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pected resurrection; and surely God will not frustrate its expectation. *
(4.) There is something in the following texts that look this way, Psal. xciii. 1, “ The world also is established that it cannot be moved;" Eccl. i. 4, “The earth abideth for ever;" Eccl. iii. 14, “ Whatsoever God doth, it shall be for ever;" Psal. cxix. 90, “ Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.” All these speak the world's continuance.
But you may say, of what use will heavens and earth then be? I answer,
As an everlasting monument of God's power, wisdom, and goodness, and possibly righteous men shall dwell in this new heaven and earth, and contemplate God in his glorious works; 2 Pet. iii. 13. That new world shall be possessed only by saints, no sinners shall be with them.
Now if we apply all this to this new creation whereof we are treating, it will exactly coincide. Grace shall continue, “He that doth the will of God, shall abide for ever.”+ This principle is an immortal seed ; and shall be cleansed from all dregs of sin, and its consequences; and the spirits of just men “shall be made perfect;" yea, their bodies “shall be made like unto the glorious body of our Lord Jesus ;” and though they may pass through the fire, not of Popish purgatory, but of affliction, or of the Spirit's refining, yet they shall lose nothing but dross, and shall come forth as gold. I
Thus I have run a parallel between the old creation and the new.
* Hunc locum accipio, Nullum esse elementum, nullamve mundi partem, quæ non veluti præsentis miseriæ agnitione tacta in spem resurrectionis intenta sit.
+ 1 John ii. 17. Heb. xii. 23. Phil. iii. 21. 1 Cor. ii. 13.
But this new creation is better, and more difficult than the old.
1. It is better, though the first was perfect in its kind, yet this is more excellent workmanship, being of a more pure, refined, spiritual nature, and repairs what was decayed in the old. It is also brought about with more transcendent love and good will, and hath a reference to the everlasting interests of precious souls in the other world. But of this more anon.
2. This is a creation in some respects more difficult than the former was. It may seem a paradox, that the framing of this new creation in the heart of a sinner, is a greater work, and of more difficulty, than that of making this great universe, heaven and earth; mistake not, this difficulty is not in respect of God's omnipotency, to whom all things are possible and easy; but with respect to the thing itself, and our consideration of it, this appears to our apprehension in these four respects :
(1.) When God made the world, he met with no opposition; he spake the word, and none uttered any contradiction; but in this new creation, the world, the devil, internal depravity, and sometimes custom in sin oppose this work; the “carnal mind is enmity itself against God,” and fights against him, Rom. viii. 7.
(2.) When God made the world, it cost him but the speaking of a word, as has been said ; but in order to this new creation, it cost him dear, even the giving of his own Son to become man, to live a life of sorrow, to endure the painful, ignominious, accursed death of the cross, that sinners might be reconciled to God, and become like God.
(3.) When God made the world, he needed not, no, nor used any instruments, in order to the effecting of that work; but in this of the new creation, he sends ministers labouring, travelling, and long waiting on sinners, to persuade them; he chooses men like themselves, endows them with gifts, gives them compassionate hearts, to weep over others, and beseech them with earnest entreaties to repent; yet that will not do, except the Spirit strive and prevail.
(4.) When God made the world, all was complete in six days; “Heaven and earth were finished,” Gen. ii. 1, “and all the host of them;" there needed not a second hand; but he is carrying on this work of the new creation many years, the whole life of the Christian; if he live a hundred years, it will be still defective in point of degree, and never complete, till the soul be landed in heaven.
THE IMPORTANCE OF, THE NEW CREATURE TO
THE SOULS OF MEN.
III. It was further proposed to demonstrate, wherein this new creature is of the first importance to the souls of men.
And here, lest I be mistaken, I must premise two caveats by way of exception: the first refers to the kind; the second, to the end of this availableness.
1. As to the kind, we must beware how we put the new creature in the room of Christ. It is not so available as our blessed Lord Jesus is, who is the only “ foundation, on which the church is built,” and “ able to save to the uttermost:" no creature must be set up
in competition with him, for “ there is no salvation in any other.”* And herein I am afraid the quakers are guilty of a gross heresy, who call us from a Christ without us, to a Christ within us; yea, it hath been a dispute in the plantation, called Pensylvania, whether we must believe only in a Christ within us, or a Christ both within and without us, and it was carried mostly in the former sense. But let no man be drawn from placing his entire confidence in Christ, as both God and man in one person, who suffered death on the cross to make atonement for sinners, and now "sits on the right hand of God to make intercession for us.”— If by a Christ within, they mean that called light within, either free will or natural conscience, or a power to help ourselves without special grace, it is an exploded error; . and it is to be feared, the Jesuits deliver their popish doctrine out of these men's mouths in refined language.--If by Christ within, be meant Christ's person in the believer, it is blasphemy. -If intended to signify, “Christ within us, the hope of glory,” Col. i. 27, or “Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith,” Eph. iii. 17, it is as the sun is in the house, when the beams or rays thereof shine into it. So Christ dwells in souls by his Spirit, Rom. viii. 9, and its graces; and this is what is called the new creature, which however is but a creature, and a weak one, full of imperfections : it is a vein of gold enveloped in earth and dross, not to be trusted to. The bride may highly prize her husband's picture, if like him, and drawn by his hand; but it is ridiculous to dote on that, and slight her husband ; and when she wants money or clothes, to go not to her husband for them, but to his picture. Surely, our Lord will not take it well, if men honour his image to the dishonour of his person: the original is one thing, the copy is another. Christ, the object of our faith, and the fruit of his Spirit are different : grace in the heart is not so available as Christ in heaven. Let every thing have its due place.
* 1 Cor. ii, 11. Heb. vii. 25. Acts iv. 12.
2. That which refers to the end, is this negative, that the new creature is not ordained to have a direct tendency to the justification of a sinner: God did not appoint it for this purpose. The instrument appointed is faith in Christ, Rom. iii. 20-22, in his blood, merits, and satisfaction to divine justice, apprehended by faith alone. And this excludes not only man's merits, but any gracious habits wrought in man, or good works done by him; nay, it also excludes faith itself, as the work of man, any otherwise than as laying hold on Christ's righteousness. This I affirm, , that neither the new creature, nor the best inherent righteousness can justify a sinner before God's tribunal. For a “man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” And lest any should say, it was by the works only of the ceremonial law, it is apparent the apostle includes the moral law; for the Gentiles were never bound to the ceremonial law, yet he proves both “Jews and Gentiles to be both under sin,” and both alike justified by Christ in the way of believing ; but “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” Besides, that law which shews sin, is the moral law; "For by the law is the knowledge of sin.”* And it is that law which drives us out of self to Christ, and therefore it can never justify us : God hath nailed up that door, so that none since the fall can enter into happiness by law-righteousness. This way to heaven is like the north west passage to the Indies, whoever attempts it,
* Gal. ii. 16. Rom. iii. 9. ii. 26, 27. iv. 15. iii. 20.