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be able to affix a proper meaning to so strong an expreffion. I have read an observation of an eminent author, That those who cannot remember the time when they were ignorant or unlearned, have reafon to conclude that they are fo ftill becaufe, however flow and infenfible the fteps of improvement have been, the effects will at lalt clearly appear, by comparison with an uncultivated fate. In the fame manner, whoever cannot remember the time when he served the former lufts in his ignorance, has reafon to conclude that no change deferving the name of regeneration has ever yet taken place.
It will be, perhaps, accounted an exception to this, that fome are fo early formed for the fervice of God, by his bleffing on a pious educa tion, and happily preferved from ever entering upon the destructive paths of vice, that they cannot be fuppofed to recollect the time when they were at enmity with God. But this is an objection of no confequence. The perfons here described have generally, fo much tenderness of confcience, fo deep a fenfe of the evil of 'fin, that, of all others, they will most readily discover and confers the workings of corruption in their own hearts, and that "law in their mem"bers that warreth against the law of God in "their minds." They will be of all others most fenfible of the growth of the new, and mortifi
cation of the old nature; and will often remember the folly and vanity of youth, in inftances that by most others would have been reckoned perfectly harmlefs.
What hath been faid in this fection, is exprefsly defigned to awaken fuch fecure and carelefs formalifts as may have any general belief of the word of God. To be born again must be a great change. Can you then suppose that you have undergone this not only without any application to it, but without fo much as being fenfible of it, or being able to discover its proper effects.
This expreffion, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, and other fimilar expreffions, imply that the change here intended is not merely partial, but univerfal.
A New birth evidently implies an univerfal change. It must be of the whole man, not in fome particulars, but in all without exception. As this is a truth which naturally arifes from the fubject, so it is a truth of the last moment and importance, which merits the most serious attention of all those who defire to keep themfelves from illufion and felf-deceit in this interefting question.
Innumerable are the deceits of Satan. If he cannot keep finners in abfolute blindnefs and fecurity, which is his first attempt, he industriously endeavours to pervert their views of religion, either by caufing them to mistake appearances for realities, or fubftituting a part for the whole. This branch of the fubject is of the more confequence, that I am perfuaded it is peculiarly applicable to great numbers of the ordinary hearers of the gospel as fuch. The great bulk of those who finally fall fhort of everlasting life, though they lived under the adminiftration of word and facraments, are ruined by mistakes of this kind. There are few of them, if any at all, who have at no time, through their whole lives, any fe-. rious impreffions about their fouls, or do nothing in the way of religion. There are ftill fewer who are fpeculative unbelievers, and fortify themselves in their prophane practices, by irreligious principles. The far greatest number do fome things, and abftain from others, to quiet the inward complaints of confcience, and must have fome broken reed or other on which they may reft their eternal hopes.
It might ferve in general to alarm fuch perfons, that, as I have obferved above, the change is evidently very great, and therefore they ought not easily to fuppofe that it is already paft. But I now add something ftill more awakening, that
the change, however great, if it is only partial, is not fuch as is neceffary to falvation. There may be a change truly great in fome particulars, from one period of life to another, not only fenfible to a man's felf, but vifible and remarkable to others about him, which yet is not faving, because it is not general, or because it is not permanent. The truth of this obfervation, that the change must be univerfal, appears from the conftant tenor of the holy fcriptures. Thus the Pfalmift fays, " Then fhall I not be ashamed, "when I have respect unto ALL thy command"ments *." And the apoftle James, "Who
foever fhall keep the whole law, and yet of❝fend in one point, he is guilty of ALL †." It is, indeed, fo much the language of fcripture, that it is needless to infift upon it. God will be ferved without a rival, and will not fhare dominion with any in the human heart. But what I am perfuaded will be of most use upon this fubject, will be to point out, in a few particulars, by what means a partial change is fometimes brought about, and how this differs from the faving and univerfal.
1. In the first place, fometimes a partial change in point of morals, is produced merely by a natural or accidental change in age, temper, or fituation. There are different fins to which men
* Pfal, cxix. 6.
† James ii, 10.
are addicted in the different periods or stages of human life. Thefe, of confequence, give way to, and are fucceeded by, one another. There are, indeed, inftances of extraordinary depravation in fome perfons, who "felling themselves" like Ahab to work iniquity, become the flaves of almoft every evil habit incident to human nature. These, however, are esteemed monsters even by the world in general, who continue in the commiffion of every fin while they can, and burn with defires after them when they cannot. But it often happens that the folly and levity, nay, even the diffolute licentioufnefs of youth, gives way to the ambitious projects of riper years, and the hurry of an active life; and these again are fucceeded by fordid, felfifh, and covetous old age. In many cafes the fins are changed, but the difpofition to fin, and averfion from God, remains ftill the fame. One fin may be eafily fupplanted by another, in a heart that is wholly a stranger to renewing grace. How greatly then may men deceive themselves, by drawing favourable conclufions from even a great and remarkable change in fome one or more particulars, while they continue under the government of fins of a different kind. It is of fmall confequence which of the commandments of God are tranfgreffed, fince they are all of equal and indifpenfible obligation. It is of little moment for a man to get quit of