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that I know not what to choose;" for here, as I told you, all are agreed. They are all unanimous in this, that love to God is essential to religion. Not only all denominations of Christians, but Jews, Mahometans, Heathens, and all that believe the existence of a God, confess this. And are you of a religion that does not include the love of God in it? It is the religion of devils, or rather it is the most diabolical irreligion. I insist the more boldly upon this point, because it is a catholic truth, free from all suspicion of party. You cannot plead that you have no time for the exercise of love to God; for love is not the work of the hands, but of the heart; and may be performed while you are engaged in other business. Can you not think affectionately of a friend behind a counter, or over a plough? So you might love God, and yet follow
your daily employments. Nor can you excuse yourselves from your inability; for God has implanted the passion of love in your nature, and you find it easy to love other things : you can love the world, you can love a child or a friend, and why cannot you love God? The act of love is the same in both cases, and one would think it would be an easier thing for you to love him who is the Supreme Excellence, than imperfect creatures, whose excellency is limited, or mingled with many hateful qualites. Whence then is your inability in this case? It is nothing else but the strength of your enmity; that is, you are so disaffected to the ever-blessed God, that you cannot love him; and does this lessen your crime? Do the inveteracy and rancor of your enmity excuse it? Alas! that is its most dreadful aggravation. Oh! how wicked must you be when you are so disaffected to the God that made you, and the Saviour that died for you, that you cannot prevail upon your hearts to love him! Farther, Have you tried what can be done to root out and subdue this enmity by the
power of the Holy Spirit ? Have you cried to God in earnest .prayer, and used all means for that end? If not, it is plain you are an enemy to God, and love to continue so; you hate him, and practically insist upon it you do right. Nor can you pretend ignorance in this case; for your own conscience tells you, it is your duty to love God. In short, you are entirely inexcusable; you sin against the full conviction of your own minds, and you must join with God, angels, and men, in your own condemnation.
6. This temper, if it continue, will certainly exclude you from the kingdom of heaven. Alas! what would
you do with your disaffected hearts? Heaven would be an enemy's country to you. What pleasure could
have in the society or service of that God whom you hate? in those exercises and enjoyments for which you have no relish? Could you be happy in the practice of eternal flattery, bowing and singing insincere complimental praises to an enemy? Could you affect the society there? There is not one like you in all that innumerable assembly: they all love that God whom you disgust. And with what pleasure could you mingle among them ? How could you live in a country where the laws, the customs, the employments, the disposition of the inhabitants, are all contrary to your temper? Oh! you need no sentence from your Judge to exclude you, you would exclude yourselves, and choose to mingle with your fellow-devils :—Which leads me to add,
7. This temper, if it continue, will certainly lead you to hell. You are fit for no other place. Where should the enemies of God be, but in an infernal prison ? There is the same propriety in it as in shutting up madmen in bedlam, or rebels in a dungeon. Why, you are devilized already; you have the very temper of devils; enmity to
God is the grand constituent of a devil: the worst ingredient in that infernal composition; and this you have in your hearts, and, as it were, incorporated with your habitual temper. And what do you think will become of you? Judge yourselves, must you not be doomed to that everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels, whom you resemble?
Here I must subjoin, that if ever you are brought to love God it must be in this world. In heaven and hell no new dispositions are planted; but those that are found prevalent in the soul will ripen and grow to perfection. None begin to grow wicked in hell, or to love God in heaven: the seeds are all sown in the present state, which then spring up to maturity. Therefore, if you would ever have the love of God shed abroad in your hearts, now, now is the time; now or never.
But, “What means (you will say) shall I use for this purpose ?" Here I must be short: but if you are really in earnest, you will easily understand the shortest hints.
1. Labour to be deeply sensible of the aggravated sinfulness and danger of your present state. Deeply impress your minds with this. Check the levity of your minds, and indulge a serious, anxious, sorrowful temper; for
your case really requires it.
2. Be deeply sensible of the necessity of divine grace to change your hearts, and inspire you with divine love. The disease is so far gone, you cannot heal yourselves ; but, blessed be God, he is able, he is able to make such an enemy as you his hearty friend and dutiful subject. Therefore,
3. Betake yourselves to earnest prayer; and confess your guilt, your vileness, your liableness to divine displeasure: cry for his Spirit to shed abroad his love in your hearts: here let your petitions centre; for this is the
NATURE OF LOVE TO GOD AND CHRIST ENFORCED.
main thing. Endeavour to devote yourselves to him, to give up your disaffected hearts to him, to bow that rebellious soul at his feet.
4. Meditate upon the glory of God, his kindness to you, the love and sufferings of Christ, and such subjects as tend to beget and inflame your love to him.
5. Be not weary in the use of these means, but persevere, hold on, until you find a thorough change produced in your hearts.
hearts. Your eternal all is concerned; therefore be not remiss and careless; be not soon tired or discouraged. Never give over until your last breath; and who knows but that hostile spirit of yours may soon become the friend of God, and at length shine among his celestial friends in all their transcendant glories, and ineffable and eternal felicity! Amen.
THE NATURE AND AUTHOR OF REGENERATION.
John ïïi. 7.—Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be
Those doctrines are not always most absurd in themselves, nor strange to a well-informed mind, which are most wondered at in the world. Ignorance is apt to wonder, where knowledge discovers nothing amazing or unaccountable. To support our observations, proofs must be given; but it is to my present purpose to take notice only of one, one that excited from Nicodemus wonder, about 1700 years ago, and is still wondered at; nay, more, is ridiculed in an ignorant world; I mean the doctrine of Regeneration or the New Birth.
Nicodemus comes to Christ with a conviction of his high character as a Teacher from God, who attested his commission by the strong and popular evidence of miracles. From such a Teacher he expects sublime instructions ; and from his own improvements in Jewish learning, he, no doubt, flatters himself he shall be able to comprehend them; but when, instead of gratifying his curiosity by telling him strange and great things of the kingdom of the Messiah, as a secular prince, and a mighty conqueror, as he and his countrymen expected, or discoursing like a Rabbi on the Jewish law; I say, when, instead of this, Jesus opens the conference by a solemn and authoritative declaration of the necessity of something under the name