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that desire any part in him and his kingdom, Neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.He likewise tells us to this purpose, in another place, that his Grace, which has appeared unto all men, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world+; and yet after all to acknowledge, that it is Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saves us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he has shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.And Without holiness, which is the effect of these sacred operations upon the soul, he expressly tells us, in another place, that no man shall see the Lords.And to alledge but one more passage from him: As it is evident, that all unregenerate sinners, and only they, are ignorant of God, and disobedient to the gospel; he solemnly assures us, that instead of receiving such at last into his kingdom, The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.This is the testimony of the apostle Paul in his own emphatical words, zealous as he was for the doctrine of free grace, which such declarations as these do not in the least degree contradict.
Let us now hear his brethren, the other apostles of the Lord.—James urges sinners, if they ever desire to Draw nigh to God, and to have him draw nigh to them, to cleanse their hands, and purify their hearts. And yet more expressly he says, when he speaks of those, who should Receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him: Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures**, -The apostle Peter describes christians, as those whose souls were Purified in obeying the truth through the spirit; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible+t; and as those, who were made Partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust-Again, John, the beloved disciple, tells us that Every one that doeth righteous
Gal. vi. 15.
2 Thess. i. 7, 8, 9. #2 Pet. i. 4.
+Tit. ii. 11, 12.
Tit. iii. 5, 6.
§ Heb. xii. 14.
1 Pet. i. 22, 23
ness, is born of God; but He that committeth sin is of the devilt: And that every one that has a well-grounded hope of Being like Christ, and seeing him as he is, when he appears, purifies himself, even as he is puret. And once more, the pure‡.— apostle Jude, as he describes those who are Sensual and have not the spirit, as men, that, if they were saved at all, must be plucked out of the fire§; so he echoes back that awful prophecy, which Enoch had so long since delivered, that The Lord will come with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly, of all those ungodly deeds and words, by which they have violated his law||.
This then appears, from the whole tenor of the scriptures, to be the positive and immutable constitution of the great God, "that none who are unregenerate, shall be admitted to enjoy the happiness of heaven." And from the view that we have taken of the sacred writings it is manifest, that this in every age has been the language of the word of God; and under every dispensation we have sufficient evidence of this important truth. This is the doctrine of the Old Testament; and many are the passages that I have offered from the law of Moses, and from the prophets, and the psalms, that shew it is impossible an unrenewed soul should enter into heaven. And the same also is asserted in the strongest terms in the New Testament; and when Christ came to set the gospel of the kingdom in a clearer light, the purport of the declaration that he makes to Nicodemus in the text, was frequently repeated by him in the course of his preaching, and represented as the rule he would regard at the last day. And the inspired apostles speak the same thing with an united voice, and testify at large in their epistles, that it is absolutely necessary we should be born again, if ever we would hope to see the kingdom of God.
So that now, Sirs, I may say, Call, if there will be any that will answer; and to which of the saints will you turn¶, to encourage your vain and presumptuous hope, of finding your lot among God's people in the kingdom of glory, if you are strangers to that important and universal change, which we before described as regeneration in the scripture sense of the word? The prophets under the Old Testament, and Christ and his apostles under the New, concur, in all the variety of the most awful language, to expose so presumptuous a hope. And is it not audacious madness in any, to venture their souls
* 1 John ii. 29.
+1 John iii. 8.
1 John iii. 2, 7.
it? Thus you would undoubtedly judge of any man, who should strike a dagger into his breast, or discharge a pistol at his head, on this presumption, that the almighty power of God could prevent his death, though the heart or the brain were pierced. But it is much greater folly, for a man, while he continues in an unregenerate state, to promise himself a part in the kingdom of heaven. For though there would be no reason in the world to expect a miraculous interposition, to save a life which a man was so resolutely bent to destroy: yet none can say, that such an interposition would contradict any of the express engagements of God's word; whereas to admit an unregenerate sinner into the regions of glory, would be violating, not this or that single declaration, but the whole series and tenor of it: And we shall farther shew, in the next discourse, that it would also be, in effect, altering the very nature of the heavenly kingdom itself, as well as its constitution. Now what hope can be more desperate, than that which can have no support but in the subversion of the Redeemer's kingdom, and even of the eternal throne of God, the foundations of which are righteousness and truth!
John iii. 3.
Of the Incapacity of an unregenerate Person for relishing the Enjoyments of the heavenly World.
-Except a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of
IN order to demonstrate the necessity of regeneration, of which
I would fain convince, not only your understandings, but your consciences, I am now proving to you, that without it, it is impossible to enter into the kingdom of God: And how weighty a consideration that is, I am afterwards to represent.
That it is thus impossible, the words in the text do indeed sufficiently prove: But for the farther illustration of the sub. ject, I have proposed to consider it under two distinct views.
I have already shewn, it is impossible, because the "constitution of the kingdom of heaven is such, that God has solemnly declared, and this under different dispensations, and more or less plainly in all ages of his church, that no unregenerate person, i. e. no impenitent sinner, shall have any part in it." And I am now further to shew,
2. That "the nature of the future happiness (which is here chiefly signified by the kingdom of God,) is such, that an unregenerate person would be incapable of relishing it, even upon a supposition of his being admitted into it."
This is a thought of so great importance, and so seldom represented in its full strength, that I shall at present confine my discourse entirely to it.
I know, sinners, it will be one of the most difficult things in the world, to bring you to a serious persuasion of this truth. You think heaven is so lovely, and so glorious a place, that if you could possibly get an admittance thither, you should certainly be happy. But I would now set myself, if possible, to convince you, that this is a rash and ill-grounded persuasion; and that on the contrary, if you were now in the regions of
renewed nature, and unsanctified heart of yours, would give you a disrelish for all the sublimest entertainments of that blissful place, and turn heaven itself into a kind of hell to you.
Now for the demonstration of this, it is only necessary for you, seriously to consider "what a kind of happiness that of heaven is, as it is represented to us in the word of God;" for from thence undoubtedly we are to take our notions of it.
You might, to be sure, sit down, and imagine a happiness to yourselves, which would perfectly suit your degenerate taste; a happiness which the more entirely you were enslaved to flesh and sense, the more exquisitely you would be able to enter into it. If God would assign you a region in that beautiful world, where you should dwell in fine houses, magnificently furnished, and gaily adorned; where the most harmonious music should sooth your ear, and delicious food and generous wines, in a rich variety, should regale your taste: If he should give you a splendid retinue of people, to caress and attend you, offering you their humblest services, and acknowledging the most servile dependance upon your favour: Especially, if with all this he should furnish you with a set of companions, just of your own temper and disposition, with whom you might spend what proportion of your time you pleased in gaming and jollity, in riot and debauchery, without any interruption from the reproof, or even the example of the children of God, or from indispositions of body, or remorse of conscience: This you would be ready to call life, and happiness indeed: And if the great disposer of all things were but to add perpetuity to such a situation, you would not envy persons of a more refined taste the heaven you lost, for such a paradise as this.
Such indeed was the happiness which Mahomet promised to his followers: Flowery shades, and gay dresses; luxurious fare, and beautiful women, are described with all the pomp of language, in almost every page of his alcoran, as the glorious and charming rewards, which were to be bestowed on the faithful after the resurrection. And if this were the felicity which the gospel promised, extortioners and idolaters; whoremongers and drunkards, would be much fitter to inherit the kingdom of God, than the most pious and mortified saint that ever appeared upon earth. But here, as almost every where else, the bible and the alcoran speak a very different language; and far from leading us into such gross and sensual expectations, our Lord Jesus Christ has told us, that the children of The resurrection neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are like the