« PrécédentContinuer »
world is thus habited. Let us, that are Christians, in a holy pride, scorn to be suited like them.
4. As common, so old fashions are in disgrace. That man would be shouted at, that should come forth in his great-grandsire's suit, though not rent, not discoloured. Behold, these are the overworn and misshapen rags of the old man : away with them, to the frippery of darkness; yea, to the brokery of hell. Let us be for a change. Old things are passed, all things are become new. As we look to have these bodies once changed from vile to glorious ; so let us now change the fashions of our bodies and souls, from corrupt and worldly, to spiritual and heavenly: and, loathing all these Misbeseeming, Painful, Common, Old Fashions of the World, let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ; that, being clad with the robes of his Righteousness here, we may be clothed upon with the robes of his Glory in the Highest Heavens. Amen.
THE ESTATE OF A CHRISTIAN:
LAID FORTH IN A SERMON PREACHED AT GRAY'S INN ON CANDLE
ROMANS xii. 2.
-But be ye changed (or transformed) by the renewing of your
The true method of Christian practice is first destructive, then astructive: according to the Prophet, Cease to do evil, learn to do good. This our Apostle observes; who first unteacheth us ill fashions, and then teacheth good.
We have done with the Negative duty of a Christian, what he must not do: hear now the Affirmative, what he must do: wherein our speech, treading in the steps of the blessed Apostle, shall pass through these Four Heads : First, that here must be A CHANGE ; Secondly, that this change must be BY TRANSFORMATION; Thirdly, that this transformation must be BY RENEWING; Fourthly, that this renewing must be OF THE MIND: But be ye changed, or transformed, by the renewing of your minds. All of them points of high and singular importance; and such as do therefore call for your best and carefullest attention.
I. Nothing is more changing than the Fashion of the World: Muns dus transit, The world passeth away, saith St. John; 1 John ii, 17. Yet here, that we may not fashion ourselves to the world, we must be CHANGED: we must be changed from these changeable fashions of the world, to a constant estate of regeneration. As there must be once a perfect change of this mortal to immortality, so must there be, onwards, of this sinful to gracious : and, as holy Job resolves to wait all the days of his appointed time, for that changing ; so, this change contrarily waits for us, and may not be put off one day.
What creature is there, wherein God will not have a change? They needed not as he made them: nothing could fall from him but good : we marred them; and, therefore, they both are changed, and must be. Even of the very heavens themselves, it is said, As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: how much more these sublunary bodies that are never themselves! We know the elements are in a perpetual transmutation : so are those bodies, that are compounded of them: as he said of the river, se cannot step down twice into the same stream. And, every seven years, as philosophy hath observed, our bodies are quite changed from what they were.
And, as there is a natural change in our favours, colour, complexion, temper; so there is no less voluntary change in our diets, in our dispositions, in our delights. With what scorn, do we now look upon the Top which our Childhood was fond on! how do we either smile or blush, in our mature age, to think of the humo irs and actions of our youth! How much more must the depravedness of our spiritual condition call for a change!
It is a rule in Policy, Not to alter a well-settled evil. I am sure it holds not in the Economy of the Soul; wherein length of prescription pleads rather for a speedy removal. No time can prejudice the King of Heaven.
In some cases indeed, change is a sign of a weak unsettledness. It is not for a wise man, like shell-fish, to rise or fall with the moon : rather, like unto the heaven, he must learn to move, and be constant. It was a good word of Basil to the governor; Utinum sempiterna sit hæc mea desipientia; “ Let me dote thus always.” It was not for nothing, that Socrates had the reputation of wisdom: that famous shrew of his, Xantippe, could say, she never but saw him return with the countenance that he went out with. Give me a man, that, in the changes of all conditions, can frame himself to be like an auditor's counter; and can stand, either for a thousand, or a hundred, or, if need be, for one: this man comes nearest to him, in whom there is no shadow of turning.
But, in case of present ill, there can be no safety but in change. I cannot blame the angels and saints in heaven, that they would not change: I bless them, that they cannot; because they are not capable of better: and every motion is out of a kind of need. I cannot wonder at the damned spirits, that they would be any thing but what they are. We, that are naturally in the way to that damnation, have reason to desire a change: worse we cannot be upon earth, than in a state of sin. Be changed therefore, if ye wish well to your own souls; that it may be said of you, in St. Paul's words, Such
What an enemy would upbraid by way of reproach, is the greatest praise that can be, Faults that were. 0 happy men, that can hear, “ Ye were profane, unclean, idolatrous, oppressive, riotous !” Their very sins honour them: as the very devils, that Mary Magdalen had, are mentioned for her glory; since we do not hear of them, but when they were cast out.
As there are some careless, nasty creatures, that can abide to wear none but their old, patched, sordid rags, (such as that miscreant Cistercian, Spanish Deist, whom we saw walk in and pollute our streets,) men, that, out of sullenness or affection, are habited as the Gibeonites were out of craft : so there are spiritually such;
natural men, yea natural fools, that please themselves in a false constancy, and brag they are no changelings, Whose glory is their shame, whose end, if they go on so, is damnation. Let the Great Bridegroom come in, and
find one of these crept into his feast, he shall be sure to send him out with a mischief; How camest thou in hither? Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into utter darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ; Matt. xxii. 13. Away with this frippery of our nature. Old things are passed : if ever we look to have any party in God, in heaven, we must be changed.
II. But, secondly, every change will not serve the turn. The word is not allowais Alteration, nor usleboar), but METAMORPHOSIS; a word, whose sound we are better acquainted with, than the sense: the meaning is, There must be a change in our
There is no motion, no action we pass through, without a change: As there is no step, wherein we change not our meridian; so there is no act, which works not some mutation in us.
But there are slight changes, wherein the places, habits, actions vary, without any change of the form : as Cælum, non animum, was an old word; and we know the body is the same, while the suits are divers,
And, again, there are changes, that reach to the very forms, whence all actions arise: as when of evil, we are made good; of carnal, spiritual. This is the Metamorphosis, that is here called for. Indeed it hath been a not more ancient than true observation, that the change of some things makes all things seem changed: as when a man comes into a house, wherein the partitions are pulled down, the roof raised up, the floor paved, bay-windows set out, the outside rough-cast; he shall think all the frame new; and yet the old foundation, beams, studs, roof stand still: so it is here; the very substance of the soul holds still, but the dispositions and qualities and the very cast of it are altered; as when a round piece of paste is formed into a square; or, which is the highest of all pats terns, as our Blessed Saviour was transformed in the Mount Tabor. His Deity was the same, his Humanity the same, the same soul, the same body; yet he was HETE.NLOP DW teis, it is the very word that the Holy Ghost uses both there and here,) in that the Deity did put a glorious splendour upon his Human Body which before it had not. Thus it must be in our transformation, onwards: the Spirit of God doth thus alter us through grace, while we are yet for essence the same.
Cun a leopard change his spots, or a blackmore his skin? saith the Prophet. See, I beseech you, how this change is not easy, though not substantial. The spots are not of the essence of that beasi ; the blackness is not of the essence of an Ethiopian: yet, how hard these are to put off, we know.
Our mythologists tell us of many strange metamorphoses; of men turned into beasts, birds, trees: wherein, doubtless, they had moral allusions. Let me tell you of a metamorphosis, as strange as theirs, and as true as theirs fabulous. They tell us of men turned into swine by Circe: I tell you of swine turned into men; when drunkards and obscene persons turn sober and well-governed. They tell you of men turned into stones, and of stones turned into men, immediately upon their deluge: I tell you, that, of very stones, Sons are raised up to Abraham. They tell us of a Lycaon turned into a wolf: I tell you of a wolf turned into a man; when a ravenous oppressor turns merciful. They tell us of men turned into oaks and rocks: I tell you of the oaky, rocky, flinty hearts of men turned into flesh, as Ezekiel speaks. They tell us of an Actxon turned into the beast, which he loved to hunt; and devoured of those beasts, wherewith he was wont to hunt: I tell you of a voluptuous beast, abandoning those pleasures, which had wont to spend him. They tell us of a self-loving man turned to a flower : I tell you of a fading transitory creature changed into the image of the Son of God. They tell us of a Proteus turned into ail forms: I tell you of a man of all hours, all companies, all religions, turned into a constant Confessor and Martyr for the name of Christ. They tell us, lastly, of their Jupiter and other deities turned into the shape of beasts, for the adrantage of their lust : I tell of men, naturally of a bestial disposition, made the Sons of God; partakers of the Divine nature, as the Apostle speaketh.
These changes are not imaginary, as in the case of lycanthropy and delusions of juggling sorcerers, but real and unfeigned: truly wrought by God; truly felt by us; truly seen by others. Not that we can always judge of these things by the mere outsides : for even Satan hiinself is transformed into an angel of light; neither do any faces look fairer than the painted. But ex fructibus is the rule of our Saviour, that will try out the truth of all our transformations. Let us not tlatter ourselves, Honourable and Beloved; we are all born wolves, bears, tigers, swine, one beast or other. It must needs be a notable change, if of beasts we become men; of men, saints. Thus it must be; else we are not transformed.
Neither is this transformation real only, but total; not resting in the parts, but enlarged to the whole person : and therefore the charge is ueteuoppar 9€, Be ye transformed; not some pieces of you, but the whole. There are those, which are changed in the face; that look civil at least, if not saint-like: but their mouths are full of cursing, and bitterness, and blasphemies. There are those, whose tongues are smooth-filed; abounding not only with plausible words, but holy and seemingly gracious too: when their right hand is a right hand of wickedness. If they have the faces and tongues of men, they have the talons of grittins; full of rapine, cruelty, oppression. There are those, whose one half (the upper part) 'is man; the lower is still, centaur-like, no other, no better than beast : as if, according to that old foolish heresy, God had not made both. There are those, whose hands are white, and clean from bribes, from extortion : but their fect are yet swift to shed blood, upon