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bis Soul'. The unhappy Disorders, which he
• 1 John iii. 10. * Eph. ii. 3• Vol. V,
o Wisd. ix. 15.
to relieve Mankind from the ill Effects, not only of Adam's Sin but their own: and the divine Wisdom provided a Method of doing it, consistent with the Honour of God's Government, through the Interposition of our blessed Redeemer: which Method, from the Beginning, was intimated to Men sufficiently, though obscurely; and afterwards by Degrees more explicitly unfolded. But that he should be reconciled to Sinners, wilfully remaining such, was quite impossible. And therefore, together with a Provision of Mercy on his Part, there must also be a Provision of Amendment on the part of the Offenders : and in these two Things, inseparably united, the Restoration of the human Race to a State of Happiness must confift. Accordingly we find them closely joined, not only in the more direct and formal Declarations of Scripture concerning this momentous Change, but in all the various Images, under which it is represented.
Sometimes it is expressed by Adoption : because that implies our being Aliens and Strangers, received into God's Family and Inheritance : but then it implies also an Obligation to obey him, as dutiful Sons. Else
where, by a stronger Figure, it is called a Regeneration, or, which means the same, a new Birth; because it brings Persons forth into a new State of Things, where they are to act from other Principles than they did before or would have done else, in another Man-ner, with other Expectations, and grow up to the Maturity of another Character: In some Places again, the same ħappy Change is described, as a Resurrection from the Dead: because it raises and restores Men, both to the Activity of a spiritual Life now, and to the well-grounded Hopes of eternal Life hereafter. But the most emphatical Phrase of all is that in the Text, of a new Creature, or Creation. The inward Condition of Man, under the full Effects of his first Parents Transgression, anfwers too exactly, and yet more after the Addition of his own personal Guilt, to that Account in the Beginning of the History of the old Creation: And the Earth was without Form and void, and Darkness was upon the Face of the Deep". But it follows : And God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light f. Thus the human Soul, in the abovementioned State, is unformed and disorderly, void of
. Gen. i. 2.
+ Verse 3.
Reason and Rule, gloomy and comfortless ; till God, who commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness 3, shine upon the dismal Chaos, and produce in it new Appearances and Views of Things; till he bring forth Order from Confusion, and form again in the Heart the illuminating Image of his own holy Nature.
But here it must be obferved, that, in some Sense and Degree, the Scripture Expressions and Privileges of a new Birth and Creation belong to all, who are admitted by Baptism into the Christian Covenant, though none are intitled to future Happiness by them, but such as complete their Right to them, if God allows them Time for it, by performing, from a Spirit of inward Piety, the several Obligations of the Gospel. When that is preached to Jews or Heathens, every one who believes and is baptized, is buried with Christ in that facred Ordinance, raised up to Newness of Life", and adopted of God for his Child. When the Infants of Believers are baptized, they are, by the Solemnity which Heaven hath appointed, iorn again of Water and the Spirit', into a better State, than that of Nature. And till either Sort of Persons forfeit their Claim by ** Rom. vi. 4.
John iii. 5.
Cor. iv. 6.
wilful Wickedness; which it may be hoped some never do, though in many Things we offend all k; they continue Heirs of everlasting Life. And even when they fall under the Dominion of Sin; though, were they to die in that Condition, future Misery would be their Portion; and therefore, in Respect of any present Title to their heavenly Father's Inheritance, they are no longer Children of God : as earthly Sons or Subjects, when they rebel, are no longer such, in Respect of any Right to the Favour of their parents or Princes : yet as, in other Regards, these latter continue Sons and Subjects still ; so the Covenant with the former, by which they were made the Children of God, subsists, notwithstanding their Failure of Duty, thus far, that not only by the Terms of it, if they perfift, they will be condemned, but by the Terms of it also, if they repent, they will be pardoned. And neither the Penitence, nor the Forgiveness, of those, who before were initiated into Christianity, and have not since rejected it, is ever expressed in the Word of God by the Phrase of the new Birth or new Creature, but these are apk James iii. 2.
B b 3