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ward real principle. Wherefore God makes his law internal again, and implants it on the heart as it was at first, when he intends to give it power to produce obedience in his people; Jer. xxxi. 31–33. 'I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. This is that which God fixeth on, as it were, upon a discovery of the insufficiency of an outward law leading men unto obedience. The written law, saith he, will not do it; mercies and deliverances from distress will not effect it; trials and afflictions will not accomplish it; then, saith the Lord, will I take another course; I will turn the written law, into an internal living principle in their hearts, and that will have such an efficacy, as shall assuredly make them iny people, and keep them so. Now such is this law of sin, it is an indwelling law; Rom. vii. 17. • It is sin that dwelleth in me;' ver. 20. · Sin that dwelleth in me;' ver. 21. It' is present with me;' ver. 23. It is in my members;' yea, it is so far in a man, as in some sense it is said to be the man himself, ver. 18. I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) there dwelleth no good thing. The flesh, which is the seat and throne of this law, yea, which indeed in this law, is in some sense the man himself, as grace also is the new man. Now from this consideration of it, that it is an indwelling law inclining and moving to sin, as an inward habit or principle, it hath sundry advantages increasing its strength and furthering its power. As,
1. It always abides in the soul, it is never absent. The apostle twice useth that expression, it dwelleth in me.' There is its constant residence and habitation. If it came upon the soul only at certain seasons, much obedience might be perfectly accomplished in its absence. Yea, and as they deal with usurping tyrants, whom they intend to thrust out of a city, the gates might be sometimes shut against it, that it might not return. The soul might fortify itself against it. But the soul is its home, there it dwells, and is no wanderer. Wherever you are, whatever you are about, this law of sin is always in you; in the best that you do, and in the worst. Men little consider what a dangerous companion is always at home with them. When they are in company, when alone, by night or by day, all is one, sin is with them. There is a living coal continually in their houses, which, if it be not looked unto, will fire them,
and it may be consume them. O the woful security of poor souls ! How little do the most of men think of this inbred enemy, that is never from home! How little, for the most part, doth the watchfulness of any professors answer the danger of their state and condition !
2. It is always ready to apply itself to every end and purpose that it serves unto. It doth not only ‘dwell in me,' saith the apostle, but when I would do good, it is present with me;' there is somewhat more in that expression, than mere indwelling. An inmate may dwell in a house, and yet not be always meddling with what the good man of the house hath to do (that so we may keep to the allusion of indwelling, used by the apostle); but it is so with this law, it doth so dwell in us, as that it will be present with us in every thing we do; yea, oftentimes when with most earn estness we desire to be quit of it, with most violence it will put itself upon us; When I would do good, it is present with me. Would you pray, would you hear, would you give alms' would you meditate, would you be in any duty acting faith on God, and love towards him, would you work righteousness, would you resist temptations; this troublesome perplexing indweller, will still more or less put itself upon you, and be present with you, so that you cannot perfectly and completely accomplish the thing that is good, as our apostle speaks, ver, 18. Sometimes men by hearkening to their temptations, do stir up, excite, and provoke their lusts; and no wonder if then they find them present and active. But it will be so, when with all our endeavours we labour to be free from them. This law of sin dwells in us, that is, it adheres as a depraved principle unto our minds in darkness and vanity; unto our affections in sensuality ; unto our wills in a loathing of, and aversation from, that which is good; and by some, more, or all, of these, is continually putting itself upon us, in inclinations, motions, or suggestions to evil, when we would be most gladly quit of it.
3. It being an indwelling law, it applies itself to its work with great facility and easiness, like the sin that doth so easily beset us ;' Heb. xii. 1. It hath a great facility and easiness in the application of itself unto its work, it needs no doors to be opened unto it, it needs no engines to work by. The soul cannot apply itself to any duty of a man, but
it must be by the exercise of those faculties wherein this law hath its residence. Is the understanding or the mind to be applied unto any thing ?. there it is in ignorance, darkness, vanity, folly, madness. Is the will to be engaged ? there.it is also in spiritual deadness, stubbornness, and the roots of obstinacy. Is the heart and affections to be set on work? there it is in inclinations to the world, and present things, and sensuality, with proneness to all manner of defilements. Hence it is easy for it to insinuate itself into all that we do, and to hinder all that is good, and to farther all sin and wickedness. It hath an intimacy, an inwardness with the soul, and therefore in all that we do, doth easily beset us. It possesseth those very faculties of the soul, whereby we must do what we do, whatever it be, good or evil. Now all these advantages it hath as it is a law, as an indwelling law, which manifests its power and efficacy. It is always resident in the soul, it puts itself upon all its actings, and that with easiness and facility.
This is that law which the apostle affirms that he found in himself, this is the title that he gives unto the powerful and effectual remainder of indwelling sin even in believers, and these general evidences of its power from that appellation have we. Many there are in the world, who find not this law in them; who, whatever they have been taught in the word, have not a spiritual sense and experience of the power of indwelling sin, and that because they are wholly under the dominion of it. They find not that there is darkness and folly in their minds, because they are darkness itself, and darkness will discover nothing. They find not deadness and an indisposition in their hearts and wills to God, because they are dead wholly in trespasses and sins. They are at peace with their lusts, by being in bondage unto them. And this is the state of most men in the world, which makes them wofully despise all their .eternal concernments. Whence is it that men follow and pursue the world with so much greediness, that they neglect heaven, and life, and immortality for it every day? 'Whence is it that some pursue their sensuality with delight, they will drink, and revel, and have their sports, let others say what they please ? Whence is it that so many live so unprofitably under the word, that they understand so little of what is spoken unto them, that
they practise less of what they understand, and will by no means be stirred up to answer the mind of God in his calls unto them? It is all from this law of sin, and the power of it that rules and bears sway in men, that all these things do proceed; but it is not sạch persons of whom at present we particularly treat.
From what hath been spoken, it will ensue, that if there be such a law in believers, it is doubtless their duty to find it out, to find it so to be.
The more they find its power, the less they will feel its effects. It will not at all advantage a man to have an hectical distemper, and not to discover it; a fire lying secretly in his house, and not to know it. So much as men find of this law in them, so much they will abhor it, and themselves, and no more. Proportionably also to their discovery of it, will be their earnestness for grace; nor will it rise higher. All watchfulness and diligence in obedience will be answerable also thereunto. Upon this one hinge, or finding out and experiencing the power and the efficacy of this law of sin, turns the whole course of our lives. Ignorance of it breeds senselessness, carelessness, sloth, security, and pride; all which the Lord's soul abhors. Eruptions into great, open, conscience-wasting, scandalous sins, are from want of a due spiritual consideration of this law. Inquire then how it is with your souls. What do you find of this law, what experience have you of its power and efficacy? Do you find it dwelling in you, always present with you, exciting itself, or putting forth its poison with facility and easiness, at all times, in all your duties, when you would do good? What humiliation, what self abasement, what intenseness in prayer, what diligence, what watchfulness doth this call for at your hands ? What spiritual wisdom do you stand in need of? What supplies of grace, what assistance of the Holy Ghost will be hence also discovered. I fear we have few of us a diligence proportionable to our danger.
CHA P. III.
The seat or subject of the law of sin. The heart ; what meant thereby. Properties of the heart as possessed by sin. Unsearchable. Deceitful. Whence that deceit ariseth. Improvements of these considerations.
Having manifested indwelling sin whereof we treat in the remainders of it in believers, to be a law, and evinced in general, the power of it from thence, we shall now proceed to give particular instances of its efficacy and advantages, from some things that generally relate unto it as such. And these are three. First, Its seat and subjects ; secondly, Its natural properties; and thirdly, Its operation and the manner thereof, which principally we aim at, and shall attend unto.
First, For the seat and subject of this law of sin, the Scripture every where assigns it to be the heart. There indwelling sin keeps its especial residence. It hath invaded and possessed the throne of God himself; Eccles. ix. 3. Madness is in the heart of men whilst they live. This is their madness, or the root of all that madness which appears in their lives. Matt. xv. 19. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,' &c. There are many outward temptations and provocations that befall men, which excite and stir them
unto these evils. But they do but as it were open the vessel, and let out what is laid up and stored in it. The root, rise, and spring of all these things is in the heart. Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before. Hence is that summary description of the whole work and effect of this law of sin, Gen. vi. 5. 'Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually.' So also, chap. viii. 21. The whole work of the law of sin, from its first rise, its first coining of actual sin, is here described; and its seat, its workhouse, is said to be the heart; and so it is called by our Saviour, the evil treasure of the heart,' Luke vi. 45. An evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth evil things. This treasure is the prevailing principle of moral actions that is in men. So in the beginning of the