Treatise on Original Sin
Part 3, Chapter 7.
Of the last Subject of Inhesion, or Seat of Original Sin, the Body of a Man.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:23).
Hitherto we have been discovering the universal pollution of the soul by Original Sin, and that both in the upper and lower region, the rational and sensitive part thereof. Our method now requireth, that we should manifest the defilement and contagion that is upon the body also. For as it was in the Deluge that did overflow the world, the cause did proceed both from above and beneath. “The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Gen. 7:11), from above and below did come the overflowing of waters. Thus it is in that spiritual deluge of sin, which doth overflow all mankind. There is corruption in the superior parts of the soul, and there is also in the body the lowest and meanest part of man. So that whatsoever goeth to the making of man, is all over defiled. There is nothing in soul or body but is become thus polluted. We therefore proceed to the last subject of inhesion or seat of Original Sin, and that is the body of man, which will be declared from the Text we are to insist upon.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 explained.
For the coherence of it, observe that the Apostle having in the former verses enjoined many excellent and choice duties, in this verse he betaketh himself to prayer to God on their behalf, that God would sanctify them and enable them thereunto, for in vain did Paul water by this doctrinal information, unless God did give the increase. And withal we see that is a true rule that precepts are not a measure of our power, they declare indeed our duty, but they do not argue our power, otherwise prayer thus to God would have been needless.
In the prayer itself we may consider the matter itself prayed for, and that is set down:
1. Summarily, and in general. And then
2. Distributively, in several particulars.
The general is that they may be sanctified wholly or throughout. The Thessalonians were supposed to be sanctified already, yet the Apostle doth here pray for their further sanctification, which doth evidence that the doctrine of perfection in this life is a proud and presumptuous error. If they had attained to the highest pitch of sanctification already, why should they still grow in it? Thus, the Apostle doth often press Gospel duties upon such as attain to them already, but because they have not perfection, therefore they are to be urged forward. Thus, the Apostle writing to those that were reconciled saith, “we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). So, to the Ephesians (4:23-24) “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man,” etc. He speaketh as if the work were now to begin, as if they had not as yet been partakers of this new-creature. Not but that they were so, only there was much behind still to be perfected, much leaven was to be purged out, they were still imperfect, and therefore are to forget what is behind, pressing forward to the mark.
In the second place, you have the distribution of this whole in its parts. This Sanctification is to be exercised in a three-fold subject, your spirit, soul, and body. It is not Sanctification simply he prayeth for, but growing and increasing, as in the original. That it have all, that the lot, what the condition of them doth require, what holiness is the spirit’s portion, the soul’s condition to have, that they are to partake of, but because this will never be gradually perfect in this life, though integrally it is, therefore he saith ἀμέμπτως, without blame. Though the godly are not preserved without sin, yet they may without falls, such as may make them notoriously culpable and faulty before men, but because it is not enough for a time to be preserved, and then afterwards to be left to ourselves, for then we should quickly lick up our old vomit again, he therefore addeth that this preservation should be even to the coming of Christ.
Now that which I intend chiefly out of these words is the subject to be sanctified, and that not the two former (viz.) spirit and soul, of whose uncleanness we have largely treated already, but of the body, which is last of all. Only it is necessary to speak a little to the explication of these three parts of man, how they differ, for commonly when the Scripture speaketh of man it enumerateth but two parts, the soul and the body, as Ecclesiastes 12:7, and in the creation of man we have only two parts instanced, in which are his soul and his body.
Because of this there have been various conjectures upon this place, for some have hence made three parts of man, his body, his soul, which they make to be the sensitive part of man, and his spirit, which they make to be some part (as it were) flowing from the essence of God, and this they acknowledge immortal, but the soul and the body (they say) are mortal. And the ancient heretics the Apollinarians might run to this refuge, who denied Christ to have any rational soul, but his Divine nature, and his sensitive soul and body, do make upon Christ. The Manicheans also affirmed two souls in men, the one rational that was good and of God, the other evil, and the fountain of evil, the sensitive soul coming from the Devil. Yea Cerda upon Tertul. (de anima lib. 3.) saith, not only Didymus, but others of the ancients did incline to this opinion, that the Spirit was a distinct part in a man from soul and body, which opinion Augustine opposed.
Thus this Text hath favored (as some think) that opinion of two souls in a man, his rational and sensitive, not in the Manichean way, but in a Philosophical way. Some learned men indeed have thought by holding two distinct souls, many inconveniences would be avoided which are maintained in Philosophy, and the conflict and combat that is between the flesh and the spirit would be better explicated. But certainly the Scripture speaketh constantly of man as having but one soul, what will it profit a man to win the whole world and lose his “soul” not his “souls,” which Chrysostom used as an argument to make man watchful to the salvation of it, saying, “if thou hast lost one eye, thou hast another to help thee; if one arm, another to support thee, but if thou losest thy only soul, thou hast not another to be saved.”
Others, that they may avoid this inconvenience of holding three parts in a man, do by spirit understand the work of grace in a man. Thus the Greek interpreters of old, and some learned men of late, but this doth not appear any ways probable, nor will the context run smoothly to make grace (as it were) a part of a man. Neither is it coherent to pray that God would preserve our grace, our soul and body, but rather grace in them.
Therefore we take spirit and soul for the same real substance in a man, only diversified by its several operations. Lactantius calls it an inextricable question, whether animus and anima be the same thing in man, meaning by anima that whereby the body is enlivened, by animus that whereby we reason and understand. But there seemeth to be no such difficulty therein, the Scripture promiscuously calling it sometimes a soul, and sometimes a spirit. It’s called the spirit in regard of the understanding and reason, as Eph. 4:23, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” and soul because of the affectionate part therein. So that the Apostle doth not mean two distinct parts in a man, but two distinct powers and offices in the same soul. You have a parallel expression Heb. 4:12 where the Word of God is said to divide between soul and spirit, which afterwards is expressed by discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Thus, when Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God” (Luke 1:46-47), she meaneth the same part within her, only giveth it divers names.
This being explained, whereas we see the Apostle praying for the Sanctification of the body as well as the soul, it is plain that it is unclean and sinful as well as the soul, else it did not need Sanctification. From whence observe:
The body of a man is naturally defiled and sinful.
Sanctification extendeth adequately to our pollution. Seeing then it is required of man that his body be holy, and he is to glorify God in that as well as in his soul, and this cannot be without the sanctification of it, it remaineth that our bodies are not only mortal but sinful. And indeed under the corruptibility of them, we do readily groan and mourn under the diseases, pains, and aches of the body, but spiritual life is required to be humbled for the sins of the body.
Objection. If you say, how can there be sin in the body, seeing that is not reasonable, all sin supposeth reason, now the body being void of that, it should seem that it is no more capable of sin, than brute beasts are?
Answer. To this it is answered that the body is called sinful, not because sin is formally in it, for so it is in the soul, but because by it as an instrument sin is accomplished. The subjectum quod, or of denomination of sin, is the person man himself. The Principium quo formale, is the soul, the mind and will. The medium or instrumentum quo is the body, not that the body is only an instrument to the soul, for it is an essential part of man with the soul, as is further to be shewed. Thus we truly call them sinful eyes, sinful tongues, because they do instrumentally accomplish the sinfulness of the heart. When the Apostle prayeth that they might be sanctified wholly in spirit, soul, and body, he prayeth for the reparation of God’s Image again. Now when that was perfect in Adam, the spirit was immediately subject to God, the soul to the spirit, the body to the soul. So that what the spirit thought, the soul affected, and the body accomplished. But now this excellent harmony being dissolved, as the spirit is disobedient to God, the affections to the spirit, so also in the body to both, and thereby it becometh a co-partner with the soul in sin, and therefore must be joined with it in eternal torments.
Scripture Proof of the sinful pollution of the Body.
That the very body of a man is sinful and needeth sanctification is plain from these Texts. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). This is spoken to those also that are regenerated, none is perfect, they must be perfecting. As Apelles, when he drew his line would write faciebat in the imperfect tense, not fecit, as if he had finished it, he would be still making it more exact, so should we be in our best holy duties, Amabam not amavi, credebane, not credidi, there remaineth a further complement and fullness to be added to our best graces. Now this perfection is by cleansing of the flesh and spirit, that is the body and the soul.
It is a great error among some Papists that they hold the spirit and mind of a man free from original contagion, and therefore confine it only to the inferior bodily parts, but that hath sufficiently been confuted, yet we deny not but the bodily part of man is likewise greatly contaminated, and like an impure vessel defileth whatsoever cometh into it. The uncleanness of the body appeareth also from that command Rom. 12:1 where the Apostle enjoineth, that we should present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. So that whatsoever we do by our body it is to be holy and acceptable unto God. Now this exhortation was needless if we did not naturally offer up our bodies a sacrifice to sin, and to the Devil. For merely a natural man serveth sin and the Devil with all the parts of his body. Therefore, the Apostle speaking to persons converted saith, “as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19). Thy eye was once the Devil’s and sin’s, thy tongue was, thy ear was, by all these sin was constantly committed, so now have a sanctified body, an holy eye, a godly ear, an heavenly tongue, a pure body. And indeed we need not run for Texts of Scripture, experience doth abundantly confirm the preparedness and readiness of the body to all suitable and pleasing iniquity.
Consider likewise that pregnant place, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). As the heart must be cleansed from all sins that our consciences may condemn us for, so our bodies likewise must be washed with pure water. It is an allusive expression to the legal custom, which was for all before they drew nigh to the service of God, to sprinkle themselves with pure water, to take off the legal uncleanness of the body. And thus we must still in a spiritual way, that so the body may be fitted for Gods service. As it is said of Christ, “a body hast thou prepared me” (Heb. 10:5), because the Spirit of God did so purify that corpulent mass of which Christ’s body was made, that being without all sin, he was thereby fitted for the work of a Mediator. For as for the Socinian interpretation, who would apply it to Christ’s body made immortal and glorious, as if it were to be understood of Christ entering into Heaven, the context doth evidently confute it. That which the Apostle, following the Septuagint in the original, calleth, “preparing the body,” out of which it is alleged, it is, “mine ears hast thou opened” (Ps. 40:6), alluding to the Jewish custom, who when a servant would not leave his master, his ears were to be bored, and so he was to continue forever with him. The ears were bored, because they are the instrument of hearing and obedience, and thereby was signified that he would diligently hearken to his master’s commands. Thus it was with Christ, his ears were opened, his whole body prepared to do the will of God. Now as it was thus with Christ, so in some respect it must be with us. God must prepare and fit a body for us, till grace sanctify and polish it, there is no readiness to any holy duty, “The seeing eye, and the hearing ear,” God is said to make both (Prov. 20:12).
By these instances out of Scripture, you see what a leprosy of sin hath spread over the body as well as the soul. Oh, that therefore we were sensible of these sinful bodies that are such clogs to us, such burdens to us in the way to Heaven! But let us proceed to shew the sinfulness thereof in particulars.
The Sinfulness of the Body discovered in particulars.
It is not now Instrumental and serviceable to the Soul in holy Approaches to God, but is a clog and burden.
First, the body is not now instrumental and serviceable to the soul in holy approaches to God, but is a clog and burden, whereas to Adam abiding in the state of innocence, the body was exceeding useful to glorify God with. The body was as wings to the soul, or as wheels to the chariot, though weighty in themselves, yet they do alleviate and help to motion. They are both onera and adjumenta, oneranda exonerant. Thus did the body to Adam’s soul, but now such is the usefulness, yet the hindrance of the body to the soul’s operations, that the very Heathens have complained of it, calling it carcer animae, and sepulchrum animae, the prison of the soul, the very grave of the soul, as if the soul were buried in the body. How much more may Christianity complain of this weight of the body, while it is to run its race to Heaven. Mezenius is noted for a cruel fact of binding dead bodies to live men, that so by the noisome stink of those carcasses the men tied to them might at last die a miserable death. Truly by this may be represented Original Sin not fully purged away by sanctification. The godly do complain of this body of sin, as a noisome carcass joined to them, and with Paul cry out, Wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from this bondage?
It doth positively affect and defile the Soul.
Secondly, the body’s sinfulness doth not only appear thus privatively, in being not subservient and helpful to the soul, but it doth also positively affect and defile the soul. Not by way of any physical contact, for so a body cannot work upon a spirit, but by way of sympathy. For seeing the soul and body are two constituent parts essentially of man, and the soul doth inform the body by an immediate union, hence it is that there is a mutual fellowship one with another, there is a mutual and reciprocal acting (as it were) upon one another. The soul greatly affected doth make a great change upon the body, and the body greatly distempered doth also make a wonderful change upon the mind. And if thereby man fall into madness and distractions, why not also into sin and pollutions of the mind? Thus the corrupt soul maketh the body more vile and the corrupt body maketh the soul more sinful, and so they do advance sin in a mutual circle of causality. Even as vapours cause clouds, and clouds again dissolving do make vapours. Thy sinful soul makes thy body more wicked, and thy sinful body heightens the impiety of thy soul.
A man acts more according to the body and the inclinations thereof, then the mind with the Dictates thereof.
Thirdly, herein is the pollution of the body manifested, in that a man doth act more according to the body and the inclinations thereof than the mind with the dictates thereof. He is body rather than soul, for whereas in man’s creation, the soul had the dominion and the body was made only for the use of the soul, now this order is inverted by Original Sin, the body prevaileth over the soul, and the soul is enslaved to the propensities thereof. Even Aristotle said, that homo was magis sensus quam intellectus, more sense than understanding, and so more corporeal than spiritual.
Man is compounded of two parts, which do in their nature extremely differ from each other. The body that is of dust and vile matter, and such materials God would have man formed of even at first, he did not make man’s body of some admirable, quintessential matter, as Philosophers say the heavens are made of, but of that which was most vile and contemptible, to teach man humility, even in his very original and most absolute, estate. Now in being consistent thus of a body, he doth partake with beasts and agreeth with them. But the other part of man is spiritual, immaterial, and immortal substance breathed at first into Adam by God himself, and herein he doth agree with Angels. According to these two constituent principles a man doth act, either according to the soul or the body. In the state of integrity his soul was predominant, he was like an Angel in this particular, but now since man is fallen, his body is principal and chief, and thereupon is become like the brute beast, living and walking according to the inclinations and temptations of the body. This the Psalmist observed, “man being in honor abideth not, he is like the beasts that perish” (Ps. 49:12). And verse 20, “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” Here you see that though a man be exalted to never so much glory and dignity in the world, yet if he understand not, if he doth not live according to the true principles of reason and grace, he is but like a beast, not only in that he perisheth like a beast, but also in that he liveth and walketh like one. Hence it is that the Scripture doth so often compare wicked men to beasts, to the ass, to the wolf, to the dog and swine, because they fall from the principles of a rational soul, and become like them in their operations.
Thus evil men are said to be taken captive by the Devil at his will, or (as in the Greek) taken alive (2 Tim. 2:26). As the hunter doth drive wild beasts into his nets and so taketh them alive, thus are wicked men brought (as it were) willingly into the Devil’s hands and are tame under him. And if “his will” be referred to the Devil (as some do) then it sheweth in what willing subjection they are in to Satan’s lusts, but because it’s not […], but […], it therefore relateth rather to the remote antecedent which is God, implying that it is by God’s just judgement that man is thus become a miserable slave, and doth the Devil’s drudgery, even as we make beasts do our work. And thus it is with all men since the Fall, they are not worthy the name of a man, therefore the whole body of wicked men are compared to the Serpent’s seed, as if they were the offspring of such a poisonous creature rather than of man.
Yea doth not experience confirm this? Take men without the work of grace, either internally sanctifying of them, or externally restraining of them; take them as left to their own natural principles, and having no more to walk by, what do you perceive in them more than a beast? Indeed, their body is still upright, and so they differ from them, but in their life and manners they are conformable unto them. Oh, that men would consider and lay this to heart, to be affected with this Original Sin that hath thus degraded us even from the honor (as it were) of a man! There doth not appear in us the actings and workings of a rational soul, we are as our body, and the inclinations thereof do carry us away.
The Body by Original Sin is made a Tempter and a Seducer.
Fourthly, the body by Original Sin, is made a tempter, and a seducer, it doth administer daily matter and occasion to sin. As the Devil is a tempter without, so the body is the tempter within. We are incited and drawn away to many bodily sins from the temptations thereof, hence we read in the Scripture that the word flesh is so often put for the sinful part of a man, and spirit for the regenerate part. Why is it called flesh, but because it is so intimately adhering to the body, and by the body so much iniquity and sinfulness is expressed. Thus sin is called our flesh, as if it were no longer a quality polluting of us, but our very bones and corporeal substance.
There are several bodily sins which are bred (as it were) in this noisome puddle of the body, as drunkenness, this is a bodily sin, and where this vice is accustomed unto, how greatly doth the body crave and importune for the accomplishing of it? This maketh repentance of it, and a thorough reformation so difficult, because it is now soaked (as it were) in the body. That as you see it is with the food we eat, while in the mouth or stomach it is with some ease exonerated, but when digested and by nourishment turned into the very parts of the body, then it cannot be separated. Thus when sins come to be incorporated into thee, when thy body is habituated to any vice, it requireth much prayer and agony, much humiliation and supplication, ere such a lust can be dispossessed. Oh, then bewail thy body, that is thus become an enemy to the soul, that is like a furnace sending forth continual sparks of fire. That as the tree by the moisture and softness thereof doth cause worms to breed in it which do at last destroy it. Thus out of thy body arise such lusts that will at last be thy eternal perdition.
As drunkenness so uncleanness, this is also a lust of the body, this sin ariseth from it, and although that be very true which the Apostle saith (1 Cor. 6:18), that fornication and such uncleanness are against the body because the body is to be kept holy and pure, being the temple of the Holy Ghost where a man is sanctified, yet take it as corrupted and polluted, so these lusts are very suitable and consonant to it. Who can think then, that the body is such as at first Creation, such a ready instrument to much bodily wickedness, yea a tempter and a seducer? This is the Delilah that doth so often plunge us into soul sins. There was no root of bitterness in man’s body at first, but as it was with the ground, when cursed for man’s sin, then it did naturally and of itself bring forth weeds and thorns, so doth the body thus defiled, it is now the continual nourisher, and fomenter of vice. We damn our souls to please our bodies, we are become slaves to our bodily pleasures and delights, though we know they are to the eternal perdition both of soul and body at last. Nourish it we must, provide for it we must, yet we cannot nourish that, but sin also is thereby strengthened.
Hence you have that holy Apostle himself much afraid of his body, that it may not rise up in rebellion against the work of grace (1 Cor. 9:27), he useth two emphatic words to this purpose ὑπωπιάζω, “I keep under my body,” an allusion to those who did fight for masteries by way of exercise, so that when one did beat the other black and blue about the face ([…]) is the countenance, and ([…]) are those marks upon the face. Hence Hesychius rendereth it, an humiliation of the body) this was […] (not to speak of those who read it […]). Corinth was well acquainted with these exercises of the body, and although there were five kinds of them, yet the Apostle instanceth in two only (viz.) of racers and of wrestlers, as being most suitable to his purpose. Now by this metaphor the Apostle would teach us what an enemy and adversary the body is to the soul, what snares it layeth for us, what great danger may arise to us from it alone. He doth not name his fighting with the world and the Devil, though these be potent enemies, but the body only, because these adversaries cannot do us any hurt till this domestic enemy and home-adversary do betray us. And as it signifieth that the body is an enemy, so it declareth also with what austerity and mortification we are to observe our bodies, for they are like our beasts, if we take not their provender from them, they will quickly grow too unruly, as is implied in the next word.
It is true, the Apostle doth not say, I kill my body, nor I mutilate my body, for that had been unlawful. Neither doth this Text give any encouragement to those Popish penances and discipline they use to their bodies (although their learned men think this place alone to be enough to justify their flagellations, their whippings and scourgings of the body) but commands such an abstinence about our bodies, that thereby they may be the more prepared and useful for any spiritual duty. For such who live in bodily excess make their bodies a very noisome sink or dunghill to the soul. Hence the word is to be understood metaphorically, as Luke 18:5, where it is applied to the importunate widow that troubled the judge. And although the Apostle by the body doth chiefly mean the carnal and sinful part of a man, yet he nameth the body, because it, if not diligently watched unto and observed, will quickly produce many carnal lusts.
The other Greek word is δουλαγωγῶ, “I bring it into subjection.” By this is denoted that the body is like some rebellious and stubborn servant, or some pampered and unruly horse, which with much art and strength must be brought under. Thus also the body is, it is unruly and masterful, it will prevail over the soul, and even overcome the workings of grace if we do not carefully attend. As in deep mines there do sometimes arise such foggy vapours that put their light out who are digging there, and so endanger them if they do not diligently observe them. Lusts and sins lie in the body (as it were) like fire in the flint, any temptation will draw them out. It was the speech of one, who (though sick) yet would not have the temptation come nigh him, saying, Auferte ignem adhuc enim paleas habeo, Take away the fire, for I have yet chaff within me. Thus if Paul be afraid of his body, if he fear himself lest temptations arise from thence, what should we do? if the ram fear so, what should the lamb do? As Augustine upon this point, if the green tree thus fear burning, what should the dry one do?
Though bodily sins are very many in number, so that it would be too tedious to reckon up all, yet I must not pass by one more, which the Apostle is so large in, and that is the sinfulness of the tongue, that is one part of the body, yet the Apostle saith, a world of evil is in it. How many worlds of evil are then in the whole man? James 1:4-7, the Apostle from his former council given, that they should not be many masters, that is, as some expound it, and that most probable, do not affect to produce new opinions, and so to create many disciples to follow you, as if you only found out this or that doctrine. Like that of our Saviour, “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ” (Mat. 23:10), and that they must depend upon your authority only. From this council (I say) he doth occasionally declare the evil and general wickedness of the tongue, because where there are contrary masters, and they hold contrary opinions, commonly these are maintained by them with much pride and arrogance, with bitter censuring and condemning of one another. Therefore the Apostle doth fully inform us what an instrument of evil the tongue is, that it setteth on fire the course of nature. It is from the tongue that houses, towns, cities, yea the whole world is set into combustion, and no wonder, for that is set on fire from Hell, that is, from the Devil, who by the corruption of man doth now reign and rule in him. Yea it is so full of deadly poison, and such an unruly evil, that no man can tame it. From which expression Augustine did well gather the necessity of God’s grace, for the tongue only is so ready to evil one way or other, that without God’s grace it cannot be tamed, and though nature hath given teeth, and lips, as so many bars to keep in the tongue, yet grace only must over rule it. As then the physician by looking on the tongue doth discover the heat and disease of the body within, so by thy tongue, thy passionate tongue, thy unruly tongue, thy raging tongue, Original Sin which is in the whole man, is notoriously manifested. How quickly is the poison in the heart emptied into the tongue?
Neither may you object, saying, that drunkenness, adultery, and evil bitter words are actual sins, and what is this to Original Sin? Yes, very much, as the fruit to the root, as the streams to the fountain. For were not the body thus originally polluted with the soul, the fruit would be then answerable to a pure and perfect root. And well may we discourse after this manner, seeing we have the Apostle a president herein. For in Rom. 3:9-12, having asserted both Jew and Gentile to be under sin so that there is not one good of all mankind by nature, he demonstrateth this both by the soul-sinfulness and the body-sinfulness, and that by actual impieties, “Their throat is an open sepulcher…the poison of asps is under their lips…their feet are swift to shed blood.” Thus it is plain, that Original Sin lying latent in the heart of a man, is discovered by the actual impieties of the body, and all the parts of the body are one way or other executive of the fruit of this sin.
It doth objectively occasion much sin to the Soul.
Fifthly, the body is not only a tempter thus to sin, and so as Saul purposed about Michal, is become a snare to us, a worse evil than is in that imprecation, let their table become a snare to them, for our body, which is so dear and so intimate is also become a snare, but then objectively it doth occasion much sin to the soul. In the former particular our bodies had some kind of efficiency and working in those sins, but here it is passive (as it were) an object that doth allure and draw out the soul inordinately to it, so that we mind the body, look to the body, provide for the body more than the soul. Whereas the soul is far more excellent and worthy than the body, so that our thoughts and studies should be infinitely more zealous to save that than the body. Yet till grace doth sanctify and live us up to the enjoyment of God, who doth not look after his body more than his soul, which yet is, as if (saith Chrysostom) a man should look to his house to see it be repaired, and that be in good order, but neglect his own self. The soul is properly a man, the body is but his house, and a vile one also, is an house of clay. It is but a garment to the soul, and a ragged tottered one.
Now it is good to take notice in what particulars our bodies are thus objectively a cause of sin to us.
1. Feeding and Clothing the Body.
First, it is evident in that diligent and thoughtful way of care we have about the feeding and clothing of it. Doth not our Saviour even to his very disciples, prohibit this perplexing care? “Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on” (Mat. 6:25), but how faulty are we here, comparatively to our souls? We that have so many thoughts to provide for the body, how few have we about the soul? Is not the body well fed, when the soul is starved? Is not the body well clothed, when the soul is naked? How justly may thy soul cry out murder, murder, for thou art destroying and damning that every day? Will not thy soul witness against thee at the day of judgement, the body was taken care for, the body was looked to, but I was neglected? Will it not cry out in Hell, oh if I had been as diligently attended unto, as the body, I had not been roaring in these eternal torments.
2. Adorning the Body.
The second particular, wherein the body doth objectively and occasionally tempt the soul to sin, is about the adorning and trimming of it, not only the care to provide for it, but the curiosity to adorn it doth provoke the soul to much sin. Whereas our very garments should put us in constant mind of our original pollution (for there was no shame upon nakedness till that first transgression) and thereby greatly humble us, we now grow proud and vain from the very effect of the first disobedience. Every morning we put on our garments, we should remember our Original Sin. The body before sin was not exposed to any danger by cold and other damages, neither was the nakedness thereof any cause of blushing, but all this and more also is the fruit of the first sin. And if so, how inexcusable is it to be curious and diligent in trimming up, and adorning our bodies by those very garments, the thoughts whereof should greatly debase us, but this is not all. The great attendance to the glory of the body doth wholly take off from the care of the soul. How happy were it, if persons did take as much pains to have their souls clothed with the robes of righteousness, to have them washed and cleansed from all filth, as they do about their bodies? One spot, one wrinkle in the garment is presently spied out, when the soul at the same time, though full of loathsomeness, is altogether neglected, as if our souls were for our bodies, and not our bodies for our souls.
The Platonists indeed had such high thoughts of the soul, and so low of the body, that their opinion was, Anima est homo, the soul is the man, they made the body but a mere instrument, as the ship is to the pilot, or musical instruments to an artificer. This is not true in Philosophy, though in a moral sense it may have some affinity with truth, but if we do regard the affections and actions of all by nature, we may rather say the body is man. Yea the Apostle goeth higher, he maketh it some men’s god, “Whose belly is their god” (Phil. 3:19). Why their God? Because all they look at in religion, all they mind is only to satisfy that. The monks’ belly in Luther’s time was their god. When then a man liveth his natural, civil and religious life only to have his belly satisfied, this man maketh his belly his god. And again, there are persons, whose backs are their god. For never did Heathens or Papists bestow more cost upon their idols and images to make them glorious, than they do on their backs, little remembering that we came naked into the world, and that we shall not carry anything out with us.
If this care were for soul-ornaments, if thou didst spend as much time in prayer to God and reading the Scriptures, whereby thy soul might be made comely and beautiful, as thou doest about thy body, this would prove more comfortable. If thou didst as often look into the glass of God’s Word, to find out every sin thou doest commit, and to reform it, as thou doest into the material glass to behold thy countenance, and to amend the defilements there, thou wouldst find that the hours and day so spent will never grieve thee. Whereas upon the review of thy life spent in this world, thou wilt at the Day of Judgement cry out of, and bewail all those hours, all that time in unnecessary adorning of the body. The Apostle giveth an excellent exhortation, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible” (1 Peter 3:3-4). The Apostle doth not there simply and absolutely forbid the wearing of gold in such who by their places and calling may do it, for Isaac gave Rebecca earrings of gold, but he speaketh comparatively, rather look to the adorning of the soul, than of the body, spend more time about one than the other. It is a known history of that Pambo, who seeing a woman very industriously trimming herself to please that man with whom she intended naughtiness, wept thereupon, because he could not be as careful to dress up his soul in such a posture as to please God. Oh, then look to thy body hereafter. Let it not steal so much time from thee, as thereby to neglect thy soul, and to lose those opportunities thou mayest have of humbling thyself before God!
3. Fear of Discomfort and Death.
Thirdly, the body doth objectively draw out sin from the soul in that the fear of any danger to it, especially the death thereof, will make us damn our souls and greatly offend God, which doth plainly discover, that our bodies are more to us, than God or Heaven, or our souls are. Therefore we have our Saviour pressing his disciples against this fear, if fear about hurt to the body may ensnare the godly, and keep them from their duty, no wonder if it totally prevail with the natural man. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat. 10:28; Luke 12:4).
But what Apostasies, what sad perfidiousness in religion hath this love to the body caused? The inordinate fear of death thereof hath made many men wound and damn their souls. Times of danger and persecution do abundantly discover how inordinate men are in their love to their bodies, looking upon bodily death worse than eternal damnation in Hell. Although our Saviour hath spoken so expressly, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). It is the Scripture’s command that we should glorify God in soul and body which are God’s, our body is God’s, it is bought with a price as well as your soul, so that it ought to be our study how we should glorify God by our eyes, ears, and tongues. It is not enough to say thou hast a good heart and an honest heart if thou hast a sinful body.
Now though there be many ways wherein we may glorify God by our bodies, yet there is none so signal and eminent as when we do willingly at the call of God give our bodies to be disgraced, tormented, and killed for his sake, then God saith to thee, as he did to Abraham upon his willingness to offer up his son Isaac, Now I know thou lovest me. Thus you have Paul professing, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lords Jesus” (Gal 6:17). The Greek word signifieth such marks of ignominy as they did use to their servants, or fugitives, or evil doers. Now though in the eyes of the world such were reproachful, yet Paul gloried in them, and therefore he giveth this as a reason why none should trouble and molest him in the work of the Ministry, this ought to be a demonstration to them of his sincerity, and that he seeketh not himself, but Christ. Hence also he saith, “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20). By this it is evident that we owe our bodies to Christ as well as our souls, and that any fear to suffer in them for his sake argueth we love our bodies more than his glory.
The Bodies indisposition to any service of God, a Demonstration of its original Pollution.
But let us proceed to another particular wherein the original pollution of the body may be manifested, and that is by the indisposition that is in the body to any service for God, though it may be the soul is willing and desirous. The drowsiness, dullness, and sleepiness of the body doth many times cause the soul to be very unfit for any approaches unto God. Our Saviour observed this even in his very disciples, when he said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mat. 26:41). When our Saviour was in those great agonies, making earnest prayer unto God, and commanding his disciples to watch and pray, that they might not enter into temptation, yet they were heavy and dull, and therefore were twice reproved for their sleep. This sleepiness of theirs was at that time when (if ever) they should have been thoroughly awake. Thus it falleth out often, that in those duties, and at those times, when we ought most to watch and attend, then commonly the body is most heavy and dull.
Hence is that drowsiness and sleepiness while the Word is preached, whereas at thy meals, or at thy recreations, and in worldly businesses there is no such dullness fallen upon thee. This ariseth partly from the soul, and partly from the body. The soul that is not spiritual and heavenly, therefore it doth not with delight and joy approach unto God, and then the body is like an instrument out of tune, as earth is the most predominant element in it, so it is a clog and a burden to the soul. Therefore bewail thy natural condition herein. Adam’s body was expedite and ready, he found no indisposition in his body to serve the Lord, but how often, even when the heart desireth it, yet is thy body a weight and trouble to thee. Nazianzen doth excellently bewail this, “How I am joined to this body, I know not (saith he) how at the same time I should be the Image of God, and roll in this dirt (so he calleth the body)—It is a kind enemy, a deceitful friend, how strange is this conjunction, Quod vereor amplector, quod amo perhorresco? Doth not God suffer this wrestling of the body with the soul to humble us, that we may understand that we are noble or base, heavenly or earthly, as we propend to either of these.” (Orat. de pauperum curâ)
This should also make thee earnestly long for the coming of Christ, when all this bodily sinfulness shall be done away. Oh, what a blessed change will there then be of this vile, heavy, dull and indisposed body, to an immortal, glorious, and spiritual body, then there will be no more complaints of this body of thine, then that will cause no jar or disturbance in the glorious service of God.
How easily the Body is moved and stirred by the passions and affections thereof.
Fourthly, the body is from the original defiled in that it is easily and readily moved and stirred by the passions and affections thereof. It cannot be denied but that heathens and heretics have declaimed against, and reviled the body of man, (as appeareth by Tertul de Resurrect. Carmi.) as if it were an evil substance made from some evil principle. Hence it is written of Plotinus the great Platonist, that he was ashamed his soul was in a body, and therefore would by no means yield to have the picture of it drawn, neither would he regard parents, or kindred, or country, because his body was from them. But we proceed not upon these men’s account we follow the Scripture-light, and by that we see the body consociated with the soul in evil, whereof this of the passions is not the least.
The passions are seated in the sensitive and material part of a man, and therefore have an immediate operation upon the body, being therefore called passions, because they make the body to suffer, they work a corporal alteration. Hence anger is defined from its effect, an ebullition or bubbling forth of blood about the heart. And thus grief, because it is so immediately seated in the body, is therefore said to be rottenness to the bones, and it is said to work death, 2 Cor. 7:10. But it was not thus with the body from the beginning, Adam indeed had such passions as do suppose good in the object, such as love and delight, though they were bounded and did not transgress their limits, but then he was not capable of those passions which do suppose evil and hurt, as anger, fear, and grief, for these would have repugned the blessed estate he was created in. But since Original Sin hath made this violent breach upon the whole man, the body is become the foaming and unquiet sea, while tempests and storms blow upon it.
How quickly do these passions of love, anger, fear, and grief put the whole body out of all order? So that it is not fit to hear, to pray, to do any service for God? When we are to pray, we are to life up our hands without wrath (1. Tim. 6:8), and so without any other inordinate motion, for these make an earthquake (as it were) in the body. These are like a rushing wind and fire, but not such as the Holy Ghost will appear in. We may therefore lie down and roll ourselves upon the ground with shame and confusion, considering what an unquiet, restless and disturbed instrument to the soul our body is now become. Sometimes anger that set it on fire, sometimes sorrow that is ready to drown it. Even as we read the poor lunatic person vexed with the Devil did ofttimes fall into the fire, and oft into the water, two contrary elements, but dangerous (Mat. 17:15). Thus, where passions do reign in the body, they oft fall into the fire of anger, and then as oft into the water of grief and sorrow. So that thy body is molded according to thy passion, even as iron heated appeareth no longer iron but fire.
Surely the experience of this should grieve thee, and break thy very heart. How many tempests and storms do arise in thy body daily? What whirlwinds of passions do carry thee away violently from reason and grace? Oh, remember this was not in the state of innocence, neither will it be in the state of glory. Therefore be so far from being proud of the beauty or strength of thy body, that the very thoughts of thy body, as now vitiated by Original Sin may justly humble thee. Though Plotinus the Platonist (as you heard) was justly to be reproved for the hatred of his body, proceeding upon evil principles, yet Augustine commendeth the modesty and humility of Paulinus, for when Sulpictius Severus sent to him to have his image or picture, Paulinus refused it, and that because of the pollution upon it by Original Sin, and that the Image of God was now lost. Erube copingere quod sum, non audeo pingere quod non sum—Durat enim mihi illud prime Adam virus paternum quo universitatem generis sui pater praevaricatus infecit. Thus he being ashamed to give the picture of his body, because contaminated by original pollution.
The Body when sanctified is become no less glorious than the Temple of the Holy Ghost.
Fifthly, even the very body of a man, when sanctified, it becometh no less glorious than to be the Temple of the Holy Ghost, which doth demonstrate that till a man be regenerated it is not such a Temple, but a dunghill or sty, wherein swinish lusts, yea and the devils themselves do reside, as in their proper habitation.
It is necessary to take notice of several things relating to the body, which the Apostle mentioneth, 1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 19. For having there spoken briefly to the disputes that were then very prevalent about meats, the using or not using of our liberty therein, he giveth this remarkable reason against too much fervency in debate thereof, because God shall destroy both belly and meats. These were corruptible things, and were but for a temporary use, and therefore their hearts should be more attentive to those things which are of eternal consequence. A necessary truth to moderate our spirits in disputes of that nature. Having done this, being to aggravate the sin of fornication, which was then generally thought either no sin, or very venial, he bringeth in some arguments that being general make against any sinfulness of the body as well as uncleanness.
As 1. The body is for the Lord (that is Christ) and the Lord for the body. Our body is intentionally not for any sin, but the Lord Christ, and he demands it as a body dedicated to him. How powerful should this reason be to make us watch against any bodily pollution whatsoever?
2. He argueth, “know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” Know ye not? He supposeth that this ought to be. If it were an undoubted received truth that our bodies when regenerated do become members to Christ their Head, and if so, “Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.” He apprehendeth matter of trembling and abomination at such a thing, and this holds of every bodily sin. Shall I take the eye of Christ, the ear of Christ, the tongue of Christ, and employ it in any lusts or passions? God forbid. And at the 19th verse he goeth yet higher, with a “Know ye not” again, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, and which ye have of God?” This doth denote an holy dedication of the body to God. So that every sin committed in the body hath a sacrilege in it, with what purity, reverence and sobriety should we use our bodies, thus it ought to be. But take a man in his natural condition, there is his whole body set apart to the Devil’s work, all the parts thereof are to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. But when a man is regenerated there doth become an intimate and unspeakable conjunction, not only of our souls, but our bodies also with Christ’s body. So that he doth say we are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, but the body naturally is far from any such mystical conjunction with Christ.
The Senses of the Body are Polluted by Original Sin.
Lastly, the pollution of the body from the womb is seen in regard of the senses of the body, which are the most noble parts thereof. They are the windows or gates to let in all wickedness. The greatest part of our impiety entereth into the heart by the bodily senses. The subordinate end of the senses were to be a preservation to the body, and to maintain the natural life thereof, but the principal and chief end was to be instrumental to the salvation of the soul. God gave us eyes and ears chiefly thereby to glorify him, and to help forward the salvation of ourselves; but how greatly are the bodily senses fallen from this principal end?
Revelation 2:7, and in many other places we have that expression, “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.” No man hath an ear to hear till God open it. And by that phrase is denoted that the ear is principally for this use, to hearken to what God saith, and therefore in Romans 10 faith is said to come by hearing. Thy ear is not given thee to hear stories and merry jests, chiefly for commerce with men, but to hearken what God out of his Word saith to thee. And so, for the eyes, they are not to behold wanton objects, or to take delight in sights, but to behold the creatures, that thereby God may be glorified. Therefore, our eyes, our ears need God’s grace to sanctify them and prepare them for any heavenly duty. “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them” (Prov. 20:12).
Let the use be even to amaze and astonish thee with the thoughts of this universal pollution upon thee, the soul in all the parts thereof, the body in all the members thereof. Nothing clean and pure, but all over leprous and ulcerous, how canst thou any longer delight and put confidence in thyself? Why doest thou not with Job sit abhorring of thyself? His indeed were ulcers of the body only, and they were a disease, but not sin, whereas thou art all over in soul and body thus defiled, and that in a proper sinful way. Oh, that the Spirit of God would convince all of this sin! The Prophet Isaiah was to cry, all flesh is grass, and the flower thereof fadeth away to prepare for Christ, but in that was chiefly comprehended, all flesh is sin, and the fruit thereof damnation. What though this be harsh and unpleasing to flesh and blood? What though many erroneous spirits deny it, or extenuate it, yet seeing the Scripture is so clear and evident, with which every man that hath experience of his own heart, doth also willingly concur? Believe it seriously and humble yourselves deeply, think not transient and superficial thoughts will prevail, as the weightiness of the matter doth require. If ever thy heart can be broken and softened, let it be discovered here, rise with the thoughts of it, walk with the thoughts of it, and leave it not till thou find the belief thereof drive thee out of thyself with fear and trembling, finding no rest till thou art interested in Christ.