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ple, of moral corruption, called the old man. When this new principle is engendered by the lifegiving energy of the Spirit of God, the sinner enters on a new course,-he" walks in newness of life." Now, this is eternal life begun. It commences with our regeneration, just as our temporal life commences with our birth into this world. There is this difference amongst others, indeed, between the two descriptions of life,-that the time of the one is not, by any means, in all cases, so determinate and fixed as that of the other. We cannot always tell our birth-day in the spiritual life, as we invariably may in the natural. The new birth may take place more suddenly in one instance, and more gradually in another; so gradually sometimes, and imperceptibly, in its first symptoms and early stages, as to render it difficult, or even impossible, to settle the exact date of its commencement. In such instances, it may bear a nearer analogy to the secret quickening in the womb itself, ere even the first faint flutterings of incipient life begin to be distinctly felt, than to the infant's birth into the world. But of one thing we are sure, that, whether sooner or later, more suddenly or more gradually,-take place it must, in regard to every sinner who becomes a child of God.* No one, in a moral or spiritual sense, is such by nature. The words of
*Philosophically speaking, it is instantaneous in every case; as there can be no neutral point or moment, between faith and unbelief -between submission and rebellion-between penitence and impenitence But, the evidence of the change, is, sometimes, very gradual in its developement.
The subject of the change continues for a time without hope, then with great trembling indulges some hope, which is strengthened as the evidences are unfolded. In the illustration, of "the secret quickening in the womb," it is plain, that there was a moment, when the life commenced; though time alone could display the certain evidences of life. Says that able and profound theologian, President Edwards, "If we look through all the examples we have of conversion in Scripture, the conversion of the Apostle Paul, and of the Corinthians
Jesus on this subject are clear and decisive :-“ Except a man be born again, he CANNOT see the kingdom of God:-Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye MUST be born again."
Let all, then, beware of regarding eternal life as if it were something entirely future,-something to be entered upon, for the first time in the world to come. It is entered upon here, by all the children of God. They "have everlasting life," not only in legal absolution from the sentence of death, but in begun spiritual enjoyment. "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' But still
3. Eternal life is to be regarded in reference to future prospects.-The full and everlasting perfection of the life which is begun below, is to be enjoyed above. It is eternal life. Its commencement is on earth, its consummation in heaven. The elements are learned in this world of the full knowledge that is to be attained in the world to come. The germ of holy excellence begins here to unfold itself, and, amidst much that is calculated to retard its growth and to mar its productiveness, yields a small portion of its appropriate fruits; there, shall be the full-grown tree, in all its expansion of boughs, and beauty of foliage, and paradisaical profusion of fruitfulness.-We may consider the future life, indeed, as including both the soul and the body. The life which is begun in the soul here is a life which death cannot touch. It
('Such were some of you, but ye are washed,' &c.) and all others that the Apostle writes to, how far they were from this gradual way of conversion." "What God wrought for the Apostle Paul and other primitive Christians, was intended as a pattern to all future ages, for their instruction and excitement. Ephesians ii. 7. 1 Tim. i. 16.
*Gal. ii. 20.
triumphs over the grave. The stroke that separates the spirit from the corporeal frame, instead of destroying, perfects it; advancing it to a condition of unalloyed purity, and of as large an amount of unmingled felicity as a spirit in a state of separation is capable of receiving.-But from our conception of eternal life the body is by no means to be excluded. Such life comprehends in it the resurrection of the body in pure and heavenly refinement from all the grossness of its present materialism,-a "spiritual body,"-in power, and glory, and incorruption, made like to the body of the exalted Redeemer. Eternal life is the perfect, uninterrupted, everlasting happiness of the WHOLE MAN!
It is to this that God has purposed, by the gospel, to bring sinners of mankind. “Behold how gracious is our God!" The purpose is the dictate of love. It can be traced to no source but "delight in mercy." The formation of it ought to set the infinitude of the divine benevolence clear of all suspicion. It could never have entered the thoughts of a malevolent being. The heart to which it suggested itself must be full of kindness; the bestowment of good its pleasure; the infliction of evil its "strange work."-O how men do misapprehend the character of the blessed God, as it is revealed in the gospel! They many a time speak as if they had the impression that the Gospel is a restricting, limiting, abridging, fettering of that mercy which belongs in infinite fulness to the divine nature;-as if the confining of it to the channel in which it is there represented as flowing to sinners, were a bounding of its characteristic amplitude and freedom. What a mistake! It is in the discoveries of the gospel that the very highest and most stupendous manifestation is given of the "unsearchable riches" of divine benevolence of the overflowing copiousness of the fountain of love in the heart of God. It is here that
we read the most convincing and most impressive lesson of its absolute infinitude. The bounties of God's daily providence are all fruits and displays of exuberant goodness; and especially when there is taken into account the undeserving character of their recipients. But the gift of eternal life infinitely transcends them all:- -and the purpose and the method of conferring it are the distinguishing discoveries of the gospel,-both alike indicative of a grace that knows no bounds-"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him MIGHT NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE."-Such is the purpose, the kind and merciful purpose, of the Gospel,Yet still it is true, that there is a restriction. nature of this restriction comes under our second proposition :--and we may then see that, so far from diminishing, it amplifies the evidence of the infinitude of divine love.
IT IS IN THE NAME, OR FOR THE SAKE, OF THE SON OF GOD, THAT ETERNAL LIFE IS OFFERED
This proposition is very evidently implied in the text itself; and it is affirmed with greater explicitness in the preceding context. Thus, in verses 11, 12, " And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." It seems impossible that any terms in the compass of human language could con
vey, with more distinctness and energy, the connexion which our second proposition states. God gives eternal life;-this life is in, or by, his Son; and it is so in such a way, that "he that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
There are three things clearly suggested by these words-1. Eternal life is a gift-“ God hath given to us eternal life:"-2. It is bestowed for Christ's sake-This life is in his Son :"--3. It is bestowed with Christ: Christ is given, and eternal life accompanies the gift of Christ--" He that hath the Son hath life."
1. Eternal life is a gift.--This necessarily arises from the guilt of man. By sin, we have before seen, life has been forfeited. The sinner is guilty, and condemned to die. His condemnation is merited and just. He has lost all title to life;—and, having lost, he never can regain it. It ought not to require the reflection of a moment to satisfy any intelligent mind, that, in these circumstances, life must of necessity be a gift. The conclusion is natural, immediate, unavoidable. Where death is deserved, and life is bestowed, can any thing be plainer than that the latter cannot be a matter of desert:—that a creature, amenable to God, cannot both deserve to die and deserve to live;-deserve the wages of sin, and deserve the reward of obedience? And if life be not merited, there is no other conceivable alternative than its being a gift. If it cannot be gained by merit, it must be got by favour. If it is not, and in the nature of things cannot be, by works, it must be by grace:-and its being by grace means that it is perfectly gratuitous" Without money and without price:""The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through