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by spiritual life. Let parents and teachers come to him with their precepts ; let Moses advance with his rod; let preachers come with their exhortations, their promises, and threatenings; they will never be able to move him, if God himself does not come, if by his almighty and immediate action he does not create the new man and the new spirit. This truth is ungrateful to the natural man. He will never cordially assent to this humbling doctrine, till the Spirit of God begins to work upon him. But he must believe and feel this his inability, or he will never be led to the Saviour. While he relies upon his own power, he will not implore the influences of that Spirit, by whom alone he can be born again.
After these observations, let us consider more in detail the change which regeneration produces on the mind, on the heart, and on the life.
1. By regeneration the darkness and blindness which formerly rested on the mind are dispelled, and new views and sentiments are given of God, of Christ, of ourselves, of the world, of eternity, of holiness, of the gospel plan of salvation; in short, of every thing with which we are conversant.
Before we had either formed false conceptions of God, representing him to ourselves as possessed only of those attributes against which the natural heart has no repugnance; stripping him in our imagination of those perfections which are opposed to the sinner, and substituting a God all mercy for the thrice-holy Jehovah. Or if we had a true view of his nature, of that unspotted purity which abhors iniquity, of that inflexible justice, which will by.no means clear the guilty, we felt no love for these perfections, we wished that God were divested of them. How different are the views of the new-born soul! It sees an ex
cellence and loveliness in the divine character deserving its constant adoration, service, and affection. It beholds an unspeakable beauty in every thing belonging to God; in his justice and holiness, as well as in his mercy and grace; in his laws and his providences; in his works and his word. Filled with admiration and delight, it is often absorbed in God, and self is forgotten while it is swallowed up, as it were, in the contemplation of the divine glories.
Once the renewed person could think and speak of the Saviour and his atonement with profane coldness. But now these are objects in which he sees such excellence as to overwhelm his soul with wonder, gratitude, and love. A crucified Christ appears to him now to be indeed " the power of God and the wisdom of God." He sees a divine excellence and suitableness in his mediatorial character and his mediatorial work. If he is asked, “What is thy beloved more than another's beloved ?” he can answer, from the ravishing views he has had of Jesus, “ He is altogether lovely.” With Paul he “counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ his Lord.” With Paul he delights to contemplate the grace, the condescension, the wisdom displayed in the redemption of man; to stand on the brink of this abyss of mercy, and after in vain endeavouring to fathom or measure it, to cry out, “ Oh the height, the length, the depth, and the breadth of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge!"
He now has different views of himself and of sin, He before esteemed sin as a pardonable frailty, which might be excused from the weakness and corruption of man, and from the force of temptation; and for his indulgence in which God would not, except he were a hard master, consign him to eternal perdition. He now sees its deep guilt, its infinite odiousness, its full desert of hell. He now sees that God must renounce his attributes or punish it. He now is humbled and abased under a sense of that corruption which in his natural state he pleaded as an extenuation of his crimes. His high and lofty ideas of himself are dissipated, and he feels that he is a poor, miserable sinner. He confessed this formerly with his lips; but when he now cries, “God be merciful to me, a sinner," it is the language of his inmost soul, it proceeds from the centre of his heart.
He has new views of holiness, of the world, of eternity. Formerly he esteemed as his principal happiness, the enjoyment of the pleasures, the acquisition of the honours, the accumulation of the riches of the world. To be encompassed by the delights of earth, to be esteemed honourable by men, to have his coffers overflowing with wealth; appeared to him a happier life than to deny the flesh, to mortify the passions, to live under a sense of the presence of God, in the exercises of the offices of devotion, and the duties of piety: But now he sees that this world is vanity; that eternity alone deserves his cares; that a man who has a God, and a soul, and an everlasting state to attend to, is a fool if he forgets them for the sake of earth; that a life of holiness is the only life which is safe, honourable, pleasant, or reasonable.
In one word, the regenerate man, having learned to estimate things according to their real value, finds a perfect revolution in his sentiments; finds himself, as it were, in a new world; and, while he blesses God for his “marvellous light,” wonders at the folly of his former opinions.
2. By regeneration a man's chief end is changed. By a man's chief end, we mean that which he principally seeks after; that which it is the great object of his labours and cares to acquire. The chief end of the unregenerate is temporal felicity; for this they principally exert themselves; this has the first and the best of their thoughts and exertions; they esteem themselves happy in proportion as this is acquired by them, and miserable in proportion as it is wanting. It is otherwise with those that are renewed. As they know that there is greater excellence in God and in heaven, than in earth, they have there laid up their treasure, and fixed their hopes. The world does not deceive them by its false appearances; they know that it cannot make them happy, nor save them from the grave and hell; and they will not, therefore, put it in the place of God and heaven, and take it as their portion. They begin earnestly to seek the Lord and eternal felicity. This is their great business, their ultimate aim, their chief intent. If God were now to offer them the possession of the whole world for myriads of years, without the divine grace and favour, and the hope of everlasting felicity, they would still esteem themselves undone wretches. The same things which satisfied them formerly will not now. They seek pleasures, but they are everlasting pleasures; riches, but they are durable riches; honour, but it is that honour which cometh of God only. My brethren, examine yourselves deeply on this point. It is not the abstinence from a few sins, or outward decency, which constitutes the Christian, but this change of your chief end. Inquire what you love and desire most; in what you place your felicity; what possesses your hearts, and is the chief business of your lives? If this be not God, and holiness, and heaven, you must be born again.
3. By regeneration the affections are changed, and made to flow in a different and opposite channel. An unconverted man has no pleasure in God, and spiritual , things, and holy occupations. He that is born again, on the contrary, delights in God, in doing his will, in studying his word, in holding communion with him, in his day, in his ordinances, in his law, and in his people. His sorrows are equally different from what they were before his regeneration. Formerly it pained him more to lose earthly enjoyments, to be injured, to be disgraced, to suffer in his estate, or body, than to lie under the wrath of God. He felt not the weight of unpardoned sin ; he was tranquil and calm, though he was a stranger to the renewing influences of the spirit, and was in hourly danger of damnation. Oh, how different are his feelings now! One doubt of the love of God is now more grievous to him than the severest earthly sufferings. The remains of indwelling corruption are more painful to. him than the mountains of unmortified sin were before.
As the regenerate have thus new joys and sorrows, so they have new hopes. An unconverted man lias a hope that is contrary to the scripture, and that will disappoint his soul. Though he continues at a distance from God, though he walks in those paths which the Lord of heaven has declared conducts to destruction, yet he still expects to be saved. But when born of the Spirit, he sees that all these hopes on which he had rested his soul were vain ; and instead of them he receives one that is scriptural, rational, quickening, and comforting; not merely a cold, dead hope of escaping misery, but a living hope of