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committed adultery with her already in his heart," Mata thew v. 28. « Ye 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” ye also “ be born again, ye cannot see the kingdom of God.” Lean no more on the staff of that broken reed, that ye 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, ye must be born again. And let not Satan put it into your beart, to cavil at a word, when the thing is clear. Ye have heard, what are the marks of the children of God: all ye who bave them not in your souls, baptized or unbaptized, must needs receive them, or without doubt ye will perish everlastingly. And if ye have been baptized, your only hope is this, That those who were made the children of God by baptism, but are now the 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!"
6. Amen, Lord Jesus! May every one who prepareth 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 the child of God; as to know and feel he bath“ redemption in thy blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” and that he 66 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.
I John iii. 9.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit Sin."
1. IT has been frequently supposed, that the being born of God was all one with the being justified; that the NewBirth 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 born 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, does something for us: in begetting us again, he does the work in us. 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 God; to shew how “ whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin.”
4. In order to apprehend this clearly, it may be necessary, First, to consider what is the proper meaning of that expression, Whosoever is born of God; and, Secondly, to enquire, in what sense he doth not commit sin.
I. 1. First, we are to consider, what is the proper meaning of that expression, “ Whosoever is born of God.” And, in general, from all the passages of holy Writ, wherein this expression, the being born of God, occurs, we may learn that it implies not barely the being baptized, or any outward change whatever ; but a vast inward change, a change wrought in the soul, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; a change in the whole manner of our existence; for, from the moment we are born of God, we live in quite another manner than we did before ; we are, as it were, in another world.
2. The ground and reason of the expression are easy to be understood. When we undergo this great change, we may, with much propriety, be said to be born again, because there is so near resemblance between the circumstances of the natural and of the spiritual birth ; so that to consider the circumstances of the natural birth, is the most easy way to understand the spiritual.
3. The child which is not yet born subsists indeed by the air, as does every thing which has life, but feels it not, nor any thing else, unless in a very dull and imperfect manner. It hears little, if at all, the organs of hearing being as yet closed up. It sees nothing, having its eyes fast shut, and being surrounded with utter darkness. There are, it may be,
some faint beginnings of life, when the time of its birth draws nigh; and some motion consequent thereon, whereby it is distinguished from a mere mass of matter. But it has no senses; all these avenues of the soul are hitherto quite shut up. Of consequence, it has scarcely any intercourse with this visible world : nor any knowledge, conception, or idea, of the things that occur therein.
4. The reason why he that is not yet born, is wholly a stranger to the visible world, is, not because it is afar off. It is very nigh. It surrounds him on every side. But partly, because he has not those senses, they are not yet opened in his soul, whereby alone it is possible to hold commerce with the material world; and partly, because so thick a veil is cast between, through which he can discern no. thing.
5. But no sooner is the child born into the world than be exists in a quite different manner. He now feels the air, with which he is surrounded, and which pours into him from every side, as fast as he alternately breathes it back, to sustain the flame of life. And hence springs a continual increase of strength, of motion, and of sensation: all the bodily senses being now awakened, and furnished with their proper objects.
His eyes are now opened to perceive the light, which, silently flowing in upon them, discovers not only itself, but an infinite variety of things, with which before he was wholly unacquainted. His ears are unclosed, and sounds rush in, with endless diversity. Every sense is employed upon such objects as are peculiarly suitable to it. And by these inlets, the soul, having an open intercourse with the visible world, acquires more and more knowledge of sensible things, of all the things which are under the sun.
6. So it is wiih him that is born of God. Before that great change is wrought, although he subsists by him, in whom all that have life“ live, and move, and have their being,” yet he is not sensible of God; he does not feel, he bas no inward consciousness of his presence. He does not perceive that divine breath of life, without which he cannot subsist a moment. Nor is he sensible of any of the things of God. They make no impression upon his soul. God is continually calling to him from on high, but he heareth not; his ears are shut, so that the “ voice of the charmer" is lost in him, “ charm he ever so wisely.” He seeth not the things of the Spirit of God, the eyes of bis understanding being closed, and utter darkness covering his whole soul, surrounding him on every side. It is true, he may have some faint dawnings of life, some small beginnings of spiritual motion ; but as yet he has no spiritual senses, capable of discerning spiritual objects. Consequently be a discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God. He cannot know them; because they are spiritually discerned.”
7. Hence he has scarce any knowledge of the invisible world, as he has scarce any intercourse with it. Not that it is afar off. No: he is in the midst of it: it encompasses him round about. The other world, as we usually term it, is not far from any one of us. It is above, and beneath, and on every side. Only the natural man discerneth it not ; partly, because he hath no spiritual senses, whereby alone we can discern the things of God; partly, because so thick a veil is interposed, as he knows not how to penetrate.
8. But when he is born of God, born of the Spirit, how is the manner of his existence changed! His whole soul is now sensible of God, and lie can say, by sure experience, “ Thou art about my bed, and about my path ; " I feel thee 6 in all my ways.
Thou besettest me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me.” The Spirit or Breath of God is immediately inspired, breathed into the new-born soul. And the same breath, which comes from, returns to God: as it is continually received by faith, so it is continually rendered back by love, by prayer, and praise, and thanksgiving : love, and praise, and prayer being the breath of every soul which is truly born of God. And by this new kind of spiritual respiration, spiritual life is not only sustained, but increased day by day: together with