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tion, I shall rest the matter here, without leading you into the niceties of a controversy so easily decided. I would only farther observe, that they who most vigorously contend for the other manner of speaking, for after all it is but a dispute about a word, acknowledge expressly, that a man may be saved without what they call regeneration, and that he may perish with it. And though persons are taught to speak of their state, in consequence of baptism, in very high, and I fear, dangerous terms; yet when wise and good men come to explain those terms, it evidently appears, that many of whom they are used, are so in a state of salvation as to be daily obnoxious to damnation ; so the children of God, as also to be the children of the devil; and so inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, as to be children of wrath, and on the brink of hell.
Where persons of real piety apprehend themselves under a necessity of using such phrases with respect to all that are baptized, we cannot blame them for endeavouring to bring down their signification, as low as possible : But they will, I hope, excuse those, who chuse to speak, in what they apprehend to be a more scriptural, rational, and edifying language.
It was a matter of conscience with me, to state the matter as you have heard. I do therefore earnestly intreat you, may dearly beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the sake of your own immortal souls, that you deceive not yourselves with vain words; but that where your eternal salvation is so plainly concerned, you bring the cause, the important cause, to an immediate trial: And if you are convinced, as I suppose many of you quickly may be, that you are at present dead in trespasses and sins, then let me beseech you, to reflect on what the most transient survey of the scripture may teach you, as to the danger of such a case. For though it will be my business, in the process of these discourses, more largely to represent it, when I come to speak of the necessity of the new birth, God only knows, whether your lives may be continued, till we advance so far in the subject: And where a case of this kind is in question, the delay of a week, or even of a day, may be inevitable and eternal ruin.
Of the Nature of Regeneration, and particularly of the Change
it produces in Men's Apprehensions.
2 Cor. v. 17.-If any Man be in Christ, he is a new Creature; old Things are
passed away, behold, all Things are become new.
THE knowledge of our true state in religion, is at once a matter of so great importance, and so great difficulty, that in order to obtain it, it is necessary we should have line upon line, and precept upon precept. The plain discourse which you heard last Lord's day, was intended to lead you into it; and I question not, but I then said enough to convince many, that they were in an unregenerate condition. Nevertheless, as there are various approaches towards regeneration and conversion, which on the whole fall short of it; I think it very expedient now to give you, what I may properly enough call the counter-part of this view; which I shall, by divine assistance, attempt from the words I have now been reading.
The apostle who wrote them, was transported to such a zeal for Christ, and for the souls of men, that some thought him Beside himself* ; and no doubt many would represent him, as the greatest enthusiast upon the face of the earth. But as it was A very small thing to him to be judged of man's judgmenit, he calmly vindicates himself, by declaring that there was a cause for all this warmth, as the honour of God and the Redeemer, and the eternal salvation of men, were so intimately concerned in the affair : The love of Christ, says he, constrains usi, or as the word properly signifies, it bears us away with it, like a mighty torrent, which we are not able to resist ; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, under the sentence of God's righteous law, or they would not bave needed such an atonement as the blood of his Son; and we farther judge, That he died for all, that they who now live, only in consequence of his dying love, should not henceforth live uno
• Ver. 13.
4 I Cor. iv. 3.
2 Cor. v. 14.
themselves, but unto him that died for them. We therefore live to this Jesus; we consecrate our lives and labours to this purpose, and in consequence of it, we henceforth know no man after the flesh, that is, we do not regard our temporal interests, nor consider how we may most effectually obtain the favour and friendship of those who may be useful to us in life ; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, or have expected a temporal Messiah, who should make our nation triumphant over the Gentiles, and enrich it with the spoils of other nations, yet now henceforth we know him no more under such a charactert. And in this respect the same temper will prevail in the heart of every real christian ; and therefore, i. e. in consequence of what was said before of the Redeemer's love, if any man be in Christ, if he be really one of his faithful servants united to him by a lively faith, and in consequence of that union interested in his salvation, he is a new creature ; his views and sentiments, his affections and pursuits, are so entirely changed, that he seems, as it were, to be come into a new world, and to be transformed quite into another person from what he formerly was: Old things are passed away, and, behold the astonishing transformation! All things are become new. This is the thought, that I am now to illustrate ; and you cannot but see, how proper a foundation it will be for our discourse on the second general I proposed, which is,
Secondly, Particularly to describe the nature of that great change, which passes on every soul, that is truly regenerate, in the scriptural, and most important sense of the word f.
And here it may hardly seem necessary to tell you, that I do not mean to assert that the substance of the soul, and its natural faculties, are in a strict and proper sense changed: A man might as reasonably assert from such a scripture, that the former body was annihilated, and a new one produced ; and common sense and decency will not allow us to imagine, that the apostle meant any thing of this nature, by the general terms he uses here. But the plain meaning is, that, when a man becomes a real christian), the whole temper and character of his
* 2 Cor. v. 15.
+ Ver. 16. Some chuse to call the change here described, renovation, rather than regeneration. I have given my reasons before, (page 394.) why I use the words promiscuously: But I shall endeavour through the whole of these discourses, so to state the nature of this change, as to have no controversy with good men of any persuasion about any thing but the name of it; concerning which, I hope they will not contend with me, as I am sure I will not quarrel with them. VOL. II.
mind is so changed, as to become different from that of the generality of mankind, and different from what it formerly was, while in an unenlightened and unrenewed state. It is not merely a little circumstantial alteration ; it is not assuming a new name, professing new speculative opinions, or practising some new rites and forms: But it is becoming, (as we frequently say in our usual forms of speech,) a different creature, or a new man. And thus the sacrcd writers express themselves in many other passages, which very bappily serve to illustrate this. They, in particular, represent God as promising, with relation to this work*; A new heart will I give them, and a new spirit will I put within them; and I will take away the heart of stone, the stubborn, obstinate, impenetrable disposition they once had, and will give them an heart of flesh, a tender, compliant temper, which shall incline them to submit to my will with humility, and to obey it with delight. And thus, when the apostle had exhorted the Ephesianst, to Put off, with respect to their former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to its deceitful lusts ; he adds, And be rea newed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after God, or in conformity to his image, is created in righteo ousness and true holiness : Which is further illustrated by his important exhortation to the Romanst, Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. And on the same principles, what in one place he calls the New creatures, in another parallel place he expresses, by Faith that works by love|l, and by Keeping the commandments of Godf; for all these, as equivalent characters, he opposes to circumcision and uncircumcision, or to the mere externals of a religious profes
sion; declaring the utter insufficiency of the latter, and the ab· solute necessity of the former.
The general nature of this change may then be understood, by an attentive consideration of such scriptures as those meno tioned above; which indeed contain what is most essential on this subject. But for the more complete illustration of the matter, I sha'l particularly shew you, that where there is reason to speak of a man, as one of those who are in Christ Jesus, or who are truly regenerate, there will be “ New apprenelio sions, new affections, new resolutions, new labours, new ello joyments, and new hopes ;” and perhaps there are few impo tant branches of the christian character, which may not introduced, as illustrating one or other of these remarks.
* Ezek. xxxvi, 26.
† Ephes. iv. 22–24. || Gal. v, 6.
Rom. xii. 2.
The former of them is indeed the foundation of the rest ; because as religion is a reasonable service, all the change which is made in the affections and resolutions, in the pursuits, enjoyments, and hopes of a good man, arises from that different view, in which he is now taught to look on those objects, the nature of which is to direct his choice, to determine his conduct, and regulate his passions : It will therefore be the business of this evening's discourse to shew you, I. That wherever there is a real principle of regeneration, there
will be new apprehensions of things.
When God created the natural world, he said, in the very beginning of this work, Let there be light, and there was light*: And thus he deals in this new creation, which raises the soul from a chaos, to such a beautiful, well-ordered, and wellfurnished frame. God, says the apostle, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christt; whereas before The understanding was darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the igno, rance that was in them, because of the blindness or perverseness of their hearts1.
Now this illumination, of which I am speaking, does not so much refer to a speculative, as to a practical and heartimpressing knowledge. It is true, that when a man once comes to be in good earnest in religion, he generally arrives at a clearer and fuller knowledge even of the doctrines of christianity, than he had before : For he then sets himself to enquire with greater diligence, and to seek light of the great Father of lights with greater earnestness; he gets clear of many evil affections, that put a corrupt bias upon his judgment; and he comes within the reach of those promises, Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lords; and If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God|l. Yet I think, I may very.properly say, that at various times, when our judgment of any object is the same, our apprehensions of it are very different. It is one thing, for instance, to believe that God is the omnipotent, all-wise, and all-gracious Governor of the World; and another, and very different thing, to have the heart powerfully impressed with an apprehension of his ability and readi.
Ephes. iv. 18.
. Gen. i. 3.
+ 2 Cor. iv. 6.