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childhood of religion, the believer must chap. successively pass through the stages of youth III. and manhood, till he attain to the rank of what St. John styles a father k. This
may be denominated his growth in holiness. In the mean time he will suffer a variety of defeats from his spiritual adversaries, and will daily discover more and more the extreme corruption of his sinful and disordered heart. So far from arrogantly claiming perfection, he acknowledges, that when he has done all, he is still an unprofitable fervant. But he is not discouraged; he boldly presses forward, relying upon him, who is able to make us more than con
are agreeable to the will and commandment of God, such as otherwise of their own crooked and perverse nature
they should never have. That, which is born of the Spirit, “ is fpirit. As who should say, mạn of his own nature is
fleshly and carnal, corrupt and naught, sinful and disobe“ dient to God, without any spark of goodness in him, “ without any virtuous or godly motion, only given to evil “ thoughts and wicked deeds. As for the works of the
Spirit, the fruits of faith, charitable and godly motions, " if he have any at all in him, they proceed only of the
Holy Ghost, who is the only worker of our fanctification, " and maketh us new men in Christ Jesus--Such is the
power of the Holy Ghost to regenerate men, and as it were “ to bring them forth anew, so that they shall be nothing “ like the men that they were before.” 1 John ii, 12, 13, 14.
SECT. querors. Here, thanks be to God through 11. Jesus Christ, the parallel ceases. Every
son of Adam is subject to the condition of mortality ; but regeneration opens to the Christian the full prospect of a glorious immortality. “ Death is swallowed up in
victory.” At the close of a life spent in the service of God, the aged believer can raise his eyes, moist indeed with the tears of gratitude, but glistening with hope, towards that heaven, in the joys of which he will foon be removed to participate.
One awful consideration yet remains, the generation: absolute necessity of regeneration. It is a
remarkable circumstance, that our Saviour
time strongly enforced; “ Ye must be born CHAP.
1m Gr. Δει υμας γεννηθηναι ανωθεν.
The kingdom of God, or of beaven, does indeed occasionally signify the visible church upon earth, which includes undoubtedly tares as well as wheat; and so it may primarily fignify in the present passage, as alluding partly to baptismal regeneration : but I cannot think that the expression folety conveys any fuch limited and inferior meaning, when the idea of spiritual regeneration is involved. It seems absurd and improbable to the last degree, that, in a folemn discourse with one of the leading men among the Pharisees, our Lord Thould first acquaint his anxious auditor, merely that a man cannot become a member of the visible society which he was about to establish upon earth, without being initiated into it by a particular ceremony ; and should afterwards, when Nicodemus required an explanation, involve, in a kind of awful mystery and obscurity, that which, upon such a supposition, was totally devoid of mystery. Let any person attentively peruse the conversation between our blessed Lord and the Jewish Ruler, and then judge, whether the kingdom of God can be ultimately taken in any less limited fenfe, than the kingdom of everlafting glory and bappiness.rs
So Bp. Hopkins : " These two interpretations may be
given of the text ; Except a man be born of water and of ** the Spirit; that is, except he be externally regenerated by “ baptism, when he hath such an opportunity to receive that
ordinance, that nothing but his own wilful contempt of “ it can hinder it, and be also internally regenerated by the
Spirit of God working a mighty thorough change upon “ his heart, he shall never be saved. Or again, it may be s understood thus ; Except a man be renewed by the effi
cacy of the Holy Ghost, cleanfing the inward man from
It has pro
Scripture then has decided, that none but the
regenerate can be saved. It has nounced that none can be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, but those, whose hearts have been renewed after the image of God. All the rest are utterly excluded from the flock of Christ, by our Lord himself. And this determination is perfectly consonant to reason. A man can never be happy in a society composed of persons, whose sentiments and inclinations are totally at variance with his own. A similarity of tastes and pursuits is essentially necessary to the full enjoyment of our existence. Even heaven itself would be no heaven to a fallen angel. By the conftitution of his being, he labours under a natural incapacity of fruition. His whole temper must be changed in every respect, before it is possible for him to be an inhabitant of the realms of bliss. Arguing then from analogy, all those, whose hearts are at variance with God, who live in the al
By the very
i sin, as water cleanseth the outward man from filth,' he * Thall never enter into heaven." Sermon's, p. 519..
It is almost fuperfluous to remark, that the same distinction between internal and external regeneration, with which the present disquisition commenced, is in this citation likewife accurately preserved."
lowed practice of any sin, whether it be CHAP. mental or corporeal; whether it be envy, hatred, and malice, or fornication, drunkenness, and uncleanness; all those likewise, who live in a state of forgetfulness of God, or, to use the emphatical words of Scripture, who live without God in the world; in short, all persons, who more or less partake deliberately of the nature of Satan, cannot possibly be saved without a total change, and a thorough renewal. How can that man, who works all uncleanness with greediness, enjoy the presence of a God, who is of purer eyes than to behold the least iniquity ? How can he, who detests the very name' of 'religion, and who hates the company of those to whom it' affords a delightful, a never-failing theme of social converse; how. can he bear to spend an eternity in chanting forth the praises of God; an eternity, in that very employment which on earth is the object of his bitterest aversion? Direct oppofites can never coalesce. We must either conform to the tempers and habits of the heavenly society; or we must submit to an everlasting exclusion from it. A man in his unregenerate state cannot, from the very