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wards him in particular, and of our acting it in prayer and praise. His divine nature is the formal reason of our yielding religious worship to him; but his acting towards us according to the sovereignty of his own will, is the special reason of our particular addresses to him; for we are baptized in his name also.
All these things are necessarily premised, as giving some insight into the nature of his operations; and thus we have made our way plain to the consideration of his special works in the calling, building, and carrying on the Church to perfection.
WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE NEW CREATION, BY REGENERATION.
The New Creation completed....Regeneration the Special Work of the Holy Ghost.
WE have already declared the work of the Holy Spirit in forming the natural body of Christ. This was the beginning of the new creation, the foundation of the Gospel state: but this was not the whole of what he had to do :-he was to prepare his mystical body also, and thereby to complete the new creation. As it was in the old creation, so it is in the new. All things in their first production had darkness and death upon them; there was nothing that had either life in it, or principle of life, or any disposition to it. In this condition he moved on the prepared matter, communicating to all things a principle of life, whereby they were animated. Thus also in the new creation : -there was a spiritual darkness and death on all mankind by sin; there was not the least principle of spiritual life in any man living, nor the least disposition towards it. In this state of things, the Holy Spirit undertakes to create a new world, new heavens, and a new earth, wherein Righteousness should dwell; and this he begins by the communication of a principle of spiritual life to the souls of the elect, who are the matter designed of God for this work to be wrought upon. This he performs in their regeneration, as we shall now shew.
First. Regeneration is in Scripture always ascribed to the Holy Spirit. "Jesus said to Nicodemus, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can
he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit." John iii. 3, 4, 5, 6. It was an ancient intelligent teacher of the church of the Jews whom our blessed Saviour here instructs; for on the consideration of his miracles, he concluded that " God was with him ;" and came to enquire of him about the kingdom of God.-Our Saviour, knowing that all our faith, obedience, and acceptance depend on our regeneration, acquaints him with the necessity of it; at which he is at first surprised. Our Lord then instructs him in the nature of it; and this he describes both by its cause and its effect. As to its cause, he tells him, it is wrought by water and the Spirit; by the Spirit, as the principal efficient cause; and by water, as the token of it, in the initial seal of the covenant: the doctrine of which was then preached among them by John the Baptist; or rather, the same thing is intended in a redoubled expression; the Spirit being signified by the water also, under which notion he is often promised.
Of this work, then, the Holy Spirit is the efficient cause hence he, in whom it is wrought, is said to be "born of the Spirit" (ver. 8.); and to the same purpose is chap. i. 13. "Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The natural and carnal means of blood, flesh, and the will of man, are wholly rejected in this matter; and the whole efficiency of the new birth is ascribed to God alone. For these things are here compared; and from its analogy to natural generation, it is called Regeneration. The same allusion and opposition is expressed, (ver. 6.) "that which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit;" a new spiritual being, creature, or life. It is elsewhere called a Vivification, or quickening, with respect to the state in which men are before this.
work is wrought upon them (Eph. ii. 1, 5.); and it is "The Spirit that quickeneth." John vi. 63.
The same truth is asserted in Titus iii. 4, 5, 6. "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." What we have frequently mentioned, expressly occurs here, namely, each Person of the blessed Trinity acting distinctly in the work of our salvation. The spring of the whole is, the kindness and love of God, even the Father; the procuring cause of the application of that love and kindness to us, is Jesus Christ our Saviour, in his whole mediation; and the immediate efficient cause in the communication of the Father's love, through the Son's mediation, is the Holy Spirit; and this he effects in the renovation of our natures, by the washing of regeneration, wherein we are purged from our sins, and sanctified to God.
This great truth, that the Holy Spirit is the Author of our regeneration, is, in words at least, generally granted by all who pretend to sobriety in Christianity. That it has been derided and exploded by some others, is the occasion of this vindication of it. It must not be expected that I should here handle the whole doctrine of regeneration practically; it has been already done by others; my present aim is only to confirm the fundamental principles of truth concerning those operations of the Spirit, which are now so violently opposed:-and what I shall offer on this subject may be reduced to the following heads :
1. Though the work of regeneration was wrought in some persons from the foundation of the world, and the doctrine of it recorded in the Old Testament,yet the revelation of it was but obscure, compared with the light and evidence with which it appears by the Gospel. This is evident from the discourse of Christ with Nicodemus: for when he mentioned the doctrine to him, he was surprised, and with some amazement
cried, "How can these things be?" But the reply of our Saviour shews, that he might have attained a better acquaintance with it from the Scripture. "Art thou," said he, a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" Dost thou take upon thee to teach others what is their state and their duty, and art thyself ignorant of so great and fundamental a doctrine, which thou mightest have learned from the Scripture? For if he might not have done so, there would have been no just cause of reproof; it was no crime to be ignorant of what God had not revealed. This doctrine then, was contained in the Old Testament; it was so in the promises, that God would circumcise the hearts of his people that he would take away their heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh; and in various other ways.
But yet we see it was so obscurely declared, that one of the principal teachers of the people knew little or nothing of it. Some indeed tell us, that it means only reformation of life; but Nicodemus knew the necessity of reformation of life well enough, if he had ever read Moses and the Prophets ;-and to suppose that our Lord proposed to him what he perfectly knew, only under a new name that he never heard of before, and then took the advantage of charging him with ignorance, is a blasphemous imagination: and how they can free themselves from the guilt of it, who look on regeneration only as a metaphorical expression of amendment of life, I know not; and if it be nothing more than becoming a new moral man, as they love to speak; a thing which all the world, Jews and Gentiles, understood, then Christ was so far from throwing clearer light upon it by what he taught of regeneration, that he threw it into greater obscurity than it was ever delivered in by Jewish masters or Gentile philosophy; for though the Gospel teaches all the duties of morality with more exactness, and urges the practice of them, on motives incomparably superior to any known before, yet, if it intend nothing more by the new birth than the practice of moral duties, it is dark and unintelligible. If there be not a work of the