« AnteriorContinua »
VOL. man to his right mind, and sets things to rights 1.
again with him. Though his former state is expressed by being in the flesh, he is now said to be in the spirit, from the spiritual frame created in him by the great work of regeneration. Thus, says the Apostle, Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you". And the thing produced in the work of regeneration is called spirit. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirito. While man is in flesh he is capable of loving nothing but what is seen, nothing but what to his senses appears amiable and lovely. Herein therefore stands the work of regeneration, to take a poor sensual creature, a mere lump of flesh, and to make him fpiritual ; and then it is he becomes capable of loving God. There must be a new creation, and right principles planted in the mind, to influence the heart, and to direct and determine fouls towards God, from whom they were cut off and so dreadfully alienated. Again in the
8 PLACE, we further infer, that the power by which it comes to pass that there are any lovers of God in the world is highly to be adored and magnified. You see it is far more difficult to love God, whom we see not, than our brother whom we do fee. How then can this difficulty be overcome, unless divine power implant this principle of love? We ought therefore to make the representation of that power,
that hath wrought this work in us, appear very SERM, glorious in our own eyes, that fo with reference IV. io this matter our hearts may be put in an adoring posture. Let us then bless and adore that glorious Being, who hath done such a thing as this ; who hath made a stupid sensual heart, which could never rise beyond the sphere of Aesh, ascend and enlarge it self, and fix and terminate its love upon the blessed GOD.
“ How great is the power should one say that finds it thus) " which hath done this in me! to make a clod “ of earth, a lump of clay to love God! This " is as great a thing as out of stones to raise
up “ children unto Abraham.” In reality we ought not to think little, or meanly of this. And again,
9. We may further infer, that the life of Christians in this world cannot but be a conflicting life. The life of a Christian as such must be influenced throughout by the love of God. He is to act according to the direction of St. Jude, Keep your selves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life P. Is this the business of a Christian, and what must be his very life to live in the love of God all along ? then he must indeed live a conflicting life all his days. That is, there must be a continual conflict kept up against imperious sense, and its dictates, which always is crying to
the heart of man, “ Love what is seen, what you 1 perceive to be lovely;" there must, I say,
be ! Ver. 21.
VOL. be a continual striving in the heart of a Christian 1.
against this; since he must keep up a continual love to him whom he cannot see, to him who is far above out of sight.
This sheweth, that they who know tot what a continual striving against sense, its dictates, and inclinations means, are yet to learn what the business of the Christian life is. How can a man love God whom he feeth not? When there is a continual difficulty, there must be a continual striving and vigorous endeavours always used. Loving God is not swimming down with the stream of nature, it is quite another thing. And agreeably to this, what a strife is represented all along, throughout the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans, between the law of the flesh, and the law of the mind; the inclinations of sensual nature, and the spiritual dictates and prescriptions which are by the Apostle called the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus ? ; which doth as it were repeal, and abrogate the law of fin and death ; and so far as it obtains, delivers a man from its impositions, and imperious commands, which lead to death.
It is highly needful for us to state our own cafe to our selves, and to consider what we are like to meet with in our Christian course ; and if we mean to persevere, we must resolve upon a striving conflicting life all our days, for thus it must be. How much then are they beside the Christian course, who know not what it is to strive
against • Rom. vill, 2.
against any inclination of their own, nor to op-SERM. pose the earthly tendencies of their own spirits ; IV. who can never find occasion to contend with themselves; who espy no fault in the temper of their own spirits, but carry the matter to themfelves as if all were well; who can pass a whole day with no rebukes nor checks, when their hearts have run after their eyes only. These persons perhaps have never minded, never loved any thing better than what came within the reach of their senses, or could be seen with the eye ; and yet they are innocent creatures in their imagination, and think they have no cause to blame themselves. But let us not be deceived, who see that the life of a Christian must be a continual running counter to a man's own eyes, and the dictates of sense ; since these prescribe to a man to love only what he sees, whereas certainly he is no Christian who liveth not in the love of God whom he doth not fee. In the
Last place, we further infer, that the proneness of men to acquiesce in a civil deportment, and to rest in the mere formalities of religion, hath one fixed common cause, and that is, the want of the great principle of love. In this respect it is fit that we should consider what the case of man is. Men are very apt to satisfy themselves with a fair and unexceptionable carriage to others, or at most with a little formality in the duties of religion, and never look further ; which certainly. must proceed from one and the same cause,
VOL. namely, the want of love to God. This, I say, I.
(1.) Peace, is the reason why persons are so prone to acquiesce in a fair and civil deportment towards men. It is necessary for us to know this, that fo the danger of it may be more carefully avoided and deeply dreaded. What is it that is really the principle of duty even towards men? Certainly it is love. This is eafy, as the text supposes, towards men, in comparison of what it is towards Gon; men therefore are apt to take up with what they find most easy.
The state of the case lieth thus. There are characters of the ancient law, which God at the creation impressed upon the spirit of man's ibe law not written, but born with us *, as one heathen writer expresses it, or the natural lawt, as another heathen writer calls it. There are, I fay, still fome broken parts, some scattered fragments, some dispersed characters of this law, which was by our Maker put into our very frame, which lie discomposed and dispersed here and there in men, whereof some refer to our duty towards God, and others to our duty towards men. Those relating to men are more legible, are oftener read, and come more frequently under view. For how much more prevalent is this sense in the minds of men, “ My neighbour is
not to be wronged or disobliged,” than this, “God is not to be forgotten, neglected, dif” obeyed?” Why, the matter being so, that
* Lex non scripta, sed nata.
Ο νόμος φύσικος.