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off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The spiritual gift of faith is the only channel, through which we receive the indwelling SPIRIT : while, at the same time, man is responsible for his unbelief; and therefore, for not having the SPIRIT of Christ. May the Holy Ghost bless these truths to the salvation of your souls !
But I must not conclude, without addressing a few words to those, who have "the SPIRIT of God bearing witness with their Spirit, that they are the children of Gov.” How great are your privileges, believers, even in your state of grace; and how will these be increased in glory! Walk, therefore, I beseech you, “worthy of your high calling :” for, "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him, Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” Be careful, dear brethren, lest in any thing, ye "grieve the Holy Spirit, whereby your un
derstandings bave been sculed ;" either by harbouring any secret sin in your hearts, by refusing to follow His guidance, by priding yourselves on account of the graces He bestows, or by trusting in the gifts rather than in the Giver. Look to CHRIST for a more abundant outpouring of His Spirit, to enlighten your minds, to transform your hearts, to sanctify your souls, to correct your consciences, and to implant in your affections an earnest and foretaste of future blessedness. And, “amid all the changes and chances of this mortal life,” expect, with submissive acquiescence to the Divine Will, the second advent of our Lord in glory; when He shall acknowledge you as His, before the assembled universe, and the throne of our Almighty Creator.
Now, "unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His FATHER; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
The expression “Regeneration is completed by the new birth," appears to need explanation, in consequence of the very general, if not universal misapplication of the term Regeneration. It is much to be wisheil, that soine word, not having a detined scriptural use in other senses, were adopted to express the spiritual change of the mind and heart.
The word regeneration is constantly used, by different persons, to express very different ideas. Some erroneously consider regeneration as synonymous with the new birth ; and thus necessarily refer it to a sudden change of state. Others understand it of the first reception of the converting grace of the Holy Spirit; and thus build up themselves and others in a dangerous error. And again, we constantly meet with those, who speak of the period of their spiritual conviction of sin, as that of their conversion or regeneration. In all these cases, those in whom regeneration is but commenced, would falsely imagine it to be complete ; and thus retain a delusion, which must sooner or later be the cause of much inward cuntlict. Such an erroneous view of the work of grace, must also give a false colour to a very considerable part of the sacred Scriptures, relating to christian experience. It has often surprised me, that opinions so contrary to Divine truth and christian experience, should so generally prevail. Alas! how little do those know of this marvellous work of the SPIRIT, who suppose the new birth to consist in a few tears of repentance : in a moral reformation of character ; or in an acquired taste for "evangelical” conversation and preaching !
Bnt I must proceed to define the idea I intend to convey in using the word regeneration. I use it to signify a rebegetting or recreating of the inner
As therefore begetting, in the natural sense precedes in time the natural birth; so does the lebegetting of regeneration precede the new birth, by which it must be terminated. In like manner, the first reception of the SPIRIT into the heart, may be called the conception of the new creature, or re-conception. Regeneration, in this sense, may therefore occupy a considerable period of tinie. Whereas the new birth must be a sudden translation into a new state of existence ; "old things passing away, and all things becoming
There are three things to be considered ; the conception, the generation, and the birth. This spiritual conception of the new creature may sometimes take place in the earliest stage of infancy; and yet generation may not be completed before an advance i age. During this regenerating interval, the rectifving of the will may be at one time more rapid asid perceivable than at another; and sometimes it nay be apparently at a stand. During the same period, there may be also siccessive conrictions of sin, and subsequent backslidings : but these heart-rending convictions always cease with the travail of the new birth. For then, properly, does sanctification commence ; and the slightest ieriation from the Divine Will, is immediately follower by the softened sorrow of puidential love.
I am fully aware, that'here will not be wanting some, to stigmatize these doctrives as fanciful and unscriptural. Such an opinion would be the natural effect of prejuilice, in those who presumtuously imagine, that they have been born again of the SPIRIT, without having experienced the
complete change of the new birth. To such I would say, “Agonize to enter in at the strait gate :” for “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
But perhaps other believers may object, how is it that neither my experience, nor that of my christian friends corresponds to this statement of doctrine? To such I reply, that we may be justified believers, who are regenerating, yet not regenerated. It may not be too much to assert, that in the generality of believers, the new birth does not take place much before the hour of their death. The last sufferings are rendered instruniental by the Spirit, for the birth of the new creature. Take the history of Job as typical of the Christian's pilgrimage, of the gradual work of regeneration, and of its termination in the new birth.
Hence it is evident, that such an olijection has in reality no force : since it is reasonable to suppose, that those who have not experienced a change of state, and yet feel persuaded of their konversion, should regard a statement of this nature, as enthusiastic and unwarranted.
Since sending my papers to the press, I have met with the following passage, in the appendix to Mr. Simcoe's Sermon on “Baptism and the Baptismal Service," extracted from Nowell's Catechism, set forth by authority in the reigu of Queen Elizabeth.
“Master. What is the secret and spiritual grace of baptism?
Scholar. It is of two sorts ; that is, forgiveness of sins, and regeneration, both of which in the sanie vutward sign have their full and express resemblance.
M, How so?