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"III. The original Corruption of every child of Adam observed, as that from which the necessity of such a change arises....
"1. The New Birth is here described. Whatever this implies, the Spirit of God is the sole author of it. He does not help a man to regenerate himself, but takes the work into his own hands. A child of God, as such, is not born of blood; does not become so by a descent from pious parents. He is not born of the will of the flesh, is not renewed by the power of his own carnal will; nor of man, of any man whatsoever, but of God: by the sole power of his Spirit,
"In regeneration the Holy Spirit mortifies the old man, corrupt natnre, and breathes a principle of life into the soul: a principle of faith, of sincere love, and willing obedience to God. He who was dead in sin, is now dead to sin, and ‘alive to God through Jesus Christ,' God has created in him a clean heart,' and ' renewed a right spirit within him.' He has created him unto good works,' and 'written his law in his heart,' But if the Spirit of God is the sole agent in the work of regeneration; if the soul of man has no active interest or concern in his being born again:' if man was created holy, and regeneration re-instamps that holy image of God on the soul: if the new man is created after God in righteousness and true holiness: if the corruption of nature (termed 'the old man or flesh') is not contracted by imitation or custom, but is an inbred, hereditary distemper, coeval with our nature: if all truly good works are the fruits of a good heart, a good principle wrought in the soul; it plainly follows, that the faith, hope, love, fear, which distinguish the children of God from others, are not of the nature of acquired, but of infused habits or principles. To say then, That all holiness must be the effect of a man's ? own choice and endeavour, and that by a right use of his 'natural powers every man may and must attain a habit of 'holiness, that is, be born again :' however pleasing it may be to human vanity, is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture.
"And all the scriptural expressions on this head are grounded on the real nature of things. Sin is of the nature of filth and corruption. It pollutes the whole man, and renders him as an unclean thing in the sight of God. When therefore the Spirit of God removes this, he is said to 'create a clean heart,' to 'purify the heart,' to 'sprinkle clean water upon us,' to 'wash us from our filthiness. And this cleansing efficacy is in the text expressed by being born of water and of the Spirit.'
"When therefore our Lord speaks of being born of the Spirit, his plain meaning is, there is a spiritual cleansing you must partake of, mentioned in those promises, I will sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will put within you. And I will take away the stony heart, and I will give you a heart of flesh. These promises give us a plain description of the Spirit's regenerating work: with out experiencing which, our state is miserable now, and will be much more so hereafter. 'w dzoj od ni w
"II. For this spiritual renovation of the soul is indis pensably necessary. Without it none can enter into the kingdom of heaven,' either the kingdom, of grace or of glory.
66 1. Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of grace; he cannot be a loyal subject of Jesus Christ. By nature we are subjects of Satan; and such we must remain, unless renewing grace' translate us into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
"2. Consequently, except we are born again, we cannot enter into the kingdom' of glory. Indeed, supposing he could be admitted there, what could an unregenerate sinner do in heaven? He could not possibly have any relish either for the business, the company, or the enjoyments of that world.
"III. Our Lord having asserted the absolute necessity of the New Birth, to shew the ground of this necessity, R 4
adds, "That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.' Here observe,
"1. Our Lord opposes flesh and spirit to each other, which opposition we often meet with. Whatever therefore is meant by these two, they denote things opposite.
"2. He speaks here of two several births, which are distinctly mentioned.
3. The former of these two is spoken of as that which renders the other so necessary. Because that which is, born of the flesh, is flesh,' therefore we must be born of the Spirit.' Therefore this great change must be wrought in us, or we cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'
❝4. If the latter of these is made necessary by the former, then to be born flesh is to be born corrupt and sinful. And indeed the word flesh is very frequently taken for the corrupt principle in man. It is always so taken when it stands opposed to the spirit, or to that inwrought principle of obedience, which itself also (taking the name of its author) is sometimes termed spirit.
"Now in the text, whatever or whoever is born of a man since the fall, is denominated flesh. And that flesh is here put, not for sinless frailty, but sinful corruption, we learn from its being opposed to the spirit. Christ was born frail, as well as we, and in this sense was flesh; yet being without sin he had no need to be born of the Spirit.' This is not made necessary by any sinless infirmities, but by a sinful nature only. This alone is opposite to the spirit: thus therefore we must understand it here. #1
"But Dr. Taylor says, To be born of the flesh is only to be naturally born of a woman. I answer, Is not flesh opposed to spirit in this verse? Is it not the Spirit of God which is spoken of in the latter clause, together with the principle of grace, which is in every regenerate person? And is any thing beside sinful corruption opposite to the Spirit of God? No certainly: but if so, and if wherever flesh is opposed to the Spirit, it implies sinful corruption, then it is evident to be born of the flesh' is to be the sin
ful offspring of sinful parents, so as to have need of the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit, on that account even from our birth.
"If to walk after the flesh,' as opposed to walking after the Spirit,' is to follow our sinful inclinations; if to be in the flesh' opposed to being in the Spirit,' is to be in a state of sin; if the flesh' and the Spirit' are two contrary principles, which counter-act each other. (Gal. v. 16, 17.) If the works of the flesh' and the lusts of the flesh' are opposed to the Spirit,' and the fruit of the Spirit :' then to be born of the flesh' must signify more than barely to be born of a woman. Had Adam transmitted a pure nature to his descendants, still each of them would have been born of a woman; but they would have had no necessity of being born of the Spirit,' or renewed by the Holy Ghost.
"But what is that corruption of nature which the Scrip ture terms flesh ? There are two branches of it; 1. A want of original righteousness. 2. A natural propensity to sin
1. A want of original righteousness. God created man righteous; holiness was con-natural to his soul; a principle of love and obedience to God. But when he sinned he lost this principle. And every man is now born totally void both of the knowledge and love of God,
2. A natural propensity to sin is in every man. And this is inseparable from the other. If man is born and grows up without the knowledge or love of God, he is born and grows up propense to sin: which includes two things, an aversion to what is good, and an inclination to what is evil.
"We are naturally averse to what is good. The carnal mind is enmity against God.' Nature does not, will not, cannot submit to his holy, just, and good law. Therefore
they that are in the flesh cannot please God.' Being averse to the will, law, and ways of God, they are utterly indisposed for such an obedience, as the relation between God and man indispensably requires.
"And as we are all naturally averse to what is good, so
we are naturally inclined to what is evil. Even young children of themselves run into evil; but are with difficulty brought to practise what is good. No sooner do they discover reason, than they discover evil, unreasonable dispositions. And these discovering themselves in every one, even from his early childhood, manifestly prove the inbred and universal corruption of human nature.
"But why is this corruption termed flesh? Not because it is confined to the body. It is the corruption of our whole nature, and is therefore termed the old man. Not because it consists merely in a repugnance of the sensual appetites to reason. This is but one branch of that corruption; the whole of it is far more extensive. Not because it is primarily seated in the body; it is primarily seated in the soul. If sin reigns in our mortal bodies,' it is because the sinful soul uses the bodily members as "instruments of unrighteousness.'
"Nay, all which those words, That which is born of "flesh is flesh,' mean, is this, all men being descended of frail and mortal parents, are like them, frail and mortal. "In consequence of Adam's sin all his descendents die."
"I answer, 1. Though this is true, it is not the whole truth. Nor is it the proper truth of the text: which speaks of our being born of the flesh,' as the reason why we must be born of the Spirit.
2. It is not consistent with the moral perfections of God, for sinless creatures to be born mortal. Death in every sense of the word is the proper wages of sin. Sin has the same causal influence on death, as the obedience of Christ has on eternal life.
"3. We were not only born mortal, but 'children of wrath; we who are now regenerate, as well as others.
4. The Scripture ascribes both our mortality and corruption to our relation to Adam. In him all die; through the offence of one, many,' all mankind, are dead,' liable to death. Again: By the disobedience of one,' the same, many are constituted sinners.' Therefore when our Lord