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represent sin to mine eyes in all its most odious colours, that I may feel a mortal and irreconcileable hatred to it! O represent the majesty and mercy of the blessed God in such a manner, that my heart may be alarmed, and that it may be melted! Smite the rock, that the waters may flow;* waters of genuine, undissembled, and filial repentance ! Convince me, O thou blessed Spirit, of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.f Shew me that / have undone myself; but that my help is found in God alone,% in God through Christ, in whom alone he will extend compassion and help me! According to thy peculiar office, take of Christ and shew it unto me ! § Shew me his power to save! Shew me his willingness to exert that power ! Teach my faith to behold him, as extended on the cross, with open arms, with a pierced bleeding side; and so telling me in the most forcible language, what room there is in his very heart for me I May I know what it is to have my whole heart subdued by love; so subdued as to be crucified with him; || to be dead to sin, and dead to the world, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ !^ In his power and love may I confide! To him may I without any reserve commit my spirit! His image may I bear! His laws may I observe ! His service may I pursue ! And may I remain, through time and eternity, a monument of the efficacy of his gospel, and a trophy of his victorious grace!
"Oh blessed God! if there be any thing wanting towards constituting me a sincere christian, discover it to me, and work it in me! Beat down, I beseech thee, every false and presumptuous hope, how costly soever that building may have been which is thus lain in ruins, and how proud soever I may have been of its vain ornaments! Let me know the worst of my case, be that knowledge ever so distressful; and if there be remaining danger, O let my heart be fully sensible while yet there is remedy!
If there be any secret sin yet lurking in my soul, which I have not sincerely renounced, discover it to me, and rend it out of my heart, though it should have shot its roots ever so deep, and should have wrapped them all around it, so that every nerve should be pained by its separation! Tear it away, O Lord, by a hand graciously severe ! And by degrees, yea, Lord, by speedy advances, go on, I beseech thee, to perfect what is still lacking in my faith*! Accomplish in me all the good pleasure of thy goodnessf: inrich me, O heavenly Father, with all the graces of thy spirit: form me to the complete image of thy dear Son: and then, for his sake, come unto me and manifest thy gracious presence in my soul%, till it is ripened for that state of glory, for which all these operations are intended to prepare it! Amen."
A more particular View of the several Branches of the Christian Temper; by which the Header may be farther assisted, in judging what he is, and what he should oideavour to he\.
The Importance of the Case engages to a more particular Survey, what Manner of Spirit we are of: §. I, 2. Accordingly the Christian Temper is described, (I.) By some general Views of it; as a New and Divine Temper, §. 3. As resembling that of Christ, §. 4. And as engaging us to be spiritually Minded, and to walk by Faith, §.5. A Plan of the Remainder: §. 6. In which the Christian Temper is more particularly considered. (II.) 'With Regard to the Blessed God; as including Fear, Affection, and Obedience, §. 7. Faith and Love to Christ, §. 8, 9. Joy in Him, §. 10. And a proper Temper towards the Holy Spirit, particularly as .a Spirit of Adoption, and of Courage, §. 11—13. (III.) With Regard to ourselves; as including Preference of the Soul to the Body, Humility, Purity, §. 14. Temperance, §. 15. Contentment, §. 16. And Patience, §. 17. (IV.) With Regard to our Fellow-Creatures; as including Love,§. 18. Meekness, §. 19. Peaceableness, §. 20.' Mercy, §.21. Truth, §. 22. And Candour in judging, §. 23. (V.) General Qualifications of each Branch, §. 24. Such as Sincerity, §. 25. Constancy, §. 26. Tenderness, §.27. Zeal, §. 28. .And Prudence, §. 29. These Things should frequently be recollected, §. 30. A Review of all In a scriptural Prayer.
§. 1. YV HEN I consider the infinite importance of eternity, I find it exceeding difficult to satisfy myself in any thing which I can say to men, where their eternal interests are concerned. 1 have given you a view, I hope I may truly say, a just, as well as faithful view, of a truly christian temper already. Yet for your farther assistance, I would offer it to your consideration in various points of light, that you may be assisted in judging 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."
*1 Thessiii. 10. +2Thess.i. 11. % John xiv.9.1, 23.
|| N. B. This chapter is almost an abridgment of that excellent book of Dr. T.vans, intitled, "The Christian Temper." so far as it relates to the description of it. For particular arguments, to enforce each part of this temper, I must refer the reader to the book itself.
§. 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 f/
§. 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 iqiplanted 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 Christff ; whether you bear the image of God's incarnate Son, the brightest and fairest resemblance 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.
• Lukcix.55. f 1 Cor xi. 31,32. JEph.iv.23. §2Pet.i.4.
^Eph. iv. 24. •* Col. iii. 10. ff Phil. u. 5.
|| The reader may see those thoughts illustrated at large, iu the three first of any " Sermons on Regeneration.
§. 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 mindedis death*. Though you live in the flesh, you will not war after iff; 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 Mill 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 tlwse 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 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 ddigent 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.
* Rom. viii. 6. f 2 Cor. x. 3. J 2 Cor. T. 7.
•|| 1 Pet. i. 8. f 2 Cor. iv. 18.
§. 7. Examine then, I intreat you, " the temper of your 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 }'ou 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 }.our noblest end, and make it the great business of your lite 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 t.o 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 hiinf.
§. 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. $.11. Let me farther lead you into some reflections on " the temper of your heart towards the blessed spirit." If we have
* John iv. 24. f John xvii. 24.