Images de page

kingdom of God, he admitted to divine favor, accepted with, nor obedient to him.

Ou Lord's declarations upon this head, can stand in need of no coroborating support. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, 66 except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." God works "in us both to will and to do of his own good plea66 sure. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing of "ourselves." How could persons be said to be born of God, raised from death to life, made new creatures, &c. was there not an exertion of almighty and immediate power in the renovation or regeneration of the heart.

The constant objection to this doctrine of the new birth, by a certain class of christians is, that it reduces men to mere machines, and renders them not superior to stocks and stones. To this it is answered, when man fell, he lost none of the natural faculties of his soul, but only holiness of heart, or the moral image of God. Now, in regeneration, there is no rational power given to the mind, no increase of the natural faculties; these remain afterwards strong or weak, as before; only a holy principle or the restoration of the divine image. To regenerate a machine, a stock or stone, it must first be made a rational and intelligent being, and then this principle of holiness, stiled regeneration, must be superadded to this intelligence. Yea, it is true, God, of the stones could raise up seed unto Abraham, but this is not his plan of operation in this world, but to renew and recover sinners to himself, regenerate rational creatures, and form them for glory.. Therefore, regeneration is a well of water opened in the soul by the power of God, which he will maintain unto life eternal. "The water, that I shall give him," says Christ, "shall "be in him a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life."

A few inferences will close the discourse.

First, We infer that regeneration is not a mere change of the

natural temper and disposition; this may be the case without any supernatural principle of grace implanted in the heart. A gay and lively temper may be changed into a sober and melancholy one; a choloric spirit may be reduced to apparent ineekness; a proud and haughty mind brought down to humility, &c. A thousand changes of this sort may take place, from common provi dences, alteration of worldly circumstances, or some invisible impulses on the mind, which have nothing in them of the nature of the change wrought in regeneration. Persons may have great convictions, and great terrors, and be frighted from evil courses for a time, yet no gracious or radical change in the complexion of their souls. May God ever save us from self-deception, and dispose us to examine and be jealous of ourselves!

Secondly, We infer, there can be no christian good works, or acceptable obedience, until the sinner is regenerated. Without regeneration there can be no saving faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. While unregenerate is the state of sinners, hear what the scriptures say of all their imaginary goodness. "Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing "pure-being abominable and disobedient, and to every good "work reprobate." Nothing avails until the soul is renewed; "Neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, "but the new creature." The tree must be good, before the fruit can be good. Good works, in the view of the heart searching God, must flow from good principles.

Thirdly, We infer, that wherever the principle of regeneration comes into existence, good works will in some measure shine forth in a common, habitual, though not in a perfect way, in the life. Hence they, who are created in Christ Jesus, are created unto good works. Therefore, the spirit and evidence of regeneration is an holy conversation. If a decent, godly, and christian practice does not follow from this supposed change, we should be very guarded against conclusions of comfort..


A Fourth inference, is, that without being born again, no participation of eternal life. "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. There shall in no wise enter into that kingdom, any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomina❝tion, or maketh a lie; but they whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

A Fifth inference, is, that this subject commands peculiar searchings of heart. Principles are only known by their effects. Hence we should enquire, if we have received the principle of regeneration what effects hath it produced? Hath it produced love to God and our neighbour, repentance of sin, faith in. the gospel, and holy living?

Those who hope they have been regenerated, their souls ought to be filled with praise and gratitude to God, and with purposes of new and holy obedience.

Those who have reason to apprehend they are not alarm and terror ought to possess their hearts. Consider your exposure to eternal wrath. Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.




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

THESE words are a description of a renewed man. They give us an account of the principle regeneration, in its primary exercises and effects. Natural life is the foundation of living actions, so the new birth is the foundation of holy views, new dispositions, and a godly practice. The character here attributed to the man in Christ, is that he is a new creature. This language is strong and emphatical, and must certainly be great in its signification. The Apostle never used swelling words of vanity, nor did he dress up sentiments of small moment in language of high import.

The observation in our text, is plainly an inference from the preceding discourse. The zeal the Apostle had discovered for the interest of Christ, and the salvation of souls, had brought upon him the imputation of enthusiasm, and that he was beside himself. Hence he replies to this groundless charge, "For "whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether we "be sober it is for your cause." He begs to be excused, if he appeared peculiarly warm in the cause of the gospel. "For the

"love of Christ," says he, "constraineth us." Our apprehensions of the importance of divine things, of the love and condescension of the Son of God in our redemption, and our obligations to be devoted to him in all holy service to the utmost, therefore, we cannot but act agreeably to our judgment, and lay out ourselves faithfully for the souls of men, whatever aspect it may have upon our reputation, or temporal advantages. And this, in a measure, is the case with all those who are renewed and in Christ Jesus. "Therefore, if any mau be in Christ, he is a 66 new creature, old things are passed away; behold, all things "are become new." These words express a change of heart and of life. If a man will prove himself to be a christian, he must be a new creature. Not only must they assume a new name, make a new profession, take up a new religion, but they must be new in heart, and of a new nature. And this new creature will manifest itself thus, "old things are passed away." Old views, purposes, principles, and practises are passed away. And "behold, all things are become new." The regenerated man imbibes new views of divine realities, new principles, new purposes, and designs engross his mind, and his determination is to act for new ends.

The intention of the present discourse, is to show some of the immediate effects of the renovating principle, before we enter upon a large description of the particular graces which constitute the christian character.

The immediate effects are in adult persons, an holy illumination of the understanding, and a new bias of the will. Some have considered these as essential constituents of regeneration itself. And it is certain, they can in no other way be distinguished from it, but as philosophically we distinguish a principle from its operation, a substratem from its modes and qualities. Operation we experience and feel-but principle we know, nothing of but by its effects. No man could know he lived by the mere abstract principle of life, but its operation assures him that

« PrécédentContinuer »