« AnteriorContinuar »
fall a-praying, as for the new born babe to fall a-crying, Acts ix. 11. "Behold, he prayeth." His heart wil be a temple for God, and his houfe a church. His devotion, which before was fuperficial and formal, is now fpiritual and lively; forafmuch as heart and tongue are touched with a live-coal from heaven; and he refts not in the mere performing of duties, as careful only to get his task done; but in every duty feeking communion with God in Chrift, juftly confidering them as means appointed of God for that end; and reckoning himself difappointed if he mifs of it. Thus far of the nature of regeneration.
The Refemblance betwixt Natural and Spiritual
II. I come to fhew why this change is called Regeneration, a being born again. It is fo called, becaufe of the resemblance betwixt natural and fpiritual generation, which lies in the following particulars.
FIRST, Natural generation is a myftérious thing and fo is fpiritual generation, John iii. 8. " The wind bloweth where it lifteth, and thou heareft the found thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: fo is every one that is born of the Spirit." The work of the Spirit is felt, but his way of working is a myftery we cannot comprehend. A new light is let into the mind, and the will is renewed; but how that light is conveyed thither, how the will is fettered with cords of love, and how the rebel is made a willing captive, we can no more tell, than we can tell "how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child," Ecclef. xi. 5. As a man hears the found of the wind, and finds it stirring; but knows not where it begins, and where it ends: fo is every one that is born of the Spirit; he finds the change that is made upon him, but how it is produced he knoweth nor. One thing he may know, that whereas he was blind, now he feeth: but the feed of grace doth " fpring and grow up, he knoweth_not_ how." Mark iv. 26, 27.
SECONDLY, In both, the creature comes to a being it had hot before. The child is not, till he be generate; and a man has no gracious being, no being in grace, till he be regenerate. Regeneration is not fo much the curing of a fick man, as the quickning of a dead man, Eph. . 1, 5. Man in his depraved ij. itate is a mere non entity in grace; and is brought into a new being, by the power of him," who calleth things that be not,
as though they were: being created in Jefus Chrift unto good works," Eph. ii. 10. Therefore our Lord Jefus, to give ground of hope to the Laodiceans, in their wretched and miferabl: ftate, propofeth himself as "the beginning of the creation of God," Rev. iii. 14. Namely, the active beginning of it; for all things "were made by him at firft," John i. 3. From whence they might gather, that feeing he made them when they were noth ing, he could make them over again when worse than nothing; the fame hand that made them his creatures, could make them Dew creatures.
THIRDLY, As the child is merely paffive in generation, fo is the child of God in regeneration. The one contributes nothing to its own generation; neither does the other contribute any thing by way of efficiency,. to its own regeneration: for tho' a man may lay himself down at the pool; yet he hath no hand in moving of the water, no efficacy in performing of the cure. Que is born the child of a king, another the child of a beggar: the child has no hand at all in this difference. God leaves fome in their depraved state; others he brings into a ftate of grace or regeneracy. If thou be thus honoured, no thanks to thee; for " who maketh thee to differ from another?" 1.Cor. iv. 73.
FOURTHLY, There is a wonderful contexture of parts in both births. Admirable is the ftructure of man's body, in which there is fuch a variety of organs nothing wanting, nothing, fuperfluous.. The Pfalmift confidering his own body, looks on it as a piece of marvellous work, "I am fearfully and wonder. fully made, faith he, Pfal cxxxix. 14 and " curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth," ver 15. That is, in the womb, where I know not how the bones do grow, more. than I know what is a doing in the loweft parts of the earth. In natural generation,, we are curioufly wrought, as a piece of needle-work; as the word imports: even fo it is in generation, Pfal. xlv. 14 "She fhall be brought unto the King, in raiment of needle-work, raiment curiously wrought." It is the fame word in both texts. And what that raiment is, the Apoitle, tells us, Eph. iv. 24. It is the new man, which, after God, is created in righteoufnels and true holiness" That is the raiment he faith, in the fame place, we must put on; not-excluding the imputed righteoufnefs of Chrift.. Both are curiously wrought, mafter-pieces of the manifold wisdom of God.. O the wonderful contexture of graces in the new creature! O gloriouscreature, new made after the image of God! It is grace for
grace in Christ, which makes up the new man, John i. 16. Even as in bodily generation, the child has member for member in the parent; has every member the parent has, in a certain proportion.
FIFTHLY, All this in both cafes hath its rife from that which is in itself very finall and inconfiderable. O the power of God, in making fuch a creature of the corruptible feed! and much more in bringing forth the new creature from fo fmall begin. nings: it is as "the little cloud like a man's hand, which spread till heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain," Kings xiii. 44, 45. A man gets a word at a fermon, which hundreds befide him hear and let flip: but it remains with him, works in him, and never leaves him, till the little world be turned up-fide-down by it; that is, till he be come a new man. It is like the vapour that got up into Abafuerus's head, and cut off fleep from his eyes, Efther vi. 1. which proved a spring of such motions, as never ceased, until Mordecai, in royal pomp, was brought on horse back through the street, proud Haman trudging at his foot; the fame Haman afterwards hanged, Mordecai advanced, and the church deli vered from Haman's hellish plot. The grain of mustard-feed becometh a tree, Matth. xiii. 21, 22. God loves to bring great things out of fmall beginnings.
SIXTHLY, Natural generation is carried on by degrees, Job x. 10." Haft thou not poured me out as milk, and crud. died me like cheese ?" So is regeneration. It is with the foul, ordinarily, in regeneration, as with the blind man cured by our Lord, who first faw men as trees walking, afterwards faw every man clearly, Matth. viii. 23, 24, 25. It is true regene ration, being, ftrictly fpeaking a paffing from death to life, the foul is quickned in a moment: like as, when the embryo is brought to perfection in the womb, the foul is infufed into the lifelef lump. Nevertheless, we may imagine fomewhat like conception in fpiritual generation, whereby the foul is prepared for quickning: and the new creature is capable of growth, Pet. ii. 2. and of life more abundantly, John x. 10.
SEVENTHLY, In both there are new relations. The regenerate may call God, Father; for they are his children, John 1. 12, 13. begotten of him, 1 Pet. i. 3. The bride, the Lamb's wife, (that is, the church) is their mother, Gal. iv. 27. They are related, as brethren, as fifters, to angels and glorified faints, the family of heaven. They are of the heavenly ftock: and the meanest of them, "the base things of the world,"
1 Cor. 1. 28. the kinless things, as the word imports, who cannot boast of the blood that runs in their veins, are yet, by their new birth, near of kin with the excellent in the earth.
EIGHTHLY, There is a likeness betwixt the parent and the child. Every thing that generates, generates its like; and the regenerate are. "partakers of the divine nature," 2 Pet. i. 4.the moral perfections of the divine nature, are, in measure and degree, communicated to the renewed foul; and thus the divine image is retrieved: fo that, as the child refembles the father, the new creature refembles God himself, being "holy as he is holy."
LASTLY, As there is no birth without pain, both to the mother and to the child; fo there is great pain in bringing forth the new creature. The children have more or lefs of thefe birth pains, whereby they are pricked in their heart, Acts ii. 37.The foul has fore pains when under conviction and humiliation:
A wounded fpirit who can bear? The mother is pained, Zion travails." Ifa. Ixvi. 8. she fighs, groans, crieth, and hath hard labour in her minifters and members, to bring forth children to her Lord, Gal. iv. 19. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Chrift be formed in you.' And never was a mother more feelingly touched with joy, that a man-child was born into the world, than fhe is upon the new birth of her children. But what is more remarkable than all this, we read not only of our Lord Jefus Chrift's travail, (or toil of foul) Ifa. Hii. 17. but (what lies more directly to our purpose) of his pains, or pangs, as of one travelling in child-birth; fo the word ufed Ads it. 24. properly fignifies. Well may he call the new creature, as Rachel called her dear-bought fon, Benoni, i. e. "The fon of my forrow" and, as the called another, Naphtali, i. e. My wrestling :" for the pangs of that travail put him to ftrong crying and tears," Heb. v. 7. yea, in ❝ an agony and bloody fweat," Luke xxii. 44. And, in the end, he died of thefe pangs; they became, to him, the pains of death, Acts ii. 24.
The Doctrine of Regeneration applied.
USE I. By what is faid, you may try whether you are in the state of grace or not. If ye be brought out of the ftate of wrath or ruin, into the state of grace or falvation; ye are new Creatures, ye are born again. But ye will fay, How fhall we know whether we be born again or not? Anf. Did you ask me, if the fun were rifen; and how you should know, whether it
were rifen, or not? I would bid you lock up to the heavens, and fee it with your eyes. And, would you know if the light be rifen in your hearts? Look in, and fee. Grace is light, and difcovers itself. Look into thy mind, fee if it has been illumi nate in the knowledge of God. Haft thou been inwardly taught what God is? Were thine eyes ever turned inward, to fee thyfelf, the finfulness of thy depraved ftate; the corruption of thy nature; the fins of thy heart and life? Waft thou ever let into a view of the exceeding finfulness of fin? Have thine eyes seen King Jefus in his beauty; the manifold wisdom of God in him; his tranfcendent excellency, and abfolute fulness and sufficiency with the vanity and emptiness of all things elfe? Next, What change is there on thy will? Are the fetters taken off, where-with it was fometimes bound up from moving heaven-wards? And has thy will got a new fet? Doft thou find an averfion to fin, and a pronenefs to good wrought in thy heart? Is thy foul turned towards God as thy chief end? Is thy will new molded into fome measure of conformity to the preceptive and provis dential will of God: Art thou heartily reconciled to the Cove nant of peace, and fixedly difpofed to the receiving of Chrift, as he is offered in the Gofpel? And as to a change on your affections, are they rectified and placed on right objects? Are your defires going after God? Are they "to his name and the remembrance of him?" Ifa. xxvi. 8. Are your hopes in him? Is your love fet upon him, and your hatred fet against fin? Does your offending› a good God affect your heart with forrow and do you fear fin more than fuffering? Are your affections regulated? Are they, with refpect to created comforts, brought down, as being too, high and with refpect to God in Chrift, fcrewed up, as being too low? Has he the chief feat in your hearts? And are all your lawful wordly comforts and enjoyments laid at his feet? Has > thy confcience been enlightned and awakened, refufing all cafe, but from the application of the blood of a Redeemer? Is thy memory fanctified, thy body, confecrated to the fervice of God? And art thou now walking in newnefs of life? Thus ye may difcover, whether ye are born again or not.
But, for your further help in this matter, I will discourse a little of another fign of regeneration, namely, The love of the brethren an evidence whereby the weakest and most timorous faints have often had comfort, when they could have little or no confolation from other marks propofed to them.. This the: Apoftle lays down, 1 John iii. 14. "We know that we have paffed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. It