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of their heart; their "shield," and their "exceeding great reward." The desire of their soul is toward him; it is their "meat and drink to do his will; " and they arc "satisfied as with marrow and fatness, while their mouth praiseth him with joyful lips." (Psalm lxiii. 5.)
2. And, in this sense also, "Every one who loveth Him that begat, loveth him that is begotten of him." (Uohn v. 1.) His spirit rejoiceth in God his Saviour. He "loveth the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." He is so "joined unto the Lord," as to be one spirit. His soul hangeth upon Him, and chooscth Him as altogether lovely, "thechiefest among ten thousand." He knoweth, he feeleth what that means, "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." "Thou art fairer than the children of men; full of grace are thy lips, because God hath anointed thee for ever!" (Psalm xlv. 2.)
3. The necessary fruit of this Love of God, is the Love of our Neighbour; of every soul which God hath made; not excepting our enemies; not excepting those who are now " despitefully using and persecuting us; "—a love, whereby we love every man as ourselves; as we love our own souls. Nay, our Lord has expressed it still more strongly, teaching us to "love one another even as He hath loved us." Accordingly, the commandment written in the hearts of all those that love God, is no other than this, "As I have loved you, so love ye one another." Now, " herein perceive we the love of God, in that he laid down his life for us." (Uohn iii. 16.) "We ought" then, as the Apostle justly infers, "to lay down our lives for the brethren." If we feel ourselves ready to do this, then do we truly love our neighbour. Then "we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we thus love the brethren." (Ver. 14.) "Hereby know we ", that we are born of God, that we "dwejl in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his [loving] Spirit." (Ch. iv. 13.) For " love is of God; and every one that thus loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." (1 John iv. 7.)
4. But some may possibly ask, Does not the Apostle say, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments?" (1 John v. 3.) Yea, and this is the love of our neighbour also, in the same sense as it is the love of God. But what would you infer from hence? That the keeping the outward commandments, is all that is implied in loving God with all your heart, with all your mind, and soul, and strength, and in loving your neighbour as yourself? That the love of God is not an affection
2. Who then arc yc that arc thus born of God? Ye " know the things which are given to you of God." Yc well know that ye are the children of God, and "can assure your hearts before him." And every one of you who has observed these words, cannot but feel, and know of a truth, whether at this hour, (answer to God and not to man !) you arc thus a child of God or no. The question is not, What you was made in baptism; (do not evade;) but, What arc you now? Is the Spirit of Adoption now in your heart? To your own heart , let the appeal be made. I ask not, whether you was born of water and of the Spirit; but arc you-wow the temple of the Holy Ghost which dwellcth in you? I allow you was "circumcised with the circumcision of Christ;" (as St. Paul emphatically terms baptism;) but docs the Spirit of Christ and of glory now rest upon you? Else "your circumcision is become uncircumcisiop."
3. Say not then in your heart, I was once baptized, therefore I am now a child of God. Alas, that consequence will by no means hold. How many are the baptized gluttons and drunkards, the baptized liars and common swearers, the baptized railers and evil-speakers, the baptized whoremongers, thieves, extortioners? What think you? Arc these now the children of God? Verily, I say unto yon, whosoever you arc, unto whom any one of the preceding characters belong, " Yc are of your father the Devil, and the works of your father yc do." Unto you I call, in the name of Him whom you crucify afresh, and in his words to your circumcised predecessors, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
4. How indeed, except yc be born again! For yc arc now dead in trespasses and sins. To say then that ye cannot be born again, that there is no new birth but in Baptism, is to seal you all under damnation, to consign you to hell, without help, without hope. And perhaps some may think this just aud right. In their zeal for the Lord of Hosts, they may say, "Yea, cut off the sinners, the Amalekitcs! Let these Gibeonitcs be utterly destroyed! They deserve no less." No; nor I; nor you. Mine and your desert, as well as theirs, is hell. And it is mere mercy, free, undeserved mercy, that we arc not uow in unquenchable fire. You will say, "But we arc washed ;" we were born again " of water and of the Spirit." So were they: this, therefore, hinders not at all, but (hut yc ■may nowbc even as they. Know yc not, that " what is highly esteemed of men is an abomination in the sight of God?" Come forth, yc "saints of the world," ye that are honoured of men, and see who will cast the first stone at them, at these wretches not fit to live upon the earth, these common harlots, adulterers, murderers. Only learn yc first what that meaneth, "cHe that hatcth his brother is a murderer." (I John iii. 15.) "He that looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt. v. 28.) "Yc adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (James iv. 4.)
5. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye" also " must be born again." "Except yc" also "be born again, yc cannot sec the kingdom of God." Lean no more on the staff of that broken reed, that yc were born again in baptism. Who denies that ye were then made children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven? But, notwithstanding this, ye are now children of the Devil. Therefore, yc must be born again. And let not Satan put it into your heart to cavil at a word, when the thing is clear. Ye have heard what arc the Marks of the children of God: all ye who have them not on your souls, baptized or unbaptized, must needs receive them, or without doubt yc will perish everlastingly. And if yc have been baptized, your only hope is this, that those who were made the children of God by baptism, but are now (he children of the Devil, may yet again receive "power to become the sons of God;" that they may receive again what they have lost, even the "Spirit of Adoption, crying in their hearts, Abba, Father!"
Amen, Lord Jesus! May every one who prcpareth his heart yet again to seek thy face, receive again that Spirit of Adoption, and cry out "Abba, Father!" Let him now again have power so to believe in thy name as to become a child of God; as to know and feel he hath " redemption in thy blood, even the forgiveness of sins," and that he " cannot commit sin because he is born of God." Let him be now " begotten again unto a living hope," so as to " purify himself as thou art pure;" and, "because he is a son," let the Spirit of love and of glory rest upon him, cleansing him " from all filthiness of flesh and spirit," and teaching him to "perfect holiness in the fear of God!"
THE GREAT PRIVILEGE OF THOSE THAT ARE BORN OF GOD.
"Whosoever is bom of God doth not commit sin."
1. It has been frequently supposed, that the being bom of God was all one with the being justified; that the New Birth and Justification were only different expressions, denoting the same thing: it being certain, on the one hand, that whosoever is justified, is also born of God; and on the other, that whoever is born of God is also justified; yea, that both these gifts of God are given to every believer in one and the same moment. In one point of time his sins are blotted out, and he is bom again of God.
2. But though it be allowed, that Justification and the New Birth are, in point of time, inseparable from each other, yet they are easily distinguished, as being not the same, but things of a widely different nature. Justification implies only a relative, the New Birth a real, change. God, in justifying us, docs something for us; in begetting us again, he does the work in ns. The former changes our outward relation to God, so that of enemies we become children; by the latter our inmost souls are changed, so that of sinners we become saints. The one restores us to the favour, the other to the image, of God. The one is the taking away the guilt, the other the taking away the power, of sin: so that, although they are joined together in point of time, yet are they of wholly distinct natures.
3. The not discerning this, the not observing the wide difference there is between being justified and being born again, has occasioned exceeding great confusion of thought in many who have treated on this subject; particularly when they have attempted to explain this great privilege of the children of