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- No man
of conversion; we are “born again of water and of the Spirit,” John iii. 3, 8; " sanctified by the Spirit,
” and are temples of the Holy Ghost,” i Cor. vi. 11, 19. Nothing can search or reach the heart but the Holy Ghost ; “ The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,” i Cor. ii. 10, “and deep things of men.” An angel is too short-sighted to see into man's heart, too short-handed to reach the conscience, or make a new creation ; God alone turns stone into flesh; “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem," Gen. ix. 27. It is an act of power to make
. people willing, Psal. cx. 3, or volunteers.
come to Christ, except the Father which sent him, draw him," John vi. 44. And God exerts the power of his Spirit to attract hearts to himself.
(6.) The proper, immediate effect of this work, is a change into a new frame or course, by which the sinner becomes new, or another than what he was before; this is the genuine necessary attendant ;* yea, intrinsic nature of that which we call the new creature. 2 Cor. v. 17, “ Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." The faculties are the same, but new qualties are put in; as in a lute, the strings are the same, but it is set to a new tune; in a river, the
a water is the same, but it is turned into a new channel, the ball hath got a new impulse; so the convert said to the tempting harlot, I am not I;ť or as Paul said of himself, “who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor; but I obtained mercy,” 1 Tim. i. 13, that is, converting grace hath changed me. Thus the same apostle saith of the Corinthians, “Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ve are sanctified," 1 Cor. vi. 11. O what a mighty change doth grace make! from lying * Formalis ratio.
+ Ego non sum ego.
to fearing an oath ; from vain speaking, to holy discourse; from carelessness, to the greatest concernedness about soul affairs; yea, "from darkness to light,”
“ Eph. v. 8; “ from death to life; from Satan to God,” Acts xxvi. 18. The man is now got into a new world, as one observes from Ezek. xi. 19, “I will give them one heart;" which that I may do, I will cast it anew, in order to this, I will melt and soften it, as one that hath many pieces of old silver by him, casts them into the fire, melts them, and molds them into one lump. Thus doth God with the divided heart in renewing it, and framing it for his use.
7. Here is yet further the completeness of this change; it is not merely some external acts, exercises, or conversation, not only internal cogitations, affections, or workings of the will and conscience; but the description goes further, even to the state, constitution, and relation of the man; and therefore I add, changing the whole man from an old state to a new; for every man and woman hath a state before God; therefore Paul sends Timothy, “ to know the state of the Philippians,” Phil. ii. 19. This imports not a transient act, but a settled abiding frame, a continued relation; sinners “are by nature children of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3: agents of Satan, heirs of hell. This new mold makes them children of God, members of Christ, heirs of heaven; yea, it puts them into an habitual tendency towards heaven, and heavenly things, which is a kind of second nature in them; this moves the holy soul, (acting like itself) as naturally upwards, as a stone moves downward, therefore it is called a divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4; the acting follows the being of a thing ; “Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good.” Matt. xii. 33. If a watch be not well made, it will never go well ; they say of the peacock, roast him as much as you will,
yet when cold, his flesh will be raw again, so force a carnal heart to the highest strain of seeming piety, yet it will come to its old complexion, because there is not a new nature; fill a pond full of water, it will abate if there be not a spring to supply it. The new creature
a is united to Christ, “and receives grace for grace,” John i. 16.
(8.) We have here also, the pattern, copy, or example, according to which this new creature is moulded, it is the soul's being transformed into the divine likeness. This image of God consists in knowledge in the intellectual faculties, righteousness in the will, holiness in the affections ; Col. iii. 10, “ And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” Eph. iv. 24, " That you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness; or holiness of truth.” As the work of grace in the heart is a true copy, or transcript of the divine image, they agree as the face in the glass doth, with the face of the man that looks in it, or as the image in the wax with the sculpture on the seal, from which it is derived. Godliness is godlikeness; the sum and substance of our religion is to imitate him whom we worship;* not that it is possible to be like God with a perfection of degree, but in sincerity: “Be ye perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect,” Matt. v. 48. A child hath the parts of a man, though not the size; for the new creature is in a daily increase, and tendeth to perfection, as a small seed hath virtually the bulk of a grown tree, though little in itself; but the Christian is like God; man only can beget a man like himself, so the Spirit only doth create the Christian like God. Now divines, t take notice of a Summa religionis est imitari quem
colis. + Journal Christian, Part 2. page 173.
double likeness; a bare similitude, snow and milk are both white alike, yet are not the image one of another. Again, representation given of another, and so the picture which is drawn every line from the face of a man, is properly the image of a man, after whose likeness it is made. Thus by holiness, the Christian becomes the image of Christ ; Rom. viii. 29, “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
(9.) Here is the rule of this new creature, which is expressed, by turning the heart and life to the rule of the word; this either refers to the manner of framing the new creature, or the rule by which the new creature acts and moves being once formed. As to the former, the new creature receives the stamp, signature, and impression of the word ; Rom vi. 17, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you;” or as it is more properly in the Greek, εις δν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχής, into which you were delivered; that is, the soul is the metal, the word is the mould, into which the sinner is cast, thereby he receives a new stamp, is formed into a new shape, which naturally terminates in a new course of life, according to scripture rule. This immediately after my text, ver. 16, is called the canon, or rule of the new creature; for it is added, “ As many as walk according to this rule, or canon, to kavovi toutų, peace be on them.” This is that cynosure or square that architects have in their operations for levelling the stones and timber suitably, that all the parts of the edifice may agree in a just proportion;* thus must, thus will the Christian do, his desire and design is to lie square to the word of God, to “have respect to all God's commandments,”
* Ut singulæ partes justâ symmetriâ cohærent.-Calv. in loc.
Psal. cxix. 6; “To walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless," Luke i. 6.
Every child of God is taught by God to walk by rule. All callings have their proper rule; the physician studies Galen; the lawyer his Littleton; the philospher his Aristole and Plato; yet in all professions men may vary in their methods, in the same calling, because no rule is so perfect, to which another may not add something; but the standing rule of God's word is perfect, Psal. xix. 7; "able to make the man of God perfect,” 2 Tim. iii. 17. Nothing must be added to it, or taken from it. The Christian is both drawn and determined by its authority, more than by a whole team of human arguments.
(10.) And lastly, here is the end of this new creature, which is twofold, first, the glory of God; and secondly, the soul's present and everlasting communion with him. Both these are wrapped up together, and are very consistent; yea, cannot be separated. Now God's glory is promoted by the new creature, in this world, and in the other,
[i.] In this world the new creature only is capable of glorifying God; such a soul is planted in Christ the true vine, and “glorifies God by bringing forth much fruit,” John xv. 8. “ Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God,” Phil. i. 11. The chief design of the true Christian and the new creature, is to promote the glory of God, actively and passively; this is the first petition in the Lord's prayer; and the first right step the converted soul takes heaven-ward; he is content to be villified, so that God may be glorified; and if God be glorified by others, whatever become of him, he rejoiceth, as Paul, in the preaching