Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

into his kingdom.' In vain we cry to sinners to strive to enter in at the strait gate' of regeneration, because

many will seek to enter' by that of reformation, and shall not be able.' Sinners, always incredulous and obstinate, and ever carried away by the multitude, refuse to hear the voice of their Shepherd. Wolves in sheep's clothing betray them. Death seizes them before they are born again, and chains of darkness keep them bound to the judgment of the great day. Fools ! to be blinded by that which should open their eyes, viz., the multitude that are content to live without regeneration. As if Christ had not expressly said, “Many are called, but few chosen ; that his flock is a little flock ;' and that few walk in the narrow path that leads to life.

Renounce, reader, renounce the presumptuous folly of worldlings, and if the charm be not yet broken, suffer the grace of God to break it this moment ! Say not, you

are rich and need nothing.' Depend not on your own works, your sincerity, your religious duties, your own righteousness. Acknowledge, on the contrary, that as you are not born again, you are yet in your sins; poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. Feel the necessity to buy gold tried in the fire that you may be rich; and white clothing, that the shame of your 'nakedness may not appear; and to anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see.' Cry out like the penitent Publican, with a broken and contrite heart, or, as Saul praying day and night for the Spirit of God, Lord, be merci. ful to me a sinner!' Lord, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?' Lord, what shall I do to be born again ?

If these be the desires of your soul, attend to the conclusion of this discourse. There you shall see, that however dangerous your case may be, it is not desperate, and you shall be convinced, that there is balm in Gilead. You shall confess that faith in the blood of Christ can, not only heal the wounds of a dying soul, but raise to life one that is spiritually dead,


By what Means a Soul may be born again,

God takes the title of glow to anger ; abundant in goodness and truth. He swears by himself, that he has

no pleasure in the death of a sinner,' but that he should be converted and live; and the effects answer to those tender declarations. His mercy has found a way to raise fallen man, (if he will yield,) and to place him again among his children, without wounding his own justice. This way is astonishing, unthought of, incom. prehensible. It surpasses infinitely the conjectures of angels, and the desires of men. And it is so infallible, that all who have a due sense of their miserable fall in Adam; all those who feel that they can no more regene. rate themselves than they can create a new heaven and a new earth, may come to God, and receive regeneration freely by grace, and a right to the kingdom of heaven.

Reader, you have heard of this remedy a thousand times. But on the one hand, knowing neither your in. digence nor your malady; and on the other, having your understanding darkened by your unbelief ; you have neither, perhaps, considered nor apprehended as a Christian - the things which belong to your peace.' May you receive them now as the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth!'

Know then that the regeneration which we preach, is nothing else than the two great operations of the Spirit of God upon a penitential soul. The first, called Justi. fication, or the remission of sins, is that gratuitous act of the divine mercy, by which God pardons the sinner, who helieves in Jesus, all his past sins, and “imputes bis faith to him for righteousness.' Because, feeling that be has no righteousness, that he can do no work that is good in the sight of God, he submits to the righteousness of God.' He receives, with his heart, Jesus Christ as his Saviour, his gratuitous Saviour, his sole Saviour; and he knows that he has received him, because God “fills himu with peace and joy in believing,' and because he receives dominion over all his sins.

This dominion over sin, which the believer receives with the remission of his past sins, is the beginning or foundation of the second part of regeneration, called in the holy scripture, Sanctification. For in the same moment that the sinner receives this faith, the faith which justifies ; at the same moment that the Spirit of God witnesses with his spirit that his sins are pardoned, he receives the power to love much, as he feels that he has much forgiven. • The love of God' being thus shed abroad in his heart,' causes an extraordinary revolution in all the powers of his soul, and makes him feel, though perhaps in a low degree, the effects of the new birth, described in the second part of this discourse.

We are far from concluding that the body of sin is destroyed by this circumcision of the heart, this first revelation of Christ in the soul of a sinner. No, the Old Man is only crucified with Christ;' and although he cannot act as before, he lives still, and seeks occasion to disengage himself, and to exercise his tyranny with more rage than ever. David and St. Peter had painful experience of this : And hence we see that sanctification is not generally the work of a day, nor of a year. For, although God can cut short his work in righteousness, as the penitent thief found it aforetime, and as many sinners called at the eleventh hour have found it ever since, it is nevertheless in general a progressive work, and of long dura. tion. We, therefore, define sanctification to be, that powerful work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of a pardoned sinner, by which he receives power to go on • from faith to faith;' by which, illuminated more and more to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,' who make a fair show in the flesh; and who, far from suffering persecution for the cross of Christ, are honoured of men, because you still conform to the present world ? Who, content with your moral duties, and exterior piety, do not come to Jesus with the repentance and im. portunity of the publican ? Suffer this foolishness of preaching to pull off your mask. Renounce your own wisdom : Tear off the vain robe of your own righteous. ness : And smiting your breast, come to Christ with the publicans and harlots, and groan for regeneration, without which you cannot see the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus has set you the example. He at length 6 received the kingdom as a little child, and was more than conqueror through the blood of the Lamb.' Tread in his blessed footsteps. And if you also be a master in Israel, follow his simplicity, and triumph like him over all your prejudices, your doubts, and the fear of those who say, they are the Israel of God, and are not; and having followed him in the regeneration, you shall soon follow him to glory.

But if you are an open sinner, if you live in the practice of injustice, intemperance, impurity, or false. hood ; thirsting after gold or pleasure ; despising the name of God and his word; we need not attempt to prove that you are not regenerate. Your sins have a voice, they cry as Jesus did to such gross offenders, • You are of your father the devil, for his works you do. You know it is so ; your own heart condemns you,

Wonder not then that we denounce your utter perdition, in the name of God, if you are not born again. Strive to open your eyes, and behold the cor. ruption of your heart, that depraved source of your ungodly manners. Behold the destroying angel behind you, the eternal abyss opened under your feet, and the Lord Jesus ready to take vengeance on you as his ene. mies. O that the idea of these awful events may awaken, before their reality overwhelms you ! the fear of the Lord be in you the beginning of wis. dom! This moment turn to your gracious God; to. morrow may be too late. “This is the day of salvation'

O may

for you. If you neglect it, the coming night may be the commencement of night eternal to your soul. And will you trifle with a danger like this? Will you do nothing to escape the sword of Divine Justice? If your danger move you not, consider your interest. This would be sufficient to produce an entire change in you, if you would consider it seriously. In this world God offers you the pardon of your sins, and a happiness which can only be surpassed by that of glorified saints ; and after this life a kingdom-a kingdom in the heavens. And will you carelessly renounce this, because you cannot obtain it without pain ? Rather than be born again, do you resolve to lose a crown of eternal glory ? To lose your God, your Saviour, your all ? Yea, to destroy yourself? Be not deceived. If the kingdom of heaven be shut against you, the kingdom of darkness, the second death, becomes your portion. If the kingdom of God be not established within you; if the foundation be not laid in your soul in this life, by the righteousness of Christ, the peace of God, and the joy of the Holy Ghost, the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, shall terribly revenge your contempt for the blood of the covenant in which your sins might have been washed away, if you had implored the sacred sprinkling. Be not offended at our freedom. God knows that if we spread before you the treasures of his wrath, which he reserves for the day of wrath, it is that you may flee to those of his mercy. These are still open. His great and precious promises are still for you. By these you may be made partakers of the divine nature in this life, and after death of the inheritance among the saints in light.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »