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from an evil conscience," which is done by the blood Christ, Heb. x. 22; and that "the conscience be purgfrom dead works to serve the living God," and this is effected by the eternal Spirit, Heb. ix. 14. Now there are four offices of conscience, which the new creature doth in a good measure regulate.
(1.) As it is a guide, a discoverer of duty, a bright star in a dark night, a hand in the margin, to shew us what is worth our observing, a schoolmaster to teach us, a monitor to shew our mistakes; and it must be regulated by the word of God, for conscience is corrupted, and is apt to be deceived, and to deceive us: it is but an under officer, and must itself be subject to God's law. Hence the Christian seeks to regulate its dictates by the word of truth, and grace brings it to the rule,—What saith my supreme Lord and Master? I must follow thee no further than God's law allows. Now the new creature brings conscience to the word, and saith, Thus far thou must go, and no further: the end of "the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and good conscience, and faith unfeigned,” 1 Tim. i. 5. These are always companions; this is a good conscience.
(2.) Conscience is a book, wherein are noted and written down all a man's actions and expressions, even his thoughts and imaginations: it is also a correct and faithful register, to produce them as a faithful witness for, or against a man another day. "The books were opened:" one of these is the book of conscience. Conscience is as a thousand witnesses; if good, the Holy Ghost unites with it, "my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost;" and this "is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience."* If a person have done any thing amiss, conscience brings it to his re
* Rev. xx. 12. Rom. ix. 1. 2 Cor. i. 12.
membrance, as the sin of Joseph's brethren made them say, "We are verily guilty." "Now a faithful witness will not lie." A rectified conseience will give in a true testimony to promote repentance, which is therefore called a "bethinking ourselves," or in the Hebrew, "a bringing back upon our hearts." Conscience hath a tenacious memory, and will speak truly in its excusings or accusings;* which is proper to conscience, as conscience, but grace regulates it, and adds some force to it.
(3.) Conscience is a judge to pass sentence upon a man, as the verdict is brought in. It is true, it is but a petty judge under the supreme Judge, yet the great God confirms its judicial sentence: 1 John iii. 20, “If our hearts," that is, our consciences, "condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things." Every man may and must hold private sessions within, preparatory to the great assizes; if he be but passive, and is loath to hearken to the sentence, he is condemned; and this is but a sad prognostic of his being condemned at God's tribunal, which he seeks to escape, as Felix did, but cannot but if he concur in this sentence, and condemn himself actively and voluntarily, " he shall not be judged or condemned," 1 Cor. xi. 31. Now grace in the heart makes a man do this. I am the man, saith he, I confess both the fact and fault. Art thou so? saith conscience; I must needs then pass sentence upon thee, according to God's righteous law. Well, I yield, saith the soul, I am convicted in this court, and cannot escape the judgment of God: I must fly to the city of refuge.
(4.) Conscience is an avenger, a self-tormentor: a guilty person is one that punishes or afflicts himself; some do this sinfully, by " worldly sorrow which caus
* Gen, xliii. 21. 1 Kings viii. 47. Rom. ii. 14, 15.
eth death." The Christian must do it penitentially, either for his own sins, or other men's: so Lot "vexed his righteous soul with the sin of Sodom ;" the word is Baσávitev, he beat and bastinadoed his righteous soul. The godly man must take the whip of conscience with the hand of grace, and scourge himself for his sins or God will take it with his hand, and chastise him with it, as he did David, whose "heart smote him for numbering the people." The worm of conscience gnawing at the heart, is an acute pain, and will be one of the torments of the wicked in hell. * But the pious man prevents that, when he approves of God's sentence by self-excruciating trouble for sin here: it is a profitable employment of conscience, with its severe lashes to promote godly sorrow.
A CONTINUED EXAMINATION OF THE NEW CREATURE, AS TO THE WILL AND AFFECTIONS.
3. ANOTHER subject, wherein the new creature resides, is the will, and this is the hinge of the soul, the master wheel, all which having received a new and different impulse, moves quite another way than what it had done; now the change of the will is the main work of converting grace.
There are four departments of the will, wherein the new creature shews itself.
(1.) In its designs, aims, and intentions. The world and self-interest were the main drift of the will in a 2 Cor. vii. 10. 2 Pet. i 7, 8. 2 Sam. xxiv. 10. Mark ix. 44.
natural state; all seek their own, Phil. ii, 21, the gratifying of the flesh, sensual appetite, and worldly gain; the universal inquiry is, "Who will shew us any good?" Psal. iv. 6. O for a good bargain, a cheap purchase! another is for strong drink, or dainties of the table, plays or pleasures; another for the smiles of a court, and titles of honour. But the new creature discards and scorns all these, while his aim is the glorifying of God, and enjoyment of him, let "Christ be magnified, and my soul saved," and I can despise or slight all other things, God hath bound them together, and the soul cannot part them. God is the Christian's chief end, in his natural, civil, and spiritual acts; the new man aims at the glory of God. O that my soul may obtain fellowship with God.* I will trample on sinful, worldly selfishness, and spurn this filthy dunghill, when set in competition with God's glory, and the salvation of my own soul; all other things will neither please nor profit this high-bred creature formed within me.
(2.) In the elective power of the will. The new creature chooseth the most proper means to attain the high ends he has in view; as he chooseth God for his portion, so in the first place he chooseth Christ "as the only way, truth and life," John xiv. 6. i. 51; by whom, as the ladder of Jacob, he may ascend to God; for there is no coming to the Father, but by the Son. The will therefore consents to have Christ upon his own terms, and chooseth him above the world; may I have Christ, I will "cast all else as dross at my heels;" away with them, away with them, I would refuse crowns and sceptres in comparison of, or in competition with Christ; the believer comes off freely in his choice of Christ, he is not forced to him as his last shift, to escape perdition, but by a sweet tendency and * Phil. i. 20. 1 Cor. x. 31. 1 John i. 3. Psal. lxxiii. 25.
propensity of the will, he is touched and attracted with the loadstone of divine grace, "To me to live is Christ," as well as to die with him is gain. The new creature also chooseth the precepts, the promises, and the patterns of the word;* the way of faith and holiness he likewise chooses to walk in, in order to the attaining of happiness; and he never repents this blessed choice.
(3.) There is a cleaving act of the will, a peremptory, resolved adhering to God and his ways: the will is fixed and determined for God, whatever shall be said to the contrary; he is not off and on like "a double minded man, unstable in all his ways," aupíßios, hanging in suspense, "halting betwixt two opinions;" but cleaves to the Lord with purpose of heart, as "Ruth was stedfastly minded to go with Naomi."+ All men on earth, and all the devils in hell shall not alter this resolution; "I will go and return to my father; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress;" let others do as they list, as they dare answer, "I and my house will serve the Lord;" I must not be guided by example or carnal reason, but by the word of God, and having made my choice by the grace of God, I will not change as long as I breathe, no sufferings shall daunt me, no allurements shall entice me from my God.
(4.) There is a resigning act of the will, by which it gives up itself to the will of God. The new creation melts and moulds the will of man into the will of God; , as our Lord said, "Not my will, but thine be done," Luke xxii. 42; and those gracious souls, Acts xxi. 14, said, "The will of the Lord be done:" hence Luther durst pray, let my will be done; || but came off thus,
Phil, iii. 7-9. i.
* John i. 12.
Psal. cxix. 30, 111.