Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

2. That a regenerate soul has new aversions.
He once Hated knowledge, and did not chuse the

fear of the Lord*. He Hated the lightt, which disclosed to the aching eye of his conscience the beloved and indulged irregularities of his heart. He hated every thing, that laid an embargo upon his lusts; and was ready to count those for his enemies, that plainly admonished him; and secretly to dislike those, whose conduct even silently reproved him. But now all these things are amiable to him, and those are esteemed his most valuable friends, whose examples may be most edifying, whose instructions may be most useful, and whose admonitions may be most faithful. For he now Hates every false ways; yea, and every Vain thought toog. He looks upon every irregular desire, as an enemy, which he longs utterly to subdue ; and especially strives against that sin which does most easily beset him, and abhors it more than he ever delighted in it. And though he rather pities, than bates the persons of the most wretched and mischievous transgressors, yet he can no longer continue an endearing friendship with those, who were once his seducers to sin, and his companions in it. In this sense, like David, he Hates the congregation of evil doers, and wilt not sit with the wicked|| ; and if they will not be wrought upon by his compassionate endeavours to reclaim them, he will soon break off the infectious intercourse, and say, Depart from me, ye evit doers ; for I determine that I will keep the commandments of my God T. 3. The regenerate man has also new desires.

There was a time, when sinful passions, as the apostle expresses it; Did work in his members to bring forth fruit untą death**, He was Fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind+t, and Making provision to fulfil the lusts of both11. But now he earnestly desires a conformity to God, as his highest happiness; and can look up to him, and say,

" Oh Lord, The desire of my soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of theess; to maintain such a sense of thy presence at all times, as may influence my heart to think, my lips to speak, and my hands to act, in a manner suitable to that remembrance, and agreeable to thy wise and holy will.” He now Hungers und thirsts after righteousness || Il; feels as real an appetite after more advanced degrees of piety and holiness, as he ever felt toward the gratification of his senses; and Esteems the proper methods of attaining these advanced degrees, even more than his necessary food*. Instead of desiring to run through a long course of animal enjoyments, he desires to get above them; longs to be a pure and triumphant spirit in the refined regions of immortality; and is Willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lordt.

* Prov. i. 29.
# Psal. xxvi. 5.
#1 Rom. xiii. 14.

+ John iii. 20.

Psal. cxix. 115.
IS Isa. xxvi. 8.

Psal. cxix. 104.
** Rom. vii. 5.
ull Mat. v. 6.

§ Ver. 113. # Eph. ii. 3.

But I wave the further illustration of this, till I come to consider the new hopes which inspire him. I therefore add, as a necessary consequence of these new desires, 4. That the regenerate man has new fears.

Pain and sorrow, disappointment and affliction, he naturally feared : and the forebodings of his own mind would sometimes awaken the fears of future punishment, according to the righteous judgment of an offended God: But now he fears not merely punishment, but guilt; fears the remonstrance of an injured conscience; for he reverences conscience as God's vicegerent in his bosom. He therefore fears the most secret sins, as well as those which might occasion public disgrace; yea, he fears, lest by a precipitate and inconsiderate conduct, he should contract guilt before he is aware. He fears lest he should inadvertently injure and grieve others, even the weakest and the meanest. He fears using his liberty, 'in a manner that might insnare his brethren, or might occasion any scandal to a christian profession: For such is the sensibility of his heart in this respect, that he would be more deeply concerned for the dishonour brought to God, and the reproach which might be thrown on religion by any unsuitable conduct of his; than merely for that part of the shame, that might immediately and directly fall upon himself. But again, 5. The regenerate man has new joys.

These arise chiefly, from an intercourse with God through Jesus Christ, and from a review of himself, as under the sanctifying influences of his grace, and as brought into a state of favour with bim, in proportion to the degree in which he can discern himself in this character and state.

You know David, speaking of God, calls him his exceeding joyt; and declares the Gladness he had put into his heart, by lifting up the light of his countenance upon him, to be far beyond what they could have, whose corn and wine increased*. And the apostle Paul speaks of christians, as Joying in God through Jesus Christt, and as Rejoicing in Christ Jesust: And Peter also describes them, as those, who Believing in him, though unseen, rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glorys.

* Job xxiii. 12.

+ 2 Cor. v. 8.

Psal. xliii. 4.

Perhaps there was a time, when the good man censured all pretences of this kind, now at least in these latter days of chris. tianity, as an empty enthusiastic pretence : But since he has Tasted that the Lord is gracious|l, he has that experimental knowledge of their reality and excellence, which he can confidently oppose to all the most artful and sophistical cavils ; and could as soon doubt, whether the sun enlightens his eyes, and warms his body, as he could question, whether God has ways of manifesting himself to souls, when it is felt with unutterable delight. And when thus entertained, he can adopt David's words, and say, that his Soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, so that with joyful lips he praises God I, when his Meditation of him is thus sweet**, and God says unto his soul, I am thy salvationtt.

The survey of the Lord Jesus Christ gives him also unutter. able joy ; while he reflects on that ample provision, which God has made by him, for the supply of all his necessities; and that firm security, which is given to his soul, by a believing union with Christ; whereby his life is connected with that of his Saviour. In his constant presence, in his faithful care, he can Boast all the day longit; and that friendship, which establishes a community of interests between him and his Lord, engages him to rejoice in that salvation and happiness, to which he is advanced at the right hand of God, and gives him, by joyful sympathy, his part

with Christ in glory, before he personally arrives at the full possession of it.

I add, that he also rejoices in the consciousness of God's gracious work upon his own soul, so far as he can discern the traces of it there. He delights to feel himself, as it were, cured of the mortal disease, with which he once saw himself infected; to find himself in health and vigour of mind, renewed to a conformity with the divine image. He delights to look inward, and see that transformation of soul, which has made the Wilder. ness like the garden of the Lord §, so that Instead of the thorn there shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar the

* Psal. iv. 6, 7.
# 1 Pet. ii. 3.
** Psal. xliv. 8.

* Rom. v. 11.

Psal. Ixiii. 5.
99 Isa. li, 3.

Phil. iii. 3.
** Psal. civ. 34.

1 Pet. i. 8. HPsal. XXXV.3.

myrtle*. Thus the good man is Satisfied from himselft; and though he humbly refers the ultimate glory of all to that God, by whose Grace he is what he is t, he enters with pleasure into his own mind, and reckons it a part of gratitude to his great benefactor, to enjoy with as high a relish as he can, the present workings of divine grace within him, as well as the pleasing prospect of what it will farther do,

But this head has so near a resemblance to some that are to follow, that were I to enlarge upon it, as I easily might, I should leave room for nothing different to be said upon them. I will only add, 6. That, as the counter-part of this, new sorrows will arise in

the mind of a regenerate man.

These are particularly such, as spring—from the withdrawings of God's presence,-from the remainder of sin in the soul,and from the prevalence of it in the world about him.

The regenerate man will mourn, " when the reviving manifestations of God's presence are withdrawn from his soul.” It seems very absurd to interpret the numberless passages in the sacred writers, in which they complain of the hidings of God's face from them, as if they merely referred to the want of temporal enjoyments, or to the pressure of temporal calamities. If the light of God's countenance, which they so expressly oppose to temporal blessings, signify a spiritual enjoyment, the want of it must relate to spiritual desertion. And I believe, there are few christians in the world, who are entirely unacquainted with this. They have most of them their seasons, when they Walk in darkness, and see little or no lights: And this, not only when anxious fears arise with relation to their own spiritual state; but at some other times, when though they can in the main call God their Father, yet he seems as it were, to stand afar off; and to continue them at a distance, which wears the face of unkindness; especially under temptations, and other afflictions, in which they Jose their lively sense of God's presence, and that endearing freedom of converse with him, which, through the influence of the Spirit of adoption on their souls, they have sometimes known. If this be mysterious and unintelligible to some of heartily sorry for it: But I do not remember, that I was ever intimately acquainted with any one, who seemed to me a real christian, that has not, upon mentioning the case, acknowledged that he has felt something of it: At least I will boldly venture

you,

I am

* Isa. lv. 13.

+ Prov, xiv, 14.

* 1 Cor. xv. 10.

& Isa. k 10.

to say this, that if you are truly regenerate, and do not know what I mean by it, it is because you have hitherto been kept in a continual flow of holy joy, or at least in a calm and cheerful persuasion of your interest in the divine favour: And even such may see the day, when Strong as their mountain seems to stand, God may hide his face to their trouble*: Or however, they will infer from what they now feel, that it must be a mournful case whenever it occurs; and that sorrow in such a circumstance will soon strike on a truly sanctified heart, and wound it very deep.

The sorrow of a good man, also arises “ from the remainder of sin in his soul.” Though he is Upright before God, and proves it by keeping himself from his iniquityt; yet he cries out, Who can understand his errors I? Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin $? A sense of the sinfulness of his nature humbles him in the dust; and the first risings of irregular inclinations and passions, give him a tender pain, with which a carnal heart is unacquainted, even when sin is domineering within him.

And once more, “ The prevalence of sin in the world around him," is a grief to one that is born of God. It pierces him to the heart, to see men dishonouring God, and ruining themselves: He beholds transgressors, as David well expresses it, with a mixture of Indignation and sorrowll; and when he seriously considers, how common, and yet how sad a case it is, he can perhaps borrow the words of the same prophet, so far as to say, that Rivers of waters run down his eyes, because men keep not the law of God.-Now as these are sorrows that seldom do at all affect the hcart of an unregenerate man, I thought it the more proper to mention them, to assist you in your enquiries into your own state.

Such are the affections of love and aversion, of desire and fear, of joy and sorrow, which fill the breast of the regenerate man, and naturally arise from those new apprehensions, which are described under the former head. I add,

III. That he has also new resolutions.

You will easily apprehend, I speak of those that are formed for the service of God, and against sin. I readily acknowledge, that there are often, in unregenerate men, some resolutions of this kind, and perhaps those very warm, and for the present very sincere; yet there is a considerable difference between them, and

* Psal. xxx. 7.
Prov. xx. 9.

+ Psal. xviii. 23.
|| Psal. cxxxix. 21,

* Psal. xix. 12.

Psal. cxix. 136.

« ZurückWeiter »