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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 among 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|l : 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 er. pression is to be interpreted with some limitation ; yet the least that it can be imagined to signify is this, that he does not wilfully allow himself in the practice of any sin. He has learnt to Hate every false way, and to esteem all God's precepts, con
* Gal. v. 24. + Mat. xvi. 24. Col. iii. 5. § 1 John v. 18. | 1 John ii. 9.
cerning all things, to be right* : So that upon the whole, if he Might have his request, and God would grant him the thing that he longs fort, it would be this, to sin no more, and to get rid of every sentiment, desire, and affection, in any degree contrary to the purity of God's nature and law. If therefore there be any of you, that spare one accursed thing, though you should seem eager on destroying all the rest ; if it be the secret language of your soul, “ There is but one lust, that I will indulge; there is but one temptation that I will comply with ;” I per. ceive Your hearts are not right in the sight of Godf; for though you could, according to your pretended purpose, keep all the rest of the law, and yet offend in this one point alone, you would in effect be a transgressor of allg. In short, He that committeth sin, is of the devilll; but He that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 6. He “ that does not know what it is, to overcome this world,
and to place his happiness in another,” is yet in an unrege
This is another of those certain marks, which God has given us of his own children. Whatsoever is born of God, as it is very emphatically expressed in the original, overcometh the world**. It is not, you see, the extraordinary attainment of a few more eminent christians; but it is an essential branch of every good man's character: For he is Begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, even to the hope of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not awaytt. You have reason therefore to judge very uncomfortably concerning your state, if you are strangers to this lively hope ; which is a very different thing from that hope to be saved, of which some people talk in so indolent, not to say, in so profane a manner, as to shew, that it is The hope of the hypocrite, which will perish, when God takes away his soulff. If you are conscious to yourselves, that you mind earthly things, your end will be destructiongc ; for having your heart on earth, it is plain your only treasure is herell: And if you govern yourselves by worldly maxims alone, and your great care be to obtain those riches and honours, which the children of the world pursue ; if the importance of eternity has never appeared in such a light, as to make you judge every thing trifling that can come in competition with it; nay, whatever your views of eternity have been, if you are not practically carrying on a scheme for it; and if you cannot, and do not, deny your worldly interest, when it cannot be secured without hazarding your eternal hopes; it is plain you are friends of the world, in such a sense as none can be, but he must be an enemy of God*. If indeed you were dead to the world, and Your life hid with Christ in God, you would Set your affections on things above, on those things which are there, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of Godt: But the want of this temper shews, that you are carnally minded, which it is death to bef; and that the redeeming love of Christ has never exerted its influence upon your souls, nor his cross had any due efficacy upon you; for if it had, The world would have been crucified to you, and you to the worldş. 7. The soul “ that does not long for greater improvements in
* Psal. cxix. 128. + Job vi. 8. Acts viii. 21. $ James ii. 10. 1 1 John m. 8. q 1 John v. 18. ** 1 John v. 4. WAY TO WETEVYnje EYOY EX T8 Bi8. tt 1 Pet. j. 3, 4. 11 Job viii. 13. xxvii. 8. $$ Phil, üi. 19. JW Mat. vi. 21.
the divine life,"'is still a stranger to the first principles of it.
You know, that we are called, as christians, with an High and holy calling|l; and as he that is the author of this calling, is holy, so are we to be Holy in all manner of conversations, and to be perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect**, Here will therefore be room for improvement, not only during our continuance in the present life, but through all the ages of a glorious eternity; and it is the ardent desire of every good man, that in this sense above all others, his Path may be like the shinging light, that shineth more and more, until the perfect daytt. And this is the one thing that he does, or that in which all his labours centre ; being conscious to himself how far he is from having Already attained, or being already perfect, forgetting the things that are behind, he reacheth forth unto those things that are before, and presses toward the mark, for the prise of the high calling of God in Christ Jesusit. In this view be seriously considers the circumstances of life in which providence has placed him; that he may observe the advantages, which these circumstances give him for religious improvements; and it is delightful to him to discover such advantages.
Now if there be any of you, who know nothing of this temper, you are certainly in an unregenerate state: For none can be born of God, that do not love him; and none can truly love him, that do not earnestly desire, more and more to resemble
* Jam. iv. 4.
+ Col. ii. 1, 2, 3.
Rom. vii. 6.
1 Pet. i. 15. 11 Phil. ui. 12-14.
him. So that if your hearts can indulge such a thought as this, “ I wish I knew how much religion would be just sufficient to save me, and I would go so far, and stop there;" your conscience must tell you, that you secretly hate religion, and are unwillingly dragged toward the form of it, by an unnatural and external - violence, the fear of misery and ruin in neglecting it; and that you are not actuated by the free and liberal principle of a nature savingly renewed. 8. The soul “ that does not know what it is, to live by faith in
Christ, and in dependance on his Spirit,” is still in an unregenerate state.
We Are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus*, if indeed we are so at all ; and He that is joined to the Lord, in this sense, is one spirit with himt. But If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his f; for as God has Predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himselfs, so of his fulness it is, that all believers do Receive, even grace for gracell, or an abundance and variety of grace, by virtue of their union with him, who is The head; from whom the whole body, being fitly joined together, and strengthened by what every joint supplies, by an energy proportionable to every part, increases to the edifying of itself in love. These things, as you see, are not only hinted in scripture, but are copiously insisted upon, as very material points: And though I readily acknowledge, good men may apprehend and consider them very differently, and may express those apprehensions in different phrases; yet as experience makes it plain, that those souls generally fourish most, who have the most distinct conceptions of them, and the most habitual regard to them; so I think it is plain from these scriptures, that there can be no religion at all, where there is a total insensibility of them. If therefore there are any of you, that apprehend it is enthusiasm to talk of the assistances of the Spirit; nay, I will add, if there are any of you, that do not earnestly desire these assistances, and do not seek them daily from the hand of Christ, as the great covenant-head of his people; you are, I fear, strangers to some of The
first principles of the oracles of God**, and are Sensual, not having the Spirittt. And though you may now and then form a hasty, and perhaps a warm resolution in religion, you will quickly, with the proud Youth, that are conceited of their own sufficiency, faint and be weary, 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 your other sources of comfort will soon be dried up, and the miserable condition of the creature, that asked in vain for one op of water to cool his tormented tonguet, will certainly be yours.
. Galiii. 26. John i. 16.
+ 1 Cor. vi. 17.
viii. 9. 9 Ephes. iv. 15, 16. ** Heb. v. 12.
$ Ephes, i. 5. tt Jude ver. 19.
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, being born of God, signify the same thing.” Now I bave 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 vä, 39.
| Luke xvi. 24.