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The difference between the Reformation of a Pharisee,
and the Regeneration of a Christian, more particularly considered.
To the preceding exhortation, permit me to add an advice which is of the last importance. Many sinners acknowledge the necessity of regeneration without being profited thereby, because they confound it with refor. mation of life. Reader, beware of this error. Remem. ber, it is not sufficient to die to sin, if we be not raised into newness of life. It is a little thing to say, “By the grace of God I am not what I was," if we cannot add, “ By the same grace, I am what I never have been.” It is a little thing to be able to say, “I am no swearer, drunkard, unclean person ; I do not walk after the flesh ;' unless we feel at the same time that we walk in the strait path of faith, hope, and divine love.
You are no longer unjust : Well ; but like Zaccheus, do you give the half of your goods to feed the poor, and if you have wronged any man, do you restore fourfold ? You are no longer sensual and voluptuous; but are your affections spiritual and divine ? You are no longer enslaved to passion and anger ; but does the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your soul in the sweetness and patience of the Lamb of God? You are no longer filled with that pride which made you hate your superiors, despise your inferiors, and shun your equals; but in its place, do you feel in your heart the poverty of spirit, and the humility of Jesus? Do you never indulge what one calls “ a polite pride ?” Do you never pique yourselves upon your gentility, or upon any worldly distinction? You are perhaps an eminent
person, and you feel it is unworthy an honest man to lie or calumniate; but do you always firmly take part with the truth? Do you comfort, reprove, or exhort your brethren with the sweetness and zeal of a Christian ? You no longer mock at the word of God; but do you meditate upon it day and night? And is it as sweet to your soul as honey to your palate ?
You are convinced it is a great sin to take the name of God in vain ;' but do you rejoice with reverence? every time you pronounce, or think of that sacred name? You detest impiety, you cry out against that deluge of iniquity which threatens to destroy us : But are you not either transported with bitter zeal, or lukewarm, and filled with vain confidence ? You lament over many that you see at church, and at the holy table; but when you are there, do you rejoice as in the presence of the Lord ? Does all that is within you cry out by happy experience, “How dreadful is this place! It is the dwelling of the mighty God ?? Do you inwardly feed upon the bread of angels? Do you drink of the waters that spring up into everlasting life? Do you taste that the Lord is good ?
You enter regularly into your closet, and blame those who neglect to pray to their Father who seeth in secret; but do you there seek your God with tears until He manifests himself to you as he does not unto the world? Are you sick of love, (to use the expression of Solomon,) feeling that your Beloved is yours, and that you are his; that his left hand is under your head,' and that his right hand embraces you ?' In a word, do you find there the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost ?'
You feel that the life of a Christian ought to be a constant preparation for death, and as it is contrary to good sense to take those diversions in which we would not that death should find us ; you therefore leave plays, useless visits, balls, finery, romances, cards, &c., to those whom the God of this world blinds, lest they
you redeem the time, that you may · walk in all those good works which the Lord has prepared for you ? Does the love of Christ constrain you,' so that your duty becomes your delight ? Do you love to visit the Lord Jesus Christ in prison, and in the abode of the widow and orphan ? Do you seek the poor that are despised ? Are you merciful to the utmost of your power, both to the bodies and the souls of men ? And do you find more pleasure in administering to the afflicted, and
weeping with those that weep,' than the children of this world experience in all their vain delights ?
Your life is not irregular, thanks be to God! You do not live any longer in presumptuous sins. But do you feel the sprinkling of the blood of Christ ? Do you know that you have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of your sins ?' In a word, are you cruci. fied with Christ, living no longer to yourself, but to God? Is Christ your life?' Do you feel that your life is hid with Christ in God ?'
Reader, behold in these questions the difference between the reformation of a Pharisee, and the regeneration of a child of God. Some degrees of preventing grace, and of reason and reflection, suffice for the first; but nothing less can effect the second, than a baptism of the Holy Ghost, and a real participation of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Beware, if indeed you would • flee from the wrath to come, and see the kingdom of God,' beware that you rest not in the former state. If you do, the publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of heaven before you,' or rather you shall never enter therein. Christ himself has solemnly declared it. (Matt. v. 20; xxi. 31.) Accuse us not of severity, in thus following eternal Wisdom, and in not daring to make void any words written in the book of life. To fatter you in this respect, would be to lose our own souls, and that without remedy.
We are not ignorant, that the voice of worldlings, like the sound of many waters,' lifts itself up on all sides, and drowns that of the Saviour. In vain we declare, that those who falsely call him Lord, shall not enter
into his kingdom.' In vain we cry to sinners to strive to enter in at the strait gate' of regeneration, because
many will seek to enter' by that of reformation, and shall not be able.' Sinners, always incredulous and obstinate, and ever carried away by the multitude, refuse to hear the voice of their Shepherd. Wolves in sheep's clothing betray them. Death seizes them before they are born again, and chains of darkness keep them bound to the judgment of the great day. Fools ! to be blinded by that which should open their eyes, viz., the multitude that are content to live without regeneration. As if Christ had not expressly said, “Many are called, but few chosen ; that his flock is a little flock;'and that few walk in the narrow path that leads to life.
Renounce, reader, renounce the presumptuous folly of worldlings, and if the charm be not yet broken, snffer the grace
of God to break it this moment! Say not, you are rich and need nothing.' Depend not on your own works, your sincerity, your religious duties, your own righteousness. Acknowledge, on the contrary, that as you are not born again, you are yet in your sins ; poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. Feel the necessity to buy gold tried in the fire that you may be rich ; and white clothing, that the shame of your 'nakedness may not appear; and to anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see.' Cry out like the penitent Publican, with a broken and contrite heart, or as Saul praying day and night for the Spirit of God, Lord, be merci. ful to me a sinner!' Lord, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?? Lord, what shall I do to be born again ?'
If these be the desires of your soul, attend to the conclusion of this discourse. There you shall see, that however dangerous your case may be, it is not desperate, and you shall be convinced, that there is balm in Gilead. You shall confess that faith in the blood of Christ can, not only heal the wounds of a dying soul, but raise to life one that is spiritually dead,
By what Means a Soul may be born again.
God takes the title of slow to anger ; abundant in goodness and truth.' He swears by himself, that he has nó pleasure in the death of a sinner,' but that he should be converted and live; and the effects answer to those tender declarations. His mercy has found a way to raise fallen man, (if he will yield,) and to place him again among his children, without wounding his own justice. This way is astonishing, unthought of, incom. prehensible. It surpasses infinitely the conjectures of angels, and the desires of men, And it is so infallible, that all who have a due sense of their miserable fall in Adam ; all those who feel that they can no more regene. rate themselves tban they can create a new heaven and a new earth, may come to God, and receive regeneration freely by grace, and a right to the kingdom of heaven.
Reader, you have heard of this remedy a thousand times. But on the one hand, knowing neither your in. digence nor your malady ; and on the other, having your understanding darkened by your unbelief ; you have neither, perhaps, considered nor apprehended as a Christian - the things which belong to your peace." May you receive them now as the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth!'
Know then that the regeneration which we preach, is nothing else than the two great operations of the Spirit of God upon a penitential soul. The first, called Justi. fication, or the remission of sins, is that gratuitous act of the divine mercy, by which God pardons the sinner, who believes in Jesus, all his past sins, and “imputes bis