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ably strict and severe, are passed away: and he can no longer entertain his former palliating notions concerning the evil of sin. He perceives the commandment to be holy, just, and good; and the transgression of it to be replete with ingratitude, rebellion, and contempt of God. He dares no longer impeach the divine justice and goodness, in respect of the punishments denounced against sinners: his old thoughts and reasonings on these subjects are gone, and he is astonished at his own presumption, in having formerly indulged them.
His sentiments concerning the happiness to be enjoyed in worldly pleasures, and the gloom and melancholy of a religious life, are wholly changed. He can no longer think of eternity as uncertain or distant: and no temptation or discouragement can henceforth prevail with him, to give up his hope of everlasting life, to rest satisfied with a portion in this world, or to risk the tremendous consequences.
“ He looks not at the things which are seen, but at the things " which are not seen: for the things which are seen
are temporal, but the things which are not seen are
His former thoughts of Christ and his salvation are passed away. He once despised the glorious Redeemer in his heart; perhaps he deemed those to be hypocrites or enthusiasts, who spoke in animated language of his love and preciousness: but these imaginations are no more; he is now ready to exclaim, “How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!” He counts all but lost for Christ, and fears exceedingly coming short of his salvation. He cannot think
meanly of him, or be indifferent to his favour, cause; or glory; yet he continues dissatisfied with the degree of his admiring love and gratitude to his great Zenefactor.-His former opinions concerning the wise and happy among the sons of men are irrecoverably gone. He pities the very persons, whom he once admired or envied; and counts the despised and afflicted disci. ples of Christ “ the excellent of the earth, in whom “is all his delight." He longs to share their privileges and felicity: nor could he recover his former aversion to them, even if he supposed that he should be for ever excluded from their company.
When any one is in Christ a new creature, his old pursuits and pleasures also pass away. As the man of business has done with the pastimes of childhood: so the believer ceases to relish those scenes of dissipated or sensual indulgence, which once were his ele. ment. He finds himself uneasy, when they come in his way: not only deeming them a criminal waste of time and money, and a wilful hindrance to serious reflection; but feeling them to be a chasm in his enjoyment, and an interruption to his comfort, in commu. nion with God, and the company of his servants.
His concluct is still more decided in things directly evil; “How shall he that is dead to sin live any longer
; therein?" He hates and dreads sin as his worst enemy: “His seed remaineth in him, that he cannot sin, “ because he is born of God." He does not indeed
” forsake his lawful employments; but he gradually learns to follow them from new motives, and in a new manner; not from covetousness or on worldly princi
ples, but as his duty, from love to God and man, and according to the precepts of the sacred scriptures.
It will readily be perceived, that the old companions of such a man will pass away. Even when relative duties and other causes render some intercourse with ungodly persons unavoidable, it will become less cordial and intimate. When such opposite characters meet, one of them must be out of his element: all those associates therefore of the new convert's former years, who have no interest in continuing the acquaintance, will drop off, as leaves from the trees in autumn: and he will find that the society of his most agreeable old companions is become irksome; for they seem far more profane and frivolous than they used to be.
Time would fail, should we particularly consider how the new convert's former discourse is passed away: and how his idle, slanderous, profane, or perhaps polluting, words are exchanged for such as are pure, peaceable, and edifying. * And it is almost needless to state, that his old course of behaviour also is finally renounced. The particulars that have been mentioned, may serve for a specimen: and it should be remembered, that in every respect in which “old
things pass away, all things become new,” the apos. tle, by inserting the word behold, hath emphatically demanded our attention to this circumstance!
This too might be illustrated, by considering the various operations of the believer's mind, and the ob. jects of his affections. He hopes and fears, grieves and rejoices, desires and hates, in a new manner; and his passions have respect to new objects. He fears the wrath and frown of God; he hopes for glory and immortality; he mourns for his own sins, and the miseries of other men; he rejoices in God, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and abhors that which is evil. His judgment and taste are gradually formed upon God's word; his memory is replenished with divine truths, and his imagination employed in realiz. ing invisible things. The company of his choice, the places of his willing resort, the books he prefers, his select topicks of discourse, the use he makes of his time and talents, the manner in which he conducts business, and enjoys the coniforts of life, might be enlarged upon, to shew in what respects “ all things “ are become new.” For the real Christian desires, that " whether he eat or drink, or whatsoever he do, “he may do all to the glory of God.”
* Eph. iy. 29. v. 4. Col. iv. 6. Jam. i. 26, iji
The extent of the apostles' meaning may, however, be further illustrated, by shewing that the believer does the same things in a new manner, in respect of the best part of his former conduct, and the worst of His present.--He used perhaps to attend on religious ordinances: and though his heart was not engaged, nor his profession sincere; he returned home well satisfied with having done his duty, or elated with an idea of his own goodness. But now, when his prayers and praises are the language of his habitual judg. ment and desires, and he is upon the whole a spiritual worshipper; he is continually humbled for the unallowed defects and evils of his services, and secks to have all washed in the atoning blood of Christ.
On the other hand, it must be alloued that sin dwelleth even in the true convert; and he may possibly fall into the same evil, in which he once habitually indulged with little remorse. But in this case he is filled with anguish; he deeply abases himself before God, confesses his guilt, deprecates deserved wrath, submits to sharp correction, craves forgiveness, and
prays to be restored to the joy of God's salvation, " and upheld by his free spirit.” Even in these respects “ all things are become new."
In short, the proposition is universal: and the true believer, in all things acts from new motives, by a new rule, and to accomplish far other purposes, than he formerly had in view. But the more particular examination of the subject must be left to your private meditations, while we conclude at present with a brief application.
There are persons professing to be Christians, who avowedly disregard this subject; and if we speak of regeneration or the new creature, are ready to answer, “ How can these things be?” or perhaps to retort an indiscriminate charge of enthusiasm. But do you intend to answer your Judge in this manner? Do
you expect to enter heaven, by disproving the truth of his most solemn and repeated declarations? Is your judgfent the standard of truth? Can nothing be needful to salvation, which you do not experience? Il God be indeed glorious in holiness: if the society and joys of heaven be holy, and if man be unholy, an entire change must, in the very nature of things, take place, before he can possibly delight in God, or enjoy hea. ven, were there no other obstacle to his salvation.