Abbildungen der Seite

compared with the light of God's countenance, which was lifted up on the pious worshipper under the Mosaic forms, when In his temple every one spake of his glory*. One thing has he desired of the Lord, and that he seeks after ; that he may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life; not to amuse his vain imagination, not to gratify his ear, not to indulge his curiosity with useless enquiries, nor merely to exercise his understanding with sublime speculations; but to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his templet. 3. He likewise finds a new entertainment in the conversation of

christian friends.

He now knows what it is, to have Fellowship with those, whose communion is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christt. His Delight is now in them, that are truly the excellent of the earthş. He delights to dismiss the usual topics of modern conversation, that some religious subject may be assumed, not as matter of dispute, but as matter of devout recollection ; and he loves to hear the plainest christian express his experimental sense of divine things. Those sentiments of piety and love, which come warm from a gracious heart, are always pleasing to him; and those appear the dearest bands of friendship, which may draw him nearer to his heavenly Father, and unite his soul in ties of more ardent love to his Redeemer. A society of such friends is indeed a kind of anticipation of heaven; and to chuse, and delight in such, is no contemptible token, that the soul has attained to some considerable degree of preparation for it. I only add, VI. That in consequence of all this, the regenerate soul has new

hopes and prospects.

Men might be very much assisted in judging of their true state, if they would seriously reflect, what it is they hope and wish for? what are those expectations and desires, that most strongly impress their minds ? A vain mortal, untaught and unchanged by divine grace, is always dressing up to himself some empty phantom ef earthly happiness, which he looks after and pursues ; and foolishly imagines, “ Could I grasp it, and keep it, I should be happy.” But divine grace teaches the real christian to give up these empty schemes : “ God," does he say, “ never intended this world for my happiness : He will make it tolerable to me; he will give me so much of it, as he sees consistent with my highest interest ; he will enable me to derive instruction, and it may be consolation, out of its disappointments and distresses : But he reserves my inheritance for the eternal world. I am Begotten again to 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 away*: And though it be for the present reseroed in heaven, it is so safe, and so great, that it is well worth my waiting for, though ever so long; for The things which are not seen, are eternalt.” And this indeed is the true character of a good man. Eternity fills his thoughts ; and growing sensible, in another manner than he ever was before, of the importance of it, he pants after the enjoyment of eternal happiness. Assignany limited duration to his enjoyment of God in the regions of glory, and you would overwhelm him with disappointment: Talk of hundreds, of thousands, of millions of years, the disappointment is almost equal : Periods like these, seem scarce distinguishable from each other, when compared with an eternal hope. To eternity his desires and expectations are raised ; and he can be contented with nothing less than eternity : Perfect holiness, and perfect happiness for ever and ever, without any mixture of sin, or any allay of sorrow; this he firmly expects, this he ardently breathes after ; a felicity, which an immortal soul shall never outlive, and which an eternal God shall never cease to communicate.

* Psal. xxix. 9.

* Psal. xxvii. 4.

Š Psal. xvi. 3.

$ 1 John i. 3.

This Heavenly country he seeks ; he considers himself as a citizen of it, and endeavours to maintain his conversation theref ; to carry on, as it were, a daily trade for hezven, and to Lay up a treasure theres; in which he may be rich and great, when all the pomp of this earth is passed away as a dream, and all its most precious metals and gems are melted down and consumed among its vilest materials in the last universal burning

This is the change, the glorious change which regeneration makes, in a man's character and views : And who shall dare to speak, or to think, contemptibly of it? Were we indeed to represent it as a kind of charm, depending on an external cere. mony, which it was the peculiar prerogative of a certain order of men to perform, and yet on which eternal life was suspended; one might easily apprehend, that it would be brought into much suspicion. Or should we place it in any mechanical transports of animal nature, in any blind impulse, in any strong feelings: not to be described, or accounted for, or argued upon, but

*1 Pet. 1, 3,4.

+ 2 Cor. iv. 18.

Phil. iii. 20.

[ocr errors]

known by some inward inexplicable sensation to be divine; we could not wonder, if calm and prudent men were slow to admit the pretension to it, and were fearful it might end in the most dangerous enthusiasm, made impious by excessive appearances of piety.—But when it is delineated by such fair and bright characters, as those that have now been drawn; when these divine lineaments on the soul, by which it bears the image of its Maker's rectitude and sanctity, are considered as its necessary conse. quence, or rather as its very essence ; one would imagine, that every rational creature, instead of cavilling at it, should pay an immediate homage to it, and earnestly desire, and la. bour, and pray, to experience the change : Especially as it is a change so desirable for itself; as we acknowledge health to be, though a man were not to be rewarded, for being well ; nor punished, any farther than with the malady he contracts, for any negligence in this respect.

Where is there any thing can be more ornamental to our patures, than to have all the powers of the mind thus changed by grace, and our pursuits directed to such objects, as are worthy of the best attention and regard ?—To bave our apprehensions of divine and spiritual things enlarged, and to have right conceptions of the most important matters ;-to have the stream of our affections turned from empty vanities, to objects that are proper to excite and fix them ;-to have our resolutions set against all sin, and a full purpose formed within us of an immediate reformation and return to God, with a dependance on his grace to help us both to will and to do ;-to have our labours stedfastly applied, to conquer sin, and to promote religion in ourselves and others ;-to have our entertainments founded in a religious life, and flowing in upon us from the sweet intercourse we have with God in his word and ordinances, and the delightful conversation that we sometimes have with christian friends 3 —and finally, to have our hopes drawn off from earthly things, and fixed upon eternity ?-Where is there any thing can be more honourable to us, than thus to be Renewed after the image of him that created us*, and to Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holinesst?-And where is any thing that can be more desirable, than thus to have the darkness of our understandings cured, and the disorders recti. fied, that sin had brought upon our nature ? Who is there that is so insensible of his depravity, as that he would not long for such a happy change? Or who is there that knows how excellent

* Col. ij. 105

Eph. iv. 84

a work it is, to be Transformed by the renewing of the mind*, that would not with the greatest thankfulness adore the riches of divine


if it

that he is thus become a new crea. ture; that old things are passed away, and behold, all things are become new ?

But I shall quickly shew you, that regeneration is not only ornamental, honourable, and desirable ; but absolutely necessary, as ever we would hope to share the blessings of God's heavenly kingdom, and to escape the horror of those, that are finally, and irrevocably excluded from it. This argument will employ several succeeding discourses : But I would dismiss you at present with an earnest request, that you would in the mean time renew your enquiries, as to the truth of regeneration in your own souls ; which, after all that I have been saying, it will be very inexcusable for you to neglect, as probably you will hear few discourses in the whole course of your lives, which centre more directly in this point, or are more industriously calculated to give you the safest and clearest assistance in it. May God abase the arrogance and presumption of every selfdeceiving sinner, and awaken the confidence and joy of the feeblest soul, in whom this new creation is begun !

* Rom. xii. 2.



The Necessity of Regeneration argued, from the immutable

Constitution of God.

John iii. 3.- Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto

thee, Except a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.. WHILE the ministers of Christ are discoursing of such a subject, as I have before me in the course of these lectures, and particularly in this branch of them which I am now entering upon, we may surely, with the utmost reason, address our hearers, in those words of Moses to Israel, in the conclusion of his dying discourse: Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day; which ye shall command your children to observe and do, even all the words of this law; for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life*. That must undoubtedly be your life, concerning which the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the incarnate wisdom of God, The faithful and true wit, nesst, has said, and said it with a solemn repeated asseveration, that without it a Man cannot see the kingdom of God.

The occasion of his saying it deserves our notice; though the niceties of the context must be waved in such a series of sermons as this. He said it to a Jew of considerable rank, and, as it appears, one of the grand Sanhedrim, or chief council of the nation; who came not only for his own private satisfaction, but in the name of several of his brethren, to discourse with Christ concerning his doctrine, at the first passover he attended at Jerusalem, after he had entered on his public ministry. Our Lord, would, to be sure, be peculiarly careful, what answer he returned to such an enquiry: And this is his answer, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God: As if he should have said, “ If the princes of Israel enquire after my character, let them know,

+ Rev. iii. 14.

* Deut. xxxii. 46, 47. VOL. II.

3 H

« ZurückWeiter »