Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord.” The Spirit of the Lord brings him back to that question, What is God? and catechiseth him anew on that grand point, so as he is made to say, " I bave heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth ibee.” Job xlii. 5. The spotless purity of God, bis exact justice, bis all-sufficiency, and other glorious perfections, revealed in bis word, are, by this new light, discovered to the soul with a plainness and certainty, that does as far exceed the knowledge it had of these things before, as occular demonstration exceeds common fame; for now he sees what he had only beard of before.

He is enlightened in the knowledge of sin. He bath other thoughts of it than he was wont to have. Formerly, bis sight could not pierce through the cover Satan laid over it; but now the Spirit of God strips it before him, wipes off the paint and fairding, and he sees it in its native colours, as the worst of evils, exceeding sinful, Rom. vii. 13. O what deformed monsters do formerly beloved lusts appear! Were they right eyes, he would pluck them out ; were they right hands, he would consent to their cutting off. He sees how offensive sin is to God, how destructive it is to the soul; and calls himself fool, for fighting so long against the Lord and harbouring that destroyer as a bosom friend.

en Chan

only

, aby

nich sprei

imples tator: first

He is instructed in the knowledge of himself. Regenerating grace causeth the prodigal to come to himself, (Luke xv. 17.) and makes men full of eyes within, knowing every one the plague of bis own beart. The mind being savingly enlightened, the man sees how desperately corrupt bis nature is ; wbat enmity against God and his holy law bas long lodged there ; so that his soul loathes itself. No open sepulchre, no puddle so vile and loathsome in his eyes as himself, Ezek. xxxvi. 31. “ Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight.” He is no worse than he was before; but the sun is shining; and so these pollutions are seen, which he could not discern, wben there was no dawning in bim, as the word is; Isa. viii, 20. while as yet the day of grace was not broken with

Bp. Atterbury. Regeneration is an irresistible act of God's grace. No more re

s, the salem, vt

Esaid in begeliet a fearthing Creature! Elisha bora

tere " et

orando (ONE, THE

# the many

him.

cheel

bi

sistance can be made to it, than there could be in the first matter to its creation; or in a dead man to his resurrection; or in an infant to its generation. Whatever aversion, contrariety, or opposition there may be to it in the corrupt nature of man, it is all speedily and easily overcome by the power of divine grace, when the stony heart is taken away, and a heart of flesh given.

Regeneration does not come by the will of man; John i. 13. As gracious persons did not regenerate themselves, so neither can they convey regenerating grace to others. If they could, a good master would regenerate every servant in his family; a good parent would regenerate every child of his; and a minister of the gospel would regenerate all that sit under his ministry. But they can do no more than pray and use the means. God only can do the work.

Dr. Gill,

Much people, who are strangers to the work of regeneration, suppose the new birth is only Christian baptism, and that every one is “born again," who is baptized. Indeed the new birth may be conveyed with baptisma) water, and has been conveyed to an infant before its birth, or at its birth; as we read of John the Baptist, that he“ was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb;" yet the generality of Christians are not “ born of the Spirit,” when baptized with water, because no proof is given of it in their childhood, youth, or manbood—no appearance can be found of an heart devoted unto God, which is the fruit of spiritual birth. The nature of a baptized child, belonging to a Churchman, is still as froward and as evil, as the nature of an unbaptized child, belonging to a Quaker. Which shows that after water-baptism is received, a spiritual birth is wanting still; not merely to moralize the conduct, but to sanctify the beart, and devote it unto God. Berridge.

It is evident that we cannot practise true holiness, while we con. tinue in a natural state, because we must be born again “ of water and of the Spirit,” or else “ we cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” And we are created anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works, wbich God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. If we could love God and our neighbour as the law requiretb,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

without a new birth and creation, we might live without them; for Christ hath said, “ This do, and thou shalt live.” Now a new birth and creation is more than a mere reforming and repairing our natural state. If we were put into a certain state and condition by the first birth and creation, much more by the second; for the first produceth the substance of a man as well as a state; the second bath nothing to produce, but a new state of the same person. And note, that we were first created and born in Adam, the patural man; but our new birth and creation is in Cbrist, tbe spiritual man. And if any man be in Christ, be is in a new state, far different from the state of Adain before the fall : he is wholly a new creature; as it is written : "Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."

Marshall. A due spiritual consideration of the causes and effects of regeneration, is the ordinary way and means whereby the souls of believers come to be satisfied concerning that work of God in them and upon them. The principal causes of this work are the Spirit and the Word. He that is born again, is born of the Spirit, John iii. 6. and of the Word : “Of his own will begat be us, by the word of his truth.” James i. 18. “We are born again by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Pet, i. 23. Wherever, then, a man is regenerate, there hath been an effectual work of the Spirit and of the Word upon his soul. This is to be inquired into and sought after. Ordinarily it will discover itself: such impressions will be made upon the soul, such a change will be wrought and produced in it, as will not escape a spiritual and diligent search

Oren. With regard to the nature of regeneration, many err, “not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” It is obvions that baptism cannot be the new birth; for were it so, the converted thief could not, from the cross, have been received into paradise, nor Simon Magus bave continued in the “gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity;" for the foriner was not baptized, the latter was.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

and inquiry.

das

Nor is Tegeneration a change of opinion in favour of religion. Candid attention to judicious reasoning is sufficient to produce this effect; but nothing short of Almighty power can accomplish the new birthi.

Berria

of een ordet ud met

them yane

Neither is it mere reformation: there is nothing mysterious in this; but there is in regeneration, as much so, as in the nature, progress, effects, and properties of the wind.

Regeneration is an infusion of a principle of divine life, by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby a real, universal, and permanent spiritual change is effected in a man's principles and conduct. In it the soul is quickened from the death of trespasses and sins; a clean heart is created, a right spirit renewed, and the regenerate person becomes, in Christ Jesus, “ a new creature;" from whom the “old things” of sinful principles and practices pass away, and to whom all things pertaining to life and godliness become new; particularly, the understanding is enlightened, to perceive the sinfulness of sin, the wickedness of the heart, the vanity of the world, the insufficiency of the creature, and the sufficiency and excellency of Christ, in bis person, offices, and grace. The will is renewed, so that it abominates and flees from sin, esteems and cordially chooses Christ and holiness, The affections cleave with ardour to those grand objects. The conscience becomes tender, and cautiously avoids, not only evil, but the appearance of evil. In a word, the regenerate person is thoroughly changed in principle and practice: he aims in all things at the glory of God, and is studious to give to offence, either to the world or to the Church. His sincere piety Lowards God, and strict morality towards men, will more or less expose him to the ridicule or contempt of the ungodly; but, conscious of divine approbation, be will not be ashamed of Christ, or of his words, in a sinful generation. By divine grace he holds on his way, and waxes stronger and stronger.

Demtom. Regeneration has frequently been distinguished from conversion; and I bave no doubt but the terms are of different signification; as are also the terms, creation and resurrection, by which the same divide change is expressed. It has been said, that regeneration expresseth that part of the divine change wherein we are passive, and conversion, that wherein we are active; but the idea of passivity, as well as activity, is included in conversion. God turns us, ere we turn to him. Sinners are said to be converted, as well as to convert. On the other hand, the idea of activity, as well as passivity, is included

in regeneration. We ca form n'o conception of the change in the temper of a rational soul, or, as the scripture expresseth it, of renewing of the spirit of our miods, without the mind being in exercise. It is passive with respect to the agency of the Holy Spirit in producing the change, so as to contribute nothing towards it; but the very nature of the change itself, being from a state of enmity to love, implies activity of mind. Considering regeneration as expressive of that entire change by which we enter, as it were, into a new moral world, and possess a new kind of being, it is as proper to say we are regenerated by the word of God, as it is to say, that Abraham begat Isaac, though in Isaac coming into the world, he was the subject of a divine agency in which Abraham had no con

Fuller

[ocr errors]

ceru.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

None should presume to describe how the new birth is produced in the soul; nor can very many relate exactly when it took place in themselves; but it is of the highest importance for each person to examine himself as to the real evidences within bim of such a change of beari. Divines have made many marks or signs of grace, but the following are some of the chief, viz. a supreme love to the Lord Jesus Christ, with a dependance, by faith, on his atonement, righteousness, and intercession, for salvation ; habitual holis ness ; a hatred to all sin, as such; a love to the brethreni; the grace of prayer; and the stated use of all the appointed means. All saints have these evidences in some degree, at all times; yet, on account of the remains of sin within them, Satan's temptations, and bodily infirmities, some of these marks of grace are very much béclouded at times ; so that believers should not be distressed above measure when they cannot see them clearly. The new birth is best known by its effects ; as, supréme love to Christ, an habitual hatred to all sin, and the use of the appointed means of grace.

Whitfield. Learn from this the nature and necessity of regeneration. First, This discovers the nature of regeneration in these two things: 1. It is not a partial, but a total change, though imperfect in this life. Thy' whole nature is corrupted; and therefore the cure must go through every part. Regeneration makes not only a new head for

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »