« PreviousContinue »
claim, with grief and amazement, “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint !” In the strong workings of this polluted principle we may discover the deep and dreadful malignity of sin : and our wonder that we are thus charged, will soon yield to greater wonder that we are out of everlasting despair. O what reason for humility and self-loathing! for shame, and grief, and tears !
If supreme attachment to the creature is itself Total Depravity, I tremble as I inquire how many of my hearers are still totally depraved. Should an angel pass from seat to seat with a commission to take the account, how many of you would he find supremely attached to the world? how many, more anxious for the success of their commercial pursuits, than for the interest of the Church and the glory of God? how many, more enamoured of amusements than prayer? how many, more eager to exalt themselves than the Saviour of the world? Precisely that number he would write down totally depraved, and God would approve the record.
My dear hearers, do you love God? Do you love the God that made and redeemed you,—the God of infinite and eternal love,—the treasure and glory of the universe ? All heaven is full of exultation and transport that such a God exists : and do you love Him? Without that love you are wretches to eternity in whatever world you dwell. Without that love you are wretches on the highest throne in glory. You are pressed with infinite obligations: and do you love that God? Let the question reach
every part of the house, and ring through every conscience, Do you love the ever-blessed God? Love Him! we should be monsters if we did not love Him. Amen to that,—but do you really love Him ? Do you love Him better than father or mother, wife or children, houses or lands, or life itself? That we cannot say. Then, my dear hearers, you have not a particle of love to God in your hearts. Nay more,-how shall I utter the dreadful charge !You are His enemies. Enemies of God! In what world am I? I see not the chains and bars around me :-am I in the world that was once wet with a Saviour's blood ? Am I in an assembly of people for whom He died ? Enemies of God! Why, what evil hath He done? If you will remain His foes, I will follow you with this moving entreaty till I die, Why, what evil hath He done? Is it for the love that gave being to numberless worlds, and feeds them all from the stores of His bounty? Is it for the love that sent His only Son to expire on a cross ? Is it for the compassion that eries after you from year to year? But I have done. When it shall be told another day that redeemed sinners were enemies of God, I had almost said,--all heaven will be in tears !
REGENERATION NOT PROGRESSIVE.
EZEKIEL XI. 19.
I WILL PUT A NEW SPIRIT WITHIN YOU; AND I WILL TAKE THE STONI
HEART OUT OF THEIR FLESH, AŅD WILL GIVE THEM A HEART OF FLESH.
There is a phenomenon in the moral world for which no adequate natural cause has ever yet been assigned. I mean a great and sudden change of temper and character, brought about under a strong impression of scriptural truths; a change in many cases from habitual vice and malignity, to the sweetness and purity of the Christian spirit, and continuing to manifest itself in a new character through life, accompanied, if you will believe * the subjects, with new views of God, and Christ, and divine things in general, and with new feelings towards them. This change is discovered in people of all temperaments; in the phlegmatick as well as the ardent, in the slow and cautious as well as the impetuous and sanguine, in minds wholly subject to the understanding, as well as those that
submit more to the dominion of the imagination. It takes place in people of all ranks and conditions, in the wise and learned as well as the simple and ignorant, in persons insulated by society of a different cast, and strongly prejudiced against the belief of such a change. Thousands who are not mad, but cool, dispassionate, and wise, the ornaments of society and of learning, whose word would be taken in any other case, and who certainly ought to be regarded as competent judges, tell you that they have had opportunity to see both sides, as the revilers of this doctrine have not; that they once looked upon the subject with the eyes of their opponents, but have since seen for themselves, and do assuredly know that there is such a thing as a spiritual change of heart. And what witnesses can you oppose to these ? Men who offer mere negative testimony,—who can only say, they know of no such thing.
To this spiritual change, as the Second grand topick of the Course, I am now to draw your attention. But as the reasonings will be founded on truths already established, it is necessary to lay these truths before you again, and at one view. It has been proved that holiness radically consists in universal love, which fixes the heart supremely on God; that sin has its root in affections limited to an individual or a private circle, but chiefly in selfishness, including, as a main part, the love of the world ; that every man makes either God or himself the object of his chief regard ; that supreme
self-love necessarily produces enmity to God, to the utter exclusion of every better affection towards Him; that they who do not love God supremely are destitute of true charity to man, and altogether without holiness ; that this is the native character of all who are born into the world, whether in pagan or Christian countries.
Out of these truths arises the necessity of that moral change which is denominated Regeneration. The reason of this necessity is here laid open to
It is the same that our Saviour assigned to the wondering Nicodemus. He had astonished that Jewish ruler with the solemn asseveration, “ Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God;" and while the Jew stood doubting and amazed, He added as the sole ground of this necessity, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh :'* in other words, that which is born by natural generation is “ nal,” is “enmity against God,” and must be born again.
These truths disclose also the precise nature of the change which is necessary. It is a transition from supreme selfishness to universal love,
- from enmity against God to supreme attachment to Him. It is readily seen of course that it must be the greatest change that ever takes place in the human affections.
The first question that will come before us is, Whether Regeneration is progressive or instanta