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bear the sway with you. What think you of St. Paul? Doth not every thing you hear of him, his ceaseless labour, his patience in tribulation, his undaunted boldness, and his unshaken constancy; doth not all this convince you, beyond suspicion, that he was one of a heavenly disposition, that he lived " by faith and not by sight?” You see St. Paul's course and way, what a general tendency he had towards God: and is yours under the same direction? are you like-minded with him? But did you read in his history, that this great apostle was neglecting his ministry, and paid little regard to the work upon which he was sent; did you find, that he had been very earnest to amass wealth; upon all occasions was forward to entertainments and feastings, affected men's favour; wanted nothing so much as his ease, and to be beholden to no one; that he seldom thought of dying, being unwilling to part from the world? Did you read this of St. Paul, instead of what is told you concerning him, you would take no long time to determine him a man, who, caring not for God, “minded earthly things.” If what hath been now said of St. Paul may be said of you, I beseech you to judge of yourself, as you would have done of him in like circumstances, and conclude, that since you are not about this new and heavenly business, but have your conversation in a worldly manner, you cannot be the new creature.
Nor must the formalist pass without notice, the sinner in disguise, who appears like the new creature, seems to be very busy in the work of heaven, is rid of gross sins, and exact in hours and seasons, in the service of the knee and the mouth; and yet, after all, is a stranger to this new business, hath never entered upon it, nor so much as conceives what it means; foolishly conceiting, that attendance is devotion, and form is religion. Truly such, whatever show they may have of the new creature, in times of solemnity, and in freedom from scandalous transgressions; yet, were the dispositions of their hearts, and their vain and trifling way of life, when the task of boasted duties is not upon their hands, carefully sought out, would be found nothing different from the, seemingly, more careless sinner. If you confine your attendance upon God and your regard to the business of religion, in certain times and places, and are without a customary attention to God in the ordinary offices of your station, and the employment of your every hour; if, your public or private worshippings excepted, you are even as others who slight the solemn assemblies, and spend no time with God in retirements, and yet are civil, courteous, humane and decent; if you can discover betwixt them and yourself no manner of difference in temper and carriage, they and you seeking the interests of life, gay, and given to vanity, alike; I must entreat you not to mistake yourself for one who is entered upon the heavenly business, and is the new creature. His whole conduct is the very reverse of yours; you remark that it is so, and are secretly displeased with that exactness and seeming austerity, which appears to you in all the parts of his demeanour.
less sinner, and, with him, the mistaken formal professor, are without all due feeling to spiritual things, and labour for the life that now is.
To humility, and making the care of his soul the main business of life, the new creature adds, in the
Third place, A readiness and certain peculiar forwardness to this spiritual work. We hear often of this readiness. “ Put them in mind to be ready to every good work,” says St. Paul: and the example of the same apostle will furnish us with instances of it. In opposition to the importunity of all his weeping friends, too fondly beseeching him to decline the danger that awaited him at Jerusalem, he says, with a constancy and fortitude which will not yield to any present considerations, “ I am ready not only to be bound, but to die also for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And again, he speaks elsewhere of his “ readiness to preach the gospel at” Rome. Our Lord tells us of a readiness of spirit; and we read more than once of a ready mind. Where this readiness is not, there can be no sincerity, no love, nor heartiness. Would you account that servant faithful and well-affected to you, who is backward and unready to obey your orders ? You expect the directions you give, should be regarded with a becoming forwardness: it is this qualification which endears to you your dependants, and perşuades you of the regard and affection they bear you. Just so, the new creature is prepared for the service of God. He hath the loins of his mind girt up for the heavenly work. He doth not put off God with
promises, as the one son in the gospel, who when sent to labour in the vineyard, said, “ I go, Sir, but went not." Nor, like the other, doth he refuse present duty, afterwards repenting, and going. He is ready at the call of Providence and duty. Observe him in his course; how naturally he turns from sin and temptation, how easily he falls in with all good works, and all means of grace! He hath a quick eye to spy out temptation ; seeing danger where a thousand others suspect no harm: and what he finds to be hazardous, he hath no heart to meddle with. He is not apt to hold parley, to cavil and dispute about which course he shall take, when the least thing sinful lies in his way: “he determines immediately, and declines the action at all adventures, in despite of persuasion, fear, and all manner of threatening consequences. On the other hand, he makes haste to keep God's commandments; he hath his hand and tongue ready for every useful and honourable work, according to his ability; he needs not to be invited to the house of God, nor be called ripon to communicate; his heart is in his duty, whether it be to wait upon God in his ordinances, or to serve him in his calling; to benefit the souls, or succour the necessities of his neighbours. In a word, the new creature is a new nature ; and whatever we do naturally, we do readily, and with willing forwardness. Wherefore, if the new nature be in us, we shall be ready to the new work, and in our way to heaven shall be resolutely and briskly carrying it on, both in striving against sin within and without us, and in exercising ourselves in all manner of good. If you have thought yourself the new creature hitherto, and have judged that you are humble, and entered upon the business of heaven, see if your conversation be accordingly, if you be ready in this new work.
But if you have no heart to this work, putting off duties to another day, ready to debate which course you shall take, when the danger of reproach, shame, or loss, threatens your steadfastness; if you have no edge and keenness to a good work, to use the means of grace, or to distribute out of your abundance; but must be dragged and drawn to such things; if your ears are dull to a serious discourse, your eyes heavy to discern both the appearances of evil and the opportunities of usefulness, and your feet slow to carry you from what is bad, and yet slower in their motion towards good employments; if you are loitering day after day, and neglecting the heavenly work: if this be your case, whatever you have of freedom from scandalous iniquities, and whatever harmlessness you may have to plead, it will profit you nothing; but you are a 66 slothful servant,” or rather you are a slave; you are forced to duty, not set upon it of inclination and choice, and cannot be regarded as the new creature.
Rather, you incline to the way of the careless ; but are confined by a little slavish fear, which he is unacquainted with. He, easy, happy man ! how expert and forward is he, to every thing which concerns his present interest ! how ready to pleasures ! how at hand for carnal gratification ! Here he joins in at once, without solicitation or entreaty.