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4. That though man can neither draw from / say, that " in you; that is, in your flesh, dwellthe wreck of nature, nor from exterior revela- eth no good thing.” It will say, that “this tion, the requisite aid to fulfil the conditions of flesh is not subject to the law of God;, neither his salvation; and though the grace of the Holy indeed can be." It will say, that you carry Spirit be promised to him; he has no right to within you, "a law in your members, which presume on those aids, while he obstinately re- wars against the law of your mind; a flesh sists the aids afforded him by his frail nature, which lusteth against the spirit.” It will tell and by exterior revelation.
you, that man in regard to the conditions of 5. That the aids of the Holy Spirit promis- his salvation is a stock, a stone, a nothing; that ed to men, are imparted at first by measure; he is blind and dead. It would be easy to hence to abuse those he already has, is the swell the list! It would be easy indeed, but in surest way to obstruct the reception of fresh adducing to you those passages of Scripture on support
which we found the sad doctrine of natural de6. To whatever degree one may have carried pravity, I observe the caution already laid the abuse of past favours, one ought not to de: down, of preferring in the selection, a small spair of obtaining fresh support, which should number of conclusive passages, to the producalways be asked with fervent prayer.
tion of a multitude. Nature being so far corThese, brethren, are our six propositions, rupted, man cannot, without the aids of grace which apparently contain all that a Christian conform to the conditions of his salvation. ought to know, and all he ought to do on Here is the first thing you ought to know, this subject. God is my witness that I enter and the first thing you ought to do; it is, to on the discussion in such a way as appears to feel your weakness and inability; to humble me most proper to cherish among us that peace, and abase yourselves in presence of the holy which should ever be so dear, and to prevent God; to cry from the abyss into which you are all those unhappy controversies which have plunged, "O wretched man that I am, who agitated the church in general, and this repub- shall deliver me from the body of this death!" lic in particular. I shall proceed with these Rom. vii. 24. It is to groan under the deprapropositions in the same temper as I have enu- vity of sin. O glory of primitive innocence, merated them, and haste to make them the whither art thou tled! O happy period, in which conclusion of this discourse.
man was naturally prompted to believe what is 1. Nature is so depraved, that man, without true, and to love what is amiable, why art thou supernatural aids, cannot conform to the con- so quickly vanished away! Let us not deplore ditions of his salvation. Would to God that the curse on the ground; the infection of air; this proposition was less true! Would to God nor the animals destined for the service of man, that we had more difficulty in proving it! But that now turn their fury against him; let us study your own heart. Listen to what it whis- rather deplore our disordered faculties; our bepers in your ear concerning the precepts God clouded reason, and our perverted will. has given in his word: listen to it on the sight 2. But however great, however invincible, of the man who has offended you. What ani- the corruption of all men may be, there is a mosity! what detestation! what revenge! Lis- wide difference between him who has the adten to it in prosperity. What ambition! what vantage of revelation, and him to whom it is pride! what arrogance! Listen to it when we denied. This is the second thing you ought to exhort you to humility, to patience, to charity: know on the subject we discuss; and this seWhat evasions! what repugnance! what excuses! cond point of speculation is a second source of
From the study of your own heart, proceed practice. Do not apply to Christians born in to that of others. Examine the infancy, the the Church, and acquainted with revelation, life, the death of man. In his infancy you portraits which the holy Scriptures give solely will see the fatal germ of his corruption; sad, to those who are born in pagan darkness. I but sensible proof of the depravity of your na- am fully aware that revelation, unattended ture, an alarming omen of the future. You with the supernatural aids of grace, is inadewill see him prone to evil from his very cradle, quate for a man's conversion. The preceding indicating from his early years the seeds of article is sufficient to prove it. I know that all every vice, and giving from the arms of the men are naturally " dead in trespasses and nurses that suckle him, preludes of all the ex- sins.” It is evident, however, that this death cesses into which he will fall as soon as his ca- has its degrees: and that the impotency of a pacity is able to aid his corruption. Contem- man, favoured with revelation, is not of the plate him in mature age; see what connexions same kind as that of him who is still in pagan he forms with his associates! Connexions of darkness. It is equally manifest, that a man, ambition; connexions of avarice; connexions who, after having heard the doctrine of the of cupidity. Look at him in the hour of gospel, grovels in the same sort of error and of death, and you will see him torn from a world vice into which he was impetuously drawn by from which he cannot detach his heart, regret- his natural depravity, is incomparably more ting even the objects which have constituted guilty than he who never heard the gospel. his crimes, and carrying to the tomb, if I may Hear what Jesus Christ says of those who, have so speak, the very passions which, during life, ing heard the gospel, and who had not availed have divided the empire of his soul.
themselves of its aids to forsake their error and After studying man, study the Scriptures: vice; “Had I not coine and spoken unto them, there
you will see that God has pledged the they had not had sin; but now they have no infallibility of his testimony to convince us of cloak for their sin.” Here is the second thing a truth, to which our presumption scrupled to you ought to know; hence the second thing subscribe. It will say, that “ you were con- you ought to do, is, not to sheller yourselves, ceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity.” It will / with a view to extenuate voluntary depravity,
a O un
under certain passages of Scripture, which ex- / vation; he has no right to presume on the grace claim not against the impotency of a Christian, of the Holy Spirit, while he obstinately resists but against that of a man who is still in pagan the aids which frail nature, and revelation afdarkness; you must apply the general assertion ford. But here we seem to forget one of the of Jesus Christ to all the exterior cares that maxims already laid down, and what we ourhave been taken to promote your conversion: selves have advanced; that if it is requisite for “If I had not come and spoken unto them, me to fulfil the conditions with which the gosthey had not had sin; but now they have no pel has connected salvation, how can I do cloak for their sin.” O my soul, with what otherwise than obstinately resist the efforts humiliating ideas should those words of the which frail nature, and exterior revelation afLord strike thee! If God had not come; if he ford? This difficulty is but in appearance. To had not made thee to suck truth and virtue know, whether when abandoned to our natural with thy mother's milk; if he had not raised depranty, and aided only by exterior revelathee up masters in thy youth, and ministers in tion, we can conform to the conditions of the thy riper age; if thou hadst not heard so many gospel; or whether, when abandoned to the instructive and pathetic sermons, and read so depravity of nature, and aided only by exterior many instructive and affecting books; if thou revelation, we are invincibly impelled to every hadst not been pressed by a thousand and a species of crime, are two very different questhousand calls, thou hadst not had sin; at least tions. That we cannot perform the conditions thou mightest have exculpated thyself on the of salvation, I readily allow; but that we are ground of thy ignorance and natural depravity; invincibly impelled to every species of crime, but now thou art “ without excuse."
is insupportable. Whence then came the difhappy creature, what years has God tutored ference between heathen and heathen, between thee in his church! What account canst thou Fabricius and Lucullus, between Augustus and give of all his care! Now thou art “without Sylla, between Nero and Titus, between Comexcuse." Here is the way we should study modus and Antony? Whatever you are able to ourselves, and not lose sight of the precaution, do by your natural strength, and especially not to sap morality under a plea of establish- when aided by the light of revelation, do it, if ing this part of our theology.
you wish to have any well-founded hope of ob3. The aids which man is unable to draw taining the supernatural aids, without which either from the wreck of nature or from exte- you cannot fulfil the conditions of your salvarior revelation, are promised to him in the gos- tion. But the Scriptures declare, you say, that pel: he may attain them by the operations of without the grace of the Holy Spirit you can the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God this con- do nothing, and that you can have no real virsolatory proposition is supported by express tue but what participates of your natural corpassages of Scripture; by passages the most ruption: I allow it; but practice the virtues conclusive, according to our first precaution. which participate of your natural corruption, What else is the import of the thirty-first chap- if you would wish God to grant you his divine ter of Jeremiah's prophecies? “ Behold the aids. Be corrupt as Fabricius, and not as Ludays come, saith the Lord, that I will make a cullus; be corrupt as Augustus, and not as Sylnew covenant with the house of Israel, and la; be corrupt as Titus, and not as Nero; as Anwith the house of Judah.—This shall be the tonius, and not as Commodus. One of the covenant that I will make with them: I will grand reasons why God withholds from some put my law in their inward parts, and write it men the aids of grace, is, because they resist in their hearts." What else is the import of the aids they mighi derive from their frail nathe thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel's prophecies? ture. Here the theology of St. Paul, and the “I will sprinkle clean water upon you; I will decision of that great preceptor in grace, imgive you a new heart; I will put a new spirit poses silence on every difficulty of which this within you.” What else is the import of St. point may be susceptible. Speaking of the James' words in the first chapter of his general heathens in the first chapter of his epistle to epistle? “ If any man lack wisdom, let him ask the Romans, he says, “That which may be of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and known of God is manifested in them;" or, as I upbraideth not. And of Jesus Christ in the would rather read, is manifest to them; “but words of my text, “The wind bloweth where because that when they knew God, they gloit listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, rified him not as God, neither were thankful,” but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whi- Rom. i. 19—21. “That which may be known ther it goeth.” Hence the third thing that we of God is manifested unto them;" here then is should know, and the third thing that we should the aid pagans might draw from the ruins of do, is, to bless God that he has not left us to nature; they might know that there was a God; the weakness of nature; it is, like St. Paul, they might have been thankful for his temporal “to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ,” gifts, for rain and fruitful seasons; and instead Rom. i. 8; it is to ask of him those continual of the infamous idolatry to which they abansupports, without which “we can do nothing.” don themselves, they might have seen the inviIt is often to say to him, “O God, draw us, sible things of God, which are manifest by his and we will run after thee. Create in us a work. And because they did not derive those clean heart, and renew a right spirit within aids from the ruins of nature, they became us,” Cant. i. 8; Ps. li. 12.
wholly unworthy of divine assistance; “God 4. But is it sufficient to pray? Is it enough gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts to ask? We have said in the fourth place, that of their own hearts. -- They changed the truth though a man may be unable to draw from of God into a lie, and worshipped and served frail nature, and exterior revelation, the requi- the creature more than the Creator, who is site aids to conform to the conditions of his sal- I blessed for ever."
5. Our fifth proposition imports, that the aids system of delaying conversion accord with this of the Holy Spirit promised to man are gra- idea? What time would you allow for this dually imparted; hence, to misapply the grace change and reformation? A month? a week? a we have, is the most dangerous way to obstruct day? the last extreinity of a mortal malady? the reception of fresh support. But listen to What! in so short a time would you consumsome of our suprala psarians, and they will say, inate a work to which the longest life would that the design of God in promising these aids, hardly suffice? And in what circumstances is to assure us that how much soever we shall would you do it! In deliriuin; in the agonies resist one measure of grace, he will still give us of death; at a time when one is incapable of a greater measure, and ever proportion the the smallest application; at a time when we counterpoise of grace to that of a deliberate, can scarce admit among the attendants, a obstinate, voluntary enemy. So many have friend, a child, whom we love as our own lise; understood ile doctrine of our church respect at a time when the smallest business appears ing irresistible grace; to judge of it consonant as a world of difficulty? to their ideas, this grace redoubles its efforts as But if what we have now said, after this the sinner redoubles his revolts; so that he who“ teacher come from God," on the nature of shall throw the greatest obstacles in its way, regeneration, has begun to excite some scrushall be the very man who shall have the fair. ples in your mind concerning the plan of deest claims to its richest profusion.
laying conversion, let each of you recall, as Poor Christians! are these your conceptions far as he is able, what Jesus Christ has said, of religion? My God! is it thus thy gospel is and what we have said, following him, conunderstood? I hope, my brethren, that not cerning the necessity of regeneration: for since any one of us shall have cause to recognise you are obliged to confess that regeneration himself in this portrait; for I am bold to aver, cannot be the work of the last moments of that of all the most heterodox opinions, and life, I ask, on what ground you found the systhe most hostile to the genius of the gospel, tem of delaying conversion? Do you flatter the one I have just put into the mouth of cer- yourselves that God will be so far satisfied tain Christians, is that which really surpasses with your superficial efforts towards regenerathem all. On the contrary, he who opposes tion, as to excuse the genuine change? Do the greatest obstacles to the operations of you hope that this general declaration of the grace, is precisely the man who must expect Saviour, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, exthe smallest share of it. Grace diminishes its cept a man be born again, he cannot enter the efforts in proportion as the sinner redoubles his kingdom of God,” shall have an exception resistance. Obstinate revolt against its first with regard to you? have then the reflections operations, is the sure way to be deprived of we made in our second discourse against this the second; and the usual cause which deprives chimerical notion, made no impression on you? us of it, is the want of co-operation with its Do we preach to rational beings? or do we true design.
preach to stocks and stones? Have ye not 6. We are now come to the last proposi- perceived that regeneration is founded on the tion, with which we shall close this discourse. genius of the gospel; and that every doctrine However unworthy we may be of the divine of it is comprised in the proposition, " Verily, assistance, and whatever abuse we may have verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born made of it, we should never despair of its aids. again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We do not say this to flatter the lukewarm- It is founded on the nature of man, and on ness of man, and to soothe his shameful delay the proposed design of Jesus Christ to make of conversion; on the contrary, if there be a him happy; and the acquisition of this end doctrine which can prompt us to diligence; if would imply a contradiction, if a man should there be a doctrine which can induce us to de- revolt at the change and the reformation; bevote the whole time of our life to the work of cause, since the loss of primitive innocence, salvation, it is the one we have just announced our state is become our calamity; and it would in this discourse, and made the subject of our imply a contradiction that we should be detwo preceding sermons. We have considered livered from our calamity, unless we should three points in the conversation of Jesus Christ be delivered from our state. It is founded on with Nicodemus; the nature, the necessity, and the nature of God himself: of the two, God the Author of the “new birth.” And what is must either renounce his perfections, or we there in all this which does not tend to sap must renounce our imperfections; and if I may the delay of conversion?
dare so to speak of my Maker, God must Let each of you recollect, as far as memory either regenerate himselt, or we must regeneis able, what Jesus Christ has taught, and rate ourselves. what we have taught after him, on the subject Upon what then do you found your hopes of regeneration. This work does not consist of conversion on a death-bed? Upon the aids in a certain superficial change which may be of that grace without which you never can be made in a moment: in that case, it would suf- converted? But does the manner in which we fice to have a skilful physician, and to com- have just described those aids, afford you any mission him to warn us of the moment when hope of obtaining them, when you shall have we must leave the world, that we may devote obstinately and maliciously resisted them to that precise moment to the work of our salva- the end? tion. But the regeneration which Jesus Christ Meanwhile, I maintain my last proposition; requires, is an entire transformation; a change I maintain that however unworthy you may of ideas, a change of desires, a change of have rendered yourselves of divine aid, you hopes, a change of taste, a change in the ought never to despair of obtaining it. Yes, schemes of happiness. How then does the though you should have resisted the Holy
Ghost to the end of life; though you should | tion. “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new have but one hour to live, devote it; call in creature; old things are past away, and behold your ministers; offer up prayers, and take the all things are become new,” 2 Cor. v. 17. kingdom of heaven by violence! We will not This was the change which Jesus Christ andeprive you of this the only hope which can nounced to Nicodemus, though the Rabbi could remain: we will not exclude you from the final not comprehend it. How explicit soever the avenues of grace. Perhaps your last efforts declarations of the prophets had been on this may have effect; perhaps your prayers shall subject; however familiar their style was among be heard; perhaps the Holy Spirit will give the Jews, regeneration, to regenerate a new effect to the exhortations of his ministers; and, man, were terms whose import Nicodemus to say all in a single word, perhaps God will could not distinguish. He flattered himself work a miracle in your favour, and deviate that it sufficed for admission into the commufrom the rules he is accustomed to follow in nion of the Messiah, to acknowledge the authe conversion of other men.
thenticity of his mission, the sublimity of his Perhaps; ah! my brethren, how little con- doctrine, and the superiority of his miracles. solation does this word afford in the great “ Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher events of life; and less consolation still when come from God, for no man can do those miraapplied to our salvation! Perhaps; ah! how cles that thou dost, except God be with him." little is that word capable of consoling a soul | He hoped that this avowal would conciliate when it has to contend with death. My bre- the esteem of Jesus Christ, while it equally thren, we can never consent to make your preserved that of the Jews. He flattered himsalvation depend on a perhaps; we cannot see self with having found the just mean of that you would have any other hope of salva- distinction between that of his persecutors, tion than that of man, who throws himself and his disciples. Jesus Christ undeceived him from a lower; a man actually descending in in the words upon which our discourse must the air, that may be saved by a miracle, but devolve. No, no, said he; God requires no he has so many causes to fear the contrary. such conduct; to him all accommodations are We cannot see that you would have any other odious; you must choose, either to perish with ground of hope than that of a man who is those who fight against me, or become renounder the axe of the executioner, whose arm vated with those who account it their glory to is uplifted, which may indeed be held by a fight under iny stewards. Verily, verily, I celestial hand; but how many reasons excite say unto thee, except a man be born again, he alarm that he will strike the fatal blow! We cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not would wish to be able to say to each of you, that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. “ fear not,” Mark v. 30. We would wish Art thou a doctor of the law, and knowest that each of you could say to himself, “I thou not these things” know; I am persuaded;" 2 Tim. i. 12. Second We said sometime ago, that one must not our wishes: labour; pray; pray without ceas- confound the change which the gospel requires ing; labour during the whole of life. This is of a weak and ditfident Christian, with that the only means of producing that gracious as- which it requires of a man who has not as yet surance and delightful persuasion. May God embraced religion, as it would be wrong to say bless your efforts, and hear qur prayers. Amen. of some who hear us, and who, notwithstandTo whom be honour and glory for ever. Amen. ing their weakness and diffidence, are really
members of Christ, that they shall not enter
the kingdom of God, unless they are born SERMON XCVIII. again. But can we doubt, that among the
many who compose the circles of Christian
society, among the many who compose this THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION. congregation, there are many who are in the
error of Nicodemus? Can we doubt that many
of you also, like this doctor, still divide your(NOW FIRST TRANSLATED.]
selves between God and the world; and who
flatter themselves to have the essence of Chris John iii. 5—7.
tianity, when they have but the exterior name.
It is to men of this class, that we address ourJesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, selves in this discourse. We proceed conforma
except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, bly to the example of our great Master to he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That make an effort to open their eyes, and show which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that them the inutility of this semi-Christianity to which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel which their views are circumscribed; and denot that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. clare, “verily, verily, except a man be born It is a sublime idea that the prophets give again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." of the change which the preaching of the gos- It is thus we shall continue the execution of pel should effectuate in the earth, when they the plan formed in our first discourse.
We represent it under the figure of a new crea- there remarked three things in the conversation: “Behold I create new heavens, and a tion of Jesus Christ with Nicodemus: the nanew earth; and the former things shall not be ture of regeneration; the necessity of regeneraremembered,” Isa. Ixv. 17. These new hea- tion; and the Author of regeneration. The vens, and this new earth, my brethren, must first of these articles we have already discusshave new inhabitants. It would imply an ab- ed: we now proceed to the second; and relying surdity for God to unite the disorders of the on the aids of God already implored, and old world with the felicities of the new crea- I which we still implore with all the powers
of our souls, we proceed to enforce the neces- All the principles of the Christian religion, sity of regeneration, whose nature and charac-are in direct opposition to the principles of the ters we have already described.
unregenerate. It is not possible to embrace We take it for granted, that this expression the Christian religion, without being born again 80 familiar in our Scriptures, “the kingdom in the sense we lave given to this expression. of God,” or “the kingdom of heaven," can- What is the sense given to this figurative not be wholly unknown to you. The Hebrews phrase, born again, in our first discourse! In substitute heaven for God (and this mode of what does the truth of the metaphor consist? speaking is common enough in all languages;) A change of ideas; a change of desires; a hence come the expressions which abound in change of taste; a change of hope; a change our writings, the aids of Heaven for the aids of pursuits. Examine the nature of the Chrisof God; and death inflicted by the hand of tian religion, and you will at once see that its Heaven, for the hand of God. Just so, the principles are directly opposed to those of the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of God, unrogenerate; and that the religion of a man are two phrases promiscuously used in the which rejects conversion as to any one of these New Testament. I forbear more texts, which five points, be it which it may, is a religion diwould only waste the time destined for truths rectly opposed to that of Jesus Christ. more important and more controverted.
1. The religion of a man who rejects a Now, this expression, “the kingdom of change of ideas is a religion directly opposed God,” can have but one of those two mean- to that of Jesus Christ. The change of ideas ings, of the most common occurrence in our here in question, consists, as already explained, Scriptures. It may signify either the economy not indeed in the renunciation of reason, but of the Messiah, which the prophet Daniel re- in a persuasion that the best possible use a rapresents under the idea of a kingdom, or the tional being can make of reason, is to allow it felicity of the blessed. The first is the import to lead him to God, who is the source of all of our Saviour's words, Matthew the xiith; intelligence. Now, it is demonstrated by the “If I had cast out devils by the Spirit of God, nature of the Christian religion, that without then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” this disposition of mind, no man can be a That is to say, if I have received of God the Christian. gift of miraculous powers; if I.eject deinons The Christian religion teaches us two sorts by the power of God, you may be fully assur- of truths, some which lie open to our ideas, ed that the Advent of the Messiah, which you and which the mind of man may discover by have awaited with so much desire, is come its own efforts; but which on the coming of unto you; it being impossible that God should Jesus Christ were so beclouded with obscurity, lend his Almighty power to an impostor. and with innumerable prejudices, as to require
This expression, the kingdom of God,” | energies almost more than human to penetrate signifies also the state of the blessed. So it them. Such were the doctrines of a provimust be understood in the encomium which dence, the immortality of the soul, a judgment, our Saviour pronounced on the great faith of a a future state, and some others. The object heathen centurion. “Verily, I say unto you, of the Christian religion has been to substitute that many shall come from the east, and from divine authority for that of discussion. You the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, cannot fully demonstrate the doctrine of a proand Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of hea- vidence, because of the obscurity in which it ven;" that is, many of those gentiles who were is involved. This doctrine is decided in the then“ without God, and without hope in the gospel: hear the words of Jesus Christ. "The world,” shall be admitted with Abraham, hairs of your head are numbered: God feeds the Isaac, and Jacob, to the celestial felicity, re- ravens; a sparrow falls not to the ground withpresented in our Scriptures by the idea of a out his will." You cannot fully demonstrate feast. We think ourselves authorized to take the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, this expression in the first of the meanings we and of a future state, because of the darkness here just assigned it: “ Except a man be born in which they are enveloped. Jesus Christ of water and of the Spirit, he shall not enter has decided these points. Hear his words: the kingdom of God;" that is, to become a “ The wicked shall go away into everlasting member of the church of Christ, he must be fire, but the righteous into life eternal.” It is born again; but if any one will adhere to the the same with regard to other doctrines. In latter sense, we feel no interest in disputing this respect, it seems quite clear to me, that the point. Jesus Christ requires us to teach, the principles of the unregenerate are incomthat his communion affords no mean of attain-patible with the design of the Christian reliing eternal happiness, but that of regenera- gion. Because its designs on all these points tion. The distinction has nothing that should being to supply by authority that of discussion, stop us: to have named it, is enough; perhaps no man can be a Christian who does not subtoo much.
mit to the authority by which they are decidLet us come at once to the essential point, ed. The temper of a man who will believe and prove that this regeneration is absolutely nothing, admit nothing, but what can be denecessary to become a Christian, or as I have monstrated by the efforts of his own mind, is said, to attain to celestial happiness. This we directly opposed to the design of the Chrisshall prove by three arguments.
tian religion; hence, on this point, a man must I. The first is taken from the genius of the be born again before he can enter the kingdom Christian religion.
of God: the religion of the unregenerate, and II. The second from the wants of man. that of the Christian, are not only different, III. The third from the perfections of God. but directly opposed. I. From the genius of the Christian religion. The second order of truths revealed by the