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of God, that they are very good: the conveniences, the comforts of this life, houses, friends, food, raiment, every thing good. God's various provision is become satisfying, content sits upon thy heart, gratitude rises upon thy breast, while all is “sanctified to thee, by the word of God and prayer.” This may seem a light matter to the discontented world, but thou receivest all as the gifts of God for Jesus' sake, with whom he freely giveth all these things. This sweetens them all, that in Christ Jesus thou art reinstated into a right in them. And say, if, while thou regardest them as so many tokens of the love of the Father, they are not inexpressibly delightful, and do not build up in thee a reviving and high expectation of those bounties, which are stored up for his children in the everlasting world? Thus every thing contributes to render the believer blessed: and while he knows himself unworthy of the least of all God's mercies, the very least bounties of heaven draw out well-pleased expressions of praise, and minister complacency and happiness. But why stop I upon these meaner things? Forgive me, thou heir of glory, that thou hast been detained thus from the refreshing views of thy heavenly inheritance.
7. A hope full of immortality. To read to thee the Scripture descriptions of the joys above, were but to transcribe that which, with deepest impression, is graven upon thy heart. There faith hath painted them in the most lively characters, and hope glows with inextinguishable ardour for the enjoyment of them. A hope which is an “ anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast," amidst all the various
calamities of life. A hope that 6 maketh not ashamed of whatever reproaches, or sufferings. A hope that purifieth even as God is pure. A blessed hope, that waits for the glory of God, with abundant rejoicing; while, with abounding hope, thou lookest forward to the everlasting kingdom of Emmanuel, a joy springs up within thee "unspeakable and full of glory.” And if to see the land before thee, be a source of so much joy, how then the possession of it! To enter into the new Jerusalem, to “ see God as he is,” to “be for ever with the Lord,” to be “ fashioned like unto his glorious body,” to be “presented without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish,” to taste of, and feed upon those full joys and ravishing pleasures, which are to be had at the right hand of God for evermore: Lo, this is thy inheritance, thou believer! But what the sum of this glorious inheritance, no earthly tongue can express, no mortal heart conceive. Yet, whatever it be, it is thine, the gift of God to thee in Jesus Christ; for his will is, that “they whom the Father hath given him may be with him where he is,” may “ enter into the joy of their Lord.”
Often reckon over, with thankful acknowledgment, these blessings which attend thee in thy fellowship with Christ: endeavour daily to get a clearer and clearer evidence of thy interest in them. Hereby, thy love of Jesus shall increase; that love shall draw thee still nearer to him; from whence thou shalt experience growing strength and consolation to be inspired into thy soul, to the increase of his praise and glory, and of thy peace and salvation.
THE BELIEVER A NEW CREATURE.
2 Cor. v. 17.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
It was made too sadly evident, in the first of these discourses, that sin had deformed the soul of man, ruined the image of God stamped upon us, and had set us in such a state of alienation from God, that, while he was forgotten and slighted by us, having 10 manner of ivfluence or rule in our hearts, we were found to be intent upon carnal gratifications and earthly pursuits, and affecting above all things self-love and self-pleasing. With the miserable bondage and tremendous danger of this condition, the true believer hath been made acquainted. He hath been led to Jesus for deliverance, and, to his inexpressible consolation, he finds, that Christ hath set him free; that this mighty Redeemer hath heard his suit, and “ renewed a right spirit within him;" that he dwelleth in his heart, and liveth in him ; and that he is actually joined to the Lord, having the same mind, temper, course, and way of conduct in him, " which was also in Christ Jesus.” Now, this entire and wonderful change, which Christ brings about, by his grace, in the hearts of those that humbly come to him, is by St. Paul termed, with great propriety, “ a new creature ;" seeing 'herein a man is so fashioned and formed again, that he is quite another sort of a thing from what he was before. This is the assured and infallible event of union with Christ; for 6 if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” Nor can any thing avail without it, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, no manner of external privileges or services, but the new creature only. It is indeed the main end of Christ's coming down from heaven, of pardon purchased and offered to us, of Christ's dominion above, and of his mission of the Spirit, and of faith itself. This is the one end of the whole, that, being partakers of a new and divine nature, and thereby recovering purity of heart, we may see God, and at last fully enjoy him. I would call this new creature, the work of Christ in us, or the power which the humble soul (the person brought to the teachable, abased, and manageable disposition of a little child,) hath obtained, to turn from sin unto God, by means of faith. Whether we consider Christ living in his members, cr whether we consider the desires of a truly humbled mind, this new creature is the completion of such desires, the life of such a member, and is at once the great evidence of our union with Christ, and of the sincerity of our faith.
I shall go on, therefore, to the second main point above laid down, which is, the description of the new creature.
But I cannot enter upon this matter so hastily, as not to beg one moment, that I may previously engage your attention to it. You are about, every one of you, to be brought to a trial by the word of God, at the bar of your own consciences, whether ye be in Christ, or not; that is, whether God be, this day, your Father, or your avenger; whether ye belong to Christ, or Belial ; whether ye be inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, or children of wrath. And such an inquiry, one cannot but judge, must awaken, or comfort, or quicken you. Truly, it is no light thing, either to be, or not to be, in Christ. To be in Christ! Hear how our apostle triumphs in the blessedness of such a state ! “ All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, if ye are Christ's.” Not to be in Christ ! How doth all, more than conceivable, misery, stand proclaimed against such a condition, in that one awful word, “ He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
A question of such moment as this, warns you to lay aside vain curiosity, and deceitful excuses, and all application to others of what you shall hear; and to put on meekness of spirit, and the discernment of a single eye, with a heedful attention. It calls upon me to address you with caution and freedom, that I may neither go beyond, or fall short of the truth, in this description of the new creature.