« السابقةمتابعة »
irregularities, to which they were once addicted. Comparing themselves with others, or with themselves in a more licentious and corrupt state, they pronounce a favourable sentence, and conclude they are safe and happy: But let me intreat you, my friends, that you would rather compare your hearts and lives with that perfect law of God, which cannot be repealed; weigh yourselves in that balance, and see whether you are not found wanting there. Review even the upright conduct of these days of your reformation, and then say, whether there be such a redundancy of merit in them as will not only answer present demands, but atone for your past offences too. You will soon
be confounded on such a review. You will soon acknowledge, on an impartial examination, that The bed is shorter than a man can stretch himself upon, and the covering narrower than he can wrap himself in*; that neither you, nor Any living can be justified by the works of the law†.
I will conclude this head with observing, that the instance of the blessed apostle St. Paul serves well to illustrate and confirm our discourse, in each of the particulars I have now mentioned. Had the privileges of birth and education been a sufficient security, Paul had been secure before his conversion to christianity; for he was Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, which had not like the rest, revolted from the house of David; and by his mother's side, as well as his father's, an Hebrew of the Hebrews. If the most exalted regularity in religious notions, or the strictest formality in the externals of worship, could have secured a man, Paul had been secure; for he was, as touching the law, a Pharisee; he lived according to the rigour of that sect, and, both with respect to doctrines and ceremonies, was Exceedingly zealous of the tradition of the fathers§.-If a transport of passion in the cause of God could have secured a man, Paul had been secure; for, concerning zeal, or with regard to that, he persecuted the church, and wasted it beyond measure. And lastly, if morality of behaviour could have done it, Paul had been secure; for, Touching the righteousness which is by the law, he was blameless. In these things, he was once so weak, and so wretched as to place a great deal of confidence; but when he was illuminated, and called by divine grace, he assures us, that what things were gain unto him before, those he
Isa. xxviii. 20.
+ Rom. iii. 20.
Phil. iii. 5.
§ Gal. i. 14.
counted loss for Christ, i. e. he most entirely renounced all dependence upon them: Yea doubtless, says he, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: which naturally leads me to the second general, where
II. I am to consider, what will be a solid foundation for hope and joy, when all these precarious dependences fail.
This is, with the utmost propriety, expressed in the text by, Christ formed in the soul; which is exactly parallel to that phrase in Colossians, Christ in you the hope of glory*, which is there mentioned as an epitome of the gospel, the riches of the glory of the mystery preached among the gentiles. When Paul could see, that the Galatians were brought to this, the pangs of his labouring mind would be ended, and joy and confidence would succeed: which is plainly intimated in the words of the text: And when you, my dear charge, are brought to it, parents and ministers rejoice over you, and you will have an everlasting spring of hope and joy, a solid foundation, on which to build for eternity.
Permit me therefore, a little more particularly to explain it to you; and let me intreat you to turn your thoughts inward, that you may judge, whether you have been experimentally acquainted with the temper and change, which I shall now describe, as signified by this remarkable expression in the text, Christ formed in you.
Now, I think, it implies these three things:-That some apprehensions of Christ have taken hold of the heart;-that the man is brought to an explicit choice of him; and deliberately enters into covenant with him ;-and that, in consequence of both these, something of the temper and spirit of Christ is, by divine grace wrought in his soul. I will touch on each of these, but my time will not allow me to manage them in so copious and particular a manner as they well deserve.
1. To have Christ formed in the soul supposes, that some apprehensions of Christ have taken hold of the heart. It evidently implies, that the external revelation of him hath not only been admitted as a speculative truth, but attended to as a matter of the highest concern. Previous to the forming of Christ in the soul, there must be a conviction, that we are naturally without Christ, and that, in consequence of this,
we are in a most unhappy condition. And this conviction must strike deep upon the heart; for till the evil of sin be felt, what can make the news of a Saviour welcome? since, as he himself has declared, The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. The man in whose heart Christ is formed, has seen himself condemned by God's righteous law; has seen himself equally unable to answer its demands, or to bear up under the execution of its penalties. And feeling this to be no light matter, but the very life of his soul, he has then been engaged, with the greatest seriousness and earnestness, to cry out, Woe is me, for I am undone+! Oh, What shall I do to be saved? I before told you, there may be these convictions and awakenings, where Christ is never formed in the soul; and I now add, that the degree of them may be various, according to the various tempers and circumstances of different persons: But it is most evident that something of this kind must make way for the Redeemer's entrance, who Comes to seek and to save that which was lost§: to bind up the broken-hearted||; and to give rest to the weary and heavy-laden¶. And I rather insist on this, because I am fully persuaded, that slight thoughts of sin, and of the misery of our natural estate by it, have been the principal cause of all the infidelity of the present age, and are daily ruining a multitude of souls.
2. The formation of Christ in the soul doth farther imply an explicit choice of him, and a deliberate entering into covenant with him.
When such a soul hears of a Redeemer, and of the way of salvation by him, exhibited in scripture, it cordially approves the scheme, as entirely worthy of its divine author; and though corrupt nature raises up a thousand proud thoughts, in a vain and ungrateful rebellion against it, yet they are, by almighty grace, subdued and brought into captivity**. The man really sees such suitableness, and such an amiableness, in the blessed Jesus, under the character in which the gospel reveals him, that he judges him to be The pearl of great price, and as God has laid him as the foundation stone, he is in that view, inconceiv ably precious to him++. Far from contenting himself with applauding this plan, as regular, beautiful, and magnificent in general, the true believer is solicitous, that he may have his own share in this edifice of mercy; and that, Coming to Christ,
*Mat. ix. 12. Isa. Ixi. J.
† Isa. vi. 5.
Acts xvi. 30.
§ Luke xix. 10.
tt 1 Pet. ii. 6.
as a living stone, he himself may be one of those, who shall, on him, be Built up for an habitation of God through the Spirit*. When he considers the Lord Jesus represented as Standing at the door and knocking, it is with pleasure that he hears his voice, and opens to him, and as Zaccheus did Receives him joyfully. He regards him as A nail fastened in a sure place§; on which he can joyfully fix all his eternal hopes, infinitely important as he sees them to be. And while he thus anchors his soul on the righteousness, the atonement, and the intercession of a Redeemer, he humbly bows to his authority, as his Lord and his God. It is his desire to seat him on the throne of his heart, and, as it were, to put into his hand the sceptre and the sword, that all the powers of nature may be governed, and all the corruptions of it destroyed by him. In a word, as he knows that Christ was given for a covenant to the people, he deliberately sets his seal to that covenant, thereby devoting himself to Christ, and, through him, to the Father. Such are his views, his purposes, and his engagements; and by divine he is enabled to be faithful to them. Which leads me to add,
3. When Christ is formed in any soul, something of the temper and character of the blessed Jesus is by divine grace wrought there.
I might with ease multiply scriptures in proof of the absolute necessity of this; but it is so obvious, that you must yourselves know, how expressly it is required. You know, how plainly St. Paul has told us, that If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his**: and where this Spirit resides, Christ dwells in the heart++. The Same mind, or temper, is in such an one, as was also in Christ Jesus‡‡; and as he professeth to Abide in him, it is his care so to walk, as Christ also walked§§. On which account the true christian is said to have Put on Christ|||| in allusion to the hebrew phrase, of being clothed with any temper or affection, that greatly prevails, or governs in the soul¶¶.
It is a very pleasing, as well as useful employment, to trace the lineaments of the temper and conduct of Christ in
* Eph. ii. 22. John xx. 28. ‡‡ Phil. ii. 5.
+ Rev. iii. 20.
Isa. xlix. 8. §§ 1 John . 6.
Luke xix. 6. ** Rom. viii. 9.
§1sa. xxii. 23. †† Eph. iii. 17.
Gal. iii. 27.
¶¶ Thus we read of being clothed with righteousness, Job xxix. 14. Psal. With humility, 1 Pet. v. 5. With zeal, Isa, lix. 17. With cursing,
his people. Our Lord is in a peculiar sense the Son of God; but his people are, through him, taken into the same relation: For they Have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, though perhaps they were once subjected to it, but they have received the spirit of adoption*; and Because they are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father+. By this spirit a filial temper is wrought in their souls, by which their obedience to their heavenly Father, is so animated, as to be most honourable and grateful to him, as well as most easy and delightful to themselves. Under the influences of this spirit, the christian desires, it may be his character now, as he trusts it will be his happiness at last, to Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth‡; to follow that Jesus, who was Holy, harmless, undefiled, and scparate from sinners§. He is indeed deeply sensible, that it is impossible for him, as his Lord did, to Fulfil all righte ousness; and therefore, When he hath done all, he calls himself an unprofitable servant: Yet he seeth so much of the internal beauties of holiness, so much lustre and glory in the image of God, as drawn on the soul of man, that it is the great concern of his heart, and labour of his life, to pursue it. Nor would he only abstain from grosser enormities, and practise those virtues which are most honourable amongst men, and attended with the greatest secular advantage; but he would, in every respect, maintain a Conscience void of offence**, and Perfect holiness in the fear of God++. He hath so affectionate a sense of the riches of the divine grace, displayed through a Redeemer, in adopting so unworthy a creature as himself to the dignity and privilege of a Son of God, that he often cries out, in raptures of holy gratitude and joy, What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me‡‡? Inspired with this noble principle, he searches his Father's will impartially; and when he hath discovered it, he obeyeth it cheerfully, and it is his Meat and his drink to perform it§§. He loves the Lord his God above all, and loves his fellow-creatures for his sake as well as his own, and entertains the highest veneration and affection for those who most heartily resemble his Father and their Father, his God and their God. It is his prayer, and his endeavour, that he may go About doing good||||, and be useful To all as he hath opportunity; that he may
Rom. viii. 15.
+ Gal. iv. 6.
Luke xvii. 10. §§ John iv. 34.
Rev. xiv. 4.
§ Heb. vii. 26. tt 2 Cor. vii. 1. ¶¶ Gal. vi, 10.