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A PRACTICAL TRE A T IS E
John iii. 3. Jesus anfvered and said unto him, Verily, ve
rily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
H E condition on which ministers of the gospel hold their office, is extremely awful. “They must ren66 der an account unto God” of
their fidelity to the souls committed to their charge. Their duty and danger, as fervants of God,, are jointly and frongly expreffB
ed in the commission given to the prophet Ezekiel. " Son of man, I have made thee a « watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore " hear the word of my mouth, and give them "s warning from me. When I say unto the “ wicked, thou shalt surely die; and thou give « eft him not warning, nor speakest to warn the " wicked from his wicked way to save his life; « the same wicked man shall 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 shall die in his iniquity: but thou * hast delivered thy foul *."
It is natural for us, in such a Gtuation, to be often revolving in our minds this great and weighty trust. It is at once our duty and interest, to consider with all possible care, in what way we may have the easiest and most effectual access 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 impression: in one word, how we may acquit ourselves of our ministry, so 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, 19i
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 so clear and convincing a light, as no person of common understanding thall be able to resist. I am often ready to fay within myself, Surely, if they be warned, they will no more dare to rush on the thick bofles of the Almighty's buckler: surely, the boldest finner must tremble at the thoughts of death, judgment and eternity, fast approaching, and from which it is impossible to Ay. But, when we fee, how many are able to fit unmoved under the most awful threatnings from the word of God, how many continue unchanged under the most alarming dispensations of Providence, our thoughts are immediately carried to the unsearchable depth of divine counsels; and we must say with our blessed Saviour, " Even 56 so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight* ; or with the apostle Paul, “ But if our gospel be 66 hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whoin « the god of this world hath blinded the minds 66 of them that believe not, left the light of the " glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of 66 God, should fhine unto them t.”.
The secret counsel of the most High, however, though we must adore with reverence, it is impoffible for us to comprehend. What influence * Luke X. 21,
t 2 Cor, iv, 39 40 B 2
this has upon the final state of particular persons, no man in the present life is, and probably no created being Mall ever be able fully to explain. This onły we know, that it is not such as to take away the guilt of fin, or destroy the efficacy of means. A sense of duty therefore constrains us to resume the arduous and difficult talk, intreating the affistance and blessing of God, under a firm persuasion that he will hear the prayer of faith, and make his own word “ quick and powerful, , $ sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing “ even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, 4 and of the joints and the marrow,
and a dila cerner of the thoughts and intents of the * heart.”
The subject I have made choice of, and intend to handle in the ensuing treatise, immediately regards the substance of religion, and is happily as little intangled in controversy as any that could be named. We are told that o
except a man be born again, he cannot see the king« dom of God.” In this all parties, every profeffion and denomination of christians, do or ought to agree. By whatever name you are called, whatsoever leader you profess to follow, whatever ordinances you enjoy, if you are not “ born again," you shall not enter into the kingdom of God.