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of what you are, and what you ought to be. And in this I aim, not only at your conviction, if you are yet a stranger to real religion, but at your farther edification if by the grace of God you are by this time experimentally acquainted with it. Happy you will be, happy beyond expression, if as you go on from one article to another, you can say, "this is my temper and character." Happy in no inconsiderable degree, if you can say, "this is what I desire, what I pray for, and what I pursue, in preference to every opposite view, though it be not what I have as yet attained."
§. 2. Search then, and try, what manner of spirit you are of*. And may he that searcheth all hearts direct the enquiry, and enable you so to judge yourself, that you may not be condemned of the Lord +!
§. 3. Know in the general, that if you are a christian indeed, you have been renewed in the spirit of your mind‡; so renewed, as to be regenerated and born again. It is not enough, to have assumed a new name, to have been brought under some new restraints, or to have made a partial change in some particulars of your conduct. The change must be great and universal. Enquire then whether you have entertained new apprehensions of things, have formed a practical judgment different from what you formerly did; whether the ends you propose, the affections which you feel working in your heart, and the course of action to which, by those affections, you are directed, be on the whole new or old? Again, If you are a christian indeed, you are partaker of a divine nature §; divine in its original, its tendency, and its resemblance. Enquire therefore, whether God hath implanted a principle in your heart, which tends to him, and which makes you like him. Search your soul attentively, to see if you have really the image there of God's moral perfections, of his holiness and righteousness, his goodness and fidelity, for the new man is after God created in righteousness, and true holiness, and is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him**
§. 4. For your farther assistance enquire whether the same mind be in you which was also in Christ++; whether you bear the image of God's incarnate Son, the brightest and fairest resem
§ 2 Pet. i. 4.
*Luke ix. 55. ¶Eph. iv. 24.
Eph. iv. 23. ++ Phil. ii. 5.
|| The reader may see those thoughts illustrated at large, in the three first of
"Sermons on Regeneration.
+1 Cor xi. 31, 32.
blance of the Father, which earth or heaven ever beheld. The blessed Jesus designed himself to be a model for all his followers; and he is certainly a model most fit for our imitation: an example in our own nature, and in circumstances adapted to general use; an example, recommended to us at once by its spotless perfection, and by the endearing relation in which he stands to us, as our master, our friend, and our head; as the person by whom our everlasting state is to be fixed, and in a resemblance to whom our final happiness is to consist, if ever we are happy at all. Look then into the life and temper of Christ, as described and illustrated in the gospels, and search whether you can find any thing like it in your own life. Have you any thing of his devotion, love, and resignation to God? Any thing of his humility, meekness, and benevolence to men? Any thing of his purity and wisdom, his contempt of the world, his patience, his fortitude, his zeal? And indeed all the other branches of the christian temper, which do not imply previous guilt in the person by whom they are exercised, may be called in to illustrate and assist your enquiries under this head.
§. 5. Let me add, "If you are a christian, you are in the main spiritually minded, as knowing, that is life and peace, whereas to be carnally minded is death*. Though you live in the flesh, you will not war after it† ; you will not take your orders, and your commands from it. You will indeed attend to its necessary interest, as matter of duty; but it will still be with regard to another and a nobler interest, that of the rational and immortal spirit. Your thoughts, your affections, your pursuits, your choice, will be determined by a regard to things spiritual rather than carnal.-In a word, you will walk by faith and not by sight. Future, invisible, and in some degree incomprehensible objects, will take up your mind. Your faith will act on the being of God, his perfections, his providence, his precepts, his threatenings, and his promises. It will act upon Christ, whom having not seen, you will love and honour. It will act on that unseen world, which it knows to be eternal, and therefore infinitely more worthy of your affectionate regard, than any of those things which are seen and are temporal¶.
§. 6. These are general views of the christian temper, on which I would intreat you to examine yourself: and now I would go on to lead you into a survey of the grand branches
Rom. viii. 6. || 1 Pet. i. 8.
+2 Cor. x. 3.
2 Cor. iv. 18.
2 Cor. v. 7.
of it, as relating to God, our neighbour, and ourselves; and of those qualifications, which must attend each of these branches, such as sincerity, constancy, tenderness, zeal, and prudence. And I beg your diligent attention, while I lay before you a few hints with regard to each, by which you may judge the better, both of your state, and your duty.
"the temper of your
§. 7. Examine then, I intreat you, heart, with regard to the blessed God." Do you find there a reverential fear, and a supreme love and veneration for his incomparable excellencies, a desire after him as the highest good, and a cordial gratitude towards him as your supreme benefactor? Can you trust his care? Can you credit his testimony? Do you desire to pay an unreserved obedience to all that he commands, and an humble submission to all the disposals of his providence? Do you design his glory as your noblest end, and make it the great business of your life to approve yourself to him? Is it your governing care to imitate him, and to serve him in spirit and in truth* ?
§. 8. Faith in Christ I have already described at large; and therefore shall say nothing farther, either of that persuasion of his power and grace, which is the great foundation of it; or of that acceptance of Christ under all his characters, or that surrender of the soul into his hands, in which its peculiar and distinguishing nature consists.
§. 9. If this faith in Christ be sincere," it will undoubtedly produce a love to him;" which will express itself, in affectionate thoughts of him; in strict fidelity to him; in a careful observation of his charge; in a regard to his spirit, to his friends, and to his interests; in a reverence to the memorials of his dying love, which he has instituted; and in an ardent desire after that heavenly world where he dwells, and where he will at length have all his people to dwell with him†.
§. 10. I may add, agreeable to the word of God, that thus believing in Christ, and loving him, you will also rejoice in him;" in his glorious design, and in his complete fitness to accomplish it, in the promises of his word, and in the privileges of his people. It will be matter of joy to you, that such a Redeemer has appeared in this world of ours; and your joy for yourselves will be proportionable to the degree of clearness, with which you discern your interest in him, and relation to him. S. 11. Let me farther lead you into some reflections on "the temper of your heart towards the blessed spirit." If we have
not the spirit of Christ, we are none of his*. If we are not led by the spirit of God, we are not the children of God+. You will then, if you are a real christian, desire that you may be filled with the spirit; that you may have every power of your soul subject to his authority; that his agency on your heart be more constant, more operative, and more delightful. And to cherish these sacred influences, you will often have recourse to serious consideration and meditation: You will abstain from those sins, which tend to grieve him: You will improve the tender seasons, in which he seems to breathe upon your soul: you will strive earnestly with God in prayer, that you may have him shed on you still more abundantly, through Jesus Christ§: And you will be desirous to fall in with the great end of his mission, which was to glorify Christ||, and to establish his kingdom." You will desire his influences as the spirit of adoption," to render your acts of worship free and affectionate, your obedience vigorous, your sorrow for sin overflowing and tender, your resignation meek, and your love ardent; in a word, to carry you through life and death, with the temper of a child, who delights in his father, and who longs for his more immediate presence.
§. 12. Once more, "if you are a christian indeed, you will be desirous to obtain the spirit of courage." Amidst all that humility of soul to which you will be formed, you will wish to commence a hero in the cause of Christ; opposing with a vigorous resolution the strongest efforts of the powers of darkness, the inward corruption of your own heart, and all the outward difficulties you may meet with in the way of your duty, while in the cause and in the strength of Christ you go on conquering and to conquer.
§. 13. All these things may be considered as branches of godliness; of that godliness, which is profitable unto all things, and hath the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.
§. 14. Let me now farther lay before you some branches of the christian temper," which relate more immediately to ourselves." And here, if you are a christian indeed, "you will undoubtedly prefer the soul to the body, and things eternal to those that are temporal." Conscious of the dignity and value of your immortal part, you will come to a firm resolution to secure its happiness, whatever is to be resigned, whatever is
Rom. viii. 9. § Tit. iii. 6.
+ Rom. viii. 14.
Eph. v. 18.
1 Tim. iv. S.
to be endured in that view. If you are a real christian, you will be also clothed with humility*. You will have a deep sense of your own imperfections, both natural and moral; of the short extent of your knowledge; of the uncertainty and weakness of your resolutions; and of your continual dependance upon God, and upon almost every thing about you. And especially, you will be deeply sensible of your guilt; the remembrance of which will fill you with shame and confusion, even when you have some reason to hope it is forgiven. This will forbid all haughtiness and insolence, in your behaviour to your fellow creatures. It will teach you, under afflictive pro¬ vidences, with all holy submission to bear the indignation of the Lord, as those that know they have sinned against him↑.Again, if you are a christian indeed, "you will labour after purity of soul," and maintain a fixed abhorrence of all prohibited sensual indulgence. A recollection of past impurities will fill you with shame and grief: and you will endeavour for the future to guard your thoughts and desires, as well as your words and actions, and to abstain not only from the commission of evil, but from the distant appearance and probable occasions of it; as conscious of the perfect holiness of that God with whom you converse, and of the purifying nature of that hopes, which by his gospel he hath taught you to entertain.
§. 15. With this is nearly allied, "that amiable virtue of temperance," which will teach you to guard against such a use of meats and drinks as indisposes the body for the service of the soul; or such an indulgence in either, as will rob you of that precious jewel, your time, or occasion an expence beyond what your circumstances will admit, and beyond what will consist with those liberalities to the poor, which your relation and theirs to God and each other will require. In short, you will guard against whatever has a tendency to increase a sensual disposition; against whatever would alienate the soul from communion with God, and would diminish its zeal and activity in his service. §. 16. The divine philosophy of the blessed Jesus will also teach you," a contented temper." It will moderate your de sires of those worldly enjoyments, after which many feel such an insatiable thirst, ever growing with indulgence and success. You will guard against an immoderate care about those things, which would lead you into a forgetfulness of your heavenly inhe ritance. If providence disappoint your undertakings, you will
+ Micah vii. 9.
* 1 Pet. v. 5. VOL. I.
1 Thess. v. 22. § 1 John iii. 3. Rr