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and certainly amend. That day also comes, and finds him as much unresolved and unprepared. Trained on thus by a succession of delusions, he is in his first: state perpetually resolving, and perpetually sinning, until at last habit rivets on its chains, and de|th comes like an armed man, and seizes him unprepared.
Good God! what a wretched creature is an habitual sinner! What can be conceived more melancholy, than such a sight—a reasonable creature, designed for the fellowship of angels, without one taste or relish but for the clog of matter he carries about him in common with the beasts of the field! Attempting to leave his sins, but drawn by a sort of necessity to_commit what he abhors? Attempting to make his peace with God, but incapable of one feeling or sentiment towards him, but the mere fear of his vengeance! Burning in a fever, or stupified with pains, P 4 which which deprive him of all memory, all reflection, and all his reason ! and going to meet that Being, to whom he owed the service of his whole life, in this unprepared corrupted state!
This is the tendency of all sin: to prevent it our resolution should be im-* mediate. Begin in youth, and the way of virtue becomes smooth, easy, and delightful. The impetuous impulse of passion may now and then drive you out of your course: yet reflection and Divine grace, which never deserts the well-disposed, will bring you again into the right track. Or, if you have been so unhappy as to have fallen into any bad habits, consider, that you have lost too much time already, your danger is encreasing; you may survive the powers of repentance, and sin on till death conveys you unprepared before your Judge.
IV. But if the sinner will still persuade himself, in spite of reason and experience which are so much against him, that he is sufficiently sure of his moral powers; there is a further thing to be considered by him: the necessity of Divine grace in the work of repentance and regeneration.
It were happy for the world, if, according to the doctrine which is revived of late,* and spreads with the usual
•one of the strongest texts of scripture, urged for
the doctrine of irresistible grace is that of St. John. . Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot
enter into the kingdom os God. That which is born of the flejh is flejh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou heareft the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and
whither it goeth: so is emery one that is born of the spirit.
John, Hi. 5—8.
i. To be born if water is a Jewish phrase, denoting baptism by water, as Mr. Selden and Dr. Lightfoot, two of the greatest masters of Jewish learning, acquaint
contagion of enthusiasm, among the ignorant and illiterate, the grace of God did act in strong and irresistible impulses on the human mind.
*s. See Dr. Hammond and Whitby on the place. The antient commentators, as Dr. Lightfoot also informs us, universally understood the present passage in this sense. The first person, who understood it otherwise, was Calvin, and he has been since followed by such reformers, as knew not, how to destroy the extravagant pretensions of the church of Rome, without subverting all church discipline and order at the same time. It is only to be lamented, that the excellent Grotius, though he acknowledges an allusion in the words to the institution of baptism, yet should lend his authority to the new fangled unnatural interpretation.
I SHAtL content myself at present with saying, tha*t what he alledges in support of it, really makes against it. He fays, it is an Hendyadis, like Mat. iii. ii. But as that expression, he jhall baptize you -with the Holy Ghost and luith sire, signifies, he shall baptize you with the spirit under the real appearance of fire, Acts, ii. 3. So, by parity of reason, being born of-water and the spirit, may at least imply an operation of the spirit by the element of water, as an instrument or visible sign of conveyance. He fays further, that the spirit is represented under the metaphor of water in scripture. It is so, John, vii. 37. But we must observe, that our Sa
Were the cafe so, he, -who willetb not the death of any sinner, would certainly make us universally virtuous and
viourinall his parables, where he meant to be understood by his hearers, borrowed the metaphor from some obvious fact or immediate occurrence that led them to the secret senso. It was so here. It was the custom upon the day here mentioned to setch water from Siloam as a drink-offering to God; and this furnished him with the happiest of allusions. But there is nothing to give water a figurative sense i„ ,he above place -There are many positive arguments in favour of the ancient interpretation, if this were a proper place for them. But
f\1S 1 K-T desence °f ^ CstabIifted °P^, to refute the objections against it.
2 The similitude of wind has not the least reserence to the force, with which this agent operates
Fo* what purpose, pray, was the similitude introduced by our Saviour? It was to clear up some point, which surprised Nicodemus. And what was that r-our Saviour Welf tells „s, marvel not that I said unto thee, ye Mu/l le born again It was not Nicodemus's doubt whether the spirit acted m an irresistible manner or not in this r novation: his doubt was, whether there were any Spiritual change at all. ZX^
Nicodemvs, used to the outward pomp of Jewiih
PnTfT•^f "°; faise h" ^^ -the'appihent W of tb. fubhme doctrine. The simile is adapted to