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ing to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."* In the preceding verses, he had observed—“ This I say and testify in the Lord, that henceforth ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus; that ye put off,” &c. Evidently, then, the old man, which they were to put off, is a vain mind and a lascivious practice, to which Gentiles, through their blindness, gave themselves up with greediness; and the new man, which they were to put on, is a conformity to the divine image, and the practice of righteousness and Christian virtue. A passage in the epistle to the Colossians fully explains the meaning of St. Paul in the use of the term old and new man." Put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouths. Lie not one to another ; seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him. Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another,
* Eph. iv. 22, &c.
and forgiving one another; and, above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfect
The direction here is, that Christians should divest themselves of wicked inclinations, and abstain from evil practices, which the apostle denominates the old man; and that they imbue their minds with the spirit of the gospel, and give an exemplification of the Christian virtues ; and these the apostle styles the new man.
Under this branch of our subject, it is pertinent to bring into view one or two passages of scripture, which define the fruits of the Spirit, or describe the effects of Christian principles, when, under divine influence, they become operative upon the hearts and lives of men, St. Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, says-" The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”+ In the paraphrase of Dr. Macknight--" The fruit which reason, enlightened by the spirit of God, produceth, is love to God and man; joy, occasioned by that excellent affection ; peace with all men ; the patient bearing of injuries; a soft and complacent manner of speaking ; a beneficent disposition ; fidelity in promises and trusts ; calmness under provocation ; temperance in the use of meats and drinks." To the Ephesians St. Paul obscrves" The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” In the above paraphrase-" The fruit of the Spirit, by which ye are enlightened, corsists in doing all good offices to your neighbours, and in
* Col. iji. 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14.
+ Gal. F. 22, 23.
righteousness in your dealings, and truth in your speeches.”
No comments are recessary to show that the fruits of the Spirit, in these passages, differ not from the moral virtues of the gospel. The man who cherishes divine influence, and yields Christian fruit, is the man who rectifies the evil propensities of his heart, and establishes habits of Christian piety and virtue. Religion, to be effectual, mast, as a living principle, dwell in the heart of man, form his disposition; and regulate his life.
3. To state the proofs which may satisfy men that they are Christians, and are qualified for the rewards which God, in his munificence, has provided for the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
By their improvements in the Christian life, may men estimate their qualifications for heaven. If they find that the power of sin is subdued in their hearts, that their evil propensities are mortified, and that their religion produces the fruits of a good life, then they may be satisfied that they are prepared for the rewards of heaven. Men are differently constituted, and it cannot therefore be expected that they should agree in speculative opinions, or experience the same internal operations. But they may be united in sincerity. Every man may for himself determine whether it be his sincere desire and habitual endeavour to do the will of God, and to walk in the commandments of Jesus Christ, blameless. If, on the examination of himself by this rule, the heart of an individual condemn him not, then may he have confidence towards Gud. The deficiencics and defects of the Christian
should render hini humble, and teach him his de. pendence on the goodness and mercy of God. But if the religion of Jesus be established in his mind, it will induce him to discipline his passions, to guard against the seductions of the world, and to live soberly, righteously, and piously. He will experience satisfaction and delight in the cultivation of the Christian temper, and in the exercise of the virtues of the gospel. No man ought to consider himself a real disciple of Jesus Christ, till he has put off the spirit and the deeds of sin, and put on the spirit and the deeds of righteousness. In this high concern, every one must be his own judge. The hearts of our fellow Christians are not open to our inspection ; but each one may examine his own. Every individual may determine whether his religious observances be assumed to subserve a worldly purpose, or whether he act from a regard to the authority of God; whether he obey merely those precepts of his Divine Master which are congenial to his peculiar complexion of mind, and conducive to present interest, or have respect to all the commands of God; whether he maintain only the semblance of goodness in publick, or his religion have its proper influence in private, and regulate his thoughts as well as actions. If he be conscious that religion has an abiding and universal influence on his heart and life, then he has evidence within his own mind that he is qualified to join the heavenly society.
On this foundation the apostles establish Christ. ian hope. As men advance in the path of piety and virtue, so may their hope of salvation increase ; and to that confirmed state of goodness may they in the present state attain, that their hope may be as an anchor to their souls, sure and steadfast. It may prove an unfailing source of consolation under the troubles of life, and raise them above the fear of death. But still it is hope, not assurance. These remarks are in conformity to the language of inspiration. We are directed to put on “for an helmet the hope of salvation.”* We are exhorted “not to be moved away from the hope of the gospel.”+ We are informed, that through grace we are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life ;$ and we are directed to be diligent in the work of the Lord, in the full assurance of hope unto the end. . But St. Paul declares that hope does not amount to assurance.
“ We are," says he, “saved by hope : but hope that is seen is not hope ; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."|| That is, for the object of which we are absolutely certain, we cannot hope, hope being done away in knowledge ; but when we hope for some probable good, we may with patience wait the proper time of reception.
It is, then, vanity and presumption for Christians, in a probationary state to pretend to an assurance of salvation. The promises of the gospel are, indeed, absolutely certain to all who comply with the conditions of them ; but there is danger,
1 Thess. V. 8.
Heb. vi. 11.
+ Col. i. 23.
| Tit. iii. 7. | Rom. viii. 24, 25.