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ly causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by his holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man; he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens, from being evil, disobedient, and refractory; he renders it good, obedient and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.
And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in scripture, and denominated a new creation ; a resurrection from the dead ; a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that alter God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regererated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious and ineffable ; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose hearts God works in this marvellous manner, are certainly, infallibly and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe.-Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.
The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers in this life. Notwithstanding which, they rest satisfied with knowing and experiencing, that by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart, and love their Saviour.
Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on acount of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure ; but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; nor even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should, by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of salvation, and actually believe in Christ; but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.
God is under no obligation to confer this grace upon any ; for how can he be indebted to man, who had no previous gift to bestow, as a foundation for such recompense ? Nay, who has nothing of his own but sin and falsehood ? He therefore who becomes the subject of this grace, owes eternal gratitude to God, and gives him thanks for ever. Whoever is not made partaker thereof, is either altogether regardles of these spiritual gifts, and satisfied with his own condition; or, is in no apprehension of danger, and vainly boasts the possession of that which he has not. With respect to those, who make an external profession of faith, and live regular lives, we are bound after the example of the Apostle to judge and speak of them in the most favourable
For the secret recesses of the heart, are unknown to us. And as to others, who have not yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not, as if they were. are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ.
But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature, endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin which peryaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity, and spiritual death; so also this grace of regeneration, does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor takes away their will and its properties, neither does violence thereto; but spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and pow. erfully bends it: that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore, unless the admirable author of every good work, wrought in us, man could have no hope of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse of which in a state of innocence he plunged himself into ruin.
As the almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but requires the use of means, by which God of his infinite mercy and goodness hath chosen to exert his influence: so also the beforementioned supernatural operation of God, by which we are regenerated, in no wise excludes, or subverts the use of the gospel, which the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration, and food of the soul. Wherefore as the apostles, and teachers who succeeded them, piously instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to his glory, and the abasement of all pride, and in the
mean time however neglected not to keep them by the sacred precepts of the gospel in the exercise of the word, sacraments and discipline: so even to this day, be it far from either instructors or instructed to presume to tempt God in the Church, by separating what he of his good pleasure hath most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is his work advanced; to whom alone all the glory both of means, and their saving fruit and efficacy is for ever due. Amen.
FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE.
Of the perseverance of the Saints.
HOM God calls, according to his purpose, to the
communion of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the holy Spirit, he delivers also from the dominion and slavery of sin in this life; though not altogether from the body of sin, and from the infirmities of the flesh, so long as they continue in this world.
Hence spring daily sins of infirmity, and hence spots adhere to the best works of the saints; which furnish them with constant matter for humiliation before God, and flying for refuge to Christ crucified; for mortifying the flesh more and more by the spirit of prayer, and by holy exercises of piety; and for pressing forward to the goal of perfection, till being at length delivered from this body of death, they are brought to reign with the Lamb of God in heaven,
By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength. But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them therein, even to the end.
Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of God, who confirms and preserves true believers in a state of grace, yet converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God, as not in some particular instances, sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to be sedaced by, and comply with the lusts of the flesh; they must therefore be constant in watching and prayer, that they be not led into temptation. When these are neglected, they are not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins, by satan, the world and the flesh, but sometimes by the righteous permission of God actually fall into these evils. This, the lamentable fall of David, Peter, and other saints described in holy scripture, demonstrates.
By such enormous sins however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God's favour, for a time, until on their returning into the right way by serious repentance, the light of God's fatherly countenance again shines upon
But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the holy Spirit from his own people, even in their