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dares not venture on the bargain; for though he thinks,
learned, if they be born again, they are Spirit-learned; for all such are taught of God, John vi. 45. The Spirit of regeneration teacheth them what they knew not before; and what they did know, as by the ear only, he teacheth them over again, as by the eye. The light of grace is an overcoming light, determining men to assent to divine truths on the mere testimony of God. It is no easy thing for the mind of man to acquiesce in divine revelation. Many pretend great respect to the scriptures; whom, nevertheless, the clear scripture testimony will not divorce from their preconceived opinions. But this illumination will make mens minds run, as captives, after Christ’s chariot wheels; which, for their part, shall be allowed to drive over, and cast down their own imaginations, and -every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, 2 Cor. x. 5. It will make them receive the kingdom of God as a little child, Mark x. 15. who thinks he has -sufficient ground to believe any thing, if his father do but say it is so. Secondly, The will is renewed. The Lord takes away the stony heart, and gives a heart of flesh, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. And so, of stones raiseth up children to Abraham. Regenerating grace is powerful and efficacious, and gives the will a new set. It does not indeed force it; but sweetly, yet powerfully draws it, so that his people are willing in the day of his power, Psal. cx. 3. There is heavenly oratory in the Mediator’s lips, to persuade sinners, Psal. xlv. 2. “ Grace is poured into thy lips.” There are cords of a man, and bands of love, in his hands, to draw them after him, Hos. xi. 4. Love makes a net for elect souls, which will infallibly catch them, and hail them to land. The cords of Christ’s love are strong cords; and they need to be so; for every sinner is heavier than a mountain of brass; and Satan, together with the heart itself, draw the contrary way. But love is strong as death; and the Lord’s love to the soul he died for is strongest love ; which acts so powerfully, that it must come off victorious. 1. The will is cured of its utter inability to will what is good. While the opening of the prison to them that are bound is proclaimed in the gospel, the Spirit of God comes to the prison door, opens it, goes to the prisoner, and by the power of his grace makes his chains fall off; breaks the bond of iniquity, wherewith he was held in sin, so as he could neither will nor do any thing truly good; brings him forth into a large place. “Working in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Phil. ii. 13. Then it is that the soul, that was fixed to the earth, can mov heavenward ; the withered hand is restored, and can be
2. There is wrought in the will a fixed aversion to evil. In regeneration, a man gets a new spirit put within him, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. and that spirit lusteth against the flesh, Gal. v. 17. The sweet morsel of sin, so greedily swallowed down, he now lothes, and would fain be rid of it; even as willingly as one that had drunk a cup of poison would throw it up again. When the spring is stopped, the mud lies in the well unmoved; but when once the spring is cleared, the waters springing up, will work the mud away by degrees. Even so, while a man continues in an unregenerate state, sin lies at ease in the heart; but as soon as the Lord strikes the rocky heart with the rod of his strength, in the day of conversion, grace is in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life, John iv. working away natural corruption, and gradually purifying the heart, Acts xv. 9. The renewed will riseth up against sin, strikes at the root thereof, and the branches too. Lusts are now grievous, and the soul endeavours to st rve them ; the corrupt nature is the source of all evil; and, therefore, the soul will be often laying it before the great Physician. O what sorrow, shame, and self-lothing fill the heart, in the day that grace makes its triumphant entrance into it. For now the madman is come to himself, and the remenbrance of his follies cannot but cut him to the heart.
Lastly, The will is endued with an inclination, bent, and propensity to good. In its depraved state, it lay quite another way, being prone and bent to evil only ; but now, by a pull of the omnipotent all-conquering arm, it is drawn from evil to good, and gets another set. And as the former set was natural, so this is natural too, in respect of the new nature given in regeneration, which has its own holy lustings, as well as the corrupt old nature hath its sinful lustings, Gal. v. 17. The will, as renewcd, inclines and points towards God and godliness. When
God made man, his will, in respect of its intention, was directed towards God, as his chief end; in respect of its choice, it pointed towards that which God willed. When man unmade himself, his will was framed into the very reverse hereof; he made himself his chief end, and his own will his law. But when man is new made, in regeneration, grace rectifies this disorder in some measure, though not perfectly indeed; because we are but renewed in part, while in this world. It brings back the sinner, out of himself, to God as his chief end, truly, though not perfectly, Psalm lxxiii. 25. “Whom have I in heaven but thee 3 and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Phil. i. 21. “ For me to live is Christ.” It makes him to deny himself, and whatever way he turns, to point habitually towards God, who is the center of the gracious soul, its home, its dwelling place in all generations, Psalm xc. 1. By regenerating grace, the will is framed into a conformity to the will of God. It is conformed to his preceptive will, being endued with holy inclinations, agreeable to every one of his commands. The whole law is impressed on the gracious soul; every part of it is written over on the renewed heart. "And although remaining corruption makes such blots in the writing, that ofttimes the man himself cannot read it; yet he that wrote it, can read it at all times; it is never quite blotted out, nor can be. What he has written, it shall stand ; “For this is the covenant, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts,” Heb. viii. 10. And it is a covenant of salt, a perpetual covenant. It is also conformed to his providential will ; so that the man will no more be master of his own process, nor carve out his lot for himself. He learns to say from his heart, “The will of the Lord be done, he shall chuse our inheritance for us,” Psal. xlvii. 4. Thus the will is disposed to fall in with those things, which, in its depraved state, it could never be reconciled to. Particularly, (1.) The Lord is reconciled to the covenant of peace. The Lord God promiseth a covenant of . peace to sinners; a covenant which he himself hath framed, and registered in the Bible ; but they are not pleased with it; nay, an unrenewed heart cannot be pleased with it, Were it put into their hands, to frame it according to
their mind, they would not to any things out of it, which God has put in ; airi po it, many things which God has kept out. But the or eved heart is entirely satisfied with the covenant, 2 Sam. - xiii. 3. “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” Though the covenant could not be brought down to their depraved will, their will is, by grace, brought up to the covenant; they are well pleased with it; there is nothing in it they would have out, nor is any thing left out of it which they would have in. (2.) The will is disposed to receive Christ Jesus the Lord. The soul is content to submit to him. Regenerating grace undermines, and brings down the towering imaginations of the heart, raised up against its rightful Lord; it breaks the iron sinew, which kept the sinner from bowing to him, and disposed him to be no more stiffnecked, but to yield to himself. He is willing to take on the yoke of Christ’s commands, to take up the cross and to follow him. He is content to take Christ on any terms, Psal. cx. 3. “ Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Now, the mind being savingly enlightened and the will renewed, the sinner is thereby determined and enabled to answer the gospel call. Sothe main work in regenerationis done; the fort of the heart is taken; there is room made for the Lord Jesus Christ, in the innermost parts of the soul; the outer door of the will being now opened to him; as well as the inner door of the understanding. In one word, Christ is passively received into the heart; he is come into the soul by his quickening Spirit, whereby spiritual life is given to the man, who in himself was dead to sin. And his first vital act we may conceive to be an active receiving of Jesus Christ, discerned in his glorious excellencies; that is, a believing on him, a closing with him, as discerned, offered, and exhibited in the word of his grace, the glorious gospel; the immediate effect of which is union with him, John i. 12, 13. “To as many as received him, to them gave he power (or privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Eph. iii. *7. “ That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.”