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The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption: Sermon 25

By John Flavel

      Of the Nature and Necessity of the New Creature.

      2 Cor. 5: 17.

      Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

      You have seen one trial of an interest in Christ, in our last discourse, namely, by the donation of the Spirit. We have here another trial of the same matter, from one of the greatest, and most noble effects of the Spirit upon our souls; namely, his work of renovation, or new creation: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." The apostle's scope in the immediate context, is to dissuade Christians from a carnal, sinful partiality, in their respects to men: Not to despise them after the manner of the world, according to the external differences, but the real internal worth and excellency that is in men. This the apostle presses by two arguments; one drawn from the end of Christ's death, ver. 15. which was to take off from these selfish designs and carnal ends by which the whole world is swayed. Secondly, From the new spirit, by which believers are actuated: they that are in Christ are to judge and measure all things by a new rule: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away;" q. d. we have done with that low, selfish spirit of the world, which was wholly governed by carnal interest; we are now to judge by a new rule, to be actuated from a new principle, aim at a new and more noble end; "Behold, all things are become new." In these words we have three general parts, to be distinctly considered, viz.

      1. The great question to be determined, "If any man be in Christ?"

      2. The rule by which it may be determined, viz. "he is a new creature."

      3. This general rule more particularly explained, "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

      First, We have here the great question to be determined, Whether a man be in Christ? A question upon the determination whereof, we must stand, or fall for ever. By [being in Christ] the apostle does not here mean the general profession of Christianity, which gives a man the reputation of an interest in him; but by being in Christ, he means an interest in him, by vital union with his person, and real participation of his benefits. Now this is the question to be determined, the matter to be tried; than which, nothing can be more solemn and important in the whole world.

      Secondly, The rule by which this great question may be determined, viz. The new creation; "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." By this rule all the titles and claims made to Christ in the professing world, are to be examined. [If any man] be he what he will, high or low, great or small, learned or illiterate, young or old, if he pretend interest in Christ, this is the standard by which he must be tried: if he be in Christ, he is a new creature; and if he be not a new creature, he is not in Christ, let his endowments, gifts, confidence, and reputation be what they will: [A new creature] not new physically, he is the same person he was; but a new creature, that is, a creature renewed by gracious principles, newly infused into him from above, which sway him and guide him in another manner, and to another end than ever he acted before; and these gracious principles not being educed out of any thing which was pre-existent in man, but infused de novo, from above, are therefore called, in this place, a new creature: This is the rule by which our claim to Christ must be determined.

      Thirdly, This general rule is here more particularly explained; "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." He satisfies not himself to lay down this rule concisely, or express it in general terms, by telling us, the man in Christ must be a new creature; but more particularly, he shews us what this new creature is, and what the parts thereof are, viz. Both

      1. The privative part; "Old things are passed away."

      2. The positive part thereof; "All things are become new."

      By old things, he means all those carnal principles, self-ends, and fleshly lusts belonging to the carnal state, or the old man: all these are passed away; "not simply, and perfectly, but only in part at present, and wholly in hope and expectation hereafter." So much briefly of the privative part of the new creature, "Old things are passed away." A word or two must be spoken of the positive part; "All things are become new. He means not that the old faculties of the soul are abolished, and new ones created in their room; but as our bodies may be said to be new bodies, by reason of their new endowments and qualities super induced, and bestowed upon them in their resurrection, so our souls are now renewed by the infusion of new gracious principles into them, in the work of regeneration. These two parts, viz. the privative part, the passing away of old things; and the positive part, the renewing of all things, do, betwixt them, comprise the whole nature of sanctification, which, in other scriptures, is expressed by equivalent phrases; sometimes by putting off the old, and putting on the new man, Eph. 4: 24. sometimes by dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness, Rom. 6: 11. which is the self-same thing the apostle here intends, by the passing away of old things, and making all things new. And because this is the most excellent, glorious, and admirable work of the Spirit, which is, or can be wrought upon man in this world; therefore the apostle asserts it with an ecce, a note of special remark and observation, "Behold, all things are become new;" q. d. Behold and admire this surprising, marvellous change which God has made upon men; they are come out of darkness into his marvellous light, 1 Pet. 2: 9. out of the old, as it were, into a new world; "Behold, all things are become new". Hence note,

      Doct. That Gods creating of a new supernatural work of grace in the soul of any mart, is that man's sure, and infallible evidence of a saving interest in Jesus Christ.

      Suitable hereunto are those words of the apostle, Eph. 4: 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. "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, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind: and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Where we have, in other words of the same importance, the very self- same description of the man that is in Christ, which the apostle gives us in this text. Now, for the opening and stating of this point, it will be necessary that I shew you,

      1. Why the regenerating work of the Spirit is called a new creation.

      2. In what respect every soul that is in Christ is renewed, or made a new creature.

      3. What are the remarkable properties and qualities of this new creature.

      4. The necessity of this new creation to all that are in Christ.

      5. How this new creation evidences our interest in Christ.

      6. And then apply the whole in the proper uses of it.

      First, Why the regenerating work of the Spirit is called a new creation. This must be our first enquiry. And, doubtless, the reason of this appellation is the analogy, proportion, and similitude which is found betwixt the work of regeneration, and God's work in the first creation. And their agreement and proportion will be found in the following particulars.

      First, The same almighty Author who created the world, createth also this work of grace in the soul of man, 2 Cor. 4: 6. "God, who commanded the light to thine out of darkness, has shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The same powerful word which created the natural, createth also the spiritual light. It is equally absurd for any man to say, I make myself to repent, or to believe, as it is to say, I made myself to exist, and be.

      Secondly, The first thing that God created in the natural world, was light, Gen. 1:3. and the first thing which God createth in the new creation, is the light of spiritual knowledge, Col. 3: 10. "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."

      Thirdly. Creation is out of nothing; it requires no pre- existent matter; it does not bring one thing out of another, but something out of nothing; it gives a being to that which before had no being: So it is also in the new creation, 1 Pet. 2: 9, 10. "Who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." The work of grace is not educed out of the power and principles of nature, but it is a pure work of creation. The Heathen philosophers could neither understand, nor acknowledge the creation of the world, because that notion was repugnant to this maxim of reason, en nihilo nihil fit, out of nothing, nothing can be made. Thus did they insanire cum ratione, befool themselves with their own reasonings; and after the same manner some great pretenders to reason among us, voting it an absurdity to affirm, that the work of grace is not virtually and potentially contained in nature, the new creation in the old.

      Fourthly, It was the virtue and efficacy of the Spirit of God, which gave the natural world its being by creation; Gen. 1: 2. the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; it hovered over the chaos, as the wings of a bird do over her eggs, as the same word is rendered, Deut. 32: 11. cherishing, as it were by incubation, that rude mass by a secret quickening influence, by which it drew all creatures into their several forms, and particular natures: So it is in the new creation; a quickening influence must come from the Spirit of God, or else the new creation can never be formed in us; John 3: 8. "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." And ver. 6. "That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit."

      Fifthly, The word of God was the instrument of the first creation; Psal. 33: 6, 9. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth: For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." The word of God is also the instrument of the new creation, or work of grace in man; 1 Pet. 1: 23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God, which liveth, and abideth for ever." So James 1: 18. "Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth." Of his own will; that was the impulsive cause; with the word of truth; that was the instrumental cause. Great respect and honour, love, and delight, is due to the word upon this account, that it is the instrument of our regeneration, or new creation.

      Sixthly, The same power which created the world, still underprops and supports it in its being: the world owes its conservation, as well as its existence, to the power of God, without which it could not subsist one moment. Just so it is with the new creation, which entirely depends upon the preserving power, which first formed it; Jude ver. 1. "Preserved in Christ Jesus," and 1 Pet. 1: 5. "Who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." As in a natural way "we live, move, and have our being in God," Acts 17: 28. so in a spiritual way, we continue believing, repenting, loving, and delighting in God; without whose continued influence upon our souls, we could do neither.

      Seventhly, In a word, God surveyed the first creation with complacence and great delight; he beheld the works of his hands, and approved them as very good, Gen. 1: 31. So this also in the second creation; nothing pleaseth and delights God more than the works of grace in the souls of his people. It is not an outward privilege of nature, or gift of providence, which commends any man to God; "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but a new creature," Gal. 6: 15. And thus you see upon what grounds the work of regeneration in man is stiled a new creature; which was the first thing to be opened.

      Secondly, Next we must enquire, in what respects every soul that is in Christ is renewed, or made a new creature: and here we shall find a threefold renovation of every man that is in Christ, viz.

      1. In his state and condition.

      2. In his frame and constitution.

      3. In his practice and conversation.

      First, He is renewed in his state and condition: for he passeth from death to life in his justification, 1 John 3: 14. He was condemned by the law, he is now justified freely by grace, through the redemption which is in Christ: he was under the curse of the first covenant; he is under the blessing of the new covenant: he was afar off, but is now made nigh unto God; an alien, a stranger once, now of the household of God, Eph. 2: 12, 13. 0 blessed change, from a sad to a sweet and comfortable condition! "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," Rom. 8: 1.

      Secondly, Every man in Christ is renewed in his frame and constitution; all the faculties and affections of his soul are renewed by regeneration: his understanding was dark, but now is light in the Lord, Eph. 5: 8. his conscience was dead and secure, or full of guilt and horror, but is now become tender, watchful, and full of peace, Heb. 9: 11. his will was rebellious, stubborn, and inflexible; but is now made obedient and complying with the will of God, Psal. 110: 2. his desires did once pant and spend themselves in the pursuit of vanities, now they are set upon God, Isa. 26: 8. his love did fondly dote upon ensnaring earthly objects, now it is swallowed up in the infinite excellencies of God and Christ, Psal. 119: 97. his joy was once in trifles and things of nought, now his rejoicing is in Christ Jesus, Phil. 3: 3. his fears once were about noxious creatures, now God is the object of the fear of reverence, Acts 9: 31. and sin the object of the fear of caution, 2 Cor. 7: 11. his hopes and expectations were only from the world present, but now from that to come, Heb. 6: 19. Thus the soul in its faculties and affections is renewed; which being done, the members and senses of the body must needs be destinated and employed by it in new services; no more to be the weapons of unrighteousness, but instruments of service to Jesus Christ, Rom. 6: 19. And thus all that are in Christ are renewed in their frame and constitution.

      Thirdly, The man in Christ is renewed in his practice and conversation: the manner of operation always follows the nature of beings. Now the regenerate not being what they were, cannot walk and act as once they did; Eph. 2: 1, 2, 3. "And you has he quickened, who were once dead in trespasses and sins, wherein ye walked according to the course of this world." They were carried away, like water by the strength of the tide, by the influence of their own corrupt natures, and the customs and examples of the world; but the case is now altered. So in 1 Cor. 6: 11. the apostle shews believers their old companions in sin, and tells them, "Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified," &c. q. d. the world is now well altered with you, thanks be to the grace of God for it. This wonderful change of practice, which is so universal and remarkable in all the regenerate, and immediately consequent upon their conversion, sets the world a wondering at them; 1 Pet. 4: 4. Wherein they think it strange, that you run not "with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. They think it strange:" The word signifies to stand and gaze, as the hen does which has brooded, and hatched partridge eggs, when she sees the chickens which she has brought forth, take the wing and fly away from her. Thus do the men of the world stand amazed to see their old companions in sin, whose language once was vain and earthly, it may be, profane and filthy, now to be praying, speaking of God, heaven, and things spiritual, having no more to do with them, as to sin, except by way of reprehension and admonition: this amazes the world, and makes them look with a strange admiring eye upon the people of God.

      Thirdly, In the next place let us enquire into the properties and qualities of this new creature, and shew you, as we are able, what they are; yet, reader, expect not here an exact and accurate account of that which is so great a mystery; for if questions may be moved about a silly fly, which may puzzle the greatest philosopher to resolve them; how much more may we conceive this great and marvellous work of God, the most mysterious and admirable of all his works, to surmount the understandings of the most illuminated Christians? O how little do we know of the nature, properties, and operations of this new creature! So far as God has revealed it to our weak understandings, we may speak of it. And,

      First, The scripture speaks of it as a thing of great difficulty to be conceived by man, John 3: 8. "The wind bloweth where it listed, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: So is every one that is born of the Spirit." The original of winds is a question of great difficulty in philosophy: We hear the voice of the wind, feel its mighty force, and behold its strange effects; but neither know whence it comes, or whither it goes. Ask a man, Do you hear the wind blow? Yes. Do you feel it blow? Yes, very sensibly. Do you see the effects of it, rending and overturning the trees? Yes, very plainly. But can you describe its nature, or declare its original? No, that is a mystery which I do not understand. Why just so it is with him that is born of the Spirit. The holy Spirit of God, whose nature and operations we understand but little of, comes from heaven, quickens and influences our souls, beats down and mortifies our lusts by his Almighty Power: These effects of the Spirit in us we experimentally feel, and sensibly discern: But how the Spirit of God first entered into, and quickened our souls, and produced this new creature in them, we understand little more of it than how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, Eccles. 11: 5. Therefore is the life of the new creature called a hidden life, Col. 3: 3. The nature of that life is not only hidden totally from all carnal men, but in a very great measure it is hidden and unknown life unto spiritual men, though themselves be the subjects of it.

      Secondly, But though this life of the new creature be a great mystery, and secret in some respects; yet so far as it is known, and appears unto us, the new creature is the most beautiful and lovely creature that ever God made; for the beauty of the Lord himself is upon it: "The new man is created after God", Eph. 4: 24. As the picture is drawn after the man, it is a draught of God himself delineated by the Spirit, that admirable Artist, upon the soul of man. Holiness is the beauty and glory of God; and in holiness the new creature is created after God's own image, Col. 3: 10. The regenerate soul hereby becomes holy, 1 John 3: 3. not essentially holy, as God is, nor yet efficiently holy; for the regenerate soul can neither make itself, nor others holy: But the life of the new creature may be said to resemble the life of God in this, that as God lives to himself, so the new creature wholly lives to God; as God loves holiness, and hates the contrary, so does the new creature; it is in these things formed after the image of God that created it. When God creates this creature in the soul of man, we are said then to be "partakers of the divine nature," 2 Pet. 1: 4. So that there can be nothing communicated unto men which beautifies and adorns their souls as this new creation does: Men do not resemble God as they are noble, and as they are rich, but as they are holy: no gift, no endowment of nature embellishes the soul as this new creature does: An awful Majesty sits upon the brow of the new creature, commanding the greatest and worst of men to do homage to it, Mark 6: 20. Yea, such is the beauty of the new creature, that Christ, its author, is also its admirer, Cant. 4: 2. "Thou hast ravished mine heart with one of thine eyes."

      Thirdly, This new creature is created in man, upon the highest design that ever any work of God was wrought: the end of its creation and infusion is high and noble: salvation to the soul in which it is wrought; this is both the finis operis, and the finis operantis: It is the design both of the work and of the workman that wrought it. When we receive the end of our faith, we receive the salvation of our souls; salvation is the end of faith: as death is the end of sin, so life eternal is the end of grace. The new creature does, by the instinct and steady direction of its own nature, take its course as directly to God, and to heaven, the place of its full enjoyment, as the rivers do to the ocean; it declares itself to be made for God, by its restless workings after him; and as salvation is the end of the new creature, so it is the express design and end of him that created it. 2 Cor. 5: 5. "Now he that has wrought us for the self same thing, is God;" by this workmanship of his upon our souls, he is now polishing, preparing, and "making them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," Col. 1: 12.

      Fourthly, This new creation is the most necessary work that ever God wrought upon the soul of man: the eternal well being of his soul depends upon it; and without it no man shall see God, Heb. 12: 14. and John 1: 3, 5. "Except ye be regenerate, and born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God." Can you be saved without Christ? You know you cannot. Can you have interest in Christ without the new creature? My text expressly tells you it can never be; for, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." O reader, whatever slight thoughts of this matter, and with what a careless and unconcerned eye soever thou readest these lines; yet know thou must either be a new creature, or a miserable and damned creature for ever. If civility without the new creature could save thee, why are not the moral Heathens saved also? If strictness of life without the new creature could save thee, why did it not save the Scribes and Pharisees also? If an high profession of religion without the new creature can save thee, why did it not save Judas, Hymenaeus and Philetus also? Nothing is more evident than this, that no repentance, obedience, self-denial, prayers, tears, reformations or ordinances, without the new creation, avail any thing to the salvation of thy soul: The very blood of Christ himself, without the new creature, never did, and never will save any man. Oh how necessary a work is the new creation! "Circumcision avails nothing, and uncircumcision nothing: but a new creature."

      Fifthly, The new creature is a marvellous and wonderful creature: there are many wonders in the first creation, "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein," Psal. 111: 2. But there are no wonders in nature, like those in grace. Is it not the greatest wonder that ever was seen in the world, (except the incarnation of the Son of God) to see the nature and temper of man so altered and changed as it is by grace? to see lascivious Corinthians, and idolatrous Ephesians, become mortified and heavenly Christians? to see a fierce and cruel persecutor, become a glorious confessor and sufferer for Christ? Gal. 1: 23. to see the carnal mind of man, which was lately fully set in a strong bent to the world, to be wholly taken off from its lusts, and set upon things that are spiritual and heavenly? Certainly it was not a greater miracle to see dead Lazarus come out of his sepulchre, than it is to see the dead and carnal mind coming out of its lusts to embrace Jesus Christ; it was not a greater wonder to see the dead and dry bones in the valley to move and come together, than it is to see a dead soul moving after God, and moving to Christ in the way of faith.

      Sixthly, The new creature is an immortal creature, a creature that shall never see death, John 4: 14. it is in the soul of man, a well of water, springing up unto eternal life. I will not adventure to say, it is immortal in its own nature, for it is but a creature, as my text calls it; and we know, that essential interminability is the in communicable property of God: The new creature has both a beginning and succession; and therefore might also have an end, as to any thing in itself, or its own nature. Experience also shows us, that it is capable both of increasing and decreasing, and may be brought nigh into death, Rev. 3: 2. The work of the Spirit in believers, may be ready to die; but though its perpetuity flow not out of its own nature, it flows out of God's covenant and promises, which make it an immortal creature: when all other excellencies in man go away, as at death they will, Job 4: 21. this excellency only remains: our gifts may leave us, our friends leave us, our estates leave us, but our graces will never leave us; they ascend with the soul (in which they inhere) into glory, when the stroke of death separates it from the body.

      Seventhly, The new creature is an heavenly creature; "It is not born of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God," John 1: 13. its descent and original is heavenly, it is spirit born of spirit, John 3: 6. its centre is heaven, and thither are all its tendencies, Psal. 63: 8. its proper food, on which it lives, are heavenly things, Psal. 4: 6, 7. It cannot feed, as other creatures do, upon earthly things; the object of all its delight and love is in heaven, Psal. 123: 26. "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" The hopes and expectations of the new creature are all from heaven; it looks for little in this world, but waits for the cooling of the Lord. The life of the new creature upon earth, is a life of patient waiting for Christ; his desires and longings are after heaven, Phil. 1: 93. The flesh indeed lingers, and would delay, but the new creature hastens, and would fain be gone, 2 Cor. 5: 2. It is not at home whilst it is here; it came from heaven, and cannot be quiet, nor suffer the soul, in which it dwells, to be so, until it comes thither again.

      Eighthly, The new creature is an active and laborious creature; no sooner is it born, but it is acting in the soul. Acts 9: 6. Behold he prayeth! Activity is its very nature. Gal. 5: 25 "If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit." Nor is it to be admired, that it should be always active and stirring in the soul, seeing activity in obedience was the very end for which it was created. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works," Eph. 2: 10. and he that is acted in the duties of religion, by this principle of the new creature, or nature, will (so far as that principle acts him) delight to do the will of God; rejoice in the way of his commandment, and find the sweetest pleasure in the paths of duty.

      Ninthly, The new creature is a thriving creature, growing from strength to strength, 1 Pet. 2: 2. and changing the soul in which it is subjected, from glory unto glory, 2 Cor. 3: 18. The vigorous tendencies, and constant striving of this new creature, are to attain its just perfection and maturity, Phil. 3: 11. It can endure no stints and limits to its desire, short of perfection; every degree of strength it attains, does but whet and sharpen its desires after higher degrees: Upon this account, it greatly delights in the ordinances of God, duties of religion, and society of the saints; as they are helps and improvements to it, in order to its great design.

      Tenthly, The new creature, is a creature of wonderful preservations: There are many wonders of divine providence in the preservation of our natural lives, but none like those whereby the life of the new creature is preserved in our souls: There are critical times of temptation and desertion, in which it is ready to die, Rev. 3: 2. the degrees of its strength and liveliness, are sometimes sadly abated, and its sweet and comfortable workings intermitted, Rev. 2: 4. the evidences by which its being in us was wont to be discovered, may be, and often are darkened, 2 Pet. 1: 9. and the soul in which it is may draw very sad conclusions about the issue and event; concluding its life not only to be hazarded, but quite extinguished, Psal. 51: 10, 11, 12. but though it be ready to die, God wonderfully preserves it from death; it has as well its reviving, as its fainting seasons. And thus you see, what are the lovely and eximious properties of the new creature. In the next place,

      Fourthly, We will demonstrate the necessity of this new creation to all that are in Christ, and by him expect to attain salvation; and the necessity of the new creature will appear divers ways.

      First, From the positive and express will of God, revealed in scripture, touching this matter: Search the scriptures, and you shall find God has laid the whole stress and weight of your eternal happiness, by Jesus Christ, upon this work of the Spirit in your souls. So our Saviour tells Nicodemus, John 3: 5. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Agreeable whereunto are those words of the apostle, Heb. 12: 14. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." And whereas some may think, that their birth-right privileges, enjoyment of ordinances, and profession of religion, may commend them to God's acceptance, without this new creation; he shews then how fond and ungrounded all such hopes are. Gal. 6: 15. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Christ and heaven are the gifts of God, and he is at liberty to bestow them, upon what terms and conditions he pleaseth: and this is the way, the only way, and stated method in which he will bring men, by Christ, unto glory. Men may raze out the impressions of these things from their own hearts, but they can never alter the settled course and method of salvation. Either we must be new creatures, as the precept of the word command us, or lost, and damned creatures, as the threatenings of the word plainly tell us.

      Secondly, This new creation, is the inchoative part of that great salvation which we expect through Christ, and therefore, without this, all hopes and expectations of salvation must vanish. Salvation, and renovation, are inseparably connected. Our glory in heaven, if we rightly understand its nature, consisteth in two things; namely, our assimilation to God, and our fruition of God: and both these take their beginning and rise from our renovation in this world. Here we begin to be changed into his image, in some degree, 2 Cor. 3: 18 for the new man is created after God, as was opened above. In the work of grace, God is said to begin that good work, which is to be finished, or consummated, in the day of Christ, Phil. 1: 6. Now nothing can be more irrational, than to imagine that ever that design, or work should be finished or perfected, which never had a beginning.

      Thirdly, So necessary is the new creation to all that expect salvation by Christ, that without this, heaven would be no heaven, and the glory thereof no glory to us, by reason of the unsuitableness and aversion of our carnal minds hereunto; "The carnal mind is enmity against God", Rom. 8: 7. and enmity is exclusive of all complacency and delight. There is a necessity of a suitable and agreeable frame of heart to God, in order to that complacential rest of our souls in him: And this agreeable temper is wrought by our new creation. 2 Cor. 5: 5. "He that has wrought us for the self-same thing, is God." Renovation, you see, is the working or moulding of a man's spirit into an agreeable temper, or as it is in Col. 1: 12. the making of us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

      From all which, it follows, that seeing there can be no complacence, or delight in God, without suitableness and conformity to him, as it is plain, from 1 John 3: 2. as well as from the reason and nature of the thing itself; either God must become like us, suitable to our sinful, corrupt and vain hearts, which were but a rude blasphemy once to imagine; or else we must be made agreeable and suitable to God, which is the very thing I am now proving the necessity of.

      Fourthly, There is an absolute necessity of the new creature to all that expect interest in Christ, and the glory to come, since all the characters, marks, and signs of such an interest, are constantly taken from the new creature wrought in us. Look over all the marks and signs of interest in Christ, or salvation by him, which are dispersed through the scriptures, and you shall still find purity of heart, Mat. 5: 8. Holiness both in principle and practice, Heb. 12: 14. Mortification of sin, Rom. 8: 13. Longing for Christ's appearance, 2 Tim. 4: 8. with multitudes more of the same nature, to be constantly made the marks and signs of our salvation by Christ. So that either we must have a new bible, or a new heart; for if these scriptures be the true and faithful words of God, no unrenewed creature can see his face; which was the fourth thing to be opened.

      Fifthly, The last thing to be opened is, how the new creation is an infallible proof and evidence of the soul's interest in Christ; and this will appear divers ways.

      First, Where all the saving graces of the Spirit are, there interest in Christ must needs be certain; and where the new creature is, there all the saving graces of the Spirit are: For what is the new creature but the frame or system of all special saving graces? It is not this or that particular grace, as faith, or hope, or love to God, which constitutes the new creature; for these are but as so many particular limbs or branches of it; but the new creature is comprehensive of all the graces of the Spirit, Gal. 5: 22, 28. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," &c. Any one of the saving, special graces of the Spirit gives proof of our interest in Christ: how much more, then, the new creature, which is the complex frame or system of all the graces together?

      Secondly, To conclude; Where all the causes of an interest in Christ are found, and all the effects and fruits of an interest in Christ do appear; there, undoubtedly, a real interest in Christ is found: but wherever you find a new creature, you find all the causes and all the facets of an interest in Christ: For there you shall find,

      First, The impulsive cause, viz. The electing love of God, from which the new creature is inseparable, 1 Pet. 1: 2. with the new creature also, the meritorious, efficient, and final causes of interest in Christ, and union with him, are ever found, Eph. 2: 10. chap. 1: 4, 5, 6.

      Secondly, All the collects and fruits of interest in Christ are found in the new creature; there are all the fruits of obedience, for we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, Eph. 2: 10. Rom. 7: 4. there is true spiritual opposition to sin. 1 John 5: 18. "He that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." There is love to the people of God; 1 John 4: 7. "Every one that loveth is born of God." There is a conscientious respect to the duties of both tables; for the new creature is created after God in righteousness and true holiness, Eph. 4: 25. There is perseverance in the ways of God to the very end, and victory over all temptations; for whosoever is born of God, overcometh the world, 1 John 5: 4. It were easy to run over all other particular fruits of our union with Christ, and shew you every one of them in the new creature. And thus much of the doctrinal part of this point.

Back to John Flavel index.

See Also:
   The Epistle To The Reader
   Sermon 1
   Sermon 2
   Sermon 3
   Sermon 4
   Sermon 5
   Sermon 6
   Sermon 7
   Sermon 8
   Sermon 9
   Sermon 10
   Sermon 11
   Sermon 12
   Sermon 13
   Sermon 14
   Sermon 15
   Sermon 16
   Sermon 17
   Sermon 18
   Sermon 19
   Sermon 20
   Sermon 21
   Sermon 22
   Sermon 23
   Sermon 24
   Sermon 25
   Sermon 26
   Sermon 27
   Sermon 28
   Sermon 29
   Sermon 30
   Sermon 31
   Sermon 32
   Sermon 33
   Sermon 34
   Sermon 35


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