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sanctification. The truth is, men are regenerated, converted, and sanctified, by the special operation of the divine Spirit, and are always equally active under his gracious influence. For it is impossible, that he should produce love, or repentance, or faith, or any other gracious desire, affection, or volition, without their being active. The supposition that men are passive, under the regenerating, converting, or sanctifying influence of the Spirit of God, is not only unreasonable and unscriptural, but inconsistent with every command in the Bible.
3. If the holy Spirit, in regeneration, produces nothing but love, or holy exercises; then the regenerate are as dependent upon him for their future, as for their first, exercises of grace. Regeneration gives them no new principle, nor new power. They are no more able to act of themselves, or independently of a divine influence, than they were before they were renewed. T'he same divine influence is as necessary to produce the second, as the first exercise of love, the third, as the second exercise of love, and all future exercises of love, as the preceding ones. The preparation of their heart and the answer of their tongue, is continually from the Lord. He works in them both to will and to do in every duty. They are not sufficient of themselves to think any thing as of themselves; but their sufficiency is of God. David freely acknowledged before God his need of divine influence, in every act of obedience. “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.” Jeremiah humbly said, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Solomon said to his son, "Trust in
“ the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge
him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Every true saint can sincerely adopt the language of David, in his addresses to God from day to day. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be accep table in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” The more christians grow in grace, and become acquainted with their own hearts, the less confidence they have in themselves, and the more they realize their continual need of the sanctifying and quickening influences of the divine Spirit.
4. If the Spirit of God produces nothing but love in regeneration; then it is no more a supernatural work, on the part of God, than any other divine operation upon the minds of men. The Spirit of God has always produced holy love in the hearts of the angels of light; but who can suppose, that this is a supernatural or miraculous operation? The Spirit of God produced holy love in the hearts of our first parents brfore they apostatized; but who can suppose, that he operated supernaturally or miraculously upon their minds? There is nothing more supernatural or miracuTous, in the divine Spirit's producing holy love in those, who have been once destitute of it, than in producing the same holy affection in those, who have never been sinful. In regenerating a sinner, the Spirit does not counteract any law of nature, nor produce any miraculous effect. He did operate supernaturally, when he gave to one the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another the gifts of healing; to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. All these were supernatural effects, produced in a supernatural manner. But the working in men both to will and to do what is right, is no supernatural effect,
and no other than what he has done for nearly six thousand years together. It is true, indeed, that regeneration, conversion, and sanctification are all produced by the special operations of the Spirit. They may be called special, because he renews, converts, and sanctifies some and not others; and because, in regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, he produces those gracious affections, which are not common to mankind. There is reason to believe, that the speaking of regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, as a supernatural work, has led many to draw a very false and dangerous consequence from it. How many have hence inferred, that sinners are under a natural inability to love God, repent of sin, believe the gospel, and obey, from the heart, any of the divine commands? It is difficult to see, why this inference is not just, if regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, is owing to a supernatural operation of the Spirit. For, who has a natural ability to work miracles? and who can be properly required to make him a new heart, repent of sin, believe thegospel, and obey every divine command, before he is the subject of the supernatural and miraculous influences of the divine Spirit, if these are necessary to enable him to put forth such holy exercises? Those who preach, that regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, are produced by the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost, put an excuse into the mouths of sinners, which it is extremely difficult and even impossible to take away. This ought to teach teachers to use a more proper and scriptural language, in treating upon this solemn subject.
5. If the Spirit of God produces nothing but love, in regeneration; then sinners have no more excuse for not beginning to love God, than saints have for not continuing to love God. They can no more centin
ue to love God, without a divine influence, than sinners can begin to love God, without a divine influence. They are both equally and constantly dependent upon a divine influence, to do their duty. But who will say, that saints have any excuse, for not keeping themselves in the love of God, and being steadfast and unmoveable, in the performance of every duty, because God must work in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure? But if saints have no excuse, for the neglect of duty, then sinners have none. They cannot plead, that they are any more dependent upon divine influence, in order to love God, repent, believe the gospel, and obey the divine commands, than saints are. They need no other principle, power, or ability, to do all that God requires, than what they naturally possess. It is true, they need a divine influence, and so do saints. Nothing but their hating God prevents their loving him; and they are just as able to love him, as they are to hate him. They must be, therefore, as totally inexcusable and self-condemned, for not loving and serving God, as the best saints on earth are, for neglecting any duty. The divine commands lie upon them in their full force, to make them a new heart, to repent of sin, and to believe the gospel, without delay.
Finally, this subject teaches us, that the true, scriptural doctrine of regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, which all mean the same thing, is perfectly consistent with all the commands, which God has given to saints and to sinners. If regeneration does not consist in any new principle of action, but only in the production of holy and benevolent exercises; then God may consistently require saints to love him constantly and perfectly; and he may coasistently require sinners to love him as constantly and perfectly as saints. He may, with propriety, give the same commands to both. Though love be of God, and the fruit of the Spirit; yet both saints and sinners are bound to love God with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength; and this obligation will lie upon them in its full weight to all eternity. It is an obligation which is founded in the nature of things, and which cannot be dissolved, as long as God remains supremely amiable, and they remain capable of loving him with supreme affection. .