Imágenes de páginas

that from the height of their emotion, and seeming rapture, they pass at once to be quite dead, and void of all sense and activity. It surely is not wont to be thus with wigh gracious affections* ; they leave a sweet savour and relish of divine things on the heart, and a stronger beut of soul towards God and holiness. As Moses' face not only shone while he was in the mount, extraordinarily conversing with God, but it continued to shine afier he came down from the mount. When men have been conversing with Christ in an extraordinary manner, a sensible effect of it remains upon them; there is something remarkable in their disposition and frame, of which if we take knowledge, and trace to its cause, we shall find it is because they have been with Jesus, Acts iv. 13.


Truly gracious affections differ from those that are false and delu

sive, in that they naturally beget and promote such a spirit of love, meekness, quictness, forgiveness and mercy, as appeared in Christ:

The evidence of this in the scripture is very abundant. If we judge of the nature of Christianity, and the proper spirit of the gospel, by the word of God, this spirit is what may, by way of eminency, be called the Christian spirit ; and may be looked upon as the true, and distinguishing disposition of the hearts of Christians, as such. When some of the disciples of Christ, said something, through inconsideration and infirmity, that was not agreeable to such a spirit, he told them that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of, Luke ix. 55. implying, that this spirit of which I am speaking, is the proper spirit of his religion and kingdom. All real disciples of Christ, have this spirit in them; and not only so, but they are of this spirit; it is the spirit by which they are so possessed and governed, that it is their true and proper character. This is evident by what the wise man says, Prov. . xvii. 27. (having respect plainly to such a spirit as this), A man of understanding is of an excellent spirit ; and by the particular description Christ gives of the qualities and temper of such as are truly blessed, that shall obtain mercy, and are God's children and beirs, Matth. v. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peace-makers : for they shall be called the children of God. And that this spirit is the special character of the elect of God, is manifest by Col. iii. 12, 13. Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another. The apostle discoursing of that temper and disposition which he speaks of, as the most excellent and essential thing in Christianitythat without which none are true Christians, and the most glorious profession and gifts are nothing, calling this spirit by the name of charity-describes it thus ; (1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5.) Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; charity envieth not ; charity vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly ; sucketh not her own; is not easily provoked ; thinketh no evil. And the same apostle, (Gal. v.) designedly declaring the distinguishing marks and fruits of true Christian grace, chiefly insists on the things that appertain to such a temper and spirit, (ver. 22, 23.) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. And so does the apostle James in describing true grace, or that wisdom that is from abovc, with that declared design, that others who are of a contrary spirit may not deceive themselves—and lie against the truth, in professing to be Christians, when they are not-James iii. 14-17. If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeih not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. But the wisdom thai is from above, is first pure, and then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.

min, a

*" Diyno think the Holy Ghost coines on a

on Balaani, by immediate acting, and then leares bim, aud theu he has nothing?"- (Shepard's Parable, Part I. 1. 126.)

Every thing that appertains to holinesss of heart, does indeed belong to the nature of true Christianity, and the character of Christians; but a spirit of holiness, as appearing in some particular graces, may more especially be called the Christian spirit or temper.

Some amiable qualities and virtues more especially agree with the nature of the gospel constitution, and Christian profession; because there is a special agreeableness in them with those divine altributes which God has more remarkably manifested and glorified in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ, the grand subject of the Christian revelation. There is also a special agreeableness with those virtues which were so wonderfully exercised by Jesus Christ towards us in that affair, and the blessed example he bath therein set us. And they are peculiarly agreeable to the special drift and design of the work of redemption, the benefits we thereby receive, and the relation that it brings us into, to God and one another. And what are these virtues but such as humility, meekness, love, forgiveness, and mercy; wbich belong to the character of Christians, as such?

These things are spoken of as what are especially the character of Jesus Christ himself, the great head of the Christian church. They are so spoken of in the prophecies of the Old Testament; as in that cited Matth. xxi. 5. Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass. So Christ himself speaks of them, Mastb. xi. 29. Leurn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. The same appears by the name by which Christ is so often called in scripture, viz. THE LAMB. And as these things are especially the character of Christ; so they are all especially the character of Christians. Christians are Christ-like ; none deserve the name who are not so in their prevailing character. The new man is renewed, after the image of him that created him, Col. iii. 10. All true Christians behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image, by his Spirit, 2 Cor. ii. 18. The elect are all predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, that he might be the first-born among many brethren, Rom. viii. 29. As we have borne the image of the first man, that is earthly, so we must also bear the image of the heavenly: for as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly, 1 Cor. xv. 47–49. Christ is full of grace; and Christians all receive of his fuloess, and grace for grace ; i. e. there is grace in Christians answering to grace in Christ, such an answerableness as there is between the wax and the seal. There is character for character ; such kind of graces, such a spirit and temper; the same things that belong to Christ's character belong to theirs. In that disposition wherein Christ's character in a special manner consists, does his image in a special inanner consist. Christians who shine by reflecting the light of the Sun of righteousness, shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, sweet and pleasant beams. These lamps of the spiritual temple, enkindled by fire from heaven, burn with the same sort of flame. The branch is of the same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the same sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the head. It would be strange is Christians should not be of the same temper and spirit with that of Christ; when they are his flesh and his bone, yea, are one spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17. and so live, that it is not they that live, but Christ that lives in them. A Christian spirit is Christ's mark, which he sets upon the souls of his people ; his seal in their foreheads, bearing his image and superscription. Christians are the followers of Christ, as they are obedient to that call of Christ, Matth. xi. 28, 29. Come to me, and learn of me, for I am meck and lowly of heart. They follow him as the Lamb; Rev. xiv. 4. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. True Christians are as it were clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving temper of Christ; for as many as are in Christ, have put on Christ. And in this respect the church is clothed with the sun, not only by being clothed with his imputed righteousness, but also by Leing adorned with bis graces, Rom. xiii. 14.

Christ the great Shepherd, is himself a lamb, and believers are also lambs; all the flock are lambs; Joha xxi. 15. Feed my lambs. Luke x. 3. I sen l you forth as lambs in

. the midst of wolves. The redemption of the church by Christ from the power of the devil, was typified of old by David's delivering the lumb out of the mouth of the lion and the bear.

That such virtue is the very nature of the Christian spirit, or the spirit that worketh in Christ and in his members, is evident by this, that the dove is the very syunbol or emblem, chosen of God to represent it. Those things are the fittest einblems of other things, which best represcut that which is most distinguishing in their nature. The spirit that descended on Christ, when he was anointed of the Father, descended on him like a dove. The dove is a noted eniblem of meekuess, harınlessness, peace, and love. But the sume Spirit that descended on the head of the church, descends to the members. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son, into their hearts, Gal. iv. 6. And if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. viii. 9. There is but one Spirit to the whole mystical body, head and members, (1 Cor. vi. 17. Eph. iv. 4.) Christ breathes his own Spirit on his disciples, Johu xx. 22. As Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost, descending on him like a dove, so Christians have an anointing from the Holy One, 1 John ii. 20, 27. They are avointed with the same oil; it is the saine precious ointment on the head, that goes down lo the skirts of the garments. And on both it is a spirit of

peace and love: Psal. cxxxiii. 1, 2. Eehold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upin the head, that ran down ироп

the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments. The vil on Aarou’s garments, had the same sweet and iniinilable odour with that on his head; the smell of the same sweet spices. Christian affections, and a Christian behaviour, are the flowing out of the savour of Chrisi's sweet ointments. Because the church has a dove-like lemper and disposition, therefore it is said of her that she has dove's eyes, Cant. i. 15. Behold, thou art fair, my love ; behold, thou art fair, thou hast dove's eyes. And chap. iv. 1. Behold, thou art fair, my love, behold, thou urt fair, thou hast dove's eyes within thy locks. The same is said of Christ, chap. vi. 12. His eyes are as the eyes of doves. And the church is frequently compared to a dove, Cant. ji. 14. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock.-_Chap. v. 2. Open to me, my love, my dove. And chap. vi. 9. My dore, my

undefiled is but one. Psal. Ixviii. 13. Ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. And lxxiv. 19. O deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the multitude of the wicked. The dove that Noah sent out of the arkthat could find no rest for the sole of her foot until she returned -was a type of a true saint.

Meekness is so much the character of the saints, that the meek and the godly are used as synonimous terms in scripture : so Psal. xxxviii. 10, 11. the wicked and the meek are set in opposition, as wicked and godly, Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be: but the meck shall inherit the earth. So Psal. cxlvii. 6. The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

It is doubtless very much on this account, that Christ represents all bis disciples, though the heirs of heaven, as little children, Matth. xix. 14. Suffer lillle children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matth. X. 42. Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of those little ones a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Matth. xviii. 6. Whoso shail offend one of these little ones, &c. ver. 10. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones. Ver. 14. It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Juhn xiii. 33. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Little children are innocent and harmless; they do not much mischies in the world; men veed not be afraid of them ; their anger does not last long, they do not lay up injuries in high resentment, entertaining deep rooted malice. So Christians, in malice are children, 1 Cor. xiv. 20. Little children are not guileful and deceitful, but plain and simple ; they are not versed in the arts of fiction and deceit; and are strangers to artful disguises.

They are yielding and flexible, and not wilsul and obstinate ; do not trust to their own understanding, but rely on the instructions of parents, and others of superior understanding. Here is therefure a fit and lively emblem of the followers of the Lanıb. Persons being thus like little children, is not only a thing highly commendable, what Christians aim at, and which some of extraordinary proficiency attain: but it is their universal character, and absolutely necessary in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven ; Maith. xviii. 3. Verily I say unto you, Lxcept ye be converted, and become as liille children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Mark x. 15. Verily I say unto you, Whosoerer shall not receive the kingdom of God as a litile child, he shall not enter therein.

But here some may be ready to say, Is there no such thing as Christian fortitude, and boldness for Christ, being good soldiers

« AnteriorContinuar »