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None therefore but those who are united to Christ have begun to crucify the nature with which they were born. None begin to "put off the old man” till they begin to “put on the new;" but to “put on the new man" is to become “a new creature.” As might therefore be expected, the two births are represented as the two sources, if I may so say, of all the moral qualities which men ever possess. The whole is told when it is said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Hence under the two denominations of flesh and spirit, (every where set in the strongest opposition to each other,) are comprehended all the moral qualities of the human race. The whole warfare between contending principles is expressed in these words, “The flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other.” Hence mankind are represented as remaining (under the denomination of natural men) what they were by nature, till they become spiritual men by receiving the Spirit of God: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” And hence the term natural, under which is included every moral quality not derived from the spirit, is used as synonymous with fleshly, sensual, wicked: “These ["mockers,—who walk after their own ungodly lusts,” are] natural, having not the Spirit.” “This wisdom decendeth not from above, but is earthly, natural, devilish.”*
But the evidence arising from the new creation or birth is worthy to be presented in the form of a distinct argument, and in this shape shall appear in the following lecture.
*John iïi. 6. 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15. 2 Cor. v. 17. Gal. v. 17, 24. Eph. ii. 10. James ïïi. 15. Jude 19.
SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
GENESIS vi. 5.
AND GOD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT IN THE
EARTH, AND THAT EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY.
Argument II. There is a change wrought in the elect in some part of their lives, by which they receive the first holy principle: of course they possessed no holiness before.
That this change introduces the first holy principle is apparent from the names by which it is called. Of these the most remarkable are the new creation and new birth. If these names are not utterly insignificant they import the BEGINNING of life. Now in the language of Scripture spiritual life is holiness.* As then the first birth or creation is the beginning of natural life, the new creation or birth, if these terms have any meaning, must be the beginning of holiness. To say that these names denote a progress in spiritual life, is to say that the new cre.
* Rom. vi. 4—13. and viii. 6, 10. and xi. 15. Eph. ii. 1. Col. iii. 3.
ation or birth is repeated upon Christians every day. But why call a progress in life a creation or birth, rather than by any other name to be found in language. To be consistent you must call the progress from youth to manhood a creation and a birth.
The very phrases new creation and new birth carry in them an intimation that the first creation or birth was totally defective, and must be entirely done over again; that the defect can be remedied by no other means; that we remain what the first creation or birth made us until new made and new born; and that something is produced in this change which did not exist before. What is a new creation if nothing new is created? What is a new birth if nothing new is born?
This argument must be conclusive if the terms under consideration really denote the beginning of spiritual life in the soul. One of three things must be true. They denote the beginning of spiritual life in the soul, or the progress of that life, or something distinct from inward holiness. To apply them to the progress of that life, is exactly like calling the advance from youth to manhood a creation and a birth. That fancy must be given up. Only this alternative then remains: either the terms denote the beginning of holiness in the soul, and then the argument is irresistible, or they denote something distinct from inward holiness. The latter has been asserted. The only way attempted to avoid the force of this argument, has been to allege that nothing more is meant by the new creation than a conversion from pagan or Jewish darkness to the profession of Christianity, and nothing more by the new birth than an introduction to the visible Church by baptism. The decisive question to be tried then is this, do these terms denote the production of real holiness of heart, or a mere introduction to the visible Church from a pagan, Jewish, or Gospel state?
Before putting this question to trial I will make two preliminary remarks.
First, if these and other terms of similar import were used in primitive times to denote that revolution which took place at the translation of men from pagan or Jewish darkness and sin into the light and holiness of the Christian state, it is not necessary to suppose that they expressed merely or chiefly the outward change. If they were applied in the absolute form to visible Christians; if in the lips of men they even became proper names of what was apparent to the eye in the Christian character; it is natural to suppose that they were used, not to denote a hypocritical show, but to distinguish what was deemed an expression and evidence of the change within. When we point to the visible figure of a human being and call it a man, we do not mean to overlook the soul that chiefly constitutes him such. If there is such a thing as inward holiness, there is such a thing as outward holiness, and in the languages of men the outward and inward character will be called by the same name.We daily speak in the absolute form of men's conversion, without meaning to say that conversion is a mere visible change. We call a man who is externally good, a good man, and one who makes a credible profession of Christianity, a Christian; though we know that these names imply and chiefly express an inward character. Honest man, friend, and all the terms descriptive of character, are daily used in the same way. And because you apply such appellations to men whose hearts you cannot know, is it to be inferred that there are honest men and friends who are not so in heart? If the visible churches to whom the Epistles were written were called "saints," "holy brethren," "faithful," "beloved of God," "elect," justified," "sanctified in Christ Jesus," "partakers of the divine nature," "children
of God," "joint heirs with Christ,” it is not necessary to suppose that these titles denoted merely an outward character and condition. Nor can they be so understood unless Christianity is altogether an outside thing, in no degree intended to cleanse the fountain of action or form the temper for a future life.
Secondly, if the terms under consideration really denoted an inward change in Jews and pagans, the same change must be wrought in people in a Gospel land unless they already possessed the temper denoted by the terms. If any can be found who are not what is really intended by new creatures and new born, it is plain that they must be created and born anew. But whether all the inhabitants of Christendom, or even all within the pale of the Christian Church, do possess such a character, will appear when the import of these terms comes to be examined.
· Now for the trial of the question. Do the terms new creation and new birth denote the production of real holiness of heart, or a mere introduction to the visible Church from a pagan, Jewish, or Gospel state? Let us examine the two phrases separately.
First, of the new creation. It is by this operation that "the new creature" or "new man” is formed.What account then have we of the new creature or new man?
To be a new creature is to be in Christ: “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.” Unless then a union to the visible Church actually unites one to Christ, something more is meant by the new creation. It is absolutely necessary to be a new creature in order to be in Christ: “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature." Unless then a union to the visible Church is essential to a union with Christ, something more is meant by the new creation.*
* 2 Cor. v. 17. Eph. ii. 10.