Page images
PDF
EPUB

produced so glorious an effect upon them.-Make the experiinent, Sir, and you will be forced to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ to be indeed your Saviour, when you feel that he hath actually saved you.

Let me therefore set before you some of the marks given of a real Christian in the New Testament, that when you come to discover the lineaments of this divine image upon your soul, you may know the cause from the effect. In doing this, I shall not descend into all the minute particulars of the Chrifian character ; but only fet before you a few of the most plain and intelligible marks by which a Christian indeed may be diftinguished from all others, and by which he may moft clearly discern, that Christ is a Saviour indeed,

And first, the most general mark, by which this may be known, is, that if any man be in Chrift, he is a new creature ; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new, (2 Cor. v. 17.). That he is renewed in the spirit of his mind ; and that he puts on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, (Eph. iv. 23, 24.). --Here, you may see, is represented a very remarkable and distinguishing change of state ; a change, which may be known by those who have had the blessed experience; and a change, that has been felt by all those, and none but those who are Christians indeed.- -Could

you

then find this blefied effect of your comunitting your soul and your eternal interests into the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ; that all the powers, passions, and appetites of your soul are renewed, you

could not doubt the Author of the wonderful change. You must own it to be from him, that you are brought to hate what you before loved, and to love what you before hated. Can you help but acknow

ledge ledge this, when you find, that the thoughts and dispositions of your mind are new, and the chief subjects of your care and meditation are the things unseen and eternal; that the desires and affections of your foul are new, and placed upon the things that are above, where Christ Jesus fits at the right hand of God; that your views and ap. prehensions of yourself are new, and your haughty and selfish imaginations are changed to an humble and contrite spirit, that trembles at God's word; that your confidence and dependence is new, and, instead of depending upon your good attainments, purposes, promises, reformations, or duties, you are endeavouring to be found in Christ Jesus, not having on your own righteousnefs, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith ; that your joys and fatisfactions are new, and, instead of rejoicing in your temporal and sensual acquisitions, you rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confi. dence in the flesh; that the objects of your love and complacency are new, and, instead of loving the world and your idols, you esteem God's favour to be life, and his loving-kindness to be better than life ; and, instead of loving the company of worldly and sensual perfons, you have your only delight and complacency in men of serious vital piety, and have

e palle that you love the brethren ; that your appetites and paffions are new, and, instead of thofe boundless desires you were before acted by, you are brought into an humble subjection to the will of God, and, instead of those turbulent paflions which before had the ascendant, you experience the blessed fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, long:Suffering; gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ;and, to sum up all, that your conversation is new,

and

and that you live a life of holiness towards God, and of righteousness, charity, and beneficence towards men, endeavouring to fill up every station, relation, and capacity of life with duty, and striving to have your whole conversation as becomes the goSpel of Christ?

This, Sir, is a brief fummary of the true Christian character. This the salvation (in its moral view) which our Lord Jesus Chrift bestows in this world upon all his sincere followers.- No man ever failed of obtaining this, who, by faith unfeigned, brought his soul to Christ, and depended upon him for his fanétifying, renewing influences.

Now, secondly, another thing which all true Chriftians experience, and none but they, is the spiritual warfare. They have a warfare with their remaining corruptions. The flesh lufteth against the Spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; (Gal. v. 17.). And they see another law in their members war. ring against the law of their minds, in order to bring them into captivity to the law of sin and death, (Rom. vii. 23.). They have still so many imperfections remaining in their hearts, in their duties, and in their conversations, as make them groan, being burdened ! and cry out, I wretched man that I am, who fall deliver me from the body of this death When therefore you are heartily engaged in this war, and feel in yourself that you are continually led on to victory, can you doubt who it is that ap. proves himself the Captain of your Salvation ?--Can you doubt this, when you sensibly feel in yourself a hatred to all fin, without any reserve, even to those fins which by conftitution, or custom, are so nearly and intimately united to your affections, as to be. come your members, even a right hand, a right foot, or a right eye? -Can you doubt this, when you feel that you even hale vain thoughts, and that the irregularities of your heart and affections, as well as of your outward conduct, are matter of your continual grief and burden; what you conti. pually watch, and pray, and strive against ?-Can you doubt this, when it is your constant experience, that there is nothing more grievous to you, nothing more contrary to the governing desires of your soul, than the prevalence of these corruptions, and the deadness, formality, and distractions which accon. pany your holy duties; and when you experience that it is your most ardent and impatient pursuit, to gain further victory over the imperfections of your heart and life, and to obtain more uninterrupted communion with God, in your religious approaches to him?-Or, to sum up all in a word, can this be doubted, when (under the Tharpest conflict you can meet with from this quarter) you are able fincerely to say, that though when you would do good, evil is prefent with you ; yet you delight in the law of the Lord, after the inward man?

well hands;

You must, beside this intestine war, have the trial of another campaign. You will find enemies from without, as well as within, to maintain a con. tinual conflict with. For we wreslle not against flesh and blood only, but against principalities, uguinft powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickednesses in high places, (Eph. vi. 12.).—This is what you have probably had no experience of. A prisoner in the hands of his enemies, led captive by them at their pleasure, has no acquaintance with the progress of wars and conflicts, battles and lieges ; makes no attempts for victory and triumph; but submits to the injunctions of his conquerors; and the more cheerful his submission, the more ease and comfort he will find.--This you must acknowledge to be eminently true of such, who, without opposition, resign themselves voluntary prisoners into their enemies

[ocr errors]

1

hands; as all careless and secure finners do into the hands of sin and Satan.-But when once persons come to be, in good earnest, engaged in the cause of Christ, what violent opposition do they meet with? What dreadful temptations do they often encounter, which carry their own evidence with them from what quarter they come ?- This I warn you of beforehand, that when you come to the experience, you may not be discouraged, but established in the faith of that revelation which

you
find

experimentally true.

How frequently are Christians indeed called into this field of battle? flow frequently are they alsaulted with most violent and impetuous temptations, which will follow and hurry them, and fometimes foil them, notwithstanding all their good desires, godly resolutions, and most active endeavours after holiness? What horrendous, blasphemous thoughts are often injected into the minds of such, which though the greatest burden and abhorrence of their distressed fouls, yet follow and haunt them where. ever they go, and whatever they do, and especially at the seasons of their nearest approaches to God?

-Wliat doubting apprehensions, what subtile, furprizing reasonings will be darted into the minds of fume, even the most establithed Christians, againft the very Being of God, and the truth of Christiani. ty, notwithstanding their highest rational conviction, and fullelt satisfaction of the truth of these great fundamentals of religion ?-What horrible and amazing dispositions and affections will seem to arise in the minds of some of the most devout and hea. venly perfons in the world, who, in the dreadful conflict, are sometimes made to roar by reason of the disquietness of their hearts? - What distressing darkness, dejections, and defpondings will fome Christians be exercised with, after clear and fatis

« PreviousContinue »