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He cannot carry on, nay, he cannot so much as begin one single step of this wonderful process toward the subsequent crop; the mortification of the seed, the resurrection of the blade, and gradual increase, till it come to perfect maturity. Is it, therefore, reasonable that he should say, I for my part can do nothing. It is, first and laft, an effect of divine power and energy. And God can as easily raise a crop without fowing as with it, in a single instant, and in any place, as in a long time, by the mutual influence of soil and season; I will therefore spare myself the hardship of toil and labor, and wait with patience, till I see what he will be pleased to send. Would this be madness? Would it be universally reputed so? And would it not be equal madness to turn the grace of God into licentiousness? Believe it, the warning is equally reasonable and equally necessary, in spiritual as in temporal things: " not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man “ foweth, that shall he also reap: for he that soweth to the “ flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that “ soweth to the Spirit, fhall of the Spirit reap life everlast
* Gal. vi. 7. 8.
In which is shewn wherein this change doth properly and
directly consist, and what are its principal evidences and fruits.
Wherein the change in regeneration doth properly and
HAVE hitherto, by general remarks, endeavored to
caution the reader against taking up with erroneous and defective views of the nature of religion. We now proceed a ftep farther : and I would willingly point out, in as distinct a manner as I am able, what is the change which is wrought in all, without exception, who are the real children of God, by whatever means it is brought about ; what it is in the temper and disposition, in the life and practice, which constitutes the difference between one who “ is,” and one who is “ not born again.” The different steps by which this change may be effected in the fovereign providence of God, and the different degrees of perfection at which it may arrive, I purposely omit liere, and reserve as the subject of a distinct head of discourse.
That we may enter on the subject with the greater perspicuity and fimplicity, it will be proper to begin with obferving, that the design and purpose of this change is to repair the loss which man fustained by the fall. Man, at his first creation, was made after the image of God in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and enjoyed uninterrupted fellowship and communion with him. He was not only fubfervient to the divine glory, by a natural and necessary subjection to the divine dominion, which all creatures are, have been, and ever will be, but by choice *and inclination, his duty and delight being invariably the fame. By the fall he became not only obnoxious to the divine displeasure, by a fincle act of transgression, but difobedient to the divine will in his habitual and prevailing inclination. This is the character given not of one man
only, but of the human race.
« And God saw that the “ wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that
every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only " evil continually."'*
He became, at the same time, not only unworthy of, but wholly disinclined to communion with God, and habitually prefers the creature before the Creator, who is “ God blefled for evermore." In regeneration, therefore, the finner must be restored to the image of God, which, in a created nature, is but another expression for obedience to his will. He must also be restored to the exercise of love to him, and find his happiness and comfort in him. His habitual temper, his prevailing disposition, or that which hath the ascendancy, must be the same that was perfect and without mixture, before the fall, and shall be made equally, or perhaps more perfect in heaven after death.
As the change must be entire and universal, corresponding to the
corruption of the whole man, it is not unusual to fay, it may be fully comprehended in the three following things, giving a new direction to the understanding, the will, and the affections. And no doubt, with respect to every one of these, there is a remarkable and sensible change. But as the understanding is a natural faculty, which becomes good or evil, just as it is applied or emtployed, it would be scarce possible to illustrate the change in it without introducing, at the same time, a view of the disposition and tendency of the heart and affections. As, therefore, the change is properly of a moral or spiritual nature, it seems to me properly and directly to consist in these two things, 1. That our fupreme and chief end be to serve and glorify God, and that every other aim be subordinate to this. 2. That the soul rest in God as its chief happiness, and habitually prefer his favor to every other enjoyment. These two particulars I shall now endeavor to illustrate a little, in the order in which I have named them.
1. Our supreme and chief end must be to serve and glo. rify God, and every other aim must be fubordinate to this.
All things were originally made, and are daily preserved for, nay, they shall certainly in the issue tend to the glory of God; that is, the exercise and illustration of divine perfection. With this great end of creation the inclination and will of every intelligent creature ought to coincide. It is, according to scripture and reason, the first duty of man to “ give unto the Lord the glory due “ unto his name.” This, I know, the world that lieth in wickedness can neither understand nor approve. “The “ natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of “ God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can be “ know them, because they are fpiritually discernied."* The truth is, we ought not to be surprized to find it fo, for in this the fin of man originally consisted, and in this the nature of all sin, as such, doth still consist, viz. withdrawing the allegiance due to God, and refusing subjection to his tvill. The language of every unrenewed heart, and the language of every sinner's practice is, “ Our lips are “our own, who is lord over us?” But he that is renewed and born again, hath feen his own entire dependance upon God, hath seen his Maker's right of dominion, and the obligation upon all his creatures to be, in every refpect, subservient to his glory, and without reserve fubmiflive to his will. He hath seen this to be most “ fit” and “ rea
fonable,” because of the absolute perfection and infinite excellence of the divine nature. He is convinced that all preferring of our will to that of God, is a criminal usurpation by the creature of the unalienable rights of the great Creator and sovereign proprietor of all.
Regeneration, then, is communicating this new principle, and giving it such force as it may obtain and preferve the ascendancy, and habitually govern the will. Every one may easily see the different operation and effects of this principle and its opposite, by the different carriage and behavior of men in the world. The unre. newed man seeks his own happiness immediately and ul
* 1 Cor. ii. 14.
timately: it is to please nimself that he constantly aims. This is the cause, the uniform cause of his preferring one action to another. This determines his choice of employment, enjoyments, companions. Ilis religious actions are not chosen, but submitted to, through fear of worse. He considers religion as a restraint, and the divine law as hard and severe. So that a short and summary description may be given of man in his natural state. That he hath forgotten his subjection, that God is dethroned, and felf-honored, loved, and served in his room.
This account will appear to be just, from every view given us in fcripture of our fiate and character, before or after conversion. It appears very clearly, from the first condition required by our Savior of his disciples, viz. felfdenial. “Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man " will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up “ his crofs, and follow me."* All those who are brought back to a sense of their duty and obligation as creatures, are ready to say, not with their tongues only, but with their hearts, “Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor, " and power, for thou has created all things, and for thy
pleasure they are and were created.”! It ought to be aitended to what is the import of this, when spoken from conviction. They not only consider God as being most great, and therefore to be feared, but as infinitely holy, as absolutely perfect, and therefore to be loved and served. They esteem all his commands concerning all things to be right. Their own remaining corruption is known, felt, and confessed ta be wrong. This law in their members, warring against the law of God in their minds, is often deeply lamented, and, by the grace of God, strenuously and habitually resisted.
Perhaps the attentive reader may have observed, that I havestill keptout of view our own great interest in the service of God. The reason is, there is certainly, in every renewed heart, a sense of duty, independant of interest. Were this not the case, even fuppofing a desire of reward, or fear of punishment, should dispose to obedience, it
* Matt. xvi. 24.
+ Rev. ii. 1!.