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state? I shall however think it a very happy point gained, if I could convince any of you, who are justly liable to that conviction, that you are the men; if I could, as it were, render visible to your eyes, those subtil, yet strongly complicated chains, in which Satan is binding you, and by which he is drawing you on to eternal ruin; that you might Recover yourselves out of the snare of the devil, who are led captive by him at his pleasure*.
I am this evening to describe the character of unregenerate men. But I cannot pretend to do it in all the variety of circumstances which
attend it. I shall therefore mention only some particulars which are most important, and which most certainly demonstrate a person to be of that wretched number. There are a great variety of countenances in the human species; yet the principal features in all are the same, though their proportion and lineaments may differ : And I apprehend, the characters which I am now to lay down, will most of them suit every unregenerate person, though they may appear in various persons in different degrees and different instances. I shall chiefly lay down these characters in negatives, as I apprehend it is the safest way: and only would observe, that you may easily imagine, that I speak only of the adult ; for I would cautiously avoid intangling this discourse, with what relates purely to the case of infants, lest satan should get an advantage over us, and turn that into an occasion to amuse curiosity, which I humbly hope, under the influence of the Spirit of God, will be a means of awakening conviction, and of breaking that delusive peace, in which like the strong man armed he keeps his vassals, till the fatal hour come which is to complete their ruin.
To wave the formality of laboured demonstrations in a case which admits of such easy evidence, I shall go upon this obvious principle in the whole of my reasoning : “ That to be regenerate, and to be born of God, are in scripture terms of the same import ; and consequently, that whatever temper and disposition is in scripture declared to be inconsistent with the character of a child of God, must necessarily denominate a man an unregenerate person.” And one would think this principle could hardly be disputed, since all that allow of regeneration at all, in a christian sense, seem to understand by it that change, whatever it is, by which a person is made a child of God, and by consequence an heir of heaven.
* 2 Tim. ii. 26,
Now on this principle, you may take the marks of an unregenerate person in such particulars as these ; and let those, whose consciences own them, hear and tremble. 1. The soul “ that never seriously enquired into its spiritual
state,” is, beyond all doubt, an unregenerate soul.
The apostle earnestly presses it upon the christians to whom he wrote, that they should diligently Examine themselves whether they were in the faith *: And he who has entirely neglected to do it, seems to express, not merely a forgetfulness of religion, but even a contempt of it too. Nevertheless be it known unto you, Sirs, that an humble return to God, and a cordial dedication of soul to his service, is not so slight an act of a man's life, that it should pass without any observation in doing it, or any serious reflection on having done it. Religion is a deliberate thing ; it brings a man seriously to Consider his ways, that he may turn his feet to God's commandmentst; to Search and try them, that he may turn again unto the Lord I. A good man is so impressed with the thoughts of God, and of eternity, that perhaps he is rather ready to be over anxiously afraid and suspicious, in a matter of so great importance; and therefore will review, on the one hand, the plan of salvation that God bas laid down in his word, and on the other, the correspondency to it that he may discover in his own soul. And if there are any of you that have never been thus employed, any that have never Separated yourselves a while from other employments, that you might seek and intermeddle with this divine wisdoms, you are assuredly strangers to it. If there are any of you, that have never studied God's word, to learn his will from thence ; that have never attended to sermons, that you might try yourselves by them, and if possible, carry home something of the chief of what you hear, to assist your retired and more diligent enquiries; you may now come to a very quick conclusion, and before you leave this place, yea, before I proceed to any further particulars, you may set it down as the memorable beginning of these lectures, and of this discoure, “I am already proved to be an unregenerate creature : I am in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity II.” Nay, you may add, that there are perhaps thousands of those that are yet unregenerate sinners, who have not been so careless and so insensible as you. For indeed, Sirs, a man may begin an examination, and start back from the prosecution of it, before it is brought to any
* 2 Cor. xi. 5. + Psal. cxix. 59. | Lam. i. 40. § Prov. xviii. 1. || Acts viii. 23.
important issue; or trying himself by false characters, he may come to a conclusion, which will be so much the more dangerous, as it has been the more deliberate. For the sake of such therefore, I add, 2. Thesoul “ that is not deeply convinced of its guilt before God,
and desirous to seek deliverance from it by the Lord Jesus Christ,” is still in an unregenerate state.
All the promises of God's paternal favour do certainly imply the promise of forgiveness; and you well know, that these are appropriated to such as humble themselves before God: And that humbling which is merely external, and implies no deep sense of inward guilt, can pass for very little with that God, who searches the heart, and tries the reins of the children of men*.
The scripture assures us, that Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God +; and nothing can be more certain from the whole tenor of it, than that he that belicves not, shall be damnedl; and surely a state of damnation is not, and cannot be, a state of regeneration. But what is this faith in Christ? Is it no more than a bare notional persuason, that he is the Son of God? If this were all, the Devils themselves believes; and many were the instances, in which you know that they confessed it, and trembled before him. You cannot then be ignorant, that the faith, to which the promises of salvation are made, is a faith, which receives the Lord Jesus Christ in all his offices; which trusts his atonement, as well as admits his revelation; and fies to him for righteousness and life. And how can that man seek righteousness from Christ, who is insensible of his own guilt? Or how can be depend upon him for life, who is not aware that he is under a sentence of death and condemnation?
But imagine not you are secure, because you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners. If that acknowledgment be slight and formal, it shews you are strangers to the operation of that Spirit, whose office it is to convince men of sin|l. If you have not been made sensible of the pollution of your hearts, as well as the rebellion of your lives: if you have not received as it were a sentence of death in yourselves, and submitted to that sentence as righteous, though ever so dreadful; if you have not been made to loath and Abhor yourselves, and to repent in dust and ashess; if you have not Laid your hand on your mouth**, and your mouth in the dust+t, crying out, unclean, uncleanit; and in this
*ler. xvii, 10.
Job xlii, 5.
John xvi. 9.
+ 1 John v. 1. Mark xvi. 16. Jam, ii. 19.
sense at least, adopted that pathetic complaint, O wretched man
and communion with him," is still in an unregenerate
that a soul destitute of the love of God, can never be the object of his complacential regards; and that it is impossible you should love him, while you are unconcerned about his favour, and habitually indifferent to converse with him. You believe, there is a God; you acknowledge, that he is the great benefactor of the whole world; you know, your happiness depends upon his favour; you wish therefore, that you may enjoy it; that is, you wish, that some way or other you may be happy, rather than miserable. But let conscience say, whether you have ever felt, that In his favour is lijes? whether you have ever known, what it is to cry out with intenseness and ardour of soul, Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon mell? Alas, Sirs, had you been sons, God W ıld have Sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts 11: And if this be not the sincere, if it be not the habitual language of your soul; if you do not thus earnestly desire to live under the manifestations of the divine love, and to be able to say, Truly our communion is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ** you are spiritually dead; and under the fatal influences of that Carnal mind, which being enmity against Godtt, engages men to live contented Without God in the worldii, so long as Their corn and their wine increases. A heart thus alienated from God, was never savingly turned to him, and can have no just reason to imagine itself the object of his paternal favour. 4. The soul “ that is destitute of a sincere love to mankind," has
reason to consider itself as in an unregenerate state.
You may, perhaps, think it unnecessary to mention this; but the apostle was undoubtedly a much better judge, and his own words suggest this particular to me: Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God: He that loveth not, knoweth not God, and consequently cannot be born of him; for God is lovell.
* Rom. vii. 24.
# Rom. vi. 12.
Gal, iv. 6,
* Rom. vii. 5.
§ Psal. xxx. 5.
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 him 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 :
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 ?
And we may
* Mat. v. 45.
John viii. 44.
+ Heb, xii. 23.
Tit. ii. 8. 9 1 John iii. 15. ** Prov, xvii. 5. H 1 Sohn ii. 174