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change of the man himself to a being quite different from what he was before ; which is also recorded in sacred scripture concerning Saul, when he was anointed king; but this, buman adoption can by no means perform. This last, in the choice of a proper object, justly pays regard to merit; but though the richest and even the best of men may clothe richly the person whom he has thought proper to adopt, and get him instructed in the best principles and rules of conduct, yet he cannot effectually divest him of his innate dispositions or those manners that have become patural by custom; he cannot form his mind to noble actions, nor plant within him the principles of fortitude and virtue. But he who formed the heart of man can reform it at his pleasure; and this he actually does. Whenever he admits a person into his royal family, he at the same time endows him with royal and divine dispositions. And, therefore, if he honours any person with his love, that person thereby becomes deserving ; because, if he were not so before, he makes him so.
his image upon
him in true and lively colours; and, as he is holy himself, he makes him holy likewise. Hence it is, that this heavenly adoption is no less properly, truly, or frequently, in the sacred scriptures, called regeneration. And though a Jew, and a celebrated doctor of the Jewish law, excepted against this doctrine, when it was proposed to him under this name, yet, neither all of that nation, nor even the Gentile philosophers, were quite unacquainted with it. Rabbi Israel calls the proselytes new-born Jews. And those passages which we frequently meet with concerning the seed of Abraham, and in the Prophets concerning the numerous converts that were to be made to the church, are, by their Rabbins and the Chaldee paraphrase, applied to this spiritual generation, which they believed would remarkably take place in the days of the Messiah; particularly those two passages in the Psalms, in one whereof the spiritual sons of the church are compared to the drops of the morning dew-Psalm xlv. 16; cx.3— not only on account of its celestial purity, but also with regard to the vast multitude of them. Some of these doctors also observe, that the number of proselytes would be so great in the days of the Messiah, that the church, omitting the ceremony of circumcision, would receive
them into its bosom and initiate them by ablution or baptism. Concerning this renovation of the mind, Philo Judæus says expressly, “God, who is unbegotten himselt and begets all things, sows this seed, as it were, with his own hand.” Hierocles and other Pythagorean philosophers treat also of this moral and mystical regeneration ; and under this very name Plutarch also makes mention of it, and defines it to be “the mortification of irrational and irregular appetites.” And Seneca's words relative to this subject are, “ The families of the arts and sciences are the most noble. Choose into which of them you will be adopted, for by this means we inay be born according to our own choice; nor will you be adopted into the name only, but also into the goods of the family."
Is not also the common custom that prevailed among the ancients, of honouring their heroes, and those men who were remarkable for exalted virtue, with the title of sons of God, a plain allusion to this adoption we have under our consideration ? And what we have observed on the philosophers, who acknowledged this moral or metaphorical regeneration, is so very true that it gave a handle to the fictions of those ancient heretics, who evaded the whole doctrine of faith of the last resurrection by putting this figurative sense upon it. As to what the Roman philosopher observes, that we may be born in this manner at our own pleasure or discretion, though certainly it is not without our consent, yet it does not altogether nor principally depend upon us. Our sacred and apostolic doctrine presents us with much more just and
notions on this subject, when it teaches us, that of his own will begat he ús by the word of truth. This is also represented in express terms in those words of the gospel, which immediately follow the passage we mentioned at the beginning of this discourse: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And, with great propriety, there is immediately added, another generation still more wonderful and mysterious, which is the principle and source of this renovation of ours; the Word was made flesh; for to this end God was pleased to clothe himself with our flesh, that he might put his Spirit within us, whereby we, though carnal in consequence of the corruption of our nature, might be born
again into a new, spiritual, and divine life. The Holy Ghost, by overshadowing the blessed virgin, was in a very particular manner the author of the human nature of the Son of God; and to the virtue and divine power of the same Spirit, all the adopted children of the Deity owe their new birth. And as creation goes sometimes under the name of generation-for instance, in the words of Moses, Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten the God that formed thee—that book also of the Bible, which from the first word of it is called Bereshith, is by the Greeks named Genesis, and in the oldest copy of the Septuagint the Generation of the World; and, in the beginning of it Moses, speaking of the creation of the world, says, These are the generations of the heaven and the earth. So, on the other band, this spiritual generation is called creation, and with an additional epithet the new creation. It has also for its author the same powerful Spirit of God, who of old sat upon the face of the waters as a bird upon its young, or, as St. Basil renders it, hatched: so also in conversion the same Spirit rests upon our uninformed minds, that are lifeless, unprepared, and nothing at all but emptiness and obscurity; and out of this darkness brings forth light, which was the first and most beautiful ornament of the universe. To which the apostle also alludes in his second epistle to the Corinthians, iv. 6.
The resurrection of the dead is also the peculiar work of this enlivening Spirit of God; and to bim the apostle Peter expressly ascribes the resurrection of Christ. For Christ also, says he, hath once suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. And here, again, there is a mutual exchange of names ; for, in the gospel according to Matthew, the resurrection of the dead is called the regeneration. Verily, I say unto you, says our Lord, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye shall sit also upon twelve thrones. Here, in the regeneration must be connected with the following words, and by no means with those that go before. And that this was a common method of speaking among the Jews, appears from Josephus.
" To those, says he," whose fate it is to die for observing the law, God
has given the privileges of being born again and enjoying a more happy life, so that they are gainers by the exchange. In like manner Philo saith, “We shall hasten to the regeneration after death.” On the other hand, it is very well known, that this spiritual regeneration we are speaking of is often in scripture called the resurrection.
of this resurrection, the word of the gospel is, as it were, the trumpet; and, at the same time, the immortal seed of this new birth, and therefore of immortality itself. Thus it is represented by the apostle Peter, 1 Pet. i. 23; and by the apostle James, who expressly tells us, that he hath begotten us with the word of truth. Now the enlivening virtue and plastic power of this word is derived from the Holy Ghost, who is the true spring and fountain of this new life. Nor are the most extended powers of the human mind, or the strength of its understanding, any more able to restore this life within it, even upon hearing the glad tidings of the gospel, than it was capable of
producing itself at first, or of being the author of its own 7. being, or, after death, of restoring itself to life.
To this exalted dignity are admitted the humble, the poor, the obscure, the ignorant, barbarians, slaves, sinners, whom the world looks upon as nothing and holds iņ the greatest contempt. Of these nothing is required but true and sincere faith; no learning, nor noble extract, nor any submission to the Mosaic law; but upon every man, of whatever rank or condition, who believes this word, he in return bestows this dignity, that they should become the sons of God, that is, that what Christ was by nature, they should become by grace. Now what is more sublime and exalted than this honour, that those who were formerly children of Satan and heirs of hell, should by faith alone be made the sons of God, brethren of Christ, and joint heirs of the heavenly kingdom? If the sacred fire of the Romans happened at any time to be extinguished, it could only he lighted again at the rays of the sun. The life of souls is a sacred Hame of divine love. This flame, as we are now born into the froward race of fallen mankind, is, alas ! but too truly and unhappily extinguished ; and is by no means to be kindled again, but by the enlivening light and heat of the Sun of Righteousness, who is most auspiciously risen upon us,
Of Regeneration. The great corruption of mankind and their innate disposition to every sort of wickedness, even the doctors of the heathen nations, that is, their philosophers and theologers, and their poets also, were sensible of, and acknowledged ; though they were quite ignorant of the sources from which this calamity was derived. They all own, that “it is natural to man to sin.” Even your favourite philosopher Asistotle, who prevails in the schools, declares, that we are “ strongly inclined to vice;” and speaking of the charms and allurements of forbidden pleasures, he ob. serves, that mankind by nature" is easily caught in these snares.” The Roman philosopher takes notice, that “the way to vice is not only a descent, but a downright precipice ;” and the comic poet, that " mankind has always been, in every respect, a deceitful subtle creature.” The satirist Juvenal likewise observes, that “ we are all easily prevailed on to imitate things that are in their nature wicked and disgraceful;" and the lyric poet Horace, that “the human race, bold to attempt the greatest dangers, rushes with impetuosity upon forbidden crimes."
All the wise men among the heathens exerted their utmost to remedy this evil by precepts and institutions of philosophy, but to very little purpose. They could not, by all their arts and all their precepts, make others better; nay, with regard to most of them, we may say, nor even themselves. But, “ When there was no wisdom in the earth,” says Lactantius," that blessed doctor was sent down from Heaven, who is the way; the truth, and the life ; and, by an almighty power, effected what all others had attempted in vain.”
It is not at all to be doubted, but the end proposed by philosophy was to renew and to reform mankind, and to reduce the course of their lives to a conformity with the precepts of wisdom and virtue. Whence the common definition given of philosophy is, that it is the rule of life, and the art or science of living uprightly. To this purpose Seneca says, “ Philosophy is the law of living honestly