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NATURE, POWER, DECEIT, AND PREVALENCY,
OF THE REMAINDERS OF
IND WELLING SIN
WITH THE WAYS OF ITS WORKING, AND MEANS OF PREVENTION; OPENED, EVINCED, AND APPLIED, WITH A RESOLUTION OF SUNDRY CASES
OF CONSCIENCE THEREUNTO APPERTAINING.
O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! I thank
God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. vii. 24, 25.
That the doctrine of original sin is one of the fundamental truths of our Christian profession, hath been always owned in the church of God. And an especial part it is of that peculiar possession of truth, which they enjoy, whose religion towards God is built upon, and resolved into, divine revelation. As the world by its wisdom never knew God aright, so the wise men of it were always utterly ignorant of this inbred evil in themselves and others. With us the doctrine and conviction of it lie in the very foundation of all wherein we have to do with God, in reference unto our pleasing of him here, or obtaining the enjoyment of him hereafter. It is also known what influence it hath into the great truths concerning the person of Christ, his mediation, the fruits and effects of it, with all the benefits that we are made partakers of thereby. Without a supposition of it, not any of them can be truly known, or savingly believed. For this cause hath it been largely treated of by many holy and learned men, both of old and of latter days. Some have laboured in the discovery of its nature, some of its guilt and demerit; by whom also the truth concerning it hath been vindicated from the opposition made unto it, in the past and present ages. By most these things have been considered in their full extent and latitude, with respect unto all men by nature, with the estate and condition of them who are wholly under the power and guilt of it. How thereby men are disenabled and incapacitated in themselves to answer the obedience required either in the law or the gospel, so as to free themselves from the curse of the one, or to make themselves partakers of the blessing of the other, hath been by many also fully evinced. Moreover, that there are remainders of it abiding in believers after their regeneration and conversion to God, as the Scripture abundantly testifies, so it hath been fully taught and confirmed; as also how the guilt of it is pardoned unto them, and by what means the power of it is weakened in them. All these things, I say, have been largely treated on, to the great benefit and edification of the church. In what we have now in design, we therefore take them all for granted, and endeavour only farther to carry on the discovery of it in its actings and oppositions to the law and grace of God in believ
Neither do I intend the discussing of any thing that hath been controverted about it. What the Scripture plainly revealeth and teacheth concerning it, what believers evidently find by experience in themselves, what they may learn from the examples and acknowledgments of others, shall be represented in a way suited unto the capacity of the meanest and weakest who is concerned therein. And many things seem to render the handling of it at this season not unnecessary. The effects and fruits of it, which we see in the apostacies and backslidings of many, the scandalous sins and miscarriages of some, and the course and lives of the most, seem to call for a due consideration of it. Besides, of how great concernment a full and clear acquaintance with the power of this indwelling sin (the matter designed to be opened) is unto believers, to stir them up to watchfulness and diligence, to faith and prayer, to call them to repentance, humility, and self-abasement, will appear in our progress. These in general were the ends aimed at in the ensuing discourse, which being at first composed and delivered for the use and benefit of a few, is now by the providence of God made public. And if the reader receive any advantage by these weak endeavours, let him know that it is his duty, as to give glory unto God, so to help them by his prayers, who in many temptations and afflictions are willing to labour in the vineyard of the Lord, unto which work they are called.
Indwelling sin in believers treated of by the apostle, Rom. vii. 21.
The place explained. It is of indwelling sin, and that in the remainders of it in persons after their conversion to God, with its power, efficacy, and effects, that we intend to treat. This also is the great design of the apostle, to manifest and evince in chap. vii. of the Epistle to the Romans. Many, indeed, are the contests about the principal scope of the apostle in that chapter, and in what state the person is, under the law, or under grace, whose condition he expresseth therein. I shall not at present enter into that dispute, but take that for granted, which may be undeniably proved and evinced; namely, that it is the condition of a regenerate person, with respect unto the remaining power of indwelling sin, which is there proposed and exemplified, by and in the person of the apostle himself. In that discourse therefore of his, shall the foundation be laid of what.we have to offer upon this subject. Not that I shall proceed in an exposition of his revelation of this truth, as it lies in its own contexture, but only make use of what is delivered by him, as occasion shall offer itself. And here first occurreth that which he affirm's, ver. 21. • I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me.'
There are four things observable in these words:
First, The appellation he gives unto indwelling sin, whereby he expresseth its power and efficacy; it is 'a law.'