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by we live to God; and this is the production of the immediate efficiency of the Spirit.
This will more plainly appear, if we consider the faculties of the soul distinctly, and what is the special work of the Spirit upon each of them. 1. The leading faculty of the soul is the MIND, or understanding. Now this is corrupted by the Fall ; but in regeneration this depravity is removed; so that we come to see spiritual things in a spiritual manner, that we may savingly know God and his will, as revealed in and by Jesus Christ; and therefore, he is said to give us an understanding, 1 John v. 20: "The Son of God hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true;" which he does by his Spirit. Man by sin is become like the "beasts that perish, which have no understanding." Men have not lost their natural reason absolutely; it is continued, with the free (though impaired) use of it in natural affairs: but it is lost as to the special use of it in the knowledge of God; for to "do good they have no knowledge." It is corrupted, not so much in the principle of its actings, as with respect to their proper object. Wherefore, though this giving and understanding be not the creating that faculty anew, yet it is that gracious work, without which it will no more enable us to know God aright than if we had none at all. The giving us an understanding, therefore, is causing our understandings to understand savingly; and it is thus expressed by the apostle : "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being opened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling." The revelation here intended, is subjective, enabling us to apprehend what is revealed; and not objective in new revelations; and this is further evident by the ensuing description of it; "the eyes of your understanding being opened." There is an eye in the understanding the natural ability it has to discern spiritual things: but this eye is sometimes said to be blind, sometimes to be darkness, sometimes to be closed. Now it is the work of the Spirit of grace to open this
eye; and this is the effectual removal of that depravity
2. It is principally with respect to the WILL and its
purpose of God, concerning the conversion of any one be certain, seeing that after all, the will remaining undetermined, may not be converted. Neither can there be an original infallibility in the promises of God concerning the multitudes that should believe; seeing it is possible not one may do so, if it depend on the undetermined liberty of their wills; and then also must salvation necessarily be of "him that willeth, and of him that runneth, and not of God, who sheweth mercy on whom he will have mercy;" and the whole efficacy of the grace of God is thereby made to depend on the wills of men. There must, therefore, be such a work of the Spirit on our wills, as may cure the depravity of them before described, freeing us from the state of spiritual death, and causing us to live to God.
3. In like manner, a prevailing love is implanted in the AFFECTIONS, causing the soul, with delight, to cleave to God and his ways. This removes the enmity before described, "The Lord God will circumcise thine heart
-to love the Lord thy God." This circumcision consists in putting off "the body of the sins of the flesh." He crucifies the flesh, with the lusts and affections thereof. Some men are inclined to think that all the depravity of our nature consists in that of the sensitive part of the soul, or our affections. The folly of this opinion has been before exposed; yet it is not denied that the affections are exceedingly depraved; so that by them, principally, the mind and will act according to their perverse and corrupt inclinations; but in the circumcision of the heart, these corrupt affections are crucified by the Spirit; he takes from them their enmity and depraved inclinations really, though not perfectly; and, in their stead, fills us with holy spiritual love and delight; not changing the being of our affections, but sanctifying and guiding them by the principle of saving light, and uniting them to their proper objects.
From the whole, it appears that our regeneration is a work of the Spirit of God, and not any act of our own. I say, it is not so our own as by any outward helps to be educed out of the principles of our na
tures; and herein is the Scripture express; for men-
The Manner of Conversion, explained in the Instance of
As among all the doctrines of the Gospel, there is none opposed with more violence and subtility than that of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, so there is scarcely any thing more despised than that any persons should profess their experience of it, or declare the manner in which it was wrought on themselves.
The very mention of it is become a reproach, among some who call themselves Christians; and to plead an interest in this grace, is to forfeit a man's reputation with many who would be thought wise and rational. Nor is this a modern practice; but it seems to have been started in the earliest times; and the enmity of Cain against Abel was but a branch of this proud and perverse inclination. The instance of Ishmael also, is representative of all such as, under an outward profession of the true religion, scoff at those who, being like Isaac, children of the promise, profess an experience of its internal power; and the same practice may be traced in succeeding ages. Hence holy Austin, entering upon the confession of his greater sins, designing thereby to magnify the grace of God in his conversion, provides against this expected scorn:"Let arrogant men," saith he, "deride me, who never were savingly cast down, nor broken in pieces, by thee my God: yet I will confess my shame, to thy praise."* We must not therefore think it strange, if the same truth, the same practice, and the same profession of it, still meet with the same treatment. Let them despise it who were never humbled for sin nor relieved by grace; the holy work of God's Spirit is to be owned, and the truth as it is in Jesus to avowed.
Of our original depravity, we have already treated; but a few things may yet be added concerning the effects of it; which will assist us in the better understanding of the way whereby the Holy Spirit removes and heals it; and we may observe,
1. The corrupt principle of sin in our natures begins to operate in very early life. "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." Psal. lviii. 3. It is to no purpose to say that men habitually and profligately wicked are here intended; for whatever excesses men may afterwards run into, all are morally alike from the womb. Children are not able to speak as soon as they are born; yet, here they are said to speak lies. It is
* Anstin's Confessions, book 4, chap. 1.