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with the honor of God, they perish with a lie in their right hand : the greater part feelingly expect approaching horror, and inwardly confess the reality of torments, which in life they dared to deny. We turn to the regenerate. Behold their death-bed ! A solemn scene! Behold them feelingly alive to the frailties, transgression, infirmities and sins of a life begun, and maintained in enmity with God, in which state they must have continued to the last, but for the preventing and regenerating grace of God.- Further, behold them feelingly lamenting the awful backslidings of their hearts after the æra of their spiritual birth, after they had begun their militant state here below. Here were a subject for despair indeed, more dreadful even than what the wicked feel: and with this have God's chosen people been dreadfully harassed for a little season, before they gained a final conflict? But everlasting grace prevents despair's duration. The scene brightens-evil seen to the bottom, ‘and acknowledged in all its enormity, danger beheld in the jaws of death, confessed as a just demerit for sin, brings the warrior to the foot of the cross. There he lays his earthly laurels down, and confesses, 'Lord I • was unworthy to wear them,' to fight under thy banners, and in thy name contend · for victory :' yet he lays them down in hopes of exchanging them for brighter laurels given by his conquering Lord: he disclaims their merits, and cries out, “ Lord
thou art worthy, for thou hast redeemed me to
• God hy thy dear blood. And then is he dead? Hath he departed with a fluttering yet firm hope, with a lively though imperfect faith, with an ardent. though sometimes interrupted love? Now these failings and interruptions are no more: whilst a voice from Heaven proclaims, “ Write, blessed are “ the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth. “ Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from “ their labors; and their works do follow them,” Rev. xiv. 13.
And thus far on the Necessity of Regeneration. The nature of it remains to be considered.
12th. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John ïïi. 5. · The nature of regeneration is here comprehended in a few words : not thereby to express that regeneration is a slight and easy thing, but that there is a oneness of operation in the heart of God's elect people, whereby they are brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light. Nor is the work difficult with God with whom all things are possible; but with men who have, added to all their other sins, an evil heart of unbelief, tempting them to depart from the living God. Whatsoever is flesh is opposed to whatsoever is Spirit. And there is no compromise, between an actual enmity, such as exists in all by nature, and an actual friendship, such as subsists only in the heart of God's chosen. Tak
ing regeneration to be a total change in a fallen nature; we may observe its operation on the minds in two things, which in fact comprehend all, though of lesser moment, riz. in bringing the regenerate man to confess and plead for the divire dignity and purity of the moral law, and the honorable, safe, and glorious intention of the gospel.
The moral law is a copy of the heart of God, transcribed at first on the heart of Adam before his fatal transgression, which copy the impress of sin defaced upon him to the dishonor of God, and the hurt of his own soul. Yet the sin of inan however felt and confessed, does not alter the nature of God's holy law which remains inviolably the same, notwithstanding all the changes of man. Thus Paul declares, “ I was alive without the law “ once, but when the commandment came, sin re“ vived, and I died. For sin taking occasion by " the commandment, deceived me; and by it slecu “ me. Therefore the luw is holy, and the com“ mandment holy, and just, and good,” Rom. vii. 7, 9 and 10.
To the like purpose speaks the royal Psalmist, « I have seen an end of all perfection," so that the creature cannot be justified by the deeds of the law, yet, notwithstanding this, “ thy commandment “ is exceeding broad.” We may observe a few particulars in which the regenerate confess the law is against them, yet from which they cannot argue against the divine dignity and purity thereof; as
• 1st. Because it condemns them to eternal death.
There was a time when the present believers were children of wrath, even as others. The law followed close at their heels, demanded a payment of their debt, or sought their life. They were hunted down by the terrors thereof and would have been slain thereby, but that the preserving goodness of God kept them alive, till that appointed time when they were to be effectually called in Christ, put into him as their chosen head, and brought to feel the comforts and consolations of his Spirit.
2d. Because it requires perfect obedience. • This the sinner will not endeavour to pay, so dreadfully hardened is the heart of every unregenerate man, and as all men are unregenerate by nature, even those who are afterwards regenerate, so even the latter are subject to the rigor of the law of God in their unregenerate state. This they are led fully to confess, when by the operation of the Spirit their eyes being opened on the spirituality of the law, they feel they stand condemned, for the want of that perfect fulfillment which it requires. This however does not lead a christian to undervalue the law, as I soon shall endeavour to shew for several reasons, but rather more highly to prize the law.
3d. Because even perfect obedience, if it could be made cannot merit pardon. I
It may be observed of the greatest part of the re-generate seed, that soon after being born again they set about working in their own strength; feel
ing the difference between that complete enmity in which they once lived towards God, and the dawnings of friendship towards him, they are led to conceive great things in regard to perfect filial obedience, feeling that they are growing fast to the stature of the measure of the fulness of Christ, they think they must always continue thus to grow and thrive. Do they fancy that if they could ohtain perfection they could merit pardon? Alas! how contrary to- the word and wisdom of God. Like children they advance rapidly in growth, but like them, the nearer they grow to man, the slower the progress towards perfection. And even supposing perfection attainable though it might even merit pardon for the future, or the time in which we continue therein, what must become of the past? What must merit for past transgressions. A perfect obedience can merit for the moments of perfection alone. Hence regenerate man, must be brought sooner or later to see that nothing he can do, can merit pardon for past, present, or future transgressions. That it is by grace alone he can be saved: through the merits and righteousness of Christ Jesus our Lord.
4th. Because the law requires satisfaction for every thing done short of perfect obedience.
Here we revert again to Adam's fall. For what did the perfect law of God take hold upon him? For what did it condemn him to death, temporal, spiritual and eternal ? Was it for a series of trans