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of holy love. And let no creature be suffered to share with
THE MARKS OF THE NEW BIRTH.
"So is every one that is born of the Spirit." John iii. 8.
1. How is every one that is "born of the Spirit,"—that is, born again, born of God? What is meant by the being born again, the being born of God, or being born of the Spirit? What is implied in the being a son or a child of God, or having the Spirit of Adoption? That these privileges, by the free mercy of God, are ordinarily annexed to baptism (which is thence termed by our Lord in the preceding verse, the being "born of water and of the Spirit") we know; but we would know what these privileges are: what is the New Birth?
2. Perhaps it is not needful to give a definition of this, seeing the Scripture gives none. But as the question is of the deepest concern to every child of man; since, “except a man be born again," born of the Spirit, " he cannot see the kingdom of God;" I propose to lay down the Marks of it in the plainest manner, just as I find them laid down in Scripture.
I. 1. The first of these, and the foundation of all the rest, is Faith. So St. Paul, "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal. iii. 26.) So St. John, " To them gave he power (285121, right or privilege, it may rather be translated) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born," when they believed, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh," not by natural generation, "nor of the will of man," like those children adopted by men, in whom no inward change is thereby wrought, "but of God." (Ch. i. 12, 13.) And again in his General Epistle, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." (1 John v. 1.)
2. But it is not a barely notional or speculative Faith that is here spoken of by the Apostles. It is not a bare assent to this proposition, Jesus is the Christ; nor indeed to all the propositions contained in our Creed, or in the Old and New
Testament. It is not merely an assent to any or all these credible things, as credible. To say this, were to say (which who could hear?) that the Devils were born of God; for they have this faith. They, trembling, believe, both that Jesus is the Christ, and that all Scripture, having been given by inspiration of God, is true as God is true. It is not only an assent to divine truth, upon the testimony of God, or upon the evidence of miracles; for they also heard the words of his mouth, and knew him to be a faithful and true witness. They could not but receive the testimony he gave, both of himself, and of the Father which sent him. They saw likewise the mighty works which he did, and thence believed that he came forth from God." Yet, notwithstanding this faith, they are still "reserved in chains of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."
3. For all this is no more than a dead faith. The true, living, Christian Faith, which whosoever hath is born of God, is not only assent, an act of the understanding; but a disposition, which God hath wrought in his heart; "a sure trust and confidence in God, that through the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God." This implies, that a man first renounce himself; that, in order to be "found in Christ," to be accepted through him, he totally rejects all "confidence in the flesh;" that, "having nothing to pay," having no trust in his own works or righteousness of any kind, he comes to God as a lost, miserable, selfdestroyed, self-condemned, undone, helpless sinner; as one whose mouth is utterly stopped, and who is altogether "guilty before God." Such a sense of sin, (commonly called despair, by those who speak evil of the things they know not,) together with a full conviction, such as no words can express, that of Christ only cometh our salvation, and an earnest desire of that salvation, must precede a living faith, a trust in Him, who for us paid our ransom by his death, and for us fulfilled the law in his life. This faith then, whereby we are born of God, is "not only a belief of all the articles of our faith, but also a true confidence of the mercy of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
4. An immediate and constant fruit of this Faith whereby we are born of God, a fruit which can in no wise be separated from it, no, not for an hour, is Power over Sin;-power over outward sin of every kind; over every evil word and work; for
wheresoever the blood of Christ is thus applied, it "purgeti the conscience from dead works; "-and over inward sin; for it purifieth the heart from every unholy desire and temper. This fruit of faith St. Paul has largely described, in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. "How shall we," saith he, "who [by faith] are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" "Our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." -"Likewise, reckon ye yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign [even] in your mortal body," "but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead.” "For sin shall not have dominion over you.-God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin,-but being made free,”—the plain meaning is, God be thanked, that though ye were, in time past, the servants of sin, yet now-“ being free from sin, ye are become the servants of righteousness."
5. The same invaluable privilege of the sons of God, is as strongly asserted by St. John; particularly with regard to the former branch of it, namely power over outward sin. After he had been crying out, as one astonished at the depth of the riches of the goodness of God,-" Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Beloved, now are we the sons of God : and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like bim; for we shall see him as he is ;" (1 John iii. 1, &c. ;)-he soon adds, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (Ver. 9.) But some men will say, "True: whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin habitually." Habitually! whence is that? I read it not. It is not written in the book. God plainly saith, "He doth not commit sin;" and thou addest, habitually! Who art thou that mendest the Oracles of God?-that "addest to the words of this book?" Beware, I beseech thee, lest God "add to thee all the plagues that are written therein!" Especially when the comment thou addest is such as quite swallows up the text: so that by this Metode havns, this artful method of deceiving, the precious promise is utterly lost; by this xfax xv9qwnw, this tricking and shuffling of men, the Word of God is made of none effect. O beware, thou that thus takest from the words of this book,
that, taking away the whole meaning and spirit from them, leavest only what may indeed be termed a dead letter, lest God take away thy part out of the book of life!
6. Suffer we the Apostle to interpret his own words, by the whole tenor of his discourse. In the fifth verse of this chapter, he had said, "Ye know that he [Christ] was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin." What is the inference he draws from this? "Whosoever abideth in him. sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." (Ch. iii. 6.) To his enforcement of this important doctrine, he premises an highly necessary caution: "Little children, let no man deceive you;" (ver. 7;) for many will endeavour so to do; to persuade you that you may be unrighteous, that you may commit sin, and yet be children of God; "he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the Devil; for the Devil sinneth from the beginning." Then follows, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this," adds the Apostle, "the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil." By this plain mark (the committing or not committing sin) are they distinguished from each other. To the same effect are those words in his fifth chapter, "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (Ver. 18.)
7. Another fruit of this living faith is Peace. For, "being justified by faith," having all our sins blotted out, "we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. v. 1.) This indeed our Lord himself, the night before his death, solemnly bequeathed to all his followers: "Peace," saith he, "I leave with you;" (you who "believe in God," and "believe also in me;"). "my peace I give unto you." "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John xiv. 27.) And again, "These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace." (Ch. xvi. 33.) This is that "peace of God which passeth all understanding," that serenity of soul which it hath not entered into the heart of a natural man to conceive, and which it is not possible for even the spiritual man to utter. And it is a peace which all the powers of earth and hell are unable to take from him. Waves and storms