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born a poet),
duces very much to the confirmation of their faith. And thus, without knowing it, they have collected a very valuable treasure, the excellence and genuine pfe of which they.come not to fee, till they are born again. But as thefe things do not, of their own na: ture, difpofe man for regeneration, tho', by the ap: pointment of God, they are fo disposed, as that re. generation is certainly to follow, they cannot, but very remotely be called preparations, and they will be fuch more from the intention of God, than from the pirtue of the thing.
XVI. Now after a principle of spiritual life is in- Somefufed into the elect soul by regeneration, divine grace times the does not always proceed therein in the same method spirit lies and order. It is poffible, that for some time, the life in the Spirit of the life of Chrift may lie, as it were, dor-feed. mant in fome (almost in the same manner, as vegetative life in the feed of a plant, or fensitive life in the feed of an animal, or a poetical genius in one proceed therefrom, tho'favingly united to Christ, the fountain of true life, by the spirit. This is the cafe with respect to elect and regenerate infants, whose is the kingdom of God, and who therefore are reckon ed among believers and faints, tho' unqualified thro? age, actually to believe, and practice godliness.
XVIL Moreover, this spirit of a new life will even Some. fometimes exert itself in vital actions, in those, who times ex
erts its in have received it in their infancy, as they gradually ad
fantile on vance in years, and are qualified to raise their thoughts, perations, above the objects of sense. Accordingly it has often been observed, that; in children of five or fix
years of age, fome fmall sparks of piety and devotion have shone forth in holy longings, ardent little prayers, and in a certain extraordinary tenderness of conscience, not daring to do any thing with respect to God, themselves on their neighbour, which they have been taught to be difpleasing to God: as allo it appears in their dif.
courses concerning God and Christ, which have been
XVIII. But when the foundation is laid, divine times ad grace does not always grow up, in the fame manner.
Įt often happens, that this principle of spiritual life, with age, which had discovered its activity in the most tender
childhood, according to, and fometimes' above, the
We have an
alhes of I knew not what, wordly vanities, and car-
ed for a time.
overpower them, that all their attempts against them seem to be in vain. Yet there are still, in these perfons, remorses of conscience, awakening them at times, languid resolutions, and vanishing purposes, of reforming their lives, till, by the infinite efficacy of divine grace, insinuating into the languid and decaying breast, they awake as from a deep, Neép, and, with the greatest sorrow for their past life, and utmost seriousness, apply to the careful practice of piety, the warmth of their zeal then breaks forth, being-exceedingly desirous to shew, by brighter flames, its having been unwillingly kept smothered under the aihes. Augustine has given us in his own person, a representation of this state in the excellent book of his confeffions.
XX. But the Elect are not all favoured with regenerating grace in their infancy. There are fome fons regeadult persons, whom God regenerates, and at once nerated at effectually calls, and converts, in the second act, orice in from a wordly and hypocritical condition, or even from a state of profligate wickedness. Thus it is converted with those, who are born and brought up without in the feGod's covenant, or even of those, who, living where cond. this covenant is dispensed, have sold themselves wholly 'to sin, Satan and the world.
The regeneration of these is usually followed with great consternation of foul and forrow for fin, with a dread of God's fiery indignation and incredible defires after grace, together with an inexprellible joy, upon finding saivation in Jesus, and a wonderful alacrity in the service of the Lord, which they can scarcely contain. All this may be obferved in the jaylor, of whom we read, Act. xvi.
XXI. On this depends the solution of that quef- Whether tion, whether we are to look upon any as born again, any are to
be deem. but those, who can specify the time, manner and pro
regenegress of their regeneration. None, indeed, are here rate, but to be Aattered, or soothed, as to think it lawful for they who them securely to presume on their regeneration: but can give
'the first act and
then a distina
gress of it.
account of then the consciences of believers are not to be racked
mine this point without a distinction: we have just
ment to every duty.
God, John 1. 12. And even in this respect, the sons of
life in himself, so bath be given to the son to bave, life in bimself, John 5. 26. And why are we in communion with Christ, called the Sons of God? because his father is our father, John 20. 17. How is he our father? He bath 'begotten us, James 1. 18; i John 5. 4, 11. Wherein does that generation conlift ?' He þath made us partakers of a divine nature, 2 Pet. 1.4. Thus we are even transformed into his likeness, and have upon us no contemptible effulgence of his most glorious holiness.
XXIII. But there is here a special consideration of Christ the Chrift : Who, as God is, together with the father meritoand spirit, the principal, buc oeconomically considered, rious and
49 exemplary the meritorious and exemplary cause of our regene- cause. ration. For when he cast a vail over the majesty of the son of God, took upon him human form, and came in the likeness of finful flesh, Rom. 8. 3, he thereby merited for all his elect, their advancement to the illustrious dignity of the sons of God; fons, I fay, noť only by adoption, but by a spiritual and heavenly generation. The holy and glorious life of Christ is also the most perfect pattern of our new life, all the excellence of which consists in a conformity with the life of Christ, who is the first-born among many brethren, Rom. 8. 29. And we may add, that Christ, as the second Adam, is become, not only by merit, but also by efficacy, a quickening fpirit, I Cor. 15. 45. So that the regenerate do not so much live themselves, as feel, acknowledge and proclaim Christ living in them; Gal. 2.20; Phil. I.
XXIV. What Christ declares of the spirit, the John 3. 5; author of regeneration deserves our conlideration explained. Jobn 3, 5except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Here interpreters enquire, what we are to understand by water, and what by the Spirit? There is one who, by water understands the origin of our natural birth; comparing with this place what we þave Ifa. 48. 1, where the Israelites are said to have