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leading features, without professing to analyze the complexity of feeling involved in its progressive stages, and which may vary as to compass and intensity, without affecting the reality of the change.
I. In the first place, we are taught, that those persons mentioned in the context, who had been “sometime foolish, and disobedient, and deceived,” became the objects of divine commiseration : He that made them, had mercy on them, and interposed to deliver their souls from destruction. “Of his mercy he saved us.” The Apostle's Pharisaic pretentions were flung away. What the law could not do on a creature already depraved, had been effected by grace. He stood amazed at the change wrought on him; and reflecting both on his own demerits, and on the Holy Author of the change, he saw that nothing but mercy could have spared or pardoned so great a transgressor, and that only sovereign mercy could have passed by his provocations, and made him a subject of renovation. Elsewhere, he describes himself as having been “ a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious,” and adds, “ but I obtained mercy.” And throughout his writings, he oft takes occa
sion to celebrate the interposition of mercy in his own case, as if he could never suffi. ciently extol the riches of a compassion so divine and glorious !
Nor is the Apostle singular in this respect; for while the Pharisee attributes his supposed difference of character to something meritorious in himself, and boasts ; doubtless, there is not a saint on earth, nor a saint in glory, that will not magnify the grace of his conversion; and all the redeemed, throughout eternity, will rejoice, with one accord, to recount their obligations to mercy. “ Of his mercy he saved us," will be the song of immortality-a mercy so endearing in its character, and so blessed in its effects, that as often as it occurs to them, (and who of the redeemed can long forget to meditate on such a theme?) it will inspire new ardours of grateful celebration. None will be silent in heaven when the praise of mercy is begun.
II. Let us observe how mercy proceeds to save the objects of its commiserationi And the Apostle particularly refers to a concurrence of light and influence, involving the knowledge of Gospel truth, and the operations of the Holy Ghost. Some who
are unskilful in the word, set these at variance in the method of our regeneration, or at least cannot perceive their harmonious co-operation; ascribing the change either to illumination alone, and making it the moral effect of truth believed; or, hiding the moral influence of known truth, they confine their views to the sole agency of sovereign power, producing by itself the new creation. But here the Apostle conjoins both; for with him, illumination does not exclude power, nor power dispense with illumination. He does not attribute regeneration to the light of seen truth, without the application of power to work renewal ; nor is the Spirit represented as producing moral change in such as have grown up in evil, without the influence of moral means. « Of his own will begat he us, by the word of truth.” Something, indeed, must precede the perception of spiritual truth; for the light of truth shineth around the unregenerate all the Gospel-day, even as the light of the sun shines upon the blind, though their darkness comprehendeth it not; and as there is an opening of the blind eyes requisite, in order to see objects in the natural world, so must the eyes of the understanding be opened, in order to the discern
ment of those things which are spiritual. The mere action of truth on the blind understanding will not open its eyes; but when they are opened by the power of the Holy Ghost, then does the light of truth make spiritual objects manifest, and by the power of the Spirit, a realizing faith in them is wrought.
“ The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine into them.” And one of the first
operations of saving mercy is to remove this blindness; and on its removal, a man finds himself translated out of darkness into marvellous light, and then spiritual objects stand forth in their relative magnitude and glory.
How this is effected, we cannot explain ; but one thing is certain, that he who was before spiritually blind, now sees.
66 He is born again.” He is brought, as it were, into a new world; on the objects of which, the
eyes of his understanding being opened, he expatiates with freedom and surprise ! God hath shined into the heart to give the light of the knowledge of the divine glory in the face of Jesus Christ; and believing in Him, he is justified from all things.
The glory of the kingdom of God meets the enlightened eye on every side. The Sun of Righteousness appears, enlightening and enlivening all the spiritual scene. The plan of redemption rises into notice with a wisdom of contrivance, and a magnitude of result, that cannot be sufficiently admired or praised. Then, likewise, the evil of sin, the weight of eternity, the im, portance of time, and the unspeakable worth of salvation, begin to be seen and felt. The way of salvation is also clearly discerned, which it never was before. There is much to excite astonishment and wonder in all the objects to which is first directed the attention of regeneraté souls, whose understandings are renewed; but nothing so much surprises, and constrains them to gratitude and trust, as a view of the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards men. They wonder they were so long, and so sinfully blind to it, and cannot sufficiently express their former insensibility and opposition, on contemplating the excellence of the divine character; their minds are indeed affected with a new and elevated delight; and the sight of a Saviour's exceeding grace and matchless love