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The subject of natural birth, though an infant of days, and little more than a span long, is acknowledged perfect in its parts, although by maturity of age it passes from infancy to youth, to manhood, and to old age. It is equally so with the hidden man of the heart. The youngest Christian, made so by regeneration of the Spirit, is as really a child of God, in the possession of grace, and in union with Christ, as the most aged father in Christ. And as it is with humanity, so it is with the Christian; he hath his stages of spiritual growth; and therefore we read of new-born babes desiring the sincere milk of the word; young men strong in the Lord ; and fathers who have had the longest experience of grace: and although God sometimes cuts off the
Christian in his bloom, all who are in possession of the hidden man of the heart, pass their various stages with the duties and labours incidental to each, and all shall arrive to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Human nature is sustained by alimentary food, granted by the God of nature, and with which the appetites of hunger and thirst are satiated, answering for the purposes of nourishment, strength, comfort, and growth. The new man, who is equally formed by grace, not only requires a mean of sustenance, but the God of all grace has appointed spiritual food agreeable to its own nature. In this we are not left to our choice, as in the infinite variety of the bounties of Providence; our spiritual meat and drink are determined. As when Moses pointed the Israelites to the manna, saying, This is the food which the Lord hath commanded you to eat, so Jesus saith unto all his disciples, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life : for
my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed, On this, and only on this celestial food the hidden man of the heart can live, enjoy spiritual health, and abound in the fruits of righteousness, to the praise of God our Father.
The last observation made, leads us to ask, For what end was this hidden man of the heart created? God himself makes the reply-This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise. The first creation of man displayed the wisdom and power of Jehovah; but the creation of the new man in Christ displays the harmony and glory of his wisdom, power, justice, mercy, grace, love, every attribute that can be conceived by mortals, laying a foundation for gratitude, adoration, and praise. Although this end of the new creation is obvious, we are further instructed, that it is a child of God, an heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ ; so that we may safely conclude, all that can constitute the perfection and blessedness of the new man in this or the future life, shall be enjoyed in the highest degree possible. One other end in this new creation I must name, is in relation to society. The hidden man of the heart finds its own likeness, and forms a sacred union. Of such characters the CHURCH OF GOD are formed, and mutually promote the interest and happiness of each other. And next to this, how happy must that FAMILY be, whose members are materially formed of such valu. able persons! David called them, the excellent of the earth, in whom his soul delighted.
The last observation designed for your attention on this new man of the heart, is its incorruptibility. This is not only asserted by Peter, in the verse of our text, but, in other passages it is said, Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. This new man is born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Besides, as this new man of the heart is not only created by, but in Christ, and Christ him. self being set down at the Father's right hand in glory, as the head and representative of his new-born family; each individual of course must be immortal like their Saviour, who is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever ; and shall possess an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away,
From these observations on the hidden man of the heart, as the creation of the God of grace; its nature, growth, and sustenance; the design of its creation to God and society; and likewise its incorruptibility; I must now, according to promise,
2. Inquire why this is so emphatically styled the man of the heart? To this we have briefly to reply; it is to denote its reality, that as the heart is the seat of life, and the spring of all actions to the members of the body, số this new man of the heart dictates and produces all those moral and spiritual actions which are enjoined on the Christian in the Gospel, the performance of which are worthy of his God. It is also not without meaning, to show the difference between the professed and the real Christian: the former may have the appearance of the new man; the latter actually possess it in his very heart: especially, it is to teach us the knowledge which God hath of this new creature. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart. He only is privy to the reality of grace in the soul: we may exercise a charitable opinion, but it is God alone who can positively determine the real state of any man.
Paul, therefore, was happy in saying, He that judgeth me is the Lord. From these few remarks, you may easily perceive that religion is a reality, that it is seated in the soul, and from thence becomes the governing prin. ciple of the life, and brings a thousand sacred sweets as its own reward. Happy are the people that are in such a case, yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord!
3. Why this is called the hidden man of the heart, is our last inquiry. This by no means implies that it is hidden from God, for the latter part of the verse of our text assures us it is in the sight of God of great firice; nor that it is hidden from holy Angels, who not only rejoice in the conversion of a sinner, but encamp around those who fear the Lord. And as for fallen Angels, be assured that satan knew both Job and Peter, and asked leave to assault them with temptations. Much less do we believe that this is hidden from the subject who possesses it, for that would imply, religion is founded in ignorance, and would be contrary to the testimony of every new man of the heart, which is, by the grace of God, I am what I
But the meaning and nature of their being hid, is to denote their interest, security, and happiness in God. Your life is hid with Christ in God. As likewise, to express the secret and sensible communion which the Christian enjoys with God in times of calamity, and, as such, the Scripture appellation of the righteous is, God's hidden ones. To which we may add, that the new man of the heart is unintelligible by the world, who, generally, either with Nicodemus, express their ignorance of the Christian character, or, with Nero, attempt to destroy it. Upon the whole, we may venture to affirm, that the hidden man of the heart lies in the bosom and the council of God; however secluded he may be in his present state, his real
character shall appear in that day, when the body shall be raised from the grave, and the soul in union be receiv. ed to everlasting life.
From the whole of these observations on the hidden man of the heart, how necessary and important is it for you to retire within the chamber of your breasts, and examine if the features of this new man are found with you? Distressing and dangerous in extreme must it be to live under the power of the old corrupt man, which is after the flesh; for, if ye live after the flesh, you shall die without comfort or hope. The old man of sin can never produce holy and spiritual desires after God and Christ; that which is of the flesh, is flesh still, and will always remain so till the final judgment. While this should produce conviction in the breast of the thoughtless sinner, I think it affords a consoling argument to those who are anxious to enjoy the presence of the Lord. Indeed, it is so, for as corrupt nature never can produce spiritual desires for pardon, peace, and happiness in God, you who enjoy such longings, may take it for granted, God hath already begun to be very gracious to you. It was not always thus with you ; thank the Lord for this infant state of the new man in your heart, and trust him to deliver you into the sweet and glorious liberty of the children of God.
Those of you who are already established in these things of God, know, that in your breast, as in one habitation, the old and the new man of the heart have their dwelling. On conversion, though the old man of sin in you was neither killed nor buried, yet he received his mortal wound; and, as Mr. WHITFIELD used to express it, THE OLD MAN DIES HARD. He pants and fights for breath; his groans are terrible and alarming to the pious