Page images

and shall we not, then, take heed what company we come in, and what we do and speak in our company? It is recorded of Mr. Latimer, the martyr, that though he was somewhat free in his speech when he was examined, yet when he heard a pen writing behind the curtain, then he was more wary. Why, believe it, there is a pen behind the curtain that sets down what you do and say in your company, whether good or bad. Now, therefore, as ever you do desire that God's own hand-writing, that God's own table-book may not be brought out against you, take heed what company you come into, and what you do and speak in your company. Thus shall you be able to avoid bad company, to choose good, and to improve the same. And thus I have done with these arguments of good company. A good man will have good company: "For I am a companion (says David) of all them that fear thee, and do keep thy precepts."

[blocks in formation]

In this chapter the apostle Paul doth charge the Corinthians with carnality, which charge he maketh good by divers arguments. The first is taken from their incapacity of receiving and digesting the strongest truths of the gospel: verses 1, 2, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, &c. For ye are carnal." The second argument is taken from the envyings, strifes and divisions that were amongst them: verse 3, "For whereas there are among you, &c., are ye not carnal?" The third argument is taken from those sects that were amongst them: verse 4, "For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?” They set up one minister against another, crying up of one that they might cry down another, and so put themselves into sects; this was carnality. And upon this account he saith to them, again and again, "Are ye not carnal?" Where then observe thus much, that it is possible for

great professors of the gospel to be very carnal. These Corinthians were a church of Christ, and of all the churches they had the greatest gifts; and the apostle writing to them, calleth them "saints, sanctified in Christ Jesus," chap. i. 2. Yet here he saith they were carnal. Possibly, then, a man may be a member of a true church, have great gifts, and be a good man too, yet he may be very carnal; surely he that is a member of a church, greatly gifted, and a good man, is a great professor; this a man may be, and yet carnal. Possibly then a man or woman may be a great professor, and yet may be very carnal. Great professors may be very carnal. And if you ask what this carnality is, or when a man may be said to be carnal? I answer, in the general, that you may know what this means by the opposition and the application of it. It is applied sometimes to the unregenerate: John iii. 6," That which is born after the flesh is flesh," or carnal; so it is not used here, for the apostle doth not charge the Corinthians with an unregenerate estate. Sometimes this word, carnal, therefore, is applied to the regenerate, such as are weaklings, babes and sucklings in religion, who have more sin than grace, more flesh than spirit; and so he speaketh of these Corinthians. But the word, carnal, is used also by way of opposition, and it is opposed sometimes unto what is mighty: so in 1 Cor. x. 4," Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty." And sometimes it is opposed unto what is spiritual, so Rom. xv. 27; vii. 14. Look, therefore, when a man's fleshly weaknesses do so far prevail, that he is not spiritual in his life and conversation as he should be, then he is said to be carnal, accordigg to this scripture. Now thus it is possible that a member of a church, a gifted person, yea, good men may be very carnal. Possibly great professors may be very carnal. In prosecuting whereof we must inquire,

First, How it may appear that great professors of the gospel may be carnal.

Secondly, How far that carnality may reach or extend. Thirdly, What is the difference between the carnality of the world and such as are good.

Fourthly, What an evil thing it is for a professor of the gospel to be carnal.

Fifthly, How we may be freed from this carnality and be more spiritual.

And if you ask,

How may carnal ?

it then appear that great professors may be very

I answer, The more any man's judgment is defiled and dabbled with corrupt opinions, contrary to the grace of the gospel, the more carnal he is, especially if he father them on the Spirit, or on the gospel, for the gospel is the ministration of the Spirit. "The words that I speak (saith Christ) are spirit and life." Now two sorts of doctrines there are that are contrary to the gospel; the doctrine of natural free-will, and the doctrine of legal and Jewish ordinances. The doctrine of natural free-will is contrary to the substance of the gospel, which is the word of grace. The doctrine of legal and Jewish ordinances is contrary to the dispensation of the gospel, and both carnal. The doctrine of natural free-will is a carnal doctrine, for saith John, chap. i. 13, “ Which are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man." The will of the flesh and the will of man go together. Was it not a carnal thing for Abraham to go into his maid Hagar? So is it also a carnal thing for a professor of the gospel to turn into a covenant of works, whereof Hagar was a type. And I appeal to yourselves, saith Austin to the Pelagians, pleading for the power of nature, and for natural free-will,* What is that which makes an outward difference between one man and another? One is rich and another is poor. Doth man's will make that difference, or God's providence? Saith Austin: One man is strong, and another weak; doth man's will make the difference, or God's providence? One man or woman is fair, and another deformed; doth man's will make the difference, or God's providence? I suppose you will say that it is God's providence, not man's will that doth make the difference. And if you say that man's will makes the difference in these outward things, and not God's providence, " are ye not carnal?" how much more, if you say, man's will, and not God's grace, doth make the difference between one man and another in spiritual

*Nec tribuuntur ista meritis voluntatum, sicut sunt celeritates, vires, bonæ valetudines, et pulchritudines corporum, ingenia mirabilia, et multarum artium capaces naturæ mentium, vel quæ accidunt extrinsecus, ut est opulentia, nobilitas, honores, et cætera hujusmodi, quæ quisque ut habeat, non est nisi in Dei potestate, &c.-Aug. de correp. et grat. eap. viii.

things? As for the doctrines of legal and Jewish ordinances, they are expressly called "carnal commands," Heb. ix. Now possibly a professor of the gospel may be baptized into these opinions, possibly he may hold the doctrine of free-will under the gospel of free grace. Possibly he may be baptized into the doctrines of Jewish, legal customs, ceremonies, and sabbaths, and of all the opinions that are now stirring and ranging abroad. What opinion is there, but the maintainers thereof do father it upon the Spirit? What brat or bastard opinion is there abroad, but men do come to lay it down at the door of the gospel, and father it upon the Spirit? Now when men do this, may we not say to them, as the apostle here," Are ye not carnal?"

The more any professor is guilty of levity and lightness in their ways of the gospel, the more carnal he is; for says the apostle, "When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness; or things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay? But as God is true, our word towards you was not yea and nay," 2 Cor. i. 17. Levity therefore is a sign of carnality. Now there is a twofold levity: one in regard of judgment, whereby men are unsettled in their judgment, saying yea to a doctrine to-day, and nay to-morrow, or soon after. This levity of judgment is a sign of carnality. The other levity is in regard of practice, whereby men are slight, vain, and frothy in their communication. Now possibly a professor may be thus light in both these respects. Some are light in regard of their judgment, unsettled; some are light in regard of their practice, for they can sit and spend a whole afternoon in vain conferences, and not a word of God, of Christ. Are not these carnal ?

If there be little or no difference sometimes between the carriage and behaviour of a professor, and of the men of the world, then possibly a professor may be very carnal. And what difference was there between David and the men of the world, in that matter of Uriah? What civil man would have done as David did? And so now, though a professor may be very good and gracious, yet if he be stirred sometimes in a business of his own concernments, what difference is there between his carriage and the carriage of the world? May we not then say to such, "Are ye not carnal?"

If there be envyings, wranglings, strifes and divisions amongst the professors of the gospel, then it is possible that great professors may be very carnal; nay, that ye read in the text, and I wish we might not read it in our daily experience. It is the property of a gracious, spiritual frame of heart, to rejoice in others' graces, and to mourn for others' sins; it is the property of a carnal heart, to envy at others' graces, and to rejoice and triumph over others' failings. Now if professors be at variance, one of one judgment, and another of another, in case a man of another judgment do fail or fall, what rejoicings will there be. If I were spiritual, then I should more grieve for God's dishonour by the fall of a professor, than rejoice at the fall of my adversary; but yet so it is, though God's name be dishonoured by his fall, because he is a professor, yet another will triumph therein, because he is his adversary. Is not this carnal?

If a professor of the gospel can neither give reproof without anger, nor take a reproof without distaste; is he not carnal? "You that are spiritual, (saith the apostle,) restore him that is fallen, with the spirit of meekness." But now if an admonition or reproof be given, either, it is given with anger, or it is taken with distaste; why? but because we are carnal.

If a professor of the gospel do use carnal engines to obtain his designs, is he not carnal therein? Now thus it may be possibly with some great professors of the gospel. Abraham was a good man, and a great professor, yet when he would secure and preserve himself, he said to Sarah, "Say thou art my sister." The thing was true, and no lie, but it was a carnal engine that he then used to obtain that design. We read of Abner, that when he would bring about the kingdom to David, for his own preferment, then he went to the heads of Israel, and told them of the promise that God made to David. Here he made use of a religious engine to obtain his own carnal ends. Sometimes men use their carnal engines to obtain religious designs; sometimes they use religious engines to obtain their carnal ends: and what more ordinary than this, even amongst professors. Why? but because they are carnal.*

*Ne quis in honestas cupiditates religionis glaucomate oblegato.-Vide Cluveri Histor. Mundi p. 108.

« PreviousContinue »