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Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again....

John iii. 7.

SPIRITUAL doctrines ever appear to the judgment of carnal reason, foolishness. Marvel not to find the wisdom of natural men ever crying out, “How can these things be?" and explaining away their spiritual meaning by corrupt reasonings. We are not to expect a total freedom from our own carnal objections. The old man is yet alive; the kingdom of his residence, the flesh, is at war against that kingdom into which the soul is spiritually born. Many souls sce clearly the nature of the doctrine of a new-birth of the soul, and are convinced of the necessity of it, in order to see the kingdom of God. But how are they straitened, pained, and perplexed to know whether it be accomplished in them or not! And indeed, many have so unscripturally treated of the new birth, as sadly to puzzle and grievously distress simple hearts. Is it not marvellous to find men gravely telling us how many steps a dead sinner must take, in order to get into this new birth? The time when, many are uncertain of; for the kingdom of God cometh not with observation. The manner now, none can explain; “ for the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” But the effects are visible and evident. As sense and motion are the properties of natural life, so when the soul is born again of the Spirit, there is a sight of Jesus, a hearing of his voice, the affections of the soul go out after him, believing him to be the way, the truth, and the life. Hence, St. John, lays down this infallible mark, « Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.".... John V. 1. This is a simple, plain truth. Am I born of God? This must be answered by enquiring, do I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed Son of God to the office of a Saviour, for lost and perishing sinners? Does this truth 'enter into my heart and mind? Is it received and believed as a matter which can only and alone bring relief to my guilty conscience, peace to my troubled mind, and hope to my dejected spirit? If so, I do believe in JESUS....he is the object of my faith and the hope of my heart. I am born again, born of God, born to see, to enter into, and enjoy the kingdom of God. The evidence of this, the soul, gets more and more strongly and clearly settled in the conscience as faith grows and increases. For its fruits will be manifest and abound in seeing sin's filthiness, feeling its burdens, hating and resisting iti striving to maintain a holy fellowship with God the Father, and his Sen Jesus, through the Spirit.'

Who can describe the joys that rise The Son with joy looks down and secs
Thro' all the courts of paradise, The purchase of his agonies.
To see a prodigal return,

The Spirit takes delight to view
To see an heir of glory born! The holy soul he form'd anew;
With joy the Father doth approve

The saints and angels join to sing The fruit of his eternal love; The growing empire of their King.

The flesh lusteth against the Spirit....Gal. y. 17.

CHRISTIAN experience fully proves this apostolic truth. Hence the children of God cannot do the things that they would : nor have we any authority from God's word to conclude this lusting ever ceased in any of the saints till they got to glory ; none are delivered from it while in the flesh. For, as the renewed soul or spirit loves to enjoy spiritual and heavenly objects, so the flesh, or unrenewed part, lusts after those objects it is naturally conversant with, and from which it derives its happiness. Here is thy conflict, O christian. Hence the necessity of thy Lord's command, “Watch always." This is the use of the doctrine.

What woeful effects have fulfilling the lusts or desires of the flesh produced in eminent saints ! Thou standest by faith, be not highminded, but fear. The conceptions of lust are the productions of sin...James i. 15. The commission of sin contracts fresh sense of guilt. This is the malady and sickness of the soul. Hence, the maný symptoms attendant on guilt, legal fears, terrors of conscience, accusations from the law, triumphs of satan, dejection of soul, distance from God, backwardness to duty, coolness of affection to Jesus, shyness at or neglect of a throne of grace.

Alas! poor souls, when they have fallen, and are sensible of the melancholy effects, they feel the hurt they have received. Verily their hearts know the bitterness of it, Awful effects of fresh contracted guilt! How much to be deplored! how carefully to be watched against, and prayed to be kept from ! But whilst there is a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness," whilst the Mediator's "blood cleanseth from all sin," whilst the glad tidings of the gospel proclaim salyation by grace for the chief of sinners, there is no ground for black despair to any backsliding children, though they have revolted from a God of love. Here is all encouragement....to what? To love to live at a distance from Jesus, and lie down and wallow in the mire of sin because grace abounds? No godly soul can do this, for the Spirit also lusteth against the flesh ;" the Spirit renews again to repentance. Thus Luther : ‘The more godly a man is, the more doth he feel this battle between the flesh and the Spirit.' Hereof cometh those lamentable complaints in the Psalms and other scriptures. It profiteth us very much to see sometimes the wickedness of our nature and corruption of the flesh, that by this means we may be waked and stirred up to call upon Christ. So a christian is made to see Jesus a wonderful Creator, who out of heaviness can make joy of terror, comfort; of sin, righteousness; and of death, life. This is our ground and anchor-hold, that Christ is our ONLY AND PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS."

And Joash said into all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baul? Will ye save him?....Judg. vi. 31.

When the Lord Jesus appears and manifests himself to the soul, it is so struck with his glory and grace, that it cries out in holy ecstacy, “What have I to do any more with idols ?”....Hosexiv. 8....and an altar for spiritual worship is presently set up in the heart, and consecrated to Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord of peace. In this chapter is a sweet view of the zeal of Gideon for the true worship of Jehovah. He instantly obeyed the word of Jesus, the angel of the presence, the many, the PEACE who appeared to him, and at his command he threw down the altar of Baal. He expected opposition from his Father's household and from the men of the city, therefore he did it by night. A blessed instance of the obedience of faith joined to sanctified reason. As to the consequence after the work done, the conferred not with-flesh and blood;" he was " ini nothing terrified by his adversas ries." They demanded his life ; but Joash his father was raised up like the fire of zeal from the Lord to argue with them. *“Will ye, yemen of Israel, yè professed people of Jehovah, will ye plead for Baal? will ye serve an idol ? Be zealous, O disciple, for thy Lord; fear no consequences. The Lord is on thy side, what hảst thou to fear from those who are against thee? Be not discouraged, though thou dost find great professors ; children of the visible church, thy móther : yea the children of thy Father's grace also join in pleading by word or practice for Baal. This name signifies he that rules or subdues ; 'a master, lord, or husband. This may most justly be applied to sin in general, and every idol lust in particular. So saith Paul, “His servants' ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness.".... Rom. vi. 16. Thou free man, thou heaven börn son of the Lord, know thy freedom, study thy liberty. Strive by the Spirit's aid to live up to thy privilege, (in spite of all that professing men or opposing devils plead against it) above the domineering power of lusts, the galling yoke of sin : thy Saviour has all power in heaven and earth! Plead with him ; expect power from him; thou canst do all thing's through Christ strengthening thee. Faith surmounts every difficulty; it silencés carnal reasonings and vain pleadings from every quarter. While Jesus is view. ed, sin is abhorred and holiness loved, desired, and shall be increased in the soul.

Thou art my portion, O my God;

Make me to know thy way:
O cause my heart t'obey thy word,

And that without delay.
I choose the path of heav'nly truth,

And glory in my choice ;

Not all the riches of the earth

Could make me so rejoice,
The testimonies of thy grace

I set before my eyes;
Thence I derive my daily strength,

And there my comfort lies.

con

Brethren ye have been called unto liberty: only use not liberty for an'occasion to the flesh....Gal. y. 13.

PETER was grieved because lus Lord asked him the third time, "Lovest thou me?" Sure it ought to be matter of concern and grief to the loving, generous hearts of disciples, to think they yet need this caution of the Spirit. But, verily we all do. The most sanctified is yet in the flesh; and the flesh with its affections and Justs are alives, they are ever lusting and striving against the Spirit. The holy, happy soul, who is set at liberty from şiŋ, satan, and the law, in his science, is hereby liable to be brought again under bondage to the law and thraldom to sin. : Know. thy danger; dread thinę enemy; yea, rather fear and love thy best friend Jesus; cry to him, Lord keep me continually. “Thou hast delivered my once captive soul from the power of the enemy; thou hast brought me out of the horrible, pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings, and put a new song in my mouth of praise to thee my Jesus and my God.”....Psalm xl. 2..3... Keep, o keep me from the deceitful workings and carnal reasonings of my corrupt, sinful self, the flesh! What is this liberty, we are called into? Not a perfect freedom from the being of sin, but a perfect deliverance from every curse of the law, from all the wrath of God denounced in the law, from the bondage of being under the law, to do any thing to gain God's love, recommend us to his favor, or entitle us to his kingdom. All this liberty we are called into by the faith of Jesus. He is the end or fulfiller of the law for righteousness to us who believes O, what a glorious liberty, are we called to! Even a freedom from all sin in the conscience; so to live upon Jesus, as to consider ourselves: in him, as perfectly free from all sin, entirely dead to it, and our conscience so cleansed by his blood, as to be ever easy, serene, and comfortable, as though we were innocent and never had sinned. O, this is heavenly liberty to new-born souls! This creates a paradise upon earth. This is daily to be prized and enjoyed through the Spirit. Now, how base and ungrateful eyer to use, or rather abuse thiş liberty as an occasion to the flesh! But even the Lord's own free, men are in danger of this, through the vileness of their natures, the deceitfulness of their hearts, and the suhtle devices of satan, else, the apostle had not thus addressed

d the BRETHREN. The doctrines, of grace, the love of Jesus, and living on him by faith, lay the flesh under bondage and restraint. We cannot walk in the liberty of the Spirit, and yet fulfil the lusts, of the flesh. We cannot serve God and Mammon. Thou free-men of the Lord, canst thou barter peace with Jesus for the gratifications of thy lusts? O rather “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free."....Gal. v. l.

I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him....Isa. lvii. 18.

What a glorious declaration of free grace is this! Here is an absolute promise of mercy, not excited by the worthiness of the creature, but proceeding solely from the loving heart of a covenant God. Well might David say, “ In thy word do I trust: I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil."....Psalm cxix. 162. The life of the soul is supported by the word of the Lord. This is the object of faith, the encourager of hope, and the exciter of love. Jesus is the essential word by whom Jehovah speaks. The scriptures are revealed truths by the Spirit of God's purposes, promises, and grace. Behold, be astonished and humbled, O soul, at thy apostacy, backslidings, and rebellion! Behold, admire, adore, and love the infinitely gracious procedures of the Father of all mercies.

Here is the criminal arraigned at the bar; iniquity charged upon him; God's displeasure at it repeatedly declared; his chastising hand smote him for it. This reclaims not. The Lord hides his loving face....withdraws the light of his countenance. What is the effect? A froward behaviour....still walking in his own ways, contrary to the Lord. Might one not expect the next words should thunder curses and damnation? Be astonished, 0 heavens! What readest thou, O man? Is it I have seen his ways, and will damn him? O, no. But, though I hate his ways, yet I love his soul. My super-abounding grace shall reign and triumph over all the aboundings of sin. I will heal his soul; I will pardon him. Thou poor doubting soul, with thy legal frames, go and learn what that meaneth, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."....Exod. xxxiii. 19. “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” The blood of my people shall not be sacrificed to my vengeance, saith the Lord. Here is the glory of grace. This the triumph of faith. Merey proclaimed, shews the munificence of God; but the dejected heart may still be in suspense. Is it for me? Yes, if thou believest on the Son of God. As Jesus is thy salvation, his Spirit assures thee of thine interest in his love. Where the truth is received by faith, the comfort shall be enjoyed. When God pardons in his heart, he leads the pardoned sinner to the knowledge and enjoyment of it, and restores lost comforts to the backsliding soul. A sense of pardon is the essence of gospel-grace and comfort; the result of Jesus' atonement, the gift of the gracious Spirit, and the privilege of believing souls. It is presumption to expect what God has not promised. It is injurious unbelief not to plead when the Lord bids us “ ask and receive.”....John xvi. 24.

O may thy pard'ning grace be nigh, Thus shall our better thoughts approve Lest we should faint, despair and die! The muthods of thy chast’ning love.

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