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by the chain of faith? Shall the boat be slighted, because of itself it cannot carry us over the river? rather let us get into it and row, and wait for the gales of the Spirit to waft us over. Privileges are good, the fruits of Christ's purchase, the pledges of God's love; they must be made use of, though not trusted or made our boast; you should be very thankful and fruitful under pure and powerful ordinances; let God have the glory, look you after the advantage of privileges, set them in their own place, not in God's room ; let none say, “the table of the Lord is contemptible,” Mal. i. 7. Nor on the other hand, let not presuming souls say, “let us fetch the ark of the covenant, that it may save us,” 1 Sam. iv. 3. Alas, what can the ark of God avail us, if the God of the ark leave us ? Let our dependance be on God in the way of his appointments. Affect not to be above, but go beyond all ordinances; God is present in all, that we may despise none, he withdraws in some, sometimes in all, that we may idolize none; when you enter upon a duty, look up to the blessed Jesus, make it your business to get communion with God therein. If you miss of God in ordinances, you lose your end; yea, you are in danger of losing your souls. If you find God, glory in the Lord, boast not of the duty or ordinances; sit not down in the porch, but make forward to the holy of holies; press to the city of refuge, lay your sacrifices at the door of the tabernacle, put your offering into the high priest's hand; thank God for enlargements, but depend not on them. If you make your services your saviours, you will perish with them; when you have done all, say, “I am still an unprofitable servant,” Luke xvii. 10; I have but done my dutý, nay, I have not done my duty, my best righteousnesses are not only too scant a covering, but also filthy rags, Isa. Ixiv. 6. My very duties as well
as sins may undo me; I may even find hell torments the upshot of privileges; further advancement by privileges, through a non-improvement of them sinks deeper in hell, as in the case of Chorazin and Capernaum, Matt. xi. 21–24. For privileges to graceless souls do take away the cloak that might cover the foulness of sin, and so do rather aggravate than extenuate it, John xv. 22, 24. I must therefore look for something else than privileges, that is, a new creature.
THE NATURE OF A NEW CREATURE.
The main point in the text, and which I have principally in view, is concerning the new creature, krious kuivn, new creation, it is a mode of speech peculiar and proper to the new testament dispensation; 2 Cor. v. 17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” that is, if a man be a true Christian, formed to the gospel pattern and rule, he is, and must be, and cannot but be of a new frame and character. So it was prophesied of old concerning gospel times; “Behold the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare,” Isa. xlii. 9; Ixv. 17, “Behold, I create new heavens, and new earth; yea, all things new.” So here he frames a work of saving grace in the hearts of all his saints. It signifies a new, noble, heavenly disposition, opposed to the antiquated, corrupt state of nature, derived from the first Adam, called the old man. But it may be asked,
1. Why is this called a creature? I answer,
(1.) Because it is produced only by the almighty power of God, whose peculiar prerogative it is to create.
(2.) Because as a creature, it hath a real existence as this visible frame of the universe hath. If there be a heaven and earth, there is a new creation in the soul of man; it is no fiction, chimera, or imagination of man's brain.
(3.) Creation makes a mighty change, so doth this work of conversion; as creation changeth a thing from a non-existence to a real being, so by this work of grace, “Old things are past away, and all things become new.” But of this more hereafter. You may ask,
2. What is meant by new? In reply I may say,
(1.) New, in scripture language, signifies another, distinct and different from what was before; so Exod. i. 8, “ There arose a new king over Egypt,” that is, another. Thus this new creature is distinct from the former, as Caleb is said to have another spirit, Numb. xiv. 24, that is, a different nature from the rest of the spies; even from what he himself formerly had. Thus it is with the convert.
(2.) New signifies strange, not heard of before, Numb. xvi. 30, “If the Lord make a new thing,” if the earth open her mouth; an unheard of wonder, a prodigy never known before. So it was said, “ What new doctrine is this? thou bringest strange things to our ears,” Acts xvii. 19, 20. Thus the work of regeneration was strange, even to a great doctor among
the Jews, John iii. 3, 4.
(3.) New, signifies something secret, hidden, not easily discerned, or not manifest to all, Isa. xlviii. 6, “I have shewed thee new things, from this time, even hidden things.” And this work of the new creature is much hid from the eyes of others, and sometimes kept close from a man's own observation, Job xi. 6,
« That he would show thee the secrets of wisdom." And David saith, “In the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom," Psal. li. 6.
(4.) New, imports something excellent, transcendent, admirable, Isa. xlii. 10, “Sing unto the Lord a new song;" Psal. xxxiii. 3, “Sing unto him a new song,” that is, an excellent song, the very best to which you can attain. Even so this is the chief of God's works in the world, and renders “the righteous more excellent than his neighbour; and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit,” Prov. xii. 26. xvii. 27.
The text being thus opened, I shall deduce an observation arising from the preceding words of the text; “ circumcision avails nothing, nor uncircumcision," under this new testament dispensation. What is it then that avails? The answer is, the new creature; this indeed is available. So this is set in contradistinction to the forementioned privileges comprehended under the word circumcision. I observe, then,
Secondly, That a new creature only is every way available to the souls of men.
Nothing else can avail any thing to men's eternal salvation, but a new creature; and this is very available.
Understand this of things of the same kind or nature; for a new creature must not be set in competition with the eternal love of God, or blood of Christ, or sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit, for application of Christ's purchase to us. A new creature is but a creature, and cannot do the work of the infinite God, who hath appropriated salvation work to himself; “There is no Saviour besides me, where is any other that may save them?” Hos. xiii. 4, 10. It is not any thing done by man, or wrought in man, that can save him from divine wrath, or advance him to heaven: No, the Lord justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies by Christ. All the causes of man's salvation are without him, Eph. i. 4-9. There is the efficient cause, God's choosing us—the material cause, Christ's redeeming us—the formal, the good pleasure of his will—the final, the praise of God's glorious grace. So then, we do not put this new creature in God's room, as any cause at all of our happiness, but a necessary qualification or disposition, to which salvation is annexed, or as the apostle phraseth it, that which accompanieth salvation. Heb. vi. 9, “ Things that accompany salvation,” ixóueva, that have salvation; that is, comprehend it, are contiguous to it, have happiness annexed to it by the indissoluble connexion of grace and glory, in consequence of a covenant promise. But more of this hereafter.
In the prosecution of this subject, I shall speak to these four things in the doctrinal part of it: namely,
I. Shew what this new creature is.
IV. Answer some queries about it, and then make an application.
I. What is this new creature ? Here the names given to it and the nature of it may be considered.
1. The names or titles given to this new creature being synonymous expressions and holding forth the same thing for substance, are such as these :
(1.) It is called the forming of Christ in the womb of a man's heart; Gal. iv. 19, “ My little children of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed
(2.) It is called quickening, Ephes. ii. 1, " And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Alas! what dull stocks and masses of sin we