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affections — nothing personally applicable, nothing profoundly interesting, nothing of unspeakable concernment—" We have eyes, but we see not; we have ears, but we hear not:" or, though we “ hear," we do not “understand;" though we “see,” we do not “ perceive.” Meanwhile, that condition to which we are thus becoming daily more indifferent, is continually assuming a more decisive and urgent character.— Truly, there is infinite weight in the admonition of our Saviour—“ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”*
But it must not be forgotten that His language, so pregnant with warning to all who are procrastinating and loitering in their Christian vocation, is no less fraught. with encouragement to those amongst us who have heard the word of God in thankfulness, and are striving in sincerity to “keep” it; but lamenting the “ weakness of the flesh” which retards and troubles our “ willing spirit.” “For whosoever hath”—whosoever valueth as his own, or useth to his profit, the aids already tendered him from Heaven—"to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance.” In the habitual exercise of our conscience towards * Matt. xi. 15.
* Matt. xiii. 12.
God, in the faithful application of his word as the test of our character, and the rule of our conduct, we need not doubt that we shall attain a more instant and prevailing impression of our spiritual state and destinationthat we shall better “understand” and “bea lieve” the Gospel-that we shall feel and act more consistently with the conviction of its truth and authority. We shall attain a better appreciation of the inestimable privileges to which it has called us; and, influenced more powerfully by the motives of our religion, we shall acquire an increasing promptitude” and facility in the contemplation of its objects, and the discharge of its duties; and experience in them a higher relish, and a growing satisfaction. We shall withdraw the mind farther from the engrossment of present objects, and subject it to “the powers of the world to come.” We shall be more and more strengthened by our faith against the temptations of the world as well as its afflictions; “enduring” both, as “ seeing Him who is invisible.”*
* Heb, ix. 27.
2 cor. v. 17.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new crea
ture: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
In discoursing on this passage, we purpose to inquire into the import and propriety of the epithet new, in its application to the Christian character as it appeared in the Apostles and their contemporaries; with the view of fixing the sense in which we ourselves should understand it, when we describe the true disciple, the humble imitator of our Saviour, “the man in Christ,” to be “a new creature.” It is the opinion of many, that the formation of the Christian character, or the transition from our state of natural depravity to a spirit of obedience towards God, through our knowledge of Christianity, and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, is generally-we might almost say universally--attended by a
change in the habitual state of the mind-a revolution in the thoughts and feelings, so complete and evident to the consciousness of those who undergo it, as to bear a resemblance to the conversion of Jews and Heathens to the faith and practice of the Gospel-that, in a word, every one who is “in Christ” reads in the language of the Apostle his own experience :“Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Now, we do not dispute the reality of such changeson their supposed frequency we shall offer an observation in the sequel—we do not, however, dispute the reality of such changes-we do not deny that individuals are sometimes brought to repent of their sins, and to apply themselves in earnest to the work of their salvation on a sudden: in such a manner, we mean, as that they can recall the particular occasion, when the Gospel, for the first time, produced an effectual impression on their minds, turned the current of their thoughts, and altered the whole complexion of their lives. We do not question that there are individuals who recollect the period of their deliverance from the tyranny of their passions, or the power of evil, as distinctly as persons are wont to remember an escape from fire or
drowning, or a rapid, unhoped-for cure of a dangerous malady.
But if we consider the sense in which the first Christians were called “new creatures," or the reason for which that title was applied to them, we shall find that it is entirely repugnant to the original design and proper tendency of the Christian economy, that there should be any necessity for such a change in our own habits and practices as took place in the earliest converts to Christianity-for such a change as is laid down by many as an evidence of real piety, or a saving faith in the Gospel, and demanded as a proof of our being “in Christ.” We shall find that, inasmuch as any of us stand in need of a radical or entire change of heart and character, we have especial ground for humiliation and concern--a reason for self-reproach and dread of the divine displeasure, which had no existence previous to the Christian dispensation. This, we feel assured, can be readily made evident; and, if so, it is a conclusion which cannot but demand especial enforcement, and a far larger share of consideration than, generally speaking, it appears to have obtained.
Our Saviour and his Apostles inculcated the necessity of a change of mind, the signification,