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to be the case in every regenerate soul. The man who is “ begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," becomes “ fruitful in every good word and work.” Long-contracted habits of iniquity gradually give way to the purifying efficacy of grace; and are succeeded by new ones, which evince the Divine power that forms them. New tempers prevail, instead of those evil ones which before predominated.
New hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, animate the breast, and produce sensations and desires to which it was before an entire stranger. Thus the leaven of malice and wickedness” is removed, that the heart might become a “ new lump,” holy unto the Lord *k.
The pursuits of a spiritual man are holy. Before his conversion, God was lost sight of; and his pleasure was not at all.consulted : but now every thing is undertaken with a reference to His glory, and the welfare of the soul. Prayer for direction from the Lord, diligent perusal of his word for instruction, meditation on his providence and works, and the faithful discharge of religious, social, and relative duties, together with an earnest endeavour after further conformity to his will, and a dread of offending him, bear testimony, that the soul is quickened from “the death of sin unto the life of righteousness. Furthermore, his universal obedience to the Divine commands springs from love, and is not the effect of constraint'. Grace makes his duty both a delight and a privilege :-" I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” . The marvellous effects wrought by the infusion of 1 Pet. i. 3-5.
** 1 Cor. v. 7, 8. 1 John iv. 19.
m Psalm cxix. 32.
heavenly life into the soul are frequently mentioned in the New Testament mm
The spiritual life, like the natural, has its beginning, progress, and consummation. At first, it is feeble; but afterwards, being nourished by the Spirit, in the use of means, it gathers strength continually, until it is perfected in glory". The degrees and advancement of religion in the soul are aptly set forth in the instructions of our Lord :-“The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is the least of all seeds ; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Another parable spake he unto them : The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavenedo.” “ And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear P.” Thus we learn, that Divine knowledge and holy affections increase, by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till they arrive to a state of perfection in heaven.
The Apostle divides Christians into three classes; to each of which he gives names expressive of their religious attainments.
3. Now, though it is the work of each Divine Person in the Trinity to new-create the souls of men,
am Phil. i. Col.i.1-8. 1 Thess. i. 1-10. 2 Cor. iii.18.
- Mat. xiji, 31-33. P Mark iv, 26–29. 91 John ii. 12.-15.
yet it is especially granted to Christ, as a reward for his mediatorial obedience, that he should bring
many sons unto glory":” hence he is said "to become the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” St. John testified of Jesus, " that in Him was life; and the life was the light of men'." “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Our Divine Saviour, who raised the dead by his word ", asserts his ability to impart life and salvation to mankind : “ For, as the Father raiseth the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he willa.” And to shew that eternal bliss is no where else to be found but in Him, it is declared, that all who do not confide in his merits for salvation shall, without doubt, perish everlastingly **.
But how does Christ raise those who are spiritually dead, from the grave of sin and unbelief? We answer, By the exertion of the same resistless power which he displayed in the creation of the world. "He who, at the beginning, commanded the light to shine out of darkness, must shine into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ'.” Happily for fallen men, God undertakes' the regeneration of their souls, as a voluntary act"; and accomplishes it by his mighty grace; otherwise, the arduous work would remain for ever undone?.
The Spirit of Christ is often mentioned as the Agent who begets life and vigour in the dormant
soul of a sinner :-“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made ine free from the law of sin and death.”. “ Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his: and if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin ; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness aa.”
The methods adopted by the Spirit of Christ, for producing life, are various, suited to the different circumstances and tempers of those who are the subjects of his gracious operations. Some are wrought upon in a mild and gentle manner. They do indeed hear and obey the “ still small voice” of the Holy Ghost; and then an entire change is made in their principles and conduct. But they have no clear perception of the way in which they have been led; nor can they perhaps recollect the precise day or hour when they began to seek the Lord. One thing, however, which is of the highest moment, they assuredly know; that, whereas they were blind, now they see. Others are taught“ terrible things in righteousness d.” The “fiery law,” which they have broken, is exhibited to their view in all its terrors
ş and a dread of the wrath to which they are exposed renders them truly miserable; till the Spirit leads awakened sinners to Jesus, in order that their burden may be removed, and that they may“ find rest untu their souls.” And many, through the operations of the Holy Spirit, who at one time applies to their hearts the denunciations of the Law, and at another the consoling promises of the Gospel, are brought, in the hour of affliction, to feel their need of salvation, and to use their utmost diligence to obtain it.
4. The happiness which arises from being thus · Rom. viii. 2. sa ib. 9, 10.
bi Cor. xii. 1-12. John ix. 25. Psalm lxv. 5.
restored to a life of righteousness, is inconceivably great. Were we to recover a friend, whom we tenderly loved, from the grave, after he had lain in it for some time, our past sorrow for the loss of him would soon be turned into transports of joy and expressions of gratitude, to which it would be difficult to give full utterance. Now, if the reanimation of a body, whose existence is but prolonged for a short time, would call forth such joy, what emotions of delight ought we to feel, when we witness a soul rescued from eternal death, and brought to the enjoyment of all that is truly worth possessing!
No description can do justice to the pleasure consequent on a religious course : yet, as so inuch is said in the Word of God about the happiness of his Saints, it must not be passed over unnoticed. Thus speaks the Apostle : "To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” “ Godliness is profitable unto all things ; having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
It is not surprising that God should manifest his approbation of those who perform the duties of piety with sacred delights. He blesses them with special tokens of his paternal regard. The offences committed in the days of their former ignorance are forgiven“, so that they shall never come into condemnation'. The sweetest peace and serenity of mind result from thence'. Their consciences, being purified by the blood of Christ, are free from those guilty fears which before disquieted them. The light of God's countenance, and a knowledge of their acceptance, embolden them to draw near unto him in prayer ;
with a lively confidence, that all needful * Rom. viii, 6. FI Tim. iv.8. & Isa. lxiv. 4,5. li Isa. xliv. 22. i Rom. viii. 1.
liib. v. 1.