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ful, and to regard salvation as the better part which shall never be taken away from us. Our dispositions, which are naturally averse to holiness and virtue, are thereby constrained to delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man, and inclined to do those things which are well-pleasing in his sight. Our desires, which once were earthly and carnal, become spiritual and refined, and are set on heaven and the things above. Our passions, which dispose us to act with indiscretion and folly, are henceforth directed by the dictates of conscience and reason, so that they seldom lead us astray from the path of rectitude. Our heart, which perhaps preferred the enjoyments of life as our only portion, is induced to relish the service of God as the chief source of rational satisfaction. Our actions, which were formerly influenced by inclination and humour, are now conformed to the rule of duty prescribed by the divine commandments. Such a change in the mental faculties is denominated in scripture regeneration, by which old things are done away, and all things become new.

That this transformation takes place in a greater or less degree, in all those who are truly religious, is a fact confirmed by universal experience; and therefore not a chimerical dogma, or fanatical delusion. For it cannot be denied, that our natures are much perverted by original corruption, whereby a propensity to evil is engendered in the soul, which exhibits itself in the life and conduct of every individual. And it is equally undeni. able, that many men have gradually subdued in a great measure, those unreasonable dispositions which they once indulged, and acquired the habit of living soberly, righteously, and godly in the world. The causes that have been effectual for this purpose, are partly natural, and partly supernatural. The former consist in the application of those moral means which God hath appointed for our edification and growth in grace, such as religious edu. cation, the Christian ordinances, and the right regulation of our heart and conduct. The latter are those principles of holiness superinduced in the soul by the occult operation of the Holy Ghost, who leads and guides the faithful

into all truth, and enables them to will and to do God's good pleasure.

Respecting the mode of his agency on the human mind, neither reason nor scripture affords us any adequate conception ; but the fact itself is certain, from the uniform testimony of the inspired authors.

As the subject of regeneration is of primary importance in the Christian system, it is proposed to treat of it in this discourse in the following manner; and to shew,

I. The proofs derived from reason and scripture, that the influences of the Holy Ghost are necessary to renew us in the spirit of our minds.

II. The nature of these influences, and the means by which they are produced.

III. The effects resulting from such a change in the heart and conduct.

IV. The practical inferences arising from the subject. In pursuance of this plan, I proceed to shew,

I. The proofs derived from reason and scripture, that the influences of the Holy Ghost are necessary to renew us in the spirit of our minds.

There has been much controversy in every age of the church, how far the faculties of the human mind can enable us to work out our salvation, and live in such a manner as becometh the gospel. Some divines have asserted, that the due improvement of our rational and moral nature by proper discipline, is sufficient for correcting those irregular propensities of the flesh and spirit which prevail within us, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God. But their opinion must appear unfounded, when it is considered, that we have lost that original power of rectitude with which our first parents were endued, and that the dispensation of Christianity is intended to restore in us the divine image which has been in a great measure effaced by the introduction of sin. If we were entirely capable, by our own exertions, of receiving the truth in us from the error of our ways, and lead us into the paths of the just. Yet we find that mankind have not been left to discover their duty by the deductions of reason and the dictates of conscience, but a revelation of divine truths has been communicated, by which they are instructed in all things that they should believe and do in order to salvation. And our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath declared the whole counsel of God respecting the method of redemption, promised to his disciples, that after his resurrection he would send the Holy Ghost, who should not only lead them into all truth, but likewise abide with his people for ever. His office would be, to convince men of sin, and convert them to newness of life, by inclining their minds to believe the gospel, and to practise its precepts, and enabling them to persevere in well-doing till they attained as the end of their faith the salvation of their souls. As he is a divine person, his influences have a powerful efficacy in constraining the will to choose religion as our first and great concern, and disposing us to devote ourselves to the service of God as our indispensable duty.

But it may be said, that this is mere assertion, and that there is no proof that the origin and progress of religion in the soul is to be ascribed to the agency of the Holy Ghost. But does not reason inform us, that God is the primary cause of all the effects which take place in the physical world? why then will we deny his agency in the moral world, which is more deserving of his superintend, ing care? If he supports our natural life with food convenient for us, so that in him we live, and move, and have our being; is there not reason to suppose, that he will impart our souls such spiritual influences as are necessary to strengthen us with inight in the inner man, that we may live to his glory and perform his good pleasure? If he bestows on us all things pertaining to life, will he not also communicate such blessings as are conducive to god. liness? If he sustains our bodies in health and vigour, will he not minister to our souls, which are our better part, the joys of his salvation ? We may not indeed understand the manner in which divine iniluences are conveyed to our minds, but surely he who created our facul, ties can operate upon them by exciting such desires as shall give them a right direction, and teach us the way that we should choose. We know that the human mind is influenced by motives to do or abstain from certain actions which are within our power; if so, may not he who made the human mind impress these so deeply on our hearts, as thereby to induce us to run in the path of his commandments? Indeed, when we consider our aversion towards godliness, and the difficulties attending the practice of virtue, we shall acknowledge that the mind requires to be inspired with stedfast resolution before it can be brought to engage in the service of God with a confirmed purpose of new obedience.

Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose, that if we would not be disposed of ourselves to begin the work of our salvation, the grace of God will be sufficient for us, and his strength perfected in our weakness. Even the light of nature taught the Heathen to ascribe all their dispositions after well-doing to the supernatural agency of the Deity operating on their hearts; much more should we, who are informed that Christians are saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, be persuaded of the truth of this sacred doctrine. For the scriptures uniformly declare, that our first conversion and progressive sanctification are effected by the working of that mighty power, whereby God subdues all things to himself, and creates men again in Christ Jesus unto good works.—Accordingly, we find various promises whereby the Almighty engages to produce such a change in the heart and temper of his faithful servants, as indicates a supernatural agency exerted in their behalf. Thus, we read, “ after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever; and I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will put a new spirit within them, and will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of

flesh, and will cause them to walk in my statutes to do them.” Surely, such expressions as these imply a divine influence which has a powerful effect in transforming the human mind, and rendering it wise unto salvation.

Moreover, the scripture ascribes the production of faith and holiness in the soul to supernatural agency, by which it is effected. Thus, it is said that those who receive Christ are “ born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

“ For, of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Our Lord declares that “ except a man be born of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

The apostles assert, “ that God quickens us when we are dead in trespasses and sins,” that faith is his gift, and that “ we are renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created us." These and various other testimonies of sacred writ plainly teach us, that some power superior to our own is exerted in renewing us in the spirit of our minds, that we may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.-Our gradual improvement in piety and virtue is also attributed in scripture to the continual emanation of those divine influences, by which we are at first excited to engage in the service of religion. Thus, David acknowledges his dependance on the gracious aid of his heavenly Father, when he says, “ I will run in the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart.” Thus, St. Paul expresses his conviction, that “ he who had begun a good work in his people, would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ ;” and of himself he says, that by the grace of God he was what he was, and that though he laboured more abundantly than they all, yet it was not he, but divine grace that was with him.

In confirmation of these sentiments, we find that good men in every age of the church have been accustomed to present their supplications to God, for strength to assist them in every time of need. They have uniformly prayed that God would create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within them; that he would open their eyes to be,

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