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only of the flesh, the true Christian is regenerate, or born again of the Spirit; so that there is the same difference between him and them, as there is between spirit and flesh, according to these remarkable words of our Saviour: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." For every thing being of the same nature with that from which it proceeds, they who are born, as all men are by nature, of the flesh, are carnal and sensual, like the flesh of which they are born; and they who are born again, being then born of the Holy Spirit of God, are thereby made holy and spiritual, of the same nature with him from whom they receive their new birth. Hence all such persons are called the sons of God, and indeed are really so; for, as the Apostle observes," as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father; the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God." And this may well be the case, since it is the Spirit of God who works this change; and they who have received him as a Spirit of adoption, have an undeniable title to eternal life, being that to which all who are born again of God are heirs. They accordingly hope for this eternal life, not with a faint and dead, but with a quick and lively hope, which animates them to do all those things that are requisite for obtaining it.
2. I have already anticipated what was to be shewn under the second head, namely, that those who are begotten again of God, are begotten unto a lively hope. We are assured in Scripture, that the same Spirit by whom they are begotten again, witnesseth with their spirits that they are the children of God, and thus confirms their hope of eternal life; "for if children, then are they heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs
with Christ." And as such, they are entitled to a share in "the inheritance of the saints in light," the richest inheritance in the world; seeing we are told, that those who are sharers in it "inherit all things." This inheritance, to which the children of God are heirs, is described by the Apostle as " an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for them." It is not like the inheritances to which men are born on earth, which they may never possess, or of which they may afterwards be defrauded or deprived, and which, at the best, they must one day leave; but it is reserved in Heaven in secure hands, where no one can hinder them from possessing it, nor take it from them, but they are sure to obtain it, and to enjoy it for ever.
3. To this lively hope and glorious inheritance, the Apostle tells us, that the children of God are begotten by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is only by him that we receive any mercy at all from the hands of Almighty God. We cannot so much as look up to him, much less expect any favour from him, on account of any thing that we ourselves, or all the creatures in the world, can do for us; seeing we have all grievously offended him. If we contemplate his Divine Majesty as he is in himself, we cannot but be dismayed and confounded at the recollection of those sins by which we have provoked his displeasure. It is only when we regard him as the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and man, that we can feel any confidence of access to him. And, indeed, Christ himself hath declared, that we can approach God in no other way but by him. "No man cometh to the Father but by me," but by the only begotten Son, "who is in the bosom of the Father, and hath declared him unto us." Through him we may not only raise up our hearts to God, and contemplate the
Divine glory and majesty; but we may hope for all the good things that we can desire of God, if we ask for them in the name of Him who hath merited them all for us by his death, and is now our Advocate with the Father, interceding for us that we may have them. This is the way, the only way, by which we can seek God, so as to find any favour in his sight. But by means of that intercession which his only begotten Son is always making for those who believe in his name, we may obtain from him the greatest of all blessings, we may be begotten again of him and made his children and heirs." Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, of his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Christ, having suffered for our sins, and being raised again from the dead, was exalted to the right hand of God, and made the Mediator between him and us; and, by virtue of this mediation, he sends down his Holy Spirit on all that believe in him, to regenerate or beget them again, and make them the children of God. "As many as receive him, to them he gives power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name," and this power he gives them, by sending his Holy Spirit to accomplish the great work of regeneration with in them, that as he is the only begotten Son of God, so they who believe in him may be begotten again of God, and so made his children by adoption and grace. But this he Could not have done, had he not been raised from the dead.
And as we are thus begotten again of God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so by that also we are begotten again to a lively hope. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the firmest ground that could be laid, whereon to build our hopes of God's mercy and favour; for by this we are not only fully assured of the truth of the Gospel, and of all that Christ ever taught or promised, but, CHRIST, OBSERY. No. 124.
likewise, that he hath made a come plete sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for our sins by his death; God having been pleased to raise him again from the dead, and to set him at his own right hand to make atonement and reconciliation for us as our Great High Priest, so that now there is no room left for doubt. "If Christ had not been raised, our faith and hope had been in vain." But now that "Christ is risen and become the first fruits of them that slept," we have thestrongest grounds to place our faith and hope in him, for that eternal inheritance which he hath purchased for us by his blood, and for all things necessary to fit and qualify us for it. And the more to assure us of it, God himself hath here declared to us, that of his abundant mercy he hath begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
4. Now what infinite cause have we all to bless God for this unspeakable benefit! "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God ;" and this love hath the Father for all who believe in his Son Jesus Christ; for they are begotten again of God, and so are made the sons of God, which is such an expression of his love and kindness, as we ourselves should never have thought of, had not he himself revealed it to us. Who could have imagined that such frail and sinful worms as we are should be received into so near a relation to the Almighty Sovereign of the universe, as to be called his children? That he who created us at first, should beget us again, and so become our Father as well as Maker? This is so high an honour, so great a favour, that we may well be astonished that all are not ambitious of it, so as to make it their only care and study to attain it; for what is there in the world on which the thoughts and time of men can be employed with equal profit and advantage to themselves? Byour care and pains about the things of this world, we may, perhaps, get
something in it, and perhaps not. But how much soever it be, it is as nothing in comparison of what all the children of God possess. "All things are theirs:" all things that God hath made, and he himself too who made them. And what can they desire more? There is nothing more for them to desire; therefore, their minds must needs be at rest, and their souls full of true joy and comfort. Who, then, would not be in the number of these blessed souls? Who would not be regenerate, and made a child of God, if he might? And who may not, if he will? Blessed be God, we are all capable of it; for now that Christ is risen from the dead, and exalted at the right hand of God, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins, if we do but apply ourselves to him, and believe and trust on him for it, his Father will be ours too: he will beget us again in his own likeness, and admit us into the glorious liberty of his own children.
Let us therefore now resolve, by God's assistance, to do so; and for that purpose let us exercise ourselves continually in the means of grace and salvation. To use these means only occasionally will little profit us: we must use them constantly and perseveringly. We must engage with sincerity and devotion, as well as with regularity, in the public and private worship of Almighty God. We must attentively read, hear, and meditate upon his holy word. We must partake of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ as often as we can have it administered to us. And in the use of all these means we must look up to Christ, and trust in him to render them effectual. Thus shall we attain that true evangelical faith by which we shall be united to Christ, made sound members of his body, and obtain the grace of his Holy Spirit to renew and purify our souls, so that we may really become the children of the Most High God, and live the rest of our days under his fatherlycare and protection; conducting ourselves,
in all respects, in such a manner as becomes his children; and that we may at last receive our inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.
These inestimable blessings, they who are "begotten again," may confidently hope to attain. Indeed, it is to this very hope that they are begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ;" an event which has produced so many and so great benefits to mankind, that we can never sufficiently praise God for it. We have infinite cause to praise him for our Saviour's incar nation; for his birth, his life, his death; but still more, if that were possible, for his resurrection from the dead, without which all that went before would have availed us nothing. Without this, though He took our flesh, we could not have had his Spirit: though he was born into the world, we could not have been born again: though he lived on earth, we should not have lived in heaven: and though he died for our sins, we must still have perished, had he not risen again to apply the merits of his death to us, and to wash us in the blood which he shed upon the cross. Let us now,therefore, offer unto God continually the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for alt the wonderful works which he hath done for the sons of men, and especi ally for his raising up his Son Jesus Christ our Saviour from the dead. Let us all, from the bottom of our hearts, join with the Apostle in the words of my text, and say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begot. ten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;" to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
excellence, but by other reasons of some weight, though doubtless of inferior consideration. The autho rity of Bishop Beveridge has been recently pressed upon us, and upon all who think with us on the subject of the Bible Society, by Dr. Herbert Marsh, as decisive in favour of "the excellency and usefulness of theCommon Prayer." We are certainly disposed to defer to this authority: we most entirely and unequivocally concur with all that the pious Bishop has written on that subject. Let us, in our turn, recommend to Dr. Marsh the view of regeneration which Bishop Beveridge has given us in the above sermon, as a help to under standing the baptismal service contained in that Book of Prayer which he extols so highly and so justly. We cannot help thinking, also, that had the Bishop of Lincoln read this sermon before he published his Refutation, he would at least have moderated the strength of those expressions which would imply that the adoption of his own views, with respect to the identity of Baptism and Regeneration, is essential to sound churchmanship. This at least we may say, that there is not one censure insinuated against those who are called evangelical clergymen in the present day, on account of their opinions on the subject of regeneration, which would not fall with at least equal force on the quon dam Bishop of St. Asaph.
We have omitted the prefatory matter contained in the above sermon of Bishop Beveridge; not because we object to the reasoning contained in it, but because it did not ap pear to us to be well adapted to the particular purpose which we have in view in these sermons, namely the edification of the family circle. The substance of it, however, as we con
ceive, may be advantageously_introduced into this postscript. The Bishop, adverting to the verse preceding the text, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," observes, that there is here a reference to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice upon the people. As the children of Israel were delivered from the plague wherewith God smote the Egyptians, by having the sides and door-posts of their houses sprinkled with the blood of the Paschal Lamb, which typified Christ the true Passover; thus is the blood of Jesus supposed to be sprinkled upon believers, so as to wash them from their sins, and deliver them from the wrath of God. These things, he observes, I notice, that you may see how it comes to pass that instead of dipping persons baptized, or washing them all over, as in hot countries, in cold climates it hath been customary only to sprinkle the water upon them:-for this being a sign or symbol of the blood of Christ now, as the blood of the sacrifices was of old; and the Holy Ghost having been pleased to signify the applica tion of the blood of Christ by sprinkHing it, as well as by washing with it; it was easy to infer that it might be represented by sprinkling as well as in any other way, if not in some sense better, as this comes nearer to the phrase of sprinkling the blood of Christ so often used in Scripture - and which seems to have been so used to prevent the mistake of supposing, that unless persons be dipped or washed all over with water they are not rightly baptised; as if sprinkling the water did not represent the sprinkling of the blood of Christ as well as dipping in it.
For the Christian Observer.
ON THE ADVANTAGES ARISING FROM
considerable argument corrupted, most of our other debates would
A DIFFERENCE OF PARTIES IN RE- quickly lose themselves in this."
THOUGH the diversity of our religious opinions is in itself an evil, and, in some views, greatly to be deplored, there are others in which it is attended with advantage; and I think it might be argued, a priori, that it would not be permitted, by Infinite Wisdom and Goodness, to exist, were it not to answer some important ends;
"From seaming evil still educing good."
To this we are indebted, under Providence, for the preservation of the Christian Scriptures, pure and undefiled; for, as a candid and pious writer observes, "Numbers of heretics appeared in the very infancy of the church, who all pretended to build their notions on Scripture; and most of them appealed to it as the final judge of controversies. Now it is certain, that these different parties of professing Christians were perpetual guards upon each other, and rendered it impossible for one party to practise grossly on the Sacred Books, without the discovery
and clamour of the rest,'
There is another incidental bene fit pointed out by the same author, who observes: "Indeed, in this respect, that is an advantage, which in others is our great calamity; I mean, the diversity of our religious opinions. It is certain, that whereever there is a body of dissenters from the public establishment, who lo yet agree with their brethren in the establishment, in the use of the same translation, there is as great evidence as could reasonably be desired, that such a translation is in the main right; for if it were in any Doddridge,
Doubtless a principal design of Providence in permitting our differences, is the opportunity they afford for the trial and exercise of various Christian graces, such as candour, forbearance, and love; candour in the construction we place on the sentiments, and especially the motives, of those who differ from us; forbearance, notwithstanding their errors and failings, towards them; and cordial esteem of their persons.
But the great benefit results from the principle of emulation which this sent imperfect state of human nadiversity excites; and in the preture, we need every stimulus to holy. exertion. A very powerful one we derive from this source, which would, in a great measure, fail, were we all of one communion.
must in this manner argue with himThe Dissenter, to be consistent, self:-1 have separated from the I perceive, in this step, some advanestablished church, because I think tages to the growth and exercise of my piety. It behoves me then to by my principles, but that these evince not only that I am actuated principles are in themselves excelexemplary manner in which I fulfil lent. This can only be done by the my social and relative duties.
tious Churchman, believing that the On the other hand, the conscienby adhering to the established form, cause of serious piety is best secured and, reasoning in the same manner, endeavours to evince the superiority of his principles, and avoid the dis grace it would reflect on him, were
a Dissenter to know more of his
religion, or practise it better, than himself.
neral effect on the several parties of This principle has not only a ge Christians, but is peculiarly benefi