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This may alfo be well fupported from a variety of other paffages of fcripture, and is a confequence of different truths contained in the word of God. For example, our natural ftate is, in fcripture, compared to death, and our recovery to our being reftored to life. Thus the apostle Paul in writing to the Ephefians fays, "And you hath "he quickened who were dead in trefpaffes and "fins." And a little after, "But God, who "is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith "he loved us, even when we were
in fins, hath quickened us together with "Chrift *. To the fame purpose the apostle John fays, "We know that we have paffed from "DEATH to life t." The change is fometimes described by paffing from darkness to light, than which two things none can stand in greater opposition to one another. "Ye were fometimes "darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord ‡.' Every one must be fenfible how easy it would be to multiply paffages of the fame kind. But this I forbear, and only wish we had all of us a deep impreffion of the meaning and importance of these upon our hearts.
It will not be improper, however, to obferve how plainly the fame truth appears from the power which the fcripture represents as exerted
* Ephef. ii. 3, 4, 51 t1 John iii. 14. + Ephef.
in bringing a finner from a ftate of nature to a ftate of grace. It is conftantly affirmed to be the work of God, the effect of his power, nay, the exceding greatness of his power. By grace
ye are faved, through faith, and that not of "yourselves, it is the gift of God §." "Work "out your own falvation with fear and trembling, "for it is God that worketh in you to will and "to do of his good pleasure . And what is the "exceeding greatnefs of his power to us ward H who believe, according to the working of his
mighty power which he wrought in Chrift "when he raised him from the dead t." Now is there any need of a divine agent to perform a work of no moment? Would it be celebrated as an effect of the power of God, if it were not truly great?
Let me now, in the most earnest manner, befeech every person who reads thefe lines, to confider deliberately with himself what is the import of this truth, and how firmly it is established. It appears that regeneration, repentance, converfion, or call it what you will, is a very great change from the ftate in which every man comes into the world. This appears from our Saviour's affertion, that we must be "born again." It appears from a great variety of other scripture † Eph. i, 19.
Epb. ii. 8,
Phil, ii. 12.
phrafes, and is the certain confequence of fome of the most effential doctrines of the gospel.
With what jealoufy ought this to fill many of the state of their fouls? How flight and inconfiderable a thing is it that with multitudes paffes for religion? especially in thefe days of ferenity and funshine to the church, when they are not compelled by danger to weigh the matter with deliberation? A few cold forms, a little outward decency, fome faint defires, rather than endeavours, is all they can afford for fecuring their everlasting happiness. Can the weakness and infufficiency of these things poffibly appear in a ftronger light than when true religion is confidered as a new creation, and a second birth? If the infpired writers be allowed to exprefs themfelves either with propriety or truth, it is painful to think of the unhappy deluded state of so great a number of our fellow-finners.
Will fo great a change take place, and yet have no vifible effect? Had any great change happened in your worldly circumstances, from riches to poverty, or from poverty to riches, all around you would have speedily difcerned it. Had any fuch change happened in your health, it had been impoffible to conceal it. Had it happened in your intellectual accomplishments, from ignorance to knowledge, it would have been quickly celebrated. How comes it then to be quite undifcernible,
difcernible, when it is from fin to holiness? I am fenfible that men are very ingenious in juftifying their conduct, and very fuccefsful in deceiving themfelves. They will tell us that religion is a hidden thing, not to be feen by the world, but lying open to his view who judgeth the fecrets of all hearts. And doubtlefs this is, in one view, a great truth: true religion is not given to oftentation; diffident of itfelf, it is unwilling to promise much, left it should be found wanting. But it ought to be confidered that, however concealed the inward principle may be, the practical effects muft of neceffity appear.
one table of the moral law confifts entirely of our duty to others, whoever is born again, and renewed in the fpirit of his mind, will be found a quite different perfon from what he was before, in his converfation with his fellow-creatures.
Hypocritical pretences to extraordinary fanctity are indeed highly criminal in themselves, and extremely odious in the fight of God. But the prefent age does not feem to have the leaft tendency to this extreme. There is another thing much more common, not lefs abfurd, and infinitely more dangerous to mankind in general: a demand upon the public, that, by an extraordinary effort of charity, they fhould always fuppofe the reality of religion in the heart, when there is not the leaft fymptom of it in the life.
Nay, fome are hardly fatisfied even with this, but infift that men should believe well of others, not only without, but against evidence. A bad opinion expreffed of a man, even upon the most open inftances of prophanity, is often answered with, "What have you to do to judge the "heart?" It is amazing to think what inward confolation finners derive to themselves from this clain of forbearance from their fellow-creatures. Let me befeech all fuch to confider, that as God cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked, fo in truth they usually deceive none but themselves. Every human affection, when it is ftrong and lively, will difcover itself by its apparent effects; and it is as true of religious affections as of any other, that "the tree is known by its fruits."
But if they have reafon to fufpect themfelves whofe change is not vifible to others, how much more those, who, if they deal faithfully, muft confefs they are quite strangers to any such thing in their own hearts. I do not mean that every perfon fhould be able to give an account of the time and manner of his converfion. This is often effected in fo flow and gradual a manner, that it cannot be confined to a precife or particular period. But furely those who are no way fenfible of any change in the course of their affections, and the objects at which they are pointed, can scarcely think that they are born again, or