Imatges de pÓgina

Holy Ghost, and you must be born again, born again by your restoration to those humble and holy tempers and graces, and those good works from which you have fallen. You cannot violate your vows to the High and Holy One with impunity-he will not be mocked. Turn to him by repentance, and by imploring the sanctifying influences of his Spirit; lest, provoked by your hardened apostacy, he pronounce the irreversible sentence-"Ye shall not enter into my rest."

4. Blessed is the state of those to whom, coming with penitence and faith, baptism was fully the mean and pledge of the death unto sin, and the new birth unto righteousness; and who since, in dependence on the Divine Spirit, and in the use of all the appointed means in communion with the church, have advanced in the great Christian work of mortifying their evil and corrupt affections, and are daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living. Even they, however, in a certain sense, must be born again; that is, the great work of renovation must advance in their souls. Every day the power of the old man of their fallen nature must be weakened in victory over some passion and temptation; and every day the new man must acquire greater vigour, in the increase of their graces and virtues.

5. Baptized in infancy, have the duties then imposed, and the privileges then conferred, been disregarded and contemned; and have you lived without God in the world, disregarding his authority and laws, and devoted only to the indulgence of your sinful passions? You have been entire strangers to the renewing of the Holy Ghost; and, as it respects that renewing, you must be born

again. Remember, the vows of baptism, reasonable and beneficial, are as binding on you as if you had personally assumed them. The grace and privileges of baptism, conferred on you when you were of the number of those little children of whom Christ said, "of such is the kingdom of God," it has been your guilt to contemn and to reject. For these things assuredly God will bring you into judgment. Towards those who have never heard of a Saviour, or who have had no opportunity of coming into his fold, there may be room for mercy. But what mercy can they expect, who, embraced within the fold of the covenant, wilfully forsake it; and, subjects once of mercy and grace, and even heirs of heaven, have renounced their celestial privileges and become the votaries of sin, and live as if their portion were only in the world?

6. There are some inattentive to their baptismal engagements and privileges, while their character and conduct display sobriety and decency.

To them the exhortation will apply-" You must be born again"-transformed by the renewing of your mind. You may not have to answer for gross transgressions-glaring vices may not distinguish you; but your hearts are not right with God; you find there no supreme devotedness to him-no lively sensibility to his mercy through a Redeemer -no deep conviction of that subjection to sin from which divine grace only can deliver-no earnest desire to obtain that holiness which only can qualify for his presence-no steadfast resolution to seek his favour as your satisfying portion. Until these dispositions, by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, are formed in your souls, your baptismal engagements are not fulfilled, your baptismal pri

vileges are not secured; and were you summoned to the tribunal of your Redeemer and Judge, it would be your condemnation that these engagements and privileges were neglected and contemned.

7. There is a still more numerous class of Christians who profess to observe the engagements of baptism, and whose desire and hope it is to secure their baptismal privileges.

With this view, they cultivate general decency and propriety of conduct; they cherish a general fear and love of God, and confidence in his mercy through a Redeemer; they observe the worship and ordinances of the temple: and yet we find them making a low estimate of Christian dutysetting their affections principally on the world, cherishing but superficial views of the plan of salvation, of the fulness of the Redeemer's merits, of the all-sufficiency of his grace, and of the necessity of that transformation of the affections by which only they can be truly turned from sin to holiness, from the world to God. They "must be born again.' The grace which was received in baptism they must cherish and improve by meditation, prayer, and all other pious exercises, until they become renewed in the spirit of their minds, until their God, their Redeemer, their Christian duties, their Christian hopes have the supreme place in their affections, and control and regulate their life.

8. Lastly. This we have reason to believe is the state of some who, through the blessing of their heavenly Father, devoted to him in baptism before sin exerted its dominion over them, have, as the powers of their minds and the affections of their hearts unfolded, subjected them to that Divine Spi

rit whose guidance and sanctification were pledged when they were called into the state of salvation.

Through the knowledge of that Lord and Saviour in whose merits they were interested, and whose grace they received in the sacrament by which they were born from their natural condition into the privileges of his covenant, they have escaped the pollutions of the world, and in the constant exercises of repentance, and faith, and evangelical obedience, have fulfilled the conditions on which their baptismal privileges were suspended. Their spiritual renovation has been constantly and gradually proceeding under the influences of the Holy Spirit accompanying and rendering effectual their diligent use of all the means of grace, their constant endeavours to walk worthy of their Christian calling. But even they are to cherish a constant sense of the indispensable importance of that spiritual change denoted in the injunction of their Lord-"Ye must be born again." Their spiritual birth indeed commenced in baptism, and their spiritual life has since been preserved, and quickened, and advanced by the agency of that Divine Spirit which, in prayer, and in all the ordinances of the church, they have invoked and received. But it should be their frequent and solicitous inquiry, whether all the graces and virtues of the new man are constantly increasing in strength and lustre, whether their spiritual life is growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day; and mindful of their natural impotence, and of the power of the numerous temptations which assail them while they are diligent, watchful, resolute in the work of their salvation, their constant dependence should be placed on the influences of that Divine Spirit by


whom only they are made new creatures in Christ Jesus, and who alone is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of the Divine Glory.

Universal, then, my brethren, is the obligation of that change from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from Satan to God, which is denoted by the injunctions-"Ye must be born again"" If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." As it respects a conditional title to the privileges of the Gospel, and the unmerited gift of that grace by which, in the fulfilment of the conditions, these privileges may be secured, all who were baptized were born again-regenerated in baptism. But this baptismal regeneration, so far from superceding, is designed to denote, and to enforce, and to render practicable that spiritual renovation, that renewing by the Holy Ghost, which consists in abolishing the whole body of sin, and in acquiring the holy tempers and graces of the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. And the necessity of this spiritual renovation is founded on the fact, that man is a sinful creature and on the immutable and eternal truth, that without holiness no man can see the Lord. Sinful man, then, must be made holy, or he cannot see or enjoy the presence of a holy God.

Whether, then, this spiritual renovation has taken place in your souls, brethren, is the most important inquiry on which you can engage. It is not sufficient that you were regenerated, that you were called into a state of salvation in baptism, and, as members of Christ's mystical body, endued with that Spirit which animates this body, to be the principle of your spiritual life. Unless this Spirit

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