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not sensuality and riot, impurity and lust, slain their vic. tims, and raised up monuments fraught with moral in. struction in every age? How long is it ago, since Hosea said, “ Whoredom and wine, and new wine take away ( the heart ?»* And since Solonion said of a harlot, “ She hath calt down many wounded, and many strong “ men have been flain by her. Her house is the way to “ hell, going down to the chambers of death ?”+ But though uninspired writers have said this as well as he, nay, though it is visible to all, have men become wise ? Have they shunned the paths of the destroyer? No: we may justly say of the present times, as the Psalmist David said many ages ago, “ This their way is their folly; yet their “ pofterity approve their sayings.” Nothing, nothing will change them, till the Spirit of God rouse and awaken the conscience, powerfully constrain the will, and effec. tually renew the heart.
Hence then it appears, that the new birth is a “ fupernatural change;" it is the effect of the power of God; it is the work of the Holy Ghost. I have been at the more pains to establish this truth, because I am persuaded, that until it be truly received, there may be a form, but there can be nothing of the power of godliness. But we must now vindicate it from the objections and abuse, to which it may be thought liable. There are many who still har. bor in their minds, and sometimes produce in conversation, the objection mentioned by the apostle Paui ; “ Thou wilt “ say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault, for who “ hath resisted his will?"| This, indeed, is the sum of all the objections that ever were, or ever can be offered against it: and I make the short answer of the same apoille; « Nay, but O man! who art thou that repliest against “ God ?” This is but making or imagining an inconsistency between two things, both of which God hath clearly established and inseparably joined in his word. These are, his own power necessary to the change, and our duty in the use of the means; or rather, our sin while continuing at enmity with him and refusing his mercy. * Hof. iv. 11. Prov. vii. 26, 27. Pfal slix. 13.
Il Rom. ix. 19.
I make no scruple to acknowledge, that it is impossible for me; nay, I find no difficulty in supposing, that it is impossible for any finite mind, to point out the bounds between the “dependence” and “activity” of the creature. But though we must ever remember, that it is he alone who can “ bring a clean thing out of an unclean,” yet we know also, that “all have finned and come short of the “ glory of God." We know that “God will be just when " he speaketh, and clear when he judgeth:” that he re. jects with disdain, the impulation of being the author of fin. “Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempt“ ed of God : for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither “ tempteth he any man.”* For our greater assurance of
this, he hath condescended to confirm it by his oath. .“ As I live, faith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the “ death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his “ way and live : turn ye, turn ye, from you evil ways; “ for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?”+ The connexion between this and the former truth appears plainly in the following passage : “ Ye will not come unto me, that “ ye might have life.”I
Perlaps also, there are some who abuse this doctrine to floth and negligence. At least they may pretend this, as an excuse or palliation of their contempt of religion. But is it not an inference directly contrary to what the scrip, ture teaches us much more justly to draw from the same truth, viz. “Work out your own salvation with fear and “ trembling; for it is God that worketh in you to will and " to do of his good pleasure?"| The former inference would be just in the case of devils, who, having received their sentence, can only now “ believe and tremble :" but it would be altogether unjust, and a dreadful contempt of mercy in those, to whom the offer of salvation by grace is addressed. What is now transacting in the ministry of the gospel, shall contribute at last to stop every mouth, and put this criminal excuse to eternal filence. Suppose the inner at the judgment-leat to offer this defence for him.
* James i. 13.
† Ezek. xxxiji. 11.
John v. 40.
felf: “ I was altogether under the power of corruption ; “ it was impossible for me to do any thing of myself.” Is it not natural to reply, “Where learned you this?” From the holy scriptures. “ And did not the same scriptures “ also tell you, Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise “ cast out. Wherefore he is able to save to the utterınost “ all that come to God through him.- Believe in the Lord “ Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ?" But I could not reconcile one fcripture to another. “And was that any “ way wonderful ? Or can it possibly justify your rebel. “ lion against the plainest commands, that you were not “able fully to comprehend what is said of the absolute do" minion and sovereignty of God ?”
Let us, therefore, settle it in our minds, that, though we are of ourselves utterly unable to produce a change in our hearts, “ nothing is impossible with GOD.” He first made them, and he is able to reform them. On a con, viction of our own inability, one would think we should but the more humbly and the more earnestly apply to him who is all-sufficient in power and grace. The deplorable and naturally helpless state of sinners, doth not hinder ex. hortations to them in fcripture ; and therefore takes not away their obligation to duty. See an address, where the strongest metaphors are retained, the exhortation given in these very terms, and the foundation of the duty plainly pointed out—"Wherefore he saith, awake thou that sleep. is est, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee “ light.”* From which it is very plain, that the moral inability, under which sinners now lie, as a consequence of the fall, is not of such a nature as to take away the guilt of fin, the propriety of exhortations to duty, or the neces. fity of endeavors after recovery.
But what shall we say? Alas! the very fubject we are now speaking of, affords a new proof of the blindness, prejudice, and obstinacy of finners. They are self-condemned; for they do not act the same part in similar cafes. The affairs of the present life are not managed in so preposterous a manner. He that ploughs his ground, and
• Eph. vi 14.
throws in his feed, cannot so much as unite one grain to the clod; nay, he is not able to conceive how it is done. He cannot carry on, nay, he cannot so much as begin one single step of this wonderful process toward the fubfequent crop; the mortification of the seed, the resurrection of the blade, and gradual increase, till it come to perfect maturity. Is it, therefore, reasonable that he should say, " I for my part can do nothing : it is, first and last, an effect of divine power and energy: and God can as eafily raise a crop without fowing as with it, in a single in. stant and in any place, as in a long time by the mutual influence of soil and season ; I will therefore spare myself the hardship of toil and labor, and wait with patience, till I see what he will be pleased to send ?” Would this be madness? Would it be universally reputed fo ? And would it not be equal madness to turn the grace of God into licentiousness ? Believe it, the warning is equally rea. fonable and equally necessary, in spiritual as in temporal things : “ Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for what“ foever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: for he “ that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corrupti" on; but he that foweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit “ reap life everlasting.”*
* Gal. vi. 7, 8,
In which is sheun ruherein this change doth properly and directly consist, and what cre its principal evidences and fruits.
Wherein the change in regeneration doth properly and direct.
T HAVE hitherto, by general remarks, endeavored to I caution the reader against taking up with erroneous and defective views of the nature of religion. We now proceed a fep farther: and I would willingly point out, in as distinct a manner as I am able, what is the change which is wrought in all, without exception, who are the réal children of God, by whatever means it is brought about ; what it is in the temper and disposition, in the life and practice, which constitutes the difference between one who “is," and one who is “not born again.” The different steps by which this change may be effected in the sovereign providence of God, and the different degrees of perfe&tion at which it may arrive, I purposely omit here, and reserve as the subject of a distinct head of difcourse.
That we may enter on the subject with the greater per. spicuity and fimplicity, it will be proper to begin with ob. serving, that the design and purpose of this change is to repair the loss which man sustained by the fall. Man, at his first creation, was made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and enjoyed uninterrupted fellowship and communion with him. He was not only subservient to the divine glory, by a natural and necessary subjection to the divine dominion, which all creatures are, have been, and ever will be, but by choice and inclination, his duty and delight being invari. ably the same. By the fall he became not only obnoxious to the divine displeasure, by a single act of transgression,