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“ alive unto God;" and " yield themselves unto “ God, as alive from the dead.” 1
Yet, as the feelings of a man who has, from a state of insensibility and apparent death, been recovered to life, are not pleasant but painful, though introductory to the enjoyments of his future life; so the first perceptions of those who are “made “ alive from the dead,” by the life-giving Spirit of Christ, are generally alarming or distressing. Fear, shame, sorrow, remorse, are commonly first experienced: but these make way for hope, love, gratitude, and all “ the peaceable fruits of righ“ teousness,” of reconciliation to God, communion with him, holy exhilarating contemplation, delightful obedience, and the final enjoyment of those“ pleasures which are at his right hand for “ evermore.” · The beginning of this new and divine life is a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness ;'2 the thing signified in baptism, the in! ward and spiritual grace' of baptism. Let us hear how St. Paul states this : “ Buried with him “ in baptism ; wherein also ye are risen with him, " through the faith of the operation of God, who “ hath raised him from the dead. And you, being “ dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of “ your flesh, hath he quickened together with “ him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”3 “ If " ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things “ which are above, where Christ sitteth on the “ right hand of God.” 4. In like manner, writing
. Rom. vi. 11, 12. viii. 2. 1 Cor. xv. 47.
3 Col. ii. 12, 13.
Ch. Catechism. • Col. jii. 1.
to the Romans, he says, “How shall we, that are “ dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye “ not, that so many of us as were baptized into “ Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? “ Therefore we are buried with him by baptism “ into death, that, like as Christ was raised up “ from the dead by the glory of the Father, even “ so we also should walk in newness of life. For, “ if we have been planted together in the likeness “ of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of “ his resurrection."! Here three particulars are mentioned, in allusion to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; to whom Christians are, in a figurative sense, conformed. They become “ dead to sin," as “ he died unto sin once:” they are “ buried,” as he was buried : and they arise to a new life, as he arose. “For, in that he died, he “ died unto sin once; but, in that he liveth, he “ liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also “ yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive “ unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 2 It is evident, that “ ceasing from sin,"3 and becoming morally incapable of “living any longer “ therein ;" that entire separation from a man's former course of ungodliness, and from the pollutions of this world, and fellowship with the children of this world in their “ unfruitful works of “ darkness ;” and the beginning and progress of a new, and holy, and heavenly life, to be perfected with our risen Redeemer in his glory; are signified by this “ death, burial, and resurrection.” Of these baptism is the outward sign, and in adults it
is the express and open profession. . Whether any allusion was intended to immersion, as the mode of baptism, or not, it is manifest, that neither outward baptism, nor any thing inseparably attending it, can be exclusively meant : unless all who are baptized with water are so “ dead to sin," and buried from it, and so “ risen with Christ,” that they can “live no longer in sin;" but must and do “walk in newness of life;" “ being alive to “ God through Jesus Christ our Lord," and “ made “ partakers of true faith.”] If the profession made by adults in baptism were indeed “the answer of “ a good conscience towards God," they would “ thenceforth walk in newness of life,” but not otherwise ; nor would baptism otherwise save or profit them.2 Yet even true Christians need exhortations, frequent earnest exhortations,“ to walk “ worthy of God, who hath called them to his “ kingdomn and glory;" and it is by these, that their “pure minds are stirred up in a way of re“ membrance." 3 Much more then is it needful to address such exhortations, admonitions, warnings, and even expostulations, to collective bodies of professed Christians; which, in the purest times, have ever contained some tares among the wheat.
When the apostle in another place says, “ As “ many of you as have been baptized into Christ “ have put on Christ;" “ Ye are all one in Christ “ Jesus : and, if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abra“ham's seed, and heirs according to the pro
Col. iji. 12, 13.
? 1 Pet. iii. 21, 1 Thess. ii. 11, 12. 2 Pet. i. 12-15. ii. 1.
“ mise;"1 did he mean to include baptized formalists and hypocrites, as the children of believing Abraham, “ and heirs according to the promise ?" or did he not rather intend to express the same thing as when he said, “ By one Spirit we are bap- tized into one body?” 2 The outward baptism admits men into the visible church, but the baptism of the Spirit alone constitutes them living members of Christ's mystical body on earth, and members of “ the church of the first born, whose “ names are written in heaven.”3
It has already been stated, that circumcision was, under the old dispensation, the sacrament of regeneration, and of introduction into the visible church, in the same sense as baptism is under the New Testament, with only circumstantial variations. If then all baptized persons are regenerate, and need no other regeneration, and indeed are capable of no other ; by parity of reason all circumcised persons, from Abraham to Christ's ascension, were regenerate, and needed no other regeneration, and were incapable of any other. If there be a fallacy in this reasoning, let it be fairly exposed. Yet it is as certain as the express and repeated testimony of God can make it, that immense multitudes of circumcised persons were “ uncircumcised in heart,” and consequently unregenerate. And let it be remembered, that * Nicodemus, to whom Jesus so particularly and
emphatically preached the necessity of being “ born again,” and “ born of the Spirit,” had this sacramental regeneration, and was instructed by
our divine Teacher in this manner, before the Christian sacrament of regeneration had been appointed, or even intimated to his disciples. Indeed the apostles afterwards never varied their instructions on such topics, in addressing circumcised or uncircumcised persons: their meaning constantly was this, “ Ye must be born again."
I shall here conclude the argument from scripture concerning regeneration. I have laboured it the more, because it is of peculiar importance in the controversy excited against modern Calvinists and the evangelical clergy: because on other subjects more concessions are made to them than on this head; especially in that publication on which I venture to make these remarks: and because it appears to me, that 'this is the very hinge on which the whole controversy turns. If such a regeneration as has been insisted on be indispensably and universally needful in order to salvation, then fallen man must indeed be altogether depraved, and “ dead in sin;" salvation must be wholly by grace, as an act in God, not only of free mercy, but also of omnipotent agency, of “ new creation,” strictly speaking ; this grace must be through Christ alone, and by “ the Spirit “ of life in Christ Jesus; ” faith itself (true faith) must be the gift and work of God; and the whole must be devised, begun, and accomplished, “ac“ cording to the purpose of him who worketh all 5 things after the counsel of his own will.”] Thus the great apostle of the gentiles viewed, and