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Whenever the prayerless person gets the Spirit of grace, he will be in hin a Spirit of lupplication, Zech. xii. 10. It is as natural for one that is born again to fall a-praying, as for the new-born babe to fall a-crying, Acts ix. II. Behold, he prayeth. His heart will be a temple for God, and his house a church. His devotion, which before was superficial and formal, is now spiritual and lively; forasmuch as heart and tongue are touched with a live-coal from heaven; and he rests not in the mere performing of duties, as careful only to get his talk done ; but in every duty seeking communion with God in Christ
, justly onsidering them as means appointed of God for that end, and reckoning hiinself disappointed if he miss of it. Thus far of the nature of regeneration.
The Resemblance betwixt natural and spiritual generation.. II. I come to thew why this change is called regeneration, a being born again. It is so called, because of the resemblance betwixt'natural and spiritual generation, which lies in the following particulars.
Fiift, Natural generation is a mysterious thing: and so is spiritual generation, John iii. 8. The wind bloweth where it lifteth, and thou heareft the found thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: fo is every one that is born of the Spirit. The work of the Spirit is felt, but his way of working is a mystery we cannot comprehend.' A new light is let into the mind, and the will is renewed; but how that light is conveyed thither, how the will is fettered with cords of love, and how the rebel is made a willing capsive, we can no more tell, than we can tell, how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, Ecclef. xi. 5. As a man hears the sound of the wind, and finds it stirring ; but knows not where it begins, and where it ends ; so is every one that is born of the Spirit : he finds the change that is made upon him, but how it is produced, he knoweth not.
One thing he may know, that whereas he was blind, now he feeth: but the feed of grace doth spring, and grow up, he knoweth not how, Mark iv. 26, 27.
Secondly, In both, the creature comes to a being, it had not before. The child is not, till he be generate ; and a man has 110 gracious being, no being in grace, till he be regenerate. Regeneration is not lo much the curing of a fick man, as the quickning of a dead man, Eph..
1,5. Man in his depraved state is a mere non-entity in grace: and is brought into a new being, by the power of him, who calleth. things that be not, as though they were; being created in Jefus Christ unto gaced works, Eph. ii. 10. Therefore our Lord Jesus, to give ground of hope to the Laodiceans, in their wretched and miserable state, propofeth himself as the beginning of the creation of God, Rev. iii. 14. Namely, the active beginning of it; for all things were made by him at first, John i. 3. From whence they might gather, that seeing he made th-2 when they were nothing, he could make them over again, when worse than nothing; the same hand that made them his creatures, could make them new creatures.
Thirdly, As the child is merely passive in generation, so is the child of God in regeneration. The one contributes nothing to its own generation ; neither does the other contribute any thing, by way of efficiency, to its own regeneration : for tho' a man may lay himself down at the pool : yet he hath no hand in moving of the water, no efficacy in performing of the cure. One is born the child of a king, another the child of a beggar : the child has no hand at all in this difference. God leaves fome in their depraved state; others he brings into a state of grace or regeneracy. If thou 'be thus honoured, no thanks to thee; for who maketh thee to differ from another? Cor. iv.7.
Fourthly, There is a wonderful contexture of parts in both births. Adinirable is the structure of man's body, in which there is fuch a variety of organs : nothing wanting, nothing fuperfluous. The . Plalmist conlidering his own body, looks on it as a piece of marvellous work: I ain fearfully and wonderfully made, faitii lie, Psal. cxxxix. 14. and curiously wroughi in the lower parts of ihe earth, ver. 15. That is, in the womb, where I know not how the bones do grow, inore than I know what is a-doing in the lowest parts of the earth. In natural generation, we are curiously wrought, as a piece of needle-work; as the word imports: even so it is in regeneration, Psal. xlv. 14. She hall he brought unto the King, in raiment of needle-work, raiment curiously wrought. It is the same word in both texts. And what that raiment is, the Apostle tells us, Eph. iv. 24. It is the new mon; which, afier Cod, is created in righteousness and true holiness. That is the raiment, he faith, in the same place, we must put on; not excluding the imputed righteoufness of Christ. Both are curiously wrought, as master-pieces of the manifold wisdom of God. O the wonderful contexture of graces in the new creature! O glorious creature, new. made, after the image of God! It is grace for grace in Christ, which inakes up
the new man, John i 16. Even as in bodily generation, the child has member for member in the parent; has every member the parent has, in a certain proportion.
Fifthly, All this, in both cases, hath its rise from that which is in itself very finall and incontiderable. O the power of God, in making such a creature of the corruptible seed! and much more in bringing forth the new Creature from to fall beginnings: it is as the little cloud like a man's hand, which spread till heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain, 1 Kings xii. 44, 45. A man gets a word at a fermon), which hundreds beside him hear and let slip: but it remains with him, works in him, and never leaves him, till the little word be turned up-side-down by it; that is, til he become a new man. Ir is like the vapour that got up into Ahasuerus's head, and cut off Neép from his eyes, Esther vi 1. which proved a spring of such motions, as never ceased, until Mordecai, in royal pomp, was brought on horse back through the itreet, proud Haman trudging at his foot ; the fame Haman afierwards hanged, Mordecai advanced, and the church delivered fro:n Hamar's hellith plot. The grain of muffard.
is the ci feed--becometh a tree, Matth. xiii. 21, 22.
God loves to bring great to its of things out of small beginnings.
Sixthly, Natural generation is carried on by degrees, Job x: 10. E bine Haft thou net poured me out as milk, and cruddled me like cheese? So is e , water regeneration. It is with the soul, ordinarily, in regeneration, as I of a king with the blind man cured by our Lord, who first saw men as trees
alling walking, afterwards faw every man clearly, Matth. viii. 23, 24, 25. as he borbe It is true, regeneration being, strictly speaking, a paling from death
to life, the soul is quickned in a moment: like as, when the embryo Conti is brought to perfection in the womb, the foul is infusert into the lifemoth birtless lump. Nevertheless, we may imagine somewhat like conception te is baie in spiritual generation, whereby the foul is prepared for quickening: ras. and the new creature is capable of growth, 1 Pet. ii 2. and of life
more abundantly, John X. 10.3
Seventhly, In both there are new relations. The regenerate may
call GOD, Father : for they are his children, John i. 12, 13. begotten mure that of him, 1 Pet. i. 3. The bride, the Lumi's wife, (that is the church). In man is their mother, Gal. iv. 27. They are related, as brethren, as filters,
to angels and glorified saints, the family of heaven. They are of the heavenly stock: and the meanefit of them, the base things of the world, i Cor. i. 28. the kinless things, as the word imports, who cannot boast
of the blood that runs in their veins, are yet, by their new birth, near cortibi tof kin with the excellent of the earth.'
Eighthly, There is a likeness betwixt the parent' and the child. Every thing that generates, generates its like'; and the regenerate
are partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet: i. 4. the moral perfections of er the divine nature are in measure and degree communicated to the
renewed foul, and thus the divine image is retrieved ; so that, as the child resembles the father, the new creature resembles God himself, being holy as he is holy.
Laftly, As there is no birth without pain, both to the mother and to the child; so there is great pain in bringing forth the new creature: The children have more or less of these birth-pains, whereby they are pricked in their heart, Acts ii. 37. The foal has fore pains when under conviction and humiliation, i wounded Spirit who can bear? The mother is pained, Zion travails, Ifa. Ixvi. S. fhe fighs, groans,
erieth, and hath hard labour, in her nmiters and members, to bring Steforth children to her Lord, Gal. iv. 19. My little children, of whom
ki travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you. And never was 100, 13+ a mother more feeling!y touched with joy, that a man-child was born
into the world, than the is upon the new birth of her children. But What is more remarkable than all this, we read, not only of our Lord
Jesus Christ's travail, (or toil of fonl) Ifa. liii. ii. but (wliat lies more was brought directly to our purpole) of his pains, or pangs, as of one travelling in
child-birth ; fo the word uféd Acts ii: 24. properly signifies. Well may he call the new creature, as Rachel called her dear-bought fon, Benoni, i.e. The fon of my forrow: and, as she called another, Nephtali,
i.e. my wrestling: for the pangs of that travail put him to strong crying and tears, Heb. v. 7. yea, in an agony and bloody / weat, Luke xxii. 44. And, in the end, he died of these pangs, chey became to him the pains of death, A&s ii. 24.
The Doctrine of Regeneration applied. Use I. By what is said, you may try whether you are in the State of grace or not. If ye be brought out of the state of wrath or ruin, into the state of grace or salvation; ye are new creatures, ye are born again. But ye will say, “ How fall we know whether 6 we be born again or not?” Ans. Do you ask nie, if the sun were risen, and how you should know, whether it were risen, or not? I would bid you look up to the heavens, and see it with your eyes. And would you know if the light be risen in your heart? Look in, and see. Grace is light, and discovers itself. Look into thy mind, see if it has been illuininate in the knowledge of God. Hast thou been inwardly taught what God is? Were thine eyes ever turned inward to see thyself, the sinfulness of thy depraved
ftate; the corruption of thy nature, the sins of thy heart and life? - Walt thou ever let into a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin?
Have thine eyes feen King Jesus in his beauty; the manifold wisdom of God in him, his transcendent excellency, and absolute fulness and fufficiency, with the vanity and emptiness of all things else? Next, What change is there on thy will? Are the fetters taken off, wherewith it was sometimes bound up from moving heavenwards? And has thy will got a new set ? Dost thou find an averfion to fin, and a proneness to good wrought in thy heart? Is thy foul turned towards God as thy chief end; is thy will new.molded, into some measure of conformity to the preceprive and providen. tial will of God: Art thou hearrily reconciled to che covenant of peace, and fixedly disposed to the receiving of Christ, as he is offered in the gospel ? And as to a change on your affections, are they rectified, and placed on right objects ? Are your desires going on after God? Are they “ to his name, and remembrance of him?” Isa. xxvi. 8. Are your hopes in him? Is your love set upon him, and your hatred set against lin? Does your offending a good God affect your heart with forrow, and do you fear sin more than fuffer. ing? Are your affections regulated? Are they, with respect to created comforts brought down, as being too high: and with re. spect to God in Christ, screwed up, as being too low? Has he the chief feat in your heart? And are all your lawful worldly comforts and enjoyments laid at his feet? Has thy conscience been enlightned and awakened, refusing all ease, but from the application of the blood of a Redeemer? Is thy memory sanctified, thy body consecrated to the service of God? And art thou now walking in newness of life? Thus ye may discover, whether ye are born again or not.
But, But, for your further help in this matter, I will discourfe a little of another sign of regeneration, namely, The love of the brethren ; an evidence whereby the weakest and most timorous faints bave often had comfort, when they could have little or no consolation from other marks proposed to them. This the Apostle lays down, 1 John iii. 14. “We kuow that we have passed from death unto • life, because we love the brethren." It is not to be thought, that the Apostle, by the brethren in this place, means brethren by a comop relation to the fir Adam, but to the second Adam, Christ Jesus: because, however true it is, that universal benevolence, a good-will ro the whole race of mankind, takes place in the renewed loul, as being a lively lineament of the divine image; yet the whole context speaks of those that are the sons of God, ver. 1, 2, children of God, ver. 10. born of God, ver. 9. distinguishing betwixt the children of God, and the children of the devil, ver. 10. bet wixt these that are of the devil, ver. 8, 12. and these that are of God, ver. 10. And the text itself comes in as a reason why we should not marvel that the world hates the brethren, the children of God, ver. 13. How can we marvel at it, seeing the love of the brethren is an evidence of one's having passed from death to life? And therefore it were absurd to look for that love amongst the men of the world, who are dead in crespaffes and fin. They cannot love the brethren: no marvel then that they hate them. Wherefore it is plain, that by brethren here, are meant brethren by regeneration,
Now, in order to see this mark of regeneration in a true light, confider these three things. (1) This love to the brethren, is a love to them as such. Then do we love them in the sense of the text, when the grace, or image of God in them, is the chief motive of our love to them. When we love the godly for their godlinels, the faints for their sanctity or holiness: then we love God in them, and fo may conclude, we are born of God; for every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him, John v. I. Hypocrites may love laints, on account of a civil relation to them; becaufe of their obliging conversation; for their being of the same opinion with themselves in religious warters: and on many other luch like accounts, whereby wicked men may be induced to love the godly. But happy they, who can love them for naked grace in them; for their heaven-bori temper and difpofition; why can pick this pearl out of a dunghill of infirmities in, and about them; lay hold on it, and love them for it. (2.). It is a love that will be given to all, in whom the grace of God appears. They that love one faint, because he is a laine, will have love to ail the saints, Eph. i. 15. They will love all, who to their discerning; bear the image of God. They that cannot love a gracious person in rags, buc confine their love to these of them who wear gay cloathing, have not this love to the brethren in them. There who can confine their love to a party, to whom God has not confined his grace, are souls too narrów to be put among the children. In what