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resisted and mortified more and more : Well spake Origen, in Epist. ad Romanos : The mortification of sin is not effected in a moment, but is the work of an unceasing struggle. Sin languishes from the commencement of our mortification, it wastes away in the progress, at last (i. e. in our death) it shall be abolished. Lastly, it is not unseasonably answered, that the dead are commanded still to mortify themselves, because if they neglect the constant practice of mortification, vices that were trodden under and subdued recover their strength; corruption that was broken off sprouts anew; and the grace of the Holy Spirit being stifled, the man returns to his former course. This is illustrated by Chrysostom in an elegant similitude: As a man who has cleansed and polished a statue which had been covered and corroded with dust and filth, may truly say that it is cleaned, and yet properly direct it to be wiped every day, because such direction refers to that soiling which will adhere afresh to the statue if it be neglected : so the Apostle truly said that the Colossians were dead to sin, yet wisely admonishes them to mortify daily the works of the flesh; because this admonition refers to those impure desires which will grow up afresh, and prevail, unless repressed by constant and diligent labour. Thus much respecting the act of mortification, to which ye see that those who are already dead to sin are not excited in vain.
3. Your members which are upon the earth.] He passes from the act to the object about which this practical mortification ought to be exercised. Let us, therefore, in the third place, consider this object; and since every word here used by the Apostle hath great meaning in itself, we shall examine each singly.
Members.] As to this first word we must point out two things: First, what the Apostle intended by members ; Secondly, what is the reason of this epithet. He calls, then, all vicious and inordinate dispositions, desires, motions, and acts of corrupt nature, members : for all these are to be mortified by us, i. e. opposed, subdued, repressed. The primary members of this our corrupt nature are three: the darkness and vanity of the intellect; the depravity and obliquity of the will; the rebellion of the inferior appetites and their proneness to sin. To these are allied innumerable inferior members, and which, as it were, depend upon them, some of these are soon after subjoined in this place, and more occur in Galat. v. 19–21, where, the name being changed, they are called works of the flesh.
Now let us see why they are termed members. It is usual to adduce three causes for this title.
First, because the old Adam, or the mass of corrupt nature dwelling in us, is compared to a body, Rom. vi. 6, or to a man, in the same place; therefore it was just and proper, this same metaphor being retained, to call the parts of this corruption members. Every one of us possesses three men, or three bodies : the natural and visible body, the members of which are also known and visible; the body of sin, or of the old Adam, the members of which are those vicious dispositions, desires, and actions which we just now glanced at: and the body of the new man, which is renewed after the image of God; the members of which are faith, love, holiness, and other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
2. The vicious affections and acts proceeding from this old Adam are perhaps called members, because they cleave to and exert themselves in each of the members and parts of this natural body. Therefore, by that figure of speech which they call metonymy of the subject, the term members is transferred to signify the vicious affections and acts which are in and from the bodily members.
3. They are called members from the proportion, or similar use which they have, if compared with the members of the natural body. For as we use the members of this natural body to fulfil the desires and perform the operations of nature; so the old man uses those vicious affections as instruments, for fulfilling the desires and performing the works of sin.
Ye perceive why they are called members : now let us look why your and earthly is added.
Your. These members are called ours, because that . whole body of sin is also properly ours. This natural body which we bear, is ours now as to its use; but we received
it from God as to its creation: Job x. 10, 11, Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with sinews. But this body of sin, and every one of its members are in every respect ours: for God made man upright : man has rendered himself depraved and corrupt.
Earthly.] So he calls vicious desires, because they always tend to earthly things; because they hold the minds of men to earthly things ; because corrupt habits and affections dwell only among earthly things, but are excluded from heavenly ones : Rev. xxi. 27, There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that is defiled; and xxii. 15, Without are dogs, &c. This general exhortation to mortify our earthly members being now explained, we deduce some corollaries.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth,
1. He is not risen with Christ who does not labour to mortify the flesh : for from the virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ communicated to us, there always follows a desire of mortification and holiness : Therefore, as many as delight in the flesh, are not mortified, but are dead in sin.
2. A true desire of external mortification cannot exert itself in men corrupt by sin, unless they have within them the effective principle of internal mortification, the grace, I mean, of the Spirit of regeneration. Therefore, the external exercises which are sometimes wrought by the wicked, and bear the resemblance of mortification, are not the genuine effects of internal mortification, but false appearances.
From the act commanded; Mortify ye, we infer,
3. That the regenerate themselves never attain such perfect mortification in this life, but that they must always strive to mortify themselves more and more.
4. If they relax in this desire, that which happened to holy David may happen to every one, that he be carried away by the impetuosity of his lusts, and, for a time, may be a wretched slave to sin, over which he had before triumphed gloriously.
From the object; members, 5. This body of sin is as natural to every one of us, as is the very body of our flesh; nor does it consist of fewer
hers than that live here we hot it off; so ne
6. As whilst we live here we necessarily carry about this natural body, nor are able to put it off; so neither can we entirely lay aside this body of sin, which cleaves to us, although we can and ought to chasten and subdue it. There is, therefore, a perpetual, laborious, and dangerous warfare to the Christian: perpetual, because with an enemy not to be extirpated in this life ; laborious, because with a manifold enemy; dangerous, because with an internal enemy.
7. Original sin is not to be placed in a mere privation or withdrawal of original righteousness, as certain of the Schoolmen dream; but, furthermore, in many depraved and corrupted dispositions, habits, and affections. Parisiensis hath learnedly proved this opinion in lib. De vitiis et peccatis, cap. 5 and 6. Thomas, 1. 2. qu. 82. art. ), assents to this, whose words I shall annex: We must assert, that as bodily sickness partly consists in privation, as far as the equality of health is laken away; and partly in positive infliction, the humours themselves being disordered : so also original sin consists in the privation of original righteousness; and, together with this, in the disorder of the faculties of the soul : wherefore, it is not a mere privation, but a cerlain corrupt habit. Thus speaks Thomas. Neither is it probable that these words which are used by the Apostle, the old Adam, the body of sin, earthly members, intend nothing else than mere privation.
From the epithets, your, and earthly,
8. Original sin hath its origin, neither from God our Creator, nor from the principles of our pure and upright nature, but from the voluntary sin of our first parents. Hence our members are called parts of it, i. e. of the old Adam, propagated to us, and dwelling in us.
9. If there be any thing good in us, that ought to be referred to God alone; for What hast thou which thou hust not received ? If we would arrogate any thing to ourselves VOL. II,
which we might claim as peculiar to us, and our own, it is sin and corruption, not merit and righteousness.
10. The mind of sensual man lies wholly sunk in earthly things, neither is he able to raise himself heavenward before grace be infused : for the members of our soul, i. e. the inclinations and affections, are of the earth, earthly, or affixed to the earth naturally ; and, indeed, are not raised towards heaven except hy grace exciting them.
11. We must withstand all these earthly desires, because they are members of the old Adam, to obey whom is nothing else than to rush to destruction.—Thus much concerning the general exhortation.
Fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry.] The Apostle by a general exhortation had persuaded to a mortification of the earthly members of the old Adam: Now, that we may be certain what those members are, he adds a particular specification of certain of them, from the enumeration of which he would have all the others also, which are of the same nature and origin, to be understood, i. e. what are the effects of the old man. He begins, as you perceive, with carnal vices: to these he couples covetousness, which he then marks with a black brand, by comparing it to idolatry. As to the vices of carnal luxury, he seems to me to condemn, 1. The external actions ; for to these I refer fornication and uncleanness : 2. The internal motions and affections, which that word nabos (rendered, inordinate affection) denotes: 3. The very root or fountain of external and internal lust, which he calls evil concupiscence. Let us run over these, each in its order.
Fornication.] Augustine, Exposit. Epist. ad Gal. tom. 4, defines fornication indiscriminate concubinage, unrestrained by lawful wedlock, and sought only for the gratification of lust. It is wont to be restricted to those who have commerce with prostitutes, or at least with concubines : for if they violate married females or virgins, the one is deemed adultery, the other ravishment. So familiar was this vice among the Heathen, as to be accounted by most among the lawful pleasures. That saying of the comedian is well known,