THE HOLY SPIRIT, An Experimental and Practical View by Octavius Winslow

"The Soul after Conversion"

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:6

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. John 3:6

No truth shines with clearer luster in the Divine word than that salvation, from first to last, is of God. It is convincingly and beautifully shown to be the work of the glorious Trinity in unity: each person of the Godhead occupying a distinct and peculiar office, and yet all engaged upon, and, as it were coalescing in this mighty undertaking. The Father is represented as giving His elect in covenant engagement to His Son, John 17. 2. The Son is represented as assuming in eternity the office of Surety, and in the "fulness of time" appearing in human form, and suffering for their sins upon the cross, Rom. 8. 3. The Holy Spirit is represented as convincing of sin, working faith in the heart, and leading to the atoning blood, John 16. 8. Thus is salvation shown to be the entire work of the Triune God, distinct in office, yet one in purpose. We have now more immediately to do with that department in the stupendous plan which is ascribed especially and peculiarly to God the eternal Spirit.
We have already viewed the sinner in the various phases of his unconverted state. How awful did that state appear! The understanding, the will, the affections were all dark, perverted and alienated from God, with enmity and death marking every unconverted man. We have seen this state reversed; the temple restored, and God dwelling again with men; the heart brought back to its lawful Sovereign, and clinging to Him with all the grasp of its renewed affections; darkness succeeded by light, enmity by love, ingratitude by praise- and the whole soul turning with the rapidity and certainty of the magnetic needle to God, the center of its high and holy attraction. To whose power are we to attribute this marvellous change? To the sinner himself? That cannot be; for the very principle that led to the first step in departure from God, and which still urges him on in every successive one, supplies him with no adequate power or motive to return. To the mere exercise of some other human agency? That is equally impossible; for in the whole empire of created intelligence God has nowhere delegated such power and authority to a single individual. We must look for the secret of this spiritual change outside of the creature, away from men and angels, and seek it in God the eternal Spirit. God looks within Himself for the power, and He finds it there, even in His own omnipotent Spirit. This is the great and spiritual truth we are now to consider: regeneration, the sole and special work of the Holy Spirit.
The doctrine that assigns to human power an efficient part in the new birth is based upon the supposition that there is in man an inherent principle, the natural bias of which is to holiness; and that, because God has created him a rational being, endowed with a will, understanding, conscience, affections and other intellectual and moral properties, therefore the simple, unaided, voluntary exercise of these powers- a simple choosing of that which the conscience and the understanding point out to be good in view of certain motives presented to the mind- is all that is required to bring the soul into the possession of the Divine nature. With all meekness and affection, yet uncompromising regard for the glory of God, would we expose, on scriptural grounds alone, the fallacy and the dangerous tendency of this hypothesis.
Begging the reader to bear in mind that which in the previous chapter has been advanced touching the actual state of the natural man, we would earnestly call his attention to the following passages. John 3. 6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." It is, morally, nothing but flesh. It is carnal, corrupt, depraved, sinful and has no discernment or perception whatever of spiritual things. This is the sense in which the term flesh, as opposed to spirit, is to be interpreted in God's Word. It signifies the corruption of nature. Gal. 5. 17 "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." Again, Rom. 8. 5-8: "For those who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but those who are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God." What further proof do we need of the natural sinfulness and impotence of man? And yet the powerful testimony borne to this by God's Word is by no means exhausted.
Do we speak of his mind? Eph. 4. 18: "Having the under
standing darkened." Of his knowledge? 1 Cor. 2. 14: "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned." Of his heart? Eccles. 9. 3: "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil." Of
his love to God? Rom. 8. 7: "Enmity." Of his ability to
believe? John 12. 39: " They could not believe." Of his power to acknowledge Christ? I Cor. 12. 3: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." Thus minute, clear and solemn is the testimony of the Holy Spirit Himself, touching the real amount of human power brought to bear upon the production of spiritual life in the soul of man.
So far from cooperating with the Spirit in the new creation, the natural man presents every resistance and opposition to it. There is not only a passive aversion but an active resistance to the work. The stream of man's natural inclinations, as we have fully proved from the Scriptures of truth, runs counter to all holiness. A strong and steady current has set in against God, and all that God loves. The pride of reason, the perverseness of the will, the enmity of the mind, the heart's love of sin, all are up in arms against the entrance of the Holy Spirit. Satan, the great enemy of God and man, has been too long in quiet and undisturbed possession of the soul to resign his dominion without a strong and a fearful struggle to maintain it. When the Spirit of God knocks at the door of the heart, every ally is summoned by the "strong man armed" to "resist" the Spirit, and bar and bolt each avenue to His entrance. All is alarm, agitation and commotion within. There is a danger of being dispossessed, and every argument and persuasion and contrivance must be resorted to, in order to retain the long undisputed throne. The world is summoned to throw out its most enticing bait- ambition, wealth, literary and political distinction, pleasure in her thousand forms of fascination and power- all are made to pass, as in review, before the mind. The flesh exerts its power- the love of sin is appealed to, affection for some long- cherished lust, some long- indulged habit, some " fond amusement," some darling taste- these, inspired with new vigor, are summoned to the rescue. Thus Satan, the world, and the flesh, are opposed to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, in the great work of spiritual regeneration. Oh let no individual be so deceived as to believe that when God the eternal Spirit enters the soul, He finds the temple swept and garnished, and prepared for His reception- that, without the exercise of His own omnipotent and irresistible power, the heart bounds to welcome Him, and reason bows submissively to His government, and the will yields 'an instant and humble compliance. O no! If He that is in the regenerate were not greater and more powerful than he that is in the world, such is the enmity of the heart to God, such the strong power and love of sin, such the supreme control which Satan exerts over the whole empire of man, God would be forever shut out, and the soul forever lost.
But see how clearly regeneration is proved to be the work of the Spirit. A few quotations from His own Word will set the question at rest. Examine the following. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." "It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Other passages show the power exerted in regeneration to be infinite. God says, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." The same power that called the material creation from nothing into existence, effects the new and spiritual creation. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The same power that raised up Jesus from the dead- "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead." We need not multiply proof. God has written it as with a sunbeam, that "we are His workmanship," and that the eternal Spirit is the mighty Agent.

We now proceed to show in what MANNER the blessed Spirit commences, carries forward and sustains this great work in the soul.
First, the commencement of spiritual life is sudden. We are far from confining the Spirit to a certain prescribed order in this or any other part of His work. He is a Sovereign, as we shall presently show, and therefore works according to His own will. But there are some methods He more frequently adopts than others. We would not say that all aspects of conversion is a sudden work. There is a knowledge of sin, conviction of its guilt, repentance before God on account of it; these are frequently slow and gradual in their advance. But the first communication of Divine light and life to the soul is always sudden- sudden and instantaneous as was the creation of natural light. "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." It was but a word, and in an instant chaos rolled away, and every object and scene in nature was bathed in light and glory. Sudden as was the communication of life to Lazarus- "Jesus cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!" It was but a word, and in an instant "he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes." So is it in the first communication of Divine light and life to the soul. The eternal Spirit says, "Let there be light," and in a moment there is light. He speaks again, "Come forth," and "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead are raised incorruptible, and are changed."
Striking illustrations of the suddenness of the Spirit's operation are afforded in the cases of Saul of Tarsus, and of the thief upon the cross. How sudden was the communication of light and life to their souls! It was no long and previous process of spiritual illumination- it was the result of no lengthened chain of reasoning- no labored argumentation. In a moment, and under circumstances most unfavorable to the change- as we should think- certainly at a period when the rebellion of the heart rose the most fiercely against God, "a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun," poured its transforming radiance into the mind of the enraged persecutor; and a voice conveying life into the soul reached the conscience of the dying thief. Both were translated from darkness into light, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."
How many who read this page may say, "Thus was it with me! God the eternal Spirit arrested me when my heart's deep rebellion was most up in arms against Him. It was a sudden and a short work, but it was mighty and effectual. It was unexpected and rapid, but deep and thorough. In a moment the hidden evil was brought to view- the deep and dark fountain broken up- all my iniquities passed before me, and all my 'secret sins seemed placed in the light of God's countenance.' My soul sank down in deep mire- yes, hell opened its mouth to receive me."
Do not overlook this wise and gracious method of the blessed Spirit's operation in regeneration. It is instantaneous. The means may have been simple- perhaps it was the loss of a friend- an alarming illness- a word of reproof or admonition dropped from a parent or a companion- the singing of a hymn- the hearing of a sermon- or some text of Scripture winged with His power to the conscience; in the twinkling of an eye, the soul "dead in trespasses and sins" was "quickened," and translated into "newness of life." O blessed work of the blessed and eternal Spirit! O mighty operation! O inscrutable wisdom! What a change has now passed over the whole man! Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, that which is begotten in the soul is the Divine life, a holy, influential, never-dying principle. Truly he is a new creature, "old things passing away, and all things becoming new."
For this change let it not be supposed that there is, in the subject, any previous preparation. (The author is not affirming that the Holy Spirit has no dealings with a sinner prior to regeneration but that the sinner does nothing to prepare himself for this saving act of God.) There can be no preparation for light or life. What preparation was there in chaos? What preparation was there in the cold clay limbs of Lazarus? What in Paul? What in the dying thief? The work of regeneration is supremely the work of the Spirit. The means may be employed, and are to be employed, in accordance with the Divine purpose, yet are they not to be deified. They are but means, "profiting nothing" without the power of God the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is His work, and not man's.
We have remarked that the first implantation of the Divine life in the soul is sudden. We would however observe that the advance of that work is in most cases gradual. Let this be an encouragement to any who are writing hard and bitter things against themselves in consequence of their little progress. The growth of Divine knowledge in the soul is often slow- the work of much time and of protracted discipline. Look at the eleven disciples- what slow, tardy scholars were they, even though taught immediately from the lips of Jesus; and "who teaches like him?" They drank their knowledge from the very Fountain. They received their light directly from the Sun itself. And yet, with all these superior advantages- the personal ministry, instructions, miracles, and example of our dear Lord, how slow of understanding were they to comprehend, and how "slow of heart to believe," all that He so laboriously, clearly, and patiently taught them!
Yes, the advance of the soul in the Divine life- its knowledge of sin, of the hidden evil, the heart's deep treachery, intricate windings, Satan's subtlety, the glory of the Gospel, the preciousness of Christ, and its own interest in the great salvation- is not the work of a day, nor of a year, but of many days, perhaps many years of deep ploughing, long and often painful discipline, of "windy storm and tempest."
But this life in the soul is not less real, nor less Divine, because its growth is slow and gradual; it may be small and feeble in its degree, yet in its nature it is the life that never dies. The figures and illustrations employed by the Holy Spirit to set forth the character and advance of His own work in the soul, are frequently such as convey the idea of feebleness. Thus, Isa. 40. 11: "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Can language more strikingly and more touchingly unfold the feebleness and often burdened state of God's dear saints? Again, ch. 42. 3: "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." Had it been described as a "reed" only, that had been deeply expressive of its weakness; but a "bruised reed," seems to unfold the very lowest degree of feebleness. Had this gracious work been compared to "flax" merely, we would have thought it small indeed; but "smoking flax" seems to represent it as "ready to die." And still both are the product of the eternal Spirit; never shall the "bruised reed" be quite broken, nor the "smoking flax" be quite extinguished; the Lord will tenderly bind up and strengthen the one, and will carefully watch over and nourish the other. How many of the Lord's beloved ones, the children of godly parents brought up in the ways of God, are at a loss in reviewing the map of their pilgrimage, to remember the starting point of their spiritual life! They well know that they left the city of destruction, that by a strong and a mighty arm they were brought out of Egypt; but so gently, so imperceptibly, so softly and so gradually were they led- "first a thought, then a desire, then a prayer"- that they could no more discover when the first dawning of Divine life took place in their soul than they could tell the instant when natural light first broke upon chaos. Still it is real. It is no fancy that he has inherited an evil principle in the heart; it is no fancy that that principle has been subdued by grace. It is no fancy that he was once a child of darkness; it is no fancy that he is now a child of light. He may mourn in secret over his little advance, his tardy progress, his weak faith, his small grace, his strong corruption, his many infirmities, his startings aside like "a deceitful bow," yet he can say, "though I am the 'chief of sinners,' and the 'least of all saints'; though I see within so much to abase me, and without, so much to mourn over, yet this 'one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.' I see that which I never saw before- a hatefulness in sin and a beauty in holiness; I see a vileness and emptiness in myself, and a preciousness and fulness in Jesus." Do not forget then, reader, that feeble grace is yet real grace. If the soul but "hungers and thirsts," if it "touches but the hem," it shall be saved.
We must also point out the sovereignty of the Spirit's operations in the production of this work. There is a sovereignty in all the works and dealings of God. If it be asked what God's own definition of His sovereignty is, we refer the inquirer to His words. "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy." Here is the Sovereign! How like Himself he speaks! He carries forward His gracious purposes of infinite wisdom, and love- chooses or rejects- reveals or withholds, "working all things after the counsel of his own will," "giving no account," either to angels or to men, "of any of his matters." Now, notice the unfolding of sovereignty in the operations of the blessed Spirit. Thus did Christ declare it. John 3. 8: "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Here is His sovereignty. Mark how striking is the figure. The wind bids defiance to man's governing power. It is as irresistible in its influence as it is mighty in its strength.
We cannot command it nor can we control it. It is alike out
of our power to summon as it is to soothe it. It comes, we know not whence, it goes, we know not whither. "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." We do not say that the Spirit is not resisted- He is resisted, strongly and perseveringly. But He is not overpowered. All the enmity and carnality of the heart rises in direct opposition to Him; but when bent upon a mission of love, when in accordance with the eternal purpose He comes to save, not all the powers on earth or in hell can effectually resist Him. Like the mighty wind, He bears down all opposition, sweeps away every barrier, overcomes every difficulty, and the sinner, "made willing in the day of His power," is brought to the feet of Jesus, there meekly and gratefully to sit, "clothed and in his right mind." His power, who can withstand? Whether He speaks in the "still small voice" of tender, persuasive love, or whether He comes in the "mighty rushing wind" of deep and overwhelming conviction, His influence is unquenchable, His power is irresistible. He "effectually works" in those who believe.
But His operation is as sovereign as it is mighty. He comes to whom He will; He comes when He will; He comes in the mode He will. We cannot bring Him by an effort of our own will, nor can we by an effort of our will compel Him to depart. He blows where He wills; we hear the sound, we see the effects; but how He works, why He works, and why in a particular way He works, He does not reveal to mortals. Even so, O blessed and eternal Spirit, for so it seems good in Your sight.
We will not expand this part of the subject by citing the numerous examples of this truth which abound in the Scriptures of truth. The reader may refer to them at his leisure, if they do not spontaneously recur to his recollection at this moment. We would merely now urge him to examine the cases of Jacob and Esau- the publican and Pharisee- Saul of Tarsus, and the men who journeyed with him- the two thieves upon the cross, and see if the sovereignty of the Divine choice and the operation of the eternal Spirit are not written out in their histories as with a sunbeam.
Is the reader a child of God? Then we will not confine him to the word of Divine truth. We summon him as a witness to the sovereignty of the blessed Spirit's operation. "You are my witnesses," says God. Who and what made you to
differ? You have been taken out of your family, your kindred, your friends, your companions. From this circle it may be that you alone have been selected, called, and made a child
of grace, an heir of glory. The others, where are they? Still dead in trespasses and sins. Where are they? Living in the world and to the world, lovers of pleasure, lovers of self, lovers of sin, hating God, rejecting Christ, and warring against the Spirit speaking to them in the Word, through providences, and by the conscience. Where are they? Bursting through every restraint, and bending their footsteps down to the doom of the lost. Where are they? Gone, many of them, into eternity- past the confines of mercy, "in hell lifting up their eyes, being in torments." And what are you? A sinner saved by grace, a sinner chosen and called, pardoned and justified, washed and clothed, adopted and sanctified, brought to the foot of the cross, constrained to welcome Jesus, to take up the cross and to follow Him. O the electing love of God! O the distinguishing grace of Jesus! O the sovereign operation of the eternal Spirit! "Who are you, O man, that replies against God?" Bow down to the sovereignty of His will; silently wonder and adore Him who says, "Be still, and know that I am God."
Has my reader hitherto found this doctrine a "hard saying"? Has he been prone to object to it and pass it by? I would, with all meekness and affection, urge him seriously, candidly and prayerfully to examine it by the light of the Divine Word. Let him not object to it, lest he be found to "fight against God"; let him not pass it by, lest he "grieve the Spirit," and rob his own soul of an inestimable blessing. O precious truth! It stains the pride of human merit- it lays the axe at the root of self- it humbles and abases- it empties and lays "low in a low place," and ascribes all the praise, honor and glory, might, majesty and dominion of the new creation in the soul, to the Triune God.
Intimately connected with the sovereignty, is the free grace of the Spirit's operation. No worthiness of the creature allures Him to the sinner's breast. What worthiness can be supposed to exist; what merit can there be in an adjudged criminal, an outlawed rebel, a poor insolvent, one whose mind is enmity, whose heart is swelling with treason against God, His government, and His Son, one who owes ten thousand talents, and has "nothing to pay"? None whatever. And that the eternal Spirit should enter the heart of such a one- convincing of sin- subduing the hatred- breaking down the rebellion- leading to Jesus, and sealing pardon and peace upon the conscience- oh! what but free grace- unmerited mercy- sovereign love, could thus have constrained Him? And as He exercises His sovereignty in conversion, let none suppose that that which decides Him in the selection of His subject is anything more worthy, or more lowly, which He may discover in one more than in another. O no! He often selects the poorest, the vilest, the most depraved and fallen, as if utterly to explode all idea of human merit, and to reflect in its richest luster the free grace of His heart. Behold then, the grace of the blessed Spirit's operation; He comes, He knocks, He unbars, He enters, and creates all things new, irrespective of any merit of the creature, if merit that may be called which is so wretched and poor that language fails adequately to describe it. O the riches of His grace! How it is magnified- how it is illustrated- how it shines in the calling of a poor sinner! "Lord, what did You see in me," exclaims the convinced soul, "that moved You with compassion, that drew You to my breast, and that constrained You to make me Your temple? Nothing on my part, but poverty, wretchedness, and misery- on Your part, nothing but love, sovereignty, and unmerited favor." Reader, do not turn from this glorious feature of the blessed Spirit's operation- it glorifies God, while it humbles man- it exalts Jesus on the ruins of the creature. Poor in spirit! blessed are you! You are rich in your poverty- you are exalted in your lowliness. All the love that is in God- all the grace that is in Jesus- and all the tenderness that is in the Spirit, all, all is for you. Lift up your head then, and let your heart sing for gladness. Though poor, though nothing, though despised, though worthless in your own eyes- ah! and worthless in the eyes of the vaunting Pharisee- yet, for you, Jehovah pours out all the treasures of His grace- gives His well-beloved Son, and sends His blessed Spirit. "All things are yours," you poor in spirit, you broken in heart- "all things are yours"- how vast the compass of your blessings! "All things are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Oh, could you know how dear you are to the heart of God- could you know with what tenderness Jesus yearns over you- how the blessed Spirit delights to make you His dwelling-place, you would rejoice in that you are made low. "For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Isa. 57. I5.)
The operation of the Spirit is effectual. As we have necessarily touched upon this feature in former parts of the chapter, especially in the preceding sentences, it seems to demand a less extended unfolding here. Still, it presents an important and glorious aspect of the Spirit's work, upon which we cannot reflect without clearer, more elevated and sanctifying views of His operations in the work of regeneration. The reader will not need to be reminded that the great change which takes place in the soul at regeneration is frequently termed by the Holy Spirit, in various parts of His Word, a calling. A reference to a few passages will prove it. Gal. 1. 15: Paul speaks of his being "called by grace." Rom. 8. 28: The saints of God are spoken of as the "called according to his purpose." I Pet. 2. 9: "Called out of darkness." Rom. 8. 30: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called." Jude 1: "Preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." 2 Tim. 1. 9 "Who has called us with a holy calling." Heb. 3. 1: "Partakers of the heavenly calling." 2 Pet. 2. 10: "Make your calling and election sure." Thus is it clear that he who is raised from the dead, brought out of darkness, and born again is called. The blessed Agent by whom he is called is the eternal Spirit. "It is the Spirit that quickens," and calls. The point with which we have now especially to deal is the effectual nature of His calling.
There is an external and also an internal call of the Spirit. The external call is thus alluded to. Prov. 1. 24: "I have
called, and you refused." Matt. 22. 14: "Many are called, but few are chosen." This outward call of the Spirit is made in various ways: in the Word, in the glorious proclamation of the gospel, through the providences of God- those of mercy and those of judgment- the warnings of ministers, the admonitions of friends, and, not less powerful, the awakening of the natural conscience. By these means does the Holy Spirit "call sinners to repentance." In this sense, every man who hears the gospel, who is encircled with the means of grace, and who bears about with him a secret but ever-faithful monitor, is called by the Spirit. The existence of this call places the sinner in an attitude of fearful responsibility; and the rejection of this call exposes him to a still more fearful doom. God has never poured out His wrath upon man without first extending the olive-branch of peace. Mercy has invariably preceded judgment. "I have called, and you have refused." "All day long I have stretched forth my hands." "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." He reasons, He argues, He expostulates with the sinner. "Come, let us reason together," is His invitation. "Bring your strong arguments." He instructs, warns and invites; He places before the mind the most solemn considerations, urged by duty and interest; He presses His own claims and appeals to the individual interests of the soul, but all seems ineffectual. Oh, what a view does this give us of the patience of God towards the rebellious! That He should stretch out His hand to a sinner- that, instead of wrath, there should be mercy- instead of cursing, there should be blessing- that, instead of instant punishment, there should be the patience and forbearance that invites, allures and "reasons." Oh,
who is a God like unto our God? "I have called, and you refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded."
But, there is the special, direct and effectual call of the Spirit, in the elect of God, without which all other calling is in vain God says, "I will put my Spirit within them." Christ says, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live." And in the following passages reference is made to the
effectual operation of God the Spirit. Eph. 3. 7. "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power." 1 Thess. 2. 13: "The word of God which effectually works in you that believe." Thus, through the instrumentality of the truth, the Spirit is represented as effectually working in the soul. When He called before, there was no inward, supernatural, secret power accompanying the call to the conscience. Now there is an energy put forth with the call which awakens the conscience, breaks the heart, convinces the judgment, opens the eye of the soul and pours a new and an alarming sound upon the hitherto deaf ear. Notice the blessed effects. The scales fall from the eyes, the veil is torn from the mind, the deep fountains of evil in the heart are broken up, the sinner sees himself lost and undone- without pardon, without a righteousness, without acceptance, without a God, without a Savior, without a hope! Awful condition! "What shall I do to be saved?" is his cry: "I am a wretch undone! I look within me, all is dark and vile; I look around me, everything seems but the image of my woe; I look above me, I see only an angry God: whichever way I look, there is hell! And were He now to send me there, just and right would He be." But blessed be God, no poor soul that ever uttered such language, prompted by such feelings, ever died in despair. That faithful Spirit who begins the good work, effectually carries it on and completes it. Presently, He leads him to the cross of Jesus- unveils to his eye of glimmering faith, a suffering, wounded, bleeding, dying Savior- and yet a Savior with stretched-out arms! That Savior speaks- oh, did ever music sound so melodious? "All this I do for you- this cross for you- these sufferings for you- this blood for you- these stretched-out arms for you. Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest- him that comes to Me, I will in no way cast out- look unto Me, and be saved- only believe. Are you lost? I can save you. Are you guilty? I can cleanse you. Are you poor? I can enrich you. Have you
sunk to the depths? I can raise you. Are you naked? I can clothe you. Have you nothing to bring with you- no price,
no money, no goodness, no merit? I can and will take you to Myself, just as you are; poor, naked, penniless, worthless, for such I came to seek, such I came to call, for such I came to die." "Lord, I believe," exclaims the poor, convinced soul,
"help my unbelief. You are just the Savior that I need. I needed one that could and would save me with all my vileness, with all my rags, with all my poverty- I needed one that would save me fully, save me freely, save me as an act of mere unmerited, undeserved grace- I have found Him whom my soul loves- and will be His through time, and His through eternity." Thus effectually does the blessed Spirit call a sinner, by His special, direct and supernatural power, out of darkness into marvellous light. "I will work," says God, "and who shall let it?" (marg. turn it back).
This great work the Holy Spirit sustains in the soul. As he is the Author, so he is the Supporter. He breathed the spiritual life, and He keeps, and nourishes, and watches over it. Let it not be supposed that there is anything in this life that could keep itself. There is no principle in Divine grace that can keep this life from decline and decay. If it is not watched over, nourished, sustained, and revived perpetually by the same omnipotent power that implanted it there, it is liable to constant decline. What experienced child of God has not felt this? Where is the believer who has not been made, solemnly and painfully, to learn it? That there is not a grace of the Spirit in him, but that grace needs, at times, greatly invigorating; not a particle of faith, but it needs strengthening; not a lesson, but he needs to re-learn; not a precept, but requires to be re-written upon his heart. Now this is the work of our ever-watchful, ever-loving, ever-faithful Spirit. He watches over, with a sleepless, loving eye, the work He has wrought in the soul. Not a moment but He has His eye upon it. By night and by day, in summer and in winter, when it decays and when it revives, He is there, its Guardian and its Protector, its Author and its Finisher.
And how does He nourish it? Spiritually. As the life is spiritual, so the support is spiritual. 1 Pet. 2. 2: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may
grow thereby." 1 Tim. 4. 6: "Nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine." How does He nourish it? By leading the soul to Jesus, the substance of all spiritual truth. By unfolding His fulness of all grace, strength and sanctification. By leading constantly to His blood and righteousness. By teaching the believer the sweet lesson of living outside of himself, his convictions, his enjoyments, his fruitfulness; upon Christ, and Christ alone. What is there in a child of God, in his best estate, that can supply adequate nourishment and support for this principle of Divine life? He has no resources within himself. He cannot live upon evidences; how soon they are clouded! He cannot grow upon spiritual enjoyments; how soon they are gone! He cannot find nourishment in any part of the work of the Spirit within him, precious and glorious as that work is. Christ is the "true bread" that sustains the life of God in the soul of man. Jesus said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever." Again, "As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me." The renewed soul only lives, as it lives on Jesus; it only advances, grows, and "brings forth much fruit," as it draws its vigor, its nourishment, its support and fruitfulness simply and entirely from Christ. These again are His words, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me." Reader, it may be that for a long time you have been looking to yourself for spiritual nourishment, for strength, for comfort and for fruitfulness. And the more you have looked within yourself, the more emptiness, poverty and barrenness you have discovered. And now the blessed Spirit, the nourisher as He is the author of the life within you, may give you such a new and enlarged view of Jesus as you have never had before. It may be that He will unfold to your soul such a fulness in Him- strength for your weakness, wisdom for your folly, grace for every corruption, tenderness and sympathy for every trial- as will bring you out of your bondage, introduce you into a "large room," and cause you to exclaim, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!" Thus does the Spirit nourish and sustain the work He has wrought in the soul. He leads to Jesus.
I must not omit to notice the use of sanctified trial as one means frequently made, by the Spirit, subservient to this great end. In order to stir up His own grace within us, the Lord often places us under some heavy affliction. Did He not thus deal with his servant job, and with a host more of the Old Testament saints? Messenger upon messenger arrives, and billow upon billow rolls, but bearing the precious tidings- though they may speak roughly, as Joseph did to his brethren- of God's love to our souls, that our Brother lives, that Joseph is alive and loves us still, that there is plenty of food in Egypt, and that all we need do is simply to come and partake of it. What new life the news infuses into us! What new energy! What an impulse, what a new spring to hope,
faith, joy and wondering gratitude! Blessed result when our afflictions are thus sanctified, when they arouse our souls, when they impart new energy to prayer, new vigor to faith, a new spring to hope, a new thirst for holiness, and a new motive and encouragement to trust in God. We can then truly say, "It has been good for me that I have been afflicted." Do not despise then, tried and afflicted soul, the chastenings of the Lord. He may now be about to communicate some of the most costly blessings of your life. Who can tell what mercies now await you, what covenant favors are in reserve, what new views of truth, what enlarged views of Christ, what an abiding sense of His love, what advances in holiness your covenant God and Father may, through this painful yet needed discipline, be on the eve of making you the happy partaker of? Then look up and say, "I will trust him, and not be afraid. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." In this way does the Spirit often stir up, strengthen and invigorate the Divine life in the soul by sanctifying the discipline of the covenant.

Although the limits assigned to this chapter have already been exceeded, we cannot properly close it without a brief exposition of some of the EFFECTS OR FRUITS OF REGENERATION as manifest in the spirit and life of a believer. We have incidentally touched upon some of them as we have passed along, yet there remains a few essential and prominent marks to be considered.
The first evidence we would mention is holiness. This appears to be the order of the Holy Spirit. 1 John 3. 9: "Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." This is a solemn and important point. None more so. When we think how Satan can counterfeit God's work; when we remember how much false, spurious Christianity there is in the world, yes, even in the professing world, we cannot but feel peculiar solemnity here. But God has stamped His own work with His own seal, and a mind taught of the Spirit cannot fail to recognize it.
Let us repeat the passage: "Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." These words have received two interpretations, which we believe are equally true. The more general one is that he who is born of God does not willingly sin. Having "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," he cannot sin with the full consent and concurrence of the will. He hates it, he fights against it, he resists it. But, it may be inquired, is not all sin an act of the will? We reply, not the renewed will. The apostle speaks of two wills in a believer, or rather, the same will under two opposite influences. "When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it." Romans 7:19-20. Few will question that Paul here speaks of himself as a regenerate man. And yet he refers to two antagonistic principles dwelling in him; one is on the side of holiness, the other on the side of sin. "What I hate, that I do." No man can possibly hate sin, unless he is "born of the Spirit." "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." And still he says, "what I hate"- the sin that is so abhorrent to me, "that I do." Is there volition in the act? True philosophy demands that we reply, "Yes." Every sin must be voluntary; if not so, it cannot be sin. Is there the concurrence and consent of the renewed will in the act? True grace demands that we reply, "No." "For what I hate"- there is the mark of the regenerate man, "that do I"- there is the act of the will under the influence of indwelling sin.
But, there is another and a stronger interpretation of which the passage is susceptible. It is this. He that is born of God, as such does not sin at all; there is in him a regenerate soul, an indwelling, living principle of grace and holiness, whose
natural and constant bias is to holiness. "He (the new man)
cannot sin, because he is born of God." "He cannot sin."
Why? "Because his seed remains in him." And what is
that seed? 1 Peter 1. 23, "incorruptible"- being born again, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible." In accordance with Christ's own words, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." It is spiritual, holy, "from above," "the Divine nature"- it "CANNOT sin, because it is born of God."
Here then is the great evidence of regeneration. Let not the reader mistake it. Aware how tender the conscience of a dear child of God often is- how acutely alive to every view of truth that appears condemnatory, how prone to self-accusation, thinking hard and bitter things, calling that nature which is grace, extracting sometimes from the very consolations of God's word, material for self-condemnation- We would here tenderly caution the Christian reader against a misinterpretation of what we have advanced in the preceding sections. We are far from asserting that sin does not still exist in the regenerate. Paul himself speaks in Rom. 7. 20 of the "sin that dwells in me." The entire testimony of God's Word and the histories of all the saints recorded in its pages go to confirm the doctrine that indwelling sin remains in a believer. The Lord has wisely, we must acknowledge, so ordained it that sin should yet remain in His people to the very last step of their journey. And for this he has graciously provided His word as a storehouse of promises, consolations, cautions, rebukes, admonitions, all referring to the indwelling sin of a believer. The covenant of grace- all its sanctifying, strengthening, invigorating and animating provision- all was designed for this very state. The gift of Jesus- all His fulness of grace, wisdom, strength, and sympathy, His death, resurrection, ascension and advocacy- all this was given with a special view to the pardon and subjection of sin in a child of God. Perfect holiness, entire sinlessness, is a state not attainable in this life. He who has settled down with the conviction that he has arrived at such a stage, has great reason to suspect the soundness, or at least the depth of his real knowledge of himself. He, indeed, must be but imperfectly acquainted with his own heart who dreams of perfect sanctification on this side of glory. With all meekness and tenderness, we would earnestly exhort such an individual to review his position well, to bring his heart to the touchstone of God's Word, to pray over the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans, and to ascertain if there are not periods when the experience of an inspired apostle, once "caught up to the third heaven," will not apply to him- "I am carnal, sold under sin"- the "sin that dwells in me." The writings and the preaching of men, mistaken views of truth- yes, I would add, even what was once a sincere and ardent desire for sanctification- any one of these, or all combined, may have led to the adoption of such a notion as sinless perfection, the nature and tendency of which is to engender a spirit of human pride, self-trust and self-complacency; to throw the mind off its guard, and the heart off its prayerful vigilance, and thus render the man an easy prey to that subtle and ever-prowling enemy, of whose "devices" (and this is not the least one) no believer should be "ignorant."
O yes, sin, often deep and powerful, dwells in a child of God. It is the source of his greatest grief, the cause of his acutest sorrow. Remove this, and sorrow in the main would be a stranger to his breast. Go and ask that weary, dejected, weeping believer the cause of his broken spirit, his sad countenance, his tears. "Is it," you inquire, "that you are poor in this world?" "No." "Is it that you are friendless?"
"No." "Is it that worldly prosperity does not shine upon you- your plans are blasted- your circumstances are trying- your prospects are dark?" "No." "What is it then that grieves your spirit, clouds your countenance, and that causes those clasped hands and uplifted eye?" "It is sin," the soul replies, "that dwells in me; sin is my burden, sin is my sorrow, sin is my grief, sin is my confession, sin is my humiliation before my Father and God; rid me of this, and the outward pressure would scarcely be felt." Truly does the apostle say- and let the declaration never be read apart from its accompanying promise- "If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely." 1 John 1:8-2:1
Again, we beg the reader to note this great evidence of regeneration: "Whoever is born of God does not commit sin." He does not commit it with the total, absolute, and complete assent and concurrence of the renewed will. He does not give himself over to sin "with greediness." "He would do good." He hates sin. Grace reigns, not sin. Sin dwells in him, but does not govern; it has power, but does not rule; it torments, but does not reign with a continued, unbroken supremacy. His experience accords with the promise, "sin shall not have dominion over you." It may for a moment triumph, as it did in David, in Peter, and in a host of other eminently holy men; yet still the promise is verified- as we see in the restorings of the blessed Spirit in their spirit and conduct, in their humblings and confessions, and holy and upright walk with God in after years- "sin shall not have dominion over you." Reader, have you ever been made aware of the plague of sin within you? What do you know of warfare in the soul, of "the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh"? Your honest reply will decide the great question whether or not you are born of God.
Secondly, there is a positive mark of regeneration. 1 John 2. 29: "Every one that does righteousness is born of him." Negative holiness, the abstaining from outward sins, does not always describe a regenerate soul. Associated with this there must be positive evidence. "Every one that does righteousness is born of him." Where there is life, there is action, motion and energy. The life of a regenerate man is a life of the highest activity. The principles that influence him are Divine and heavenly; their tendency is to holy action. The more we resemble Christ "in righteousness and true holiness," the stronger the evidence to ourselves and to others that we are born again. We possess professedly and, if not self-deceived, actually the life of Christ. That life is holy in its tendency and vigorous in its acting. The renewed soul longs for holiness. He pants for Divine conformity. He does not rest in the mere longing; he arises and labors for the blessing; he "works out his salvation with fear and trembling." He prayerfully and diligently uses the means the Lord of sanctification has given him for the attainment of holiness; he is active in his pursuit of the blessing. He does not resemble the sluggard, who rests in mere desire. "The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing." But he resembles the "diligent soul," of whom it is said, "Blessed is the man that hears me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors." He seeks the blessing. He seeks it diligently, perseveringly. He "watches daily at the gates," he "waits at the posts of the doors." If he does not find it in one way, he seeks it in another. Should one door of grace be closed, he turns to another- for grace has many doors of blessing. If the ministry conveys no nourishment, he seeks it in a more retired walk. Perhaps he turns to the communion of saints, but he may find no refreshing here- for God sometimes makes his people a "dry tree." Disappointed in this channel, he turns to the revealed Word. This he finds a sealed book; no promise meets his case, no consolation speaks from its sacred page. Driven from this "door," he flies to the throne of grace. (Precious pavilion! ever verdant spot of a tempest-tossed, wearied spirit!) But alas! a cloud overshadows the mercy-seat, this last sanctuary of his soul; not the cloud of the Shekinah- the visible glory of the Lord- but the dark cloud of guilt and unbelief. Just ready all hope to resign, he goes out into the "highways and hedges" of sin and wretchedness. He enters a hovel, goes down into the cellar, or climbs up to the garret, the gloomy abode of some child of sickness, sorrow and need. He inquires for the Sabbath school child, or delivers a tract, or drops a word of reproof, rebuke, exhortation, comfort, or prayer; and while like his Divine Master he is going about doing good, the Lord the Spirit meets him with a blessing, the Sun of righteousness breaks in upon his soul, every cloud is gone, and he looks up to God's serene countenance and calls Him "Abba, Father!" Thus is he made to experience the blessedness of the man that hears God, watching daily at his gates.
Thirdly, victory over the world may be specified as another and a strongly marked feature of a regenerate man. 1 John 5. 4: "Whoever is born of God overcomes the world." How does victory over the world mark one born of God? It proves it in this way. That which overcomes the world must be superhuman, of almighty power. It cannot be anything of the world, nor can it be of the flesh; for the flesh has no power over the flesh, and the world will never oppose itself. The flesh loves itself, and the world is too fond of power, quietly and unresistingly to yield its dominion. What then is that which overcomes the world? John goes on to reply, "And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." Faith then is the conquering grace; this it is that gives the victory; this it is that crushes this tremendous foe. And what is faith but the "gift of God," and the work of the eternal Spirit in the soul? So that he who possesses that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit is "born of God"; and "whatever is born of God overcomes the world," and the instrument by which he overcomes the world is faith. "Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"
And how does faith overcome the world? By leading the believer to the cross of Jesus. True faith deals with its great object, Jesus. It goes to Him in the conflict, it goes to Him when hard pressed, it goes to Him in its weakness, it goes to Him in deep distress; on Him it leans, and through Him it always obtains the victory. Of the martyrs it is recorded that they "overcame through the blood of the Lamb," and Paul employs similar language in describing his victory: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." It is faith in Christ that gives us the victory. How could a feeble saint, with no strength or wisdom in himself, overcome so powerful and subtle an enemy as this without supernatural aid? He never could. Look at the world! There are its ten thousand temptations, its temptations of pleasure, its temptations of ambition, its temptations of wealth, its false religion, its temporising policy, its hollow friendship, its empty show, its gay deceptions, its ten thousand arts to ensnare, beguile, allure and charm. Oh, how could one poor weak believer ever crush this fearful, powerful foe but as he is "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus"? The cross of Christ gives him he victory. Christ has already conquered the world, and faith in His blood will enable the feeblest soul to exclaim, while the enemy lies subdued at his feet, "Thanks be unto God, who always causes me to triumph in Christ."
Reader, have you obtained the victory over the world, or has the world obtained the victory over you? One of the two is certain; either you are warring against it, or you are its passive and resistless victim; either you are "born of God," and "have overcome the world," or you are yet unregenerate, and the world has overcome you. On whose side is the victory? Perhaps you profess faith in the Lord Jesus, yet love the world, and conform to its maxims, its policy, its principles, its fashions, its dress, its amusements, even its very religion- for it has its hollow forms of religion. Is it so? Then hear what the Word of the Lord says to you. "Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you." 1 John 2:15. A solemn declaration for you, you who profess faith in Christ, and who are still lovers of the world! You cannot love God, and love the world at the same time. Do not be deceived! The outward garb will not save you. The mere name, the empty lamp- these will avail you nothing when you come to die. If the world has never been ejected from your heart, if you have never been crucified to it, then the love of God is not there; if the love of God is absent, then you are a stranger to the new birth.
There is another and a peculiar snare of the world to which the saints of God are exposed; and because many have fallen into it, and not a few have in consequence greatly embittered their happiness, retarded their holiness and dishonored God, we would briefly, and in this connection, touch upon it with all tenderness and affection. We allude to the formation of matrimonial alliances between the saints of God and the unregenerate world. The Word of God is against a union so unholy and so productive of evil as this. Not a precept authorises it, not a precedent encourages it, not a promise sanctions it, not a blessing hallows it! Indeed, so far is God from authorising it, that He expressly forbids it. Thus, 2 Cor. 6. 14-18: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? and what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." How strong the command, how conclusive the argument, and how persuasive and touching the appeal! Could it be more so? The command is- that a believer not be yoked with an unbeliever. The argument is- he is a temple of God. The appeal is- God will be a Father to such, and they shall be His children, who walk obediently to this command. There are many solemn considerations which seem to urge this precept upon the believer. A child of God is not his own. He does not belong to himself. "You are not your own." His soul and body are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and therefore he is Christ's. He must not, he cannot, dispose of himself. He belongs to the Lord, and has no authority to give away either soul or body. O that this solemn fact could be written upon every believer's heart, "You are not your own. You are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." May the eternal Spirit now engrave it deeply and indelibly there! But more than this, if this were not enough to urge the command upon a believer, his body is the "temple of the living God"! How solemn and weighty is this consideration! And shall he take "the temple of God," and unite it with one who is a stranger to His grace, to His love, to His Son? with one whose "mind is enmity against God," and whose heart beats not one throb of love to Jesus? God forbid! "Know you not," says James, "that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" Then for a believer to form with an unbeliever an alliance so close and so lasting as this, involving interests so important and so precious, is to enter into a league with an enemy of God. It is to covenant, and that for life, with a despiser of the Lord Jesus!
It is no extenuation of this breach of God's command that the Lord has frequently, in the exercise of His sovereign grace, made the believing party instrumental to the conversion of the unbelieving party. He can, and often does, bring good out of evil, order out of confusion, "making the wrath of man to praise him," and causing events that were designed to thwart His purposes to be the very means of promoting them. But this is no encouragement to sin; and when sin is committed, this is but poor consolation. And to enter into a compact of the nature we are deprecating, with a conscience quieted and soothed with the reflection that "the wife may save the husband, or the husband may save the wife," is presumption of the highest kind, a presumption which God may punish with a disappointment as bitter as it is overwhelming. Let no dear child of God be allured into an alliance so unholy, by a consideration so specious as this. Many have fallen into the snare, and have covered themselves with shame and confusion.
To the believer himself, forming an alliance so contrary to the express injunction of God's Word, the evils arising from it are many and grievous. To say nothing of the lack of what must ever be considered essential to the mutual happiness of the union- oneness of mind, harmony of sentiment, congruity of spirit- there are lacking the higher elements of happiness- the mutual faith of each other in Christ, the communion of redeemed spirits, the holy communion of renewed minds, the unutterable sweetness of talking of Jesus by the way, and as "heirs together of the grace of life," the joy of looking forward to the reunion of the glorified beyond the grave. It is, from the very nature of things, impossible that these elements of happiness should exist in the relation we are considering. The individuals thus united are inhabitants of different countries; one is an "alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger and a foreigner," the other is a "fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God"; they speak different languages, are traveling opposite roads, and are journeying towards different countries. Surely we may ask, What real union and communion can exist here?
But more than this. There are not merely negative evils, but positive evils resulting from such a connection. The influences that are perpetually exerting their power are hostile to all growth in grace, to any advance in sanctification and to an upright and holy walk with God. The temptations to inconsistency of Christian conduct are many, perpetual and alarming. The constant influence of worldly conversation, worldly example and worldly pursuits weakens by slow but certain degrees the spiritual life of the soul, impairs the taste for (and lessens the enjoyment in) spiritual duties, unfits the mind for communion with God, and opens the door for an almost endless train of departures. We do not claim that all these evils are realized; but we do say that the believer who so shapes his course is fearfully exposed to them; and that he has not been, or may not be, overcome of them is of the mere grace of God. The evils themselves are the necessary sequences of his departure from God's Word; and that he is preserved from the direst of them is only of the covenant mercies of that God, who, in the midst of all their temptations, is alone able to keep His people from falling.
A child of God, passing through this valley of tears, requires all the spiritual assistance he can meet with to urge him on his way. All the strength, the comfort, the encouragement, and all the support it is possible for him to obtain from any and every quarter, he needs to call into full exercise, in order to bear up against the many and peculiar difficulties that throng his path, and would keep him from advancing. Infirmities within and impediments without, inward corruptions and outward trials, the strugglings of sin and the assaults of Satan, all conspire to cast him down, and often to extort from him David's exclamation, "My soul cleaves to the dust." At such a period, how strengthening, how supporting, how encouraging and how animating the communion and soothings of a kindred spirit- a spirit one with himself! If it be true- and most true it is- that "as iron sharpens iron, so does the countenance of a man his friend," to a much greater degree, and in a more endearing sense, is this reciprocity experienced in the high and endearing relation we are considering. The godly husband and the godly wife are true helpmeets to each other. They belong to the same family, speak the same sweet language, are traveling the same happy road, and are journeying to the same blissful home. For a child of God, then, to unite himself to one who can be of no assistance to him in his journey, but rather a hindrance- who, when he speaks of conflicts, cannot understand them; of burdens, cannot lighten them; of perplexities, cannot guide them; of trials, cannot share them; of sorrows, cannot soothe them; and of joys and hopes, cannot participate in them- is indeed to mark out for himself a lonely and a desolate path, which may know no termination of its trial until it conducts him to the grave. To the Christian reader who may already have taken the step, we would say, with much affection, guard vigilantly against its hurtful consequences. Necessary as they are, they may, in a degree, be greatly mitigated. Draw largely from the grace that is in Christ Jesus, treasured up for all the circumstances and the necessities of His people. Be doubly prayerful, watchful, and humble; let your whole deportment be marked by the fear of God, a jealous regard for His honor, and a beautiful harmony with the high "vocation with which you are called"- and may God overrule the event to His glory and your real good.
To others we would say, guard against this needless and unscriptural entanglement with the world. Marry "only in the Lord." "In all your ways acknowledge him." Let His Word be your guide, His fear your rule, His glory your aim, and He will direct your paths through life, sustain you in death and conduct you safely to His heavenly kingdom.
As we review the subject of this chapter, many important considerations suggest themselves, which in closing can be allowed but a brief and passing notice. The first is, how high
the obligation to live to God! Are we born again? Can we think of the "horrible pit, the miry clay," the "valley of bones," the "rock where we were hewn," and then remember, that if we are born again, we have in our souls at this moment the buddings of eternal life? Oh, can we think of this, and not desire an unreserved surrender of all we are and all we have to God? Christian! watch over your principles, your daily walk, your communion with the world, and see that the evidences of the new birth signalise every action of your life. The world is a close observer. Narrowly and vigilantly are you watched. It weighs your actions, scrutinizes your motives, sifts your principles, and ponders all your steps, waiting for your halting. Disappoint it! Live out your religion, carry out your principles; they are designed not merely for the Sabbath, but for the week; not merely to be exhibited in the place and at the hour of prayer, and in social Christian communion, but they are to be carried into your haunts of business, into your shop, your counting-house, your study, your profession. You are to exhibit them, not in a spirit of ostentation, but in "lowliness of mind" in all your communion with a world lying in wickedness. To be born again! Oh, it is a mighty work! Let the evidences of its reality in you be such as shall compel the gainsayer to admire the work, though he may hate the change. Oh, be in spirit- in temper- in life- like Jesus.
Have not even you, who may be tried and afflicted, much to make you praise God? Born again! How light are your afflictions when compared with this! Take the scales and
weigh the two. Place in one your every sorrow. Is it domestic?- place it there. Is it personal- a nervous frame, a feeble constitution, trying circumstances?- place it there. Are friends unfaithful, are saints unkind, does the world frown?- place it all there. Then in the other put your hidden life, your sense of pardon and your hope of heaven; these outweigh them all. "For I reckon," says Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Unconverted reader, what solemn truth does this subject address to you! You must have perceived that the Word of God sets before you a new mold into which you must be cast. It professes to work a great change in you, in the hands of the eternal Spirit, not of opinions only, but of your nature, of your heart. Is this done? Do not turn away from the question; do not lightly pass it by- your all depends upon
the answer to it. Eternity hangs upon the issue. I ask not what you hold, what you know, or what you profess, but what you are. Are you born again? Are you a new creature? Do not say, "peace, peace, when there is no peace." You may persuade yourself, or be persuaded by others, that regeneration is all enthusiasm, a delusion and a lie, and yet,
"This fearful truth will still remain,
The sinner must be born again,
Or sink to endless woe."