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takest God the Father, to love him, trust in him, depend on him, and resign all to him: God the Son, as prophet, priest, king, to be led by him, justified, and ruled by his laws: God the Holy Ghost, to be enlightened, to be sanctified, and comforted by him ; and when thou hast thus taken God for thy God, and devoted thyself to him, soul and body, thou mayest expect and hope that the Lord will dwell in thee, as in his temple, his house, cleanse thee from impurity, adorn thee with graces, and qualify thee for his service, that the persons of the sacred Trinity will take up their lodging and residence in thy soul, that you may henceforth be an “ habitation of God through the Spirit.” Such is the new creation; and the way to attain it, is " to give up yourselves to the Lord;" to be ordered according to his pleasure, for his glory, that he may be “ glorified both in soul and body which are his." If thou voluntarily subscribest to the equity of his articles, taking him with all the sufferings attending the ways of religion, and yieldest up thy whole interests to his disposal, hating the sins that he forbids, practising the duties that he commands, walking in all the ways of his appointment, in his worship and ordinances ; this, this is a coming up to the terms of the covenant of grace, and then thou shalt have the graces and privileges of that covenant, which comprehends this new creation.
10. Down on thy knees, and beg thiş renewal of thy nature at the hands of God; say as David did, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” Psal. li. 10. Say, Lord, I am quite ruined in the old Adam, and I cannot help myself, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?” not one; but thou hast promised in the gospel, to
Eph. ii. 20-22. 2 Cor. viii. 5. 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.
“make all things new," and in the new covenant thou promisest “a new heart," Ezek. xxxvi. 26. This is the great mercy, O Lord, I want, and wait for, and I ask thee nothing but what I have under thine own hand in the promise; O that I were partaker of it! yea, thou hast promised “ to give thy holy Spirit to them that ask it,” Luke xi. 13. Now thy Spirit can sanctify hearts, as lightning cleanseth the air, as fire refines metals. Lord, seal my soul with the Holy Spirit of promise; put on me thine own stamp, as the seal leaves its impress on the wax. Lord, I shall never be acceptable to thee, profitable to men, or comfortable to myself, except I be renewed and become a new creature, I cannot without this live to any purpose, and I cannot die with any comfort.
Obj. But God heareth not sinners, their prayers are abomination.
Answ. If you be resolved to go on in a course of sinning, or pray to gratify a sensual appetite, as a thief for a prize, you and your prayers are abominable ; but if you be repenting, returning sinners, and pray for grace and pardon, God will pity you, and who knows but he may meet you in mercy, as he did the returning prodigal ? Luke xv. 20; " Repent then, and pray God, if perhaps the thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven thee,” Acts viii. 22. Thou art undone, if thou give over praying; many have sped well at his door, and so mayest thou; still ask, seek, and knock.
A THIRD class of directions may be given to sincere Christians (who find, on good evidence, that this change is wrought in them,) how they should live, walk, and conduct themselves in the world, both towards God and man.
1. Use God's appointed means for ascertaining the reality of this new creation. It is one thing to be, another thing to know that we are, new creatures. Alas, some sincere souls walk at uncertainties. A letter may be written, saith one, though it be not sealed : so grace may be written in the soul, though the Spirit hath not set to his seal; partly to keep the soul humble, partly to punish some sin. But I must not handle the common place of assurance, the possibility, the hindrances, helps, advantages, nature or kinds of assurance, but drop a word by the way. Are the figures of grace engraven upon the dial of your hearts ? pray and wait for the Sun of Righteousness to shine on it, that you may better see what time of day it is in your hearts; yet, if you grope in the dark, you may feel some characters engraven: “ give diligence to make first your calling, then your election
Your happiness consists in being, and your comfort in knowing, that you are new creatures ; “and we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope to the end.” One text calls for “a full assurance of faith in draw. ing nigh to God.” Another speaks of “ assurance of understanding;” even full assurance, yea, “ riches of
full assurance." * Then indeed thy heart will be comforted to purpose. O labour after much grace, much comfort, for “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Neh. viii. 10, and will cheer up your hearts in every
condition and affliction. O brethren, content not yourselves to live at uncertainties, or under doubts, but use all means to attain to the highest pitch of assurance that is attainable in this world.
2. Thank God for the rich mercy displayed in the renovation of your souls. Will you bless God for the good creatures that nourish your bodies ? and will you not adore him for this new, and more excellent provision for your inward man? Say as the blessed apostle, 1 Pet. i. 3, “ Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Next to Christ's blessed undertakings for you, it is the greatest mercy God has vouchsafed to you, to form Christ in your souls. Alas, what were you better than the rest of the corrupt mass of mankind, that lay in the impurities of sin? What merit was there in you, that you should be raised up to sit with princes, even with the princes of his people, to be made like angels? Surely you that are such patterns of mercy, must be trumpets of God's praise; you that were loathsome carcasses, incarnate devils, to be made by this new creation“ a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; what is this for, but that you should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light?” 1 Pet. ii. 9. O admire free grace, and say with David, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that thou hast brought me hitherto?” 2 Sam. vii. 18. How
* 2 Pet. i. 10. Heb. vi. ll. x. 22. Col. ii. 2.
many millions of pretending Christians know nothing of this great work, experimentally ? this is as life from the dead, infinitely better than natural life, and all the comforts thereof.
3. Beware of declension or apostasy. The new creature is but a creature, it may fail, yea, it will fail, if not supported by an Almighty hand, and if God be provoked, he may justly withdraw, and leave us to ourselves; then we fall as a staff unsupported by the hand. It is true, the covenant secures real saints from falling finally, but imperfect grace leaves them exposed to fall foully, as David, Peter. Be jealous of thyself, “ Blessed is he that feareth always.” Be not secure, security exposeth to Satan's temptations. Sleep levels all, the wise man is no wiser than a fool to devise his own safety, or the strong man better than the weak to defend himself. The best of saints in spiritual slumber, becomes as Samson, only like another man; “watch that you enter not into temptation.” It is worth watching to keep the house from robbing ; sleeping one night, may keep thee waking many nights in sorrow, as it did David. The unwatchful Christian oft looseth God's presence, as Christ withdrew from the sleepy spouse. A drowsy soul is not capable of improving Christ or grace: put the sweetest wine into a sleepy man's hand, it will be spilt. And if at any time you begin to nod, rouse up yourselves, gird on your armour, rally your routed forces; “remember whence you are fallen, repent, and do your first works.”* Awake out of your lethargy, lest it end in apostasy: when thou hast fallen, shew that a change has taken place in thee by a rebound upwards, in renewed purposes against sin; recover thy spiritual strength, activity, and familiarity with God; be rest
* Prov. xxviii. 14. Matt. xxvi. 41. Cant. v. 2, 6. Rev. ii. 5.