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water becomes a fountain of water in them, springing up there, and flowing out of them, John iv. 14. and chap. vii. 38, 39. Grace is compared to a seed implanted, that not only is in the ground, but lias hold of it; has root there, grows there, and is an abiding principle of life and nature there.
As it is with spiritual discoveries and affections given at first conversion, so it is in all subsequent illuminations and affections of that kind, they are all transforming. There is a like divine power and energy in them, as in the first discoveries : and they still reach the bottom of the heart, and affect and alter the very nature of the soul, in proportion to the degree in which they are given. And a transformation of nature is continued and carried on by them, to the end of life, until it is brought to perfection in glory. Hence the progress of the work of grace in the hearts of the saints, is represented in scripture, as a continued conversion and renovation of nature. So the apostle exhorts those that were at Rome beloved of God, called to be saints—the subjects of God's redeeming mercios—to be transformed by the renewing of their mind, Rom. xii. 1, 2. I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice ;—and be not conformed to this world; but be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind. (Compared with chap. i. 7.) So the apostle, writing to the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, who were át Ephesus, (Eph. i. 1.)—who were once deal in trespasses and sins, but now quickened, raiseil up, maile to sit together in heavenly places in Christ, anil created in Christ Jesus unto good works ; who were once far off, but now made nigh by the blood of Christ : who were no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, anul of the houscholil of God; who were built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit ;-tells them, that he ceased not to pray for them, that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ; the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they might know, or experience, what was the exceeding greatness of God's power towards them that believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Eph. i. 16. to the end. In this the apostle has respect to the glorious power and work of God in converting and renewing the soul; as is most plain by the sequel. So the apostle exhorts the same persons to put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts : and be renewed in the spirit of their minds : and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, Eph. iv. 22, 23, 24.
There is a sort of high affections which leave persons without any appearance of an abiding effect. They go off suddenly ; so that from the height of their emotion, and seeming rapture, they pass at once to be quite dead, and void of all sense and activity. It surely is not wont to be thus with high gracious affections ; they leave a sweet savour and relish of divine things on the heart, and a stronger bent of soul towards God and holiness. As Moses' face not only shone while he was in the mount, extraordinarily conversing with God, but it continued to shine after he came down from the mount. When men have been conversing with Christ in an extraordinary manner, a sensible effect of it remains upon them; there is something remarkable in their disposition and frame, of which if we take knowledge, and trace to its cause, we shall find it is because they have been with Jesus, Acts iv. 13.
Truly gracious affections differ from those that are false and delu
sive, in that they naturally beget and promote such a spirit of love, meekness, quietness, forgiveness and mercy, as appeared in Christ.
The evidence of this in the scripture is very abundant. If we judge of the nature of Christianity, and the proper spirit of the gospel, by the word of God, this spirit is what may, by way of eminency, be called the Christian spirit; and may be looked upon as the true, and distinguishing disposition of the hearts of Christians, as such. When some of the disciples of Christ, said something, through inconsideration and infirmity, that was not agreeable to such a spirit, he told them that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of, Luke ix. 55. implying, that this spirit of which I am speaking, is the proper spirit of his religion and kingdom. All real disciples of Christ, have this spirit in them; and not only so, but they are of this spirit; it is the spirit by which they are so possessed and governed, that it is their true and proper character. This is evident by what the wise man says, Prov. xvii. 27. (having respect plainly to such a spirit as this), A man of understanding is of an excellent spirit; and by the particular des-cription Christ gives of the qualities and temper of such as are truly blessed, that shall obtain mercy, and are God's children and heirs, Matth. v. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peace-makers : for they shall be called the children
Do you think the Holy Ghost comes on a man, as on Balaam, by immediate acting, and then leaves him, and then he has nothing?"-(Sbepard's Parable, Part I. p. 126.)
of God. And that this spirit is the special character of the elect of God, is manifest by Col. iii. 12, 13. Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiring one another. The apostle discoursing of that temper and disposition which he speaks of, as the most excellent and essential thing in Christianity—that without which none are true Christians, and the most glorious profession and gifts are nothing, calling this spirit by the name of charity-describes it thus; (1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5.) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not ; charity vaunteth not ilself; is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; sceketh not her own; is not easily provoked ; thinketh no evil. And the same apostle, (Gal. v.) designedly declaring the distinguishing marks and fruits of true Christian grace, chicily insists on the things that appertain to such a temper and spirit, (ver. 22, 23.) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, mcekness, temperance. And so does the apostle James in describing true grace, or that wisdom that is from abore, with that declared design, that others who are of a contrary spirit may not deceive themselves—and lie against the truth, in professing to be Christians, when they are not-James iii. 14–17. If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wistlom descendcth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where enrying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, anul then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.
Every thing that appertains to holinesss of heart, does indeed belong to the nature of true Christianity, and the character of Christians; but a spirit of holiness, as appearing in some particular graces, may more especially be called the Christian spirit or temper:
Some amiable qualities and virtues more especially agree with the nature of the gospel constitution, and Christian profession; because there is a special agreeableness in them with those divine attributes which God has more remarkably manisested and glorified in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ, the grand subject of the Christian revelation. There is also a special agreeableness with those virtues which were so wonderfully exercised by Jesus Christ towards us in that affair, and the blessed example he hath therein set us. And they are peculiarly agreeable to the special drift and design of the work of redemption, the benefits we thereby receive, and the relation that it brings us into, to God and one another. And what are these virtues but such as humility, meekness, love, forgiveness, and mercy; which belong to the character of Christians, as such?
These things are spoken of as what are especially the character of Jesus Christ himself, the great head of the Christian church. They are so spoken of in the prophecies of the Old Testament; as in that cited Matth. xxi. 5. Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass. So Christ himself speaks of them, Matth. xi. 29. Leurn of me, for I am mcek and lowly in heart. The same appears by the name by which Christ is so often called in scripture, viz. THE LAMB. And as these things are especially the character of Christ; so they are all especially the character of Christians. Christians are Christ-like; none deserve the name who are not so in their prevailing character. The new man is renewed, after the image of him that created him, Col. iii. 10. All true Christians bchold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image, by his Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 18. The elect are all predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, that he might be the first-born among many brethren, Rom. viii. 29. As we have borne the image of the first man, that is earthly, so we must also bear the image of the heavenly: for as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are hcavenly, 1 Cor. xv. 47–49. Christ is full of grace; and Christians all receive of his fulness, and grace for grace; i. e. there is grace in Christians answering to grace in Cbrist, such an answerableness as there is between the wax and the seal. There is character for character; such kind of graces, such a spirit and temper; the same things that belong to Christ's character belong to theirs. In that disposition wherein Christ's character in a special manner consists, does his image in a special manner consist. Christians who shine by reflecting the light of the Sun of righteousness, shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, sweet and pleasant beams. These lamps of the spiritual temple, enkindled by fire from heaven, burn with the same sort of flame. The branch is of the same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the same sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the head. It would be strange is Christians should not be of the same temper and spirit with that of Christ; when they are his flesh and his bone, yea, are one spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17. and so live, that it is not they that live, but Christ that lives in them. A Christian spirit is Christ's mark, which he sets upon the souls of his people ; his seal in their foreheads, bearing his image and superscription. Christians are the followers of Christ, as they are obedient to that call of Christ, Matth. xi. 28, 29. Come to me, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. They follow him as the Lamb; Rev. xiv. 4. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. True Christians are as it were clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving temper of Christ; for as many as are in Christ, have put on Christ. And in this respect the church is clothed with the sun, not only by being clothed with his imputed righteousness, but also by Veing adorned with his graces, Rom. xiii. 14. Christ the great Shepherd, is himself a lamb, and believers are also lambs; all the flock are lambs ; John xxi. 15. Feed my lambs. Luke x. 3. I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves. The redemption of the church by Christ from the power of the devil, was typified of old by David's delivering the lumb out of the mouth of the lion and the bear.
That such virtue is the very nature of the Christian spirit, or the spirit that worketh in Christ and in his meinbers, is evident by this, that the dove is the very symbol or emblem, chosen of God to represent it. Those things are the fittest emblems of other things, which best represent that which is most distinguishing in their nature. The spirit that descended on Christ, when he was anointed of the Father, descended on him like a dove. The dove is a noted emblem of meekness, harmlessness, peace, and love. But the same Spirit that descended on the head of the church, descends to the members. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son, into their hearts, Gal. iv. 6. And if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. viii. 9. There is but one Spirit to the whole mystical body, head and members, (1 Cor. vi. 17. Eph. iv. 4.) Christ breathes his own Spirit on his disciples, John xx. 22. As Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost, descending on him like a dove, so Christians have an anointing from the IIoly One, 1 John ii. 20, 27. They are avointed with the same oil; it is the same precious ointment on the head, that goes down to the skirts of the garments. And on both it is a spirit of peace and love: Psal. cxxxiii. 1, 2. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's board, that went down to the skirts of his garments. The oil on Aaron’s garments, had the same sweet and inimitable odour with that on his head; the smell of the same sweet spices. Christian aflections, and a Christian behaviour, are the flowing out of the savour of Christ's sweet ointments. Because the church has a dove-like temper and disposition, thereforç it is said of her that she has dove's eyes, Cant. i. 15. Behold, thou art fair, my love ; behold, thou art fair, thou hast dove's cujes. Aud chap. iv. 1. Behold, thou art fair, my love, behold, thou art fair, thou hast dove's eyes within thy locks. The same is said of Christ, chap. vi. 12. His eyes are as the eyes of doves. And the church is frequently compared to a dove, Capt. ii. 14. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock.-Chap. v. 2. Open to me, my love, my dove. And chap. vi. 9. My dove, my