and to look above the ordinances for our help.

4. Albeit it be true that the power and grace of God alone, doth begin
and carry on this work of sanctification in the soul: yet though he
might, did he but see it for his glory, carry on and finish this work in
the soul, without the intervention of second causes or means, he hath
notwithstanding thought it fit, for the glory of his name, to work this
work by means, and particularly by believers setting about the work. He
worketh not in man as if he were a block or a stone, but useth him as a
rational creature, endued with a rational soul, having useful and
necessary faculties, and a body fired by organs to be subservient to the
soul in its actions. Therefore the believer must not think to lie by and
do nothing, for he is commanded to work out his own salvation, and that
because it is God that worketh in him both to will and to do. Because
God worketh all, therefore he should work; so reasoneth the apostle. So
that God's working is an argument and motive to the man to work, and not
an argument to him to lie by idle and do nothing. And here is the holy
art and divine skill requisite in this business, to wit, for the
believer to be as diligent and active as if he could bring forth fruit
in his own strength, and by his own working; and yet to be as abstracted
from himself, his own grace, ability, knowledge, experience, in his
working, as if he were lying by like a mere block, and only moving as
moved by external force.

5. The soul that would make progress in Christianity, and grow in grace,
would remember that Christ is proposed to us as a copy, which we are to
imitate, and that therefore we should set Christ continually before us
as our pattern, that we may follow his steps, 1 Pet. i. 15, and ii. 21.
But withal it would be remembered, that he is not like other ensamples
or copies, that can help the man that imitateth them in no other way
than by their objective prospect; for looking by faith on this copy,
will bring virtue to the man that studieth to imitate, whereby he shall
be enabled to follow his copy better. O! if we knew in experience what
this were, to take a look of Christ's love, patience, long-suffering,
meekness, hatred of sin, zeal, &c, and by faith to pore in, till, by
virtue proceeding from that copy, we found our hearts in some measure
framed into the same disposition, or at least more inclined to be cast
into the same mould!

6. The believer would act faith on Christ, as the head of the body, and
as the stock in which the branches are ingrafted, and thereby suck sap,
and life, and strength from him, that he may work, walk, and grow, as
becometh a Christian. The believer must grow up in him, being a branch
in him, and must bring forth fruit in him, as the forementioned places
clear. Now, Christ himself tells us, that the branches cannot bring
forth fruit, except they abide in the vine; and that no more can his
disciples bring forth, except they abide in him, John xv. Therefore, as
it is by faith that the soul, as a branch, is united to Christ, as the
vine; and as it is by faith that they abide in him; so it is by faith
that they must bring forth fruit; and this faith must grip Christ as the
vine, and the stock or root from which cometh sap, life, and strength.
Faith, then, must look to Christ as the fountain of furniture - as the
head from whence cometh all the influences of strength and motion.
Christ hath strength and life enough to give out, for "the fulness of
the Godhead dwelleth in him bodily;" and he is also willing enough to
communicate of his fulness, as the relations he hath taken on do
witness. The head will not grudge to give to the members of the body,
spirits for action and motion; nor will a vine grudge to give sap into
the branches. Nay, life, strength, and furniture will, as it were,
natively flow out of Christ unto believers, except they, through
unbelief, and other distempers, cause obstructions; as life and sap doth
natively and kindly flow from the root to the branches, or from the head
to the members, unless obstructions stop the passage. It is necessary,
therefore, that believers eye Christ under these and the like relations,
and look upon him as standing, (so to speak,) obliged by his place and
relation, to grant strength and influences of life, whereby they may
become fruitful in every good work; and so with holy, humble, and
allowed boldness, press in faith for new communications of grace,
virtue, strength, courage, activity, and what else they need; for, from
the head, all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment
ministered, increaseth with the increase of God. Col. ii. 19. Eph. iv.

7. For this cause believers would lie open to the influences of Christ,
and guard against the putting of obstructions in the way, through
grieving of the Spirit, by which he conveyeth and communicateth those
influences unto the soul; and through questioning and misbelieving
Christ's faithfulness and unchangeable willingness, which as a violent
humour stoppeth the passage. So then believers would lie open by looking
and waiting, drawing, seeking from him what they need, and by guarding
against every thing that may provoke the Lord to anger, whether in
omission or commission. Here is requisite, an holy, humble, sober, and
watchful walk; an earnest, serious, and hungry looking out to him, and a
patient waiting for supply and furniture from him. This is to open the
mouth wide that he may fill it; to lie before the Sun of Righteousness,
that the beams thereof may beat upon them, and warm and revive them; and
to wait as a beggar at this King's gate, till he give the alms.

8. For the strengthening their hope and faith in this, they would lay
hold upon Christ dying, and by his death purchasing all those
influences of life and strength which are requisite for carrying on the
work of grace and sanctification in the soul. For we must be "blessed in
Christ with all spiritual blessings," Eph. i. 3. The believer, then,
would look upon these influences, as purchased at a dear rate, by the
blood of Jesus Christ; so that the divine power giveth unto us all
things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of
him that hath called us to glory and virtue, 2 Peter i. 3. And this will
encourage the soul to wait on, and expect the flowing down of
influences, and spiritual blessings and showers of grace, to cause the
soul to flourish and become fruitful, and to urge and press more
earnestly by faith the bestowing of the purchased benefits.

9. Moreover, the believer would look on Jesus as standing engaged and
obliged to carry on this work, both receiving them as for this end, from
the Father. Hence we are said "to be chosen in him before the foundation
of the world, that we should be holy," &c. Eph. i. 4; and as dying for
them. For he gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and
cleanse it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, that
it should be holy, Eph. v. 25-27. He hath reconciled them, in the body
of his flesh, through death, to present them holy, Col. i. 2, 22. So
that the noble covenant of redemption may found the certain hope and
expectation of the believer, upon a double account: (1.) Upon the
account of the Father's faithfulness, who promised a seed to Jesus, viz.
such as should be his children, and so be sanctified through him, and
that the pleasure of the Lord, which in part is the work of
sanctification, should prosper in his hand. And, (2.) Upon the account
of Christ's undertaking and engaging, as is said, to bring his sons and
daughters to glory, which must be thought sanctification; for without
holiness no man shall see God. And they must look like himself, who is a
holy head, a holy husband, a holy captain; and therefore they must be
holy members, a holy spouse, and holy soldiers. So that he standeth
engaged to sanctify them by his Spirit and word, and therefore is called
the sanctifier, Heb. ii. 11; "for both he that sanctifieth, and they
who are sanctified, are all one." Yea, their union with Christ layeth
the foundation of this; for "being joined to the Lord, they become one
Spirit," 1 Cor. vi. 17, and are animated and quickened by one and the
same Spirit of life and grace, and therefore must be sanctified by that

10. The believer likewise would act faith upon the promises of the new
covenant, of grace, strength, life, &c, whereby they shall walk in his
ways, have God's laws put into their minds, and wrote in their hearts,
Heb. viii. 10. Jer. xxxi. 33; and of the new heart, and new spirit, and
the heart of flesh, and the Spirit within them, to cause them walk in
his ways or statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them, Ezek. xxxvi.
26, 27, and the like, wherewith the Scripture aboundeth; because these
are all given over to the believer by way of testament and legacy,
Christ becoming the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of
death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the
first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of
eternal inheritance, Heb. ix. 15. Now, Christ, by his death, hath
confirmed this testament; "for where a testament is, there must also of
necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament is of force

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Online LibraryJohn BrownChrist: The Way, the Truth, and the Life → online text (page 13 of 28)