Imatges de pÓgina
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plainly convey the same idea of it, and of the manner in which it is effected God speaks of it in the Old Testament under the notion of his giving a new heart to his impenitent people in Babylon: a heart to repent and turn to him, with the tender feelings of godly sorrow. Ezek. xxxvi. 26, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." In our context it is represented as a resur. rection from spiritual death: ver. 4, 5, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." Now, to be thus quickened, or to have such a new heart given, evidently supposes the proper creating of a vital principle of religion-a godly disposition. But the most common phrases used to express this change of heart, are regeneration, and a second birth. See John iii. 3, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." And ver. 6, 7, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." And Tit. iii. 5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." These last phrases evidently allude to the beginning of our existence, by ordinary generation and natural birth. They evidently imply that a new creature, or created thing, is brought into being; and that the moral image of God is thus immediately given us; as, in the first generation and birth, we derived the natural likeness of our earthly parents immediately from them. Nor is it possible to have any idea of being thus spiritually begotten and born, without supposing a proper work of creation, God is a

Spirit; and how shall we conceive of a new creature's proceeding from Him, otherwise than as being created? To be begotten or born of God, and to be created of God, are phrases which necessarily convey the very same idea, if any at all. Accordingly, we are said to be the offspring of God, because we proceeded from him in our original creation.

I am sensible that all the forementioned phrases and expressions, are supposed by some to be used on this subject, in so very figurative a sense, as to have scarce any proper meaning. They are figurative, it is true: that is, they allude to natural things, by which the spiritual change designed is meant to be illustrated. But if they are figures of speech pertinently used, there must be some analogy between the metaphorical and literal sense of the expressions; and so much of an analogy, certainly, as will imply, that a new creature is really produced, in the moral likeness of God; which can be no other than a proper spiritual creation.

2. What is said of the wonderful display of divine power in effecting this change, necessarily leads us to conclude that it must be properly a supernatural work. See Eph. i. 19, 20, “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead." The work in believers here refered to, is plainly regeneration; because it is directly after said, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." And that the apostle would have us conceive of this as being a supernatural work, is evident, both from his comparing it to God's raising to life the dead body of Christ; and from the strong expressions thrown together to set forth the extraordinary energy of God herein conspicuous. The exceeding greatness of his power; and the working of his mighty power. The

omnipotence of the Deity is exercised, indeed, in bringing to pass the most ordinary events. Whatever diversities of operations there are, "it is the same God that worketh all in all." But in supernatural works, the divine power, whether more exerted or not, is more illustriously manifested. In the language of scripture, in the latter kind of events, "the arm of the Lord is made bare.”

To be universally understood, it may here be needful, perhaps, to explain the difference between a natural and a supernatural work. In order to this it must be observed, that there are certain established laws of nature, according to which natural effects are brought to pass: and there are certain powers of created agents, by the exertion of which these effects may be produced. Attraction, for instance, is a general law in the material system. Hence it is that bodies heavier than the air, naturally fall in it to the earth. It was God that established this law at first, and it is he that keeps it still in force; so that a stone falls not to the ground without his agency. But we are not at all surprized at it: the stone falls, we say, of itself, or by its own weight. Heavy bodies may also be thrown upward naturally, by the strength or art of man. But should we see rocks, or pieces of led fly up into the air without any visible cause, it would be thought something supernatural; and would be marvellous in our eyes. Thus, when Moses and Aaron did what the magicians could not do with their enchantents, the latter were constrained to say, "This is the finger of God." So the dividing the Red Sea by the rod of Moses, and the river Jordan by the mantle of Elijah: Elisha's causing iron to swim, Ezekiel's raising dry bones into a living army, and our Saviour's calling Lazarus out of his grave, after he had been dead four days: these, and things like these, which are not according to the laws of nature, and not to be effected by the power of crea

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tures, are called supernatural works of God. this distinction of natural and supernatural, is as applicable to effects in the intellectual, as in the material world. There are certain tendencies in minds, to be actuated by certain motives set before them; and when a man's mind is influenced, or altered, by arguments and inducements suited to work such an effect, on one of such a disposition, the effect is natural. But should a man be made to act contrary to every previous propensity of his nature, or should a principle of action radically new, at any time be given him, such an effect must be altogether supernatural. Such an effect must be as immediately from the power of God, as the reanimation of a body which had been ever so long lifeless, or as the original creation of all things.

Now in this view of the change in an unregenerate sinner, when he is first transformed by the renewing of his mind, and in no other, can I see a propriety in what the apostle says, of the exceeding greatness of God's power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power in Christ when he raised him from the dead. On this supposition, and this alone, both these effects, though the subjects of them were different, must be alike by the immediate operation of Omnipotence.

3. If it be true that man is by nature totally depraved in the spirit of his mind, it is a plain case that the beginning of holiness in him, can be no otherwise than by a new creation. When spiritual life is once begun in the soul, in however low a degree, it may be preserved and increased by moral means; as well as any plant or animal can be kept alive, and made to grow by natural means. But the first production of the radical principle of this life, can no more be the effect of any second cause; than the first root or seed of any plant or tree, could have been produced by rain, sun-shine, and cultivation

Those who hold that regeneration is effected by the moral power of light and truth, either leave truc holiness wholly out of the account from first to last'; or suppose mankind not totally destitute of it by nature or else talk in a manner altogether inconsistent.

Some suppose that the enmity of the carnal mind against God is owing only to misapprehensions concerning him; and, consequently, that carnal men are immediately reconciled to him, as soon as they have right information respecting his character and ways. But this supposes that their hearts were never totally depraved, if depraved at all. It supposes no more depravity in them before conversion than after. They now love God because they are convinced that he is holy, just, and good; and all that ever occasioned their disaffection to him, was their conceiving him to be of an opposite character, and such a being as no one ought to love.

Others imagine that the only thing which excites enmity against God in natural men, is their thinking him their enemy, or one that is angry with them, and will terribly punish them accordingly, when once they are made to believe he loves them, has pardoned them, and that it is his good pleasure to give them glory, honor, and immortality in his heavenly kingdom; all their enmity is slain, and they are full of gratitude and love to him. But this supposes, either that their hearts were good before, or that they are not so still. If they thought he was angry with them without a cause, and would punish them unjustly, or with cruel severity; if their hearts rose against him in these views only, and if these wrong apprehensions did not proceed from something previously wrong in themselves, there was no moral depravity in the case. Their hearts might always have been good. But if a belief of God's just anger, and a fear of his righteous vengeance, excited their enmi

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