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5. He is in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. The pleasures of sin will certainly disappoint one. They are suited neither to the nature, nor the desires of the soul. He that tastes them feeds on the wind. There is no yoke so galling as the yoke of sin; no servitude so mean, as that to one's own passions.

6. He is in a state without hope of sympathy. When the prodigal begged, no man gave unto him. He had brought his misery upon himself, and no man pitied him. In vain will the sinner cry to the world for relief, for the husks of the world will never relieve him.

7. He is in a state of death. He is dead in trespasses and sins. There is no spiritual life in him. No living to God d; no union with the Saviour; no communion with the saints.

8. He is in a lost state. This my son was lost.

He is lost to virtue, lost to honour, lost to religion, lost to all good. He is lost to himself, his friends, his country, and his God.

9. He is in a state of madness and frenzy. The prodigal had been, as it were, beside himself. Madness is said to be in the heart of sinners. An evil spirit has got

ten possession of their souls.


1. The sinner first begins to come to himself. He begins to feel his misery, the guilt of his conscience, and the corruption of his heart. He cries, I perish with hunger.

2. He resolves to forsake sin. And he not only intends to shun all the occasions of sin, but he firmly purposes to retrace every step of sin, and to return in his soul to God. He says, I will arise, and go back.

3. He is enabled, by faith, to look towards God as a compassionate, tender-hearted father. I will arise, and go to my father. God delights to be called Father by his penitent children.

4. He confesses his sins. He feels himself unworthy of God's favours. I am no more worthy to be called thy He confesses his faults and his folly. He does not justify himself, but pleads guilty. He humbles and


abases himself.

He even aggravates his sins; against heaven, and before thee.

5. He determines to submit to the government of God, and by his blessing to obey all his commands. He is willing to be directed by the word of God, and by that to regulate all his desires. Make me thy hired servant. He is ready to be a door-keeper; he is ready to serve.

6. He puts his holy resolutions into practice without delay. He shows his faith by his works. And he arose, and came. He does not hesitate, but immediately follows his good impulses. He not only purposes, but performs.

7. God tenderly receives him with the kiss of peace and reconciliation. There is no rebuke, no discouragement. His sins are blotted out, and he is restored, and reinstated into the heavenly family. His father fell on his neck, and kissed him. And even ran to meet him, when a great way off. If we draw nigh to God, he will draw nigh to us.

8. He is clothed with the garments of holiness. His rags of nakedness are changed to a robe of righteousness, white and clean. He enters into a covenant with his Father, and walks in newness of life. The whole heavenly family are called upon to rejoice over him. And the church above, and the church below, join in the general joy, that the sinner lost is become a sinner found. As the father of the prodigal was the one most rejoiced; so is no one so much pleased as God, when sinners return unto him. And so ought all his children to rejoice, at what he rejoices.

Let us all now take warning, by this affecting Narrative of the Prodigal, not to wander from our heavenly Father's home; and if we have hitherto wandered, immediately to arise, and return, if peradventure he may receive us.


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THIS very remarkable declaration is recorded only by Saint John, who probably wrote to supply what the other Evangelists had omitted. The occasion of it was this. Nicodemus, a member of the Grand Sanhedrim, that is, a learned Jewish senator or privy counsellor, came to Jesus by night, either for fear of the Jews, or that he might have more privacy and leisure in his conversation, and addressed Jesus by the respectful name of Rabbi, and as a Teacher sent from God. Without any particular answer to the salutation of Nicodemus, Jesus replied, Verily, verily, using a strong asseveration, indicating that something of great importance was about to be spoken, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. And when Nicodemus strangely understood Jesus as referring to a second natural birth, Jesus continued, Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not, he repeats, Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye here the

number changes—ye, that is, not only thou, but every one, must be born again; or, as the words may be translated, born from above. The wind, said Jesus, bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

I. 1. The Bible must be explained upon the principles of common sense. It is full of oriental, metaphorical phraseology. The Saviour taught in parables and similitudes. And the text under discussion is evidently one of the most figurative. This new birth could not have meant a birth from Paganism to Christianity, for it was directed to a Jew. It did not refer to any birth from either Gentile, Jewish, or Christian parents in particular. It was a birth, not of blood, not because of an extraction from the chosen people, or of a distinguished ancestry; nor of the will of the flesh, that is, by any thing that the carnal heart of man could purpose in its own behalf; nor of the will of man, that is, by any thing that another could be disposed to do in our behalf; but of God, by the unlimited power and boundless mercy of God. It was emphatically a spiritual birth. Nicodemus

had trusted in the external observances of the Law; but our Lord immediately directed him to the source of internal purity. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The emblems of the Spirit are water and fire; signifying the one his purifying and fertilizing, the other his pervading and refining nature,

2. The operation of the new birth is beautifully compared to the operation of the wind. As the same word means both spirit and wind, in the original languages, the similitude has a peculiar propriety. We feel the wind, but we see it not. How it gathers, and how it spends its strength, is a mystery. The wind blows in a variety of directions, and in all countries, day and night. We see it bow the forest trees, break the stubborn oak, bend the pliant reed; and we feel it refresh our own souls. But we do not, nor can we ever, see the wind itself; we only know its existence by its almost omnipotent effects. is every one that is born of the Spirit. We know its operations by the change in the life. Some need the strong influences, like the rushing mighty wind; and some the gentle influences, like the sweet breathing of the south. As the wind goes where God sends it, so the Spirit goes where God sends it. As we hear the sound thereof, so shall we hear the sound of the Spirit working in the Christian for behold, he prayeth. But because this doctrine


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is a paradox, it is no chimera in itself. Men will not believe, because they cannot comprehend. But there is not a man in the universe that can fully comprehend one operation, either of God, or of his instrument nature; and yet they must believe, and do believe, though they never did, nor ever can, fully comprehend, or account for, the objects of their faith.' Even to this day, this day of discoveries and explanations in natural science, men cannot account for all the changes in the wind, nor can they render it submissive to their will. And if men cannot govern or explain the wind, how can they expect to control or expound the visitations of the Spirit? The Spirit may, and probably does operate, in ordinary cases, through the medium of the conscience.

3. The propriety and beauty of the metaphor of the new birth has been often illustrated by Divines. When a child is born, though no new matter is brought into existence, yet a new creature is brought into existence; and all its capacities are new, and suited to that world, on which it hath entered. Thus, when the Spirit of God has changed the heart, the person indeed is the same; but he becomes a new man, possessed of new capacities, perceptions, affections, and dispositions, and is prepared to make a new use of all his organs, senses, and faculties.

When an infant is born, it has all the parts of a grown man; but they are in a weak state, and need nourishment, attention and time, before they are fitted to perform their proper functions in a complete manner. Thus the regenerated sinner has the substance of all holy dispositions communicated to his soul; but they are in an infantile state, and must grow up gradually, and with care and spiritual nourishment, to maturity.

No man can comprehend how the infant is formed in its embryo; nor can any man know, how God effects the sanctifying change in the sinner's heart. He works by means and instruments in both cases.

The birth of the infant precedes the exercise of its senses; so the new birth must precede all the actions of the spiritual life.

And as when a living child is born, it will certainly

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