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admired or envied; and he counts the despised and afflicted disciples of Christ “ the excellent of “ the earth, in whom is all his delight.” He longs to share their privileges and felicity: nor could he recover his former aversion to them, even if he supposed that he should be for ever excluded from their company. .
When any one is “ in Christ a new creature,” his old pursuits and pleasures also pass away.--As the man of business has done with the pastimes of childhood, so the believer ceases to relish those scenes of dissipated or sensual indulgence, which once were his element. He finds himself uneasy, when they come in his way: not only deeming them a criminal waste of time and money, and a wilful hindrance to serious reflection ; but feeling them to be a chasm in his enjoyment, and an interruption to his comfort in communion with God, and in the company of his servants.
His conduct is still more decided in things directly evil. “How shall he that is dead to sin live
any longer therein ?” He hates and dreads sin as his worst enemy:
“ His seed remaineth in him, " that he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” He does not indeed forsake his lawful employments, but he gradually learns to follow them from new motives, and in a new manner; not from covetousness or on worldly principles, but as his duty, from love to God and man, and according to the precepts of the sacred scriptures.
It will readily be perceived, that the old companions of such a man will pass away. Even when relative duties and other causes render some intercourse with ungodly persons unavoidable, it will become less cordial and intimate. When such opposite characters meet, one of them must be out of his element; all those associates therefore of the new convert's former years, who have no interest in continuing the acquaintance, will drop off, as leaves from the trees in autumn: and he will find that the society of his most agreeable old companions is become irksome; for they seem far more profane and frivolous than they used to be.
Time would fail, should we particularly consider how the new convert's former discourse is passed away: and how his idle, slanderous, profane, or perhaps polluting, words are exchanged for such as are pure, peaceable, and edifying. And it is almost needless to state, that his old course of behaviour also is finally renounced. The particulars that have been mentioned may serve for a specimen: and it should be remembered that, in every respect in which “old things pass away, all things “ become new,” the apostle, by inserting the word
behold,” hath emphatically demanded our attention to this circumstance.
This too might be illustrated by considering the various operations of the believer's mind, and the objects of his affections. He hopes and fears, grieves and rejoices, desires and hates, in a new manner ; and his passions have respect to new objects. He fears the wrath and frown of God; he hopes for glory and immortality; he mourns for his own sins, and for the miseries of other men ; he rejoices in God,“ hungers and thirsts after
righteousness,” and “ abhors that which is evil.”
! Eph. iv. 29; v. 4. Col. iv. 6. James i. 26. iii.
His judgment and taste are gradually formed upon God's word; his memory is replenished with divine truths, and his imagination employed in realizing invisible things. The company of his choice, the places of his willing resort, the books he prefers, his select topics of discourse, the use he makes of his time and talents, the manner in which he conducts business, and enjoys the comforts of life, might be enlarged upon, to shew in what respects “ all things are become new.” For the real Christian desires, that " whether he eats, or drinks, or “ whatsoever he does, he may do all to the glory « of God.”
The extent of the apostle's meaning may, however, be further illustrated, by shewing that the believer does the same things in a new manner, in respect of the best part of his former conduct, and the worst of his present.-He used perhaps to attend on religious ordinances : and, though his heart was not engaged, nor his professions sincere, he returned home well satisfied with having done his duty, or elated with an idea of his own goodness. But now,
But now, when his prayers and praises are the language of his habitual judgment and desires, and he is upon the whole a spiritual worshipper; he is continually humbled for the unallowed defects and evils of his services, and seeks to have all washed in the atoning blood of Christ.
On the other hand, it must be allowed that sin dwelleth even in the true convert; and he may possibly fall into the same evil, in which he once habitually indulged with little remorse. But in this case he is filled with anguish ; he deeply abases himself before God, confesses his guilt, deprecates deserved wrath, submits to sharp correction, craves forgiveness, and prays
“ to be restored to the joy of God's salvation, and upheld by his free Spirit.”. Even in these respects “ all things are become “ new."
In short, the proposition is universal ; and the true believer acts in all things from new motives, by a new rule, and to accomplish far other purposes than he formerly had in view. But the more particular examination of the subject must be left to your private meditations, while we conclude at present with a brief application.
There are persons professing to be Christians, who avowedly disregard this subject; and, if we speak of regeneration or the new creature, are ready to answer, “How can these things be?" or perhaps to retort an indiscriminate charge of enthusiasm. But do you intend to answer your Judge in this manner? Do you expect to enter heaven by disproving the truth of his most solemn and repeated declarations? Is your judgment the standard of truth? Can nothing be needful to salvation, which you do not experience? If God be indeed glorious in holiness ; if the society and joys of heaven be holy, and if man be unholy; an entire change must, in the very nature of things, take place, before he can possibly delight in God, or enjoy heaven, were there no other obstacle to his salvation. Let me therefore earnestly beseech you to reconsider the subject: let me prevail with you " to search the scriptures," and to beg of God to shew you the true meaning of them; and to grant that, if these things be indeed true and
needful, you may know them by your own happy experience.
Again, some religious people profess to know that their sins are forgiven, and others are anxious to obtain this assurance. If then it be asked, how can any man be thus certain in this matter? I answer, by a consciousness that.“ he is in Christ “ a new creature ; that old things are passed away, “and all things are become new.” When our Lord forgave the sins of the paralytic, he enabled him to carry his bed : this proved his sins forgiven, both to himself and others. And, in like manner, when we know that, in consequence of having applied to Christ for salvation, we abhor all sin, love the ways of God, and delight in pious company; we have a witness in ourselves, and the testimony of God in his word, that we partake of “ the gift of righteousness by faith.” The clearer this evidence of our new creation appears, the fuller ground of assurance we possess : we are therefore exhorted “ to give all diligence to make our “ calling and election sure:” but, without this, all impressions and supposed revelations, declaring our sins to be pardoned, are manifest delusions for they contradict the express testimony of God in his holy word.
Too many profess the gospel, who give no evidence of this gracious change, and stumble others by their unholy lives : but the text at once cuts off such men's pretensions; and the reproach ought to rest on themselves, and not on the holy doctrines which they disgrace.
But, as “the path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” I would earnestly