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CHA P. III.
JOHN iii. 3.
Jefus answered and faid unto him, Verily, verily, I fay unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot fee the kingdom of God.
HE condition on which minifters of the gospel hold their office, is extremely awful. "They muft ren❝der an account unto God" of their fidelity to the fouls committed to their charge. Their duty and danger, as fervants of God,, are jointly and ftrongly expreff
ed in the commiffion given to the prophet Ezekiel. "Son of man, I have made thee a "watchman unto the house of Ifrael, therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them "warning from me. When I fay unto the "wicked, thou shalt furely die; and thou giv"eft him not warning, nor speakest to warn the "wicked from his wicked way to fave his life; "the fame wicked man fhall die in his iniquity, "but his blood will I require at thine hand. "Yet, if thou warn the wicked, and he turn << not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked "way, he fhall die in his iniquity: but thou
haft delivered thy foul *.”
It is natural for us, in fuch a fituation, to be often revolving in our minds this great and weighty truft. It is at once our duty and intereft, to confider with all poffible care, in what way we may have the easiest and most effectual accefs to the hearts of finners: what views of divine truth will be most convincing; what forms of addrefs will make the strongest and most lasting impreffion: in one word, how we may acquit ourselves of our miniftry, fo as to be a "fa"vour of life unto life," to many of those who hear us, and to deliver our own fouls" from the blood of thofe that perish.
Ezek. iii. 17, 18, 19,
Such, indeed, is the undeniable moment and importance of the truths of the gospel, that I am often ready to think, it will be easy to set them in fo clear and convincing a light, as no person of common understanding thall be able to refift. I am often ready to fay within myself, Surely, if they be warned, they will no more dare to rush on the thick boffes of the Almighty's buckler: furely, the boldeft finner muft tremble at the thoughts of death, judgment and eternity, faft approaching, and from which it is impoffible to fy. But, when we fee, how many are able to fit unmoved under the moft awful threatnings from the word of God, how many continue unchanged under the most alarming difpenfations of Providence, our thoughts are immediately carried to the unfearchable depth of divine counfels; and we must say with our bleffed Saviour, " Even
fo, Father, for fo it seemed good in thy fight*; or with the apoftle Paul, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are loft: in whom "the god of this world hath blinded the minds
of them that believe not, left the light of the "glorious gofpel of Chrift, who is the image of "God, fhould fhine unto them +."
The fecret counfel of the moft High, however, though we must adore with reverence, it is impoffible for us to comprehend. What influence † 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4•
* Luke x. 21,
this has upon the final state of particular persons, no man in the present life is, and probably no created being fhall ever be, able fully to explain. This only we know, that it is not fuch as to take away the guilt of fin, or deftroy the efficacy of means. A fenfe of duty therefore constrains us to refume the arduous and difficult task, intreating the affiftance and bleffing of God, under a firm perfuafion that he will hear the prayer of faith, and make his own word "quick and powerful,
fharper than any two-edged fword, piercing 46 even to the dividing afunder of foul and fpirit, "and of the joints and the marrow, and a dis"cerner of the thoughts and intents of the "heart."
The fubject I have made choice of, and intend to handle in the enfuing treatife, immediately regards the fubftance of religion, and is happily as little intangled in controversy as any that could be named. We are told that " except
a man be born again, he cannot see the king"dom of God." In this all parties, every profeffion and denomination of chriftians, do or ought to agree. By whatever name you are called, whatsoever leader you profefs to follow, whatever ordinances you enjoy, if you are not "born again," you shall not enter into the kingdom of God.