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We apprehend one way of it, to be through the expulsive power of a new affection to dispossess an old one from the heart. You cannot destroy your love of sin, by a simple act of extermination. You cannot thus bid away from your bosom, one of its dearest and oldest favourites. Our moral nature abhors the vacuum that would be formed, by an old affection taking its departure from the chambers of the inner man, without any new affection to succeed it. The former favourite will retain his place and his ascendancy there, till he is supplanted by a new one, ready to take up his room, and to give the sensation of full and wellliked
company—so as not to leave the heart in a state of dreary and woful abandonment. It is thus that the man who feels his only portion to be on earth, and that heaven is hopelessly beyond his reach, resigns himself to the full and undivided sway of earthly affections.
He cannot bid them away from him. They cleave to him with a tenacity and a power of adherence, that nothing but the mastery of a new affection can possibly overcome; and whence, if heaven is impregnably shut against him, whence can he fetch the instrument that will drive out the legion of earthly feelings and earthly desires and earthly idolatries, which now lord it over him, and have established the empire and tyranny of sin within the confines of his moral and spiritual nature ? Let it be his feeling that heaven is unattainable; and this will chill and discourage within him all longing for the enjoyments that are there---so that his love of the enjoyments which are here, will keep undisturbed
possession of his soul and give the character and the colour of atheism to all its movements. He will live without God in the world; and never till the favour of God be made accessible to him never till the joys of the upper Paradise are placed within his reach—never till the barrier be thrown down, which defends his approaches to the happy world that lies in the distant futurity away from him-never till then will the powers of the world that is to come carry it over the pleasures of the world that is present, and by which he is immediately surrounded. The old affections will cleave and keep their obstinate and undisputed hold, just because the proper engine is not brought into contact with the heart, and which can alone avail for the dispossession of them. They will not give way at a simple mandate from the chair of reason or philosophy; and nothing can expel them from the bosom—but the powerful and victorious rivalship of new affections sent into the heart, from new objects placed within the grasp either of certain or of possible attainment.
Now the death of Christ is the breaking down of the else insuperable barrier. It has fetched other objects from afar, and placed them within the attainment of sinful man, and presented them to his free choice, and brought the delights of eternity to his very door—so that, if he just have faith to perceive them, he is brought into the very condition, that, by the bias of his moral and sentient nature, is most favourable to the extinction of old appetites, and that just by the intruding and dispossessing power of a new one.
The things that are above now lie at his door for acceptance, and are urgently soliciting admittance within the repositories of his heart, and we may now bid him set his whole affection on the things that are above —which if he does, like the rod of Aaron, it will swallow up all his subordinate and earthly desires; and he will henceforth cease to set his affections upon the things that are beneath. Let him just by faith look upon himself as crucified with Christ; and then he will have got over that wall of separation, which stood between him and a joyful immortality. That spiritual and everlasting death, which is the natural doom of every sinner, is now as good as traversed, and got over by him—for, in the person of his dying Saviour with whom he stands associated in the whole power and effect of His atonement, he has already borne the whole weight of this condemnation ; and there is now nothing between him and that heaven, all the felicities and glories of which have now entered into competition with the world and its evanescent gratificationsAnd it is thus that the world is disarmed of its power of sinful temptation. It is thus that the cross of Christ crucifies the world unto you, and you into the world. It is thus that sin receives its death-blow, by its old mastery over the heart being dethroned and done away, through the still more commanding mastery of other affections, which it is now competent for man to have, because the objects of them are now placed within the reach of his attainment. It is thus that the cross of Christ, by the same mighty and decisive stroke wherewith it has moved the curse of sin away
also moves away
and the love of sin from over us.
And we no longer mind earthly things, just because better things are now within our offer, and our conversation is in heavenwhence we also look for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
And this is in perfect analogy with other and most familiar exhibitions of our nature, in the scenes of business and ordinary affairs. just conceive a man embarked, with full and earnest ambition, on some humble walk of retail merchandise—whose mind is wholly taken up through the year, with the petty fluctuations that are taking place in prices and profits and customers; but who nevertheless is regaled by the annual examination of particulars at the end of it, with the view of some snug addition to his old accumulations. You can figure how the heart of such a man, may be engrossed with the play of all those anxieties and feelings and mental appetites, which are incidental to such a condition—how wedded he is to his own little concern-how watchful of the turns and movements that may affect its prosperity, and, withal, how complacently he cherishes the anticipation of that decent competency, which forms the all that he has learned to aspire after. You must see how impossible it were to detach the affections of this individual from the objects and the interests of this his favourite course, by a simple demonstration of their vanity; and with what moral tenacity he would cleave to the pursuits of his present gainfulness; and what a mighty and peculiar force were necessary, to disengage him from the
operations of that counter over which there was unceasingly kept up the most agreeable play that was within the reach of his ever arriving at. But just suppose, that, in some way or other, this reach were greatly extended; and, either some splendid property, or some sublime walk of high and hopeful adventure, were placed within his attainment; and the visions of a far more glorious affluence were to pour a light into his mind, which greatly overpassed and so eclipsed all the fairness of those homelier prospects that he wont to indulge in—Is it not clear to all your discernments that the old affection which he could never get rid of by simple annihilation, will come to be annihilated, and that simply by giving place to the new one—that the field of employment from which no force could have torn him, he now willingly abandons, and that just for the more alluring field on which he has been invited to enter—that the meaner ambition has now disappeared from his bosom, and just because the loftier ambition has overborne it—that the game in which he aspired after hundreds is now given over, and just because a likelier game of many thousands has enticed him away from it—that the worship he formerly rendered to an idol of brass is now renounced, and just because seduced from it by the superior fascination of that worship which he is now rendering to an idol of gold? Do not you see from this, how it is that the higher idolatry has superseded the lower; and also how it is, that both idolatries are to be extinguished—how it is that if we had only faith to realise the magnificence of eternity, and to believe that through the death of