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child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. A change and alteration is promised in the natures, principles, and first inclinations of the worst and most savage sinners, who pass under the power of gospel grace.
This is that which is required of us in a way of duty; Eph. iv. 13. “And be ye renewed in the spirit of your minds.' There is a renovation of the mind itself, by the communication of spiritual saving light and understanding thereunto, whereof I have treated elsewhere at large; see Rom. xii. 2. Ephes. i. 17, 18. But the spirit of the mind, that whereby it is enlivened, lead and disposed unto its actings, that is to be renewed also. The spirit of the mind is in this place opposed unto the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lust, or depraved affections; ver. 22. These therefore are that spirit of the mind which incline, bend, and lead it to act suitably unto its inclinations, which is to be renewed. And when our affections are inclined by the saving grace of the Holy Spirit, then are they renewed, and not else. No other change will give them a spiritual renovation. Hereby those things which are only natural affections in themselves, in them that believe, become fruits of the Spirit; Gal. v. 22. «The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,' &c. They continue the same as they were in their essence, substance, and natural powers, but are changed in their properties, qualities, inclinations, whenever a new nature is given unto them. So the waters at Marah were the same waters still, before and after their cure. But of themselves, and in their own nature, they were bitter, so as that the people could not drink them; in the casting of a tree into them, they were made sweet and useful ; Exod. xv. 25, 26. So was it with the waters of Jericho, which were cured by casting salt into them; 2 Kings xix. 20, 21. Our affections continue the same as they were on their nature and essence, but they are so cured by grace, as that their properties, qualities, and inclinations, are all cleansed or renewed. The tree or salt that is cast into these waters whereby the cure is wrought, is the love of God above all, proceeding from faith in him by Christ Jesus.
The work of the renovation of our affections. How differenced from any
other impression on, or change wrought in, them, and how it is evidenced so to be. The first instance in the universality accompanying of affections spiritually renewed. The order of the exercise of our affections with respect unto their objects.
That which is our concernment herein, is to inquire of what nature that work is which hath been on our own affections, or in them, and how it differs from those, which, whatever they do or effect, yet will not render us nor themselves spiritual.
And we ought to use the best of our diligence herein ; because the great means whereby multitudes delude and deceive their own souls, persuading themselves that there has been an effectual work of the grace of the gospel in them, is the change that they find in their affections, which may be, on many occasions, without any spiritual renovation.
1. As unto the temporary and occasional impressions in the affections before mentioned, whether from the word, or any other divine warning by afflictions or mercies, they are common unto all sorts of persons. Some there are, whose consciences are seared with a hot iron;' 1 Tim. iv. 2.
who' thereon being past feeling' (senseless of all calls, warnings, and rebukes), do give themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness;' Ephes. iv. 19. Such persons having hardened themselves in a long course of sin, and being given up unto a reprobate mind, or vile affections in a way of judgment, have, it may be, no such impressions on their affections, on any occasion, as to move them with a sense of things spiritual and eternal. They may be terrified with danger, sudden judgments, and other revelations of the wrath of God from heaven against the ungodliness of men; but they are not drawn to take shelter in thoughts of spiritual things. Nothing but hell will awaken them unto a due consideration of themselves and things eternal.
It is otherwise with the generality of men who are not profligate and impudent in sinning. For although they are
in a natural condition, and a course of sin, in the neglect of known duties, yet by one means or other, most frequently by the preaching of the word, their affections are stirred towards heavenly things.
Sometimes they are afraid, sometimes they have hopes and desires about them. These put them on resolutions, and some temporary endeavours to change their lives, to abstain from sin, and to perform holy duties. But as the prophet complains, their goodness is as the morning cloud ; and as the early dew, so passeth it away.' Yet by means hereof do many poor ignorant souls deceive themselves, and cry peace, peace, when there is no peace. And they will sometimes so express how they are affected with complaints of themselves as unto their long neglect of spiritual things, that others may entertain good hopes concerning them; but all comes to nothing in the trial.
There is no difficulty unto spiritual light, to distinguish between these occasional impressions on the affections, and that spiritual renovation of them which we inquire after. This alone is sufficient to do it, that they are all of them temporary and evanid. “They abide for awhile only,' as our Saviour speaks, and every occasion defeats all their efficacy. They may be frequently renewed, but they never abide. Some of them immediately pass away, and are utterly lost between the place where they hear the word and their own habitations; and in vain shall they inquire after them again, they are gone for ever. Some have a larger continuance, endure longer in the mind, and produce some outward effects; none of them will hold any trial, or shock of temptation.
Yet I have somewhat to say unto those who have such impressions on their affections, and warning by them.
1. Despise them not, for God is in them. Although he may not be in them in a way of saving grace, yet he is in them in that which may be preparatory thereto. They are not common human accidents, but especial divine warnings.
2. Labour to retain them, or a sense of them, upon your hearts and consciences. You have got nothing by losing so many of them already. And if you proceed in their neglect, after awhile you will hear of them no more.
3. Put no more in the mthan belongs unto them.
Do not presently conclude that your state is good, because you have been affected at the hearing of the word, or under a sickness, or in a danger. Hereon you may think that now all is well with them, wherewith they please themselves, until they are wholly immersed in their former security.
2. We may consider the difference that is between the habitual change of the affections before described, and that renovation by grace which renders them spiritual. And this is of great concernment unto us all to inquire into it with diligence. Multitudes are herein deceived, and that unto their ruin. For they resolve their present peace into, and build their hopes of eternal life on, such a change in themselves, as will not abide the trial. This difference, therefore, is to be examined by Scripture light, and the experience of them that do believe. And,
1. There is a double universality with respect unto the spiritual renovation of our affections.
1. That which is subjective with respect unto the affections themselves; and,
2. That which is objective with respect unto spiritual things.
1. Sanctification extends itself unto the whole spirit, soul, and body; 1 Thess. v. 23. When we say that we are sanctified in part only, we do not say that any part, power, or faculty of the soul is unsanctified, but only that the work is not absolutely perfect in any of them. All sin may retain power in some one affection, as anger, fear, or love, as unto actual irruptions and effects, more than in all the rest. As one affection may be more eminently sanctified in some than in others. For it may have advantages unto this end from men's natural tempers, and various outward circumstances. Hence some find little difficulty in the mortification of all other lusts or corruptions, in comparison of what they meet withal in some one inordinate affection or corruption. This, it may be, David had regard unto; Psal. xviii. 23. I have known persons shining exemplarily in all other graces, who have been scarce free from giving great scandal by the excess of their passions, and easy provocations thereunto. And yet they have known that the setting themselves unto the sincere vigorous mortification of that disorder, is the most
eminent pledge of their sincerity in other things. For the trial of our self-denial lies in the things that our natural inclinations lie strongest toward. How beit, as was said, there is no affection where there is this work of renovation, but it is sanctified and renewed; none of them is left absolutely unto the service of sin and Satan. And therefore, whereas by reason of the advantages mentioned, sin doth greatly contend to use some of them unto its interest and service in a peculiar manner, yet are they enabled unto, and made meet for, gracious actings, and do, in their proper seasons, put forth themselves accordingly. There is no affection of the mind from whence the soul and conscience hath received the greatest damage, that was, as it were, the field wherein the contest is managed between sin and grace, but hath its spiritual use and exercise, when the mind is renewed.
There are some so inordinately subject to anger and passion therein, as if they were absolutely under the power and dominion of it; yet do they also know how to be angry, and sin not in being angry at sin in themselves and others. • Yea, what indignation; yea, what revenge;' 2 Cor. vii. 7. Yea, God is pleased sometimes to leave somewhat more than ordinary of the power of corruption in one affection, that it may be an occasion of the continual exercise of grace in the other affections. Yet are they all sanctified in their degree, that which is relieved, as well as that which doth relieve. And therefore as the remainder of sin in them that believe is called the old man, which is to be crucified in all the members of it, because of its adherence unto the whole person in all its powers and faculties ; so the grace implanted in our natures, is called the new man, there being nothing in us that is not seasoned and affected with it. As nothing in our natures escaped the taint of sin, so nothing in our natures is excepted from the renovation that is by grace. He in whom any one affection is utterly unrenewed, hath no one graciously renewed in him. Let men take heed how they indulge to any depraved affection, for it will be an unavoidable impeachment of their sincerity. Think not to say with Naaman, God be merciful unto me in this thing, in all others I will be for him.
He requires the whole heart, and will have it or none.