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are, till animated with the Spirit of grace, and quickened by a vital principle! And this is done with Christ, ver. 5, by his resurrection.
(3.) It is called parturition, or bringing forth by spiritual pangs of soul-travail; it is a new birth. John iii. 3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Convincing grace brings a lively and lovely offspring into the world, better than the product of nature.
(4.) Such converts are compared to little children, Matt. xviii. 3, “Verily, I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven :" that is, you must needs have the qualities and dispositions both of infants and larger children.
(5.) This work of God on the soul, is called a dying with Christ, and a rising again with him: Rom. vi. 5, “ For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." All real Christians are risen with Christ, Col. iii. 1; hence it is called the “first resurrection," Rev. xx. 6, as if they were newly brought out of their graves, when they had been long dead and useless.
(6.) It is called the image of God on the soul, Col. iii. 10, “ And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” Eph. iv. 24, “ The new man, which
“ after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." This new creature is a blessed resemblance of the Trinity of persons, in the renewing of the mind, will, and affections, conformable to God.
(7.) It is called a divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4, “ Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature;” that is, of those divine qualities, whereby the soul resembles God, not only as a picture doth a man in outward lineaments, but as a child doth his father, both in countenance and condition. As the noble qualities of an immortal soul show that there is a God, so the renewed faculties show what that God is.
So much for the names of this new creature, most of which are figurative expressions, denoting the same thing.
2. For the nature of the new creature, take this description of it.
The new creature is a supernatural work of gospel grace wrought in the soul of a sinner, by the word and Spirit of God, changing the whole man from its old state and course, and thereby transforming it into the divine likeness, and conforming the heart and life to the rule of the word, for the glory of God, and the soul's present and everlasting communion with him : this is the new creature.
I confess this description is long, but I cannot leave out any of its parts.
I shall very briefly discuss the branches of this description.
(1.) With respect to the general nature of it, I call it a supernatural work, for it is above the power of nature to produce it, it comes from above; so he that is “ born again,” John iii. 3, is avw.fev yevóuevos, “from above." This perfect gift “comes down from the Father of lights,” James i. 17. The “ Jerusalem that is above is the mother of us all,” Gal. iv. 26. This new creature is no herb that grows in nature's garden; it is a plant of paradise : “Flesh and blood cannot so much as reveal this to the sons of men,” Matt. xvi. 17. Therefore it is no wonder if learned doctors, such as
Nicodemus, laugh at such doctrine, as whimsical fancies, and say, “How can these things be?” John iii. 9. Or, like Ezekiel's hearers, who saith, “ Ah, Lord God, they say of me, Doth he not speak parables ?” Ezek. xx. 49. For “such wisdom is too high for a fool,” Prov. xxiv. 7. In "God's light only shall we see light.” Experience is the best master in these cases.
“We speak wisdom,” saith the apostle, “among them that are perfect; but the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God," 1 Cor. ii. 6, 14. This new creature is of a celestial origin, and must have a heavenly interpreter.
(2.) In this description, we have the particular nature of this new creature; I speak of it as originating in gospel grace. It is no branch or fruit of the old covenant of works, for the law maketh nothing perfect : “ There was no law which could give life,” Gal. iii. 2, 21, 22, but the new testament dispensation, called the promise; this only produceth the new creation.
But you may say, had not old testament saints this new creature? Doth not David say, "create in me a clean heart?" Psal. li. 10,
I answer, Old testament saints had a new testament spirit; for “they without us could not be made perfect,” Heb. xi. 40. The same gospel belonged to them and us, and was preached to both, Heb. iv. 2; Abraham saw Christ's day, they all partook of gospel grace, John viii. 56, both in justification and sanctification; as having but a different edition of the same gospel covenant; they were as children in minority under tutors and governors, Gal. iv. 1, 2, 25; but gospel saints are as children at age; their state was that of the bond woman of mount Sinai; ours is of Jerusalem, which is free. However, that gospel promise, made known in the old testament; belongs both to them and us; Ezek.
xxxvi. 26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” This is the uniform, evangelical result under both dispensations; and sincere believers of old had experience of it, though the veil was on the face of Moses, 2 Cor. iii. 14, 15; and on the hearts of carnal Jews, as it is on all unbelievers to this day ; but gospel grace renews the soul.
(3.) Here is the subject, in which this new creature is formed, and that is the soul or heart of a sinner. Here is the seat and centre of this new creation; it is not merely external in the eye, or foot, or hand, or tongue; but it is an internal work in the soul, the Christian “is renewed in the spirit of his mind,” Eph. iv. 23; “Behold,” saith David, "thou desirest truth in the inward parts; in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom," Psal li. 6; it is called, "the hidden man of the heart,” 1 Pet. iii. 4. Not but that it discovers itself in lip and life; but the root and spring lie under ground, out of the view of men, as the best treasures are locked up, not exposed to the open view of the world. “A Christian's life is hid with Christ in God,” Col. iii. 3: hence they are called, "God's hidden ones,” Psal. Ixxxiii. 3: and “the king's daughter is all glorious within,” Psal. xlv. 13. These gracious souls are like kings in disguise, and it “doth not yet apppear what they shall be,” 1 John iii. 2; but when the shell is broken, the pearl will appear; all external changes in men are but as the change of the clothes; this is the change of the man and his manners; for “he is not a Jew that is one outwardly, but inwardly.” Right “circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God,” Rom. ii. 28, 29. It is wrought by God, and known to God, who alone searches and sees the heart.
(4.) The instrumental, or organical cause of this new man, is the word of God, Rom. i. 16, this is “the power of God to salvation.” James i. 18,“Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth.” 1 Pet. i. 23,
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth for ever.” The word is the seed, which being sown in the heart, springeth up in obedience, which is the flower and visible product of the new creature. This is properly the gospel word; Moses or the law may bring us to the borders, but Joshua leads us into Canaan; the terrors of the law prepare the way, as John Baptist did, but the word of the gospel is the door of faith, which admits souls, and leads them into the chamber of presence; it is God's method, to form this new man by a powerful gospel ministry; so saith blessed Paul, 1 Cor. iv. 15, “I have begotten you in Jesus Christ through the gospel ;" there is the instrument, Paul, I have begotten you ; the means, by the gospel; the author, Jesus Christ. “Faith comes by hearing,” Rom. x. 17. Prov. viii. 34. Therefore let all continue at the gates of wisdom, expect not this new creation, if you turn your backs on God's institutions.
(5.) The efficient cause is the Holy Ghost, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us,” Rom. v. 5. O what a gracious impression doth the Spirit leave upon our hearts! what a sweet perfume doth it breathe into them, causing our love to God and men ! How doth this new creature occupy all the faculties of the soul through the operation of the Spirit ? This is both a seal and an earnest, “ who hath also sealed us,” Eph. i. 13, 14; "and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,” 2 Cor. i. 22. All good is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit . from the Father and the Son, especially this saving good