Page images
PDF
EPUB

intelligible myfticifm, this is neither wonderful in itself, nor ought it to be any injury or disparagement to the truth. There is no fubject either of divine or human learning, on which fome have not written weakly, foolishly or erroneoufly; but that ought not to excite any averfion to the doctrine itself, which hath been perverted or abufed. I pray, that God may enable me to write upon this interefting fubject, in a clear, intelligible and convincing manner; to fupport the truth from the evidence of fcripture and reafon ; to refolve, in a fatisfying manner, any objections that may feem to lie against it; but, above all, to carry it home with a perfuafive force upon the confcience and heart. I contend for no phrases of man's invention, but fuch as I find in the holy fcriptures; from thefe I am refolved, through the grace of God, never to depart. And, in the mean time, I adopt the words of the eminent and useful Dr. Doddridge, "If this doctrine, in "one form or another, be generally taught by << my brethren in the miniftry, I rejoice in it for "their own fakes, as well as for that of the peo "ple who are under their care.'

The plan of the following treatise is this:

در

I. To make fome general obfervations upon "Exthe metaphor ufed by the apostle John, "cept a man be born again," and the fame or

fimilar

fimilar expreffions to be found in other parts of the word of God.

II. To fhew wherein this change doth properly and directly confift, together with fome of its 'principal evidences and effects.

III. To fhew by what fteps, or by what means it is ufually brought about.

IV. In the last place, to improve the subject by a few practical addreffes to perfons of different characters.

[blocks in formation]

CHAP. I.

Some general obfervations on the metaphor used by the apoftle John, ExCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, and the fame or fimilar expreffions to be found in other parts of the word of God.

T deferves the ferious attention of every

I

by our Saviour in a very folemn manner, and by a very peculiar metaphor, fo this is not the fingle paffage in which the fame metaphor is ufed. We find it in the apostle Paul's epiftle to Titus," Not "by works of righteousness which we have done, "but according to his mercy, he faved us, by the "washing of regeneration, and renewing of the "Holy Ghost *." We find one perfectly fimilar to it, in the fame apoftle's fecond epiftle to the Corinthians, "Therefore if any man be in "Chrift, he is a new creature: old things are "past away, behold, all things are become 66 new t." It is elsewhere called a new creation, with reference to the power exerted in the production: "For we are his workmanship, created

in Chrift Jefus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we fhould walk in them ." It is ftill a figure of the fame kind

† 2 Cor, v. 17.

* Titus iii. 5.

ii. 10.

Ephef.

that

<6

that is used when we are exhorted "to put off, concerning the former converfation, the old "man, which is corrupt according to the de"ceitful lufts and to be renewed in the spirit "of our mind; and put on the new man, which "after God is created in righteoufnefs, and true. "holinefs *." To name no more paffages, the real believer is faid to be " born of God +;" in which the very expreffion in the text is repeated, and the change attributed to God as his proper

work.

دو

Whoever believes in the perfection of the fcriptures will readily admit, that it is intended we fhould learn fomething from this very way of fpeaking itfelf. Let us therefore confider what may be fafely deduced from it. And, as I would not willingly ftrain the metaphor, and draw from it any uncertain conclufion; fo it is no part of my design to run it out into an extraordinary length. Many fmaller refemblances might eafily be formed between the image and the truth, but they would be more fanciful than useful. The reader is only intreated to attend to a few leading truths, which feem naturally to arife from this metaphor, and may be both fupported and illuftrated from the whole tenor of fcripture doctrine.

* Ephes, Iv. 22, 23, 24.

t John v. 4.

SECT.

SECT. I.

I. From this expreffion, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN

AGAIN HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF

GOD, we may learn the GREATNESS of that change which must pass upon every child of Adam before he can become an heir of life.

NO ftronger expreffion could have been chosen

to fignify a great and remarkable change of state and character, whether we take the metaphor in a stricter or a loofer fenfe. If we take the metaphor in a stricter fenfe, it may be intended to point out the change of state in an infant newly born, from what it was in immediately before the birth. The manner of its existence, of deriving its nourishment, the use and application of its faculties, and its defires and enjoyments, are all intirely different. If we take the metaphor in a loofer fenfe, being born may be confidered as the beginning of our existence. To this fense we seem to be directed by the other expreffions of being created in Chrift Jefus, and made new creatures. Does not this ftill teach us the greatness of the change? We must be entirely different from what we were before, as one creature differs from another, or as that which begins to be at any time, is not, nor cannot be the fame with what did formerly exist.

« PreviousContinue »