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“ ter into the kingdom of God. The washing of re
generation and renewing of the Holy Ghost” are joined with justification by grace through the redemption in Christ. (Titus, iii. 5, 7.) In regeneration a new man is born—“ not of blood, nor of the will of " the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Of “ his own will begat he us.”
We must then admit, as a principle of our religion, the operation of a Spirit distinct from a man's own, and superior to any finite agency, changing his views, affections, and hopes. That the mode of operation cannot be traced is no objection. For we hear the sound, and see the effects of the wind; but cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth.
th. The real operation of the Spirit is proved by its fruits. " The fruit “ of the spirit is in all righteousness, and goodness, and « truth." The doctrine of regeneration is therefore according to godliness.
The doctrine of divine influence and affiftance to human enquiries and endeavors is an important article of our religion. “We have access, through Jesus “ Christ, by one Spirit, unto the Father. Ask, and ye « fhall receive.” Earthly parents “ give good gifts « unto their children. How much more shall
your “ heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them who “ ask him? He who spared not his own Son, but de“ livered him up for us all, will with him also freely “ give us all things. Unto every one that hath shall “ be given, and he shall have abundance. Work out
your own salvation with fear and trembling: For “ it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to “ do, of his good pleasure."' Passages of this tenor abound in the gospel—that we might give all diligence, and add to our faith the whole assemblage of personal and social, divine and christian virtues. Let this doctrine of the energy of the holy Spirit be firmly believed, as a foundation and constant incentive to all holy conversation and godliness.
3. Immortality in soul and body is an important article of our faith.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ, by his appearance, bolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.” The full manifestation of this truth was reserved to these last days. By the revelation of Jesus Christ it is ascertained, that this corrupt. ible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. He rose to immortal life as a pledge that he will, at his appearing and kingdom, change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body. Had he not risen, to die no more—had he not, for the suffering of death, been highly exalted and glorified, our faith would have had no foundation. His resurrection declared him to be the Son of God with power—the first-fruits of them that sleep in him, who shall bear the image of the heavenly Adam in the glories of immortality, as they have borne the image of the earthly, in a subjection to corruption and mortality: “ The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ
Lord.” The heirs of promise shall be like him, and see him as he is. Were it not for this hope, the godly, in certain circumstances, would be of all men moft miserable. But in this hope they patiently continue in well doing.
The principles of Christian doctrine, which we have noticed ; that is, the sacrifice of the cross as our ransom—the influence and energy of the holy Spiritand the immortality revealed in the gospel, recommend the religion of Jesus as highly worthy of an holy and merciful God, and of the highest value to a guilty world. These are truths which lie at the foundation of all holiness-the motives which are exhibited in every part of the gospel, to persuade and influ. ence to a Chriftian temper and life.
Some have thought it immaterial what principles a man holds. They seem to think that they are not accountable for their principles--that these depend not on the will—that the life may be right, however wrong
our faith. It is true, that many wrong opinions may consist with a good heart. But can a man be a Christian in practice, who does not consent to the first principles of the doctrine of Christ? Can he be justified otherwise than by faith in the blood of Christ? Can he be fanctified in fpirit, soul and body, except by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? Can he purify himself as Christ is pure, and adorn the doctrine of the Sav. iour by an heavenly conversation, without the hope of immortality? Can he be a real Christian, if the faith of the Son of God is not the governing principle of his life-if the promises of the gospel do not constrain him? Doubtless faith and practice must go together. Works without faith are dead, no less than faith without works.
We will not here examine how far men's religious principles depend on themselves : That they are, in a great measure, voluntary must be allowed. The lovers of truth will not be left to dangerous and fatal errors. If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine. Ignorance or error proceeding from want of love to the truth, from pleasure in un. righteousness, from hatred of the light, is a crime, not an excuse. This is a commandment of God, that we believe in his Son Jesus Christ. If the mission of Jesus hath been proved, and men, from any cause, will not attend to the proofs of it, their disbelief is their sin: It proceeds from an evil heart.
We have shewn, that the principal articles of our faith exhibit it as a doctrine according to godliness. The same thing will further appear,
Secondly, from the duties of this religion ; duties depending on the principles.
Among the first duties of the Christian religion are FAITH and REPENTANCE. These indeed are the fum of the doctrine according to godliness. Jesus opened the gospel of the kingdom in this manner, Repent, and believe the gospel. This is the work of God that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. The faith intended is the
work God hath assigned us—the fame as to labor for the meat of everlasting life, as the connection sheweth. It is therefore no other than a practical faith. To confess Christ, what is it but a renunciation of all worldly lufts, and an engagement to observe whatsoever he hath commanded to learn of him, to follow him, to take his yoke upon us? In this sense, and in nothing short of this, he that believeth shall be saved. That faith, which is considered as an obligation to holiness, and actually becomes a principle of it, is saving faith. Such thoughts of the great God as accord with the discoveries he hath made of himself by Jesus Christ, lay the foundation of godliness. For “ no man know“eth the Father, fave he to whom the Son will reveal “ him.” This knowledge is a practical knowledge, a practical faith ; and therefore eternal life. It is the dedication of ourselves to God in Chrift, a living facrifice, holy, acceptable.
REPENTANCE is a change of inward principles and affections: It is turning from sin to God. Fruits meet for repentance are stated by our apostle. “ For behold “ this self-fame thing that ye forrowed after a godly “ fort, what carefulness it wrought in you; yea, what « clearing of yourselves; yea, what indignation; yea, “what fear; yea, what vehement desire; yea, what “ zeal; yea, what revenge?” Such“ have put off the “ old man, which is corrupt according to the deceit“ ful lusts; and are renewed in the spirit of their “ mind; and have put on the new man, which after “ God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Here you have a view of gospel faith and repentance,--the qualifications, the distinguishing character, of a disciple of Jesus. Grace and faith, far from difpensing with true holiness, are the motive and principle of it.
“ Our old man is crucified with him, " that the body of sin might be destroyed, that hence« forth we should not serve fin.” Thus is grace exalted. By three different characteristicks our apostle
delineates real Christianity--faith which worketh by love-a new creature-keeping the commandments of God. Each of these means the same thing : Each expresses the condition of the gospel, and exhibits it as the doctrine according to godliness.
This condition is otherwise expressed by humility and charity. The result is the same : It is the doctrine according to godlinefs. “ Come unto me, ye who “ labor and are heavy laden. Learn of me, for I am “ meek and lowly. All men shall know that ye are my disciples, if ye
ye have love one to another.” Without love, divine and social, neither faith,nor alms deeds, nor martyrdom avail.
• Be clothed with humility. “ Put on charity above all things.” This will adorn the doctrine of our Saviour. Having these promis. “es, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh « and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. “ Add to faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, pa“ tience, godliness, brotherly-kindness and charity.”
Such are the duties of religion ; such is the doctrine according to godliness. It recommends universal holiness; and on the only ground on which it can be produced and maintained, the principles and promises of the gospel. A conformity to this doctrine is a renovation of the understanding and heart: It is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost-It is an imitation of the moral perfections of God—a state of reconciliation with him-benevolence to men--and the enjoyment of ourselves. The principles and spirit of this wifdom from above are purity, peace, gentleness, mercy and good fruits, impartiality and godly fincerity. In agreement herewith we shall do good to all, spreading peace and happiness round us, according to our opportunity and ability; fulfilling our respective duties as members of society or of the church of Christ; and exhibiting the virtues adapted to our circumstances-content with our own state, rejoicing or sympathising with others as their state may be.