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together in fociety, to constitute a great variety of relations; thele ties are of God's own making, and our affections to all perfons fo related to us are natural, and in some of them very firong. How then do they operate? In what manner do they express themselves? Nothing will more evidently prove what is the ruling disposition of the heart. Whenever we love others fincerely, we fhew it by defiring and endeavoring to procure for ihem those blellings which we ourselves most highly esteem.

Let us take any one of these relations for an example. Does a parent sincerely love his children? Religion doth not weaken, but strengthen this affection, and add to the force of his obligation to serve them. But if the parent truly loveth God above all, how will his love to his childiren be espre fed?. Surely by defiring, above all, that they may be " born again.” Their following finful courses will give him unspeakably more grief than their poverty, fickness, or even death itself. He will be more concerned to make them, and more delighted to see them, 'good than great; and, for this purpose, every siep of their education will be directed. Would not every parent shudder at the thoughts of sending a beloved child to a house infedtech with the plague, or any other scene where health or life would be in imminent danger? What then shall we think of those parents who, from the single prospect of gain, without fcruple, place their children in houses deeply infected with the leprosy of iin, and expose them, without the least neceflity, to the most dangerous temptations?

I know there are some instances in fcripture of persons who have been considered as very piousthemselves, who yet were shamefully negligent in this branch of their duty. Of these Eli, mentioned in the book of Samuel, is one, whose fons, though in the most facred office, “made them“ felves vile, and he restrained them not." I imagine I could easily bring in doubt, if not the reality, at least the cminence of his pictv, and others of the same kind, though often taken for granted, without much examination; but I shall only observe what an opposite account is given of the divine conduct toward Eli and toward Abraham, the father of the faithful. He revealed his will, and employed in his message the child Samuel, to the neglect of Eli, grown old in his courts, and denounced the most severe and terrible judgments against him and his house: “Be“ hold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears “ of every one that heareth it shall tingle; in that day I “ will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken “ concerning his house: when I begin I will also make an “ end. For I have told him that I will judge his house “ for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth.”* On the contrary, see the honorable distinction put upon Abraham: " And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that

thing which I do, seeing that Abraham shall surely be. “ come a great nation, and all the nations of the carth “ shall be blessed in him. For I know him, that he will “ command his children and his houshold after him, and

they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abrahain that which he hath spoken of him." +

Nothing indeed can be more plain from reason itself, than that, in proportion to the impression which parents have upon their own minds of the importance of salvation, will be their concern and care that their children also may be the heirs of everlasting life. Suffer me to ask eveTy parent who reads this discourse, or rather to beseech all such, to ask themselves seriously, what are their own strongest desires and hopes concerning their children? In those moments when your affections are fondest, and your partial flattering expectations most distinctly formed, are you obliged to confefs that your minds run much more upon the prospect of your childrens living in affluence and {plendor, or being promoted to places of honor and trust, than their being brought to a saving acquaintance with Christ and him crucified, that whether they live or die they may be the Lord's? If this is the case, you have just ground to fear that you are of that unhappy number who “ favor not the things that be of God, but the things that * be of man."

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3. Another excellent evidence of regeneration is, the moderation of our attachment to worldly enjoyments in general, and habitual subrnillion to the will of God. So Toon as this change takes place, it will immediately and certainly abate the measure of our attachment to all earthly things. Formerly they were the all of the foul, its

portion and its reit; but now a clear discovery being made of greater and better bleslings, they must fall back into the second place. There is a wonderful difference between the rate and value of present possessions of any kind, in the eye of him who lives under the impressions of eternity, and of him who believes it but uncertainly, who understands iť very imperfectly, and who thinks of it as seldom as conscience will give him leave. It must be confessed we are all apt to be immoderate in our attachment to outward blessings; this is the effect -and evidence of the weakness of our faith: but, so far as faith is in exer: cise, it must mortify carnal affection. There is no way in which an object appears so little, as when it is contraft. ed with one infinitely greater, which is plainly the case here. The truth is, time and eternity, things temporal and things spiritual, are the opposite and rival objects of human attention and esteem. It is impossible that one of them can be exalted, or obtain influence in any heart, without a proportional depression of the other. They are, also, as they severally prevail, the marks to distinguish those who are, and those who are not, brought again from the dead. For as the apostle says, “To be carnally mind“ed is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and “ peace."*

Further, it is not only in abating the measure of our attachment to worldly things that religion shews itself, and the change is discovered, but in the use and application of them. The real Christian's powers and faculties, pofseffions and influence, are confecrated to God. His abilities are laid out for the glory of God. He no more confiders them as a mean of excelling others, and getting to him. felf a name, but of doing good. He finds it his highest

Rom. viii, 6.

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pleasure to serve God with his talents; he thinks it his duty to plead for him in his conversation, to honor him with his substance, to enforce and ratify the divine laws by his authority and example.

The fame thing thews plainly why a Christian mufi ma. nifest his new nature by fubmission to the divine will. Does he receive his mercies from God? Does he love them less than God? Does he esteem it his duty to ule them in his service? And can he possibly refuse to resign them to his pleasure ? I am fenfible that relignation at the will of God, absolute and unconditional, is a very difficult duty, but it is what every believer habitually studies to attain. He chides his remaining impatience and condplaints, grieves at the continuing struggles of his imperfectly renewed will, and is sensible that in this the superiority of his affection to God above the creature ought to appear. Unrenewed persons, when their earthly hopes are disappointed, immediately renew the pursuit ; they only change the object to one more within their reach, or they alter their measures, and endeavor to amend the scheme; but real Christians, receiving a conviction of the vanity of all created things, seek their refuge and confolation in the fulness and all-fufficiency of God.

SE C T. IV.

A more particular enquiry into what properly constitutes

the sincerity of the change.

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HUS I have given a succinct view of the most re

markable effects and visible evidences of regeneration. I cannot, however, fatisfy myself with this, because I am persuaded the great question is, how far they ought to go, and to what meafure of strength and uniformity they ought to arrive. There are not a few who may, in a certain degree, fincerely think themselves possessed of most or all the difpofitions mentioned above, whose state is nevertheless very much to be suspected. On the other hand, perhaps, some of the huniblest, that is to say, the very best, may be in much fear concerning themselves, because they

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do not perceive either the vigor or steadiness in their holy dispositions which they greatly defire and are sensible they ought to attain. Besides, what hath been hitherto faid is only general, viz. that those who are born again will have new apprehensions of things, will be humble, mortified to the world, and submissive to the will of God. it will be most applicable to, or at least most sensible in those who had once gone great lengths in profanity, and were, by the almighty and fovereign grace of God, snatched as “ brands from the burning.” The opposition between their new and old characters is ordinarily so great, that it will not admit of any doubt. To fome others it may

be necessary to make a more strict and particular enquiry into the nature of sincerity, and what is the full and proper evidence of the reality of the change.

That the reader may form as clear and distinct conceptions on this subject as possible, he may be pleased to recolleet what was observed above, That perfect holiness conļists in having the heart wholly posseft by the love of God, without the mixture of any inferior or baser passion; and that regeneration consists in a fupreme desire to glorify God, and a preference of his favor to every other enjoyment. Now what chiefly occasions difficulty in discerning the reality of this change is, that there is much unsubdued fin remaining in the children of God, and that there are many counterfeit graces, or appearances of religion, in those who are, notwithstanding, in the “ gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."

That there is a great degree of unmortified corruption still remaining in the saints of God, and that not so much as one is wholly free from it, is apparent from too many melancholy proofs. It appears from the pathetic complaint of the apostle Paul, formerly referred to, of the law in his members warring against the law of God in his mind. It appears, also, from the gross fins into which some eminently holy persons have been suffered occafionally to fall, through the strength of temptation, as David's adultery and murder, Solomon's idolatry, the apostle Peter's denial of his inalier, and several others recorded in fcripture.

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