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of God. For, as by our natural birth we are made in the likeness of fallen Adam, called the old man,' the first man; so by this spiritual birth we become new creatures -spiritual men and sons of God in Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
The work of grace, whereby we are thus born again, is so great that St. Paul calls it a new creation ; and it deserves that name, for thereby the soul of man is renewed throughout, with all the powers and faculties thereof; his carnal, sensual, earthly disposition is turned into a spiritual and a heavenly one; his blind under. standing is enlightened with the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ; his stubborn and perverse will becomes obedient and conformable to the will of God; his con. science, before seared and benumbed, is now quickened and awakened; his hard heart softened, his unruly affections crucified, and his body, whose members were be. fore instruments of unrighteousness, is now ready to put in execution the good intentions of the mind. Thus is he restored to that happiness, to that image of God, wherein he was at first created, though before, on ac. count of his corruption through the fall, he was alto. gether destitute of it. Oh ! how great, how inconceiv. ably great must man's depravation be by nature, since God cannot fit him for glory by mending or repairing the Divine image in which he first made him; but must thus, as it were, create him a second time, and cause him to be born again, and made anew.
But to be a little more particular concerning the na. ture of regeneration. It has two parts, as says our church, " a death unto sin," and a " dew birth unto righteousness.”
By " a death unto sin" we must understand that cast. ing off and crucifying the old man; that destroying the body of sin, on which St. Paul so often insists. “Mor. tify,' says he, or put to death, your members which are upon earth, uncleanness, covetousness, and the like :' Whence it appears, that by those members upon earth,' he means, all sorts of sins and unholy desires, whereunto a natural man is given. Nor is it enough to curb and hold them in, but their life must be taken--they must die. And, indeed, it is impossible to put on the new man, till the old man is cast off; nor can a new birth unto righteousness follow, but where a death unto sin has taken place. But when a man, tired of the body of sin, has yielded it up to be crucified with Jesus, and feels the power of his death; then, and then only, does he experience a new birth to righteousness, and becomes a partaker of the power and benefit of Christ's resurrection.
This second part of regeneration is called in Scrip. ture a passage from darkness to light ; from death unto life; God's quickening us, and making us alive ; a rising together with Christ, and walking in newness of life.
Whence it is plain that we must understand by regeneration, not only the destruction of sin in our souls, which is the devil's image stampt upon every child of Adam, since the fall; but the bringing in again into our souls that conformity to the Divine nature, that unspotted holiness, that image of God, wberein Adam was first created, and which Jesus Christ, the second parent of mankind, is ready to stamp again upon every sincere believer. Let us observe here the dangerous mistake, of some' who judge, that they are regenerate because they are reformed, and commit no longer those sins wherein they formerly lived. No, it is not enough to be able to say, “ I am not what I was,” unless we can add, “I am what I was not.” It will signify but little for a man to plead that he is not a drunkard, that he swears no more, and no longer walks after the flesh,' unless he can also say, that by the grace of God he walks after the Spirit,' in faith, love, and holy obedience. You are not unjust, do you say? Very good. But do you shew mercy ? You are no longer unclean, nor seisual: But are you spiritual and heavenly-minded? You no more break out into raging fits of apger! But does the peace that passes all understanding' keep your soul in the meekness, gentle.
ness and long-suffering of Jesus? You are no longer swelled with that overbearing pride which made all around you look on you as a tyrant: But, instead of getting the humble mind that was in Christ, do not you rest in what the world calls a decent pride, a proper pride ? You think it now below you to curse, swear, and lie: But do you bless and intercede, reprove and exhort? You scorn to tell a lie: But do you boldly stand for the truth as it is in Jesus? You no longer laugh at the despised followers of a crucified God: But do you take their part, and confess Christ in his members, who are rejected of men as he was himself ? You no more make a mock at the word of God. Very well. But do you meditate therein day and night ?' and is it sweeter to your soul than honey to your taste ?" You are convinced that it is a dreadful sin to take God's name in vain : But do you rejoice with reverence, whenever you pronounce his sacred name? You detest profaneness, and daily lament the overflowings of ungodli. ness : But do not you rest short of piety, and lie down in a state of lukewarmness and presumption? You pity those who never go to church, and never worship in God's house : But when you are there, are you sensi. ble of the presence of the God on whom you wait ? And does the apprehension of his Majesty make you cry out, as Jacob, in the deepest act of adoration, “This place is dreadful; surely it is the temple of the Most High ?' You cry out against those who never say their prayers, and with much reason: But when you pray, is the intercourse opened between God and your soul, and do you find in your heart what you profess to ask daily, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost ?' If you do not, you are not yet regenerated in the gospel sense. You know something, it may be, of the first part of regeneration, a death unto outward sin; but you are yet an utter stranger to the second part thereof : You never experienced a new birth unto righteousness, unto true inward holiness.
Having thus shewn the nature and parts of regeneration, I come now to show, in a few words, what causes concur to effect that important change.
God alone, in Christ, is the first cause and author of it; wherefore the regenerate man is said in scripture to be born of God: And if you ask why he does not leave us in the state of sin and misery into which we plunged ourselves by the fall, but offers to create us again in his image; whereas there is no regeneration for the fallen angels upon whom Divine justice passed at once sentence of eternal damnation ; I must answer in the words of the prophet Jeremiah : “ It is of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed : It is because his compassion fails not:' That, as Adam was once placed in a state of trial, either to remain holy, like angels, or to fall into the sin and misery of devils : So we have, during this life, our trial too. Though God might, with justice, have suffered the sentence of eternal death to take place in all men, since all have sinned, he bids us choose whether we will remain fallen with devils, or rise again, by regeneration, to that blessed and holy life which Adam lost. The mercy of God is then the only original and moving cause of our new birth, by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of his own will,' says St. James, he begat us by the Word of Truth.' And St. Peter, that God has begotten believers again according to his abundant mercy.'
But the immediate worker of regeneration is the Spirit of God, which our blessed Lord obtained for us by the merits of his death. In this respect, true Chris. tians are said by Christ to be born of the Spirit; and St. Paul calls regeneration the renewing of the Holy Ghost' (Tit. iii. 5.)
Yet the ordinary instrumental cause is the Word of God, when applied to the soul by his Spirit. In this sense the apostle says, that believers are begotten by the Word of Truth, (James i. 18;) or the gospel, said by St. Paul, (Rom. i. 16,) to be the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.' This is the
incorruptible seed, as St. Peter terms it, which Christ's ministers sow in the church of God; and when God raises it up with power in any soul under their ministry, we may look upon them also as instrumental causes of our regeneration, in the lowest sense of the word. Thus St. Paul tells the Corinthians, that he was their father, and had begotten them in Christ through the gospel.
You see, brethren, how all these causes, in subordination to the first, concur to the divine work of our rege neration. God's mercy contrives the scheme of man's redemption : Our Lord Jesus executes it. His ministers are sent to cast the seed of his word into men's souls, and to water it ; but the Spirit of God alone gives the increase, and quickens the souls dead in sin and unbelief, when they are truly willing to be quickened. Thus the glory of our regeneration ought to be wholly ascribed to God's mercy in Christ, since it is the only source of that unspeakable blessing; and we are bound to exalt the free grace of God continually, and to call upon our souls to praise the Lord, since as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards them that fear him.'
I come now to shew the reasons why regeneration is necessary to salvation. And this appears
Ist. From the immutability of God's purpose, who has chosen believers to salvation through the sanctifi. cation of the Spirit.' Whoever will enter into heaven, must put off sin, and be clothed with a robe of unspotted righteousness. Do you ask why? Because God is resolved that it shall be so. “This is the will of God,' says St. Paul, your sanctification' first, and then your salvation. And as there is no variableness nor shadow of turning with him, all the world shall sooner be damned than his purpose shall be made void.
2dly. From the stability of the word of God. Except a man be born again,' says Jesus himself, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ;' and he is not