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would plainly be only a change of life, and no change of heart. At the same time, as it did not arise from any in. ward principle, it would neither be uniform nor lasting. It is beyond all question, indeed, that our true interest is inseparable from our duty, so that felf-seeking is felf-lofing; but still a sense of duty must have the precedency, otherwise it changes its nature, and is, properly speaking, no duty at all.
To honor God in the heart, then, and to serve him in the life, is the first and highest desire of him that is born again. This is not, and cannot be the case, with any in a natural state. But, before we proceed to the other particular implied in this change, it will not be improper to make an observation, which I hope will have the greater weight, when the foundation of it is fresh in the reader's mind. Hence may be plainly seen the reason why prophane and worldly men have such a tendency to felf-rightecusness, while the truly pious are filled with an abhorrence
that soul-destroying falfhood. This, I dare say, appears strange to many, as I confess it hath often done to me, before I had thought fully upon the fubject: that those who evidently are none of the strictest in point of morals, and have least of that kind to boast of, should yet be the most profeffed admirers and defenders of the doctrine of justification by works, and despisers of the doctrine of the grace of God. But the solution is easy and natural. Worldly men have no just sense of their natural and unalienable obligation to glorify God in their thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore all that they do in religion, they look upon as a meritorious service, and think that certainly fomething is due to them on that account. They think it strange if they have walked soberly, regularly, and decently, especially if they have been firict and punctual in the forms of divine worship, that God should not be obli. ged (pardon the expression) to reward them according to their works. It is a hard service to them, they do it only that they may be rewarded, or at least may not fuffer for the neglect of it, and therefore cannot but infilt upon the merit of it.
: On the other hand, those who are born of God, are fenfible that it is the duty of every rational creature to love God with all his heart, and to confecrate all his powers and faculties to his Maker's service. They are convinced that, whoever should do so without fin, would do only what is just and equal, and have no plea of merit to advance. But when they consider how many fins still cleave to them, how far short they come of their duty in every instance, they ask for mercy, and not for reward, and are ready to say with the Psalmist David, “ If thou, Lord, “ should inark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand: but " there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be fear" ed."* To sum up this reasoning in a few words. The reluctant obedience which some pay to the divine law, is confidered as a debt charged upon God; whereas real obedience is considered as a debt due to God. And therefore it must always hold, that the very imperfection of an obedience itself increases our disposition to overvalue and rest our dependance upon it.
SE C T. II.
The second part of this change.
HE next thing implied in a faving change is, that
the foul rests in God as its chief happiness, and habitually prefers his favor to every other enjoyment. On this branch of the subject I would beg the reader to obferve, not only the meaning and substance of the propofition, but the order in which it is placed. There must from, a sense of duty, but is founded upon it, and grows out of it. When a holy soul has seen the infinite excellence and glory of the true God, loves him supremely, and is devoted to him entirely, he also delights in him superlatively.
first a devotedness of mind to God, and a supreme leading concern for his honor and glory. He must be, if I may so fpeak, again restored to his original right, his dominion and throne, while the creature is reduced to its obedience and subjection. In consequence of this, there is an unfeigned acquiescence in God, as the source of comfort, and a high esteem of his favor as better than life. Thisdoes not go before, nay, is hardly distinct or separated
* Pfal. CX-X. 3, 4•
Such a person is fully convinced that those, and those alone are happy, whole God is the Lord, and that those whoare afur off from him shall certainly perish. In a natural ftate, as the fure consequence of sin, the transgressor flies from God, with a dread and horror of his presence. But the renewed soul returns to him with desire, and feels an uneasiness and want that cannot be supplied but by the intimation of pardon, and sense of divine love. The warmth and fervor of devout affection is expressed in the strongest terms in fcripture: “As the hart panteth after the water“ brooks, fo panteth my soul after thee, O God. My faul " thirsteth for God, for the living God, when shall I conie " and appear before God. * Because thy loving-kindness “ is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will " I bless thee while I live, I will lift up my hands in thy " name, my foul shall be fatisfied as with marrow and
fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.”+
it is necessary that serving and delighting in God should be joined together on a double account. Their influence on one another is reciprocal. It is not easy to distinguish a conscientious study to serve and glorify God, from a slavislı obedience through fear of divine power, but by its being inseparably connected with a delight in God, as the choice of the heart, and centre of the affections.
On the other hand, it is hard to distinguish cleaving to God as our portion and happiness, froin an interested mercenary bargain in religion, but by its being preceded by, founded upon, nay, even refolved into, a fense of the supreme honor due to God for his infinite excellence. This reason. able service will then be attended with an unspeakable fiveetness and complacency, and the all-fufficiency of God will be an unshaken security for the happiness and peace of those who put their trust in him.
* Psal. xlii. 1, 26
+ Pfal. lxiii. 3, 4, 5.
We may often observe these two dispositions jointly exerting themselves, and mutually strengthening one another, in the langnage and exercises of the faints in fcripture. With what fervor of spirit, and with what inimitable force and beauty of style, do we find the Psalmist David expressing himself in both views. Sometimes he makes a full surrender of himself and his all to the divine fervice and disposal; at other times his soul “ makes her « boaft in God,” and he exults in his happiness and se urity under the divine protection : “O my soul, thou haft “ laid unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord*. - The Lord is “ the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup, thou “ maintainest my lot : the lines are fallen to me in pleasant “ places, yea, I have a goodly heritaget."
These two things are, indeed, often fo intimately united that we are at a loss to know whether we should interpret the language of the facred writers as a profeffion of cluty, or an expreffion of delight, as in the following words; « I will fing unto the Lord as long as I live, I will fing “ praise unto my God while I have my being.--My mc“ditation of him shall be sweet, I will be gladl in the Lord.” How deeply the Psalmist was penetrated with a sense of the honor and service due to God, may be particularly seen in some of those animated paffages in which his enlarged heart calls upon every creature to join in the work of praise : “ Bless the Lord ye his angels, that excel in
strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord all ye his hosts, ye “ ministers of his that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord all " his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the * Lord, O my soul."||
It is easy to see how this distinguishes the natural from the new-born soul ; nay, it is easy to see how this distinguishes the man who is renewed in the spirit of his mind, from all others, however various their characters, lowever different or opposite their pursuits. The design of man's creation is expressed in the Assembly's Shorter Catechisin, in a way
Psal. xvi. 2. † Pial. xvi. 5, 6. Pril. civ. ;;, ;;
Pfal. ciii. 20, 21, 22.
that can scarce be altered for the better; it was, that he might glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.” As he departed from his duty by fin, so also, at the same time, from his happiness. As he refused to do the will of God, so he no more fought his favor, but placed his happiness and comfort in the creatures more than the Creator, who is “ God blefled for ever." All unrenewed perfons, in one shape or another, place their supreme happiness in fomething that is not God. In this one circumstance they all agree, though the different forms which the world puts on 'to solicit their affection, the different degrees in which they prosecute it, and the different ways in which they apply or abuse it, are so very many, that it is impossible to enumerate or describe them. Though there is but one God. the idols of the nation's are innumerable. There is but one way to peace, and if that is neglected, the unsatisfactory nature of all created enjoyments makes men fly from one earthly comfort to another, till they feel, by late experience, the vanity of them all. Their state is justly defcribed by the wise man, when he says, “ Lo this only have " I found, that God made man upright, but they have
sought out many inventions.” *
It may not be improper here, just to hint at a few of the principal pursuits by which the characters of men are diversified, their hearts and cares divided, and the one thing needful forgotten and disregarded. Some there are who yield themselves up to the unrestrained indulgence of pleasure. Sensual appetite and passion carry them on with unbridled fury. The luft of the flesh, the luft of the eye, and the pride of life, poress their affections, and their prevailing desire is to gratify these appetites, as far as their situation and circumstances enable them, or the rival pur. fuits of others will permit them. This, which is usually the first attempt of unfanctified and ungoverned youth, is well described by the wise man, in the following strong caution against it: “ Rejoice, O young man, in thy
youth, and let thine heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the
* Ecclel. vii29.