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are bound to receive them ; viz. just as they are

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ner declared in the Scriptures, that, Except a man be in, born of the Spirit, born of God; he cannot see the

It is said, also, that he must be created in righteousness and true holiness. It is therefore certain, unless we are born again, born of the Spirit, born of God,

created anew in righteousness and true holiness ; .we cannot e the kingdom of God. In other words, unless a change be made in our original moral character, such and so great as to be naturally and justly designated by such phrases, as being born again, and created anew ; we shall never be received into Hea

It is further revealed, that, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. It is also said, that, unless we repent, we shall perish. We are commanded to turn to the Lord, with all the heart. The people of Lydda and Saron, it is declared, turned to the Lord. We are therefore certain, that the Holy Ghost is the author of the renovation of mankind; and that mankind themselves do, at the same time, voluntarily turn to the Lord. Such a change then, as Regeneration or Renovation, exists in man, and is produced by the power of the Holy Ghost ; yet man is as truly active and voluntary in this change, as in any other conduct. Many questions may indeed be started concerning the nature and extent of the agency of the Holy Ghost in our renovation, our own agency, and the consistency of these doctrines; which may perplex the authors of them and their readers, and which may never be answered to their satisfaction. Still it will be exactly true, and highly important to us, that we must be born again ; and that by the power of the Holy Ghost, exerted in coincidence with our own agency ; whether we ever do, or do not, know any more of the subject than Nicodemus himself knew. All our doubts, therefore, concerning these subjects, and all our attempts to supply any supposed deficiencies of what is revealed concerning them ; will be misplaced and vain, if not pernicious.

That our hearts are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, is another doctrine concerning human nature; and one which is remarkably humiliating and painful. But it is still true, and therefore useful and important; and therefore, also, to be implicitly received.

In the same manner all precepts, which require our self-denial, are humiliating and painful; but they are a part of the will of God, and are of course right and profitable, and to be fully obeyed.

Nor is it enough that we believe, or obey, these doctrines, and precepts. We must believe them cordially; because they are true, and right, and good, and a part of the perfect will of God. They are to be inwoven with our daily thoughts, to mingle with all our affections, to become ours habitually, to be ever ready for use, and steadily to control our whole course of conduct. We are always cheerfully to believe, and cheerfully to obey.

It will be unnecessary to illustrate this part of the subject by an induction of more examples. I proceed therefore to observe,

3. That for the same reasons we are not to be influenced, either in our faith or our practice, by any reference to secret things, or things unrevealed.

It has been already observed, that these things were not reveal. ed, for the very same reason that others were ; viz. that we might be placed in the very best situation for obtaining eternal life. For this purpose all the proper objects of our faith, and all the necessary and useful rules of our practice, are made known to us.

Our faith, therefore, will be perfect, when we cordially receive every revealed doctrine; and our practice, when we obey every revealed precept. Neither would be perfect, were we to believe more doctrines, or obey more precepts. Whenever, therefore, we are governed, either in our belief or our conduct, by any reference to secret or unrevealed things, we render our belief less sound, our conduct less virtuous, and both less useful to ourselves, and less pleasing to God.

Among secret things, those, which are usually most interesting and most perplexing, respect, in some manner or other, the existence, character and pleasure of our Maker; especially as connected with our final allotment in the world to come. On these.

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years and

therefore, multitudes of volumes have been written, and
ages consumed in study, fear and sorrow, without any real benefit,
and with much real injury to mankind.

It is declared in the scriptures, that God created all things for his own pleasure ; that his coursel shall stand; and that he will do all his pleasure. Accordingly we find God predicting a vast multitude of events, hundreds and thousands of years before their accomplishment. Among these are multitudes, inseparably connected with and dependent on the free, voluntary actions of man; and absolutely dependent on thousands and millions of such actions. Among them, also, are numbers, which may be considered as events of primary importance to the providential system ; events of such a nature, as that, if they had not taken place, the whole system must have been disturbed, and become either chiefly or entirely a different thing from what it has actually been. Of this number are the destruction of the Jewish empire by Nebuchadnez. zar; the deportation of that people to Babylon; their re-establishment in Judea ; the birth, life. crucifixion and resurrection of Christ; the publication of the Gospel; the introduction of the Gentiles into the Church ; and the final dispersion of the Jews by the Romans. That these were principal facts of the divine system will not be denied, because God predicted them, as such, long before they existed. That they were accomplished by the voluntary actions of men will no more be denied. The purpose of God, therefore, and the free, voluntary agency of man ; are perfectly consistent with each other, because truths cannot be inconsistent. Yet, since men have not been able to explain the nature of this consistency; a thing which God has not thought proper to reveal; they have both doubted, and denied it; and have also denied, in some instances, the purpose of God, and, in others, the freedom of human agency; both of which are abundantly declared, and insisted on, in the scriptures.

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It is declared in the Scriptures, that Adam apostatized from a state of holiness; and that his posterity have, in consequence of his apostasy, sustained the same moral character. But the manner and the cause of this apostasy is, to say the most, either not at all, or very imperfectly, revealed., Yet it is to be feared, that many men, of no small reputation, have spent more time in attempting



A.COM God,

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to explain, and in actually perplexing, this subject, than in gaining the victory over sin, performing their duty, or seeking eterual life.

The conversion of the soul from sin to holiness is abundantly declared in the scriptures. But it is no where declared that the time, in which this conversion takes place in any man, shall be known to him. Of course this time is not by the Scriptures made an object of inquiry, nor is it at all concerned with our faith or practice. It is remarkable, that St. Paul, the time of whose conversion is at least as particularly declared, as that of any other person mentioned in the scriptures, never appeals to his knowledge of this time, as the foundation of his confidence, hope or comfort; but to entirely other evidence ; particularly his faithfulness and zeal in the service of God. Yet how many, who call themselves Christians, insist that every convert inust of course know the time when he became such; and demand an account of this time as the principal and indispensable evidence of his conversion. And how often, and how unscripturally, is this made the theme of public and private religious inquiries.

That some men will be finally condemned, and that all these will be then possessed of the character of final impenitence and unbelief; are doctrines every where revealed in the Gospel. But it is no where revealed to any person, that he will be finally impenitent and finally condemned; this fact is therefore to every man a secret thing; and belongs to God only, and never to man. That he may be impenitent in the end and therefore condemned, every man unpossessed of the Faith of assurance ought to believe; and, that, if impenitent, he will be condemned. But that he will be impenitent, no man is warranted to helieve ; because it is not revealed, and because he is not warranted to distrust, or limit, the mercy of God.

Hence no man is bound, or can be bound, to resign himself to fival misery, or to be willing to perish. We are required to be resigned to the will of God. But nothing is to us the will of God, except that which he makes known to be his will. The final condemnation of no man living has been made known to him by God. This, therefore, can be to him no part of the will of God. Of course, resignation to future misery, if it exist, is resiguation to mere misery, and in no sense resignation to the will oil

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God. But resignation to mere misery is in no degree virtuous, but foolish and mad beyond description.

Universally, whatever is secret, or unrevealed, is to us nothing, and to be wholly unregarded. It is nothing as an object of belief, or a rule of conduct. It can furnish no proof of any doctrine,

and no objection against it. The proof of every doctrine must be found in something which we know, and all solid objections against it must be derived from its inconsistency with something which we know. Nothing, which is unknown, can ever affect what is known: nothing unrevealed, that which is revealed. Our true wisdom therefore, our real duty, our rational hopes of salvation, must all be found in that which is revealed; and in a cordial conformity to it in our habits, our affections, and our lives.

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