صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


men befides this, many are changed from prophanenefs to civi
lity, and from mere civility to formality, and a fhadow of reli-
gion, who still remain in the state, and power of fpiritual death,
notwithstanding; but when the Spirit of the Lord is poured out
upon us, to quicken us with the new spiritual life, this is a won-
derful change indeed: It gives us an effe fupernaturale, a new
fupernatural being, which is therefore called a new creature,
the new man, the hidden man of the heart: The natural effence
and faculties of the foul remain ftill, but it is divested of the old
qualities, and endued with new ones, 2 Cor. v. 17.

things are paffed away, behold, all things are become new." And this change is not made by altering and rectifying the diforders of the life only, leaving the temper and frame of the heart still carnal; but by the infufion of a supernatural permanent principle into the foul, John iv. 14. "It fhall be in him a "well of water :" principles are to a courfe of actions, as fountains or fprings are to the streams and rivers that flow from them, and are maintained by them: and hence is the evenness, and conftancy of renewed fouls in the courfe of Godliness.

Nor is this principle or habit acquired by accuftoming ourfelves to holy actions, as natural habits are acquired by frequent acts, which beget a difpofition, and thence grow up to an habit or fecond nature, but it is infufed, or implanted in the foul by the Spirit of God. So we read, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. "A new "heart alfo will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within

you :" It grows not up out of our natures, but is put or infufed into us as it is faid of the two witneffes, Rev. xi. 11. who lay dead in a civil fenfe, three days and a half, that the Spirit of life from God entered into them; fo it is here in a spiritual fenfe, the fpirit of life from God enters into the dead, carnal heart it is all by way of fupernatural infusion.


Nor is it limited to this, or that faculty of the foul, but grace or life is poured into all the faculties: "Behold all things are become new," 2 Cor. v. 17. The understanding, will, thoughts, and affections, are all renewed by it: the whole inner man is changed; yea, the tongue and hand, the discourses and actions, even all the ways and courses of the outward man are renewed by it.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But more particularly, we fhall difcern the nature of this Spiritual life, by confidering the properties of it; among which, these are very remarkable.

First, The foul that is joined to Chrift, is quickened with a divine life, fo we read in 2 Pet. i. 4. Where believers are faid

to be partakers of the divine nature: a very high expression, and warily to be understood. Partakers of the divine nature, not effentially; fo, it is wholly incommunicable to the creature, nor yet hypoftatically, and perfonally; fo, Chrift only was a partaker of it; but our participation of the divine nature, muft be understood in a way proper to believers; that is to fay, we partake of it by the inhabitation of the Spirit of God in us, according to Cor. iii. 16, 17. "Know ye not that ye are the ❝ temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" The Spirit, who is God by nature, dwells in, and actuates the foul whom he regenerates, and by fanctifying caufes it to live a divine life: from this life of God, the unfanctified are faid to be alienated, Eph. iv. 18. but believers are partakers of it.

Secondly, And being divine, it must needs be the most excellent, and tranfcendent life that any creature doth, or can live in this world: it furmounts the natural, rational, and moral life of the unfanctified, as much as the angelical life excels the life of flies, and worms of the earth.

Some think it a rare life to live in fenfual pleasures; but the fcripture will not allow fo much as the name of life to them; but tells us," they are dead whilft they live," 1 Tim. v. 6. certainly it is a wonderful elevation of the nature of man, to be quickened with fuch a life as this. There are two ways wherein the bleffed God hath honoured poor man above the very an⚫ gels of heaven. One was by the hypoftatical union of our nature in Chrift, with the divine nature; the other is by uniting our perfons myftically to Chrift, and thereby communicating fpiritual life to us: this latter is a most glorious privilege, and in one respect a more fingular mercy than the former; for that honour which is done to our nature by the hypoftatical union, is common to all, good and bad, even they that perish have yet that honour; but to be implanted into Chrift by regeneration, and live upon him as the branch doth upon the vine, this is a peculiar privilege, a mercy kept from the world that is to perish, and only communicated to God's elect, who are to live - eternally with him in heaven.

Thirdly, This life infufed by the regenerating spirit, is a most pleasant life. All delights, all pleatures, all joys, which are not phantaftic and delufive, have their spring and origin here, Rom. viii. 6. To be fpiritually minded is life and peace," (i. e.) a moft ferene, placid life; fuch a foul becomes, fo far as it is influenced and fanctified by the Spirit, the very region of life and peace: when one thing is thus predicated of another, in cafu recto, (faith a learned man) it fpeaks their intimate

connexion: peace is fo connatural to this life, that you may either call it a life that hath peace in it, or a peace that hath life in it: yea, it hath its enclofed pleasures in it, "Such as a ftranger intermeddles not with," Prov. xiv. 10. Regene ration is the term from which all true pleafure commences; you never live a chearful day, till you begin to live to God: therefore it is faid, Luke xv. 24. When the prodigal fon was returned to his father, and reconciled, then they began to be merry.


None can make another, by any words, to understand what that pleasure is which the renewed foul feels diffufed through all its faculties, and affections, in its communion with the Lord, and in the fealings and witneffings of his Spirit. That is a very apt and well known fimilitude which Peter Martyr used, and the Lord bleffed to the converfion of that noble marquis Galeacus: if, faid he, a man fhould fee a company of people dancing upon the top of a remote hill, he would be apt to conclude they were a company of wild diftracted people; but if he draw nearer, and behold the excellent order, and hear the ravishing sweet mufic that are among them, he will quickly alter his opinion of them, and be for dancing himself with them.

All the delights in the fenfual life, all the pleafure that ever your lufts gave you, are but as the putrid, flinking waters of a corrupt pond, where toads lie croaking and spawning, compared to the cryftal streams of the most pure and pleasant foun


Fourthly, This life of God, with which the regenerate are quickened in their union with Chrift, as it is a pleasant, so it is also a growing increafing life, John iv. 14. "It fhall be in him " a well of water fpringing up into everlasting life."


It is not in our fanctification, as it is in our juftification; our juftification is complete and perfect, no defect is found there; but the new creature labours under many defects: all believers are equally juftified, but not equally fanctified: Therefore you read, 2 Cor. iv. 16. that " the inward man is renewed day by day" And 2 Pet. iii. 18. Chriftians are exhorted" to grow 64 in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour:" if this work were perfect, and finished at once, as juftification is, there could be no renewing day by day, nor growth in grace. Perfectum eft cui nihil deeft, & cui nihil addi poteft: i. e. that is perfect which wants nothing, and to which nothing can be added. The apostle indeed prays for the Theffalonians, "that "God would fanctify them," oxols,-wholly, perfectly, 1 Theff. v. 23. And this is matter of prayer and hope; for, at

laft, it will grow up to perfection; but this perfect holiness is referved for the perfect ftate in the world to come, and none but* deluded, proud fpirits boast of it here: but when" that "which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be "done away," 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10. And upon the imperfection of the new creature in every faculty, that warfare and daily con. flict spoken of, Gal. v. 17. and experienced by every Christian, is grounded: grace rifes gradually in the foul, as the fun doth in the heavens, "which shineth more and more unto a perfect day,” Prov. iv. 18.

Fifthly, to conclude; This life with which the regenerate are quickened, is an everlasting life. "This is the record, that God

hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son," 1 John V. II. This principle of life is the feed of God; and that remains in the foul for ever, 1 John iii. 9. It is no tranfient, vanishing thing, but a fixed, permanent principle, which abides in the foul for ever; a man may lose his gifts, but grace abides; the foul may, and muft be, feparated from the body, but grace cannot be feparated from the foul: when all forfake us, this will not leave us.

This infused principle is therefore vaftly different, both from the extraordinary gifts of prophecy, wherein the Spirit fometimes was faid to come upon men, under the Old Testament, I Sam. x. 6, 10. and from the common vanishing effects he sometimes produceth in the unregenerate, of which we have frequent accounts in the New Teftament, Heb. vi. 4. and John v. 35. It is one thing for the Spirit to come upon a man in the way of prefent influence, and affiftance, and another thing to dwell in a man as in his temple.

And thus of the nature, and quality of this blessed work of the Spirit in quickening us.

Secondly, Having feen the nature and properties of the fpiritual life, we are concerned in the next place to enquire into the way and manner in which it is wrought, and infused by the Spirit and here we must say,

First of all, that the work is wrought in the foul very mysteriously; fo Chrift tells Nicodemus, John iii. 8. "The wind blow

eth where it lifteth, and thou heareft the found thereof, but "canft not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth, fo is every one that is born of the Spirit :" There be many opinions among philofophers about the original of wind; but we have no

[ocr errors]

* Perfection of fanctification is not found in this life, unless in the dreams of fome phanatics. Amef


certain knowledge of it: we describe it by its effects and properties, but know little of its original: and if the works of God in nature be fo abftrufe, and unfearchable, how much more fo are these fublime, and fupernatural works of the Spirit ?

We are not able to folve the Phaenomena of nature, we can give no account of our own formation in the womb, Ecclef. xi. 5. Who can exactly defcribe how the parts of the body are formed, and the foul infused?" It is curiously wrought in the low"eft parts of the earth," as the Pfalmist speaks, Pfal, cxxxix. 16. but how, we know not. Bafil faith, divers questions may be moved about a fly, which may puzzle the greatest philosopher : we know little of the forms, and effences of natural things, much less of these profound, and abftrufe fpiritual things.

Secondly, But though we cannot pry into thefe fecrets by the eye of reafon, yet God hath revealed this to us in his word, that it is wrought by his own almighty power, Eph. i. 19. The apostle afcribes this work to the exceeding greatness of the power of God: and this muft needs be, if we confider, how the Spirit of God expreffes it in fcripture by a new creation: (i. e.) a giving being to fomething out of nothing, Eph. ii. 10. In this it differs from all the effects of human power: for man always works upon some pre-existent matter, but here is no fuch matter all that is in man, the fubject of this work, is only a paffive capacity, or receptivity, but nothing is found in him to contribute towards this work: this fupernatural life is not, nor can it be educed out of natural principles: this wholly transcends the fphere of all natural power: but of this more anon.

Thirdly, This alfo we may affirm of it; that this divine life is infused into all the natural faculties and powers of the foul, not one exempted, 1 Thef. v. 23. The whole foul and spirit is the recipient fubject of it: and with refpect to this general infufion into all the faculties and powers of the foul, it is called a new creature; a new man; having an integral perfection, and fulness of all its parts and members: it becomes light in the mind; John xvii. 3. Obedience in the will; 1 Pet. i. 2. In the affections an heavenly temper and tenderness, Col. iii. 1, 2. And fo is variously denominated, even as the fea is from the feveral fhores it wathes, though it be one and the fame fea. And here, we must obferve, lies one main difference betwixt a reregenerate foul, and an hypocrite; the one is all of a piece, as

*Ab uno defuper principio quod convenienter voluntati operatur dependent prima, fecunda et tertia. Quemadmodum minima pars


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »