Page images

ed by the inclemency of this tempestuous climate, till it be transplanted into the milder regions of peace and serenity above.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The effects of regeneration ; with some of the principal

evidences of its sincerity.

[ocr errors]

N the further profecution of this head, I proposed to

mention some of the principal evidences and fruits of a faving change. These, no doubt, it were easy with fufficient propriety greatly to extend and enlarge, because they include all the marks and signs of real religion, suited to every character and every situation in which a christian can be placed. The heart being renewed, the life will of necessity be reformed, and holiness in all manner of conversation, including the duties of piety towards God, and justice and charity towards men, will be its native and genuine effect. But this would be too wide and general a field. I find most writers on this subject take particular notice of the new views and apprehensions which the regenerate person hath of himself, and every other thing or person to which he stands related. I shall therefore very shortly obferve, he who is born again, discovers his new nature and life by new apprehensions of God of himselfof the world of eternity-of Jesus Christ the Saviour of finners—and of all the ordinances of his appointment.

The regenerate person has new views of God, both in respect of greatness and goodness. He really and inwardly believes the being, presence, power and providence of God, which he in a great measure disbelieved before, Whereas formerly, even what he did believe of God was feldom in his thoughts ; now it is almost impossible for him to look upon any thing, or person, or event, without confidering its relation to God. O what“ terrible majel" ty” does his fanctified understanding perceive in this Being of Beings, compared to the times of his former blindness? What a lustre and glory does the opened eye fee in all the divine perfections? Above all, what a ravishing and astonishing view has he of the divine goodness and love? Wicked men, governed by self-love, are therefore insensible of obligations. Inordinate in their desires, they are never satisfied with their poslefsions : whereas the child of God discovers and confesses the infinite goodness of his Creator in all his mercies, of the least of which he is not worthy.

He hath quite new apprehensions of himself, his own character and state. Before, he thought himself his own master, looked upon every religious law as a hard and tyrannical restraint ; but now, he sees that he belongs to God : he now remembers his Creator, confefles his obligations, and mourns for his transgressions. A converted finner often admires and stands astonished at his own for. mer conduct. He wonders at the boldness of a poor guilty helpless rebel, perhaps cursing and blaspheming, perhaps rioting in sensuality and lust. He wonders that the power of God did not arrest him in his course, and by some signal stroke, make him a standing monument of righteous indignation. He trembles to think of his former state, and it excites in him a deep and lively acknowledgment of the riches of divine grace. How great a sense of this does the apostle Paul often express in his own case; “ who was before a blafphemer, and a persecutor, “ and injurious. This is a faithful saying, and worthy " of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world “ to save finners, of whom I am chief."*

The above is often connected with, and increased by, his views of the world and of worldly men. The charm is now broke; the faise colors are now taken off from the world and all its enjoyments. How ardently did he love them once? how eagerly did he prosecute them? and how rich did he esteem them? He envied every one who poffessed them, and thought that none such could fail of being completely happy. But now, he can never separate the idea of riches from temptation, and often considers the dreadful change of state in those who are carried about in pomp and grandeur on earth; who are cloathed in purple and fine linen, and fare fumptuously every day; but are, in a little time, tormented in hell fire. Formerly, he valued persons by their station, by their wealth, by their fpirit and genius, or other natural qualifications. But now, a christian in a cottage appears more honorable and more amiable than a blasphemer in a palace. Now, his heart is joined to every servant of Christ, though despised in the world, though emaciated by sickness, though deformed with old age; nay, though loathsome and fordid through penury and want. He sees the beauty of these excellent ones of the earth, under all their present disadvantages, and in them is all his delight. With regard to perfons of an opposite character, the penitent often recollects, with a bleeding heart, his fondness for, and attachment to, finful companions; and his kindness to them, is converted into a yearning tenderness and compassion for their miserable Atate.

* i Tim. i. 13, 15.

Further, the regenerate person has new apprehensions of eternity. Formerly, the fhadows and vanities of time fo engrolled his thoughts, fo filled and occupied his light, that eternity was seldom at all, and never fully in view. But now, it is frequently and strongly upon his mind. Now it, as it were, joins itself with, and points out its own relation to every subject, and its concern in every purfuit. Now, it is present as the object of faith, to correct the false representations of sense, and to oppose the unjust claim of earthly and momentary gratifications. Formerly, things unseen were counted in a manner precarious and fabulous, of small moment in any determination: but now, there is such a discovery of the great realities of another world, as weighs down all created things, and makes them feel as a feather in the balance.

Let us here stand still, and pause a little. Let me befeech every reader to ponder this reflection, which I can-' not pass. Oh! what concern have we all in everlasting endless eternity! O subject without bounds! Who is able to do it justice in words? Who is able to reach it even in thought? Happiness that shall continue through everlasting ages. Mifery, anquih, torment, that ihall never have an end. Are we all, without exception, to be so divided

at laft? Yes; the great Judge shall separate the righteous from the wicked, and shall set the one on his right-liand, and the other on his left. Shall then companions on earth ; shall fellow-citizens, and fellow-foldiers; the dearest friends and the nearest relations, be parted alunder, and take a long, long, eternal farewel? O the strong deceit and illufion of sin, that is able to hide eternity from dying men!

the inconceivable blindness of those who are unmindful of a future state, while they inhabit these tabernacles of clay, which are fo often tottering; which are daily wasting, and thall fo foon fall in pieces and crumble into dust! How is it possible we should forget, that in a little time" we " must all appear before the judgment-feat of Christ.”

The regenerate person has also new views of Jesus Christ, the great and only Saviour of sinners. Before, he was “ without form or comeliness, or any beauty, that he “ should defire him." Before, (as is, alas! the cafe with very many) all the truths, relating to the perfon, character, and office of a Mediator, were hated as absurdities, or despised as enthusiasm. They were nick-named nonsense, cant, and unintelligible ftuff. Or if decency forbad this, they were altogether cold and without relish. But now, the name of a Saviour is “precious—even as ointment “ poureth forth.”** The strongest language is too weak to express his gratitucie, or breathe out his love. "He is “ white and ruckly, the chief among ten thousand:-yea, "he is altogether lovely.”+ How great is the difference between the self-righteous formalift and the humble penitent? The one, trusting in himself that he is righteous, knows little of the value of a Saviour; the other, deeply penetrated with a sense of guilt, and strongly conscious of absolute weaknefs, “counts all things but loss, for the ex“ cellency of the knowledge of Chrilt Jesus his Lord; and “ desires to be found in him, not having his own righite"ousness, which is of the law, but that which is through *** the faith of Christ, the righteousness that is of God by 566 faith.”

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Again, the regenerate person has new views of the ordinances of Christ's appointment. They were formerly his burden, now they are his delight. Before the fabbath wore, as it were, a fable garb, and an offensive gloom.. It was looked upon as a piece of confinement and restraint. He was ready to say, “What a weariness is it; when will " the Sabbath be over, and the new moon, that we may set “forth corn, and sell wheat?" But now, he calls it a delight, the “holy of the Lord, and honorable." Now, he thirsts aster the water of life, esteems, loves, and desires the word of God. He now readily joins the holy Psalmist in all these fervent expressions to be found in his writings, of affection to the truths and ordinances of God.

“ O how “ love I thy law ! it is my meditation all the day.* The “ law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold “ and silver.f My soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth “ for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen it in “ the sanctuary. I I was glad when they said unto me, , “ let us go into the house of the Lord; our feet shall stand “ within thy gates, O Jerusalem !"||

Suffer me now to conclude this general account of the spirit and temper of the regenerate, with a few particular characters, by which they will commonly be distinguished.

1. The new nature will discover itself by great humility. There is no disposition more the object of divine abhorrence and detestation, than pride; nor consequently, any more amiable and necessary than humility. We are told, that " God refifteth the proud, but giveth grace to the “ humble.”* To the fame purpose the prophet Isaiah, " For thus faith the high and loity One, that inhabiteth

eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and ho" ly place; with him allo that is of a contrite and humblo

spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive " the heart of the contrite ones.”+ Pride was the fin by which the angels fell from their glory and happiness. It

* Psal. cxix. 97.

† Pfal. cxix. 72 || Pral. cxxii. 1, 2.

| Pal, lxiii. 1, 2.

+ If. Ivii. 15.

James iv. 6.

« PreviousContinue »