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childhood of religion, the believer muft CHAP. fucceffively pass through the stages of youth 111. and manhood, till he attain to the rank of what St. John styles a father. This may be denominated his growth in holiness. In the mean time he will fuffer a variety of defeats from his fpiritual adverfaries, and will daily discover more and more the extreme corruption of his finful and difordered heart. So far from arrogantly claiming perfection, he acknowledges, that when he has done all, he is ftill an unprofitable fervant. But he is not difcouraged; he boldly preffes forward, relying upon him, who is able to make us more than con
are agreeable to the will and commandment of God, fuch
as otherwife of their own crooked and perverfe nature they should never have. That, which is born of the Spirit, "is fpirit. As who fhould fay, man of his own nature is "flefhly and carnal, corrupt and naught, finful and difobe"dient to God, without any fpark of goodness in him, "without any virtuous or godly motion, only given to evil "thoughts and wicked deeds. As for the works of the "Spirit, the fruits of faith, charitable and godly motions, "if he have any at all in him, they proceed only of the "Holy Ghoft, who is the only worker of our fanctification, "and maketh us new men in Chrift Jefus-Such is the
power of the Holy Ghoft to regenerate men, and as it were "to bring them forth anew, fo that they fhall be nothing "like the men that they were before."
k 1 John ii, 12, 13, 14.
SECT. querors. Here, thanks be to God through 11. Jefus Chrift, the parallel ceafes. Every
fon of Adam is fubject to the condition of mortality; but regeneration opens to the Christian the full profpect of a glorious immortality. "Death is fwallowed up in "victory." At the close of a life spent in the service of God, the aged believer can raife his eyes, moist indeed with the tears of gratitude, but glistening with hope, towards that heaven, in the joys of which he will foon be removed to participate.
The neceffity of re
One awful confideration yet remains, the generation. abfolute neceffity of regeneration. It is a remarkable circumftance, that our Saviour exprefsly declares it no less than three times, in the short space of five verses. It is first introduced with a ftrong affeveration; "Verily, verily, I fay unto thee, Ex
cept a man be born again, he cannot fee "the kingdom of God'." The nature of regeneration, and its attendant symbol, are next declared; "Except a man be born "of water and of the spirit, he cannot en❝ter into the kingdom of God." And, as if to prevent all poffibility of mistake or perverfion, the necefity of it is a third ■ John iii. 3.
time ftrongly enforced; "Ye must be born CHAP.
m Gr. Δει ὑμᾶς γεννήθηναι ανωθεν.
The kingdom of God, or of heaven, does indeed occafionally fignify the visible church upon earth, which includes undoubtedly tares as well as wheat; and fo it may primarily fignify in the prefent paffage, as alluding partly to baptifmal regeneration: but I cannot think that the expreffion folety conveys any fuch limited and inferior meaning, when the idea of Spiritual regeneration is involved. It seems abfurd and improbable to the last degree, that, in a folemn difcourse with one of the leading men among the Pharifees, our Lord fhould firft acquaint his anxious auditor, merely that a man cannot become a member of the visible fociety which he was about to establish upon earth, without being initiated into it by a particular ceremony; and should afterwards, when Nicodemus required an explanation, involve, in a kind of awful mystery and obscurity, that which, upon such a suppofition, was totally devoid of mystery. Let any perfon attentively perufe the converfation between our bleffed Lord and the Jewish Ruler, and then judge, whether the kingdom of God can be ultimately taken in any lefs limited fenfe, than the kingdom of everlasting glory and bappiness.
So Bp. Hopkins : "These two interpretations may be given of the text; Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit; that is, except he be externally regenerated by baptism, when he hath such an opportunity to receive that "ordinance, that nothing but his own wilful contempt of "it can hinder it, and be alfo internally regenerated by the, "Spirit of God working a mighty thorough change upon "his heart, he fhall never be faved. Or again, it may be "understood thus; Except a man be renewed by the effi
cacy of the Holy Ghoft, cleansing the inward man from
Scripture then has decided, that none but the regenerate can be faved. It has pro
nounced that none can be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, but those, whose hearts have been renewed after the image of God. All the reft are utterly excluded from the flock of Chrift, by our Lord himfelf. And this determination is perfectly confonant to reafon. A man can never be happy in a fociety compofed of perfons, whofe fentiments and inclinations are totally at variance with his own. A fimilarity of taftes and purfuits is effentially neceffary to the full enjoyment of our exiftence. Even heaven itself would be no heaven to a fallen angel. By the very conftitution of his being, he labours under a natural incapacity of fruition. His whole temper must be changed in every refpect, before it is poffible for him to be an inhabitant of the realms of blifs. Arguing then from analogy, all thofe, whofe hearts are at variance with God, who live in the al
"fin, as water cleanseth the outward man from filth, he "shall never enter into heaven." Sermons, p. 519..
It is almoft fuperfluous to remark, that the fame diftinction between internal and external regeneration, with which the prefent difquifition commenced, is in this citation likewife accurately preferved.
lowed practice of any fin, whether it be CHAP. mental or corporeal; whether it be envy, III. hatred, and malice, or fornication, drunkennefs, and uncleannefs; all thofe likewise, who live in a state of forgetfulness of God, or, to use the emphatical words of Scripture, who live without God in the world; in fhort, all perfons, who more or less partake deliberately of the nature of Satan, cannot poffibly be faved without a total change, and a thorough renewal. How can that man, who works all uncleanness with greedinefs, enjoy the prefence of a God, who is of purer eyes than to behold the least iniquity? How can he, who detefts the very name of religion, and who hates the company of thofe to whom it affords a delightful, a never-failing theme of focial converfe; how can he bear to fpend an eternity in chanting forth the praises of God; an eternity, in that very employment which on earth is the object of his bittereft averfion? Direct oppofites can never coalefce. We must either conform to the tempers and habits of the heavenly fociety; or we must fubmit to an everlasting exclufion from it. A man in his unregenerate state cannot, from the very