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actually exert itself frequently. So animal life is subject to many disorders, which weaken its powers of operation, but yet still it retains those powers ; and they are in some measure active, even under the greatest indisposition, at least in resisting the disorder, though perhaps with faint struggles. Again, I do not mean an independent power, which is so self-active as to need no quickening energy from the divine Spirit to bring it into act, but a power capable of acting under the animating influences of grace, which, as to their reality, are common to all believers, though they are communicated in different degrees to different persons. There is no need of the infusion of a new power, which the Spirit might actuate ; bụt they have a power already, which needs nothing but the suitable concurrence of other causes to educe it into act. So the power of reason is not independent, so as to be capable of operation without the concurrence of divine providence, common to mankind, to quicken it into act : yet it is a power of reason still, because it is capable of rational acts, under common providential influence. But should we suppose a beast the object of that influence, it would still continue incapable of rational acts, till a rational power be implanted in it. The illustration itself directs us to the application of it.
Thus I have briefly shewn you wherein spiritual life consists ; but I am afraid it may be still wrapt in obscurity from the eyes of some. And indeed it would require longer time, larger extent, and greater abilities to reflect sufficient light on so mysterious a point. Before we lose sight of this head, let us improve it to these purposes :
Let us improve it as a caution against this common mistake, viz. that our mere natural powers, under the common aids of divine grace, polished and refined by the institutions of the gospel, are a sufficient principle of holiness, without the addition of any new principle. You see a principle of spiritual life is supernatural ; it is a divine, heaven-bord thing ; it is the seed of God; a plant planted by our heavenly Father, But alas ! how many content themselves with a self-begotten holiness! They have formed to themselves a system of natural self-sprung religion, (I mean that it is natural, originally, and subjectively, though it be pretended to be divine objectively, because its patrons acknowl. edge objective revelation) in this they acquiesce as sufficient, as though they knew not that that which is born of the flesh is flesh. The cogitativeness of matter appears to me a notion very like this ; for I think it might be demonstrated as clearly, that our mere natural powers, in our present lapsed state, without the infusion of any divine, supernatural principle, are incapable of living, evangelical holiness ; as it can, that mere matter, without the superaddition of a principle entirely distinct from it, is capable of thinking, however much it be polished, or however differently it be modified.
Let us also improve what has been said, to remove another equally common and pernicious error, namely, That gospel-holiness consists merely in a series of acts materially good. Some imagine that all the actions they do, which are materially lawful and a part of religion, have just so much of holiness in them : and as they multiply such actions, their sanctification increases in their imagination. But alas ! do they not know, that a principle, a disposition, a power of holy acting must precede, and be the source of all holy acts ! That a new heart must be given us, and a new spirit put within us, before we can walk in God's statutes and keep his judgments, and do them! Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. That we must be created in Jesus Christ unto good works, Eph. ï. 10. before we can walk in them! That the love of God must be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Rom. v. 5, before we can love Him! I do not say, that they that are void of spiritual life should not attempt to perform religious duties in the best manner they can, by virtue of their natural powers; for this is undoubt. edly their duty, both because their sin is less when only the manner of their actions is sinful, than when the matter and manner too are sinful ; and because God, who has a right to appoint what methods he pleases, for the collation of his own favours, has constituted this as the way for them to obtain spiritual life. I say religious and moral duties, however frequently and perseveringly performed, are not evangelical holiness, when they are not done from a gracious supernatural principle : they are but spurious fruits growing from the wild root of depraved nature ; and we had best not please ourselves with the view of them, as though they were the fruits of holiness, lest we be consumed at last as fruitless and noxious briars and thorns.
Further, Let us improve our account of spiritual life, to inform us of a very considerable difference betwixt a mere moral and a spiritual life ; or evangelical holiness and morality. Spiritual life is of a divine original ; evangelical holiness flows from a supernatural principle; but mere morality is natural ; it is but VOL. II.
the refinement of our natural principles, under the aids of common grace, in the use of proper means; and consequently it is obtainable by unregenerate men.
Hence the same act may be differently denominated, according to the principles from which it proceeds ; that may be a piece of mere morality in one, who acts from natural principles only, which is an act of holiness in another, who acts from a principle of spiritual life. So an alms, wben given from a gracious principle, and for Christ's sake, is a gracious act ; but when given from a principle of natural generosity only, it deserves no higher name than that of mere morality.-A mistake in this is a rock we may tremble to look at, and ought anxiously to avoid ! for alas ! how many have been dashed to pieces upon it!
Again, We may improve what has been said, to convince us, that a life of formality, listlessness, and inactivity, is far from being a spiritual life. Where these things are habitual and predominant, they are infallible symptoms of spiritual death. It is true (as has been already observed) believers are subject to many sickly qualms and frequent indispositions ; yea, at times, their languishments are such, that the operations of the vital principle within them are hardly discernible to themselves or others ; and the vigour of their devotion, in their most sprightly hours, is checked and borne down by the body of death under which they groan. Yet still, there is an inextinguishable spark of life within, which scatters a gliminering light in the thickest darkness, and sometimes shines with illustrious brightness. The pulse of the spirit, though weak and irregular, still beats. There is an active power that reluctates and struggles against the counterstrivings of the flesh : that under the greatest languor, puts forth some weak efforts, some faint essays, and under the actuating influence of the divine Spirit, invigorates the soul to mount up with wings like an eagle, to run without wearying, and walk without fainting. And O! the joy, the pleasure of such heavenly activity! We therefore may write Tekel on the dull, inoperative religion of many ; it serves for no end, but to prove them dead in trespass. es and sins. The design of the whole dispensation of God's grace towards fallen sinners, is their vivification to holiness, that they may bring forth fruit unto God, Rom. vii. 4 ; and sure, where that design is not obtained, there can be no true religion. Let us therefore beware lest we should have a name to live, while we are dead.
THE DIVINE LIFE IN THE SOULS OF MEN CONSIDERED.
GAL. II. 20.--I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live ; yet
not 1, but Christ that liveth in me : and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the
faith of the Son of God.
We proceed to inquire, II. WHEN spiritual life is communicated to this the scriptures direct us to answer, That it is communicated in that change which is generally called Regeneration, or Effectual Calling. This is more than intimated by the expressions used to signify the first communication of it. When spiritual life is infused, then it is that God is said to beget us again to a lively hope, i Pet. i. 3. to beget us of his own will, James i. 18. 10 quicken us who were deud in sin, Eph. ii. 5. 10 give us a new heart, and put a new spir. it within us ; to take away the stony heart, and give an heart of Alesh, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. and we are said to be created in Christ Je. 8u8 unto good works, Eph. ii. 10. born again, John iii. 3. born or begotten of God, John i. 13. 1 John iii. 9. Now it is evident that these metaphorical expressions signify what is commonly called regeneration, and that they express the first implantation of spiritual life. Several of them contain a direct allusion to the first communication of animal and human life, as regeneration or begetting, regeneration or being begotten again, creation, &c. And since these, taken literally, signify the first communication of natural life, they must, when used metaphorically and spiritually, signify the first communication of spiritual life. Life before generation, creation, &c. is an absurdity; and generation, creation, &c. without the communication of life suitable to the nature of the being generated, created, &c. is also an absurdity. The other expressions, as quickening us while dead in trespasses and sins, giving a new heart, and the like, even literally signify this.
Hence, by way of improvement, we may be instructed to avoid a common mistake ; namely, “ That a power of living to God is universally conferred upon mankind in crcation: and therefore that there is no need of a new supernatural principle to be infusod, but only of the concurrence of common providence, and the
institutes of the gospel, to polish and refine our natural principles. And some say,
" That God in creation infuses spiritual life into all, on account of Christ's dying for them ; and that if it be given without the merit of the recipient, it may as properly be ascribed to divine grace when it is a natural endowment bestowed in creation, as it would be if it were a supernatural gift communicated by an act distinct from and posterior to that of creation."
In order effectually to subvert this notion, consider, 1. If spiritual life were communicated in creation, there would be no propriety or significancy in the expressions used to denote the communication of it. There would be no need of a new, a second birth, if we were spiritually alive by virtue of our first birth. Were we holy by virtue of our first creation, what necessity of being created in Christ Jesus, or of being made new creatures ? 2 Cor. v. 17. Gal. vi. 15. There could be no opposition between the old man and the new. Rom. vi. 6. Eph. iv. 22, 24. Col. iii. 9, 10. The dispositions concreated with us cannot be called a new man.-2. The implantation of spiritual life is not only posterior to creation, but also to corrupt principles, which are innate. We are first dead in sin before we are quickened, Eph. ii. 5. we have a stony heart, which must be taken away before a heart of flesh is given, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Such expressions undoubtedly signify and act posterior to, and consequently distinct from creation.-3. The implantation of a principle of spiritual life is eminently an act of special grace, which the concreation of our dat, ural endowments is never said to be. The washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, is an act of mercy and the effect of the kindness and love of God our Saviour, Tit. iji. 5. God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) Eph. ii. 4, 5. It is according to God's abundant mercy, that we are begotten again unto a lively hope. 1 Pet. i. 3. But what need I multiply instances ? The entire tenor of the gospel directs us to ascribe the regeneration and sanctification of sinners to distinguishing and peculiar grace. But though our natural-powers are the free communications of divine goodness, yet we are never said to be “ created according to the grace and mercy of God." It is not agreeable to the sacred dialect to call the powers of reason, vision, &c. " the gifts of grace," in the same sense that spiritual life is so called : nay, I cannot