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therefore, we proclaim the purity and spirituality of the doctrines of the Lord's New Church, which should influence the conduct of all who receive them, do you imagine that we utter fables or idle tales ? and doth your false imaginations excite your derision, and scorn, and contempt? Even thus did Lot's sons-in-law, when he spake to them of the destruction of Sodom; and he seemed unto them as one who jested. But it came to pass even as the Lord had said. On the day that Lot left Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed it; their own falsehoods together with self-love, became their executioners. Thus will it be with those who are spiritually represented by Sodom and Gomorrah. And if Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, well might Capernaum tremble ! “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell ; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for thee.” 0, let us remember, for our admonition, their awful state, which, as a consequence, sealed their own destruction ! And let us at the same time remember, for our encouragement, that even then a remnant of the righteous were saved. Faithful Abraham-faithful found among the faithless—pleaded for the guilty inhabitants of these cities, by which was represented all those of the church who act in opposition to that heavenly principle of charity which is the bond of its union and support. But Abraham was preserved; Lot and his children were preserved ; as it is written : “It came to pass that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.” Yes ; when Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown, “as an ensample unto those who would after live ungodly, the Lord delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked; for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed bis righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." Hence the Lord said to Lot, “Haste thee, escape thither, for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither.”

Before judgment is performed upon the wicked, those are to be saved who are in the love of the truth. The children of Israel must first pass through the Red Sea, before the Egyptians are overwhelmed in the mighty deep. The sheep must first be separated from the goats, and hear the soul-reviving words, “Come ye blessed," before it is said to the wicked, “Depart ye cursed into

everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Lot must first escape from Sodom, and then the wicked bring on themselves sore destruction.

Think then of the representative character of Lot; of his obedience to the divine command; and behold him escape the general overthrow. “Gird up the loins of your mind,” and strive earnestly to become that which he spiritually represents ; emulate his example, and press forward in the regenerate life, now that the Son of Man is revealed; for by so doing we shall most effectually regard and benefit by these words of our Lord, which should ever operate as a salutary warning to all mankind, “ Remember Lot's wife!”




John iii. 3. “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom

of God.When unworthy notions are entertained respecting the Lord, as to his person, attributes, or works, it is not to be wondered at that men indulge in fallacious ideas concerning themselves and their duties. He who thinks of his Creator as selfish, arbitrary, capricious, and vindictive, is not likely to hold in very high estimation the graces of benevolence, justice, consistency, and forgiveness of injuries. He who thinks confusedly and contradictorily of the person of his maker, cannot possibly think clearly and correctly of his own constitution, for God created man in his own image and likeness. He who mistakes the nature and object of what Jehovah has accomplished for his salvation, will not understand what he himself is called upon to do, to meet the divine purposes.

Accordingly, we find, that, whilst false doctrines respecting the person, attributes, and operations of the Deity are universally taught and believed, erroneous opinions prevail concerning that process which every one must undergo, ere admission can be found into the kingdom of heaven.

But when the mists of error, which have obscured or hidden the truth concerning the Lord the Sun of Righteousness, are removed from the mind, then, in the divine light proceeding from him, will be seen the true nature of man, as the creature of God; of his present condition, as having fallen from his original state ; and of that state described as the image and likeness of God; into which he is to be renewed.

In the doctrines of the New Church, we learn that God is onethat the Lord Jesus Christ is that God manifested in his divine humanity—that love and wisdom are the essentials of his nature that the divine attributes are ever in perfect harmony, and that the

wbole of the divine operation is in full consistency with the unity and perfection of his person and character. With these truths, therefore, revealed to our understandings, we are prepared to look into that solemn and momentous truth declared in the Lord's words to Nicodemus, and to which our attention is to be directed on the present occasion.

What is meant by being born again or regenerated, is a question which, if we are at all wise, will engage our most serious attention, and be examined with the nicest scrutiny of which we are capable—it is one respecting which we should be extremely cautious of depending on the mere assertions of others ; especially should we be guarded against those descriptions of the nature of regeneration, which flatter the weaknesses, pride, and folly, of our selfish natures.

That by regeneration is meant that change which must be effected in men, individually, ere they can be prepared to dwell in in a state of heavenly bliss, all are agreed upon, but as to what that change truly is, very mistaken notions are entertained generally, and with considerable diversity of opinion upon the subject, amongst the different sects of the Christian world. By some it has been held to be nothing more than a receiving the ordinance of baptism, because that sacrament is the initiatory rite by which men become members of the church. Accordingly the Church of England, in its catechism, teaches all who have been baptized into its faith, to say, that they were thereby made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. This mistake has arisen from not keeping in mind, that the external and internal of the church are distinct, even as the body and soul ; and that, therefore, there may be individuals belonging to the external, who form no part of the internal, especially when the church is in an unhealthy condition. For while the sacrament of baptism is initiatory to the outward and visible church, that purification from evils represented by the ordinance, is introductory to the internal or spiritual church. Baptism, when rightly administered, no doubt, is a medium of communication to the person baptized, whether he be an adult or an infant, of an influence from the heavenly world, which, if he makes a proper use of in the future exercise of his free-will, will be very beneficial in promoting his fitness for, and consequent introdaction into, the Lord's heavenly kingdom. But it betrays a sad state of mere sensuality to be capable of supposing that the outward act of washing the body, can entitle to admission into the kingdom of heaven.

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It is, however, but just to say, that many who hold this opinion of the effective nature of the outward ordinance, do prevent much of the evil tendency of such a notion, by the qualifying belief, that the person baptized forfeits his claim to the blessings accompanying church membership, as soon as he commits actual sin, and that he can afterwards renew it only by actual repentance.

A much more dangerous, because a more specious, mistake on the subject of regeneration, is made by the more popular division of the Christian church, including various denominations : while they admit that it consists of a change in the heart and life, and thus appear to be more spiritual and heavenly in their doctrine, they set up, as constituting that change, certain feelings and conduct which do not at all partake of the nature of regeneration; and which are, moreover, in many respects completely opposed to it. But here too we to qualify the censure conveyed in what is stated, by observing, that numbers, holding the commonly received opinious on the subject, regard at the same time as indispensable, and, doubtless, feel and practise also, such affections and conduct, as truly belong to the genuine work of regeneration. Still it is a lamentable consideration that so complete and enticing an opportunity of deceiving themselves and others, as to their safe condition for an eternal world, is afforded to the many who have some concern for religion, and so efficient a cloak for hypocrisy is held out to the base and unprincipled in this false standard of regeneration thus set up.

In order to shew more clearly the erroneous nature of the popular notions upon the subject, it may not be amiss to attempt to describe what is generally regarded as the work of grace, or the being born again.

A man who has been living without troubling himself much about the safety of his condition as a future inhabitant of the eternal world, has, perhaps, simply striven to fulfil the duties of his station ; has attended, according to his ability, to the calls of benevolence; has not been altogether unconscious of his own deficiences, for which, however, he hoped a God of mercy would forgive him, and when others have offended him has thought of this and forgiven them; has read the Bible occasionally, if not regularly, not expecting to understand so wonderful a book, yet venerating it as the book of God; regular, perhaps, in his attendance at the parish church, not without some sense of devotion ; while there thinking it a good thing to attend, not only for his own

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