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inultitudes are drawn away from him ; and for what? for what, I ask, do you neglect Jesus? Think, O think in time, how much you will hereafter need him ; anticipate the solemn hour, when you must die ; nor think it a melancholy business to anticipate it, for it will come, it will surely come; and unless you have been drawn to Jesus, how awful will that hour be! When flesh and heart are failing, what will you do without Christ? You may do without him now; in the midst of your worldly engagements and pleasures, you may contrive to fill up your time, thoughtless of Christ and salvation ; but what will you do when you come to die? What will you do when you are called to stand at the bar of God? If he be not your friend, better had it been for you that you had never been born. Turn away your eyes then from beholding vanity. Turn them to the blessed Jesus : “ Behold the Lamb of God," who is now evidently set before you, as a crucified Saviour. At this moment his language is, “ Look unto me, and ye shall be saved, all the ends of the earth.”
I would now say, What a glorious object is a crucified Saviour ! Let mistaken men, let sensualists, let rationalists, pour contempt upon the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ; but here will our hearts fix, nor shall conspiring worlds be able to drive us thence. Here will we live; here will we die. It is here we find every religious advantage--every thing we can desire. Do we want pardon? He who hung on the cross is " exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins." Do we want peace? Like them of old, we “ look unto him, and are lightened.” Do we wish to feel godly sorrow in our hearts ? “ We look to him who was pierced, and we mourn ; we abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes.” Do we desire victory over sin ? Only he who died for sin, can strengthen us to die to it; and “ he will subdue our iniquities.” One look at Jesus will prove, as one said, “ both law and gospel to us.” Do we want heaven itself, or hope for happiness? There, even there, will Jesus be the grand attractive object; and the essence of the heavenly glory will consist in “ seeing him as he is ;” în seeing “ the Lamb that once was slain;" but who is now, “the Lamb in the midst of the throne;" and there shall we be with him, where he is, and behold his glory. Well then may we most cordially unite with the Apostle of the Gentiles, and say, “ God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory everlasting. Amen.
BAPTISM NOT REGENERATION.
John i. 13. Which were BORN not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor
of the will of man, but of GOD.
NE of the most plain and important doctrines
revealed in the word of God is that of the guilty and dangerous state of man, as a fallen creature. The testimony of the scripture is, that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ;" that “the whole world is guilty before God;"> that “the whole world lieth in wickedness," those only excepted who are " born of God.”—This is the true state of man; of every man, by nature : but God, of his infinite mercy, « remembered us in our low estate ;" and devised means for our deliverance. He determined to send, both his Son and his SPIRIT into the world. He so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to be a propitiation for our sins ;” he also gave his Holy Spirit for the purpose of changing our natural dispositions, enabling us to “die unto sin, and live unto righteousness," that so we may serve him in this world, and “ be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." Both these gifts are equally requisite :- the former respects justification ; the latter respects sanctification, or the habit and disposition of our souls towards him.
This change, in scripture, is represented as a very VOL. III.
great change; not a partial, but a universal change ; not merely external, but an internal change. It is such a change as is properly called "a new birth”— a resurrection from the dead a new creation. The term whereby it is usually described in scripture is Regeneration, or the New Birth.
One of the most memorable passages in which this doctrine is maintained, is in the third chapter of St. John's gospel; where we read of a conversation between our blessed Saviour, and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. In that discourse, the nature of the change is explained; the necessity of it insisted upon; and the objections to it are answered ; and while the world endures this passage will continue to be an impregnable fortress, in which this grand truth will be preserved. From this scripture it appears that religion is a supernatural change of the heart of man ; or, as it is most strikingly expressed in the words of our text, a being born of God.
But at various times certain divines have maintained that regeneration is merely baptism with wa. ter ; that every person duly baptized is born again ; and that no other regeneration is to be expected in this world.
One of these divines expresses himself in the fol., lowing manner: “ Those who are baptized are im. mediately translated from the curse of Adam, to the grace of Christ. The original guilt which they brought into the world is mystically washed away, and they receive the forgiveness of all the sins they may themselves have committed : they become reconciled to God, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and heirs of eternal happiness. They acquire a new name, a new hope, a new faith, a new rule.”
The same author further says, that " all those expressions regeneration-born of water and of the Spirit-begotten again to a lively hope-born again not of corruptible seed, &c.—all relate to the simple act, once performed, on every individual.”
And again, “the word Regeneration is in the
Scripture solely and exclusively applied to the one immediate effect of Baptism once administered, and is never used synonymously to the repentance or re. formation of Christians, or to express any operation of the Holy Ghost upon the human mind subsequent to baptism.”
Another divine has more recently published in the form of a cheap tract, which has been widely circulated with the sanction of eminent names, sentiments of the same description.
This author says, that in baptism a supernatural grace is conferred a new principle put into us-a new principle of life and action, even the Spirit of grace the sanctification of the Spirit, which makes us heirs of salvation, and entitles us to eternal life ;" and this, he adds, “extends to every one, to whom baptism is rightly administered that to deny this, is to deny its sacramental character is heresy-is, in some sense, doing despite to the Spirit of grace"and that, “no other regeneration is possible in this world.”
These sentiments, I conceive, are extremely erroneous, and highly dangerous to the the souls of men ; leading them to rest in " a form of godliness," and keeping them from seeking those influences of the Holy Ghost to which, in Scripture, every thing that is truly good in experience and practice is ascribed. It appears, therefore, to me, that a serious consideration of the text, will tend to expose the fallacy of the opinions just stated; and shew that the change we plead for is something more, something far greater than baptism by water.
From this text, I make this simple observation, that
All real Christians are born of God.
This agrees with what our Lord says in his discourse with Nicodemus, in the third chapter of