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5. In their use of lawful comforts, there is a great change. They rest not in them, as their end; but use them, as means to help them in their way. They draw their satisfaction from the higher springs, even while the lower springs are running. Thus Hannah having obtained a son, rejoiced not so much in the gift as in the giver, 1 Sam. ü. 1. “ And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord.” Yea, when the comforts of life are gone, they can subsist without them, and rejoice in the Lord, although the fig-tree do not blossom, Hab. ii. 17, 18. Grace teacheth to use the conveniences of a present life passingly; and to shew a holy moderation in all things. The heart, which formerly immersed itself in these things without fear, is now shy of being over-much pleased with them; and being apprehensive of danger; uses them warily; as the dogs of Egypt run while they lap their water out of the river Nile, for fear of the crocodiles that are in it.
Lastly, This change shines forth in the man's performance of religious duties. He who lived in the neglect of them, will do so no more, if once the grace of God enter into his heart. If a man be new born, he will desire the sincere milk of the word, 1 Pet. ii. 2. Whenever the prayerless person gets the Spirit of grace, he will be in him a Spirit of supplication, Zech. xii. 10. It is as natural for one that is born again to fall a-praying, as for the new born babe to fall a-crying, Acts ix. 11. Behold, he firayeth. His heart will be a temple for God, and his house a church. His devotion, which before was superficial and formal, is now spiritual and lively; forasmuch as heart and tongue are touched with a live coal from Heaven; and he rests not in the mere performing of duties, as careful only to get his task done ; but in every duty seeking communion with God in Christ, justiy considering them as means appointed of God for that end, and reckoning himself disappointed if he miss of it. Thus far of the nature of regeneration. The Resemblance betwixt natural and spiritual Generation.
II. I come to shew why this change is called regeneration, a being born again. It is so called because of the re
semblance betwixt natural and spiritual generation, which lies in the following particulars :
First, Natural generation is a mysterious thing; and so is spiritual generation, John iii. 8.'« The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” The work of the Spirit is felt, but his way of working is a mystery we cannot comprehend. A new light is let into the mind, and the will is renewed; but how that light is conveyed thither, how the will is fettered with cords of love, and how the rebel is made a willing captive, we can no more tell, than we can tell how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, Eccl. xi. 5. As a man hears the sound of the wind, and finds it stirring, but knows not where it begins, and where it ends; so is every one that is born of the Spirit ; he finds the change that is made upon him, but how it is produced he know.' eth not. One thing he may know, that whereas he was blind, now he seethr; but the seed of grace doth spring and grow up, he knoweth not how, Mark iv. 26, 27.
Secondly, In both, the creature comes to a being it had not before. The child is not, till he be generate ; and a man has no gracious being, no being in grace, till he be regenerate. Regeneration is not so much the curing of a sick man, as the quickening of a dead man, Eph. ii. 1. 5. Man in his depraved state is a mere non-entity in grace ; and is brought into a new being, by the power of him who calleth things that be not, as though they were ; being created in Jesus Christ unto good works, Eph. ii. 10. Therefore our Lord Jesus, to give ground of hope to the Laodiceans, in their wretched and miserable state, propo, sath himself as the beginning of the creation of God, Rev. ui. 14. Namely, the active beginning of it ; for all things were made by him at first, John i. 3. From Whence they might gather, that seeing he made them when they were nothing, he could make them over again, When worse than nothing; the same hand that made them his creatures, could make them new creatures.
Thirdly, As the child is merely passive in generation, 30 is the child of God in regeneration. The one contri. butes nothing to its own generation ; neither does the
other contribute any thing, by way of efficiency, to its regeneration ; for though a man may lay himself down at the pool, yet he hath no hand in moving of the water, no efficacy in performing of the cure. One is born the child of a King, another the child of a beggar : The child has no hand at all in this difference. God leaves some in their depraved state ; others he brings into a state of grace or regeneracy. If thou be thus honoured, no thanks to thee ; for who maketh thee to differ from another? 1 Cor. iv. 7.
Fourthly, There is a wonderful contexture of parts in both births. Admirable is the structure of man's body, in which there is such a variety of organs ; nothing wanting, nothing superfluous. The Psalmist, considering his own body, looks on it as a piece of marvellous work; “ I am fearfully and wonderfully made," saith he, “ and curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth," Psal. cxxxix. 14, 15. that is, in the womb, where I know not how the bones do grow, more than I know what is a-doing in the lowest parts of the earth. In natural generation, we are curiously wrought, as a piece of needle work, as the word imports ; even so it is in regeneration, Psal. xlv. 14. “ She shall be brought unto the King, in raiment of needle work," raiment curiously wrought. It is the same word in both texts. And what that raiment is the Apostle tells us, Eph. iv. 24. It is the new man, which after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.' This is the raiment, he saith in the same place, we must put on; not excluding the imputed rightcousness of Christ. Both are curiously wrought, as master pieces of the manifold wisdom of God. ( the wonderful contexture of graces in the new creature ! O glorious creature, new made after the image of God! It is grace for grace in Christ, which makes up the new man, John i. 16. Even as in bodily generation, the child has member for member in the parent ; has every member the parent has, in a certain proportion.
Fifthly, All this in both cases hath its rise from that which is in itself very small and inconsiderable. O the power of God, in making such a creature of the corruptible seed! and much more in bringing forth the new creature from so small beginnings : It is as the little cloud
like a man's hand, which spread till heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain, 1 Kings xiii. 44, 45. A man gets a word at a sermon, which hundreds beside him hear, and let slip; butit remains with him, works in him, and never leaves him, till the little word be turned upside-down by it; that is, till he become a new man. It is like the vapour that got up into Ahasuerus' head, and cut off sleep from his eyes, Esther vi. 1. which proved a spring of such motions, as never ceased, until Mordecai, in royal pomp, was brought on horseback through the street, proud Haman trudging at his foot ; the same Haman afterwards hanged, Mordecai advanced, and the church delivered from Haman's hellish plot. The grain of mustard-seed becometh a tree, Matth. xiji. 21, 22. God loves to bring great things out of small beginnings.
Sixthly, Natural generation is carried on by degrees, Job x. 10. “ Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?” So is regeneration. It is with the soul ordinarily, in regeneration, as with the blind man, cured by our Lord, who first saw men as trees walking, afterwards saw every man clearly, Mat. viii. 23, 24, 25. It is true, regeneration being, strictly speaking, a passing from death to life, the soul is quickened in a moment; like, as, when the embryo is brought to perfection in the womb, the soul is infused into the lifeless lump. Nevertheless, we may imagine somewhat like conception in spiritual ge. neration, whereby the soul is prepared for quickening; and the new creature is capable of growth, 1 Pet ii. 2. and of life more abundantly, John X. 10.
Seventhly, In both there are new relations. The regenea rate may call God Father; for they are his children, John i. 12, 13. begotten of him, 1 Pet. i. 3. The bride, the Lamb's wife, (that is the church,) is their inother, Gal. iv. 27. They are related, as brethren, as sisters, to angels and glorified saints, the family of heaven. They are of the heavenly stock; and the meanest of then, the base things of the world, 1 Cor.: i. 28. the kinless things, (as the word imports,) who cannot boast of the blood that runs in their veins, are yet by their new birth near of kin with the exa cellent in the earth,
Eighthly, There is a likeness betwixt the parent apd the child. Every thing that generates, generates its like ; and the regenerate are partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. the moral perfectious of the divine nature are in measure and degree communicated to the renewed soul, and thus the divine image is retrieved ; so that, as the child re- . sembles the father, the new creature resembles God himself, being holy as he is holy.
Lastly, As there is no birth without pain, both to the mother and to the child, so there is great pain in bringing forth the new creature. The children have more or less of these birth-pains, whereby they are pricked in their heart, Acts ii. 37. The goul has sorc pains when under conviction and humiliation : « A wounded spirit who can bear?” The mother is pained, Zion travails, Isa. Ixvi. 8. she sighs, groans, crieth, and hath hard labour, in her ministers and members, to bring forth children to her Lord, Gal. iv. 19. « My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.” And never was a mother more feelingly touched with joy, that a man child was born into the world, than she is upon the new birth of her children. But what is more remarkable than all this, we read not only of our Lord Jesus Christ's travail, or toil of soul, Isa. liii. 11. but (what lies more directly to our purpose) of his pains, or pangs, as of one travailing in child-birth ; so the word used, Acts ii. 24. properly signifies. Well may he call the new creature, as Rachel called her dear-bought son Benoni, i. e. The son of my sorrow; and as she called another, Naphtali, i. e. My wrestling; for the pangs of that travail put him to strong crying and tears, Heb. v. 7. yea, in an agony and bloody sweat, Luke xxii. 44. And, in the end, he died of these pangs; they became to him the pains of death, Acts ii. 24.
The Doctrine of Regeneration applied.
USE I. By what is said, you may try whether you are in the state of grace or not. If ye be brought out of the state of wrath or ruin, into the state of grace or salvation, ye are new creatures, ye are born again. But ye will say, How shall we know whether we be born again or not ?