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things, though proceeding from the wisdom of God himself, are foolishness to the carnal mind of the natural man, because he cannot apprehend them; just as a conversation in foreign language, or some mathematical problems, would appear but as gibberish or impossibilities to an unlettered clown. There must be a faculty suited to the object; or the object is inapplicable and useless. This faculty is termed the new man, because it is not inherent, but brought into our nature by regenera tion; it is the holy principle, which the Holy Spirit produces, and by which it acts upon the soul. It is the nexus or bond, by which the spirit of a man, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, is brought into union with Christ, and through Christ with the Father.*
In this mortal state, clogged and circumvented as the children of God are with sensuality and sin, they can discern but little, compared with what they shall know hereafter, of the things of God: and the men of the
*The Spirit of God is indeed every where, but yet, in a certain sense, not in all men, such as the sensual or reprobates, nor in all spirits, such as the fallen angels. They have, it is true, a life from God, and are supported by him as creatures, or they must cease to be: but he is not that life to them, which he is to saints and pure spirits, and which can and doth subsist either with or without the life natural. The air of the world is the medium or instrument of life to all creatures upon it, and is also the material emblem of the invisible Spirit; but this air, though always filling both live and dead animals and vegetables, carries on no act of life in a dead plant or a dead body. So the Holy Spirit is, in one respect, within the deadest sinner, knowing and searching the thoughts and intents of his corrupt heart; but it will easily be allowed, that, as he cannot mix with the corruption he finds there, so it is an awful fact, that his presence in that way imparts neither spiritual life nor salvation.
world know nothing truly of them at all. In that future state, when every film will be removed from the mental eye, and every other obstruction done away; the apprehension, proportionate in some degree to the new and innumerable objects which may present themselves, shall be inconceivably sharpened and enlarged. Perhaps, there may not only be a strengthening of the spiritual faculties which we already have, but an addition of others, concerning the nature of which we cannot now have the least conception or idea. As an oyster (for an instance or similitude taken from the natural world) cannot, with its one faculty of mere feeling, comprehend the senses of hearing and sight which men enjoy, and much less the sublime faculties of the human mind; so it is not impossible, but that the sons of God, upon their introduction to their perfect state, shall have powers to conceive, as well as find objects to be conceived, of a nature, subtlety, variety, and employment, which at present almost infinitely transcend their utmost stretch of thought and imagination. Of this, however, we are very sure, because God himself hath said it; that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, either here or hereafter.
And is this thine expectation and thine end, O thou favoured child of God? Hath God done such great things for thee; and hath he prepared more than thou canst either ask or think? Then, why is the king's son lean from day to day? Ought he not to hope and conclude, with the sweet singer of Israel; Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope
thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.
To the real believer every day's mercies bring with them fresh motives and arguments for gratitude and praise. He lives by faith; and the faith by which he lives, or which, as to its principle, is life itself from Christ, is the first great mercy which he can spiritually experience, and the pledge and introduction of all the rest. Without faith he cannot truly understand, or properly use any one of them; and therefore, for this cause as well as others, without faith it is impossible to please God. If thou hast this faith in thine heart, O reader, thou art a Christian, and alive from the dead. If thou art a Christian, thou art in Christ, and entitled to all that he hath purchased and provided. Thou art, in that case, united to him, and dear to his heart. Whatever afflicts thee, he feels it in his love and over-rules it by his wisdom. Thou art not too low for his highest and most endearing thoughts. If a sting, almost invisible, wound the meanest member of thy body; thy whole frame is awakened and concerned; and thine eye, thine hand, thy mind, are directed to minister relief. Infinitely more so is thy Head, the Lord of thy light and life, alive to thy sorrows and to all thy concerns. Their causes and tendencies may escape thy notice; but they escape not his. He hath omniscience to superintend, and omnipotence to support, the poorest and the feeblest member of his mystic body. He noticed thee, and marked thee for his own; or thou never couldest have lifted up an eye of faith and confidence towards him. Then, for whom he hath thus called,
will he not care? will he bestow his life on thee for no end? can he forget what he hath suffered, and for whom he hath died? if he hath called thee by his grace, and thou seekest him, canst thou presume to imagine, that all this was a matter of chance, or rather that he did not first seek thee? if he sought thee, and blessed thee with the distinction of his mercy; is it possible, that this can go for nothing, or come to nothing?-Away with those thoughts of blasphemy, which neither be come his love, nor thy privilege. Hope in him to the end. Let faith go forth after him, and him alone. It is the carnal reason of thy carnal mind, which fills thee with its doubts, as its own genuine offspring. Pray for strength and wisdom to put this old Adam down, and to keep him down. But let thy inner man look stedfastly to Jesus. By looking to and leaning upon him, thy light and thy life will brighten and increase, and consequently all thy spiritual comforts and desires. Thine evidences for glory will rise in proportion to the experiences of his grace. These experiences, concurring with his word, and sealed by his Spirit, are demonstrations of life eternal already begun. And what is thus begun by grace, shall by the same grace be continued, and in due time be perfected for everlasting glory.
CHILDREN OF GOD.
of false opinions are briskly circulated, and, through the dissoluteness of the times, have a rapid adoption from their suitableness to corrupt nature; I have often thought, that, besides the historical view I have elsewhere drawn up* of the heresies, which have been raised upon the doctrine of the divine persons in the Godhead, there are Two grand points of Christian doctrine, to which it might be useful to give a comparison with the differences, held by a variety of persons, from them. They seem to be criteria, or touchstones, of principles, and involve conclusions of the greatest importance to the purity and happiness of the Christian life. The one is the FALL and DEPRAVITY OF NATURE; and the other the BEING and OPERATION of that GRACE, by which the soul is restored to God. Though it may lengthen this particular chapter beyond the usual extent of most others, I trust it will not be wholly unacceptable, if I treat the weighty subject of it with some difference of method. This difference will be chiefly historical; for I mean to relate something of the principal persons, who have propagated opinions upon the great
* Hora Solit. Vol. I. p. 439. and Vol. II. p. 469. 3d. edit.