Images de page

their own private revenge. Let not these men say they are transa formed. Let the first say, their face is changed; let the next say, their tongue is changed; let the other say, their breasts or hands are changed: but, unless face, and tongue, and breast, and hand, and foot, and all be changed, the man is not changed. God be merciful to us! the world is full of such monsters of hypocrisy, who care only for an appearing change of some eminent and noted part, neglecting the whole: as some sorry tap-house white-limes and glazes the front towards the street, and sets out a painted sign; when there is nothing in the inward parts but sticks, and clay, and ruins, and cold earthen floors, and sluttery. This is to no purpose. If any piece of us be unchanged, we are still our old selves; odious to God, obnoxious to death,

But, as all motions have their terms, what is that into which we must be transformed ?

I see transformations enough every where: God knows, too many I see zealous professors transformed to key-cold worldlings; reformed Catholics turned to Romish Factionists : I see men transformed into women, in their elleminate dispositions and demeanours; women transformed to men, in their affectation of masculine boldness and fashions: I see men and women transformed into beasts of all kinds ; some, into drunken swine; others, into cruel tigers; others, into rank goats; others, into mimic apes: yea, I see those beasts transformed again into devils; in the delight they take in sin, in their mischievous tempting of others to sin. All these are transforined, so as it is, from good to ill, from bad to worse: so transformed, that, as Cyprian said of painted faces, it is no marvel if God know them not ; for they have made themselves quite other, from what he made them.

That, whereinto we must be transformed, is the image of God; 2 Cor. iii. 18: consisting in holiness and righteousness; Eph. iv. 24. That image we once had, and lost; and now must recover, by our transformation. ( blessed change, that, of the sons of men, we become the children of the Ever Living God; of the firebrands of hell, such we are naturally, we become the heirs of heaven! That, as the Eternal Son of God, having the form of God, did yet graciously change this glorious habit for the form of a servant; so we, that are the sons of men, should change the servile form of our wretched nature into the divine form of the Son of God!

This is a change, not more happy than needful. It was another change, that Job said he would wait for: but, of this change we must say, I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep nor mine eyelids to slurnber, until a happy change have wrought this heart of mine, which by nature is no better than a sty of unclean devils, to be a habitation for the God of Jacob. Woe be to the man, whose last change overtakes him, ere this change be wrought in him !

There is nothing more wretched than a mere man. brag what we will; how noble a creature man is above all the rest ;

We may how he is the lord of the world, a world within himsc's, the mirror of majesty, the visible model of his Maker: but, let me tell you, if we be but men, it had been a thousand times better for us to bave been the worst of beasts.

Let it not seem to savour of any misanthropy to say, that, as all those things which are perfections in creatures are eminently in God, so all the vicious dispositions of the creature are eminently in man; in that, debauched and abused reason is the quintessence of all bestiality. What speak I of these silly brutes? In this strait triangle of man's heart, there is a full Conclave of Cardinal wickednesses; an incorporation of cheaters ; a gaol of malefactors; yea a legion of devils.

Seest thou then, the most loathsome toad, that crawls upon the earth ; or the most despised dog, that creeps under thy feet? thou shalt once envy their condition, if thou be not more than a man. Thou seest the worst of them : thou canst not conceive the worst of thine own. For flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; and foris canes; without shall be dogs ; Rev. xxii. 15. When they shall be vanished into their first nothing, thou shalt be ever dying in those unquenchable flames; which shall torment thee so much the more, as thou hadst more wit and reason without grace.

But oh, what a woeful thing it is to consider, and how may we bemoan ourselves to heaven and earth, that yet men will not be transformed ? All the menaces, all the terrors of God cannot move men from what they are; but he that is filthy will be filthy still. In spite of both Law and Gospel, men have obdured themselves against the counsel of God: they have an iron neck ; Isa. xlviii. 4: an uncircumcised ear ; Jer. vi. 10: a brawny heart; Niark iii. 5. Say God and man what they will, these enchanted creatures will rather be beasts still, than return to men. If we will not change, be sure God will not. He hath said it, and he will perform it, After thine hardness and heart that cannot repent, thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath aguinst the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Rom. ij. 5.

Far, far be this obstinacy from us, Honourable and Beloved. For God's sake, for your soul's sake, yield yourselves willingly into the hands of God; and say, Convert me, O Lord, and I shall be converted. As we love ourselves and fear hell, let us not content ourselves with the shape, with the faculties of men; but let us be transformed: and think that we were only made men, that we might pass through the estate of humanity to regeneration.

III. This, for the Transformation. See now, that this transformation must be by RENEWING.

The same Spirit, that by Solomon said, There is nothing new under the Sun, saith by St. Paul, All things are become new. Nothing is so new, that it hath not been : all things must be so new, as they were. This avancívwris, renovation, implies that which once was, and therefore was new before.

That God, who is The Ancient of Days, doth not dislike any Primum verum,

thing for mere age; for Time is his: and continuance of tiine is so much more excellent, as it comes nearer to the duration of eternity: Old age is a crown of glory. Neither is ought old in relation to God, but to us; neither is age faulty, in respect of nature, but of corruption : for, as that word of Tertullian is true,

“The first is true;" so may I as truly say, Primum bonum, “ The first is good.” Only now, as our nature stands depraved, our old man is the body of corruptions, which we brought with us, and carry about us; and there can be no safety, unless we be transformed by renovation. Behold, God says, I make all things new ; a new heaven and a new earth; Isaiah Ixv. 17. The year renews; and to morrow, we say, is a new day: we renew our clothes when they are worn, our leases when they grow towards expiring; only our hearts we care not to renew.

If all the rest were old, so that our heart were new, it were nothing. Nothing but the main of all is neglected.

What should I need any other motives to you, than the view of the estate of both these ?

Look first at the Old: Put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; Eph. iv. 22. Lo, the old man is corrupt : this is enough to cashier himn : what man can abide to carry rotten flesh about him? If but a wound fester and gather dead flesh, we draw it, we corrode it, till it be clear at the bottom. Those, that make much of their old man, do, like that monstrous twin, willingly carry about a dead half of themselves, whose noisomeness doth torment and kill the living

Look at the New: Being freed from sin, and made servants to God, ye have your fruit in holiness, and the end everlasting life ; Rom. vi. 22.

Holiness is a lovely thing of itself: there is a Beauty of Holiness ; Gloria Sanctitatis, as the Vulgate turns it, Psalm cxlv. 5: and goodness doth amply reward itself: yet this holiness hath besides infinite recompence attending it. Holiness is life begun : eternal life is the consummation of holiness. Holiness is but the way: the end, whereto it leads, is everlasting life. As, therefore, we would avoid the annoyance and danger of our sinful corruptions, as we would ever aspire to true and endless blessedness, oh let us be transformed by Renewing.

But how is this renewing wrought; and wherein doth it consist ? Surely, as there are three ways, whereby we receive a new being ; by Creation, by Generation, hy Resuscitation : so, according to all these, is our spiritual renewing: It is by Creation ; Il'hosoever is in Christ is a new crcature; 2 Cor. v. 17: it is by Regeneration; Except a man be born aguin, he cannot see the kingdom of God; John iii. 3: it is by Resuscitation; Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us together with Christ ; Eph. ii. 5. From whence arises this double Corollary :

1. That we can give, of ourselves, no active power to the first act of our conversion : no more than Adam did to his first crea tion; no more than the child doth to his own conception; no more than the dead man to his raising from the grave:

2. That there must be a privation of our old corrupt forms; and a reducing us, from our either nothing or worse, to an estate of holiness and new obedience. This is that, which is every where set forth unto us, by the mortification of our earthly members, and putting off the old man, on the one part; and, by the first resurrection, and putting on the new, on the other. Nothing is more familiar, than these resemblances. But, of all similes, none doth so fitly, methinks, express the manner of this renewing as that of the snake; which by leaving his old slough in the streights of the rock, glides forth glib and nimble. I remember Hoicot (In Librum Sapientice) urges the similitude thus: To turn off the snake's skin, saith he, two things are requisite : the first is, foraminis angustia, “ the straitness of the passage;" else, he must needs draw the old skin through with him: the latter is, stabilitas sa.ri, the “ firmness of the stone;" else, instead of leaving the skin, he shall draw the stone away with him. So must it be in the business of our renovation: first, we must pass through the strait way

of due penitence; secondly, we must hold the firm and stable purpose of our perseverance in good. True sorrow and contrition of heart must begin the work, and then, an unmoved constancy of endeavour must finish it. Whosoever thou art therefore, if thy heart have not been touched, yea torn and rent in pieces, with a sound humiliation for thy sins, the old slough is still upon thy back: thou art not yet come within the ken of true renovation. Or, if thou be gone so far, as that the skin begins to reave up a little in a serious grief for thy sius; yet, if thy resolutious be not steadily settled and thine endeavours bent to go through with that holy work, thou comest short of thy renewing: thine old loose film of corruption shall so cumber thee, that thou shalt never be able to pass on smoothly in the ways of God.

But, because now we have a conceit, that man, as we say of fish, unless he be new, is naught; every man is ready to challenge this honour of being renewed: and, certainly, there may be much' deceit this way. We have seen plate or other vessels, that have looked like new, when they have been but new gilded or burnished: we have seen old faces, that have counterfeited a youthly smoothiness and vigorous complexion: we have seen hypocrites act every part of renovation, as if they had fallen from heaven. Let us therefore take a trial, by those proofs of examination, that cannot fail us: and they shall be fetched from those three ways of our renewing, which we have formerly specified.

If we be renewed by CREATION, here must be a Clean Heart. Cor mundum crea, saith the Psalmist; Psalm li. 10. For, as at the first God looked on all his works, and found them very good; so still, no work of his can be other than like himself, holy and perfect. If thy heart therefore be still full of unclean thoughits, wanton de. sires, cotétousness, ambition, profaneness, it is thine old heart of Satan's marring: it is no new heart of God's making; for nothing but clean can come from under his hands. But if we plead the closeness of the heart, which may therefore seem inpervious even to our own eyes, see what the Apostle saith, Eph. ii. 10.

We are his workmanship, created unto good works. The cleanness of the heart will shew itself in the goodness of the Hands. But if our hands may deceive us, as nothing is more easily counterfeited than a good action, yet our Feet will not; I mean, the trade of our ways.

That, therefore, from our Creation we may look to our REGENERATION; if we be the sons of God, we are renewed: and how shall it appear, whether we be the sons of God ? It is a golden rule, Il'hosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God; Rom. vii. 14. Yet, if, in both of these life could be counterfeited, death cannot.

That, therefore, from our Creation and Regeneration we may look to our RESUSCITATION, and from thence back to our grave; Mortify your members, which are on earth; Col. iii. 5. There is a death of this body of sin; and what manner of death? Those, that are Christ's, hare crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts; Gal. v. 24. Lo, as impossible as it is for a dead man to come down from his gibbet, or up from his coftin, and to do tlie works of his former lite; so impossible it is, that a renewed man should do the works of his unregeneration.

If, therefore, you find your Hearts unclean, your Hands idle and unprofitable, your Ways crooked and unholy, your Corruptions alive and lively, never pretend any renewing: you are the old men still; and, however ye may go for Christians, yet ye have denied the power of Christianity in your lives: and, if ye so continue, the fire of hell shall have so much more power over you, for that it finds the baptisinal water upon your faces.

IV. Our last head is the Subject of this Renewing, THE MIND.

There are, that would have this renovation proper to the inferior (which is the affective) part of the soul; as if the tó vizuavinov, as they call it, the supreme powers of that Divine part needed it not. These are met with here by our Apostle, who placeth this renewing upon the Mind

. There are, contrarily, that so appropriate this renewing to the Mind, which is the highest loft of the soul, as that they diffuse it not to the lower rooms, nor to the out-houses of the body; as if only the soul were capable as of sin, so of regeneration.

Both these shoot too short; and must know, that as the mind, so pot the mind only, must be renewed. That part is mentioned, not by way of exclusion, but of principality. It'is the man, that must be renewed; not one piece of him. Except ye please to say, according to that old philosophical adage, “ The Mind is the man;" and the body, as the wisest ethnic had wont to say, nothing but the case of that rich jewel. To say as it is, the most saint-like

« PrécédentContinuer »