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which our religion requireth. This duty of universal love and benevolence, even to our bitterest enemies, may serve to convince us, that to be Christians we must be born again, change our very natures, and have no governing desire of our souls, but that of being made like God.
For we cannot exercise or delight in this duty, till we rejoice and delight only in increasing our likeness to God,
We may therefore from this, as well as from what has been before observed, be infallibly assured that Christianity does not consist in any partial amendment of our lives, any particular moral virtues, but in an entire change of our natural temper, a life wholly devoted to God.
This same doctrine is farther taught by our blessed Saviour, when speaking of little children, he saith, Suffer them to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God. And again, Whoso
Luke xviii. ever shall not receive the kingdom of
16. God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein.
If we are not resolved to deceive ourselves, to have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, we must perceive that these words imply some mighty change in our nature.
For what can make us more contrary to ourselves · than to lay aside all our manly wisdom, our mature judgments, our boasted abilities, and become infants in nature and temper, before we can partake of this heavenly state?
We reckon it change enough, from babes to be men, and surely it must signify as great an alteration to be reduced from men to a state of infancy.
One peculiar condition of infants is this, that they have every thing to learn, they are to be taught by others what they are to hope and fear, and wherein their proper happiness consists.
It is in this sense that we are chiefly to become as infants, to be as though we had every thing to learn, and suffer ourselves to be taught what we are to choose, and what to avoid ; to pretend to no wisdom of our own, but be ready to pursue that happiness which God in Christ proposes to us, and to accept it with such simplicity of mind, as children that have nothing of our own to oppose to it.
But now, is this infant-temper thus essential to the Christian life? Does the kingdom of God consist only of such as are so affected? Let this then be added as another undeniable proof, that Christianity requires a new nature, and temper of mind; and that this temper is such as having renounced the prejudices of life, the maxims of human wisdom, yields itself with a child-like submission and simplicity to be entirely governed by the precepts and doctrines of Christ.
Craft and policy, selfish cunning, proud abilities, and vain endowments, have no admittance into this holy state of society with Christ and God.
The wisdom of this world, the intrigues of life, the designs of greatness and ambition, lead to another kingdom, and he that would follow Christ must empty himself of this vain furniture, and put on the meek ornaments of infant and undesigning simplicity.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world ? saith the
1 Cor. i. 90. apostle, hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world.
If therefore we will partake of the wisdom of God we must think and judge of this world, and its most boasted gifts, as the wisdom of God judgeth of them; we must deem them foolishness, and with undivided hearts labour after one wisdom, one perfection, one happiness, in being entirely devoted to God.
This comparison of the spirit of a Christian to
the temper of children may also serve to recommend to us a certain simplicity of manners, which is a great ornament of behaviour, and is indeed always the effect of a heart entirely devoted to God.
For as the tempers of men are made designing and deceitful, by their having many and secret ends to bring about, so the heart that is entirely devoted to God, is at unity with itself, and all others; it being wholly taken up with one great design, has. no little successes that it labours after, and so is. naturally open, simple, and undesigning in all the affairs of life.
Although what has been already observed in the foregoing pages might be thought sufficient to show, that Christianity requires a new nature, a life entirely devoted to God; yet since the Scriptures add other evidences of the same truth, I must quote a passage or two more on this head.
The holy Spirit of God is not satisfied with representing that change which Christianity introduceth, by telling us that it is a new birth, a being born of God, and the like, but proceeds to convince us of the same truth by another way of speaking, by representing it as a state of death. Thus saith the apostle, ye are dead,
Col. iii. 3. and your life is hid with Christ in God.
That is, you Christians are dead as to this world, and the life which you now live is not to be reckaned by any visible or worldly goods, but is hid in Christ, is a spiritual enjoyment, a life of faith, and not of sight; ye are members of that mystical body of which Christ is the head, and entered into a kingdom which is not of this world.
And in this state of death are we as Christians to continue till Christ, who is our life, shall appear, and then shall we also
Col. iii. 4. in glory.
To show us that this death begins with our Christian state, we are said to be buried with him in
baptism; so that we entered into this state of death at our baptism, when we entered into Christianity.
Know ye not, says the apostle, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death therefore we are buried
Rom. vi. 4. with him, by baptism into death.
Now Christians may be said to be baptized into the death of Christ, if their baptism puts them into a state like to that in which our Saviour was at his death. The apostle shows this to be the meaning of it, by saying, if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, that is, if our baptism has put us into a state like that of his death.
So that Christian baptism is not only an external rite, by which we are entered into the external society of Christ's church, but is a solemn consecration, which presents us an offering to God, as Christ was offered at his death.
We are therefore no longer alive to the enjoyments of this world, but as Christ was then nailed to the cross, and devoted entirely to God, that he might be made perfect through sufferings, and ascend to the right hand of God; so is our old man to be crucified, and we consecrated to God, by a conformity to the death of Christ, that like as Christ was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life, and being risen with Christ should seek those things which are above.
This is the true undeniable state of Christianity; baptism does not make is effectually Christians, unless it brings us into a state of death, consecrates us to God, and begins a life suitable to that state of things to which our Saviour is risen from the dead. This, and no other than this, is the holiness and spiritual temper of the Christian life, which implies such a resignation of mind, such a dedication of ourselves to God, as may resemble the death of Christ. And on the other hand, such a newness of life, such an ascension of the soul, such a holy and heavenly behaviour, as may show that we are risen with Christ, and belong to that glorious state, where he now sits at the right hand of God.
It is in this sense, that the holy Jesus saith of his disciples, they are not of this world, even as I am not of this world; being not left to live the life of the world, but chosen out of it for the purposes of his kingdom, that they might copy after his death, and oblation of himself to God.
And this is the condition of all Christians to the consummation of all things, who are to carry on the same designs, and by the same means raise out of this corrupted state a number of fellow-heirs with Christ in everlasting glory. The Saviour of the world has purchased mankind with his blood, not to live in ease and pleasurable enjoyments, not to spend their time in softness and luxury, in the gratifications of pride, idlenesss, and vanity, but to drink of his cup, to be baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with, to make war with their corrupt natures, humble themselves, mortify the desires of the flesh, and like him he made perfect through sufferings.
St. Paul so well knew this to be the design and spirit of religion, that he puts his title to the benefits of Christ's resurrection upon it, when he says,
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suf- Phil. iii. 10. ferings, being made conformable to his death.
It is his being made conformable to his death, on which he founds his hopes of sharing in the resurrection of Christ. If Christians think that salvation is now to be had on softer terms, and that a
of indulgence and sensual gratifications is consistent with the ternis of the Gospel, and that they need not now be made conformable to his death, they are miserably blind, and as much mistake