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of the flesh, by agreeably striking upon the outward senses; the desire of the eye, of the imagination, by its novelty, greatness, or beauty; or the pride of life, whether by pomp, grandeur, power, or the usual consequence of them, applause and admiration; "is not of the Father," cometh not from, neither is approved by the Father of Spirits; "but of the world;" it is the distinguishing mark of those, who will not have him to reign over them.

II. Thus have I particularly inquired, what that circumcision of heart is, which will obtain the praise of God. I am, in the second place, to mention some reflections, that naturally arise from such an inquiry, as a plain rule whereby every man may judge of himself, whether he be of the world or of God.

1. And, first, it is clear, from what has been said, That no man has a title to the praise of God, unless his heart is circumcised by humility, unless he be little, and base, and vile in his own eyes, unless he be deeply convinced of that inbred "corruption of his nature, whereby he is very far gone from original righteousness," being prone to all evil, averse to all good, corrupt and abominable: having a "carnal mind, which is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God; nor indeed can be:" unless he continually feel in his inmost soul, that without the Spirit of God resting upon him, he can neither think, nor desire, nor act, any thing good or well-pleasing in his sight.

No man, I say, has a title to the praise of God, till he feel his want of God: nor indeed, till he seek that "honour which cometh of God only:" and neither desire nor pursue that which cometh of man, unless so far only as it tends to this.

2. Another truth, which naturally follows from what has been said, is, that none shall obtain the honour that cometh of God, unless his heart be circumcised by faith; even a "faith of the operation of God:" unless, refusing to be any longer lead by his senses, appetites, or passions, or even by that blind leader of the blind, so idolized by the world, Natural Reason, he lives and walks by faith, directs every step, as "seeing Him that is Invisible," "looks not at the things that are seen, which are temporal, but at the things that are not seen, which are eternal," and governs all his desires, designs, and thoughts, all his actions and conversations, as one who is entered in within the veil, where Jesus sits at the right hand of God.

3. It were to be wished, that they were better acquainted with this faith, who employ much of their time and pains in laying another foundation; in grounding religion on "the eternal fitness of things," on "the intrinsic excellence of virtue," and the beauty of actions flowing from it: on the reasons, as they term them, of good and evil, and the relations of beings to each other. Either these accounts of the grounds of Christian duty, coincide with the scriptural, or not. If they do, why are well-meaning men perplexed, and drawn from the weightier matters of the law, by a cloud of terms, whereby the easiest truths are explained into obscurity. If they are not, then it behooves them to consider, who is the Author of this

new doctrine whether he is likely to be an angel from heaven, who preacheth another gospel than that of Christ Jesus: though, if he were, God, not we, hath pronounced his sentence, "Let him be accursed."

4. Our gospel, as it knows no other foundation of good works than faith, or of faith than Christ, so it clearly informs us, we are not his disciples, while we either deny him to be the Author, or his Spirit to be the Inspirer and Perfecter both of our faith and works. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." He alone can quicken those who are dead unto God, can breathe into them the breath of Christian life, and so prevent, accompany, and follow them with his grace, as to bring their good desires to good effect. And, "as many as are thus led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." This is God's short and plain account of true religion and virtue; and " other foundation can no man lay."

5. From what has been said, we may, Thirdly, learn, that none is truly "led by the Spirit," unless that "Spirit bear witness with his spirit, that he is a child of God:" unless he see the prize and the crown before him, and "rejoice in the hope of the glory of God:" so greatly have they erred who have taught that, in serving God, we ought not to have a view to our own happiness. Nay, but we are often and expressly taught of God, to have "respect unto the recompense of reward;" to balance the toil with the "joy set before us,” these light afflictions" with that "exceeding weight of glory." Yea, we are "aliens to the covenant of promise, we are without God in the world," until God, "of his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again, unto a living hope, of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."

6. But if these things be so, it is high time for those persons to deal faithfully with their own souls, who are so far from finding in themselves this joyful assurance, that they fulfil the terms, and shall obtain the promises of that covenant, as to quarrel with the covenant itself, and blaspheme the terms of it: to complain, "They are too severe, and that no man ever did, or shall live up to them!" What is this, but to reproach God, as if he were a hard Master, requiring of his servants more than he enables them to perform; as if he had mocked the helpless works of his hands, by binding them to impossibilities; by commanding them to overcome, where neither their own strength, nor his grace was sufficient for them?

7. These blasphemers might almost persuade those, to imagine themselves guiltless, who, in the contrary extreme, hope to fulfil the commands of God, without taking any pains at all. Vain hope! that a child of Adam should ever expect to see the kingdom of Christ and of God, without striving, without agonizing first, "to enter in at the strait gate!" that one who was "conceived and born in sin," and whose "inward parts are very wickedness," should once entertain a thought of being "purified as his Lord is pure," unless

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he "tread in his steps," and "take up his cross daily :" unless he "cut off his right hand," and "pluck out the right eye, and cast it from him;" that he should ever dream of shaking off his old opinions, passions, tempers; of being "sanctified throughout in spirit, soul, and body," without a constant and continued course of general selfdenial.

8. What less than this can we possibly infer from the above cited words of St. Paul, who living in "infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake," who, being full" of signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds," who having been "caught up into the third heaven;" yet reckoned, as a late author strongly expresses it, that all his virtues would be insecure, and even his salvation in danger, without this constant self-denial. "So run I, (says he,) not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air" By which he plainly teaches us, that he who does not thus run, who does not thus deny himself daily, does run uncertainly, and fighteth to as little purpose as he that beateth the air.

9. To as little purpose does he talk of "fighting the fight of faith," as vainly hopes to attain the crown of incorruption, (as we may, Lastly, infer from the preceding observations,) whose heart is not circumcised by love. Cutting off both the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, engaging the whole man, body, soul, and spirit, in the ardent pursuit of that one object, is so essential to a child of God, that, "without it, whosoever liveth is counted dead before him." "Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." Nay, "though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."

10. Here, then, is the sum of the perfect law, this is the true Circumcision of the Heart. Let the spirit return to God that gave it, with the whole train of its affections." Unto the place from whence all the rivers came," thither let them flow again. Other sacrifices from us he would not; but the living sacrifice of the heart he hath chosen. Let it be continually offered up to God through Christ, in flames of holy love. And let no creature be suffered to share with him for he is a jealous God. His throne will he not divide with another he will reign without a rival. Be no design, no desire admitted there, but what has him for its ultimate object. This is the way wherein those children of God once walked, who being dead, still speak to us, "Desire not to live, but to praise his name; let all your thoughts, words, and works, tend to his glory. Set your heart firm on him, and on other things only as they are in and from him. Let your soul be filled, with so entire a love of him, that you may love nothing but for his sake." "Have a pure intention of heart, a steadfast regard to his glory in all your actions." "Fix your eye upon the

blessed hope of your calling, and make all the things of the world minister unto it." For then, and not till then, is that "mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus," when, in every motion of our heart, in every word of our tongue, in every work of our hands, we "pursue nothing but in relation to him, and in subordination to his pleasure:" when we too, neither think, nor speak, nor act, to fulfil our own "will, but the will of him that sent us :" when, whether we "eat, or drink, or whatever we do, we do all to the glory of God."



"So is every one that is born of the Spirit." JOHN iii. 8.

1. HOW is every one that is born of the Spirit, that is, born again, born of God? What is meant by the being born again? The being born of God? Or, being born of the Spirit? What is implied in, The being a son or a child of God? Or, having the Spirit of Adoption? That these privileges, by the free mercy of God, are ordinarily annexed to baptism (which is thence termed by our Lord in the preceding verse, the being born of water and of the Spirit) we know; but we would know what these privileges are: What is the NewBirth?

2. Perhaps it is not needful to give a definition of this, seeing the Scripture gives none. But as the question is of the deepest concern, to every child of man, (since, "except a man be born again, [born of the Spirit, ] he cannot see the kingdom of God,") I propose to lay down the marks of it in the plainest manner, just as I find them laid down in Scripture.

I. 1. The first of these (and the foundation of all the rest) is faith. So St. Paul, "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii. 26. So St. John, "To them gave he power (TIR, right or privilege, it may rather be translated,) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, [when they believed,] (not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh," not by natural generation, "nor of the will of man," like those children adopted by men, in whom no inward change is thereby wrought, but) of God," ch. i. 12, 13. And again in his general epistle, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God," 1 John v. 1.

2. But it is not a barely notional or speculative faith that is here spoken of by the Apostle. It is not a bare assent to this proposition,

"Jesus is the Christ;" nor indeed to all the propositions contained in our Creed, or in the Old and New Testament. It is not merely an assent to any, or all these credible things, as credible. To say this, were to say (which who could hear?) that the devils were born of God. For they have this faith. They trembling believe, both that Jesus is the Christ, and that all Scripture, having been given by inspiration of God, is true as God is true. It is not only "an assent to divine truth, upon the testimony of God," or, "upon the evidence of miracles," for they also heard the words of his mouth, and knew him to be a faithful and true witness. They could not but receive the testimony he gave, both of himself, and of the Father who sent him. They saw likewise the mighty works which he did, and thence believed that he came forth from God. Yet, notwithstanding this faith, they are still "reserved in chains of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."

3. For all this is no more than a dead faith. The true, living, Christian faith, which whosoever hath is born of God, is not only an assent, an act of the understanding, but a disposition which God hath wrought in his heart; "a sure trust and confidence in God, that through the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God." This implies, that a man first renounces himself; that, in order to be found in Christ, to be accepted through him, he totally rejects all "confidence in the flesh;" that, "having nothing to pay," having no trust in his own works or righteousness of any kind, he comes to God, as a lost, miserable, self-destroyed, selfcondemned, undone, helpless sinner; as one whose mouth is utterly stopped, and who is altogether "guilty before God." Such a sense of sin (commonly called despair, by those who speak evil of the things they know not) together with a full conviction, such as no words can express, that of Christ only cometh our salvation, and an earnest desire of that salvation, must precede a living faith: a trust in him, who, "for us, paid our ransom by his death, and for us fulfilled the law in his life." This faith then, whereby we are born of God, is "not only a belief of all the Articles of our Faith, but also a true confidence of the mercy of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."

4. An immediate and constant fruit of this faith, whereby we are born of God, a fruit which can in nowise be separated from it, no, not for an hour, is power over sin : power over outward sin, of every kind: over every evil word and work; for, wheresoever the blood of Christ is thus applied, it "purgeth the conscience from dead works:" and over inward sin; for it purifieth the heart from every unholy desire and temper. This fruit of faith St. Paul has largely described, in the sixth chapter of his epistle to the Romans. "How shall we," saith he, "who (by faith) are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.-Likewise, reckon ye yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin, therefore, reign even in your

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