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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 grace, if it appear that he is thus become a new creature; 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 witnesst, 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,

* Deut. xxxii. 46, 47.

+ Rev. iii. 14.


3 H

that I came to be a preacher of regeneration; and that the blessings of that kingdom which I am come to reveal and erect, are to be peculiar to renewed and sanctified souls; who may, by an easy and natural figure, be said to be born again." And the figure appears very intelligible, and very instructive to those, that will seriously consider it; and might lead us into a variety of pertinent and useful remarks.

You easily perceive, that to be born again, must intimate a very great change; coming, as it were, into a new world, as an infant does; when after having lived a while a kind of vegetative life in the darkness and confinement of the womb, it is born into open day; feels the vital air rushing in on its lungs, and light forcing itself upon the awakened eyes; hears sounds before unknown; opens its mouth to receive a yet untasted food; and every day becomes acquainted with new objects, and exerts new powers, till it grows up to the maturity of a perfect man. Such, and in some respects greater and nobler than this, is the change which regeneration makes in a heart, before unacquainted with religion; as you may have seen at large from the preceding discourses.

But I might further observe, that the phrase in the text may also express the humbling nature of this change, as well as the greatness of it. Erasmus gives this turn to the words; and it is so edifying, that I should have mentioned it at least, though I had not thought it so just, as it appears. just, as it appears. To be born again, must signify To become as a little child*; and our Lord expressly and frequently assures us, that without this We cannot enter into the kingdom of heavent. He has pronounced the very first of his blessings on Poverty of spirit; and where this is wanting, the soul will never be entitled to the rest. A mild and humble, a docile and tractable temper, a freedom from avarice and ambition, and an indifference to those great toys of which men are generally so fond, are all essential parts of the christian character; and they have all, in one view or another, been touched upon in the preceding discourses. Let it be forgiven however, if, considering the importance of the case, you are told again, that In malice ye must be childrens; and that If any man think himself wise, he must become a child, and even a fool, that he may be wise indeed.

I might observe once more, that these words intimate the divine power, by which this great and humbling change is

*Mat. xviii. 3.

+ Mark x. 15. Luke xviii. 17.

Mat. v. 3.

and therefore the original of it is to be traced from the Old Testament: And I apprehend it to be this. Almost every christian is aware, that in the early days of the Jewish commonwealth, as Samuel with great propriety expresses it, God was their King*. Jehovah was not only the great object of their religious regard, as the creator and supporter of the whole world; but he was also their supreme civil magistrate, settling the forms of their political government, and reserving to himself some of the chief acts of royal authority. They did indeed afterwards desire another King, like the other nations round about themt. But still those kings, being appointed by God, were indeed to be looked upon as no other than his vicegerents, though another kind of governors than he originally instituted. By degrees their peculiar regard to the civil authority of God among them, as well as to his religious authority which was nearly connected with it, in a great measure wore out; and their government went through a great many different forms, which it would be unnecessary here particularly to describe. Nevertheless God was pleased to declare by King David, and by many others of his holy prophets, that he would in due time interpose to erect another, and a far more extensive kingdom in the world: Not indeed upon the same political principles, with that which he exercised over the Jews; which principles would by no means have suited this extensive design: But it should be a kingdom, in which the authority of the God of heaven should be acknowledged, and his laws of universal righteousness observed, with greater care, and to nobler purposes, as well as by a vastly greater number of subjects, than ever before. This kingdom he determined to commit to the government of the Messiah, who with regard to this was called The Lord's anointed, his king whom he set upon his holy hill of Zion; and to whom indeed he would Give all power, not only on earth, but in heaven too§; so that having trained up his subjects here, in the discipline of holiness and obedience, he should at length translate them to another and a better country, that is, an heavenly, where they should see his glory, and should reign with him in eternal life.

This plainly appears, from the whole tenor of the Old and New Testament, to have been the grand plan of God, with respect to the Messiah's kingdom: And you will easily see, that coming from God, as its great author, and referring to § Mat. xxviii. 18

* 1 Sam. xii. 12. +1 Sam. viii. 5.

Psal. ii. 2, 6.

him as its end, it may, with great propriety, be called the kingdom of God; and ultimately terminating in the heavenly state, it may also properly be called the kingdom of heaven. These were phrases, which prevailed in the jewish nation, before Christ, or his immediate forerunner appeared: And indeed they were used by Daniel, in a very remarkable manner, which probably made them so familiar to the Jews, who had some peculiar reasons for studying his writings, even more than those of some other prophets. After that prophet had foretold the rise and fall of several great empires of the world, he adds, And in the days of these last kings, i. e. of the Romans, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall not be destroyed,—but shall stand for ever. And the person, whom the ancient of days, i. e. the eternal and ever-blessed God, should fix on the throne of this kingdom, from his appearing in the human nature, is called The son of man↑ : I saw in the night-visions, and behold one like the son of man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him: And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

In allusion to this, when our Lord Jesus Christ appeared, he called himself The son of man: and he particularly used this phrase, as it was exceedingly proper that he should, in this conference with Nicodemus, again and again‡. And all those, who being convinced of the divine commission he bore, submitted themselves to him, might in this respect be said, to enter into the kingdom of God, or of heaven; that is, into the society which had so long been foretold, and expected, under that title. This kingdom, as the above-mentioned prophecy declared, was to be raised from very low beginnings, under the personal ministry of Christ and his apostles, till at last it should extend through very distant regions of the world, and kings and princes should submit themselves to it, and reckon it their glory to enrol themselves among his subjects.

Agreeable to this meaning of the phrase, and to this view with respect to the establishment of his kingdom, our Lord opened his ministry, with preaching, as John the baptist had done, the kingdom of heavenş. And you will see, that in most places of the gospel, where the phrase occurs, it is to be taken in this sense. Thus our Lord says, Blessed are the poor

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