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remission of all our sins. But here the blessing of regeneration is traced to the resurrection of Christ; and with great propriety; because, if “ he was delivered to death for our offences, he was raised again for our justificationk.” To enter into this aright, we should place ourselves in the situation of the immediate followers of our Lord. What comfort should we have derived from the death of our Divine Master? We might be told, indeed, that he offered himself a sacrifice for our sins: but how should we know that that sacrifice was accepted in our behalf? It was his resurrection alone that put that matter beyond a doubt: and therefore we find the Apostles everywhere insisting principally on this', as proving, beyond all reasonable doubt, that he was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world m. Moreover, it is as a risen Saviour that “he lives to make intercession for us ";" and is enabled to send the Holy Ghost down upon us, for the commencing and perfecting of a work of grace within us'. Hence St. Paul, speaking of the death of Christ as prevailing for our salvation, yet lays the greater stress upon his resurrectionP: and hence also, in order to attain higher eminence in the divine life, he desired to “ know Christ in the power of his resurrection9" So that our regeneration may well be ascribed to the resurrection of Christ, not only on account of its proving his death to have been available for us, but as through it he is empowered to send down the Holy Spirit upon our souls.]
We must, however, proceed yet further to trace this work in, III. Its effects
Of its sanctifying effects I have spoken under the first head. But we must on no account omit to notice those great benefits which it confers, 1. In entitling us to heaven
[Repeatedly does St. Paul mark the indissoluble connexion which God has established between our sonship and our inheritance: “If sons, then heirs, heirs of God through Christ, and heirs of God with Christ?.” Now, the inheritance to which God has begotten us is nothing less than all the glory of heaven; an inheritance, “not corruptible," as earthly treasures, “ which moth and rust will corrupt;" “not defiled," like the earthly Canaan, by wicked inhabitants, (for “ into heaven nothing entereth that can defile ";") "not fading,” by use, or age, or enjoyment, like the pleasures of sense: no, it is an inheritance worthy of God to give to his beloved children, even that inheritance which Christ himself, as our Forerunner, our Head, and Representative, already occupies. “ To a lively hope of this” are we begotten, whilst yet we are in this vale of tears; and to the full possession of it, as soon as we go hence.] 2. In securing to us the possession of it
* Rom. iv. 25. Acts ii. 24–36. iii. 15, and xvii. 3, 18, 31. m Rom. i. 4. n Heb. vii. 25. • Acts ii. 33, 38, 39. p Rom. viii. 34. and v. 10.
9 Phil. iii. 10. r Rom. viii. 17, Gal. iv. 7.
[In two ways is this inheritance secured to us : “it is reserved by God for us; and we are kept by God for it;" so that neither shall it be taken from us by any enemy; por shall we be suffered to come short of it through our own weakness. This is what God promised, by his prophet of old: “ I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from met.” O'inestimable gift! This security is the crown of all. What would regeneration be without it? What would it be to be made sons of God, and heirs of heaven, if we were left to ourselves, to engage in our own strength our great adversary ? Truly there is not one of us, however elevated he may at this moment be, who would not, in a very short space of time, if left to himself, become a child of Satan, and an heir of hell. But the power of God! what shall withstand that? or who shall fail, that has that exerted for him? All that is required of us is, to “have faith in Godu.” If only our faith be as a grain of mustard-seed, there is nothing that we shall not be able to effect*. But “ Christ has prayed for us, that our faith may not fail; and therefore, though Satan desires to have us, that he may sift us as wheat,” yet shall he not finally prevail against usy; but“ shall be bruised under our feet?," even as he was under the feet of our triumphant Saviour: for “ because HE, our Almighty Saviour, liveth, we shall live also a." Like persons in an impregnable fortressb, we may defy all the powers of darkness, and smile at all the confederacies both of earth and hell.] Observe then, beloved, 1. How happy are the saints, the sons of God
[If we consider only the “hope,” “the lively hope,” to which they are begotten, methinks they are by far the happiest of all mankind. But, if we take a view of the inheritance itself,
s Rev. xxi. 27. + Jer. xxxii. 40. u Mark xi. 22. John xiv. 1.
* Matt. xvii. 20. y Luke xxii. 31, 32. 2 Rom. xvi. 20. a John xiv. 19. • This is the precise import of the word φρουρούμενος.
the wonderful inheritance to which they are begotten—and, above all, the security which they possess for the ultimate enjoyment of it—what shall I say? Are they not happy ? Or can they be placed in any circumstances whatever (sin only excepted) wherein they are not proper objects of envy to the whole creation ? Be it granted, that they are as much oppressed as ever saints were, and as destitute of all earthly comfort; still will I congratulate them from my inmost soul, and bid them exclaim with joy and gratitude, “ Blessed be God, who hath begotten us again!" ---]
2. How pitiable is the condition of the unregenerate
[You, alas ! have no part or lot in the felicity of God's children. Never having been begotten of him, you have no relation to him, nor any title to his inheritance. Ah! think, then, whose children ye are', and with whom you must take your everlasting portiond! I tremble to announce such awful tidings. But I thank God that yet ye may become new creatures: for, as all the saints once were what ye now are, so may ye become what they are. Yes, the word, which is God's great instrument, yet sounds in your ears: and it is as powerful as ever, to convert souls to him?. Only receive it into your hearts by faith; and it shall “ turn you,” as it has unnumbered millions of your fellow-creatures, “ from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God 8." Only believe in Christ, and you shall instantly become sons of God", and be enabled to look up to heaven as your everlasting inheritance. My dear brethren, “make not light of” this great salvation. Do but think how “ ready it is to be revealed,” and how certainly it shall be attained by all who believe in Christ. May God now pour out his Holy Spirit upon you all, that not one of you may “receive this grace of God in vain!]
c John viii. 44. a Matt. xxv. 41. e Gal. iv. 12.
THE END OF AFFLICTION. 1 Pet. i. 6,7. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a
season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations : that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
THE enlightening and converting of souls are the first objects of a minister's attention: nevertheless, the comforting of God's people is also an essential part of his duty. This was the special direction which God gave to the prophet of olda: it is a conformity to the Divine Exemplarb: it is the fruit of the comforts they themselves receive." St. Peter is a striking pattern of a sympathizing and affectionate pastor. He writes to the Christians who were scattered through divers countries; and begins with setting before them the richest topics of consolation d. He shews them the blessed end for which their present troubles are suffered to come upon them1. The state and condition of God's people,
Believers have at all times within themselves a ground of joy: yet they are also frequently oppressed with deep and pungent sorrow. They experience a peculiar and united exercise of these opposite affections.
They “ greatly rejoice” in the mercy which has been vouchsafed unto them
[They have been begotten of God to a lively hope of a glorious inheritance: they see that inheritance reserved for them, and themselves kept for it. This cannot but be matter of exceeding joy to them at all times.]
But they are at the same time encompassed with manifold temptations
[They are hated, reviled, and persecuted by the world : they are assailed with “ the fiery darts of the devil :” they are harassed with innumerable corruptions in their own hearts.]
Through these temptations they are sometimes “ in great heaviness" —
[Grace does not destroy, but only moderates our natural feelings. Christians therefore may be deeply oppressed with grief: not that God will suffer them to continue always in heaviness. Nevertheless he permits them to be in this state occasionally, and "for a season."]
There is “ a necessity”, that they should undergo trials of this kinda Isai. xlii, 1. b 2 Cor. vii. 6. c 2 Thess. i. 3, 4. dyer. 3—5. God could save them without leaving them to endure any trial; but he“ perfected his own Son by sufferings :" he has ordained that the members shall in this respect be conformed to their Heade.]
Their temptations, however afflictive at the time, are permitted for their good. II. The end for which they are suffered to be in that
stateTemptations, of whatever kind they be, are justly called trials of our faith”
[No man can exercise the grace of patience, or of contentment, unless he be in a situation that may give rise to impatience or discontent: nor can faith be known to exist in the heart, unless there be some circumstances that give scope for the manifestation of it; but temptations, especially such as produce much grief, can be surmounted only by strong faith. Hence God himself speaks as though he discovered Abraham's grace by means of the difficulties into which he was brought'.]
In this view they are “much more precious than the trial of gold”—
Gold, though it stand the trial of the fire, will perish at last; but faith, in its effects at least, will endure for ever. The value and the brightness given to gold by the furnace are not so estimable, as the purity and brightness which our faith derives from affliction.]
Their real worth will not be discerned till the day of judgment
[They will have a different aspect in " the day of Christ's appearing" from what they have now. The benefit resulting from them will be then fully discovered.]
They will then“ be found to the praise and honour of those who endured them”—
[Every thing we have done or suffered for Christ will be brought to light: a reward proportioned to our faithfulness will then be given us. Great sufferings will issue in “an eternal weight of glory”.]
They will be declared also to the praise and honour of Christ himself
[Christ is “the author and finisher of our faith :" he will have the glory of. carrying his people through their trials. e Zech. xiii. 9.
? Gen. xxii. 12.
They will wist himself
emicher of our far