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for that very reason for which it was wont to hate it; namely, because it is so holy. This was the temper of the Psalmist : Thy word is very pure ; therefore (that is, on, that very account) thy servant loveth it. Psal. cxix. 140. and of St. Paul, The law is ho. ly, and the commandment is holy—and what follows? I delight, says he, in the law of God, after the inner man. And I consent unto the law that it is good. Rom. vii. 12, 16, 22.
The haughty, stubborn, deceitful heart, is now made humble, pliable, simple, and honest, like that of a little child. Hence Christ says, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matt. xviii. 3, 4. This was also the temper of David : Lord, my heart is not haughty-surely I have behaved myself as a child that is weaned of his mother : my soul is even as a weaned child. Psalm cxxxi. 1, 2. The heart that used to have no delight in communion with God, but lived as without God in the world, now feels a filial desire to draw near to him, and address him with the humble boldness and freedom of a child. Because ye are sons, says St. Paul, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 6. That is, Father, Father: the repetition of so tender a name intimates the greatest endear. ment and affectionate freedom. The heart that had no realizing affecting views of a future state, now feels the energy of that doctrine, and looks upon heaven and hell as indeed the most important realities. The heart that was once earthly and sensual, eagerly set upon things below, as its main pursuit, is now taught to aspire to heaven; in heaven is its treasure, and there it will be. The thoughts that were once scattered among a thousand trifles, are now frequently collected, and fixed upon the great concerns of religion. Now also the heart is remarkably altered towards the Lord Jesus : formerly it seemed sufficient to wear his name, to profess his religion, to believe him to be the Saviour of the world, to insert his name in a prayer now and then, and to give a formal altendance upon the institutions of his worship ; but O! now he appears in a more important and interesting light. Now the sinner is deeply sensible that he is indeed the only Saviour, and he most eagerly embraces him under that endearing character, and intrusts his eternal all in his hands. Now he appears to him all lovely and glorious, and his heart is forever captivated with his beauty. Now he prays, and longs, and languishes for him, and feels him to be all in all. 0! now the very thought of being without Christ, kills him. Thus, God, who first commanded light to shine out of darkness, harh shined into his heart, to give him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. iv. 6. in that face where it shines with the fairest beams. Now also the man has very different views of himself : he sees himself to be a guilty, depraved, vile creature, all overrun with sin, and destitute of all goodness, but, as it is wrought in him by divine grace ; how different is this from the proud selfrighteous estimate he was wont to form of himself! His views of sin are also quite different from what they used to be : he used to look upon it as a slight excusable evil, except when it broke out into some gross acts. But now he sees it to be unspeakably vile and base, in every instance and degree. An evil thought, a corrupt motion of desire, an indisposed heart towards God, appears to him a shocking evil, such as nothing but the infinite
mercy of God can forgive, and even that mercy, upon no other account but that of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He sees it does most justly deserve everlasting punishment ; and he is often lost in wonder that the gospel should open a door of hope even for him, who has been so deeply guilty. It breaks his heart to think that he indulged so base a thing so long ; and he can never be fully reconciled to himself, while he feels the remains of it within him. His repentance now takes a new turn. Formerly he was entirely under the influence of self-love, and therefore, when he had any concern for his sin, it entirely proceeded from the servile principle of fear ; fear of the punishment, and not hatred of the crime. But now his soul is ennobled with more generous principles : now he can mourn over sin, as a base ungrateful evil, even when he has no thoughts of the punishment : now he can mourn over sin as against God, and not only as against a sin-punishing, but as against a sin-pardoning God. Now he mourns with generous sorrow over pardoned sin ; and God's being so good as to forgive him, is so far from les sening the evil of sin in his view, that this very consideration peculiarly affects him. 0! that he should be so base as to sin against a God who so gracious as to forgive him after all! This thought breaks his heart ; and God's forgiving him, is a reason why he can never forgive himself. The heart has also a new temper in the duties of religion ; it can no more indulge an habitual coldness or lukewarmness in them, but exerts its powers to the utmost ; and, when it has a languishing interval, it cannot be easy in that condition, but tries to rouse itself again. Experience teaches that it is good to draw near to God; and the ordinances of the gospel are not tiresome formalities, as they were wont to be, but the means of life and re. freshment ; and they are its happiest hours which are spent in attending upon them. Now the gospel is not that dull, stale neg. lected tale it once was, but the most joyful tidings that ever came from heaven. As a new-born babe, the regenerate soul desires the sincere milk of the word, that it may grow thereby, } Pet. ii. 2. and it is esteemed more than necessary food. Now the careless, secure soul, that was always cautious of over-doing in religion, and flattered itself there was no need of being so much in earnest, is effectually roused, and strives in earnest to enter in at the strait gate, convinced both of the difficulty and necessity of entering. Now religion is no longer a matter by the by, but a serious business ; and every thing that comes in competition with it must give way to it. The man is resolved to save his soul at all adventures ; and this, he is now convinced, is no easy work. To sum up the whole, for I can only give a few specimens of particulars, the regenerate soul is changed universally in every part. I do not mean the change is perfect in any part : alas ! no; sin still lives, and sometimes makes violent struggles, though crucified. The old man dies hard, but I mean, the change does really extend to every part. The soul is in no respect the same it was wont to be, as to the concerns of religion. It has new views, new sensations, new joys, new sorrows, new inclinations and aversions, new hopes and fears : in short, as the apostle tells us, all things are become new, 2 Cor. v. 17. and according to his inspired prayer, the whole man, soul, body, and spirit is sanctified. 1 Thes. v. 23.
By way of confirmation, let me add a few characters of a regencrate man, which are expressly scriptural. Every one that loveth is born of God, saith St. John, 1 John iv. 7. That is, every newborn soul is possessed with a generous love to all mankind, which prompts it to observe the whole law in its conduct towards them, (for love is the fulfilling of the whole law) and restrains it from doing them any injury ; (for love worketh no evil to his neighbour) Rom. xii. 10. This love extends not only to friends, but also to strangers, and even to enemies. It is a friendship to human nalure in general ; it spreads over the whole earth, and embraces the whole race of man. But as the righteous are the more excellent ones of the earth, it terminates upon them in a peculiar degree : and the reason is obvious ; they are, in a peculiar sense, the saints' brethren, the children of the same heavenly Father ; and they bear a resemblance to him : and if he loves the Original, he must also love the Copy. Thus, says St. John, every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him. 1 John v. 1.
Another character of regeneration the same apostle gives you, 1 John v. 4, 5, and that is, victory over the world by faith. Ev. ery one that is born of God overcometh the world : and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. That is, whatever temptations may arise from the riches, honours, or pleasures of the world, or from the society of mankind, the man that is born of God has such believing views of eternal things, as constrains him to conflict with thein, and overcome them. He has not such a mean dastardly soul, as to yield to opposition. He is enabled by divine grace, to brave dangers, and encounter difficulties in so good a cause : he dares to be wise and happy, though all the world should turn against him. O what a change is this from his former teniper !
Another distinguishing characterisic of the new birth, is, universal holiness of practice, or a conscientious observance of
every known duty, and an honest, zealous resistance of every known sin. There is no known duty, however unfashionable, disagreeable, or dangerous, but what the true convert honestly endeavours to perform ; and there is no known sin, however customary, pleasing, or gainful, but what he honestly resists, and from which he labours to abstain. This necessarily follows from what hasbeen said; for when the principles of action are changed within, the course of action will be changed too. When the heart is. made holy, it will infallibly produce habitual holiness of practice. A good tree must bring forth good fruit. This St. John asserts in the strongest manner, and in various forms.
We know, says he, that every one that doth righteousnes8 ; that is, that habitually practiseth righteousness, is born of God, 1 John ii. 29. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not ; that is, he sinneth not habitually, so as he may be denominated a sinner by way of distinction ; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself ; that is, keepeth himself from the infection of sin ; and that wicked one toucheth him not. 1 John v. 18. Little children, says he, let no man deceive you : he that doth righteousness is righteousBut he that committeth sin is of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ; i. e, as I explained it before, he does not habitually sin in the general tenor of his practice, so as to make sin his distinguishing character; for his seed remaineth in him ; that is, the principles of grace, implanted in him in regeneration, are immortal, and will never suffer him to give himself up to sin, as formerly ; and he cannot sin because he is born of God : his being born of God happily disables him forever from abandoning himself to sin again.-- In this the children of God are manifest ; and the children of the devil ; that is, this is the grand distinguishing characteristic existing between them, Whosoever doth not righteousness, is not of God. 1 Jo. ii. 7-10. You see then a holy practice is one of the most certain signs of regeneration; and, therefore, in vain do such pretend to it, or boast of high at: tainments in inward experimental religion, who are not holy in all manner of conversation, and do not live righteously, soberly, and godly in the world.
By this time, I hope, my brethren, you understand what it is to be born again. And now, upon a review of the subject, there are several things of importance, which I would submit to your consideration.
First, I leave you now to consider, whether baptism be the same thing with regeneration, or the new birth, in the scripture sense. I grant that baptism is a sacramental sign of regeneration, just as the Lord's Supper is a sacramental sign of the body and blood of Christ; and, therefore, baptism may be called regeneration, by the same figure which Christ uses when he says of the bread, This is my body. In this metonymical sense, this method of speaking has been used by many great and good men : and when they call baptism regeneration, they only mean, that it is an outward sign of it, just as the sacramental bread, for th same reason, is called the body of Christ. Were it always used in this sense, it would hardly be worth while to take notice of it as an impropriety; though, I must confess, I cannot find the same form of speech in. disputably used concerning baptism in the Bible. But when men are taught that the whole of that regeneration, or new birth, wbich the scripture requires as absolutely necessary to salvation, means no more than just being baptized ; and when they that have been baptized, begin to think that they have no more to do with the new birth, the error is too dangerous to be passed over in silence. I shall just lead you into a track of thought, by which you may easily make yourselves judges in this controversy, I baptism be