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will not let them cease from rejoicing in the Lord. The Father's mercy, and the Saviour's love, blend into a most transforming glory, the perception of which powerfully tends to transform the mind, and through the Spirit of the Lord does transform it into the image of what it admires. Kindness and love to man appear on all the aspects of the divine character; and the unworthiness of past ignorance, and the guilt of former neglect, and even enmity to such a Being, strikes the tender newcreated heart with most forcible convictions of demerit. Then is self-justification renounced, and from the penitent, yet believing converts, is heard such confession as this—“We were sometimes foolish, disobedient, and deceived.”
And while the enlightened mind believes in the glorious sufficiency of the Redeemer's blood for pardon, and being justified by faith, rejoices in Christ Jesus, having no confidence in the flesh; newness of life is inwardly felt, and outward life assumes a new character and direction. " The washing of regeneration,” including pardon and purity, relieves the conscience from defilement, and inexpressibly refreshes the new-born soul. Its senti
ments are now greatly
now greatly changed. The beauty of holiness is discerned; and the excellence of true religion. The comparative worth of things temporal and eternal is duly estimated. The mind has other views and other judgments than before of this present world; and perceives conformity to the image of Christ, to be the perfection of man. In fine, under this renewing process of the Spirit, the understanding acquires a correctness of discernment, and a soundness of judgment, in the exercise of which, a man is no more foolish, disobedient, and deceived; but rather exhibits an altered character of wisdom, obedience, and superiority to the deceits of sin and Satan, by which the world are beguiled away from eternal life.
Much, indeed, in the formation of character, depends on the state of the understanding; and not a little, too, depends on the state of the affections ; to the disorder and depravity of which may be referred whatever belongs to the unregenerate in respect to their “ serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” For after that the kind . ness and love of God our Saviour towards man have appeared, the very perception of
such grace is unspeakably affecting. The very appearance subdues, softens, and reconciles the heart -divesting it of enmity. Nor is the enlightened soul left to distant abstract contemplation, for while the eyes of the mind gaze with marvel on the glory of the divine character, it is a day of salvation. God hath appeared in mercy, justifying the sinner through faith; and a rich experience ensues. of kindness and of love. “ The washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, are shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” The day of light is a day of power; and there comes in it that anointing of the Spirit which is not a temporary refreshment, but dwells in us thenceforth, as a well of living water springing up unto everlasting life; and abides in the regenerate as an indwelling and a renovating principle, that renews them in knowledge, after the image of God.
God is love, and he who is renewed into the image of God, hath love predominant, and mingled in all the mental operations. “ The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us ;” and when that divine effusion takes place, it assimilates to its own holy nature the actings of the heart.
It is like a mighty stream, which carries along with it all the brooks and rivulets that come in contact. Before they touch its waters, each takes its own peculiar course, and they flow, some in one direction, and some in another; but on reaching the mightier stream, they join in its superior flow, and lose a separate direction. In like manner do the inferior affections yield themselves captive to the love of God, partaking of its nature, and thenceforth moving along with it in a heavenly direction, not to be restrained nor diverted from their new and better course by every intervening obstacle. The indwelling Spirit regulates their peaceful emotions, and, by the effusion of divine love, sweetens, sanctifies, and blesses all. Then will trifles not irritate, nor every
offence provoke feelings of resentment. Irritable tempers are healed, and inordinate passions are mortified. The love of God recals our affections from a perverted exercise, and teaches us not to lavish them on trifles, nor addict them to the base service of divers lusts and pleasures, which now please us no more. The light of the Spirit shows us what objects are worthy of our hatred or our love; and the power of the Spirit, renewing our apprehensive faculties,
enables us to love or disesteem, prefer or dislike, according to the real qualities and nature of things. Indeed, every creature will choose or dislike, just as it is morally constituted. An evil nature cannot choose uncongenial good, nor will a spiritual nature dislike .congenial holiness. · Happy is he whose natureis renewed, and whose affections are consequently restored to proper exercise; who loves what he ought to love, and as he ought; and, on the contrary, only dislikes what is evil, inconsistent with peace, and incompatible with holiness.
He whose affections are renewed, is in himself greatly happy in the change; and this inward happiness supplants many causes of outward offences which are connected with roots of bitterness in the heart. It is owing to the irregular affections of the inner man, and the want of peace within, that men are so easily provoked by external things, and so prone to be offended. With right affections, “malice and envy" cannot dwell. Renewed affections may be indeed hated by malevolent natures; but they themselves are truly amiable, and will not break out into passions of hatred, whatever provocation is given. Consider the actings ascribed by the Apostle to love, (1 Cor. xiii.)