ページの画像
PDF
ePub

and see whether there be in them any thing compatible with impure lusts of sensuality -any thing intolerant or malicious any thing, in fine, that is hateful or hating, that violates inward peace, or loves to wound the feelings, and hurt the peace of other men.

An enlightened mind, exercising its renovated affection on heavenly things--delighting in God-contemplating Christ as altogether lovely-breathing after holiness, and rejoicing to perceive the suitableness and glory of redeeming love ; has its energies too much interested, and too deeply engage ed with better things, to yield them up to the unseemly passions and vain commotions that agitate and distress unregenerate natures. The natural mind is a chaos of confusion, anarchy, and disorder. The affections choose what the judgment condemns ; and there is perpetual variance, unless in the most depraved, betwixt conscience and desire. The irreligious man is not only in rebellion against God, but throughout his own state of nature, there is nothing but insubordination ; jarring passions, conflicting interests, ungovernable appetites, with all the misrule of domineering lusts, war against the soul, and drive far off the satisfactions of an un

troubled nature, solacing itself under the shadow of the Almighty, and pleased in his favour.

The renewing of the Holy Ghost restores the lost harmony of man's moral system. The affections follow the light of the understanding, and the understanding receives impulse from the affections. The new man is a man of peace, of equal tempers, of well-informed affections, and well balanced powers of mind. His character acquires a new dignity of moral worth ; and his heart is the abode of emotions not dissimilar ofttimes, unless in degree, from what we suppose are felt in heaven. He is made“ an heir" by regeneration and justifying grace, "according to the hope of eternal life.” Having received the spirit of adoption, he feels himself an heir, and hopes for immortal life. And having this hope in him, why should

envy or strive with men about the brief and worthless things of time? Why should he not look with open face to the eternal inheritance, and rejoice in hope of the glory to come? And doing this, he will pity those who addict their souls to an earthly portion, but will not contend with them for the possession of it. He remembers what he himself once was, and ceases to wonder at others

he

yet in darkness, and will not pursue them with malevolence.

And thus we see the admirable provi: sion made in the gospel dispensation for restoring man to holiness, and to true delights. Whatever deficiency we lament, and whatever depravation we mourn, completely answerable to all the exigencies of a fallen nature and a sinful character, is the great salvation which is even now applied to the subjects of renewing grace, after that the kindness and the love of God their Saviour appears. In that day, the foolish are made wise, the ignorant are made “light in the Lord;" the sinner is justified, and feels the peace of God; the degraded slave of sin becomes a son of the Everlasting Father, and rises to a dignity and a sanctity of character suitable to an heir of a kingdom in heaven that cannot be moved. And he who is thus the subject of divine renewal is saved indeed!

Yet must it be noted, that the renewing of the Holy Ghost, though at conversion more sensibly felt, is a daily and a progressive work. Regeneration is complete at once : renewing is gradual, or at least, not discontinued, as long as we live on eartb. Hence it is said, that we are renewed only

in part;" not that any part is unrenewed, but no part is renewed to the utmost measure of its capacity, in this world.

« The inward man is renewed day by day;" and this renewing is that good work which, being begun in us, will “ be performed until the day of Jesus Christ.” This gradual work is meant, when it is said, “ It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure ;” and thus “ the path of the just is as the morning light, which shineth more and more until the perfect day.” No man will say that his understanding is so illuminated that he needeth no increase of light, or that his affections are so pure, so holy, so benevolent, so spiritual, and devout, as that daily improvement is not desirable, and to be sought by earnest prayer, and other means of grace. The in . dwelling Spirit continues the work of renovation; and let a man beware how he grieves that divine Person, or quenches the fervency of his spiritual ardour, lest a season of desertion ensue, and he be left to walk in darkness, who before walked in most comfortable light.

But we forbear farther remarks, and shall close the important subject with a serious call to the professors of religion to maintain

in their minds a just sense of the importance of regeneration. We do not say that the doctrine is commonly denied, but we have reason to fear it is too generally neglected; and that numbers throw away all concern touching a personal experience of it. Hence the levity of their minds, and hence the awful boldness they display in presuming on heaven with endowments so inadequate for the revealed engagements of glory. It cannot be, however, that corruption should inherit incorruption, or that an unregenerate nature can enter heaven. Smoothe it as you will with exterior polish, disguise its grossness, suppress its hatefulness, subject it to the restraints of outward decency, and even shape its actings into a form of godliness; bring it to sacraments, and make it wear the aspect of sanctification : with all this show of goodness, and with all those manifold pretensions to piety, if not regenerated, it has a character most unmeet for heaven.

Be not deceived in fancying yourselves heirs of salvation, who are not saved in this life by the washing of regeneration. Do not take every aspiration after better things for the breathings of a new life, nor every feeling of compunction for an infallible

« 前へ次へ »