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sacred writers give the marks of regeneration; they exhort to self-examination; they sometimes speak of professing Christians conditionally—" if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you:" they declare that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and our Lord himself asserts that those only who "overcome," shall enter heaven, and " sit down with him on his throne." Such is the whole tenor of Scripture. It is evident, therefore, that all the regenerate (who manifest their regeneration by victory over the world, freedom from allowed sin, faith in Christ, &c), and none besides the regenerate, snail enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is equally evident, that when the apostles speak of Christians (the baptized) as "elect," "saints," "buried with Christ in baptism," &c. they mean real Christians, the spiritually regenerate, and such as shall finally be saved; though, in addressing professed Christians as partakers of the spiritual and eternal blessings of the people of God, they must necessarily use the language of hypothesis or charitable supposition, as none besides "the Lord knoweth them that are his."—Several of the writers who have successfully opposed Dr. Mant's Tract on Regeneration (among whom there are some whom the author of this Sermon highly esteems) have ably demonstrated that baptism is not spiritual regeneration, and that either may exist independently of the other. But they do not seem fully to have met all Dr. Mant's arguments; which only can be effectually done by fully and fairly admitting that the Scripture and the Church hypotheticaUy consider the baptised as spiritually regenerate, unless by their want of repentance, faith, and holiness, there should be reason to fear they must be numbered amongst the tares, in the Visible Church. But of this, God only is the Judge. The supposition that the Church holds baptismal regeneration in contradistinction to spiritual, is altogether untenable. Every subject of baptism is considered as "regenerated by the Holy Spirit." In this point of view, Bishop Bradford's Tract on Baptismal and Spiritual Regeneration, which, on the whole, is valuable and excellent, as it clearly demonstrates the necessity of spiritual regeneration, and shews the nature of it as distinct from the outward ordinance of baptism, is nevertheless erroneous in admitting that baptism is regeneration in any sense when not accompanied by the spiritual blessing. In this case, the subjects of baptism are not regenerate, though they have been charitably supposed to be so by man:—they have only undergone an external change of state, by an admission from the world into the visible church, where they must remain among the tares, unless it should please the God of grace subsequently to bestow on them the spiritual blessings which they were hypothetical!y considered to have received, previously to, and in the use of, the appointed ordinance of baptism.
It is of importance to observe that regeneration is an evidence both of the
lowest and the highest state of religion. It includes its commencement, its progress, and its perfection. It is the seed or principle implanted by the Spirit of God in all the elect, from which all the effects and fruits of true religion arise and grow. It is a principle which man does not bring with him into the world; but which is subsequently communicated to him by the Holy Spirit Hence every infant who is saved, undergoes this change, not merely of slate but of nature; and has the principle of regeneration infused into his soul by the Spirit of God. For all are born in sin and are by nature destitute of regeneration, as is evidently implied by the term. Hence also, our blessed Lord says, "Except one (every human being) be born again, he cannot see nor enter into the kingdom of God." But the infant, under the Christian dispensation, cannot manifest the effects of religion by repentance, faith, and holiness, as being physically incapable of it, any more than the infant Jew (who was commanded expressly to be circumcised) could manifest " the righteousness of faith," of which circumcision was the sign and seal. On the other hand, in the adult and ripened Christian, regeneration produces deliverance from the dominion of sin, faith in Christ, victory over the world, &c. &c. as stated in the sermon.
If it should be considered that the doctrine of regeneration occupies too large a proportion of space in this sermon, the author's apology is, that he considers it a subject that ought to be thoroughly understood by the members of the church of England. It has, of late years, been a subject of much controversy among some of the ministers of the established church, and the controversy should never be relinquished till the truth is established. Many in the present age, both among the clergy and laity, are not sufficiently acquainted with the subject To some it is a stumbling-block, and by others it is misunderstood. The author was himself once in the number of those to whom he alludes. But he has for many years been convinced that the doctrine of the church of England on this subject is a branch of " the faith once delivered to the saints."
THE GENERAL JUDGMENT.
Acts xvii. 31.
HE HATH APPOINTED A DAY, IN THE WHICH HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS BY THAT MAN WHOM HE HATH ORDAINED; WHEREOF HE HATH GIVEN ASSURANCE UNTO ALL MEN, IN THAT HE HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.
Objects which are very great in themselves, are infinitely diminished in our ideas by their distance. The stars are immensely large bodies; but they seem so small to us that we may cover them with a mere point. The reason of their minute appearance to us arises from the immeasurable intervening space. Distance of time affects our minds in the same way as distance of space. We know that we shall die; but the certainty of the event, because of its fancied remoteness, does not forcibly affect our minds. If we were assured that our earthly career would terminate before the setting of another sun, how would the importance of this summons into eternity be magnified, in proportion to its nearness! As we postpone in our imagination the period of death, so we are accustomed to defer the approach of that day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be opened—the general judgment. If, dear brethren, you believe the Bible as a revelation from God, you believe that "He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness." This book of truth assures you that the Great Judge will appear, that the tribunal will be fixed, that the books will be opened, that all the human race must give an account of themselves unto God, and that according to His righteous award every individual will be made beyond description happy or miserable through everlasting ages. But how are you affected in the prospect of this awful day? Were you convinced that this tremendous scene would open upon you to-morrow, or that before you quit this church you would be startled with the signs of our Lord's coming in the air, what confusion, terror, and alarm would instantly overspread the congregation! But remember, beloved brethren, that this event is not less certain, nor less important, on account of the time which may elapse between the present moment and the events of that great day; whatever this period may be.
May the Holy Spirit of grace give us that faith which is "the evidence of things not seen," that our minds may be duly impressed with the consideration of the momentous subject which has been selected for our present meditation! In discussing the scripture account of the general judgment, let us consider,
I. The certainty of its appointment.
II. The character of the Judge, and the manner of his appearance.
III. The persons to be judged, and the proceedings that will take place in relation to their trial.
I. The first part of the subject is the certainty of the appointment of the general judgment.
"God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness." The certainty of this appointment is evident; and it may be argued from reason, from the testimony of Scripture, and from the fact of Christ's resurrection.
1. That there will be a general judgment, may be argued from reason.
It is not asserted that reason would have discovered this doctrine, any more than many other of the doctrines revealed in the word of God. But it having once been made known by revelation from the Deity, it is so consonant to the principle of reason in the human mind, that its certainty may be forcibly argued on this ground. Reason assures us that the rectitude, justice, and goodness of God require a judgment; because these attributes of the Deity require that it should be well with the righteous and ill with the wicked. But it is evident that this is far from being universally the case in the present world. We frequently see wickedness exalted and righteousness depressed. Religion is trodden under foot, while irreligion triumphs. This is a fact which, hitherto, has been common to all ages of the world. Hence our Lord taught his followers, in the days of his incarnation, that if they would be his disciples indeed,