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And to the fame purpose our apostle bespeaks the Colofsians, Col. iii. 2, 3, 4. Set your affections on things above, not on things below. For ye are dead, (you profess to be dead to the world) and (if you are really fo) your life (your better life) is hid- with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then i shall ye also appear with him in glory.
The spiritual mind is itself a meetness for heaven.. As it is of heavenly, descent, so it tends towards heaven. While the carnal mind. in its progress is ripening for hell, the renew-. ed temper makes a man." meet for the inhe-ritance among the Saints in light." Such a man has his heart, and thoughts, and pursuits, , directed to the same objects, which make the happiness of heaven ; only they are seen and. enjoyed in the other world after the manner of heaven. The same God, the same Re-. deemer, the same holiness, which the christian chiefly pursues now, will make the felicity of the future state : only we shall then know these · objects even as we are known, 1. Cor. xiii. 12.
And those who have their minds thus fet, , have the beginnings and pledges of everlasting life. The spirit is in them as a well of water springing up into everlasting life," John, iv. 14. He is an «6 earnest of the inheritance,” Eph. i. 13, 14. As far as they are spiritual- . ized, they have heaven brought down into . their fouls; the same temper formed there in . part which gloriously shines in the inhabitants of the upper world, and therefore may pro- . perly be called glory begun : besides which, to some of his servants. God has vouchfafed
füch fore-taftes of the land of Canaan, while they were in the wilderness, such refreshing views of his love and favour, as have carried them for a while in : appearance above thre world, enabled them to rejoice in tribulation, and to long to depart and to be with Christ.
Now certainly a mind, intitled to life by divine promise, 'made. meet for it by divine grace, and into which God is used to let down. somewhat of heaven now, cannot fail to issue in everlasting life.
I will close with some reflections.
1. We may justly fix this in our minds, as the principal and most important distin&tion which can be among men"; the carnal and the fpiritual mind.. Other differences make a far louder sound, and draw more general attention. Diftinctions made by wealth and honour, by beauty or wit, by learning or by party, names, have many more observers and admirers. But tho’ the kingdom of God comes without obfervation, and is chiefly within men ; yet as far as its authority, and power over the minds of men is discovered by the genuine fruits, it deserves more regard and esteem, than any other peculiarity wherein one can excel another. The queltion for divine approbation will not be, whether men are high or low, learned or unlettered, whether of this or that dividing name among Christians; but whether they mind earihly things, or seek those which are above. A man of low.capacities and circumstances, may be rich in faith, eminently partake of the divine nature, and be an affured. heir of the promise : And how much more excellent and happy is such a man, than: of those who make the most shining figure in life, if by choice and title they have their por-tion only in this world ?
2. We may consider this farther, as the principal thing, wherein one christian is better. than another. People of all parties are apt to. value others most, when they agree with themfelves in bearing the same name of distinction,, in observing the same outward forms of religion, or in maintaining the same speculative. notions. And, without doubt, tho' any merename among christians fignifies little ; yet it. will not pass for a small matter with thofe who are truly devoted to Christ, that they and others should form the justest notions they can of every divine truth, and observe the externals. of religion in the nearest conformity they can: to the rule given them ; . fo far they, who agree best with the standard,, certainly excel others.. But still it is a more vital and im-portant difference, which is made by the de-grees of spiritual-mindednefs. He is the beft. christian, whose foul- is most fully attempered to spiritual things, and hath gone fartheft in: overcoming the remains of a carnal mind, This is the most essential mark of growth in : grace.
3. If we are ready to entertain some high thoughts of ourselves, because we are reasonable creatures, and have the capacities of mind which those of the lower creation are strangers to; it is enough to mortify our pride, to think that this very mind of ours is become carnal. What can the nobler capacity serve for, but
our greater disgrace, and aggravated condem nation, without a suitable improvement ? Better had it been for us, that we had been placed at first in the lowest rank of beings, instead of the rational, if we debase ourselves into the beast, when God has made us men, if our minds are only employed to make provision for the flesh, or to refine upon the gratifications of the body, instead of reaching after and relishing the proper glory and happiness of an immortal spirit.
4. What reason is there to be thankful for that which we commonly call restraining grace? When a carnal mind is fo natural to all, is ftill predominant in most people, and wherever it prevails, has so strong a biass in itself to all that is evil; in what a dismal state would this world be for the present, if it was not for such things, as the biass of a good education, the admonitions of natural conscience, the awe of civil magistracy, the sense of shame from men, the providential preventions of opportunity for doing many evils, or staving off temptations to them ? Such things as these, where a religious fear of God is wanting, are of great service to keep the world in tolerable order at. present :. Without them, we should live in a constant hell upon earth, and one man of a. carnal mind would be a devil to another..
5. When the human apostacy, was sunk fa low, it was unspeakable grace in the great and holy God, to take in hand creatures fo car. nalized, in order to their cure. That he should form a design of their recovery from fuch a degenerate state; in order to it, should. fend his only begotten Son to atone for this: horrid apostacy, and restore his holy Spirit to recover loft fouls to their true taste and primi. tive dispofition. He saw the disorders of our nature to be so great and inveterate, that they would never be set to rights by any hand inferior to his own; that our case was desperate, and past retrieve, if he did not undertake it himself. And therefore, notwithstanding the heniousness of the crime, though he might justly have given up for ever creatures who had ruined themselves; yet, out of his abund-ant grace, he makes our recovery practicable, fets up an all-fufficient physician, and invites us to commit ourselves in his hand for heal. ing. There is glory to God in the highest upon this account ; let us, who are directly concerned, heartily join in the song of praise for this good-will toward men.
6. When a method of cure is settled by a gracious and all-wife God, how much does it lie
upon every one of us in particular to fee that the carnal mind is fubdued in ourselves ! that at least, the mortal symptoms are taken away, that it has no longer the dominion in
Without this change, all our profession of religion is a vain thing ;. we shall only have. a name to live, while really we are dead. Without this, we shall find, in the great day of account, that it had been better for us, if we had never been born, or never poffessed of higher capacities than the brutes, or never fa-: voured with the discoveries of the Gofpel, which shew. us our disease and the way of cure.. Under a conviction therefore of our