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and with the young men you will utterly fail; while they only that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength, shall mount up as on eagles wings, and pressing on with an unwearied pace, according to the different degrees of vigour which the different parts of their course may require, shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint*. In short, if you do not thirst after the water of life, that is, as the Evangelist himself explains it, the Spirit, which they that Believe on Christ shall receivet, however bountiful he is, he makes no promise to impart it to you; and if you never receive it, all
other sources of comfort will soon be dried up, and the miserable condition of the creature, that asked in vain for one drop of water to cool his tormented tonguet, will certainly be yours.
Here I apprehend multitudes will miscarry, who have made a fair shew in the eyes of men; and if you are condemned by this mark, I am sure you will not be acquitted by any of the preceding. For all the branches of an holy temper have such a connection with this, and such a dependance upon it, that a man, who is destitute of this, can have only the semblance of the rest.
And thus, Sirs, I have with all plainness and faithfulness, as in the sight of God, and sensible of my account to him, laid before you a variety of hints, by which I think you may safely and truly judge, whether you be, or be not, in an unregenerate state: And I shall now beg leave to conclude this discourse with one plain inference from the whole, viz.
That baptism is not regeneration, in the scriptural, and most important sense of the word.
To prove this as a corollary from the preceding discourse, I shall only assume this most reasonable concession, with which you may remember I at first set out; “that regeneration, and being born of God, signify the same thing.” Now I have shewn you from a variety of scriptures under the former heads, that every one whom the sacred oracles represent as born of God, receiveth Christ, overcometh the world, and sinneth not. But it is too plain, that these characters do not agree to every one that is baptized; and consequently it evidently follows, that every one who is baptized is not of course born of God, or regenerate; and therefore, that baptism is not scripture regeneration.
I think no mathematical demonstration plainer, and more certain than this conclusion; and therefore, whatever great and ancient names may be urged on the other side of the ques
* Isa. xl. 30, 31.
John vii. 39.
| Luke xvi. 24.
tion, I shall rest the matter here, without leading you into the niceties of a controversy so easily decided. I would only farther observe, that they who most vigorously contend for the other manner of speaking, for after all it is but a dispute about a word, acknowledge expressly, that a man may be saved without what they call regeneration, and that he may perish with it. And though persons are taught to speak of their state, in consequence of baptism, in very high, and I fear, dangerous terms; yet when wise and good men come to explain those terms, it evidently appears, that many of whom they are used, are so in a state of salvation as to be daily obnoxious to damnation ; so the children of God, as also to be the children of the devil; and so inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, as to be children of wrath, and on the brink of hell.
Where persons of real piety apprehend themselves under a necessity of using such phrases with respect to all that are baptized, we cannot blame them for endeavouring to bring down their signification, as low as possible : But they will, I hope, excuse those, who chuse to speak, in what they apprehend to be a more scriptural, rational, and edifying language.
It was a matter of conscience with me, to state the matter as you have heard. I do therefore earnestly intreat you, may dearly beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the sake of your own immortal souls, that you deceive not yourselves with vain words; but that where your eternal salvation is so plainly concerned, you bring the cause, the important cause, to an immediate trial : And if you are convinced, as I suppose many of you quickly may be, that you are at present dead in trespasses and sins, then let me beseech you, to reflect on what the most transient survey of the scripture may teach you, as to the danger of such a case. For though it will be my business, in the process of these discourses, more largely to represent it, when I come to speak of the necessity of the new birth, God only knows, whether your lives may be continued, till we advance so far in the subject: And where a case of this kind is in question, the delay of a week, or even of a day, may be inevitable and eternal ruin.
Of the Nature of Regeneration, and particularly of the Change
it produces in Men's Apprehensions.
2 Cor. v. 17.-If any Man be in Christ, he is a new Creature; old Things are
passed away, behold, all Things are become new. THE HE knowledge of our true state in religion, is at once a
, matter of so great importance, and so great difficulty, that in order to obtain it, it is necessary we should have line upon line, and precept upon precept. The plain discourse which you heard last Lord's day, was intended to lead you into it; and I question not, but I then said enough to convince many, that they were in an unregenerate condition. Nevertheless, as there are various approaches towards regeneration and conversion, which on the whole fall short of it; I think it very expedient now to give you, what I may properly enough call the counter-part of this view; which I shall, by divine assistance, attempt from the words I have now been reading.
The apostle who wrote them, was transported to such a zeal for Christ, and for the souls of men, that some thought him Beside himself* ; and no doubt many would represent him, as the greatest enthusiast upon the face of the earth. But as it was A very small thing to him to be judged of man's judgmentt, he calmly vindicates himself, by declaring that there was a cause for all this warmth, as the honour of God and the Re. deemer, and the eternal salvation of men, were so intimately concerned in the affair : The love of Christ, says he, constrains uss, or as the wordş properly signifies, it bears us away with it, like a mighty torrent, which we are not able to resist; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, under the sentence of God's righteous law, or they would not have needed such an atonement as the blood of his Son; and we farther judge, That he died for all, that they who now live, only in consequence of his dying love, should not henceforth live unto
• Ver. 13..
2 Cor. v. 14.
9 Συνεχει. .
+ 1 Cor. iv. 3.
And our Lord strongly intimates the same thought, when he exhorts his disciples to the most universal and unlimited benevolence by this argument, That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven*; plainly implying, that otherwise they could not really be born of God, or claim bim for their Father. Regeneration is to form a man for intimate communion with The general assembly and church of the first-bornt, and to prepare him for the region of complete and everlasting love; and the first fruits of it are to appear, and to be manifested here. It is a faithful saying, that they who have believed in God, should be careful to maintain good workst; and unfeigned love is to be the root of them: So that if you cannot stand this trial, your religious hopes are all delusive and vain.
Let me intreat you therefore, that you would now look into your lives, and hearts. Do any of the malignant passions harbour there? Ask yourselves, “ Is there any of my fellow-creatures, whom I wish to see miserable ; or would make so, if it were in my power to do it by the secret act of my will, so that no mortal on earth should ever know me to be the cause of the calamity ?" If it be so, and this be your settled temper, you Hate your brethren, and are murderers; and therefore are the children of the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning : And we may thus say of you, in the very words of our Lord, who never uttered a rash censure, You are of your father the devil, for his passions you cherish, and his lusts you would doll.
But reflect farther, If you wish others no harm, do you really wish them well ? and that so really, and so sincerely, as to be ready to do them good; For merely to say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled, when you have it in your power to help them, is at once to Mock the poor, and to despise him that made him**. You that are conscious of a mean selfish temper, and wrap yourselves up, as it were, in your own separate interests, or in those of your own families, and can feel a concern for no others; you that devise what you may imagine shrewd and prudent things, but none that are liberal and compassionate ; you whose eye does not affect your heart, when you see the distresses of your brethren, while you have this world's good, How dwelleth the love of God in yout+ ? how can you imagine, you are the children of him, whom you so little resemble ?
* Mat, v. 45.
+ Heb. xii. 23.
Tit. iii. 8. § 1 John iii. 15. ** Prov. xvii. 5, + 1 John üi. 17.
Nay permit me to add once more upon this head, that if all your compassion is only moved by men's temporal calamities, and works not in any degree with respect to their spiritual and eternal interests, you have reason to fear, that it is no better than an unsanctified humanity ; and indeed, that you never have learnt the worth of your own souls, while you set so little value on the souls of others, even of those, to whom you profess and intend friendship. And this concluding hint is of importance to prevent a dangerous mistake, in which too many good natured sinners are ready to flatter themselves, and in which perhaps others are too ready to join in flattering them. 5. He “ that does not know what it is, to struggle with in
dwelling sin, and heartily to resolve against indulging it in any kind or degree,” is undoubtedly still in an unregenerate state.
You will observe, I do not say, “ that every one who knows what it is, to feel a struggle in his own mind, when assaulted by temptations to sin, is a truly good man:” The contrary is dreadfully apparent. A principle of natural conscience often makes very strong remonstrances against sin, and sends out bitter cries when subjected to its violence; and this is so far from denominating a man a real christian, that it rather illustrates the power of sin, and aggravates its guilt. But when a man's inclinations run entirely one way, and when he gives a swing to his natural passions without any guard or restraint ; when he is a stranger to any inward conflict with himself, and any victory over his own lusts, and his corrupted will; it is a certain sign, he is yet under the dominion of satan, and is even to be numbered
the tamest of his slaves. For They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts* ; have learnt to Deny themselvest, and to Mortify their members upon earthf.
It is also of great importance to add, that there must be “ a resolution to oppose sin in every kind, and in every degree :" For he that is born of God sinneth notş; nay, it is elsewhere said, He cannot commit sin|| : And though it is too visibly true in fact, and apparent from several other passages in the very epistle whence these words are taken, that this expression is to be interpreted with some limitation ; yet the least that it can be imagined to signify is this, that he does not wila fully allow himself in the practice of any sin. He has learnt to Hate every false way, and to esteem all God's precepts, con
+ Mat. xvi. 24. Col. iii. 5. § 1 John v. 18. | 1 John iü. 9.
* Gal. v. 24.