« PreviousContinue »
plaints of God and of Christ, of the unwillingness of people, to be converted, be objected to it; because these don't speak of any inward power that would bring about their conversion, as if they were able to weaken that, but of the external ministry of the word, against which the wicked harden their heart. Neither are we to urge, what we elsewhere find about grieving the Spirit of God: because we are to distin. guish between the common operations of the Spirit of God: and the special operations of the Spirit of Grace : between the moral, and the supernatural actions of the Spirit of Grace. Between some more feeble impulses to certain exercises of virtue and piety, and that grand attempt of the Spirit, when he goes to convert an elect person. They grieve the Spirit of God, because they rather choose to obey the im pulses of the flesh and of the devil, than his holy admonitions, which are partly proposed externally by the word, partly insinuated into their mind by conscience. Believers themselves also grieve the Spirit of Grace, whereby they are sealed, as often as they refuse to comply with his holy admonitions; and tho conscience, in which the Spirit has set up his throne; in vain struggles with them, yet they suffer themselves to be carried away by the fiefh and the world, and likewise every time, that, with a becoming reverence of soul, they refuse to receive, cherish, follow his holy impulses, when he quickens them to duty. Whence nothing can be concluded against the invincible efficacy of God, when he calls internally, and effectually undertakes the conversion of his people.
XXVI. We ought then attentively to consider, carefully harken to, and willingly comply with the call of God, both the external by the light of nature and revelation, and the internal by the Spirit, so that upon being brought to communion with God and
The end of the
Christ, we may Shew forth the praises of him, who bath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light 1 Pet. 2. 9.
1. Y that same word, whereby the Elect are We are
called to communion with God and his Christ, regenerarthey are allo regenerated to a far more excellent life. fame word For thus James faith, c. 1. 18, of bis own will begat we are he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of called. first fruits of his creatures. It is therefore proper, we proceed from the subject of effeEtual calling, to that of REGENERATION.
II. But here all things are deep, and wrapt up in Regeneramystery. Who can unfold to us the secrets of his tion mys own corporal birth? Who can diftinctly declare, in terious. what manner he was poured out like milk, and curdled like cheese within the bowels of his mother? The Prophet himself, as if he was seized with a holy amazement, cried out; I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not bid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. I bine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfeet. Pf. 139. 14, 15, 16. But if these things, which regard the origin of our body, and the beginnings of this animal life, are involved in such darkness, as to frustrate the enquiries of the most fagacious; how much more involved are the things, that constitute our spiritual regeneration, which none can doubt to be mystery áll aver ?
III. But yet this is so necessary, that our Saviour lutely ne- declares, that without it, there is no entering into cessary to salvation.
the kingdom of heaven, John 3. 3, 5. It therefore deserves to be enquired into; that, if we have perhaps, attained to it, - we may celebrate with becoming praises the glorious perfections of God our father, which shine fo conspicuous in this illustrious work, and properly valuing our happiness, we may frame the whole tenour of our lives in a manner
suitable to it. Its defini
IV. We give this definition of it: REGENERATION tion.
is that supernatural act of God, whereby a new and divine life is infused into the ele&t person, spiritually dead, and ibat from the incorruptible feed of the word of God, made fruitful by the ininite power of the
V. We are all dead in Adam, į Cor. 15. 22, fupposes through the poison of the tempting serpent. This fpiritual murderer from the beginning, John 8. 44, had such death.
success attending his endeavours, that all men who now exist are by nature dead in trespasses and fins, Epb. 2. ì. That is, ift. They are separated ar the greatest distance from God and his Spirit, who is the soul of their soul, and life of their life; or, in the language of Paul alienated from the life of God Eph. 4. 18. 2dly. They are spiritually insensible of all spiritual things, and destitute of all true feeling: they don't rightly consider the load of their fins; because they are in them as in their clement: nor have a right knowledge of their misery, being past feeling Eph. 4. 19, nor any relish for divine grace, because it has not yet been conferred upon them; nor any longing after heavenly things, being ignorant of their worth. 3dly. They are wholly incapable of every act of true life; not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, 2 Cor. 3: 5. The understanding, is overspread with dismal darkness, Eph. 4. 18, hath not set God before it, Pf. 86. 14, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,
neitber can it know them I Cor. 2. 14. The will has no tendency to things unknown: and thus all the things of God are despised by it as mean.' And if, at times, it seem to perform any things, that have fome appearance of vital actions; this proceeds not from a principle of life; but resembles those automatical or artificial motions, by which statues, ingeniously framed, counterfeit living animals.
VI. But as a dead carcase swarms with vermin, In this arising from putrefaction, in which the 'briskest death life is observed; tho' of another order and kind wicked
ness is from that life, which was formerly in that body;
most lives so in like manner, there is a kind of life in a man
ly. spiritually dead, but it is carnal, hellish and diabolical, at the greatest distance from true life, and the more vigorous it is, it gives the more evident signs of the most deplorable death. : The Apostle has elegantly joined this death and life, Eph. 2. 1, 2, when ye were dead in trespasses and fins, ye walked in them, as is THE LIFE of this world: fo Beza tranflates. In the geek it runs κατά τον αιώνα το κοςμε τοτε, Elegantly Philo Alleg. Lib. I. Defines this death : when the soul is dead as to virtue, it lives the life of vice. Not unlike to what Macarius says, Homil. 12, when Adam began to entertain evil thoughts and devices, be perished as to God: we say not, he perished altogether, was destroyed and quite dead; but that, tho' as to God, he was dead, yet be was alive as to bis own nature. What Macarius affirms of Adam is univerfally true of all : for, in a man spiritually dead, there is really a natural or animal life, which tho' nor active in that which is good, is doubly active in that which is evil. The understanding, not apprehending the wisdom of God, looks upon it as foolishness, 1 Cor. 2. 14; and yet, when it would find wisdom in the things of God, it so transforms them by its mad presumption, and compells them, even against their nacure, to a conformity to the notions of its
trifling prefumptuous felf-wisdom, that while it
living, I Tim. 5. 6.
ration : but by regeneration a new life is put into
the example of Christ.
For there is no delay regenerate
in the transition from death to life. No person can and unre- be regenerated, so long as he is in the state of spiritual
fufes new life.