« PreviousContinue »
Lord's Day Morning-Hints on Regeneration
-with its fruits and effects Attendance on the means of grace- A spiritual PreacherThe Sermon-Reflections on the Word-A blessing attends it.
The following Lord's day I was awakened with an animating remembrance, that the Holy Spirit had led me to crave a blessing under the ordinances of worship; and I as surely waited for my spiritual provision as any pensioner for human alms stands at the gate, until summoned to receive their portion. “ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
The exact moment of regeneration may, or may not be ascertained; and I am emulous to evade any of those controverted points which depend for elucidation on enlarged scriptural knowledge, and acute definition.-Mine is a
narrative of the little I have truly learnt; not a register of the opinions I may hear. The Lord Jesus left a mark of the new birth, which is suited to every untutored pupil in the mysteries of grace. “ He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved !” Although the word baptized is allusive to an outward ordinance, we know that the inward grace or thing signified, is that alone which the external administration means to set forth. Breaking away all the variances and superstition which encrusts the subject; I can contemplate with joy the simple statement of my Saviour. Divine revelations, the most awful and important, communicated in language the most plain and attractive : how unlike to the laboured perplexities of scholastic theology, or the flimsy phrase of religion falsely so called !
There is much contrast of sentiment on the manifestation of the new birth; and the contention is so sharp that many part asunder for this cause. Alas! these petulancies are so many testimonies to sin dwelling in us. The divine seed implanted, meets with perpetual contest from the corrupted nature into which it is implunged ; and as grace groweth in strength, it
proportionably disputes every inch of ground with its opponent. “ The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” When we perceive that sparkles of anger are struck from the temper of our zeal, it is more safe to quench such proofs of fire, than to let them ignite beyond reparation.
Scripture certifies that there is a vast difference between the guidance of our minds under impressions of grace. Some receive the word in peace, and joy of faith, others, in much tribulation and anguish, and many, in weakness and fear; but all are “ convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment;" so that the distinction exists in the feelings, not in the state. I cannot imagine that spiritual views of sin depend on terrific appearances ; neither would I put assurance of pardon on acquiescence of temper. The Lord's people being made partakers of the divine nature, are all alike blessed; which could not be the case were the fact of regeneration dependent on our apprehension. Lydia, and the jailor, were actuated very differently, yet they received precisely the same doctrine.
I am fearful of encouraging any comment on
the word of God, which makes eternal covenant mercies suspend their efficacy on our vacillating sensations, and multiplied circumstances. Grace never acts in affinity with our natural dispositions; for this we have Christ's own line of separation, “ That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.”-.John, chap. iii. The fallen nature of man“ is enmity against God ;” and therefore our recovery from that degraded state, can have no connexion with amiable or perverse dispositions. Whether the rebellion of the will exists in a creature of violent or gentle habits, the case of man as to his Creator is not the least altered ; in both instances, grace overcomes an adversary; “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin; and therefore, however endearing the character, there is nothing in its qualities at all recommendatory to Jehovah; nothing which comes in aid of pardon and acceptance. The thirteenth article expresses this in such clear terms, that the recital will be sufficient to show in what sense the ancestors of our establishment considered this doctrine : “ Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as
they spring not of faith, in Jesus Christ : neither do they make men meet to receive this grace, (or as the school authors say) deserve grace of congruity ; yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed, and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.”
If sin were evidenced to our understandings, in its perfect equality, that “ all are become guilty before God; we should perceive that the reign of sin does not depend upon its outbreakings in external acts merely, but upon the title which Satan has established, to rule over the whole race of Adam, as lawful captives to his power; “ Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.”—2 Peter ii. 2. If soft tempers, and docile manners, serve the adversary's purpose, they are as much at variance with the sovereignty of God, as sinners of vehement passions, and offensive behaviour. Until regenerate, the professor and profane are in rebellion with their Creator; no matter with what weapons they combat, they are in arms against Jehovah.
There are but two divisions of disembodied