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those we are now to represent; as the resolutions of the truly good man are more universal, more immediate, and more humble. 1. The resolutions which he now forms, are more universal than
they ever were before.
He does not now resolve against this or that sin, but against all; against sin, as sin; as opposite to the holiness of God, and destructive of the honour and happiness of the rational creation. He does not say with Naaman, concerning this or that more convenient iniquity, The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing*; nor does he resolve to excuse himself in an indulgence, even to that Sin which does most easily beset him t: But rather, in bis general determination against sin, and in those solemn engagements with which such determinations may be attended, he fixes especially upon those sins, which he might before have been most ready to except. 2. The resolutions of the regenerate man are more immediate.
It very frequently happens, that while others are under awakening impressions, as they see a necessity for parting with their sins, and engaging in what they may call a religious life, they resolve upon it: But then they think it may be delayed a little longer ; perhaps a few years, or at least a few weeks or days; or they, perhaps, refer it to some remarkable period which is approaching, which they fatter themselves they shall make yet more remarkable, as the Æra of their reformation: But in the mean time, they will take their farewel of their lusts by a few more indulgences; and thus they delude themselves, and rivet on their chains faster than before. But the good man, with David, Makes haste, and delays not to keep the commandments of Godt. He is like the Prodigal, who as soon as ever he said, I will arise and go to my Father, immediately arose and came to him §. He reckons the time he has already spent in the service of sin may sufficell, and that indeed it is far more than enough: He wishes, he could call back that which is past; but he determines, that he will not take one step further in this unhappy path. He fully purposes, that he will never once more, deliberately and presumptuously offend God, in any matter, great or small; if any thing can be called small, which is a deliberate and apprehended offence: And he determines, that from this moment he will yield himself to God, as alive from the dead,
* 2 Kings v, 18. t Heb. xii. 1. Psal. cxix. 60. $Luke xv, 18, 20. || 1 Pet. ir, 3.
and employ his Members as instruments of righteousness*. But then, 3. His resolutions are more modest and humble, than they have
ever been before.
And this indeed is the great circumstance, that renders them more effectual.-When an awakened sinner feels himself most inslaved to his vices, he pleases himself with this thought, that there is a secret kind of spring in his mind, which when he pleases to exert, he can break through all at once, and commence, whenever that unhappy necessity comes upon him, a very religious man in a moment. And when conscience presses him with the memory of past guilt, and the representation of future danger, he cuts off these remonstrances with a hasty resolve, " I will do so no more:” But then perhaps, the effect of this may not last a day; though possibly, it may at other times continue a few weeks or months, where the grosser acts of sin are concerned: And indeed his resolutions seldom reach farther than these; for the necessity of a sanctified heart is a mystery, which he has never yet learnt.—But a truly regenerate man has learnt wisdom from this experience of his own, and the observation of other men’s frailty. He feels his own weakness, and is so thoroughly aware of the treachery of his own heart, that he is almost afraid to express in words the purpose which his very soul is forming : He is almost afraid to turn that purpose into a vow before God, lest the breach of that vow should increase his guilt : But this he can say, with repenting Ephraim, Lord, Turn thou me, and I shall be turnedt ; and with David, Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my foot-steps may not slipf. “ I am exceeding frail; but, Lord, Be thou surety for thy servant for goods, and then I shall be safe! Do thou rescue me from temptations, and I shall be delivered ! Do thou fill my heart with holy sentiments, and I will breathe them out before thee! Do thou excite and maintain a zeal for thy service, and then I will exert myself in it !” And when once a man is come to such a distrust of himself ; when like a little child, he stretches out his hand to be led by his heavenly Father, and trusts in his guardian care alone for his security and comfort ; then Out of weakness he is made strong||, and goes on safe, though perhaps trembling; and sees those that made the loudest boasts, and placed the greatest confidence in themselves, falling on the * Rom. vi. 13. + Jer. xxxir 18. Psal. xvii. 5. $ Psal. cxix, 122. || Heb. xi. 34. VOL. II.
right hand and the left, and all their bravery melting away like snow before the sun.
IV. The regenerate man has new labours and employments.
Not that bis former employment in secular life is laid aside: It would ordinarily be a very dangerous snare, for a man to imagine that God requires this, On the contrary, the apostle gives it in charge to christian converts, that in what calling soever a man is found, when he is called into the profession of the gospel, he should Therein abide with God*. But when he becomes a real christian, he prosecutes this calling, whatever it be, with a new spirit and temper, from new principles, and to new purposes. While his hands are labouring in the world, his heart is often rising to God: He consecrates his work to the di. vine honour, and to the credit of religion ; and desires, that his merchandise, and his gain, may in this sense be Holiness to the ! Lordt, by employing it to support the family, which providence has committed to his charget, and to relieve the poor, which Christ recommends to his pitys: And as he depends upon God to give him wisdom and success, in the conduct of his affairs, he ascribes the glory of that success to him; not Sacrificing to his own net, nor burning incense to his own dragil.
And I will further add, That regeneration introduces a set of new labours, added to the former, with which the man was before utterly unacquainted.Wemay consider as the princi. pal and chief of these, the great labour of purifying the heart, of conquering sinful inclinations and affections, and of approaching God by a more intimate access, and more indeared con
Now they that imagine this to be an easy matter, know little of the human heart, little of the spirituality of God's nature and his law. Give me leave to say, that the labours of the body in cultivating the earth, are much more easily performed, than this spiritual husbandry. To weed a soil so luxuriant in evil productions, and to raise a plentiful harvest of holy affections and actions iir a soil so barren of good ; to regulate appetites and passions, so exorbitant as those of the human heart naturally are, and to awaken in it suitable affections; to be abundant in the fruits of righteousness, and to converse with God in the exercise of devotion : These are no little things ; nor will a little resolution, watchfulness and activity suffice, in order to the discharge of such a business. It is comparatively easy, to go through the forms of prayer and praise, whatever they are ; to
*1 Cor. vii. 20,24. + Isa, xxiii, 18. #1 Tim. v. 8. $Acts xx, 35. Hab. i. 16.
read, or from present conception to utter, a few words before God: But to unite the heart in God's service, to wrestle with him for a blessing, to pour out the heart before him, to speak to him as searching the very heart; so that he should say, “ This is
prayer :” This, my brethren, is a work indeed ; and he that is conscientious in the discharge of it, will find, that it is not to be dispatched in a few hasty moments, nor without serious reflection, and a resolute watch maintained over the spirit.
New labours also arise to the regenerate soul, in consequence of the concern it has to promote religion in the world.Being possessed, as I formerly shewed you the heart of the good man is, with an unfeigned love to his fellow-creatures, and knowing of how great importance religion is to the happiness of men, he pleads earnestly with God for the propagation and success of the gospel : And he endeavours, according to his ability and opportunity to promote it; to promote pure and undefiled religion in his family, and his neighbourhood, even in all around him. And this requires observation and application, that this attempt may be prudently conducted, and great resolution in order to its being rendered effectual : It requires great diligence in watching over ourselves, lest our examples prove inconsistent with our precepts; and no small degree of courage, considering how averse the generality of mankind are to admonitions and reproofs ; in consequence of which, a person can hardly act the part of a faithful friend, without ex. posing himself to the hazard of being accounted an enemy.
Such are the new labours of the real christian : Let any man try to perform them, and he will not find them light: But to encourage the attempt, let me further add, V. That the regenerate soul has its new entertainments too.
He has pleasures, which A stranger intermeddles not with*, and which the world can neither give, nor take awayt; pleasures, which a thousand times over-balance the most painful labours, and the most painful sufferings too ; and which sweetly mingling themselves with the various circumstances of life, through which the christian passes, do as it were gild all the scene, and inake all the fatigues and self-denial of his life far more agreeable, than any of those delights the worldling, or the sensualist, can find in the midst of his unbounded and studied indulgences.—But here I shall be in great danger of repeating
* Prov, xiv, 10.
+ John xvi. 22.
what I said under a former head, when I was speaking of the new joys, which the christian feels, in consequence of the great change that regeneration makes in his soul; And therefore omitting what I then observed, concerning the pleasure of communion with God through Christ, and of perceiving a work of divine
grace the soul, I shall now touch upon some other sources of exalted entertainment, which did not so directly fall under that head.
1. The christian finds new pleasures in the word of God.
You know, with what relish the saints of old spake of it. Thy words were found, says the prophet, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart*. Thy statutes, says the Psalmist, Are more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; they are sweeter also than honey, and the honey-combt.-The apostle Peter beautifully represents this, when he exhorts the saints to whom he wrote, As new-born babes to desire the sincere milk of the word, that they might grow therebyt. And the infant, that smiles on the breast, and with such eagerness and delight draws its nourishment from it, seems an amiable image of the humble christian, who receives the kingdom of God, and the word of that Kingdom as a little child ; who lays up scripture in his heart||, and draws forth the sweetness of it, with a firm persuasion, that it is indeed the Word of God, and was appointed by him for the food of his soul.
2. He also finds new pleasures in the ordinances of divine
He is Glad, when it is said unto him, let us go into the house of the Lord. He indeed esteems the Tabernacles of the Lord as amiable, and regards a day in his courts as better than a thousand elsewhere**. And this pleasure arises, not merely from any thing peculiar in the administrations of this or that man, who officiates in holy things; but from the nature of the exercise in general, and from a regard to the divine authority of those institutions, which are there observed. He feels a sacred delight, in an intercourse with God in those solemnities; in comparison of which all the graces of composition and delivery appear as little, as the harmony of instruments, or the perfume of incense, to one of the Old Testament saints, when
* Jer. xv. 16. U Job xxii. 22.
+ Psal. xix. 10.
Psal. cxxii. 1.
# 1 Pet. i. 2. $ Mark x. 15. ** Psal. Ixxxiv. 1, 10.