Taken and adapted from, “The whole Works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood,”
Vol. 5, Chapter 2, The Nature of a New Creature.
Written by, Oliver Heywood.
Edited for thought and sense.
…by the word and Spirit of God, changing the whole man from its old state and course, and thereby transforming it into the divine likeness, and conforming the heart and life to the rule of the word, for the glory of God, and the soul’s present and everlasting communion with him: this is the new creature.
But I cannot leave out any of its parts. Therefore, I shall very briefly discuss the branches of this description.
With respect to the general nature of it, I call it a supernatural work, for it is above the power of nature to produce it, it comes from above; so he that is ” born again,” John 3:3, is γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, “from above.” This perfect gift “comes down from the Father of lights, “James 1:7. The “Jerusalem that is above is the mother of us all,” Gal. 4:26. This new creature is no herb that grows in nature’s garden; it is a plant of paradise: “Flesh and blood cannot so much as reveal this to the sons of men,” Matt. 16:17.
Therefore it is no wonder if learned doctors, such as Nicodemus, laugh at such doctrine, as whimsical fancies, and say, ” How can these things be?” John 3:9. Or, like Ezekiel’s hearers, who saith, “Ah, Lord God, they say of me. Doth he not speak parables?” Ezek. XX. 49. For “such wisdom is too high for a fool,” Prov. 24:7. In “God’s light only shall we see light.” Experience is the best master in these cases. “We speak wisdom,” saith the apostle, “among them that are perfect; but the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God,” 1 Cor. 2:6, 14.. This new creature is of a celestial origin, and must have a heavenly interpreter.
In this description, we have the particular nature of this new creature; I speak of it as originating in gospel grace. It is no branch or fruit of the old covenant of works, for the law makes nothing perfect: “There was no law which could give life,” Gal. 3:2, 21, 22, but the new testament dispensation, called the promise; this only produces the new creation.
But you may say, had not old testament saints this new creature?
Doth not David say, “create in me a clean heart ?” Psalm 51:10. I answer, Old testament saints had a new testament spirit; for “they without us could not be made perfect,” Heb. 11:40. The same gospel belonged to them and us, and was preached to both, Heb. 4:2; Abraham saw Christ’s day, they all partook of gospel grace, John 8:56, both in justification and sanctification; as having but a different edition of the same gospel covenant; they were as children in minority under tutors and governors. Gal. 4:1, 2, 25; but gospel saints are as children at age; their state was that of the bond woman of mount Sinai ; ours is of Jerusalem, which is free. However, that gospel promise, made known in the old testament, belongs both to them and us; Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” This is the uniform, evangelical result under both dispensations; and sincere believers of old had experience of it, though the veil was on the face of Moses, 2 Cor. 3:14, 15; and on the hearts of carnal Jews, as it is on all unbelievers to this day; but gospel grace renews the soul.
Here is the subject, in which this new creature is formed, and that is the soul or heart of a sinner. Here is the seat and center of this new creation; it is not merely external in the eye, or foot, or hand, or tongue ; but it is an internal work in the soul, the Christian ” is renewed in the spirit of his mind,” Eph. 4:23 ; “Behold,” saith David, “you desire truth in the inward parts; in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom,” Psalm 51:6 ; it is called, ” the hidden man of the heart,” 1 Pet. 3:4. Not but that it discovers itself in lip and life; but the root and spring lie under ground, out of the view of men, as the best treasures are locked up, not exposed to the open view of the world. “A Christian’s life is hid with Christ in God,” Col. 3:3 : hence they are called, ” God’s hidden ones,” Psalm 83:3 : and “the king’s daughter is all glorious within,” Psalm 45:13. These gracious souls are like kings in disguise, and it “doth not yet appear what they shall be, “1 John 3:2; but when the shell is broken, the pearl will appear ; all external changes in men are but as the change of the clothes; this is the change of the man and his manners; for “he is not a Jew that is one outwardly, but inwardly.” Right “circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit,not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God,” Rom. 2:28, 29. It is wrought by God, and known to God, who alone searches and sees the heart.
The instrumental, or organic cause of this new man, is the word of God
Rom. 1:16, this is “the power of God to salvation.” James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth.” 1 Pet. 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth for ever.” The word is the seed, which being sown in the heart, springs up in obedience, which is the flower and visible product of the new creature. This is properly the gospel word; Moses or the law may bring us to the borders, but Joshua leads us into Canaan; the terrors of the law prepare the way, as John Baptist did, but the word of the gospel is the door of faith, which admits souls, and leads them into the chamber of presence; it is God’s method, to form this new man by a powerful gospel ministry; so saith blessed Paul, 1 Cor. 4:15, “I have begotten you in Jesus Christ through the gospel;” there is the instrument, Paul, I have begotten you; the means, by the gospel; the author, Jesus Christ. “Faith comes by hearing,” Rom. 10:17. Prov. 8:34. Therefore let all continue at the gates of wisdom, expect not this new creation, if you turn your backs on God’s institutions.
The efficient cause is the Holy Ghost
“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us,” Rom. 5:5. O what a gracious impression doth the Spirit leave upon our hearts! what a sweet perfume doth it breathe into them, causing our love to God and men! How doth this new creature occupy all the faculties of the soul through the operation of the Spirit? This is both a seal and an earnest, “who hath also sealed us,” Eph. 1:13, 14; “and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,” 2 Cor. 1:22.
All good is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, especially this saving good of conversion; we are “born again of water and of the Spirit,”John 3:3, 8; “sanctified by the Spirit, and are temples of the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. 6:11, 19.
Nothing can search or reach the heart but the Holy Ghost
“The Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God,” 1 Cor. 2:10, “and deep things of men.” An angel is too short-sighted to see into man’s heart, too short-handed to reach the conscience, or make a new creation ; God alone turns stone into flesh ; “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem,” Gen. 9:27. It is an act of power to make people willing, Psalm 110:3, or volunteers. ” No man can come to Christ, except the Father which sent him, draw him,” John 6: 44. And God exerts the power of his Spirit to attract hearts to himself.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Oliver Heywood, third son of Richard Heywood, yeoman, by his first wife, Alice Critchlaw, was born at Little Lever, near Bolton, Lancashire, in March 1630.
In religious matters he was much influenced by the preaching of Samuel Hammond and joined with other students in a kind of religious club which met in the “garret-chamber” of Thomas Jollie. In 1650 he graduated Bachelor of Arts and soon began to preach; his first sermon was delivered at a village in the neighbourhood of Preston, Lancashire. By his uncle, Francis Critchlaw, he was recommended as preacher at Coley Chapel, near the village of Northowram, in the parish of Halifax, West Riding. He accepted this post, with a stipend of £30, on 26 November 1650, and refused an offer of Houghton Chapel, Lancashire. Though under the regular age, he was ordained on 4 August 1652 at Bury, Lancashire, by the second presbyterian classis of that county. His younger brother, Nathaniel, was minister at Illingworth Chapel, in the same parish of Halifax, and the two lived together in 1654 at Godley House.
Heywood removed to Northowram on his marriage in 1655. For many years before his settlement there had been no administration of Communion at Coley; he restored a monthly celebration in 1655, connecting it in 1657 with the introduction of church discipline in the presbyterian way. Hitherto his parishioners had been united in attachment to his ministry; the discipline divided them, and ‘sincere Christians’ became his ‘greatest trouble;’ his communion list reached seventy-three names. He persevered against opposition, declining calls to one of the two churches of St. Martin, York, and to the vicarage of Preston.
Heywood was a royalist presbyterian, and though he took no part in the insurrection under George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer, he disobeyed the order requiring a public thanksgiving for its suppression, and was accordingly apprehended and threatened with sequestration in August 1659. On the news that Monck had declared for the king, he breaks out in his diary into a psalm of praise. With the Restoration, however, his serious troubles began. Richard Hooke, the new vicar of Halifax, prohibited baptism in the outlying chapelries. Heywood continued to baptise, making his peace by sending the customaryperquisites to the vicar. On 23 January 1661 his ‘private fast’ was stopped by authority. Among his parishioners an influential party, headed by Stephen Ellis of Hipperholme, the man of most substance in the chapelry, was in favour of the resumption of the prayer-book. A copy was accordingly laid on the pulpit cushion on 25 August 1661. Heywood quietly set it aside. At the instigation of Ellis, Heywood was cited to York on 13 September, After several hearings his suspension from ministering in the diocese of York was published on 29 June 1662 in Halifax Church. For two or three Sundays he persisted in preaching; within a month of the taking effect of the Uniformity Act (24 August 1662) he was excommunicated, the sentence of excommunication being publicly read in Halifax Church on 2 November, in the parish church of Bolton, Lancashire, on 4 January 1663, and again at Halifax on 3 December 1663. Hence attempts were made to exclude him from churches, even as a hearer; while, on the other hand, Ellis, as churchwarden, claimed fines for his non-attendance at Coley Chapel, under the statute of Elizabeth. John Angier, his father-in-law, admitted him to the communion at Denton Chapel, Lancashire; on 5 June 1664 he preached, by the vicar’s invitation, in the parish church of Mottram-in-Longen Dale, Cheshire; and on 13 August 1665 he preached at Shadwell Chapel, near Leeds, Hardcastle, the minister, being then in prison for nonconformity.
The last ten years of Heywood’s life were somewhat troubled by symptoms of declining orthodoxy in some of his coadjutors. He maintained his own evangelistic work with unimpaired vigour till the close of 1699. In 1700 his health broke; asthma confined him to Northowram. From 5 December 1701 he was carried to his meeting-house in a chair. He died at Northowram on Monday, 4 May 1702, and was buried in a side chapel of Halifax Church, known as ‘ Holdsworth’s works,’ in his mother’s grave.