« AnteriorContinuar »
Widely different from this proud fpirit of felf-juftification is the language of the Christian, in his progrefs towards holiness. Whatever may have been his fuccefs in combating the world, the flesh, and the devil; ftill does he pour forth his foul before God, in ftrains of the deepest and most unaffected humiliation. Confcious of his utter inability to fave himself, he daily perceives with greater clearness, the necesfity of the atonement, and the wonderful benefits which refult from it. He acknowledges with joy and gratitude the truth of St. Paul's declaration; "By grace "are ye faved through faith; and that not "of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not "of works, left any man should boast a. While he laments the deadnefs and coldnefs of his heart, and the few, the trifling, the imperfect fervices, which he performs, in return for the immenfe obligations conferred upon him by everlasting love; to
It is excellently obferved by that eminently learned and pious man, the Hon. Robert Boyle, that " he alone "loves God as much as he ought, that, loving him as "much as he can, ftrives to repair the deplored imperfec"tion of that love, with an extreme regret to find it no greater."
the rest of mankind he appears to be la- CHAP. bouring inceffantly in the vineyard of III. Christ, and as abounding more and more in all good deeds. Thus, as the sphere of his utility increases, his felf-abasement grows in an equal proportion; and though his works shine before men, yet their meritoriousness he rejects with abhorrence, and the glory refulting from them he heartily ascribes to God alone. Nor will death itfelf put an end to his Christian humility. When tranflated into the manfions of everlafting felicity, he will worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and caft his crown before the throne. He will join, with a heart glowing with gratitude, and rapt into the fublimeft devotion, in the fong of the heavenly choir to the great Redeemer. "Thou waft flain, and haft redeemed us "to God by thy blood, out of every kin"dred, and tongue, and people, and na"tion-Worthy is the Lamb that was flain "to receive power, and riches, and wif "dom, and strength, and honour, and glo
ry, and bleffing-Bleffing, and honour, "and glory, and power, be unto him that fitteth upon the throne, and unto the "Lamb for ever and ever "."
c Rev. v. 9.
in the rege
SECT. In pursuing the analogy between the natural and spiritual life, we must now turn our eyes to a very different, and a to fin even very humiliating picture. Man, during nerate. See the whole period of his existence in this world, is fubject to a variety of diforders, which rack his animal frame with torture, and prevent the due performance of its ordinary functions. In this refpect, as we have daily but too many unhappy instances, the parallel is equally exact. The best of Christians are perpetually guilty of fins, either of omiffion, or of commiffion. The offence is fometimes fucceeded by a speedy recovery; but at other times, the relapse is of fo heinous a nature, that it approaches to the very confines of apoftafy. The foul crime of sensuality may be ftyled the leprofy of the foul; the violent emotion of anger, its fever. The dangerous flumber of carelessless and infenfibility is accurately represented by lethargic and paralytic affections; and the loss of the spiritual precifely correfponds with the lofs of the natural appetite. The comparifon might eafily, if neceffary, be purfued to a much greater length. Perhaps, there is scarcely a fingle bodily diftemper, without its mental counterpart.
This metaphor is fo obvious, that it per- CHAP. petually and imperceptibly mingles itself 111. with the most common expreffions of our ordinary conversation ; and what is more to the prefent purpose, it is uniformly agreeable to the phrafeology of Scripture. "The whole head is fick, and the whole "heart faint; from the fole of the foot " even unto the head there is no foundness in it; but wounds, and bruifes, and pu
trefying fores; they have not been closed, "neither bound up, neither mollified with "ointment." The obftinate infidelity of the Jews is predicted in a series of fimilar terms: "The heart of this people is waxed
grofs, and their ears are dull of hearing, " and their eyes have they closed." Agreeably to the fame allegory, as the disorders of the mind are described by the disorders of the body; fo a state of total fpiritual dereliction is equivalent to death. "You "hath he quickened, who were dead in
d Ex, gr. Lethargic dulnefs-The fever of impatienceBurning with indignation-Chilling neglect, and the cold touch of poverty, equally freeze the genial current of the foul, &c. &c.
• Ifaiah i. 5.
f Acts xxviii. 27.
trefpaffes and fins &;" "But the fearful, "and unbelieving, and the abominable, "and murderers, and whoremongers, and "forcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, fhall "have their part in the lake which burn"eth with fire and brimftone, which is "the fecond death h."
From thefe obfervations it appears, that the doctrine of regeneration is a perfect metaphor or allegory. Upon his first admiffion into the invifible church of Chrift, the natural man muft become a new creature. A total renovation of the heart, and a thorough change of principles, must take place; a change, as great as that which a new-born infant experiences. From the
Ephef. ii. 1.
Rev. xxi. 8.
i Thus our Church speaks in the first part of the Homily for Whitfunday." As there are three feveral and fundry perfons in the Deity, fo have they three feveral and fundry offices proper unto each of them: the Father to cre"6 ate; the Son to redeem; and the Holy Ghoft to fanctify "and regenerate. Whereof the laft, the more it is hid from "our understanding, the more it ought to move all men to "wonder at the fecret and mighty working of God's Holy Spirit, which is within us. For it is the Holy Ghoft, " and no other thing, that doth quicken the minds of men, ftirring up good and godly motions in their hearts, which