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the assertion that such a change was indispensable to the formation of a christian character, did they not believe it was clearly revealed in the scriptures. This being conceded, the path to be pursued is visible, our limitations are designated, our subject open to illustration, that all may understand it, who read with attention, and meditate with candor. We must appeal to the testimony of the inspired writers. To this course no rational or liberal christians will object.

In the following passages we have both the doctrine and the words on which the term, “new-birth,” is predicated.

“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”John, 11:3

To be born of God is synonymous with being born again, and from the connexion in which it is used in the scriptures, evidently imports a change of character, whích relates to principles and practice. Jesus came to his own, the Jews, most of whom would not receive him as the Messiah; but to as many as did receive him, by believing on his name and submitting to his government," he gave power to become the children of God” in a peculiar sense ; they were born again. The Jewish religion, at that time, was ceremonial and lifeless, partial and impure. They did, indeed, acknowledge the being and unity of the God of their fathers, though they ascribed to him a character, corresponding with their own partial and corrupt views of his benevolence, wisdom, justice and truth. Their religion principally consisted in the observance of numerous traditions, which led them to depend on their natural birth and their affinity to Abraham, as the ground of their superiority and distinction. When Jesus proposed making them free, they said, “ We are the children of Abraham and were never in bondage.” They looked on all other nations with contempt, and as having no interest in the promised Messiah ; in opposition to all which, the Lord Jesus assured them, that his kingdom was spiritu

al and heavenly, not adapted to natural or national distinctions; and erroneous as they were in principle, and unholy in practice, they must be born again or of God, though the natural descendants of Abraham, to enjoy the benefits of his kingdom ; which had respect to correctness of sentiment, purity of moral feelings and religious conduct. To possess exalted and just views of Jehovah, believe in the Saviour and obey his commandments, was evidence of having been born of God.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”—John, iii. 3. " Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again;" (verse, 7.)Nicodemus professed to know that Jesus was a teacher sent of God, and that his miracles were demonstrations of a divine mission. But how came that "ruler of the Jews” by his knowledge ? How could he judge of things which he had never seen, and decide concerning facts of which he was ignorant ? Jesus exposed the impropriety of a Jewish doctor's uttering such declarations, however well founded they were. If he knew the things of which he spakę, which is the most apparent, his weakness or wickedness, in not making an open profession of the christian religion? The Saviour's reply may be thus paraphrased.

“Certainly, Nicodemus, you are ignorant of my mission and the authority by which I propagate my religion. Though you are a descendant of Abraham and a teacher of the law, you will not be qualified to decide with confidence concerning my kingdom or reign, until you are born again, or enlightened by the word of God. Your natural birth and elevated rank give you no ascendancy over others, as you stand related to that kingdom which is from above."

The answer which Nicodemus returned is proof of his ignorance, levity, or hypocrisy. If he had understood the import of the Saviour's words, would he have feigned himself ignorant as his interrogatories denote ? But he was uninstructed in the things of Jesus, blind to the beauties of the gospel dispensation, ignorant of the ministry of the true Messiah, and needed the illumination of the spirit of truth. By receiving the testimony of those who spake of what they had seen and heard, by believing in Jesus and submitting to his dominion, that “master in Israel” might have seen the kingdom of God” which “come” to men, and have enjoyed the reign of love, being born again.

The apostle Peter, who was “a minister to the circumcision,” addressed himself “ to the strangers scattered” in different places, and congratulated them on “ having been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled.” “ Being born again, says he, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever." I Peter, i. 3, 4-23.

He evidently meant to be understood that the natural birth of the Jews, on which they all placed so much dependence, previous to their conversion to Christianity or their being born of incorruptible seed, the spirit of God or word of divine truth, was a matter of no importance, in the dispensation of the gospel. That unless they had the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, having the eyes of their understanding enlightened to a discovery of the hope of their calling, they were not begotten and born again, or made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.

It is worthy of particular remark, that“ the apostle to the uncircumcision” or Gentiles, taught the doctrine of regeneration, without ever using the phrase, being born again. As the Gentiles never laid any stress on their natural genealogy, having never been distinguished, as were the Jews, as God's peculiar people, the expression would have been to them. unintelligible. In addressing them the great apostle adopts the following judicious style. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. In time past ye were without, &c. having no hope, and without God in the world : but now, in Christ Jesus, ye who were afar

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off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Eph. xi. 10, 12, 13,

“ Therefore, if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature : old things are done away and all things are become new.” ii Cor. v. 17. Gal. vi. 15.

“According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Christ Jesus our Saviour, that being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." I'itus, 11. 5, 6, 7. Taking into consideration the character of the Gentiles, the apostle's language will appear perfectly judicious. They were idolators, worshipping stocks and stones, images and Gods of their own invention, requiring to be taught the rudiments of all true religion, viz. the existence, perfection and government of one God, the creator and governor of the universe. From that view of his character they would be easily led to adore him as their creator in Christ Jesus, according to whose pleasure they were made nigh to him by the cross, by whose spirit of truth they were regenerated and saved from idolatry. Imparting to them new principles by which to form new habits, changing the chaos of idolatrous assemblies into the regularity and order of those who met in heavenly places in Christ, and illuminating their understanding by the renovating beams of the sun of truth, it might well be represented by a new creation. In some respects, the Gentiles underwent a greater change in their conversion to christianity, than did the Jews. Having no written revelation, no hope in a Messiah or knowledge of the true God, and being extremely obscene and degraded in their moral character and religious services, the change with them was almost entire, bearing the evidences of

creating wisdom, goodness and power. As the Jews professed to worship the God of their fathers, acknowledged the divinity of their scriptures, and were looking for the promised Messiah, their conversion was more properly represented by a new birth, in which they would be brought to see and understand the mysteries of the gospel kingdom.

St. John, in his first general epistle, uses a form of words, equally applicable to Jews and Gentiles, and fully expressive of the new-birth ; viz. "being born of God,or brought to know and serve him through faith in his Son. 5. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Whatsoever overcometh the world is born of God, and this is the victory that overcometh, even our faith. Every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. I John, v. i. 4. iv. 7.

Hence, to believe in Jesus, know and love God, and through faith overcome the world, is to be born again, to be created anew in Christ Jesus, or be born of God. Here is theory and practice united; the great mystery of regeneration unfolded.

Having thus briefly explained our subject, we will endeavor to render it more profitable, by a few candid and scriptural inferences.

1. Christians of various persuasions have long been in search of a criterion by which to be able to decide, whether a man is born again. Few are willing to say they have experienced this change ; but hope they have been changed. The subject is believed to be so complex and mysterious, and involves such serious consequences, that comparatively, few dare assert their regeneration. But if the scriptural account which we have just seen, be correct and full, there is no more difficulty in determining whether a man is born again, than there is in deciding on his christian character. The questions which should be candidly answered are, Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God ? Do you love the God who sent him, and endeavor to keep his commandments ? Have you purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren? Does the spirit bear witness with your spirit, that you are the children of God, because you love your enemies and sincerely pray for their wellare? All who can in truth answer these questions in the affirmative, are the children

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