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is so far from supposing, (as some would have it,) that we are all born again in baptism, that she directs us in her Collects to pray that God by "his Holy Spirit would create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we may obtain perfect remission of our sins.” Whence it appears clearly, that she exhorts every baptised person to seek this renewal of the heart, and that no one can be a faithful member of Christ and the Church of England, who does not receive the doctrine of regeneration.
11. But I know that all these proofs will not convince a man as long as he does not see why we must be born again: Therefore I beg leave to lay before such an one the reason why God insists so much upon our regeneration in all parts of the Bible.
Whether we think of it or not, brethren, it is certain that man once enjoyed in Adam a life of happiness and holiness, loving God with all his soul, in every thing giving thanks, and rejoicing evermore. But, alas! his disobedience soon destroyed that life; for according to the sentence which God had pronounced, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,' he died spiritually; he died to happiness, to holiness, and God; and from that spiritual death he hastened to bodily death, and, if not prevented by regeneration, to death eternal, the destruction of body and soul in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.' Now Adam, having thus destroyed himself, (being made the devil's slave, and covered all over with his leprosy,) swelled with pride, enflamed with lust, and filled with enmity to God, and unbelief of his sacred word: Adam, I say, being in that wretched state, could not beget children in a better nature than he had himself. Can a clean thing come out of an unclean? And can the streams be wholesome when the fountain is poisoned ?'
12. What, then, is the plain consequence? The whole lump of mankind is leavened with the leaven of spiritual as well as bodily death. Hear the word of the Lord, ‘All flesh has corrupted its way upon earth.' ⚫ All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.'
'I was born in sin,' says David, and in iniquity did my mother conceive me.' St. Faul, with all the believers at Ephesus, owned that before they were born again, they were children of wrath even as others." Do we want more striking proofs? Let us only look into our lives, and we shall see too many reasons to believe, according to the word of God, that we are spiritually dead in sin and unbelief; for not to mention the injustice, drunkenness, uncleanness, avarice, malice, revenge, envy, lying, evil-speaking, sabbath-breaking, swearing, cursing, profaneness, and all those overflowings of ungodliness which appear more or less in the conversation of too many of us; let us only examine our hearts, even now that we are in the presence of God. Are not they, in general, like so many stones, void of all spiritual feeling? Is there not in our necks an iron sinew that hinders us from stooping to God and worshipping him in spirit and in truth? And has not our stubbornness, and unbelief of the word of God, caused some of us to murmur already at the severity of our Lord's doctrine; while others, perhaps, flatter themselves still with hopes of salvation without experiencing the new birth: This alone is a plain proof that we have not recovered from Adam's fall, since, after his example, we believe Satan when he saith, Ye shall not surely die,' rather than Christ, who declares in the text that, if we are not born again, we cannot enter into his kingdom. Oh! if our hearts should rise in that manner against our Lord's doctrine, let us consider what one of the prophets told Saul in such a case, Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft before God, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry; because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord hath also rejected thee.'
13. Now, brethren, if from the testimony of Scripture, the sins of our life, and the present stupid disposition of our hearts, it appears so clearly that we are estranged from God, and that our nature is just the reverse of his, does it not follow that before we can enter into his kingdom, we must put off this brutish and
devilish nature of ours-and become partakers of the Divine nature.'
This appears so plain, that our darkened reason, even without the light of revelation, is forced to agree to it. Who can deny, for example, that all gluttons, drunkards, unclean persons, in a word, all the sons and daughters of Belial, must naturally go with Belial their father,like with like? Who can doubt that the unjust, the covetous, and extortioners, who fight here for the kingdom of darkness, under the banner of Mammon, shall be banished from the kingdom of heaven hereafter, unless they are born again, and get a new nature?. Who can deny that every worldly-minded person, every one that loves pleasure more than God, that cares for earth, more than heaven, shall have his portion with the god of this world, whose slave or child he still is? And suppose any one thinks this expression too hard, let him hear Jesus Christ himself, who said plainly to the Pharisees of his age, Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father you do:' Though they thought themselves good enough, without being born again, because outwardly they were less wicked than others. It follows, that every unregenerate man has in himself the nature of his father, and can never go to God unless he be renewed by the Spirit of God.
14. Again: Does not good sense teach us that a soul who is overcharged with earthly pleasures, surfeiting, drunkenness, or the cares of this world, will sink into the bottomless pit, for the same reason that a stone falls down by its own weight? And is it not plain that a man, whose heart never felt the fear and love of God, who never had his conversation in heaven, and never troubled himself much about getting, by ardent prayer, the wings of a living faith, a confirmed hope, and an unfeigned burning love towards God:-Is it not plain, I say, that such a man shall be as unfit to take his flight to heaven with God's children, as the heaviest creature on earth is unable to soar towards the sun with the eagle ? It is, then, most certain, that ye must be born again, or never see the kingdom of God.
15. But suppose it were possible for thee, O sinner, to enter into heaven without having experienced the new birth; suppose that Jesus Christ, to favour thee, would break his solemn word, (though he has declared the heaven and earth shall pass away rather than that one jot or tittle of it shall remain unfulfilled,) what wouldst thou do there? Drunkard! there is no strong drink in heaven. Sensualist! thou must leave flesh and blood behind, and how great would be the disappointment to be deprived of all the means of thy present happiness! Nay, being obliged to carry along with thee all the appetites, tempers, and passions, which now predominate in thy soul, and at the same time not being able to satisfy them, heaven itself would be no heaven for thee, and thy discontent would even prove a kind of hell.
And you, worldlings! how great would your disappointment be also! You could have neither cardplaying nor dancing assemblies; nor could you find among all the glorified saints one soul willing to spend a moment in talking about nothing, or about dress, or in hearing all the tales you pick up to slander or ridicule your neighbour. Confess, then, that you must be born again, or have your portion far from God and his holy angels.
16. But some one, perhaps, will be ready to say, 26 I acknowledge that swearers, extortioners, whoremongers, and the like, cannot be saved without a new birth; (for the oaths and curses of the profane shall not be mixed with the hallelujahs of angels, any more than the injustice of extortioners shall disturb the peace of saints: And it shocks good sense to think that the impure and sensual will be permitted to offend the pure eyes of God with their debaucheries;) but I bless God, I am not one of them. I have lived soberly and justly from my youth up; and I hope I have been as constant at church and sacrament as most people: Now, must I be born again, as well as daring sinners? Was not I born of water and the Spirit at my baptism ?"
17. Before I answer this serious question, suffer me
to ask thee one that is not less important. Hast thou made thy peace with God? Is Christ revealed in thee? Does he dwell in thee and thou in him? Hast thou received the Spirit of adoption, bearing witness with thy spirit that thou art a child of God? See Rom. viii. Is the love of God shed abroad in thy heart? Dost thou know what it is to enjoy the light of God's countenance ? Or to be troubled, like David, for the want of it? Is thy soul athirst for the living God? And dost thou pant after his likeness as the hart panteth after the water brook? Dost thou no longer conform thyself to this present evil worid, living here as a stranger and pilgrim, and hastening with joy to the New Jerusalem, where thy heart is gone before thee? In short, does thy soul as naturally mount up to God in ardent prayers and delightful praises, as the flame mounts upwards? And dost thou shew forth the praises of him that has called thee from darkness to light in all thy conversation, by all meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, patience, humility, holy mourning, holy joy, and heavenly minded
18. If with Peter thou canst look by faith unto Jesus, and say with humble confidence, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee:' If thou canst take him to witness that thou findest, in thy heart every day more and more the virtues and dispositions above-mentioned; thou art a child of God, thou art born again-thou art passed from death unto life. Whether the mighty change was wrought at thy baptism or at any other time, it matters not; thou art a living member of Christ, and an heir of the kingdom. of heaven. Only persevere, grow in grace-Be faithful unto death, and thou shalt have the crown of life.
19. But if, so far from finding in thyself these marks of the new birth, in some considerable measure at least, thy conscience rises against thee, and thou art forced to own that thy heart cleaveth to the creature more than to God, to earth more than to heaven, be not offended if I tell thee in the name of Christ, and pursuant to his doctrine, that thou must be born again, or be shut out of