Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

a

4. He is enlightned in the kno'vledge of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor.i. 23, 24. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews aftumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: but unto them that are called, both fews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God. The truth is, unregenerate men, tho' capable of preaching Christ, y have not (properly speaking) the knowledge of him, but only an opinion, good opinion of him; as one has of many controverted points of doctrine, wherein he is far from certainty. As when ye meet with a stranger upon the road, he behaving himself discreetly, ye conceive a good opinion of him; and therefore willingly converse with him; but yet ye will not cornmit your money to him; because, tho' you have a good opinion of the man, he is a ftranger to you, ye do not know him. So many, they think well of Christ; but they will never commit themselves to him; seeing they know him not. But saving illumination carries the foul beyond opinion, to the certain knowledge of Christ and his excellency, 1 Theil. i. 5. For our gospel cume not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the holy Ghost, and in much affurance. The light of grace thus discovers the suitableness of the mystery of Christ, to the divine perfections, and to the sinner's case. Hence the regenerate admire the glorious plan of salvation through Christ crucified, lay their whole weight upon it, and heartily acquielce therein : for whatever he be to others, he is to them Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. But unrenewed men, not seeing this, are offended in him; they will not venture their souls in that bottom, but betake themselves to the broken boards of their own righteoulnefs.

The same light convincingly discovers a superlative worth, a transcendant glory and excellency in Chrift; which darken all created excellencies, as the rising fun makes the stars to hide their heads : and so it engages the merchant-man to sell all that he hath, to buy the one pearl of great price, Marth. xiii. 45, 46. makes the soul well content, to take Christ for all, and instead of all. Even as an unskilful merchant, :o whom one offereth a pearl of great price, for all his petty wares, dares not venture on the bargain; for tho' he thinks, that one pearl may be more worth than all he has, yet he is not sure of it : but when a jeweller comes to him, and assures him, it is worth double all his wares; he then greedily embraceth the bargain, and chearfully parts with all that he has for that pearl. Finally, This illumination in the knowledge of Chrift, convincingly discovereth to men a fulness in him, sufficient for the supply of all their wants; enough to satisfy the boundless desires of an immortal soul. They are persuaded such fulness is in him, and that in order to be communicate : they depend upon it, as a certain truth; and therefore their souls take

up

their eternal reit in him.

4. The man is instructed in the knowledge of the vanity of the world, Pfal cxix. 96. I have seen an end of all perfection. Regenerating grace elevates the foul, sets it, as it were, amongst the stars, from whence this earth cannot but appear a little, yea, a very

little

'

thing; even as heaven appeared before while the soul was immersed in the earth. Grace brings a man into a new world; while this world is reputed but a stage of vani'y, an howling wilderness, a valley of tears God hath hung the rign of vanity at the door of all created enjoyments; yet how do men throng into the honse, calling and looking for fomewhat thit is satisfying; even after it has been a thoutand times told th-m, there is -110 fuch thing in it, it is nor to be got there, Ifa. Ivi. 10. This a t weari d in te greatne/s of hy ways; ver jaruf thou not, th re is no hope. Why are men fo foolith? The truth of the matter lies here, they do not see by the light of gra.e, they do not fpiritually discern, that lign of vanity They have often indeed made a rational discovery of it: but can that truly wean the heart fron t'ie world? Nay, no more than paiuted fire can burn off the prifoner's bands. But the light of grace is the light of life, powerful and efficacious

Lully, (To sum up all in one word) In regeneration the mind is enlightned in the knowledge of spiritual things, 1 Johnı ii 20 Yi have en unet on from th- holy, ( (thar is, from Jesus Chrilt, Rev ji 18. It is an allution to the sanctuary, whence the holy oil was brought to Anoint the priests) and ve kn will h ngr, viz necefsary to falvation, Tho' mep be not book-learned if they be born again, they are Spiritlearned; for alifu h are taught of God, Johu vi 45. he Spirit of regeneration teach:th then what they knew not before ; and what they did know, as by the ear only, he teacheth thein over again as by the eye The light of grace is an overcoming light, determming men to assent to divine trutis on the incre testimony of God. It is no ealý thing for the mind of man to acquielce in divine revelation Many pretend great respect to the scriptures, whom, nevertheless, the clear (cripture-teltimony will not divorce from their pre-conceived opinions. But this illumination will make men's minds run,' as captives, after Christ's chariot wheels; which, for their part, shall be allowed to drive over, and catt down their own imaginations, and every hish thing that exa'teth iyelf a a nft the Answledge of God, 2 Cor.'x 5. It will make them receive the king tom of Croid as a little child, Mark x 15. who thinks he has fufficient ground to believe any thing, if his father do but say it is fo.

Secondly, I he wil is renewed. The Lord takes away the ftony heart, and gives in heart of flelli, Ezek. xxxvi 26. And ió, of stones raileth up chikiren to Abraham. Regenerating grace is powerful and efficacious, and gives the will a new iet It does not indeed force it: but sweetly, yet powerfully draws it, so that his people are willing in the aay of his power, Pol.cx. 3 There is heavenly oratory in the Mediator's lips, to persuade timers, PG1 xlv. 2 Grace is poureti into thy tips. There are cords of a man, and bands of love in his hands, to draw them after hiin, llof si. 4. Love makes a ner for elect fouls, which will infallibly catch them, and hale them to land. The cords of Christ's lore ars strong cords: and they need to be fo; for every

finner is heavier than a mountain of brafs : and Satan, together with the heart itself, draw the contrary way. But love is strong as death; and the Lord's love to the soul he died for, is itrongest love; which acts so powerfully, that it must come off victorious.

1. The will is cured of its utter inability to will what is good. · While the opening of the prison to them that are bound, is proclaimed in the gospel: The Spirit of God comes to the prison door, opens it, goes to the prisoner; and by the power of his grace makes bis chains fall off; breaks the bond of iniquity, where with he was held in fin, so as he could neither will nor do any thing truly good; brings him forth into a large place, 'Working in him both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13. Then it is that the foul, that was fixed to the earth, can move heavenward; the withered hand is restored, and can be stretched out.

2. There is wrought in the will a fixed aversion to evil. In re. generation, a man gets a new spirit put within him, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. and that spirit lufteth against the flesh, Gal. v. 17. The sweet morsel of fin, so greedily swallowed down, he now lothes, and would fain be rid of it; even as willingly as one, that had drunk a cup of poison, would throw it up again. When the spring is stopt, the mud lies in the well unmoved: but when once the spring is cleared, the waters springing up, will work the mud away by degrees Even so, while a man coñiinues in an unregenerate state, sin lies at ease in the heart: but as soon as the Lord strikes the rocky heart, with the rod of his strength in the day of conversion, grace is in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life, John iv. working away natural corruption, and gradually purifying the heart, Acts xv. 9. The renewed will riseth up against rin, strikes at the root thereof, and the branches too. Lusts are now grievous, and the soul endeavours 'to starve them : the corrupt nature is the fource of all evil, and therefore the soul will be often laying it before the great Physician. O what sorrow, shame and self-loathing fill the heart, in the day that grace makes its triumph. ant entrance into it? For now the madman is come to himself, and the remembrance of his follies cannot but cur him to the heart,

Laftly, The will is endued with an inclination, bent, and propensity to good. In its depraved state, it lay quite another way ; being prone and bent to evil only: but now, by a pull of the omnipotent, all.conquering arm, it is drawn from evil to good, and gets another set. And as the former set was natural; so this is natural too, in respect of the new nature given in regeneration, which has its own holy luitings, as well as the corrupt old nature hath its finful lustings, Gal. v. 17. The will, as renewed, inclines and points towards God and godliness. When God made man, his will, in respect of its intention, was directed towards God, as his chief end ; in refpect of its choice, it pointed towards that which God willed. When man un. made himself, his will was framed into the very reverse liereof; he made himself his chief end, and his own will his law. - But when inan

S

is new made, in regeneration, grace rectifies this disorder in some measure, tho' not perfectly indeed; because we are but renewed in part, while in this world. It brings back the finner, out of himself, to God as his chief end, truly, tho' not perfectly, Psal. lxxiii. 25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I de fire besides thee. Philip. i. 21. For to me to live is Chrift. It makes him to deny himself, and whatever way he turns, to point habitually towards God; who is the center of the gracious soul, its home, its dwelling-place in all generations, Psal. xc. 1. By regenerating grace, the will is framed into a conformity to the zwill of God. It is conformed to his preceptive will, being endued with holy inclinations, agreeable to every one of his commands. The whole law is impresed on the gracious soul : every part of it is written over on the renewed heart. "And altho' remaining corruption makes such blots in the writing, thať oft-times the man himself cannot read it : yet he that wrote it can read it at all times; it is never quite blotted out, nor can be. What he has wristen, he has written, it shall stand : For this is 'the covenant, - I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, Heb. viii. 10. And it is a covenant of salt, a perpetual covenant. It is also conformed to his providential will; so that the man will no more be master of his own process; nor carve out his lot for himself. He learns to say, from his heart, The will of the Lord be done, --he Mall chuse our inheritance for us, Pfal. xlvii

. 4. Thus the will is dispofed to fall in with those things, which, in its depraved state, it could never be reconciled to.

Particularly, (1.) The Lord is reconciled to the covenant of peace. The Lord God promiseth a covenant of peace to sinners ; a covenang which he himself hath framed, and registrated in the Bible : but they are not pleased with it : nay, an unrenewed heart cannot be pleased with it. Were it put into their hands, to frame it according to their mind; they would blot many things out of it, which God has put in; and put in many things, God has kept out. But the renewed heart is entirely satisfied with the covenant, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and fare; this is all my salvation, and all my de fire. Tho' the covenant could not be brought down to their depraved will, their will is, by grace, brought up to the covenant; they are well-pleased with it: there is nothing in it they would have out; nor is any thing left out of it, which they would have in. (2.) The will is disposed to receive Christ Jesus the Lord. The soul is content to submit to him. Regenerating grace undermines, and brings down the tow'ring imaginations of the heart, raised up against its rightful lord: it breaks the iron finew, which kept the finner from bowing to him, and disposed him to be no more liffmocked, but to yield to himself. He is willing to take on the yoke of Christ's commands, to take up the cross and to follow him. He is content to take Christ on any terins, Pfal. xc. 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.

Now,

Now, the mind being savingly enlightened, and the will renewed; the finner is thereby determined and enabled to answer the gospel. call. So the main work in regeneration is done; the fort of the heart is taken : there is room made for the Lord Jesus Christ, in the innermost parts of the foul; the outer-door of the will being now opened to him, as well as the inner-door of the understanding. In one word, Christ is paffively received into the heart; he is come into the foul by his quickning spirit, whereby spiritual life is given to the man, who in himself was dead to sin. And his first vital act we may conceive to be an active receiving of Jesus Christ discerned in his glorious excellencies; that is, a believing on him, a closing with him, as discerned, offered, and exhibited in the word of his grace, the glorious gofpel: the immediate effect of which is union with him, John i. 12, 13, To as many as received him, to them gave he power (or privilege) to become the fons of God, even to them that believe or his Name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Eph. iii. 17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Christ having taken the heart by storm, and triumphantly entered into it, in regeneration, the foul by faith yields itself to him, as it is expressed, 2 Chron. xxx. 8. Thus, this glorious King, who came into the heart by his Spirit; dwells in it by faith. The foul being drawn, runs; and being effectually called, comes.

Thirdly, in regeneration; there is a happy change made on the affections; they are both rectified and regulated.

1. This change rectifies the affections, placing them on suitable objects, 2 Theff. iii. 5. The Lord'direct your hearts into the love of God. The regenerate man's desires are rectified; they are set on God himself, and the things above. He who before, cried with the world, Who will shew us any good? he changes his note, and saya, Lord lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, Pfal. iv. Sometimes he faw no beauty in Christ, for which he was to be desired ; * but now he is all delires, he is altogether lovely, Cant. v. 16. The main Itream of his desires is turned to run towards God : for there is the one thing he desireth, Pfal. xxvii. 4. He desires to be holy, as well as to be happy; and rather to be gracious than great. His hopes, which before were low, and staked down to things on earth, are now raised, and set on the glory which is to be revealed. He entertains the hope of eternal life, founded on the word of promise, Tit. i. 2. Which hope he has, as an anchor of the soul, fixing the heart under trials, Heb.vi. 18. And it puts himn upon purifying himself, even as God is pure, John iii. 3. For he is begotten again unto a lively hope, 1 Pet. i. 3.

His love is raised, and fet on God himself, Psal. xxviii. 1. On his holy law', Psal. cxix. 97

Tho' ir strike against his most beloved lust, he says, The law is holy, and the commandment boly, and just, and good, Rom.

He loves the ordinances of God, Pfal. Ixxxiv. 1. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosto? Being passed from death unto life, he loves the brethren, (1 John iii. 14.) the people of God, as they

[ocr errors]

vii. 12.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »