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same blessings as the apostles of Christ enjoyed for the benefit of their own souls. These may be comprised briefly in two particulars. They are born of the Spirit, and are led by the Spirit. With the doctrine of the new birth, our Saviour may be said to have begun His ministry. How He enforced it, may be seen in His conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,ấof water and of the Spirit,--he cannot see or enter into the kingdom of God. For that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that only which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Hence He adds, Ye must be born again.82 The reason why this new birth is absolutely necessary is, because, as the apostle declares, The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ; so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.83 All mankind are by nature the children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins, 84 and must therefore be quickened to newness of life, and born again, in order to be delivered from the wrath to come. This is the work of the Spirit of God. No man can quicken his own soul. It is the Spirit that quickeneth.82 He is the Author of spiritual regeneration. This new birth is manifested by faith in Christ. as received Him, to them gave He power to become
As many the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name ; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.85 And therefore it is also said, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.86 He is born of water; that is, he is not only baptized into the faith of Christ, but he is purged from his old sins.87 This new birth is ascribed to the word of God, as well as to the Spirit of God, because it is by the belief of the truth of the gospel applied to the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the great change here spoken of is carried into effect. St. Peter says to believers in Christ, Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever 88 We must learn the truth from the word of God, by which the gospel is made known to us, and must pray for the Divine influence of the Spirit of God to apply it to our hearts, that we may believe and obey it. In this respect the teaching of the Spirit of God is as needful now as it was in the days of the apostles. It was in consequence of the gift of the Holy Ghost being received by them that heard the word, that their minds were enlightened, and their hearts were affected by it. For this inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are taught to pray in our Communion Service, to“cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, that we may perfectly love God, and worthily or duly magnify His holy name.” Those who are thus influenced by the Holy Ghost, are said to be born of the Spirit, because they become the children of God through His gracious operation in their hearts; and they are said to be born again by the word of God, because it is by means of that word, which is the testimony of the Spirit, being impressed upon their hearts by His powerful influence, that they are conformed to the image of God. Let us then ask ourselves, Are we partakers of this new birth, which is called in our Catechism, “A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness?" Have we been baptized, not with water only, but with the Holy Ghost? Have we not only been dedicated to God in our infancy, but have the truths of the word of God been brought home to our consciences by the demonstration of the Spirit, so as to produce a change in our spirit and conduct, which is manifested by seeking our happiness, not in the things of time and sense, but in those of God and heaven?
82 John iii. 3,5–7; vi. 63. 83 Rom. viii. 14,7. 84 Eph. ii. 3, 1. 85 Johni.12,13. 862 Cor.v.17. 87 2 Peteri.9. 88 1 Peteri. 22, 23.
Such is the evidence given by believers in Christ, that they are indeed born of God. The apostle therefore says, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Not only is a new principle communicated, but it is also brought into action. Those who are born of the Spirit are led by the Spirit. By the influence of the Spirit of God they are enabled to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.89 Are we thus led by the Spirit of God? Are we living under His Divine influence and guidance ? Is our walk and conduct governed by the word of God? Do we take it for our directory, a lamp to our feet and a light to our path ?90 Do we resist Satan, strive against sin, and overcome the world, in the strength of the Lord, and in the power of His might, denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ; and living in hope of eternal life, having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us ?91 Not only must our minds be enlightened, and our judgments informed, but our hearts must be sanctified, and drawn out in love to God, to love Him because He first loved us 992 and our lives must be devoted to His service, if we are led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God leads His people to Christ as the only hope of salvation for their souls. He is the Glorifier of the Lord Jesus Christ. He exhibits the suitableness of Christ to our condition, and our need of Him. But if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His ,93 and therefore he shall not enjoy the blessings which are promised to the children of God. Let it be our prayer that the gift of the Holy Ghost may be vouchsafed to us, that by His grace we may have a right judgment in those things which belong to our everlasting peace, and may embrace with our whole hearts the great salvation of the Son of God, and devote ourselves to His service and glory. And may we evermore rejoice in His holy comfort. May He comfort our hearts94 with the assurance of pardoning mercy being bestowed upon us, and of our reconciliation with God, through the redemption of Christ; and may we, by His grace, be strengthened and refreshed in our souls while we commemorate the dying love of our blessed Redeemer, our risen and exalted Saviour, as He has commanded us to do, that we may look forward with a good hope beyond this perishing world, to that glorious abode of the blessed, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus,95 as the High Priest over the house of God, from whence He will come to receive to Himself, in His eternal and glorious kingdom, those who have believed through grace, to be ever with the Lord.