sented as laid up in Him for all who are thus inclosed : 66 To Abraham and his Seed were the promises made: He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of One, and to thy Seed, which is Christ.” “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ.“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen.” To be in Christ is to be in Him as in a house which will inclose us after all visible churches shall cease, which will inclose us when we lie in the grave, and when we rise. The apostle speaks of those who had “ fallen asleep in Christ,” and says that “ the dead in Christ shall rise first." In short this was a common expression used by the apostles to denote the union of real Christians to Christ. * And all this is implied in being a new creature.

To be a nere creature is to possess that faith which worketh hy love, and avails to salvation. Compare the two following texts, standing near each other in the same Epistle : “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.“For in Je

, " 6 sus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.Again, as far as the new creation proceeds it annihilates the old man, and produces something entirely new : “If any man be in Christ he is a


Rom. viii. 1. and xii. 5. and xvi. 7. 1 Cor. iii. 1. and xv. 18, 22. 2 Cor. i. 20, 21. and xii. 2. Gal. i. 22. and iii. 16. Eph. iii. 6. and V. 30.

1 Thes. iv. 16.

new creature : old things are passed away, behold ALL things are become new." Again, to become a new creature or new man is to be delivered from the power of sin, and to be made holy in heart and life : “ We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.66 Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.“Lie not one to another seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge AFTER THE IMAGE OF HIM THAT CREATED HIM." What more do you require ? Show me, you say, a text which plainly declares that the new creation produces true holiness. That text you shall see. “ That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and that ye put on the new man, which AFTER GOD is CREATED in RIGHTEOUSNESS and TRUE HOLINESS."*

If these texts do not establish the point that the new creation is something more than a change in the outward character and condition ;-if to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, after the image of Him that created us,-if after God to be created in righteousness and true holiness, does not mean to be made holy as He is holy, it is impossible to express that idea in language.

[ocr errors]

Let us now turn,

* Rom. vi. 6. 2 Cor. v. 17. Gal. v. 6. and vi. 15. Eph. ii. 10. and iv. 22-24. Col. iji. 9, 10.

Secondly, to the new birth. The meaning of this phrase cannot be mistaken if you attend to the figure as it is carried out into the cause, means, and effects. The subjects of the new birth are begotten of God, by the incorruptible seed of the Word,-are born His children, the seed of Christ, the heirs of God, and joint heirs with His Son. That all these terms are only the expansion of the same figure, and refer to one and the same change, will be seen by a single glance at the following texts :

“ Whosoever believeth—is born of God; and every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God."

66 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil."

“ To them gave He power to become the sons of God; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

“ The children of the promise are counted for the seed."

66 If children then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”

“ He saved us by the washing of regeneration, -that-we should be made heirs."

“ According to His abundant mercy (He] hath begotten us again—to an inheritance incorruptible ; -born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God."*

Thus to be begotten and born of God, is to be made His children, the seed of Christ, and the heirs of glory. If then to be the children of God, the seed of Christ, and the heirs of glory, implies any thing more than an outward character and condition,—if all this implies real holiness, to be born again implies the same. Pray, are nene the children of God, the seed of Christ, and the heirs of glory in a higher sense than as members of the visible Church? If they are, is that higher sense any where expressed in the Bible? If it is, in what terms unless in those now under consideration ? But if in the true and proper meaning of these terms the higher sense is contained, then when they are applied to the visible Church, they are applied to it as visibly possessing this character. Thus we every day call a visible church a collection of Christians, without meaning to say that the whole Christian character is an outside thing. But in whatever sense men are the children of God, the seed of Christ, and the heirs of glory, whether visibly or really, in the same sense, and no other, are they begotten and born of God. But to limit the meaning of the new birth to a relation to

* John i. 12, 13. Rom. viii. 17. and is. 8. Tit. ii. 5,7. 1 Pet. i. 3, 4, 23. 1 John iii. 9, 10, and v. 1, 2.


the visible Church, is to say that men are really, and in the highest sense, born of God, when they only visibly become His children and heirs.

Let us now descend to a more particular examination of the meaning of these terms, begotten and born of God, children of God, and seed of Christ.

Begotten and born of God. These terms denote a change absolutely necessary to salvation ; and that is more than any of us would be willing to say of a union with the visible Church. 66 Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” They denote such a change as took place in Paul, not when he was baptised, but when he fell on the plains of Damascus : “ Last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” They denote a change which to Nicodemus appeared, after Christ Himself had explained it, altogether mysterious,—a change wrought by the Spirit of God,—by operations which can no more be seen, or calculated on, or accounted for, than the motions of the wind. Verily, verily I say unto thee, , Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.—

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.“Of His own will begat He us."

6 4 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, [certainly then not by merely entering the Church,] but of God."

« ElőzőTovább »