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rise, and bloom, and flourish with increasing vigour. In him sin, and the flesh, and the world daily decay, and daily announce their approaching dissolution; while the soul continually assumes new life and virtue, and is animated with superior and undying energy. He is now a joint heir with Christ, and the destined inhabitant of heaven. The gates of glory and of happiness are already open to receive him; and the joy of saints and angels has been renewed over his repentance. All around him is peace; all before him purity and transport. God is his Father, Christ his Redeemer, and the Spirit of truth his Sanctifier. Heaven is his eternal habitation; virtue is his immortal character; and seraphim and cherubim, and all the children of light, are his companions for ever. Henceforth he becomes of course a rich blessing to the universe. All good beings, nay, God himself, will rejoice in him for ever, as a valuable accession to the great kingdom of righteousness, as a real addition to the mass of created good, and as a humble but faithful and honourable instrument of the everlasting praise of heaven. He is a vessel of infinite mercy, an illustrious trophy of the cross, a gem in the crown of glory which adorns the Redeemer of mankind.

Of all these sublime attainments, these exalted blessings, these divine allotments, regeneration is the beginning. What, then, can be more worthy of the Spirit of truth? What effort in creation, what event in providence, is more becoming his character? The rise of an empire, the formation of a world, is a poor and humble display of infinite perfection, compared with the sanctification of an immortal mind. In the progress of eternity one such mind will enjoy more good, exercise more virtue, and display more excellency of character, than this great world of men has ever enjoyed, exercised, or displayed. Accordingly, God himself divinely characterizes this illustrious work in the following magnificent terms. For, behold! I create new heavens, and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, neither come into mind. But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever, in that which I create; for, behold! I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people a joy.' Of such importance and glory is the new creation or regeneration of the soul of man, that, in comparison with it, the original formation of the heavens and the earth is in the divine eye un

worthy even of being remembered. It was, therefore, a work proper for God the Father to contrive, for God the Son to procure even with his own death, and for God the Holy Spirit to accomplish with his life-giving and almighty power in the souls of the guilty, ruined, and perishing children of Adam.

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SERMON LXXV.

REGENERATION.

ITS ANTECEDENTS.

THEN HE CALLED FOR A LIGHT, AND SPRANG IN, AND CAME TREMBLING, AND FELL DOWN BEFORE PAUL AND SILAS: AND BROUGHT THEM OUT, AND SAID, SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?

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HAVING in the two preceding Discourses considered the necessity, the reality, and the nature of regeneration, I shall now proceed to give a history of this important work as it usually exists in fact; and shall attempt to exhibit its antecedents, its attendants, and its consequents. The first of these subjects shall occupy the present Discourse.

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The text is a part of the story of the jailor, to whose charge Paul and Silas were committed by the magistrates of Philippi, with a particular direction, that he should keep them safely.' To comply with this direction he thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.' In this situation, at midnight they prayed, and sung praises to God.' Suddenly there was a great earthquake; so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do

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thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'

The man who is the principal subject of this story had been educated a heathen, and, until a short time before the events specified in it took place, was totally ignorant of the Christian religion. Within this period he must have been present, and I think not unfrequently, at the preaching of Paul and Silas : otherwise he could not have known that there was such a thing as salvation. Probably he was induced, in common with his fellow-citizens, to hear their discourses merely as a gratification of curiosity. Whatever was the motive, it is plain he had gained some knowledge of a Saviour; and had learned that through him men might in some manner or other be saved.

The things which he had known concerning these subjects seem not, however, to have made any very deep impressions on his mind. Before the extraordinary events recorded in the verses immediately preceding the text, he appears not to have conversed with these ministers about his religious concerns, nor to have felt any peculiar anxiety concerning his guilt or his danger. On the contrary, we cannot hesitate to consider him, as clearly proved by his severe treatment of them, to have been hitherto in a state of religious unconcern, a state of sinful coldness and quietude.

But at this time a change was wrought in the man great and wonderful; a change, manifested in his conduct with the most unequivocal evidence. But by what was this change accomplished? What was it that of a heathen made this man a Christian? Was the cause found in the miraculous events by which the change was immediately preceded? It would seem that many others who were equally witnesses of these events still continued to be heathen, and experienced no alteration of character. Beyond this it is evident from the story, that the jailor did not witness them at all; and that he did not awake out of sleep until after the earthquake and all its alarming effects had terminated. Besides, when he had awakened, and concluded that the prisoners had made their escape, he determined to kill himself: an effort which refutes the supposition that he had any just moral apprehensions, and

proves him to have been solicitous only concerning his responsibility to the magistrates. He had indeed heard Paul and Silas preach; so had many others who still continued to be heathen. Preaching, therefore, did not alone accomplish this change; otherwise it would have accomplished it in them also. An influence not common to others must have been felt by him, an influence never felt by himself before, must now have produced this mighty alteration in his cha

racter.

The text presents him to us in the utmost agitation and distress, and as thus agitated and distressed concerning his salvation. · He called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' A little before he had 'thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.' Immediately before he was on the point of committing suicide; a gross and dreadful crime, which would have ruined him for ever. A little before, nay immediately before, he was a heathen; regardless of salvation, a foe to Christianity, and the hard-hearted jailor of these ministers of the Gospel.

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But now he bade adieu to all these dispositions and practices at once; renounced his former heathenism and sin, and became a meek, humble, and pious follower of the Redeemer. Now he fell down at the feet of his prisoners, and relied implicitly on them for direction concerning his eternal wellbeing.

A description of the state of this man's mind in the progress of his regeneration must, in substance, be a description of the state of every mind with respect to the same important subject. The events preceding the work of regeneration are substantially the same in every mind; the work itself is the same; and its consequences are the same.

The first great division of this work, viz. what I have mentioned as the antecedents of regeneration, is commonly called conviction of sin. Of this subject the text is a strong illustration, and will very naturally conduct our thoughts to every thing which will be necessary to it on the present occasion. The jailor plainly laboured under powerful and distressing conviction of his own sin, and of the danger with which it was attended. Of this truth his conduct furnishes the most af

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