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intelligible myfticism, this is neither wonderful in itself, nor ought it to be any injury or disparagement to the truth. There is no subject either of divine or human learning, on which fome have not written weakly, foolishly or erroneoufly; but that ought not to excite any aversion to the doctrine itself, which hath been perverted or abused. I pray, that God may enable me to write upon this interesting subject, in a clear, intelligible and convincing manner; to support the truth from the evidence of scripture and reason; to resolve, in a satisfying manner, any objections that may seem to lie againft it; but, above all, to carry it home with a persuasive force upon the confcience and heart. I contend for no phrases of man's invention, but such as I find in the holy scriptures; from these I am resolved, through the grace of God, never to depart. And, in the mean time, I adopt the words of the eminent and useful Dr. Doddridge, “ If this doctrine, in « one form or another, be generally tawght by my
brethren in the ministry, I rejoice in it for " their own sakes, as well as for that of the peo* ple who are under their care."
The plan of the following treatise is this:
I. To make some general obfervations upon the metaphor used by the apostle John, “ Ex. cept a man be born again;" and the same or
fimilar expressions to be found in other parts of the word of God.
II. To fhew wherein this change doth properly and directly consist, together with some of its 'principal evidences and effects.
III. To shew by what steps, or by what means it is usually brought about.
IV. In the last place, to improve the subject by a few practical addresses to persons of different characters.
CH A P. I.
Some general observations on the metaphor used by the
apostle John, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, and the fame or similar expreffions to be found in other parts of the word of God.
T deferves the serious attention of every
christian, that, as this declaration was made by our Saviour in a very folemn manner, and by a very peculiar metaphor, so this is not the fingle paffage in which the fame metaphor is used. We find it in the apostle Paul's epistle to Titus, " 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 *.” We find one perfectly similar to it, in the same apostle's second epistle to the Corinthians, “ Therefore if any man be in “ Christ, he is a new creature : old things are “ past away, behold, all things are become « new t." It is elsewhere called a new creation, with reference to the power exerted in the production: “For we are his workmanship, created ss in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God « hath before ordained that we should walk in
them .” It is still a figure of the same kind that is used when we are exhorted “to put off,
• Titus üi. 5 ji, 10.
+ 2 Cor, v, 17.
that it i John v. 40
concerning the former conversation, the old “ man, which is corrupt according to the de“ ceitful lufts: and to be renewed in the spirit " of our mind; and put on the new man, which " after God is created in righteousness, and true " holiness *." To name no more passages, the real believer is said to be “ born of God t;" in which the very expression in the text is repeated, and the change attributed to God as his proper work.
Whoever believes in the perfection of the scriptures will readily admit, that it is intended we should learn something from this very way of speaking itself. Let us therefore confider what may be safely deduced from it. And, as I would not willingly strain the metaphor, and draw from it any uncertain conclusion; so it is no part of my design to run it out into an extraordinary length. Many smaller resemblances might easily be formed between the image and the truth, but they would be more fanciful than useful. The reader is only intreated to attend to a few leading truths, which seem naturally to arise from this. metaphor, and may be both supported and il. luftrated from the whole tenor of fcripture doctrine.
Epher, Iv. 22, 23, 24,
I. From this expression, Except A MAN BE BORN
AGAIN HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF God, we may learn the GREATNESS of that change which must pass upon every child of Adam
before he can become an heir of life. No stronger expreslion could have been chosen .
to signify a great and remarkable change of ftate and character, whether we take the metaphor in a strieter or a looser sense. If we take the metaphor in a stricter sense, it may be intended to point out the change of state in an infant newly born, from what it was in immediately before the birth. The manner of its existence, of deriving its nourishment, the use and application of its faculties, and its desires and enjoyments, are all intirely different. If we take the metaphor in a looser sense, being born may be considered as the beginning of our existence. To this fenfe we feem to be directed by the other expressions of being created in Christ Jefus, and made new creatures. Does not this still teach us the greatness of the change? We must be entirely different from what we were before, as one creature differs from another, or as that which begins to be at any time, is not, nor cannot be the same with what did formerly exist.