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be able to affix a proper meaning to so strong an expression. I have read an observation of an eminent author, That those who cannot remember the time when they were ignorant or unJearned, have reason to conclude that they are so still : because, however flow and iníenfible the steps of improvement have been, the effects will at Jait clearly appear, by comparison with an uncultivated late. In the same manner, whoever cannot remember the time when he served the former lufts in his ignorance, has reason to conclude that no change deserving the name of regeneration has ever yet taken place.
It will be, perhaps, accounted an exception to this, that some are so early formed for the service of God, by his blessing on a pious education, and happily preserved from ever entering upon the destructive paths of vice, that they cannot be supposed to recollect the time when they were at enmily with God. But this is an objection of no consequence. The persons here described have generally, so much tenderness of conscience, so deep a sense of the evil of 'fin, that, of all others, they will most readily discover and confeis the workings of corruption in their own hearts, and that “ law in their mem“bers that warreth against the law of God in “ their minds." They will be of all others most sensible of the growth of the new, and mortifi. cation of the old nature ; and will often remember the folly and vanity of youth, in instances that by most others would have been reckoned perfectly harmless.
What hath been said in this section, is expressly designed to awaken such secure and careless formalists as may have any general belief of the word of God. To be born again must be a great change. Can you then suppose that you have undergone this not only without any application to it, but without so much as being senfible of it, or being able to discover its proper effects.
SECT. II. This expression, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN
AGAIN, and other fimilar expreffions, imply that the change here intended is not merely partial, but universal.
A New birth evidently implies an universal
change. It must be of the whole man, not in some particulars, but in all without exception. As this is a truth which naturally arises from the subject, so it is a truth of the last moment and importance, which merits the inost serious attention of all those who desire to keep themselves from illufion and felf-deceit in this interesting question.
TREATISE Innumerable are the deceits of Satan. If he cannot keep finners in absolute blindness and fecurity, which is his first attempt, he industriously endeavours to pervert their views of religion, either by causing them to mistake appearances for realities, or substituting a part for the whole. This branch of the subject is of the more confequence, that I am persuaded it is peculiarly applicable to great numbers of the ordinary hearers of the gospel as such. The great bulk of those -- who finally fall short of everlasting life, though they lived under the administration of word and facraments, are ruined by mistakes of this kind. There are few of them, if any at all, who have at no time, through their whole lives, any foc rious impreffions about their fouls, or do nothing in the way of religion. There are still fewer who are speculative unbelievers, and fortify themselves in their prophane practices, by irreligious principles. The far greatest number do some things, and abstain from others, to quiet the inward complaints of conscience, and must have some broken reed or other on which they may rest their eternal hopes.
It might serve in general to alarm such perfons, that, as I have observed above, the change is evidently very great, and therefore they ought not easily to suppose that it is already past. But I now add something still more awakening, that
the change, however-great, if it is only partial, is not fuch as is necessary to salvation. There may be a change truly great in some particulars, from one period of life to another, not only senfible to a man's felf, but visible and remarkable to others about him, which yet is not faving, because it is not general, or because it is not permanent. The truth of this observation, that the change must be universal, appears from the constant tenor of the holy fcriptures. Thus the Psalmist says, “ Then shall I not be ashamed, 66 when I have respect unto ALL thy command, & ments *." And the apostle James, “ Who
foever shall keep the whole law, and yet of“ fend in one point, he is guilty of ALL t.” It is, indeed, so much the language of scripture, that it is needless to insist upon it. God will be ferved without a rival, and will not share domic nion with any in the human heart. But what I am persuaded will be of most use upon this subject, will be to point out, in a few particulars, by what means a partial change is sometimes brought about, and how this differs from the faving and universal.
1. In the first place, sometimes a partial change in point of morals, is produced merely by a natural or accidental change in age, temper, or situation. There are different fins to which men
* Pfal, cxix, 6.
+ James ii, 10,
are addicted in the different periods or stages of human life. These, of consequence, give way to, and are succeeded by, one another. There are, indeed, instances of extraordinary depravation in some persons, who “ selling themselves” like Ahab to work iniquity, become the flaves of almost every
evil habit incident to human nature. These, however, are esteemed monsters even by the world in general, who continue in the commission of every sin while they can, and burn with desires after them when they cannot. But it often happens that the folly and levity, nay, even the diffolute licentiousness of youth, gives way to the ambitious projects of riper years, and the hurry of an active life; and these again are succeeded by fordid, selfish, and covetous old age. In many cases the fins are changed, but the difpofition to fin, and averfion from God, remains still the fame. One sin may be easily supplanted by another, in a heart that is wholly a stranger to renewing grace. How greatly then may men deceive themselves, by drawing favourable conclufions from even a great and remarkable change in some one or more particulars, while they continue under the government of sins of a different kind. It is of small confequence which of the commandments of God are transgressed, since they are all of equal and indispensible obligation. It is of little moment for a man to get quit of