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tance from instruction, when in urgent danger, or deep afflictions, "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" takes possession of their souls. Then the truths, before coldly assented to, are recollected and believed in a more cordial manner, and living faith begins to produce all its genuine effects. This change of heart, I apprehend, is called in Scripture, being born again, born of the Spirit, born of God, begotten of God, it is regeneration, the beginning of sanctification: and the life thus communicated, is not merely light in the understanding, but spiritual perception and sensibility in the judgment and conscience, submission in the will, and holy love in the affections, though in a small and feeble measure. “As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."

The language used concerning those who believed the gospel confirms this conclusion. Thus when Apollos visited Corinth, he "helped them much who had believed through grace." The word grace may mean, either the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, or unmerited mercy; and the former seems here to be meant: but if the latter signification be insisted on, St. Paul expounds the passage when he says, "God who is rich in mercy, ́ for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; by grace ye are saved." Eph ii. 4, 5. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Tit. iii. 3-7. Now it is evident beyond dispute, that in the judgment of the apostle, as here stated, the first effect of the Lord's special love to those who are dead in sin, and slaves to divers lusts, consists in quickening and regenerating them; and they are regenerated that they may be justified, by being made capable of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In like manner, when the gospel was preached at Antioch, "the hand of the Lord was with them," (both the teachers and their auditories)" and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord." Acts xi. 21. By the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit the dead in sin were made alive to God, and in consequence they believed and turned to the Lord as his worshippers and servants. Here the distinction between regeneration and conversion, though often treated as scholastic and subtile, ought to be noted. We are passive in receiving divine life, though it may be communicated while we are using the appointed means, or bestowing much diligence from natural principles; but we are active in turning to the Lord by true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The former is regeneration, the latter conversion; and it has principally arisen from the disregard of this obvious, and I must add important, distinction (important to accurate views and just reasoning in controverted subjects) that many have spoken of regeneration as the effect instead of the immediate cause of faith: for it cannot be denied that conversion, the soul's active turning itself to the Lord, is always the effect of faith, in some of its exercises, and generally of explicit faith in Christ: but then regeneration precedes both faith and conversion, as the cause and source of them, in the same manner that life precedes all kinds of vital motion.

"I have planted," says the apostle, " and Apollos watered: but God gave the increase." Surely this proves that no wisdom of words or excellence of speech; no full and faithful declaration of the truth; no clear explanations, conclusive arguments, or apt illustrations; no eloquent addresses to the passions, or solemn appeals to the conscience; no alluring representation of the Saviour's compassion and love; no urgent persuasions or alarming expostulations; no power of truth forcing itself upon the understanding; no undeniable miracles wrought before men's eyes, or even on their persons; no, not

even the gift of miracles istelf can prevail with an unregenerate sinner to welcome the humbling holy salvation of the gospel. His carnal mind will, after all, be" enmity against God:" and as it is not, and cannot be subject to the law; so it will certainly either reject or abuse the gospel, which was expressly intended to "magnify the law and make it honourable.' "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea we establish the law." A dead faith, a presumptuous confidence, selfish affections, and formal worship and obedience is the sum total which can be produced without regeneration.

"God commended his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." Thus the way of reconciliation was opened. He sent his ambassadors of peace, and by them besought us to be reconciled to God: and thus the way of reconciliation was made manifest. He regenerates our souls; and then we repent, believe, are justified and reconciled, and become the friends of God; and we may adopt these words: "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life." Rom. v. 1-11. "You who were some time alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled." Col. i. 21.

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The apostle says in one place, They that are in the flesh cannot please God." And in another he states, that "Enoch before his translation had this testimony that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him; for "he that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Rom. viii. 6-9. Heb. xi. 5, 6. Hence it must follow, either that none but the regenerate are capable even of that lowest exercise of true faith, which is here described, or that an unregenerate man may please God. For St. Paul shows what he meant by the expression in the flesh, where he subjoined, "But ye are not in the flesn, but in the Spirit; if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you: now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

The proud and carnal enemy of God may tremble, feel temporary pangs of conviction, feign submission, and even yield a forced and unwilling obe dience, as Pharaoh did. He may perceive danger, be filled with anguish and horror, and in this state of alarm cry for mercy, and seem willing to accept of it in any way the Lord pleases: but he cannot cordially allow the justice of the sentence he would deprecate; and therefore his reliance on mercy can be only pretended. He is burdened with dread of punishment, but not with a sense of guilt; for guilt implies the desert of punishment: but the person here characterized excuses and palliates his sins, and gives intimations that he thinks the law unreasonably strict and its sentence needlessly severe. You may indeed delineate a character of God suited to the taste of his heart, and frame a gospel soothing to his self-love: yet he cannot but be at enmity against an infinitely holy and just God, and his spiritual and perfect law; and the gospel of Christ likewise must be his aversion, unless misrepresented or misunderstood. Even the sense of danger in this case soon wears off, unless it terminate in despair: "There is no fear of God before his eyes.' He feels not the load of his sins in a humbling, wearying, and abiding manner. He is spiritually dead, and incapable of spiritual perception and discernment; and regeneration alone can render the heart susceptible of other feelings and affections. But when this change has taken place, in proportion as the new-born babe, by desiring and drinking in "the sincere milk of the word," becomes acquainted with the perfections and commandments of God, and his own character and situation, guilt oppresses his conscience, and permanently burdens his heart, except as the knowledge of the gospel gives him relief. Now he groans and struggles for deliverance: he fears, mourns, prays, and in a confused manner hopes for mercy, even if his acquaintance with the truth be very defective: nor will he ever find rest to his soul till he comes to Christ for it, whatever methods he may try for that purpose. Perhaps the Lord may show him his refuge, as speedily as he discovers his

guilt and danger, and in this case he soon has " peace and joy in believing." Nay, it sometimes happens, that a man is taught the nature and glory of the gospel, and the way of salvation which it reveals, even before he has distinct and deep views of his own exceeding sinfulness; and then all other holy dispositions seem to be subsequent to faith in Christ and a lively hope of salvation; yet in fact that state and feeling of heart, which disposes us to welcome the true gospel, essentially implies the existence and incipient actings of all other gracious affections.

These cases occur most frequently during great revivals of religion, or among those who have been previously well instructed in evangelical truth: but we should be careful not to limit the Lord, when we hear of sudden conversions in other circumstances.-The tree must be known by its fruits.

On other occasions an ignorant or careless trifler, a self-righteous pharisee, a prejudiced heretic, a man rivetted in error by "science, falsely so called," a scoffing infidel, or even a daring blasphemer, is made a partaker of spiritual life; and the Lord sees good to lead him by slow degrees into the knowledge of the truth. He now trembles and hopes alternately; he searches the Scripture, and beseeches God to show him the way of salvation: yet he strives against conviction, and his prejudices exclude the light which shines around him. He acts conscientiously, and obeys in difficult circumstances, from a general belief of God's word, and reliance on his promises; yet he knows but little of the truth, and does not perceive in what way sinners may trust in the Lord, and expect promised blessings from him. He tries to establish his own righteousness; but increasing knowledge and spiritual perception frustrate all his attempts, and prolong his uneasiness and remorse. He would fain make some compromise, and retain at least his old foundation: but he is driven from one false refuge after another, till he is ready to give up all hope. He has perhaps long considered the preachers and professors of evangelical truth, as either deluded enthusiasts or artful deceivers ; and is therefore cautious to excess. He has been accustomed to regard the doctrine of free salvation as unfavourable to personal holiness; and clearer discoveries of the divine purity and justice increase his assurance that true religion must be practical, and produce obedience and conformity to God; though he has not hitherto understood the sanctifying tendency of the gospel. He feels, however, a powerful attraction to the Saviour, as the centre and rest of his soul, and he imperceptibly verges towards him; though nothing can be more contrary than this to the former disposition and experience of his heart. But at length, after many fluctuations, he is brought to understand and believe the testimony of God concerning his Son, and to perceive the nature, suitableness, and glory of his salvation. Then his difficulties vanish; in admiring and adoring love and gratitude, with Thomas, he acknowledges the Saviour as his Lord and his God, and "counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ," and the blessings he is exalted to bestow.

This is a compendious state of the author's own experience, during the course of about two years, as he has elsewhere more fully related it: and he cannot doubt but there was life, spiritual perception, reverence of God's authority, earnest desires of happiness in his favour and service, longings after holiness, and a general reliance on the divine mercy and faithfulness during that whole period, at some times as vigorous as any he has since experienced. He has likewise met with several others who have been led in a similar way.

The examples of Nicodemus, of Joseph of Arimathea, and even of the apostles themselves, exhibit something of the same kind: for before our Lord's resurrection, none of them seem to have believed more concerning him, than many nominal Christians now do; only they believed with the heart, and their faith, the effect of regeneration, influenced their practice. Was not Peter

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alive to God, when Christ said, "Blessed art thou Simon Barjonas, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my father which is in heaven ?” Yet the doctrine of our Lord's crucifixion, which we deem essential to the gospel, was an offence to him as well as to the other apostles. If it be said, "they were under a peculiar dispensation:" let it be also allowed, that others may be under a similar dispensation. The doctrine of the Messiah's expiating the sins of his people, by his sufferings and death, was plainly enough revealed in the Old Testament. John Baptist gave clear intimations of it, John i. 29. and Christ himself frequently taught it: yet the prejudices of his disciples prevented them from receiving it; and he did not see good at once to remove those prejudices. We should scarcely allow any one to be a true believer in Christ, if he did not avow a dependence on his blood for the pardon of sin; yet the foregoing facts demonstrate that living faith may exist, in certain circumstances, where this dependence is not exercised.

Cornelius was doubtless regenerate and a partaker of spiritual life, when he feared God with all his house, gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway:" and when the angel said, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God." Yet Peter was sent to "tell him words, whereby he and his house might be saved." Perhaps there is no entire system, for which men pertinaciously contend, that will in all respects coincide with this example. Acts x. 2—4, 31 ; xi. 14.

Should it be inquired, what would become of such a man if he should die before he actually believed in Christ? not to insist on the absurdity of the supposition, which implies, that God in special love had begun a good work in a sinner's heart, and had been prevented by his death from accomplishing that gracious purpose; I cannot hesitate in answering directly to the point, that he would certainly go to heaven. I apprehend, that whatever comes from the regenerating Spirit of Christ is accepted through the merits and mediation of Christ.-Infants "being by nature the children of wrath even as others," cannot be meet for heaven without regeneration; yet even when regenerate, they are incapable of explicit faith: though that state of heart is produced, whence faith, as well as every other grace will spring if they live beyond the state of infancy and as they fell in the first Adam without their own sin, they may doubtless be saved in the second Adam without actually believing

in him.

No reflecting and candid person will maintain that this doctrine represents the sinner as bringing something of his own to Christ, instead of receiving all from him; for he is not only the way, but the truth and the life also. The rays that precede the rising of the sun, come as certainly from it as those which follow. Christ is exalted not only to pardon and justify the penitent and believing, but likewise to give both repentance and faith. We have naturally no more a moral or spiritual ability to believe in Christ, than we have to fulfil the whole law; and the life communicated by his Spirit, which disposes and enables us to welcome him, as "made of God unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," is itself the purchase of his blood, and the fruit of his intercession." The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord;" but he works in a certain order, and makes some of his gifts a preparation for the rest, and regeneration in particular prepares the soul for receiving all other blessings.

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth."-" Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. And this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you." James i. 18. 1 Pet. i. 23-25. They who have endeavoured to explain away these texts, which plainly teach, that the word of the gospel is as the seed of regeneration, have deviated from scriptural simplicity; and should we attempt to show the manner in which the Holy Spirit uses this word of truth in regenerating the soul, we should fall into a similar fault. We know not what life is, or how it is communicated. We cannot explain the manner in which animals or vegetables are produced according to the


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course of nature; how then can we comprehend the operation of God in the new creation? Where the truths of the Scripture are preached, or in any way attended to, there sinners are regenerated: where these truths are wholly unknown or disregarded, such effects do not follow. This suffices to direct our conduct; but if we depend on the means, or ascribe the effect to them, we shall be disappointed.

Man is capable of understanding, remembering, reflecting, hoping, fearing, and all other exercises of an intelligent mind, even while destitute of spiritual perception. The word of God is addressed to his understanding, heart, and conscience and in general, even when it obtains the assent of the understanding, and the conscience is disquieted, the heart revolts, and in one way or other, manifests its aversion. But in some instances this aversion is overcome, nay, a state of the affections diametrically opposite takes place ; and it is evidently scriptural to ascribe this change to regenerating grace, though we cannot explain the manner in which the Holy Spirit uses divine truth to effect it; or determine how far that faith, of which natural men are capable, may in some cases be rendered subservient to it. It is however, necessary to observe, that the Scriptures no where give the least intimation of our being regenerated by faith, though it will be shown in the sequel that we are sanctified by faith.

Adam, created after the image of God in holiness, was capable of changing, and becoming unholy, without any positive divine interposition. Satan's insinuations, therefore, might, when believed, produce by their own efficacy his image in the soul: yet surely man had begun to fall at the moment when he favourably listened to the temptation; and his belief of Satan's lies was wicked in itself, as well as the principle of his subsequent wickedness. But fallen man has no natural disposition to believe the holy truth of God: the progress therefore of sanctification may be ascribed to the energy of faith, by which the Spirit carries on his work of renovation; but the disposition so to believe, as to be influenced by faith to holy obedience, must itself be the effect of special grace, and the beginning of the sinner's recovery from his fallen state. So that the argument, taken from the way in which Adam fell, to prove that faith precedes regeneration, is grounded on an evident misapprehension.

Under the notion that faith precedes and is the subordinate cause of regeneration, schemes are formed concerning the best manner of preaching, and the subjects principally to be insisted on in order to produce this active principle in the hearts of unregenerate men! And those parts of Scripture are commonly preferred, which speak most fully of evangelical subjects; under the persuasion that a favourable opinion of the divine character, and an encouraging hope of mercy, have a tendency to produce a right temper of mind, and to reconcile the heart to God! But surely this arises from inattention to the testimony of the apostle, that "the carnal mind is enmity against God." For this most certainly means, that the heart of unregenerate men is averse to the real character of God; and not to a mistaken notion concerning him, as these devices seem to suppose. The unholy heart irreconcilably hates the holy perfections of the Lord, and whatever bears the stamp of his holiness; and cannot possibly be pleased with a holy gospel, and nothing short of a total perversion of the truth can satisfy it. Hence unscriptural systems are devised and propagated: for if the infinite justice and holiness of God, and his determination to take vengeance on all the workers of iniquity, be kept out of sight; if his holy law be either misrepresented as to its demands and sanction, or spoken of as unreasonably strict and severe: and if the gospel be considered as a kind of compensation for the rigour of the law, that it might be dispensed with and set aside, instead of being honoured and established?-then unregenerate sinners may be persuaded to embrace the system, to presume on God's mercy, and experience a variety of high, selfish, and transient affections. They will however continue unregenerate, and as much at enmity with the holy character, law, gospel, and service of the ne, living, and true God, as ever: and more scriptural views of these sub

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