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Thofe that having received the call of the gospel to come out of the world lying in wickedness, have by faith embraced the call, and come away, John i. 12, 13. 2 Cor. v. 17. (3.) The knowledge they have of their original: We know that we are of God. We are not only regenerate, but we know that we are fo. Not that all of them know fo much, but some of them do; there may be children fo young, that they know not their father's and mother's names; but the elder children know them very well. This comes in here for the comfort of believers against the fin unto death, ver. 16. which the regenerate cannot fall into, ver. 18.
2. There is another people, who are not of God, but are quite diftinct from those that are fo. Here confider, (1.) Who they are, the world, that is, the unregenerate; thefe are the people diftinct from, yea in an oppofite intereft to, the people of God. It is plain, the world is taken here, not for the place, but for the men of the place, and these not the ftrangers and pilgrims in it, but the natives who have no other but a worldly birth, and who are in it as at home in their own country. The phrafe is taken from the Old Testament, where the church is called the fons of God, Gen. vi. 4. thofe without the church, the earth, Gen. xi. 1. in oppofition to heaven; being the earthly men in oppofition to the heavenly men; men whofe birth, temper, and manner of life are all worldly. (2.) The character of this people; they are lying in wickedness, or in the wicked one, viz. the devil. They are lying in fin, in the guilt and filth, and under the reigning power of it, and so under the power of the devil. They are not rifing and wrestling out of it, but they are lying in it, fleeping, dead, and buried in it. (3.) The extent of this character; it belongs to them all, the whole world. There are many differences among thofe of the unregenerate world; fome of them are profeffors, fome profane, but the former as well as the latter are lying in wickedness.
That I may give you fome view of this text, in its different branches, I fhall effay to open up the three following points of doctrine therefrom, viz.
DOCT. I. All true believers are of God, and fo Se parated from the world lying in wickedness.
Dacr. II. Peoples being of God, and separated from the world lying in wickedness, is what may be known by themselves.
DocT. III. The whole unregenerate world lieth in wickedness.
DOCT. I. All true believers are of God, and fo feparated from the world lying in wickedness.
IN handling this point, I fhall fhew,
I. How true believers are of God.
II. How, as they are of God, regenerate perfons, they are feparated from the world lying in wickedness. III. Make improvement.
I. I am to fhew how true believers are of God. One is faid to be of God two ways:
1. By creation; and fo all things are of God, Rom. xi. 36. Thus the devils themfelves are of God as their Creator, and fo is the world. But this is not the being of God here meant. They may be God's creatures, who nevertheless are the children of the devil.
2. By generation, as a fon is of a father. And this is twofold.
ft, Eternal generation: fo Chrift alone is of God, John vi. 46. Pfal. ii. 7. He is the Son of God by generation of the person of the Father, having the fame numerical divine effence eternally and neceffarily com. municated to him from the Father. Hence he is felfexiftent, independent, and equal with the Father, John v. 26. Phil. ii. 6. Neither is this meant here.
2dly, Temporal generation, called regeneration, A 2
which is a work of God's grace on the fouls of men, refembling natural generation. And thus believers, and none elfe are of God, John i. 12. 13. and viii. 47. We are all born from below naturally; but we must be born from above spiritually, if we fee heaven, John iii. 3. Except a man be born again [marg. from above] he cannot fee the kingdom of God. All the elect are born fo, fooner or later. They naturally lie in the foul womb of the world with others, but the power of divine grace feparates them therefrom.
The work of regeneration is held forth under a double notion, fhewing the regenerate to be of God.
(1.). It is a being begotten of God, 1 John v. 18. He that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. God himself is the Father of the new creature: .it is of no lower original. The incorruptible word of the gospel is the feed of it, Jam, i. 18. i Pet. i. 23, 25. A word is caft into the heart, which by the efficacy of the Spirit changes one into a new nature. It is done by means of the refurrection of Christ, ver. 3. Chrift lay in this womb of the earth in the grave, as a public perfon having fatisfied juftice, he was raised, came forth of the grave, as the first-born from the dead; and in virtue thereof the dead elect are raifed out of their grave of fin, as the next born from the dead.
And this notion of regeneration speaks the parties themselves to have no hand in it, more than a child hath in its own generation. So that as regenerate, they are wholly of God; and owe their being in grace to him purely, not to their own free will.
(2.) It is a being born of God, 1 John v. 18. Whofoever is born of God finneth not. By his Spirit alone the new creature is formed in all its parts, and brought forth into the new world of grace, John iii. 5. And this notion of it speaks the parties to receive life by the Spirit, and to be brought forth to act that life; and none other but the Spirit to be the cause thereof, John i. 13.
Now by this means, vix. regeneration, believers are of God.
1. As partaking of the divine nature, as the child doth of the nature of the parent, 2 Pet. i. 4. There is a fulness of grace lodged in the man Chrift, out of which they receive grace for grace, Iand fo with him partake of the divine nature, being made one spirit, or of one fpiritual and divine nature with him. Even as they received a corrupt nature derived to them from Adam, by which they were originally of the wicked one.
2. As bearing the image of God, in knowledge, righteoufnefs, and holiness. By regeneration they are like him; and if it were perfect, they would be perfectly like him. For in regeneration Christ is formed in them, Gal. iv. 19. that is, they are the image of the man Chrift, who is the image of the invifible God.
3. As being of his family, Eph. iii. 14, 15. and that not as fervants only, but as children, 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. The new birth is a high birth; by it the finner is a member of the family of heaven; God is his Father, Chrift is his elder brother, and the angels and faints are his brethren.
4. As owing their new being to him only in the efficacy of his grace, Eph. ii. 10. For we are bis workmanship, created in Chrift Jefus unto good works. Our natural being we owe in part to our parents, Heb. xii. 9. but our gracious being to God only. That we are men, we owe it to him, in the efficacy of his creating power; and that we are faints, we owe it to him, in the efficacy of his quickening and renewing grace, Gal. iv. 28. Now we, brethren, as "Ifaac was, are the children of promife.
II. I fhall fhew how believers, as they are of God, regenerate perfons, are separated from the world lying in wickednefs. Negatively,
1. Not in refpect of place, 1 Cor. v. 9, 10. They A 3
are still in the world, and must be till the Lord call them home; though they are not of the world. God could, in the moment of converfion, have transported converts into heaven, taken them out of the world for good and all; but he has feen meet for their trial, and the glory of the power of his grace, to keep them in the world a while; and yet to keep them separate from them.
2. Not in respect of gathering them into pure unmixed focieties for worship. There are no fuch vifible church-focieties in the world, Matth. xiii. 28, -30. Separating from the world lying in wickedness is not such an easy thing, as vifible church feparating; they may be forward enough to that, who are yet with the world lying in wickednefs, Jude 19. and may go from party to party in the vifible church, who are still of the world's party, not of God. But pofitively, the regenerate as fuch are separated from the world.
1. In refpect of their being broke off from that corrupt mafs, and become a part of a new lump. Adam falling left all mankind earthly men, bearing his corrupt image; Chrift is become a fecond Adam, the head of heavenly men, bearing his image, 1 Cor. xv. 47, 48. Now the regenerate are feparated from the former fociety, and become members of the latter, through regenerating grace. They are become members of Chrift's myftical body, of the invifible church, a diftinct though invifible fociety.
2. Their being delivered from under the power of the god of this world, viz. Satan, Acts xxvi. 18. Satan is the god of this world; the wicked are led by him at his will; he works effectually in them, and blinds their minds, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. But the regenerate are got out from under his fubjection, delivered from his kingdom, Col. i. 13. He is indeed an enemy to moleft them, but not their king that reigns over them; his involuntary prifoners they may be for a time, but they are no more his willing fubjects.