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That which should be a temple for God is become a gar.
rison of lusts.
1. It incites the soul to sin. What a snare is the tempe. rature of the body to the soul, leading it to the commission of many foul sins! Therefore the godly beat it down as an unruly beast, keep it under, and bring it into subjection, that it cast not the soul into sin and misery, 1 Cor. ix. 27. It is the house wherein snares are spread for the soul; so that many, to please their bodies, make shipwreck of their souls. 2. Its members are instruments of unrighteousness, Rom, vi. 13. Are not the eyes and ears the windows whereat death comes in to the soul? The tongue is an untamed beast, by which the impure heart vents its filthiness. The throat is an open sepulchre; the feet run the devil's errands; and the belly is made a god. The body is naturally an agent for Satan, and a magazine of armour against the Lord. What shall we say? who can express the corruption of na, ture? The whole man is corrupted. All defilement is in us naturally, Rom. i. 29. The treasure of wickedness is in the heart, Matth. xii. 35. It is a cage full of unclean birds, The tongue is a world of iniquity, an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. What an universe of wickedness and impu. rity must the heart then be This is a rude draught of the corruption of human nature in its fallen state, which the Spirit of God in scripture calls flesh, in many passages that might be quoted. The propriety of this expression will be evident from the following particulars. 1. It denotes the degrading and debasing malignity that is in sin, which unspirits and unsouls a man, if I may be allowed such expressions. A sinner is called a carnal man, a man made up of nothing but a lump of dull flesh kneaded together, without spirit. And therefore the apostle, Rom. viii. 13. does not bid men mortify the deeds of their souls, but of their bodies, because wicked men act as if they had no souls, or at least not so noble a soul as the rational one is. 2. It denotes what it is that sin tends unto. It is only to please and gratify the flesh; to pamper the body, that sen: sual, sordid, and baser part of man. The soul of the natural man acts for no higher end than the soul of a beast. The soul of a beast acts not for itself, but is made a drudge and underling to the body. It serves only to carry the body up and down to its pasture, and make it to relish its food and fodder. . And thus it is with the souls of wicked men; they act not for themselves, but are only provisors for the body, that seek out and lay in provision for the flesh. Hence we have that exhortation, Rom. xiii. 14. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. 3. Though the soul be the chief seat of the flesh, yet the flesh is the great instrument by which it acts, Rom. vi. 19. Hence its actions are called “the deeds of the body, Rom. viii. 13. Though some sins are seated in the mind, as heresies, covetousness, malice, pride, &c. yet they are set down among the works of the flesh in the apostle's catalogue, Gal. v. 19, 20. And as to the sins of omission, they usually take their rise in men from some inordinate sensual affection to the creature, which causes them to omit their duty to God, but, generally speaking, most sins are acted by the flesh. When the devil would set up a kingdom in the hearts of men, he doth it by the flesh; for what is nearer and dearer to us than our flesh? and things pleasant and grateful to the flesh strongly promote his designs. These darken and blind their minds, corrupt their hearts, and entice and allure their affections; so that they hunt after them with an eager pursuit, to the woful neglect of God and their precious souls. 4. The disorder of the sensitive appetite, which inclines men to the interest and conveniences of the flesh, is the great cause of all sin; and therefore fallen man is represented in scripture as wholly governed by his sensual inclinations, Gen. vi. 3. John iii. 6. as if he had nothing in him but what is earthly and carnal. Our souls cleave so fast to . the earth in our degenerate state, and are so much addicted to the body, that they have lost their primitive excellence and beauty. Our understanding, will, and affections, are wofully distempered by our senses, and enslaved to the flesh. So that with great propriety corrupt nature is called flesh in scripture. 1. This corruption is most truly and properly sin, even in the regenerate, where the guilt of it is removed by the blood of Christ, and the power of it subdued by his Spirit and grace. And all the motions thereof in them are sin; as appears from what the apostle says, Rom. vii. 5, 7, 8, ‘For
when we are in the flesh, the motions of sins which were
and spawn of it is lurking in thy heart; and the only reason why you have kept free from it is, because God hath restrained and kept thee back, and hath not suffered the like temptations and occasions to come in thy way. It may be you never set cities on fire, dashed out childrens brains, ript up women with child, as Hazael did; yet all these sins are lurking in thy heart, though they were never acted by thine hands. Hazael was angry when the prophet told him so much, 2 Kings viii. 12. 13. but he acted all that afterwards and more, when he was advanced to his master's throne. He could not think that ever he could be guilty of such atrocious and detestable crimes, unless he were transformed into a dog. He was little acquainted with the desperate wickedness of man's nature, which habitually inclines him to the most barbarous and bloody cruelty. 2. This corruption that lies in the heart is the woful cause, source, and spring of all the actual transgressions which stain mens lives. Every wicked and sinful action derives its descent from this. From whence come murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, &c : Our Saviour tells us, Matt. xv. 19. They proceed out of the heart. If you will trace these streams to the true spring and fountain, you will find it to be the sin and wickedness of the heart. This is that seed and loathsome spawn to which all this detestable vermin owe their original. It is fruitful and productive of all manner of evils. It is that which fills people's mouths with cursing, swearing, lying, slandering, &c. makes their feet swift to shed blood, and puts the poison of asps under their tongue, Rom. iii. 14, 15. Yea, this defiles the whole man, and stains him with an universal pollution, Matth. xv. 18. As a lethargy in the head, or an indisposition in the stomach, diffuseth an universal malignity through the whole body, these being sovereign and principal parts in man; so this wickedness that dwells in the heart, poisons the whole life. Many a filthy and impure stream issues from this corrupt fountain. . (3.) Consider what a monstrous deformity it hath brought on the soul. The mind of man was the candle of the Lord. As it proceeded from God, it was a lightsome beam, shining with more lustre and splendour than a ray of the sun. But now it is dark and obscure, and is become Vol. I. S s
a stinking and hoisome dunghill. It was once one of the brightest and most excellent pieces of the creation, nextunto the angelical nature; but by sin it is transformed into an ugly monster. We justly reckon that birth monstrous, where the members have not their due place; when the head is where the feet should be or the legs in place of the arms, &c. Thus the noble powers and faculties of the soul are monstrously misplaced. That which should be highest is now lowest; that which should rule and keep the throne, is brought into a miserable subjection and bondage: that which should serve and obey, does now tyranhise and command. Passion over-rules reason, and the will receives laws from the fancy and appetite. In man's primitive state; the will was sovereign lord, reason was its coun. sellor; and appetite subject to both ; but now it hath aspired and got above them, and oftimes carries both into a servile compliance with the dictates of sense. Any spot or blemish upon the face of a beautiful child, when it comes but accidentally, grieves and afflicts the parents; how much more cause have we to bemoan the hatural, uni. versal, and monstrous deformity which has seized upon our souls : - 4. Consider the devilishness of this corruption. Ther is nothing in all the world that hath so much of the devil in it as sin. It is his first-born, the beginning of his strength; that which he hatched and brought into the world. It is his work and employment, his great master-piece, that wherein he applauds himself and glories, John viii. 44. This is his image that he hath drawn upon man. Those black characters which are drawn on the soul, are of Satan's im, pression. As face answers to face, so doth man's corrupt nature answer the nature of the devil. It hath all the es: sential parts of the diabolical nature. There is in it a strong aversion from all that is good, and so is there in him; and a mighty propensity to all evil, so is it in the devil. It is Satan's correspondent, that maintains secret and constant intercourse with our mortal enemy. It is a domestic ene: my, ready on all occasions to betray the soul into the hands of him, who is always going about as a roaring lion, seek ing whom he may devour. O, should it not deeply humble us before God, that we are so near a kin, to hell, and have such a correspondence with the devil; that our corruption