« EdellinenJatka »
you have already attained it, and how far you desire it; and let the principal topics here touched upon be fixed in your memory and in your heart, that you may be mentioning them before God in your daily addresses to the throne of grace, in order to receive from him all necessary assistances for bringing them into practice.
A Prayer, chiefly in Scripture Language, in which the several Branches of the Christian Temper are more briefly enumerated in the Order laid down above.
"BLESSED God, I humbly adore thee, as the great Father of lights, and the giver of every good and every perfect gift*. From thee therefore I seek every blessing, and especially those, which lead me to thyself, and prepare me for the eternal enjoyment of thee. I adore thee, as the God who searches the hearts, and tries the reins of the children of ment. Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. May I know what manner of spirit I am of, and be preserved from mistaking, where the error might be infinitely fatal!
"May I, O Lord, be renewed in the spirit of my mind §' A new heart do thou give me, and a new spirit do thou put within me ¶! Make me partaker of a divine nature **; and as he who hath called me is holy, may I be holy in all manner of conversation++. May the same mind be in me, which was in Christ Jesus; may I so walk even as he walked||||| Deliver me from being carnally minded, which is death; and make me spiritually minded, since that is life and peace §§! And may I, while I pass through this world of sense, walk by faith, and not by sight¶¶; and be strong in faith giving glory to God***.
May thy grace, O Lord, which hath appeared unto all men, and appeared to me, with such glorious evidence and lustre, effectually teach me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly+++! Work in my heart that godliness which is profitable unto all things‡‡‡; and teach me by the influence of thy blessed Spirit, to love thee the Lord my God, with all my heart, and with all my
* James i. 17.
Jer. xvii. 10.
++ 1 Pet, i. 15.
Psal. exxxix. 23, 24. || Luke ix. 55. **2 Pet. i. 4. §§ Rom. viii. 6. ‡‡‡ 1 Tim. av. S.
¶¶ 2 Cor. v. 7.
soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength* ! May I yield myself unto thee, as alive from the deadt; and present my body a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable in thy sight, which is my most reasonable service‡! May I entertain the most faithful and affectionate regards to the blessed Jesus, thine incarnate Son, the brightness of thy glory, and the express image of thy person! Though I have not seen him, may I love him; and in him, though now I see him not, yet believing, may I rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory and may the life which I live in the flesh, be daily by the faith of the Son of God ¶! May I be filled with the spirit**; and may I be led by it++; and so may it be evident to others, and especially to my own soul, that I am a child of God, and an heir of glory! May I not receive the spirit of bondage unto fear, but the spirit of adoption, whereby I may be enabled to cry Abba, Father ‡‡! May he work in me as the spirit of love, and of power, and of a sound mind||||; that so I may add to my faith, virtue§§! May I be strong, and very courageous¶¶, and quit myself like a man***, and like a christian, in the work to which I am called, and in that warfare which I had in view, when I listed under the banner of the great captain of my salvation!
"Teach me, O Lord, seriously to consider the nature of my own soul, and to set a suitable value upon it! May I labour, not only, or chiefly, for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth to eternal life+++! May I humble myself under thy mighty hand, and be clothed with humility‡‡‡: decked with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price||||||! May I be pure in heart, that I may see God; mortifying my members which are on the earth¶¶¶, so that if a right eye offend me, I may pluck it out, and if a right hand offend me, I may cut it off ****! May I be temperate in all things++++, content with such things as I have ‡‡‡‡ and instructed to be so in whatsoever state I am! May patience also have its perfect work in me, that I may be in that respect complete, and wanting nothing §§§§.
"Form me, O Lord I beseech thee, to a proper temper towards my fellow-creatures! May I love my neighbour as my
Mark xii. 30. § 1 Pet. i. 8.
+ Rom. vi. 13. ¶ Gal. ii. 20. Rom. viii. 15. 2 Tim. i. 7. *** 1 Cor. xvi. 13. ††† John vi. 27. §§§ Mat. v. 8. ¶¶¶ Col. iii. 5. ‡‡‡ Heb. xiii. 5. Phil. iv. 11.
|| Heb. i. 3.
Rom. xii. 1.
self: and whatsoever I would that others should do unto me, may I also do the same unto them! May I put on meekness under the greatest injuries and provocations; and if it he possible, as much as lieth in me, may I live peaceably with all men||! May I be merciful as my Father in heaven is merciful§! May I speak the truth from my heart; and may I speak it in love**; guarding against every instance of a censorious and malignant disposition; and taking care not to judge severely as I would not be judged++ with a severity which thou, Lord, knowest, and which mine own conscience knows, I should not be able to support!
"I intreat thee, O Lord, to work in me all those qualifications of the christian temper, which may render it peculiarly acceptable to thee, and may prove ornamental to my profession in the world. Renew, I beseech thee, a right spirit within me‡‡; make me an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no allowed guile! And while I feast on Christ, as my passover sacrificed for me, may I keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth§§! Make me, I beseech thee, O thou almighty and unchangeable God, stedfast and immovable, always abounding in thy work, as knowing that my labour in the Lord shall not be finally in vain¶¶! May my heart be tender***, easily impressed with thy word and providence, touched with an affectionate concern for thy glory, and sensible of every impulse of thy spirit! May I be zealous for my God,+++ with a zeal according to knowledge‡‡‡ and charity||||||; and teach me in thy service to join the wisdom of the serpent§§§ with the boldness of the lion, and the innocence of the dove! Thus render me, by thy grace, a shining image of my dear Redeemer; and at length bring me to wear the bright resemblance of his holiness and his glory, in that world where he dwells; that I may ascribe everlasting honours to him, and to thee, O thou Father of mercies, whose invaluable gift he is, and to thine holy spirit, through whose gracious influences I would humbly hope, I may call thee my Father, and Jesus my Saviour! Amen."
* Gal. v. 14. Luke vi. 36.
Col. iii. 12. ** Eph. iv. 15. §§ 1 Cor. v. 7,8.
‡‡ Psal. li. 10.
*** 2 Kings xxii. 19. ††† Numb. xxv. 13. ‡‡‡ Rom. x. 2. §§§ Mat. x. 16.
+ Mat. vii. 12.
Rom. xii. 18. ++ Mat. vii. 1. ¶¶ 1 Cor. xv. 58.
1 Cor. xvi. 14.
The Reader reminded how much he needs the Assistance of the Spirit of God, to form him to the Temper described above, and what Encouragement he has to expect it.
Forward Resolutions may prove ineffectual: §. 1. Yet Religion is not to be given up in Despair, but divine Grace sought, §. 2. A general View of its Reality and Necessity, from Reason, §. 3. And Scripture, §. 4. The Spirit to be sought as the Spirit of Christ, §. 5. And in that View, the great Strength of the Soul, §. 6. The Encouragement there is to hope for the Communication of it, §. 7. A concluding Exhortation to pray for it: §. 8. And an humble Address to God, pursuant to that Exhortation.
I HAVE now laid before you a plan of that temper and
§. 1. character, which the gospel requires, and which, if you are a true christian, you will desire and pursue. Surely there is in the very description of it something which must powerfully strike every mind, which has any taste for what is truly beautiful and excellent. And I question not, but you my dear reader, will feel some impression of it upon your heart. You will immediately form some lively purpose of endeavouring after it; and perhaps you may imagine, you shall certainly and quickly attain to it. You see how reasonable it is, and what desirable consequences necessarily attends it, and the aspect which it bears on your present enjoyment and your future happiness; and therefore are determined you will act accordingly. But give me leave seriously to remind you, how many there have been (would to God that several of the instances had not happened within the compass of my own personal observation!) whose goodness hath been like a morning cloud, and the early dew, which soon passeth away*. There is not room indeed absolutely to apply the words of Joshua, taken in the most rigorous sense, when he said to Israel, (that he might humble their too hasty and sanguine resolutions,) You cannot serve the Lord↑. But I will venture to say, you cannot easily do it. Alas, you know not the difficulties you have to break through; you know not the temptations which satan will throw in your way; you know not how importunate your vain and sinful companions will be, to draw you back into the snare you may attempt to break; and above all, you know not the subtile artifices which your own corruptions will practise upon you, in order to recover their dominion over you. You think the views you now
* Hos. vi. 4.
Josh. xxiv. 19.
have of things will be lasting, because the principles and objects to which they refer are so: but perhaps to-morrow may undeceive you, or rather deceive you anew. To-morrow may present some trifle in a new dress, which shall amuse you into a forgetfulness of all this. Nay, perhaps, before you lie down on your bed, the impressions you now feel may wear off. The corrupt desires of your own heart, now perhaps a little charmed down, and lying as if they were dead, may spring up again with new violence, as if they had slept only to recruit their vigour; and if you are not supported by a better strength than your own, this struggle for liberty will only make your future chains the heavier, the more shameful, and the more fatal.
§. 2. What then is to be done? Is the convinced sinner to lie down in despair? to say, "I am an helpless captive, and by exerting myself with violence may break my limbs sooner than my bonds, and increase the evil I would remove.” God forbid! You cannot, I am persuaded, be so little acquainted with christianity, as not to know, "that the doctrine of divine assistances bears a very considerable part in it. You have often, I doubt not, read of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, as making us free from the law of sin and death; and have been told, that through the spirit, we mortify the deeds of the body +; you have read of doing all things through Christ who strengtheneth us‡; whose grace is sufficient for us, and whose strength is made perfect in weakness §: permit me, therefore, now to call down your attention to this, as a truth of the clearest evidence, and the utmost importance.
§. 3. Reason indeed, as well as the whole tenor of scripture, agrees with this. The whole created world has a necessary dependence on God: from him even the knowledge of natural things¶ is derived, and skill in them** is to be ascribed to him. Much more loudly does so great and excellent a work, as the new-forming the human mind, bespeak its divine author. When you consider how various the branches of the christian temper are, and how contrary many of them also are to that temper which hath prevailed in your heart, and governed your life in time past; you must really see divine influences as necessary to produce and nourish them, as the influences of the sun and rain are to call up the variety of plants and flowers, and
* Rom. viii. 2. § 2 Cor. xii. 9. See many of these thoughts much more largely illustrated in my VIIth Sermon on Regeneration.
+ Rom. viii. 13.
Phil. iv. 13.