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But what if it were so, that thou were indeed the first? Some one faint or othei behoved to be the first, in drinking of each bitier the reft have drunk of. What warrant have you or 1, to limit the holy One of Israel to a trodden parh, in his dif. pensations towards us ? " Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great- waters, and thy footlieps are 'not known," Pial. lxxvii. 19. If the Lord should carry you to heaven by some retired road, and let you in at a back-door, (so to speak) you would have no ground to complain. Learn to allow fove. reignty a latitude; be at your duiy: and let no affiction cast a vail over any evidences you otherwise bare for your being in the fate of
grace : po man knoweth either their love or hatred by all that is before them,,' Eccief. ix, s.
USE II. Ye that are strangers to this new birth, be convinced of the abfolute necesliy of it. Are all in the state of grace born again? Then ye have neither part nor lot in it, who are not born again. I must tell you in the words of our Lord and Saviour, (and that he would speak them to your hearts) " Ye mult be born again," John ii. 17. And for your conviction consider these few things.
First, Regeneration is absolutely neceffary to qualify you to do any thing really good and acceptable to God. While you are not born again, your best works are but glittering fins; for though the matter of them is good, they are quite marred in the making. Consider, (1.) That without regeneration there is no faith; and, “ without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. xi. 6. Faith is a vital act of the new-born foul. The Evangelist; shewing the different entertainment our Lord Jelus bad from different perfoos; fome receiving him, fome rejecting him ; points at regenerating grace, as the true rise of that difference ; without which, never one would have received him. He tells us, that as many as received him, were thefe which were born.mof God, John i. 11, 12, 13. Unregenerate men may presume ; but true faith they cannot have. Faith is a flower, that grows not in the field of nature. As the tree cannot grow without a root, neither can a man believe without the new nature, whereof the principle of believing is a part. (2.) Withour regeneration, a man's works are dead works. As is the principle, so muft the effects be: if the lungs be rotten, the breath will be unfaroury: and he who, at belt
, is dead in fin, bis works ac beft will be but dead works. "Unto them that are defled and unbelieving, is nothing pure being abominable, and
disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate, Titi. 15, 16. Could we say of a man, that he is more blameless in his life, than any oiher in the world, that he macerates his. body with fasting ; and has made his knees as horns with come tinual praying; but he is nor born again: that exceprion would mar all
. As if one mould. lay, there is a well-propos tioned body, but the soul is gone, it is but a dead lump. This is a: melting consideration. Thou doft many things materially , good'; but God faith, All these things avail not, as long as ? see the old nature reigning in the man, Gal. vi. 15. Por, in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor upcircumcision, but a new creature."
If thou art -not born again, (1.) All thy reformation is naught in tire fight of God. Thon hait that the door, but the thief is still in the house. It may be thou art not what once: thou wast, yet thou art not what thou mult be, if ever thou. feest heaven : for, '“ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," John iii. 3. (2.) Thy prayers are: an abomination to the Lord, Proy. xv. 8. It may be, others admire thy seriousness; thou criest as for. thy life: but God accounts of the opening of thy mouth, as one would account of the opening of a grave full of rottennefs, Rom. vi. 13." Their throat is an open sepulchre." Others are affected with thy prayers.g, which seem to them, as if they woold rend this heavens : but God accounts them as the howling of a dog; " They have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds,” Hof. vii, 141 Ophers take thee for a wrestler and prevailer with God: but he can take no delighi witir thee, nor thy prayers neither, Isa. Ixvi. 3. “He shar killeth an ox, is as if bellew a man :: he that facrificerh a lamba as if he cut off a dog's neck:-he that burneth incense, as if he bleffed an idol? Why that ?: Because thou art yet in the gall. of bitterness, and bond of:iniquity, (3.) A}l thou bast done for God and isis cause in the world, though it may be followed with temporal rewards, yet is lost as to-divine acceptance.com This is clear from the safe of Jehu); who was indeed rewarded. with a kingdon, for dois executing due vengeance 'upon the house of Ahab; as being a work good for ihe maiter of its because it was commanded of God, as you may see, 2, Kings X. 13. Yet he was punished for it in his posterity, because he did ir not in a right nianner, Hof. i. "I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.', God locks mainly to the heart.: and if so, truly albeit thy outward appearance be faires
than that of many others, yet the hidden man of thy heart is loathsome : thou lookelt well before men, but ait thou as Moses was, fair io God," as the margin hath it, acts vii. 20. what a difference is there betwixt the characters of Afa and Amaziah : “ The high places were not removed ; nevertheless, Ala his heart was perfect with the Lord all his days," i Kings XV. 14. “ Amaziah did that which was right in the fight of the Lord, but not with a perfect beart,"' 2 Chron. XXV. 2. be thou art zealous against sin in others, and doft admonish them to theit dury, and reprove them for their sin: and they hate thee, because thou dost thy duty. But I must tell thee,
God hates thee too, because thou dost it not in a right manner ; and that thou canst never do, whilft thou art not born again. Lastly, All thy struggles against fin, in thine own heart and life, are caught. The proud Pharisee afflicted his body with fafting; and God struck his soul, in the mean time with a sep. tence of condemnation, Luke xviii. Balaam Aruggled with his coverous temper to that degree, that though he loved the wages of unrighteousness, yet he would not win them by cur. fing Ifrael; but he died the death of the wicked, Numb. xxxi. 8. All thou dost, while in an unregenerate stare, is for rhyfelf: and therefore it will fare with thee, as with a subject, who having reduced the rebels, put the crown on his own head; and there fore løseth all his good service, and his head too.
Object. If it be thus with us, then we need never perform any religious duty at all. Aof. The conclufion is not juft. No inability of thine can loose thee from the duty God's law lays on thee: and there is less evil in thy doing thy duty, than there is in the omitting of it. But there is a mids betwixt onit:ing of duty, and the doing of it as thou duft it. A man ordercth masons to build a boufe;, if they quite neglect the work, that will not be accepted : if they fall on, aod build upon the old toiten foundation, neither will ibat please : but they nust raze the old foundation, and build on firm ground. “ Go thou and do like wise.?! In the mean time, it is not in vain for thee, even for thee, to seek the Lord: for dio? he regards thee not, yet
have respect to his owa ordinance, and do thee good thereby, as was said before,
SECONDLY, Without regeneration there is no communion with God. There is a society on earth, whose " fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son Jesus Christ,” 3 Jeho i. 3. Put out of that fociety all the unregenerate are excluded; for they are all enemies to God, as ye heard before at large. Now,
“ Can two walk together, except they be agreed ?" Amosili 3. They are all unholy: and what “ Communion hath light with darkness - Christ with Belial ? 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. They may have a few and resemblance of holiness, but they are strangers lo true holiness, and therefore without God in the world. How fad is this case, to be employed in religious duties; but to have no fellowship with God in them! ye would not be content with your meat, ; unless it fed you ; nor with your clothes, unless they kept you warm: and how can you fatisfy yourselves with your duties, while they are not effectual to your communion with God?
THIRDLY, Regeneration is absolutely necessary to qualify you for heaven. None go to heaven but they that are made meet for it, Col. i. 12. As it was with Solomon's temple, 1 Kings vi. 7. so it is with the temple above: “ It is built of stone made ready before it is brought thither :" namely, of lively stones, i Per. ii. 5. “ wrought for the same thing," 2 Cor. v. 5. for they cannot be laid in that glorious building, jolt as they came out of the quarry of depraved nature : Jewels of gold are not meet for swine ; and far lefs jewels of glory for unrenewed fioners. Beggars in their rags, are not neet for kings houses; nor finners to enter into the King's palace, without the raiment of needle work, Pfal. xlv. 14, 15. What wife man would bring fishes out of the water to feed in his meadow ? or send his oxen to feed in the sea ? Even as little are the unregenerate meet for heaven, or is heaven meet for them. It would never be liked by them,
The unregenerate would find fault with heaven on feveral accounts. As, (1.) That it is a strange country. Heaven is the renewed man's native country : his Father is in heaven; his mother is Jerusalem, which is above, Gal, iv. 26. He is “ born from above,'' John iii. 3. Heaven is his hone, 2 Cor. V. 1. Therefore he looks on himlelf as a stranger an. this earth, and his bead is homeward: Heß. xi. 16. « They desire a berter country, that is, an heavenly." But the unregenerate nuan is " the man of the earth," Pfal. x. 18. Written in the earth,"
Now home is home, be it never so homely; therefore, be" minds earthly things,” Pbilip.iii. 19. There is a peculiar sweetness in our native soil; and hardly are men drawn to leave it, and dwell in a strange country. In no case does that prevail more, than in this ; for unrenewed meo would quit their pretenlions to heaven, were it not that they see they cannot make a better of it. (2.) There is nothing there of what they de
light most in, as most agreeable to the carnal heart. Rev.
And there shall in no wise enter into it, any thing · that defileth.', Wheo Mshomet gave out paradife to be a place of sensual delights, bis religion was greedily embraced : for that is the heaven men naturally chuse. If the covetous man could get bags full of gold there, and the voluptuous man, can promise himself bis fenfual delights there ; they might be reconciled to heaven, and meet for it too : but since it is not so, thos they may utter fair words about it, truly it has little of their hearts. (3.) Every corner there is filled with that which, of all things they have the lealt liking of; and that is holiness, true holiness, perfect ħoliness. Were one that ablors swine's Hesh bidden to a feast, where all the dishes were of that fort of meat, but variously prepared; he would find fault with every dish at the table, notwithstanding all the art used to make them palatable. It is true, there is joy in heaven, but it is holy joy; there are pleasures in heaven, but they are holy pleasures : there are places to stand by in heaven, but it is holy ground. That holiness that cafts up in every place, and in every thing there, would mar all to the unregenerare. (4.) Were they carried thither, they would not only change their place, which would be a great heart-break to them, but they would change their company too.
Truly they would never like the company there, who care not for communion with God here ; nor value the fellowship of his people, at leaft in the vitals of practical godliness. Many indeed mix themselves with the godly on earth, to procure a name to themselves, and to cover the naugh. tiness of their hearts; but that trade could not be managed there. (5). They would never like the employment of heaven, they care fo little for it now. The business of the saints there, would be an intolerable burden to them, seeing it is not agreeable to their nalure. To be taken up in beholding, admiring and praising of “ Him that lietoth upon the throne, and of the Lamb," would be work unsuitable, and therefore unsavoury to an unrenewed soul. Lastly, they would find this fault with it, that the whole is of everlasting continuance. This would be a killing ingredient in it, to them. How would such as now account the fabbath-day à burden, brock the celebraring of an everlasting fabbath in the heavens?
Lastly Regeneration is absolutely necessary to your being admięted into heaven. John iii. 3. No heaven without Tho' Carnal men could digest all these things which make heaven so unsuitable for them, yet God will dever suffer them to come