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ix. 9. “ And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he saith unto him, Follow me: And he arose and followed him.” The same circumstances are observed by other evangelists; which, doubtless, is to represent the manner in which Christ effectually calls his disciples in all ages. There is something immediately put into their hearts, at that call, that is new, that there was nothing of there before, which makes them so immediately act in a manner altogether new, and so alien from what they were before.
That the work of conversion is wrought at once, is further evident, by its being compared to a work of creation. When God created the world, he did what he did immediately; he spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast. He said, Let there be light, and there was light. Also by its being compared to a raising from the dead. Raising from the dead is not a gradual work, but it is done at once. God calls, and the dead come forth immediately. The change in conversion is in the twinkling of an eye; as that, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. “We shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
It appears by the manner in which Christ wrought all those works that he wrought when on earth, that they were types of his great work of converting sinners. Thus, when he healed the leper, he put forth his hand and touched him, and said, “I will, be thou clean; and immediately his leprosy was cleansed." Matth. viii. 3. Mark i. 42. Luke v. 13. So, in opening the eyes of the blind men, Matth. xx. 30, &c., he touched their eyes, and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. And so Mark x. 52. Luke xviii. 43. So, when he healed the sick, particularly Simon's wife's mother, he took her by her hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto him. So when the woman that had the issue of blood, touched the hem of Christ's garment, immediately her issue of blood stanched; Luke yiii. 44. So the woman that was bowed together with the spirit of infirmity, when Christ laid his hands on her, immediately she was made straight, and glorified God; Luke xiii. 12, 13. So the man at the pool of Bethesda, when Christ bade him rise and take up his bed and walk, was immediately made whole; Jobn v. 8, 9. After the same manner Christ raised the dead, and cast out devils, and stilled the winds
2. There seems to be a specific difference between saving grace or virtue and all that was in the heart before, by the things that conversion is represented by in scripture; particularly by its being represented as a work of creation. When God creates, he does not merely establish and perfect the things that were made before, but makes them wholly and immediately. The things VOL. VII.
that are seen, are not made of things that do appear. Saving grace in the heart is said to be the new man, a new creature: and corruption the old man. If that virtue that is in the heart of a holy man, be not different in its nature and kind, then the man might possibly have had the same seventy years before, and from time to time, from the beginning of his life, and has it no otherwise now, but only in a greater degree: And how then is he a new creature ?
Again, it is evident also from its being compared to a resurrection. Natural men are said to be dead: But when they are converted, they are by God's mighty and effectual power raised from the dead. Now, there is no medium between being dead and alive. He that is dead, has no degree of life. He that has the least degree of life in him, is alive. When a man is raised from the dead, life is not only in a greater degree, but it is all new. And this is further evident by that representation that is made of Christ's converting sinners, in John v. 25. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." This shows conversion to be an immediate and instantaneous work, like to the change made in Lazarus when Christ called him from the grave: There went life with the call, and Lazarus was immediately alive. That immediately before the call they are dead, and therefore wholly destitute of any life, is evident by that expression, “the dead shall hear the voice;" and immediately after the call, they are alive; yea, there goes life with the voice, as is evident not only because it is said they shall live, but also because it is said, they shall hear his voice. It is evident, that the first moment they have any life, is the moment when Christ calls; and when Christ calls, or as soon as they are called, they are converted; as is evident from what is said in the first argument, wherein it is shown, that to be called, and converted, is the same thing.
3. Those that go farthest in religion, that are in a natural condition, have no charity, as is plainly implied in the beginning of the 13th chapter of the first of Corinthians; by which we must understand, that they have none of that kind of grace, or disposition, or affection, that is so called. So Christ elsewhere reproves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion among the Jews, that they had not the love of God in them.
4. In conversion, stones are raised up to be children unto Abraham. While stones, they are wholly destitute of all those qualities that afterward render them the living children of Abraham ; and not possessing them, though in a lesser degree.
Agreeably to this, conversion is represented by the taking away the heart of stone, and giving a heart of flesh. The man, while unconverted, has a heart of stone, which has no degree of that life or sense in it that the heart of flesh has; because it vet remains a stone; than which, nothing is farther from life and a
5. A wicked man has none of that principle of nature that a godly man has, as is evident by 1 John iii. 9. " Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
The natural import of the metaphor shows, that by a seed, is meant a principle of action: it may be small as a grain of mustard seed. A seed is a small thing; it may be buried up and lie hid, as the seed sown in the earth; it may seem to be dead, as seeds for a while do, till quickened by the sun and rain. But any degree of such a principle, or a principle of such a nature, is what is called the seed; it need not be to such a degree, or have such a prevalency, in order to be called a seed. And it is further evident that this seed, or this inward principle of nature, is peculiar to the saints; for he that has that seed, cannot sin; and therefore he that sins, or is a wicked man, has it not.
6. Natural men, or those that are not savingly converted, have no degree of that principle from whence all gracious actings flow, viz. the Spirit of God or of Christ; as is evident, because it is asserted both ways in scripture, that those who have not the Spirit of Christ, are not his, Rom. vii. 9, and also, that those who have the Spirit of Christ, are his; 1 John iii. 24. “ Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he bath given us." And the Spirit of God is called the earnest of the future inheritance, 2 Cor. i. 22, and v. 5. Eph. 1. 14. Yea, that a natural man has nothing of the Spirit in him, no part nor portion in it, is still more evident, because the having of the Spirit is given as a sure sign of being in Christ. 1 John iv. 13. know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” By which it is evident, that they have none of that holy principle, that the godly have. And if they have nothing of the Spirit, they have nothing of those things that are the fruits of the Spirit, such as those mentioned in Gal. v. 22. “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These fruits are here mentioned with the very design, that we may know whether we have the Spirit or no. In the 18th verse, the apostle tells the Galatians, that if they are led by the Spirit, they are not under the law; and then directly proceeds, first, to mention what are the fruits or works of the flesh, and then, nextly, what are the fruits of the Spirit, that we may judge whether we are led by the Spirit
7. That natural men, or those that are not born again, have nothing of that grace that is in godly men, is evident by John iii. 6, where Christ, speaking of regeneration, says, “ That which
, is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” By flesh is here meant nature, and by Spirit is
meant grace, as is evident by Gal. v. 16, 17. Gal. vi. 8. 1 Cor. ii. 1. Rom. viii. 7.
Rom. viii. 7. That is Christ's very argument; by this it is that Christ in those words would show Nicodemus the necessity of regeneration, that by the first birth we have nothing but nature, and can have nothing else without being born again; by which it is exceeding evident, that they that are not born again, have nothing else. And that natural men bave not the Spirit is evident, since by this text with the context it is most evident that those who have the Spirit, have it by regeneration. It is born in them; it comes into them no otherwise than by birth, and that birth is in regeneration, as is most evident by the preceding and following verses. In godly men there are two opposite principles: the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh ; as Gal. v. 25. But it is not so with natural men. Rebekah, in having Esau and Jacob struggle together in her womb, was a type only of the true church.
8. Natural men have nothing of that nature in them which true Christians have ; and that appears, because the nature they have is divine nature. The saints alone have it. Not only they alone partake of such degrees of it, but they alone are partakers of it. To be a partaker of the divine nature is mentioned as peculiar to the saints, in 2 Pet. i. 4. It is evident it is the true saints the apostle is there speaking of. The words in this verse and the foregoing, run thus: “ According as his divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature; having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Divine nature and lust are evidently here spoken of as two opposite principles in men. Those that are of the world, or that are the men of the world, have only the latter principle. But to be partakers of the divine nature, is spoken of as peculiar to them that are distinguished and separated from the world, by the free and sovereign grace of God giving them all things that pertain to life and godliness; by giving the knowledge of Christ, and calling them to glory and virtue; and giving them the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, and enabling them to escape the corruption of the world of wicked men. It is spoken of, not only as peculiar to the saints, but as the highest privilege of saints.
9. A natural man has no degree of that relish and sense of spiritual things, or things of the Spirit, and of their divine truth and excellency, which a godly man has; as is evident by 1 Cor. ii. 14. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Here a natural man is represented as perfectly destitute of any sense, perception,
or discerning of those things. For by the words, he neither does, nor can know them or discern them. So far from it, that they are foolishness unto him. He is such a stranger to them, that he knows not what the talk of such things means; they are words without a meaning to him; he knows nothing of the matter any more than a blind man of colours.
Hence it will follow, that the sense of things of religion that a natural man has, is not only not to the same degree, but is not of the same nature with what a godly man has. Besides, if a natural person has that fruit of the Spirit, which is of the same kind with what a spiritual person has, then he experiences within himself the things of the Spirit of God. How then can he be said to be such a stranger to them, and have no perception or discerning of them? The reason why natural men have no knowledge of spiritual things, is, that they have nothing of the Spirit of God dwelling in them. This is evident by the context. For there we are told it is by the Spirit these things are taught, verse 10—12. Godly persons, in the text we are upon, are called spiritual, evidently on this account, that they have the Spirit; and unregenerate men are called natural men, because they have nothing but nature. Hereby the 6th argument is continued.
For natural men are in no degree spiritual; they have only nature and no Spirit. If they had any thing of the Spirit, though not in so great a degree as the godly, yet they would be taught spiritual things, or the things of the Spirit in proportion; the Spirit, that searcheth all things, would teach them in some measure.
There would not be so great a difference, that the one could perceive nothing of them, and that they should be foolishness to them, while, to the other, they appear divinely and unspeakably wise and excellent, as they are spoken of in the context, verses 6-9, and as such, the apostle speaks here of discerning them. The reason why natural men have no knowledge or perception of spiritual things, is that they have none of that anointing spoken of, 1 John ii. 27.
" But the anointing, which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye need not that any man should teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
This anointing is evidently bere spoken of, as a thing peculiar to true saints. Sinners never had any of that oil poured upon them; and because ungodly men have none of it, therefore they have no discerning of spiritual things. If they had any degree of it, they would discern in some measure. Therefore, none of that sense that natural men have of spiritual things, is of the same nature with what the godly have. And that natural men are wholly destitute of this knowledge, is further evident, because conversion is represented in scripture by opening the eyes of the blind. But this would be very improperly so represented, if a man might