Imatges de pÓgina

we receive such a recompense of our wickedness as is meet.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is well fitted to govern us as our king, inasmuch as he knows what degree of virtue or vice each of his subjects possesses, what human nature is capable of performing and resisting, and therefore can apportion the respective claims of each to reward or punishment. More especially is he qualified to act as our judge in passing sentence upon us according to our works. As he knows the frailties of our nature, he will not be severe to work iniquity against uš, if it proceeds rather from accidental circumstances than confirmed depravity; and as he is ever ready to help our infirmities if we earnestly implore the aid of divine grace, and endeavour to maintain our integrity :-But he will not shew mercy to our incorrigible impenitence. Both the righteous and the wicked will be constrained to own the rectitude of his procedure, when he cometh to judge his saints in righteousness, and the people with equity; and every one will receive a sentence of approbation or condemnation according to his works.

It remains now to exhibit very shortly,
IV. The practical improvement of the subject.

As he is appointed our Mediator, by whom every blessing is communicated from God to us, therefore we should always have recourse to his interposition in our behalf, whenever we supplicate any thing of which we stand in need. We need not expect to receive any gooil and perfect gift from the Father of lights, but through the interposition of his own Son : nay, it is the highest impiety to venture to approach the divine Majesty, unless we are made accepted in the beloved : for “no man cometh to the Father, but by him."—When, therefore, we offer up our religious services to the Most High, it must be in the name of Christ, if we would have them efficacious. When we pray for the pardon of sin, it must be for the sake of what our Mediator has done and suffered on our behalf to reconcile us unto God: when we supplicate for grace to help us, it must be because Christ hath procured and pro

mised the Holy Spirit to them who ask him : when we implore the protection of divine providence to lead and guide us while we live, it must be because Christ is head over all things to his church; and when we beg to be made partakers of the heavenly inheritance, it must be because Christ hath gone to prepare mansions for his people, that where he is, there they may be also, even to behold his glory,

But, let us remember that we need never entertain the hopes of such blessed privileges, by his merits and intercession, unless we submit to be taught by him as our prophet, and obey him as our king. We must therefore believe all the doctrines which he hath revealed as the foundation of our religious and moral principles; and receive all the precepts which he hath delivered as the rule of our conduct. For he will not be a Priest to atone for our guilt, unless we forsake it, as he came into the world for the express purpose of saving his people from their sins, not while they continue in them: he came to expiate our past offences, that for the future we might be zealous of good works. Neither will he intercede for us as an advo. cate, unless we study to keep his commandments : for he is become the author of eternal salvation only to those who obey him. Let us therefore in all our religious ser. vices, “ look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith : who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the righ¢ hand of the throne of God.”

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TITUS 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 ; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

HAVING in the preceding discourse explained wherein the salvation accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ consists, I proceed to illustrate the manner in which we become partakers of the spiritual blessings annexed to it by the covenant of redemption. These belong only to persons of a certain character, whom the scripture denominates believers, penitents, and saints, from the different progress they have made in the Christian life. Accordingly, we are required to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ that we may be saved; to repent and be converted that our sins may be forgiven us; and to be sanctified in soul, body, and spirit, if we would be meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. But as we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, living without God in the world, indisposed to accept of Christ as our Saviour, or to act in obedience to his laws, hence the dispensation of the gospel is adapted to renew us in the spirit of our minds, and intended to create us again unto good works, that we should walk in them. For this purpose, a divine energy is imparted to our souls, by which our understandings are enabled to esteem religion as the one thing needful, and to regard salvation as the better part which shall never be taken away from us. Our dispositions, which are naturally averse to holiness and virtue, are thereby constrained to delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man, and inclined to do those things which are well-pleasing in his sight. Our desires, which once were earthly and carnal, become spiritual and refined, and are set on heaven and the things above. Our passions, which dispose us to act with indiscretion and folly, are henceforth directed by the dictates of conscience and reason, so that they seldom lead us astray from the path of rectitude. Our heart, which perhaps preferred the enjoyments of life as our only portion, is induced to relish the service of God as the chief source of rational satisfaction. Our actions, which were formerly influenced by inclination and humour, are now conformed to the rule of duty prescribed by the divine commandments. Such a change in the mental faculties is denominated in scripture regeneration, by which old things are done away, and all things become new.

That this transformation takes place in a greater or less degree, in all those who are truly religious, is a fact confirmed by universal experience; and therefore not a chimerical dogma, or fanatical delusion. For it cannot be denied, that our natures are much perverted by origihal corruption, whereby a propensity to evil is engendered in the soul, which exhibits itself in the life and conduct of every individual. And it is equally undeniable, that many men have gradually subdued in a great measure, those unreasonable dispositions which they once indulged, and acquired the habit of living soberly, righteously, and godly in the world. The causes that have been effectual for this purpose, are partly natural, and partly supernatural. The former consist in the application of those moral means which God hath appointed for our edification and growth in grace, such as religious edu. cation, the Christian ordinances, and the right regulation of our heart and conduct. The latter are those principles of holiness superinduced in the soul by the occult operation of the Holy Ghost, who leads and guides the faithful

into all truth, and enables them to will and to do God's good pleasure.

Respecting the mode of his agency on the human mind, neither reason nor scripture affords us any adequate conception ; but the fact itself is certain, from the uniform testimony of the inspired authors.

As the subject of regeneration is of primary importance in the Christian system, it is proposed to treat of it in this discourse in the following manner; and to shew,

I. The proofs derived from reason and scripture, that the influences of the Holy Ghost are necessary to renew us in the spirit of our minds.

II. The nature of these influences, and the means by which they are produced.

III. The effects resulting from such a change in the heart and conduct.

IV. The practical inferences arising from the subject. In pursuance of this plan, I proceed to shew,

I. The proofs derived from reason and scripture, that the influences of the Holy Ghost are necessary to renew us in the spirit of our minds.

There has been much controversy in every age of the church, how far the faculties of the human mind can enable us to work out our salvation, and live in such a manner as becometh the gospel. Some divines have asserted, that the due improvement of our rational and moral nature by proper discipline, is sufficient for correcting those irregular propensities of the flesh and spirit which prevail within us, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God. But their opinion must appear unfounded, when it is considered, that we have lost that original power of rectitude with which our first parents were endued, and that the dispensation of Christianity is intended to restore in us the divine image which has been in a great measure effaced by the introduction of sin. If we were entirely capable, by our own exertions, of receiving the truth in the love of it, and obeying the divine commandments, no supernatural means would have been employed to convert

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