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those. who act contrary to their baptismal vow, the necessity of being renewed again in righteousness, if they would inherit everlasting life ? Hence it is necessary to exhort all natural men, whether they have been baptized or not, to seek the renovation of their souls, as essential to salvation; for, “ except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." And it is presumptuous in the extreme to restrict the new birth, exclusively, to baptism ; especially as the Scriptures ascribe it to other means', in which that ordinance is not even alluded to,
4. What, then, is regeneration? It may be defined,
a spiritual change wrought by the Holy Ghost, on the understanding, will, conscience, and affections of a sinner, which is the commencement of a new and religious life, and which gives quite another direction to his judgment, desires, and whole conduct."
5. The sacred writers use the boldest metaphors, and employ the strongest language, to describe só important a change. The expressions, born of God,” “born again,” are highly significant, when employed to illustrate the nature of regeneration. “A new-born infant is a new creature, brought into the world by Almighty power, endued with life, and with certain propensities and capacities. It is a rational being, and has every quality pertaining to huinan nature in a weak incipient state ; but, by proper care and sustenance, it may grow up to maturity, and attain the perfection of manhood.”
In like manner, the Divine power produces, in the inind of a sinner, such a change as renders him a new creature, with new capacities and desires ; but these at first are only in a feeble imperfect state, exposed to much opposition and danger on every side. Provision is made for this “ new-born babe, in the sincere milk of the Word",” by means of which, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, he grows up gradually to maturity, " until he becomes a perfect man, and attains unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christm."
'1 Pet. i. 23. James i. 18. Gal. iii. 26. Rom. viii. 14-18. 1 John. v. 15.
Regeneration is spoken of as a new creation : “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus' unto "good works "." “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new."
It is styled a resurrection, in allusion to that spiritual death from which it delivers the regenerate :“ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
It is represented as a transition from sleep and death, to vigilance, and life, and activity:-“Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light"."
It is called “ a translation from darkness into marvellous light".” In a word, it is exhibited to us as a change.from sin to holiness, from nature to grace, and from a state of condemnation to acceptance with God.
Although the terms which are used to express the new birth are figurative, yet, after having made this concession, we maintain, that such language is the most proper
that can be selected, to assist us in forming just notions of that momentous spiritual truth to which it refers ; for, without the use of figures and images, borrowed from sensible objects, we should 1 Pet. ii. 2. · Eph. iv. 13.
nib. ii. 10. 2 Cor. v. 17. P Eph. ii. 1. 9 ib. v. 14. *1 Pet, ii. 9,
be unable to form any right conceptions of heavenly things, which are so much above our comprehension. Instead of objecting to this mode of conveying the sublime doctrines of the Gospel", let us express our grateful thanks to God, for thus condescending to familiarize them to our understanding, in order that they inay more forcibly strike our attention with a view of their unspeakable importance.
6. The slightest consideration of this subject will evince, that in regeneration a real change takes place in the heart, that will fully justify the language which is used concerning it. We do not mean to intimate that it induces any alteration in the substance and constitution of the soul; it only gives our faculties a spiritual direction. As a river, by overflowing its banks, conveys its waters into an improper channel ; $0 sin, by perverting the right exercise of the soul's powers, has applied them to the worst purposes, even to rebellion against God. Before, then, our faculties can answer the end for which they were given, they must receive a heavenly bias.
Mark, then, the new and vigorous tone given to all the powers of the mind, in its renewal unto righte
The soul, which before was benumbed and torpid, and spiritually dead, through the palsying touch of sin, is, by regenerating grace, inade“ alive unto God,” and is capable of performing its appointed functions.
7. Now, the will, once so untractable, and so easily warped in favour of evil, moves in sweet accord with the will and commands of God; it invariably decides in favour of what he approves. The judgment is informed, and the understanding enlightened, by the knowledge of those sacred truths, of which it was
Ir Hosea xii. 10.
previously ignorant. The conscience, which before was callous and insensible, now exerts its voice in behalf of God and his cause: like a faithful sentinel at his post, this vicegerent of the Lord admonishes a - regenerate man to flee from vice, and to pursue. virtue. The affections, once debased by low and grovelling objects, are spiritualized, and elevated to the pursuit of the noblest things. The memory, which was once so remarkably treacherous that it forgot what was good, and retained what was evil, is now become the repository of truth and righteous
Those new apprehensions, tastes, desires, principles, motives, and pursuits, which are found in the regenerate, demonstrate both the extent and importance of the new birth.
8. There are new apprehensions of God. Before conversion, the Lord of Hosts is generally regarded as a Being who is totally unconcerned about human actions; and he is treated accordingly :
“Because, through his forbearance, sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, the sons of men harden their hearts, and say, Behold, he will neither do good nor evilo." A different judgment, however, is formed of the character of God by the heavenborn soul. He discovers the unspotted holiness and justice of Jehovah, shining with unrivalled splendour'; and hence he concludes, that iniquity must be detested, and righteousness be approved by him, as the chief excellency in his rational creatures".
9. Renewed persons, also, view their own character in a new light. Blinded by self-love, natural men think altogether favourably of their condition. Though the wrath of God abideth on
• Eccles. vii. ll. * Deut. xxxii. 4. · Psalm iv. 3.
they know it not; and thus they go on frowardly in their own ways, until the mercy or judgments of the Lord reveal the horrors of their si tuation.
But this conceited opinion of our own worth and goodness vanishes, the moment we behold, through the mirror of faith, the unclouded glory and holiness of God”. Then a judgment of ourselves is formed, not by the false standard of human opinion, but by the infallible test of Divine truth. And what is the consequence? Why, we become sensible of manifold defects, and are made willing to acknowledge with the Prophet, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags **;” disgusting to the eye of infinite purity; and as unfit to afford us shelter from the just indignation of Heaven, as tattered garments are to defend us from the inclemency of the weather.
10. Further--A new and spiritual taste, appropriate to the renewed state of the soul, shines forth in all its desires and volitions. That insatiate thirst after riches, and the insipid pleasures of this life, discoverable in carnal men, is succeeded by a strong relish for enjoyments of a higher nature. The worldlings say,
“Who will shew us any good ?" that is, beyond that which we possess. On the contrary, the renewed man fervently prays, "Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me! Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine inereased." Now a more just estimate is formed of the world, and all created good, as well as of the incalculable worth of heavenly blessings. Those objects, therefore, which once had uu John ii. 36.
* Jobixlii. 5, 6. * Isa. Ixiv. 6.,
• Psalm in. 6-8.