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implacable; and, instead, of changing their own difpofition, they would much rather with a change in his will.
2. Whether does your fear of God drive you from his presence, or excite a strong defire of reconciliation and peace? The flavish fear which is not attended with any juft views of the divine mercy, clothes God with terror, and makes him the object of averfion. This is plainly the first effect of fin. It was fo in the cafe of Adam, who, as foon as he had loft his integrity, when he heard God's voice in the garden, fled and hid himself. We find the fame fentiment expreffed by the men of Bethfhemesh, upon an extraordinary token of divine power and jealoufy: "And "the men of Bethfhemefh faid, Who is able to "ftand before this holy Lord God, and to whom "fhall he go up from us*" Nay, the fame feems to have been the view of the apoftle Peter, when furprised with an aftonishing evidence of his master's power and Godhead. "When Si"mon Peter faw it, he fell down at Jefus feet, "faying, Depart from me, for I am a finful "man, O Lord +."
This difpofition is daily manifeft in many who are under the dominion of fear. The worship of God is painful to them, his fervice is a burden, his prefence is terrible: they keep at a distance,
1 Sam. vi, 20.
† Luke v.
therefore, as much as they can or dare. Their peace and compofure is chiefly owing to their lofing themselves, and occupying their minds entirely with different objects. No sign will more furely discover the nature and influence of flavish fear than this. There is a gloom and melancholy spread over every thing in religion to them; when they are engaged in facred duties, it is a heavy tiresome task, and they rejoice in getting them over, as a bullock when he is loofed from the yoke. On the other hand, real chriftians, though burdened with finful fear, cannot take refuge in any thing else than God; they dare not take their reft in the creature, but fay with Job, "Though he lay me, yet will I trust in him * or with the Pfalmift David, "Yet the Lord will "command his loving-kindness in the day-time, "and in the night his fong fhall be with me, "and my prayer unto the God of my life +." Nothing gives relief to fuch, till they attain to a view of the divine mercy, and a humble hope of peace and reconciliation.
3. Whether have you comfort and fatisfaction in a fenfe of God's favour, as well as a diftreffing fear of his wrath. This alfo will ferve to diftinguish between those who have no other religion than what fear produces, and those in whom it only maintains a conflict with a better principle. There are † Pfal. xlii. 7.
* Job xiii, 15,
fome who are reftrained from fin, and compelled
he fincerely loves, and a flave dreading the refentment of an enraged tyrant, whofe fervice he abhors.
From this metaphor, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN
AGAIN HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF
GOD, and other parallel expreffions in the holy feriptures, we may learn that the change here intended is SUPERNATURAL.
WH HEN I fay it is a fupernatural change, I mean that it is what man cannot by his own power effect, without fuperior or divine aid. As we are by nature in a state of enmity and oppofition to God, fo this is what we cannot " of "ourselves" remove or overcome. The exercife of our own rational powers, the perfuafion of others, the application of all moral motives of every kind will be ineffectual, without the special operation of the Spirit and grace of God. Thus the apostle John defcribes thofe who believe in the name of Chrift: "Which were born not of "blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the "will of man, but of God *." And thus the apostle Paul expreffes himself: "Not by works "of righteousness which we have done, but ac"cording to his mercy he faved us, by the wash
John i. 13.
❝ing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy "Ghoft*." There is no part of the scripture doctrine which the natural man hears with greater averfion, or opposes with greater violence. It gives fo humbling a view of our own charac-1 ter and ftate, and ftands fo directly oppofed to pride and self-sufficiency, that it cannot be truly acceptable to any, till they are brought to a faving acquaintance with its power and efficacy. However it hath been, this "foolishness of "preaching," or rather, this commonly-esteemed foolish part of preaching, that God hath moft remarkably bleffed for the falvation of fouls. I will therefore endeavour to fhew, in as plain and fatisfying a manner as I am able, that this is the doctrine of the holy fcripture; and then to vindicate it from the chief objections that are usually raised against it.
How many paffages of fcripture are there, that speak in the ftrongest terms, not only of our miferable but helpless ftate before converfion. Thus the apoftle to the Ephefians," And you "hath he quickened, who were dead in tref"paffes and fins t." And again, "But God, "who is rich in mercy, for his great love where "with he loved us, even when we were dead: "in fins, hath quickened us together with
*Titus iii. 5. † Eph. ii. 1.