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notion and nature of blessedness must sure be changed, or the temper of their spirits. Either they must have new hearts created, or a new heaven, if ever they be happy. And such is the stupid dotage of vain man, he can more easily persuade himself to believe, that the sun itself should be transformed into a dunghill, that the holy God should lay aside his nature, and turn heaven into a place of impure darkness; than that he himself should need to undergo a change. O the powerful infatuation of self-love, that men in the gall of bitterness should think it is well with their spirits, and fancy themselves in a case good enough to enjoy divine pleasure ; that (as the toad's venom offends not itself) their loathsome wickedness, which all good men detest, is a pleasure to them; and while it is as the poison of asps under their lips, they roll it as a dainty bit, revolve it in their thoughts with delight! Their wickedness speaks itself out to the very hearts of others, (Psal. 36. 1. 2.) while it never affects their own, and is found out to be hateful, while they still continue flattering themselves. And because they are without spot in their own eyes; they adventure so high, as to presume themselves so in the pure eyes of God too; and instead of designing to be like God, they already imagine him such a one as themselves. Psal. 50. Hence their allotment of time (in the whole of it, the Lord knows little enough) for the working out of their salvation spends apace; while they do not so much as understand their business. Their measured hour is almost out; an immense eternity is coming on upon them; and lo! they stand as men that cannot find their hands. Urge them to the speedy, serious endeavor of a heart-change, earnestly to intend the business of regeneration, of becoming new creatures; they seem to understand it is as little, as if they were spoken to in an unknown tongue; and are in the like posture with the confounded builders of babel, they know not what we mean, or would put them upon. They wonder what we would have them do. “They are (say they) orthodox christians: they believe all the articles of the Christian creed: they detest all heresy and false doctrine : they are no strangers to the house of God; but diligently attend the enjoined solemnities of public worship: some possibly can say, they are sober, just, charitable, peaceable; and others that can boast less of their virtues, yet say, they are sorry for their sins, and pray God to forgive them.” And if we urge them concerning their translation from the state of nature to that of grace, their becoming new creatures, their implantation into Christ: they say they have been baptized, and therein regenerate, and what would we have more?
But to how little purpose is it to equivocate with God ? to go about to put a fallacy upon the Judge of spirits ? or escape the animadversion of his fiery, flaming eye? or elude his determinations, and pervert the true intent and meaning of his most es
tablished constitutions and laws ? Darest thou venture thy soul upon it? that this is all God means, by having a new heart created, a right spirit renewed in us : by being made God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works : by becoming new creatures, old things being done away, all things made new : by so learning the truth as it is in Jesus, to the putting off the old man, and putting on the new; which after God is created in riohteousness and true holiness; by being begotten of God's own will by the word of truth; to be (the arasxv) the chief excellency, the prime glory (as certainly his new creature is his best creature,) the first fruits, or the devoted part of all his creatures; by having Christ formed in us; by partaking the divine nature, the incorruptible seed, the seed of God, by being born of God, spirit of Spirit; as of earthly parents we are born flesh of flesh. When my eternal blessedness lies upon it, had I not need to be sure that I hit the true meaning of these scriptures ? especially, that at least I fall not below it, and rest not in any thing short of what Scripture makes indispensably necessary to my entering in to the kingdom of God? I professedly wave controversies; and it is pity so practical a business as this I am now upon, and upon which salvation so much depends, should ever have been encumbered with any controversy. And therefore, though I shall not digress so far, as to undertake a particular and distinct handling here of this work of God upon the soul, yet, I shall propound something in general, touching the change necessarily previous to this blessedness, (wherein that necessity is evidenceable from the nature of this blessedness which is the business I have in hand) that I hope will pass among christians for acknowledged truth, not liable to dispute, though the Lord knows it be little considered. My design being rather to awaken souls to the consideration of known and agreed things, than to perplex them about unknown. Consider therefore :
(1.) That the holy Scriptures, in the forementioned and other like passages, do plainly hold forth the necessity of a real change, to be made in the inward temper and dispositions of the soul; and not a relative only, respecting its state. This cannot be doubted by any that acknowledge a real inherent depravation, propagated in the nature of man. No, nor denied by them that grant such a corruption to be general and continued among men; whether by imitation only, or what way soever. And willing I am to meet men upon their own principles and concessions, however erroneous or short of the truth they may be, while they are yet improvable to their own advantage. Admit that regeneration, or the new birth includes a change of our relation and state God-ward ; doth it therefore exclude an intrinsic, subject
*Psal. 51. Eph. 2. 10. 2 Cor. 5. 17. Eph. 4. 23. 24. Jam. 1. 18. Gal. 4. 19. 2 Pet. 1. 4. Pet. 1. Job. 3. 6.
ive change of the inclinations and tendencies of the soul ? And if it did,
yet other terms are more peculiarly appropriate to, and most expressly point out this very change alone; as that of conversion, or of turning to God; of being renewed in the spirit of the mind; of putting off the old man that is corruptible &c. and putting on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, &e. of partaking the divine nature; it matters not if this or that expression be understood by some, more principally in another sense, the thing itself, of which we speak, is as clearly expressed, and as urgently pressed (as there was cause) as any other matter whatsoever throughout the whole book of God. But men are slower of belief, as to this great article of the Christian doctrine, than to most (I might say any) other. This truth more directly assaults the strong holds of the devil in the hearts of men, and is of more immediate tendency to subvert his kingdom ; therefore they are most unwilling to have it true, and most hardly believe it. Here they are so madly bold, as to give the lie to all divine revelations; and though they are never so plainly told without holiness none shall see God, they will yet maintain the contrary belief and hope till, “Go ye cursed” vindicate the truth of God, and the flame of hell be their eternal confutation. Lord ! that so plain a thing will not enter into the hearts of men; that so urgent inculcations will not yet make them apprehend that their souls must be renewed or perish ! that they will still go dreaming on with that mad conceit, that (whatever the word of God says to the contrary) they may yet with unsanctified hearts get to heaven! How deplorable is the case, when men have no other hope left them, but that the God of truth will prove false, and belie his word ; yea, and overturn the nature of things to save them in their sins! Thou that livest under the gospel, hast thou any pretence for thy seeming ignorance in this matter? couldst thou ever look one quarter of an hour into the Bible, and not meet with some intimation of this truth? What was the ground of thy mistake? What hath beguiled thee into so mischievous a delusion? How could such an imagination have place in thy soul : that a child of wrath by nature could become a child of God without receiving a new nature; that so vast a change could be made in thy state, without any at all in the temper of thy spirit.
(2.) Consider, that this change is in its own nature, and the design of God who works, it dispositive of the soul for blessedness. It is sufficiently evident from the consideration of the state itself of the unrenewed soul, that a change is necessary for this end; such a soul in which it is not wrought, when once its drowsy, stupifying slumber is shaken off, and its reflecting power awakened, must needs be a perpetual torment to itself. So far it is removed from blessedness, it is its own hell and can fly from misery and death no faster than from itself. Blessedness composes
the soul, reduces it to a consistency; it infers or rather is a selfsatisfaction, a well-pleasedness and contentment with ones self, enriched and filled with dutagxesia the divine fulness. Hence it is at rest, not as being pent in, but contentedly dwelling with itself and keeping within his own bounds of its own accord. The unrenewed soul can no more contain itself within its own terms or limits, is as little self-consistent, as a raging flame, or an impetuous tempest. Indeed its own lusts perpetually, as so many vultures, rend and tear it; and the more when they want external objects; then, as hunger, their fury is all turned inward; and they prey upon intestines, upon their own subject; but unto endless torment, not satisfaction. In what posture is this soul for rest and blessedness? The nature of this change sufficiently speaks its own design. It is an introduction of, the primordia, the very principles of blessedness. And scripture as plainly speaks the design of God: He regenerates to the undefiled inheritance : makes meet for it: (1 Pet. 1. 3. 4.) works, forms, or fashions the soul unto that self-same thing, (Col. 1. 12.) namely to desire and groan after that blessed state; (2 Cor. 5.5.) and consequently to acquiesce and rest therein. Therefore, vain man, that dreamest of being happy without undergoing such a change; how art thou trying thy skill to abstract a thing from itself? for the pre-required righteousness whereupon thou must be changed, and this blessedness are in kind and nature the same thing, as much as a child and a man. Thou pretendest thou wouldst have that perfected which thou canst not endure should ever be begun; thou settest thyself to prevent and suppress what in its own nature, and by divine ordination tend to the accomplishment of thy own pretended desires. Thou wouldst have the tree without ever admitting the seed or plant : thou wouldst have heat, and canst not endure the least warmth ; so besotted a thing is a carnal heart !
(3.) That inasmuch as this blessedness consists in the satisfactory sight and participation of God's own likeness, into whom the soul is habitually averse, this change must chiefly stand in its becoming holy or godly, or in the alteration of its dispositions and inclinations as to God. Otherwise the design and end of it is not attained. We are required to follow peace with all men, but here the accent is put, and holiness, without which no man shall see God, Heb. 12. 14. It is therefore a vain thing, in reference to what we have now under consideration, namely the possibility of attaining this blessedness, to speak of any other changes that fall short of, or are of another kind from the right disposition of heart God-ward. This change we are now considering, is no other than the proper adequate impress of the gospel discovery upon men's spirits, as we have largely shewn the righteousness is, in which it terminates. The sum of that discovery is, that God is in Christ reconciling the world unto
himself, (2 Cor. 5. 18. 19.) the proper impress of it, therefore is the actual reconciliation of the soul to God through Christ; a friendly, well-affected posture of spirit towards God, our last end and highest good; and towards Christ our only way, since the apostacy, of attaining and enjoying it. To rest therefore in any other good dispositions or endownents of mind, is as much besides the business, as impertinent to the present purpose, as if one designed to the government of a city, should satisfy himself that he hath the skill to play well on a lute, or he that intends physic, that he is well seen in architecture. The general scope and tenor of the gospel tells thee, O man, plainly enough, what the business is thou must intend (if thou wilfully overlook it not) in order io thy blessedness. It is written to draw thee into fel lowship with the Father and the Son, that thy joy may be full. 1 John. 1. 1. 4. It aims at the bringing of thee into a state of blessedness in God through Christ; and is therefore the instrument by which God would form thy heart thereto; the seal by which to make the first impression of his image upon thee, which will then as steadily incline and determine thy soul towards him ; sa the magnetic touch ascertains the posture of the needle. Wherefore doth he there discover his own heart, but to melt and win, and transform thine ? The word of grace is the seed of the new creature. Through the exceeding great and precious promises, he makes souls partake of the divine nature. Grace is, firstly revealed to teach the denial of ungodliness, &c.
Turn thy thoughts hither then, and consider what is there done upon thy soul by the gospel, to attemper and conform it to God? Wherein has thy heart answered this its visible design and intendment ? Thou art but in a delirious dream till thou seriously bethinkest thyself of this.
For otherwise how can the aversion of thy heart from him escape thy daily observation; thou canst not be without evidences of it; what pleasure dost thou take in retiring thyself with God; what care - to redeem time only for converse with him? hadst thou not rather be any where else? In a time of vacancy from business and company, when thou hast so great a variety of things before thee, among which to choose an object for thy thoughts, do they not naturally fall upon any thing rather than God? Nor do you think to shift off this by assigning the mere natural cause ; for if there were not somewhat more in the matter, why is it not so with all ? He upon whom this change bad passed could say ; My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips, when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the nightwatches. My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord. How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God, , how great is the sum of them? If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake; I am still with thee. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O God, have