ness, hath shined in our hearts." In the spiritual as well as in the natural world, it is He that brings to the birth, and gives strength to bring forth. To give life to the dead, and to bring a clean thing out of an unclean, is the work of omnipotence, and the effect of sovereign grace. John i. 13. 2 Cor. iv. 6. v. 5. Ephes. ii. 1. James i. 18.

2. It is an instantaneous change; and herein it differs from sanctification, which is a progressive work. The former is "a passing from death unto life:" the latter a "changing from glory to glory:" and both are by the Spirit of God. He who took up six days in creating a world, performs this work in an instant. He says, Let there be light, and there is light: Let there be life, and there is life! When men undertake a curious piece of workmanship, they require much time to bring it to perfection: but it is not so with the Lord. He needs no previous preparation, nor is he circumscribed in his actions: He is wonderful in counsel, and mighty in working. The temple at Jerusalem was forty-six years in building; but the spiritual temple is built at once. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, God can transform Saul the persecutor into Paul the preacher, and make the chief of sinners the most eminent saint. The operations of the Holy Spirit in this wonderful work are compared to the wind which bloweth where it listeth: its effects are secret and powerful, yet sudden and surprising. John iii. 8. 3. It is an internal and invisible change, yet may be known by its effects. "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;" yet it is not fictitious, but a real life it is "truth in the inward parts," the life of God in the soul of man. It is thus expressed by the prophet; "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you and cause ye to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep


my judgments and do them." (Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27.) Regeneration cleanses the corrupt fountain of the heart, and demolishes the strong-holds of Satan. -It is a change from internal wickedness to internal goodness, from lukewarmness to zeal, from enmity to love, and from the image of Satan to the image of the living God.


4. The change is universal, extending to the heart and life. Universal beauty spread over the whole man, and universal rectitude influenced all his powers, and ran through all his actions, at the first creation and in regeneration, the new man is said to be "created after God, in righteousness and true holiness." Not only the mind, but the man is renewed: "old things are passed away, and all things are become new. There are not only new thoughts and desires, hopes and fears, aversions and inclinations; but also a new conversation and course of action. The former is expressed in scripture by "newness of spirit," and the latter by 66 newness of life." The tree is made good, and its fruit is good. The soul is beautified with sal vation, and its glory is seen. The flesh is crucified, with its affections and lusts, and the spirit is renewed and sanctified: the old man is put off, and the new man put on. The dark understanding is enlightened, the obstinate will subdued, and carnal affections are mortified. "Sin no longer reigns in their mortal bodies, that they should obey it in the lusts thereof; neither do they yield their members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Had they a thousand hearts, they would yield them all to him; or a thousand necks, they would bow them all in subjection to his authority. They take for their motto the words of Paul: "Whose am I, and whom I serve." Acts xxvii. 23. Rom. vi. 12, 13. 5. It is an abiding change. The saints are begotten

by an immortal Father, born of incorruptible seed, and designed for a life that shall never end. The grace of God in them is a well of water springing up to everlasting life, a spark of fire that shall never be extinguished. Unconverted men may have their good moods and religious pangs, but they are not lasting. "Oh Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. But "the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Those who are brought into a state of grace may fall into sin, reproach, and trouble; but they shall not return to a state of nature. If they leave their first love, they shall not lose it. God will neither destroy his own work, nor suffer others to destroy it. "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hands." Grace is not indefectable in its own nature, but it is rendered so by the purpose and promise of God. Psal. cxxxviii. 8. Prov. iv. 18. Rom. xi. 29. Phil. i. 6.

II. Notice some of the evidences of the new birth. These we shall chiefly select from the first epistle of John.

1. Those who are born of God" do not commit sin; yea, they cannot sin, because they are born of God." (iii. 9. v. 18.) This however is not to be understood in the most extensive sense; for "there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not ;" and "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (Eccles. vii. 20. 1 John i. 8.) Those who plead for sinless perfection in the present life shew their unacquaintedness with scripture and their own hearts. Yet those who are born of God do not commit sin as others do, con

tentedly, obstinately, and perseveringly, nor as they themselves once did. Sin has not the dominion over them, nor has it gained their full consent: it dwells in them, but does not rule over them. It is the object of their hatred, even while they commit it; and when committed, it is the matter of their grief. There is something within them which opposes the temptation, though there is something which complies with it. If they fail in the contest, they are recovered, and the contest is again renewed. The principle of grace will be always rising up against sin, and at length will triumph over it. Rom. vii. 14-25.

2. They have" overcome the world"-its frowns and smiles, hopes, and fears. (1 John v. 4.) Neither prosperity nor adversity, preferment nor abasement, can drive the believer from his duty, nor draw away his heart from God. The world is not the object of his pursuit, nor, as far as he acts in character, has he any anxious or disquieting cares about it. He neither inordinately thirsts after it, nor is much concerned to part with it. He has learned to weep, as though he wept not; to rejoice, as though he rejoiced not; to buy, as though he possessed not; and to use this world as not abusing it, knowing that the fashion of it passeth away. His language is in a good degree like that of Paul: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." 1 Cor. vii. 30, 31. Gal. vi. 14.

3. They have a sincere love to all the saints; for every one that loveth is born of God." (1 John iv. 7.) The existence of holy love is the effect of the new birth, and its various exercises are the evidence of it. True believers love God, and all mankind: they also love one another for his sake, and this shews that they are born of God and made partakers of a divine nature. There may be some difference of sentiment among christians, in lesser matters; and some of them

are less amiable than others; yet it belongs to their character to love as brethren, to be kind and tender hearted one towards another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven them. And when those are highest in our esteem, however low in circumstances, who most adorn their profession and bring most honour to religion, it is a happy evidence that we are passed from death unto life, and shall never come into condemnation.

4. All their hope of salvation is founded on the mediation of Christ. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. (1 John v. 1.) Believing Jesus to be the Christ, however, includes not only a knowlege of him as the Saviour, and an admission of him under that character, but an actual reliance on him as such, and a committing of our souls into his hands. We cannot indeed believe aright concerning him, but we shall also trust in him; and this is proper to the soul that is born of God. No sooner does the light shine into it than it discovers its lost and perishing condition, its utter inability to help itself, and the insufficiency of all creatures to afford relief. At the same time Christ is revealed as a suitable and all-sufficient Saviour, and the soul is brought to an absolute resignation of itself to him; to be sanctified by his grace, directed by his Spirit, and pardoned through his blood, Christ lives and reigns in the new creation. In every emergency, danger and distress, the soul applies to him and finds safety. Its language is, "Lord, to whom should we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."

5. Their walk and conversation is holy and exem. plary. "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God." (1 John ii. 29.) This is not merely to do the thing which is right in itself, but out of regard to the rectitude and propriety of it, or from the love of righteousness for its own sake. True obedience also respects not only what God has commanded, but because he

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