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in him'-an ignorance that makes him insensible of its existence. He may have some beginnings of spiritual life and motion before he is regenerated. He may feel good desires, and make efforts to turn to God; but his spiritual senses are not yet unfolded, and the veil of obscurity still covering his soul, he cannot see the Sun of Righteousness, nor the day of life eternal ; he is not yet born of God.
Let us continue the parallel. The birth of an infant is commonly accompanied by sorrows inexpressible. This blessing costs sighs, tears, and even piercing cries. • In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children,' says God to Eve, after she had sinned ; and this sentence is also more or less executed in a spiritual sense, upon all sinners who enter into life by regeneration. If Lydia felt the sorrows of repentance but for a moment before the Lord opened her heart ; if three thousand persons were pricked to the heart, during the preaching of St. Peter, and were immediately after regenerated, receiving remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost: The scripture teaches us that David, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and St. Paul, did not pass so soon nor so easily from death unto life. But however the circumstances may differ, it is certain that the change which accompanies the New Birth, is such that none can be insensible of it who have experienced it. A child is no sooner born, than he exists in a manner altogether different. He breathes ; he feels the air that surrounds him; and by an alternate motion receives it in, and sends it forth continually. All his corporeal senses are affected by, and employed upon, their proper objects. His eyes are opened to the light, and hence he perceives an infinite variety of new things. His ears are struck with a thousand different sounds; and the faculty which he has of touching, tasting, and feeling, discovers to him every moment something of those material things that are under the sun. Regene. ration causes an equal revolution in the soul of a sinner. He is no sooner born of God, than he becomes sensible of the presence of the Supreme Being.--He can say by experience with David, Thou hast beset me, before
and behind, and laid thy hand upon me.' He renders back, without ceasing, to God, by prayer and praise, the breath of spiritual life, which he receives by faith ; and acquiring every moment new strength, his spiritual senses are unfolded, exercised, and become capable of discerning spiritual objects.
· The eyes of his understanding are opened. He sees (in every place] him that is invisible. God, who commanded the light to shine into the darkness, shines into his heart, and enlightens him with the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. God lifts upon him the light of his countenance.' With Abraham he sees the day of the Lord, the day which to him is the beginning of eternal life; and seeing it, he rejoices with joy unspeakable. His ears are opened as well as his eyes. God does not now call in vain. He understands, be knows the voice of his shepherd. He comes to him. • He tastes the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.' In a word, his spiritual senses are all in action; the veil is taken away; the things of God are no longer mystery or foolishness. He knows-he comprehends them. He feels the peace which passes all understanding, the joy of the Holy Ghost, and the love of God shed abroad in his heart.' He knows that he is born of God. He knows that he dwells in God, and God in him.'
This is your state, reader, if you be a believer ; if you have that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.' But if you have never experienced that inward change, “judge yourself, that you be not judged of the Lord.' Be deeply sensible, and confess, that because you are not born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God. Con. sider the reasons which prove the absolute necessity of Regeneration. They will infallibly convince you, if you suffer the grace of God to make you feel all their force and importance.
PART THE THIRD.
Why no man can see the kingdom of God without being
It is certain, from the testimony of sacred scripture, that before the fall of Adam our nature participated of a holiness and a goodness, of which we have not any remains in coming into the world. In this state of spi. ritual life, man loved God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind. He served bim with all his strength; he gave him thanks for all things; he rejoiced in him with joy unspeakable, and he had a constant communion with him by the Holy Spirit, of which he was the temple. But by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and death passed upon all men, because all have sinned. Thus we are born chil. dren of wrath,' not only destined to bodily death, and exposed to death eternal, but already spiritually dead in original sin. • Conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity, we are alienated from the life of God,' having only carnal and earthly affections, in which, St. Paul declares, consists the death of our souls. And as God is not the God of the dead, but of the living,' it is clear, that before we can call • Jesus LORD by the Holy Ghost, or God FATHER, by the Spirit of Adoption ;' before we can experience that which St. Paul calls the Life of God, we must feel inwardly the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and receive from him a new heart and a right spirit ; spiritual and heavenly affections. This is the sacred oil with which God anoints true Christians. It is the want of this oil, of this vivifying grace, which causes the foolish virgins to be excluded from the king, dom of heaven, as well as the adulterers.
But again, as the decrees of God are unchangeable, the heavens shall be shaken, and the truth of God fail, before a child of Adam shall see the face of God with. out sanctification and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. You must be transformed by the renewing of your mind,' in order to prove his holy, and acceptable, and perfect will.' It ordains that you shall • put off the Old Man, and put on the New Man, created after Him in righteousness and true holiness ;' and he declares solemnly by the mouth of his Son, that none shall see his kingdom without being born again. Do not imagine, that because God is good, he will cease to be true, and that he forgets to be holy and just because he is patient. No, his mercy does not make him the father of lies, and you should remember that though heaven and earth pass away-his word shall not pass away.'
But do you still demand, why nothing that is impure and defileth, shall enter the kingdom of God ? And why there are none before his throne, but the spirits of the just made perfect, and saints whose robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb ? The reason is clear: Sin, that leprosy of the devil, must not offend HIM, whose eyes are too pure to see evil. Defilement and iniquity cannot dwell with the King of saints. There is no refuge, no dwelling-place in the heavenly Jerusalem for vipers, dogs, or swine. The proud, the passionate, lying and revengeful persons ; the envious, the covetous, the sensual, cannot enter there: And if they could, they would find God only a consuming fire.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? (says David.) He who hath clean hands, and a pure heart. Blessed are the pure in heart, (says Jesus,) for they shall see God.'
Miserable are those whose hearts are not purified, for they shall never see him. There is no communion between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial. To see the face of God in righteousness, we must be cleansed from our natural corruption, and become partakers of the nature of Christ, and of the image of God. From hence it appears, that regeneration is the first
degree of salvation. Grace is the only way to glory, and holiness the one foundation of true happiness. If we do not learn to know, in this world, Jesus Christ, who saves his people from their sins, we shall hear him say one day, “ Depart from me, I know you not, ye workers of iniquity.' God will receive into his kingdom only those whom Christ shall sanctify in soul, body, and spirit. As on the one side, sin is the seed of death, and hell begins in those who are not regenerated : On the other, holiness is life eternal, and heaven is already opened in the believing soul. He who believeth in me, (saith Jesus) hath eternal life ;' he has the earnest, the seal, and the foretaste of it. And as hell cannot be for those who are saved from their sins by Jesus, neither can paradise be for those who are not partakers of the divine nature. We may add, that it is as preposterous to flatter ourselves with the hope of glory without having passed through regeneration, as to hope to see noon-day, without the intervention of the morning, or the summer of the year without the spring.
Moreover, to rejoice in the pleasures that are at God's right hand for evermore, it is needful to have senses and a taste to correspond thereto. The swine trample pearls under their feet. Dogs prize an ingot of gold no more than a flint. The elevated discourse of a philosopher is insupportable to a stupid mechanic : And an ignorant peasant, introduced into a circle of men of learning and taste, is disgusted, sighs after his village, and de. clares no hour ever appeared to him so long. It would be the same to a man who is not regenerated, if we could suppose
that God would so far forget his truth, as to open to him the gate of heaven. If bis heart were not created anew, if from a natural he were not changed to a spiritual man, however blameless he bad been in his life, he would be as incapable of those trans, ports of love which make the happiness of the glorified saints, as a horse is to admire the lustre of a diamond, or a swine to contemplate with delight the beautiful water of a pearl.
He is ignorant of the language of the heavenly Canaan.