Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

may

entered into the first of these states, is in a capacity after death of being introduced into the other; but he who has not entered, during the present life, into the first state, cannot be introduced, after death, into the second, and thus cannot be regenerated. These two states may be compared with the daily progression of light and heat in the spring season; the first with the early dawn or crowing of the cock, the second with morning and sun-rise; and the progression of the latter state may be compared with that of the day from morning till noon, and thus to light and heat. It also be compared with a crop of corn, which is first a green herb, afterwards puts forth spikes and ears, in which lastly grain is formed: and likewise with a tree, which at first sprouts forth from a seed in the earth, then forms a stalk, from which branches shoot out, and these are adorned with leaves, and afterwards with blossoms, in the inmost bosom of which the rudiments of fruits are formed, which as they ripen produce new seeds, like a new race or progeny. The first state, which is that of reformation, may also be compared with the state of a silk-worm, when it draws forth from itself, and unfolds its silken web; but after its industrious toil is over, it acquires wings, and flies forth into the open air, and then no longer derives its nourishment as before from leaves, but from the juices of flowers.

1. THAT UNLESS A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, AND AS IT WERE CREATED ANEW, HE CANNOT ENTER the KingDOM OF GOD.

572. That a man cannot enter the kingdom of God except he be born again, is the Lord's doctrine in John, where He saith to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, (amen) I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," and further, "Verily, verily, (amen) I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit," chap. iii.

3, 5, 6: by the kingdom of God, both heaven and the church are meant, for the kingdom of God on earth is the church; and the same is meant by the kingdom of God in other places where it occurs, as in Matt, xi. 11, chap. xii. 28, chap. xxi. 43, Luke iv. 43, chap. vi. 20, chap. viii. 1, 10, chap. ix. 11, 60, 62, chap. xvii. 21; and elsewhere: to be born of water and the spirit, signifies, by the truths of faith and a life in conformity to them; that water signifies truths, may be seen in the APOCALYPSE REVEALED, n. 50, 614, 615, 685, 932; that spirit signifieth a life in conformity to divine truths, is evident from the Lord's words in John vi. 63: by amen, amen, or verily, verily, is signified that it is truth, and because the Lord was Truth Itself, therefore He so often used. that expression: He is also called the Amen, Rev. iii. 14. The regenerate in the Word are called sons of God, and born of God, and regeneration is described by a new heart and a new spirit.

573. Since "to be created" also signifies to be regenerated, therefore this term is applied to him who is born again, and created, as it were, anew; that this is the signifification of being created, is plain from these passages: "CREATE in me a clean heart, O God, renew a right spirit within me," Psalm li. 12: "Thou openest Thy hand, they are filled with good; Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are CREATED," Psalm civ. 28, 30: "The people which shall be CREATED shall praise the Lord, Psalm cii. 18: "Behold I CREATE Jerusalem a rejoicing," Isaiah lxv. 18: "Thus saith the Lord thy CREATOR, O Jacob, and thy Former, O Israel, I have redeemed thee, every one that is called by My name, I have CREATED him for My glory," Isaiah xliii. 1, 7: "That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the Holy One of Israel hath CREATED this," Isaiah xli. 20: beside other passages; as in some where the Lord is called Creator, Former, and Maker. Hence it is plain what is meant by these words of the Lord

to His disciples; "Go ye out into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every CREATURE," Mark xvi. 15: by creatures are meant all who are in a capacity to be regenerated; in like manner it is used, Rev. iii. 14, 2 Cor. v. 17.

574. That man ought to be regenerated, is obvious also to reason, since he is born with a propensity to evils of every kind derived from his parents, and these have their abode in his natural man, which of itself is diametrically opposed to the spiritual man; and yet he is born to be an inhabitant of heaven, to which place he cannot be admitted unless he be rendered spiritual, which can only be effected by regeneration. Hence it necessarily follows, that the natural man with its lusts ought to be conquered, subdued, and inverted, for otherwise he cannot stir a step towards heaven, but must needs cast himself deeper and deeper into hell. How plain must this appear to every one, who believes that he is born with a propensity to evils of every kind, and who acknowledgeth that there are such principles as good and evil, and that the one is contrary to the other; also that there is a life after death, a hell and a heaven; and that hell is formed by evil, and heaven by good! The natural man, considered in himself, as to his nature differs not at all from the nature of beasts, nay with regard to his will, to all intents and purposes he is a wild beast; he differs indeed from beasts with respect to his understanding, for this is capable of elevation above the lusts of the will, and not only of seeing, but also of regulating them; hence it is that man is capable of thought from understanding, and of speech from thought, which beasts are not. What is the quality of man by birth, and what it would be unless he were regenerated, may be seen in savage beasts of all kinds: he would be a tiger, a panther, a leopard, a wild boar, a scorpion, a tarantula, a viper, a crocodile, &c: so that unless he were transformed into a sheep by regeneration, what would he be but a devil amongst devils in hell? and supposing the innate ferocity of

men under no restraint from the laws of civil government, would they not assault and murder one another, or at least despoil each other of their possessions even to their very clothes? Are there any of the human species who are not by birth satyrs and priapi? or four-footed reptiles? and who among them, unless he be regenerated, becomes after all any thing better than an ape? that external morality, which man assumes for the purpose of concealing his internals, can make him nothing more.

575. The quality of the unregenerate man may be further described by these comparisons and similitudes in Isaiah: "The cormorant and the bittern shall posses it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it. He shall stretch out upon it the line of emptiness and the plummet of desolation; and the thorn shall come up upon its allars, the thistle and bramble in its fortresses, and it shall be a habitation for dragons, and a court for the daughters of the owl. The ziim shall also meet with the jiim, and the satyr shall encounter his fellow; the lilith [birds of night,] also shall rest there; there shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and gather, and hatch under her shadow; there shall the kites also be gathered, every one with her mate," chap. xxxiv. 11, 13, 14, 15.

[ocr errors]

11. THAT THE NEW BIRTH OR CREATION IS EFFECTED BY THE LORD ALONE, THROUGH CHARITY AND FAITH AS TWO MEANS, DURING MAN'S CO-OPERATION. 576. That regeneration is effected by the Lord alone, through charity and faith, is a consequence of what was proved in the chapters on charity and faith, and particularly by what was taught in this article, That the Lord, charity, and faith, make a one, like life, will, and understanding; and that if they be divided, each perishes like a pearl bruised to powder. These two, charity and faith, are called means or mediates, because they conjoin man with the Lord, and cause charity to be charity, and faith, faith, which could not be the case, except man also had some share in regene

ration; hence it is said that this work is effected during man's co-operation. In the foregoing chapters we have occasionally spoken of man's co-operation with the Lord; but since the human mind is such, as to be led entirely by its perceptions to imagine, that it works and effects all merely by its own power and strength, therefore this subject shall be still further illustrated. In all motion, and consequently in all action, there is an active and a passive, that is, a something which acts as an agent, and a something which, being passive, acts from the agent; hence one action is effected by both; comparatively as a mill is put in action by a wheel, or a chariot by a horse, or as motion is produced by the endeavour to move, or as an effect proceeds from its cause, or as a dead power put in activity by a living power, and in general as the instumental is acted upon by its principal; in all which instances it is well known, that the two together constitute but one action. With respect to charity and faith, the Lord is the agent, and man acteth from the Lord, for the active [power or energy] of the Lord is in the passive [ground] of man; wherefore the power of acting well is from the Lord, and thence the will to act is as it were man's, because he is in possession of free-will, so that he has the power to act in unity with the Lord, and to conjoin himself with him; or to act from the power of hell, which is extraneous to that of the Lord, and thus to separate himself from Him. Man's action, when concordant with that of the Lord, is what is here meant by co-operation; but to give the reader a clearer idea of this subject, we shall further illustrate it presently by comparisons.

577. From what has been said, this also follows, that the Lord is continually in the act of regenerating man, because He is continually in the act of saving him, and no one can be saved except he be regenerated; according to the Lord's words in John, "That except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God," chap. iii. 3, 5, 6. Regeneration

« ПредишнаНапред »