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respect of any present title to their heavenly Father's inheritance, they are no longer children of God: as earthly sons or subjects, when they rebel, are no longer such, in respect of any right to the favour of their parents or princes: yet as, in other regards, these latter continue sons and subjects still ; so the covenant with the former, by which they were made the children of God, subsists, notwithstanding their failure of duty, thus far, that not only by the terms of it, if they persist, they will be condemned, but by the terms of it also, if they repent, they will be pardoned. And neither the penitence, nor the forgiveness of those, who before were initiated into Christianity, and have not since rejected it, is ever expressed in the word of God by the phrase of the new birth or new creature, but these are appropriated almost, if not altogether, to our original admission into the Gospel state; into which we enter once for all, by one baptism, the laver of regeneration. Nicodemus, to whom our Saviour in St. John gives instructions on that head, was not then become a Christian. The Galatians, of whom St. Paul saith he travaileth in birth again, until Christ be formed in them*, either had apostatized from the faith intirely, or wanted, not the whole, but the completion only of the new birth, by juster and fuller conceptions of the Gospel doctrine. Nor is there the least appearance elsewhere in the New Testament, of telling any professed believer, though he had sinned ever so grievously, that he must be born again; (otherwise the same person would be born again as often as he falls into any great wickedness, and recovers from it :) but that he must repent, and do the first workst, and be renewed in the spirit of his mind I ; which Gal. iv, 19.

# Eph. iv. 23.

+ Rev. ii. 5.

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belongs, in its degree, to the best of good Christians. And therefore, though inculcating perpetually, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord*, is indispensably needful; yet preaching the necessity of being regenerated, as a thing still absolutely wanting to a great part of those, who call themselves disciples of Christ, is using a language, not conformable to that of Scripture, nor indeed of the primitive fathers, or the offices of our own Liturgy: which declares every person, who is baptized, to be, by that very act, regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's church. It is true, a different manner of speaking may be capable of a good interpretation, and should be interpreted as favourably, as there is

But it is neither accurate, nor prudent, to depart from the authorized sense of the words of sound doctrine: and much less is it allowable to blame others for adhering to them.

The first and immediate meaning then of the Apostle in the text, we have cause to think, is, that under the Gospel, neither entering into the Mosaic covenant by the appointed form will do a man service, nor the want of it do him harm: and that being received, by baptism, into a new state of grace and mercy, is equally necessary, and equally sufficient, for Jew and Gentile. But then being admitted even into this state will avail us nothing finally, unless we live suitably to the laws of it. And as, in the natural world, God's preservation of things hath often been called a continual creation of them: so in the moral, the same notion is more evidently right. The complete sense therefore of the Gospel creation comprehends, not only the giving of spiritual life at first, but supporting it in us afterwards. And we shall

Heb. xii. 14.

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find the whole of our religious being, as well as the beginning of it, to deserve the name of the new creature on two accounts;

1. Of the power of God necessary to it.
II. Of the change in man's condition, made

by it. I. Of the power of God, necessary to it. Now this power he hath exerted, not only by giving us originally the light of reason and conscience, and superadding to this the directions and motives of external revelation; but by inwardly operating on our hearts through his spirit, exciting and forming us to piety and virtue, and restraining us from transgression, in such a manner, that whatever good we perform, and whatever evil we avoid, not we by our own strength do it, but the grace of God, which is with

by grace we are saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of Godt: for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works 1. This doctrine the Scripture throughout teaches. We know not indeed, how God influences our minds : for we know not, how he doth any thing. But assisting his fallen and weak creatures is so worthy of him; and the belief of that assistance is so productive of thankfulness and love, humility and pious resolution; that surely we must admit it on his plain testimony: and we can hardly lay too great a stress upon it, provided we are careful not to pervert it, either into a plea for our own negligence, or an imputation upon his justice.

If we imagine ourselves absolutely incapable of doing any thing towards our reformation from sin, or improvement in goodness; we excuse those who become and continue wicked, as having no means * 1 Cor. xv, 10. + Eph. ii. 8.

Verse 10.

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given them to act otherwise; we charge their guilt upon God, for with-holding such means from them; and make it unjust in him to punish them for the worst things they do. For no punishment is just, where there is no fault: and it can be no fault to behave, as we never could help behaving. Besides,

, all the command and exhortations of Scripture, all its earnest reasonings and affectionate expostulations, have for their ground-work the supposition, that man is able, as he chuses, either to receive the grace of God, which bringeth salvation*, or generally speaking to reject it. We own, the spiritual creation, as well as the natural, is in appearance wholly ascribed to God in some places of holy writ: but, in appearance also, wholly ascribed to man in others : as, make you a new heart, and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israelt. And we are to understand the various texts of Scripture consistently: not to stretch figurative expressions, till we force them to contradict literal ones, and evident reason too: else, if we conclude, that because the wicked are described as dead in sins I, they can take no step towards good; we must conclude also, that because the religious and virtuous are described as dead to sing, they can take no step towards evil : which the very best of us all knows to be false. And likewise, if we argue thus, we must condemn or misinterpret many clear passages of the New Testament, besides : particularly that of St. Paul. Awake, thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light ||. Still we readily grant that nothing of this can be done otherwise, than by the strength, which God furnishes : but he furnishes to every one, that hears the Tit. ii. 11. + Ezek. xviii. 31.

# Eph. ii. 1. Rom. vi. 2. || Eph. v. 14.

VOL. III.

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Gospel, strength sufficient. The true Scripture doctrine therefore is, that divine grace enables and excites men to do their duty: that some wilfully refuse to be guided by it, and fall; while others concur with it, and work out their own salvation, God working in them both to will and to do*. But,

II. Our Christian life is also called a new creation, to express in a strong manner, how greatly our condition is changed by it for the better : according to that of the Apostle, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature : old things are passed away, behold all things are become new f. But here again, we must guard against mistakes. · It is not true, that, in strictness of speech, fallen man hath originally no principle of what is right left in him. If the whole was lost by the fall, somewhat hath by the general grace of God been restored since. For, though St. Paul saith, In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing I, yet he saith of the same person, quickly after, I delight in the law of God after the inward mang. And he supposes even the Gentiles to do, in some cases, to some degree, the things contained in the lawl. Indeed experience proves, that notorious sinners have often a considerable mixture of worthy dispositions. We are not therefore to look on those dreadful pictures, which the sacred writers draw, of the most depraved of the heathen, as being just representations, without abatement, of the natural state of all mankind. But, however, that state is undoubtedly a bad one; destitute of sufficient strength, unintitled to pardon of sin, to supplies of grace, to reward of obedience: till God, in the covenant of baptism, affords us relief in all * Phil. ii. 12, 13. + 2 Cor. v. 17. | Rom. vii. 18. § Verse 22.

|| Rom. ii. 14.

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