Outward reformation only (though of excellent use) is but a new appearance, not a new creature, a change of life, not of the heart; whereas this work we discourse of is a new birth in the understanding and will; it begins at the spirit and descends from thence to the body; it is a sanctification in spirit, soul, and then body.
It is better to mortify one sin than to understand all mysteries…knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell.
The common talk is observing God and reforming the life, but who of a thousand speaks of the necessity of a new nature?
A repenting soul subscribes to God’s will and answers to his call, as the echo to the voice.
Men profess they know the truth; but they know it not in its proper order, in its harmony and use. It leads them not to Christ, it brings not Christ unto them; and so is lifeless and useless. Hence, ofttimes, none are more estranged from the life of God than such as have much notional knowledge of the doctrines of the Scripture.
And then let us never look upon any sin as light and inconsiderable; but be fully persuaded, that the smallest is infinitely heinous in the sight of God, and prejudicial to the souls of men; and that, if we had the right sense of things, we should be as deeply affected with the least irregularities, as now we are with the highest crimes.
A piece of lead, while it is in the lump, can be put to no use, but melt it, and you may then cast it into any mould, and it is made useful. So a heart that is hardened into a lump of sin is good for nothing, but when it is dissolved by repentance, it is useful. A melting heart is fit to pray.
No bridegroom enriches his bride with such honors by marriage, as Christ does; he makes them related to God as their father, and from that day the mighty and glorious angles think it no dishonor to be their servants.
Now it is the case of most sinners to think themselves freest from those sins to which they are most enslaved.
Why does faith act no stronger but because it is clogged with sense? Why does love to God burn no purer but because it is hindered with lust? Original sin incorporates with our graces. As bad lungs cause an asthma or shortness of breath, so original sin having infected our heart, our graces now breathe very faintly.