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But where has God prescribed bodily flagel- is not safety. And the thought cannot be lations? Where does He require us to with- always banished; it will sometimes intrude, draw from society? to turn mendicants? to and mar all your peace and pleasure. But live in deserts and caves? to go barefooted? blessed is the man whose transgression is forand sleep on the cold ground? Is God pleased given, whose sin is covered." The curse is only as we are tormented? does He surround removed from all his trials. He has a covenant us with enjoyments only that we may not right to all his mercies. God is his fathertaste of them? To enjoy is to obey, because death is his friend-heaven is his home-the it corresponds with the obvious will of God. Bible is his treasure-he has nothing to do What says Paul of those who "forbid to with events. Providence is engaged to make marry, and command to abstain from meats"all things work together for his good." All which God hath created to be received with his interests are secured-not a hair of his thankfulness, of them which believe and head is unnumbered-he dwells safely, and know the truth? They preach the doctrine of devils." And what says the wise man in this book? "Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun."
is "in quiet from the fear of evil." This is the man to enjoy life; every thing smiles when God smiles. "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works."
Having called upon you to rejoice, let me exhort you also, with the royal preacher,
II. TO DO GOOD. "I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life." Here let us inquire, What is the good these things will enable us to do? How we are to perform it? and, Why we should be concerned to accomplish it?
What good can these things enable us to do?-It is of three kinds.
Some Protestants have had a tinge of Popery, and have enjoined themselves austerities which God has never required. Their motive, perhaps, in some cases, has been good; and they adopted these mortifications, not to recommend them to God, so much as to promote their sanctification. But God They enable us to do religious good. This knows our frame. His own means are the is the chief. No charity equals that which best; and we ought not to distinguish our-regards the souls of men; and what an honour selves by morals and self-denial of unscriptu- is conferred upon property, that by means of ral devisings; but, remembering that we it you can be instrumental in the salvation of serve a good master, gratefully use what his providence supplies. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
sinners, in the diffusion of the Scriptures, in the preaching of the Gospel, and the extablishment of the Redeemer's empire! But so it is; and every thing, under God, depends upon the pecuniary resources of his agents. Lastly. Seek after a knowledge of your What, at this hour, hinders, or limits, a thoureconciliation with God. It is your mercy sand exertions in the cause of truth and of that you know how this is to be obtained. righteousness-but the want of "silver and Jesus is the only Mediator, and he made gold," to replenish the funds of wisdom and peace by the blood of his cross. He "once zeal? "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that harvest, that he will send forth labourers into he might bring us unto God." Through him, his harvest:" by which we mean, not minis"God, now waits to be gracious, and is ex- ters only, but men of independence, who will alted to have mercy upon you." You are al- say, Lord, I am thine, and all that I have: lowed, you are invited, you are commanded men of trade and commerce, who will gain, to "seek him, while he may be found, and to not to squander away in extravagance, or call upon him, while he is near." And can hoard up in the miser's bag; but to honour you be happy without any well-grounded the Lord with their substance, and to realize hope of your pardon and acceptance with the prediction concerning the deliverance God? Could a man enjoy a feast if a sword and conversion of Tyre: "And her merchanwas suspended over his head by a hair?-dise and her hire shall be holiness to the Could he be charmed with the finest music Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; if he knew he was hanging over a bottomless pit by a rotten thread? Can you enjoy life while you know-that death is certain-that it cannot be far off-that it may be very near -that after death is the judgment-and after the judgment-the sentence, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels?" You may, indeed, banish the thought; but forgetfulness
for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing."
They enable us also to do intellectual good. This takes in education: and whatever the advocates for mental darkness suppose-who plead that because a man is born to poverty he is born to ignorance, and will fill his place the better the less he knows; no
property can be better expended than that which is laid out in the instruction of the young. A little education gives a poor child the use of his understanding. It opens to him a thousand sources of pleasure, to alleviate his condition. It prepares him to support himself, and to be useful to others. While it is friendly to religion, by teaching him the nature and grounds of his duty, and enabling him to read the word of truth.
They enable us to do corporeal good: by which we mean, that which immediately regards the body, though the mind will also derive comfort from it. Here we can never be at a loss. We are surrounded with the defenceless, the hungry, the naked, and the sick. We live in a world full of misery, and whatever be our situation, it is impossible to elude cases of distress. But are we to elude them? Are we to hide ourselves from our own flesh? "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
Secondly. In what manner are we to do it? We are to do good
Immediately, and with diligence. "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee." He may be dead before to-morrow, or you may be dead; and thus the action will be lost for ever. For the saints on earth have one privilege above the saints in heaven; it is the opportunity of doing good; but this opportunity, we should always remember, is as short and precarious as it is precious: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." We are to do good
Extensively, and with impartiality. Some cases indeed will have stronger claims than others, and the most generous ability cannot reach every case. But it is only preference not exclusion, it is only want of means not indisposition, that must limit our exertions. We are not to be restrained by relationship, or country, or religion, or even personal injury-yea, says our Saviour, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."-We are to do good
Perseveringly, and without declension. We must reckon upon encountering much, very much, that will try us. We shall often meet with very unworthy returns. We shall frequently seem to labour in vain. The
harvest will very slowly follow the seed-time. Zeal, without patience, will do nothing. "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap, if we faint not."-Let us inquire,
Thirdly. Why we should be concerned to accomplish it.
Why? Because the bounties of Providence were conferred upon us for this very purpose. The Donor looked beyond ourselves in communicating them. He designed them to be not only indulgences, but talents; he constituted us not so much the proprietors as the stewards; "and it is required in a steward, that a man be found faithful."
Why? Because God hath commanded it. He is our sovereign master; and if we are servants rightly disposed, we have often asked, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" And has he left us ignorant of his will? Did you never read, "as we have opportunity let us do good unto all men, especially unto them that are of the household of faith?" Can any reason be assigned why he is to be obeyed, when he commands us to believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and when he enjoins us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together-and despised, when he issues the charge, "Charge them that are rich in this world that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate?"
Why? Gratitude requires it. How much has God done for us, notwithstanding all our unworthiness and guilt! What an instance of unparalleled goodness does the Apostle of love mention with rapture; and how natural, how forcible, the inference he draws from it, while teaching us to derive Christian morals from evangelical motives; "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." Gratitude consists in a disposition to return a favour received: and from man to man, it may be so expressed, as that a compensation may be made, yea, and even more than an equivalent be returned. But we can never discharge the obligations we are under to God. Let us, however, show that we are sensible of them. Let us ask, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?" And if He is exalted above all blessing and praise, and our goodness extendeth not to him, let it extend to those who are appointed to receive, as his substitutes, the acts of our beneficence. He will judge of our disposition towards himself, whom we have not seen, by our conduct towards his creatures, and his children, whom
we have seen. "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." The Redeemer at the last day will acknowledge, "Forasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me."
Why? Profit requires it. What is it that attaches one man so powerfully to another and gives him a resource in the tears, the prayers, the attentions, of his fellow-creatures in the day of evil? Power may cause the possessor to be feared; wealth, to be envied; genius, to be admired; righteousness, to be respected: but, "for a good man some would even dare to die." Yea, goodness secures a man much higher resources than human. "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord shall deliver him in time of trouble. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” But it would be needless to mention all the promises made to beneficence by a God that cannot lie, and is never at a loss to perform.
Why? Pleasure requires it. If you are strangers to the pleasures of benevolence, you are to be pitied; for you are strangers to the most pure, the most durable, the most delicious, the most satisfactory, the most God-like pleasures to be enjoyed on this side
that now is, and of that which is to come;" it must be desirable to know wherein it consists, what are its peculiar attributes, and how it may be distinguished from every thing that would speciously usurp its place.
To afford us this necessary satisfaction is the aim of the Apostle, in several parts of bis writings; and as he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, his decisions are infallible. "We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith that worketh by love." "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”
The negation extends, by a parity of reasoning, to a thousand other things. In Jesus Christ neither episcopacy, nor dissenterism; a liturgy, or prayer without a form; kneeling, or sitting at the Lord's-supper; sprinkling in baptism, or immersion; availeth any thing. We say not, that all these are equally true and proper in themselves, and that no degree of importance is attached to them; but that real religion is not essentially
without them, and they may subsist without real religion.—Neither will mere orthodoxy, knowledge, gifts, profession, avail-What then? "A new creature." "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Let us endeavour to explain and improve this subject,
And here I unite the two parts of our subject into one. I have called upon you to re-involved in them: real religion may subsist joice in your portion, and to do good with it: but it is possible to rejoice in doing good. The most beneficent life is the most happy life. We talk of pleasure! What are the feelings of the most successful and indulged worldling compared with those of Job? "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me. Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy." O the delight of resembling Him, "who went about doing good!" O the joy of being followers of God, at once the greatest and the best of Beings!" GOD IS LOVE: AND HE IN
THAT DWELLETH IN LOVE DWELLETH
GOD, AND GOD IN HIM."
I. BY EXAMINING WHAT IS IMPLIED IN "A NEW CREATURE.' II. WHAT IS TO BE INFERRED FROM ITS UNRIVALLED IMPORTANCE. I. LET US EXAMINE WHAT IS IMPLIED IN "A NEW CREATURE.'
Four explanatory questions may be asked upon this subject,
First. In what sense is a Christian a new creature? Is it a physical or a moral one? It is only a moral one. New faculties are not given him; but his faculties have new qualities and applications. Hence the original complexion, or constitutional peculiarity, remains; and the man is seen even in the Christian. His very religion takes a kind of hue from his natural character, whether it be or mildness. And this is no inconsiderable sanguine or phlegmatical, tending to severity proof of sincerity: for it is custom, it is formality, it is hypocrisy, that produces sameIr religion be, as it is commonly acknow-ness; that constrains the lively to revolt ledged, the one thing needful; if it be ab- from cheerfulness; the talkative to keep sisolutely indispensable to every character: and in every condition; if it be "profitable unto all things, having promise of the life
THE NEW CREATURE, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.-Gal. vi. 15.
lence; and the young to look demurely, and speak and move with the gravity of old age. Had I known the individual turn and temper
His desires are new. He no longer asks,
of Martha and Mary before our Lord entered | views of the Saviour are changed. He once their house, I should have viewed them as neglected, or despised him: but now he cries, hypocrites had Mary acted as Martha did, or How great is his goodness, and how great is Martha acted as Mary did: but when I see his beauty! and deems only those happy, who the one "sitting at his feet," and the other enjoy and serve him. "cumbered about much serving," I see a difference; but it is principle, operating accord-“Who will show us any good?" but he "huning to character. To proceed. The man, gers and thirsts after righteousness." Yea, therefore, continues the same as before, and doubtless," says he," and I count all things yet is a new creature. His soul, and all its but loss for the excellency of the knowledge powers, are the same; he has not another un- of Christ Jesus, my Lord. That I may win derstanding, another memory, another imagi- Christ, and be found in him, not having mine nation, another genius: but these are changed own righteousness, which is of the law, but in their use, and sanctified. His body is the that which is through the faith of Christ, the same, and all its senses: grace does not give righteousness which is of God by faith: that him another tongue, or other eyes and ears; I may know him, and the power of his resurbut they are now sacred to new purposes. rection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, His condition is the same: he is not another being made conformable unto his death.' husband, another father, another master; but These are the desires of the new creature. he is a different one: he is godly in each of His pleasures are new. The pleasures of these relations. He carries on the same bu- sin he abhors. The dissipations of the world siness: but now he abides with God in his he despises; but it is his meat to do the will calling. He eats and drinks as before: but of his heavenly Father. He calls the sabnow, whether he eats or drinks, or whatever bath a delight. He is glad when they say he does, he does all to the glory of God. If unto him, Let us go into the house of the the covetous become liberal, the proud hum- Lord. He finds his word and eats it, and it ble, and the prayerless devout; they are new is unto him the joy and the rejoicing of his creatures as to religious purposes-and this heart. is the subject in question. Compare Paul after his conversion with Paul before his conversion: his body and soul, his learning and abilities, and the ardour of his disposition, continued the same; and yet, was there ever a being so different?
Secondly. How far does this change extend? The reason of this question is obvious; it is to keep persons from resting in things, which, though good in themselves, come short of it. A man may be baptized, and not regenerated. A new creed, or a new denomination, does not make a man a new creature. It is pleasing to see a man reformed externally; but he may abandon a course of profligacy, and live soberly and righteously, and yet not live godly in the present world. The new creation is not a change from vicious to virtuous only; but from natural to spiritual, from earthly to heavenly, from walking by sight to walking by faith. To go still farther: a man may be convinced, and not converted; he may be alarmed, and not have the fear of God in his heart; he may receive the word with joy, and be a stranger to the comforts of the Holy Ghost. Let us hear Paul. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
His conceptions are new. His views of himself are changed. He discovers that he is a guilty creature, and deserves to perish; that he is a depraved creature, and that his heart is infinitely worse than his life; "wherefore he abhors himself, and repents in dust and ashes:" nor does he ever again recover those lofty thoughts of himself he once had. His
His pains are new. He once felt the sorrow of the world that worketh death; but he now understands that godly sorrow, which worketh repentance unto life. He is not insensible under the afflictions of life; but says he, What is every other loss, to the loss of the soul? O this evil heart of unbelief! O this ingratitude towards the God of my mercy! O this unprofitableness under the means of grace! O this insensibility under the corrections of his Providence! "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" These are the groans of the new creature.
His life is new. In simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he now has his conversation in the world. How shall he that is dead to sin, live any longer therein? If he was not vicious before, he now abhors, from disposition, what he once only shunned from selfish motives: if moral before, his morality is now evangelized; and whatsoever he does "in word or deed, he does all in the name of the Lord Jesus."-After all, this is only a specimen; the proposition is universal in its reference: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new!" This, however, regards the extent, not the degree of this change. We therefore ask,
Thirdly. Is this work produced instantaneously, or is it gradually advanced to perfection? Were we to affirm, that it is completed at once, we should offend against the generation of God's children; for, though believers often question the reality of their religion, they never doubt the imperfection of
First. It should regulate your inquiries. You are commanded in the Scripture to examine yourselves; and, therefore, the examination is necessary. But on what is it to turn? Not on the place, the time, the manner, the means of your conversion, but the reality. Can you say, one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see?" On what is it to turn? On that which is of the highest moment. What is it to know that you are right in every thing else; in your opinions of church government, in your views of Divine ordinances, in your notions of Gospel grace, if your heart is not right in the sight of God? Are you "saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost?" This is the question. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
it. We should lose the evidence of analogy. | in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth If we examine the world of nature, we shall any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new see God producing nothing in immediate per- creature,” this should regulate your inquiries fection; but from imperceptible beginnings -your prayers-your praise your esteem carrying them, by numberless degrees, to-and your zeal. maturity. Look into the field-there is first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear. Look into the fold-there are lambs as well as sheep. Look into the family-there are babes as well as young men: even our Saviour himself "increased in wisdom, and in stature, and in favour with God and man." We should lose the authority of Revelation. For what are the commands of Scripture? "Grow in grace." "Be filled with the Spirit." What are its promises? "They shall grow as the vine. The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger." What are its representations? It describes Christians as going "from strength to strength:" as "renewed day by day:" as "changed into the same image, from glory to glory." Who then would reject the bud, because it is not the flower; or contemn the dawn, because it is not the day? "Who has despised the day of small things?" Of whom is it prophesied, "a bruised reed shall he not break, the smoking flax shall he not quench, till he bring forth judgment unto victory?"
It should regulate your prayers. If you are strangers to this work, an experience of it should be your immediate, your prevailing, your supreme concern. You should lay your unhappy condition to heart. You should reflect on what has been done for millions of Fourthly. Who is the Author of this new your fellow-sinners, who are by nature chilcreation? The question seems answered by dren of wrath, even as others. You should the very terms employed. Creation is a work consider, that what is impossible to man, is of omnipotence, and belongs exclusively to easy with God. You should remember, that God. This is not denied in any other instance. his power is under the direction of his goodMen will allow, that God alone can make a ness; and that he is not only the Lord God blade of grass; they will allow that in him Almighty, but the God of all grace, and the we live, and move, and have our natural be- God of all comfort. You should remember, ing; and yet, with marvellous inconsistency, that he has provided for your weakness and they would be their own saviours, and derive depravity, as well as your guilt and danger; from themselves that spiritual life, which is and that" if ye being evil know how to give emphatically called "the life of God," not good gifts unto your children, how much only to show its resemblance, but its origin. more will your Father that is in heaven give If the stream can rise no higher than the his Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” At fountain; if no effect can exceed its cause; his dear footstool, you should plead and pray if no one can bring a clean thing out of an as David did, "Create in me a clean heart, unclean: how is it to be accounted for, that O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” those who were once so depraved as to need Without this, you are undone for ever. Coma universal change, should be in the posses-pared with this, every thing else you want, sion of real holiness? of spiritual excellency? is a trifle. "For in Christ Jesus neither cirIf we appeal to the Scripture, the case is ex- cumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumplained. There we shall find this work, in cision, but a new creature." the perfection, the progress, and the commencement, ascribed to the agency of God. We are said to "live in the Spirit: to walk in the Spirit: to be born of the Spirit." "You hath he quickened," says the Apostle, "who were dead in trespasses and sins. You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”—Having shown what is implied in a “new creature,"
II. OBSERVE WHAT IS TO BE INFERRED FROM ITS UNRIVALLED IMPORTANCE. And, "if
Thirdly. It should regulate your praise. You ought to be thankful for every thing you enjoy: and in a proper frame of mind you will say, with Jacob, "O Lord, I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast showed to thy servant." But gratitude should be wise, and measure out its favours according to the value of the blessing acknowledged. You should be thankful if you are favoured with civil freedom; if you have the comforts of life; if your body is free from pain and disease: but you should be much more so if the Son has made you free;