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chantman seizing the matchless pearl, a disciple at the feet of his master, a servant obeying his lord, a steward occupying with his talents, a soldier contending under his captain, a wrestler labouring in the struggle, and a racer breathless for the prize. If, moreover, the powerful operation of grace in this change is considered, it is then compared to the recovery of the wandering sheep after a painful search, to the healing of an inveterate distemper, the surprise of a fortified castle, or the rescue from the power of a foreign foe. If the outward manner of effecting it, it is a calling to the fellowship of the Gospel; or, if the gradual and imperceptible influences of the Spirit in its production, it is as a wind blowing where it listeth; as ground made good and fertile; as a tree newly receiving the graft, as the incorruptible seed taking root, the leaven fermenting the mass, and a well of water springing up to everlasting life'.

1 John, iii. 5. Gal. vi. 15. Eph. v. 14. Luke, xv. 17. Eph. ii. 1, 5. Rom. vi. 5. 2 Cor. iv. 6. Eph. i. 19, 20. 2 Cor. vii. 10, 11. Heb. viii. 10. Eph. v. 8. 2 Cor. iii. 3.

Acts, iii. 19. Eph. iv. 24. i. 13.

Rom. xii. 2. 2 Pet. i. 4. Rom. viii. 29.

Rom. vi. 17.

2 Cor. vii. 1.

Eph. iv. 22-24. Matt.


Matt. xi. 29. Rom.

1 Cor. vi. 11. xxii. 12. Rom. xiii. 12. Gal. ii.

xii. 1.

30. 2 Tim. ii. 3.

Matt. xiii. 45, 46. Luke, x. 39. xii. 37. Matt. xxv. 14 Eph. vi. 12. 1 Cor. ix. 24.


It is, in a word, to adopt the sentiment of an old divine, a vital principle, which animates every faculty and operation of the soul in respect of God and religion, and may receive various denominations from the various parts of the mind with which it is connected, or the various duties of piety to which it leads. As it appears in the understanding, it is the beginning of the knowledge of God; as it appears in the will, of the preference of the commands of God; as it appears in the affections, of sorrow for sin and desire of the favour of God. As it embraces Christ, it is incipient faith; as it rejoices in Christ, it is love; as it lies at the feet of Christ, it is humility; as it observes the will of Christ, it is obedience; as it shares with submission the afflictions of Christ, it is patience; as it regards the majesty of Christ, it is fear. Yet all these arise from one vital principle, which, extending itself through the whole man, constitutes, not one separate grace, but that which comprehends the rudiments of them all, an entire and universal change of heart.

This description, which includes in it such an accumulation of figures, is surely sufficient,

Luke, xv. 4-7. Matt. ix. 12. Luke, xi. 21, 22. Col. i. 13.

1 Cor. i. 9.

John, iii. 8. Matt. xiii. 8. James, i. 21. 1 Pet. i. 23. Matt. xiii. 33. John, iv. 14.

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in its plain and obvious meaning, to penetrate the mind with the magnitude and importance of this radical change of nature. For, if all this variety of metaphor signify merely that a man may become deeply pious and spiritual, with only some slight and external improvement; if it mean that habit, and education, and instruction, with the occasional assistance of the Holy Spirit, are adequate, or nearly adequate, of themselves to this end; then we must allow that the language of Scripture is forced and unnatural; and that a very simple meaning is conveyed under a load of strong expressions, which overwhelms, rather than exhibits, the sense: a supposition the more inadmissible, because the Scripture, on every other occasion, even when it would develop the mysteries of redemption, or paint the glories of heaven, is remarkable for extraordinary sublimity indeed in the things described, but for unparalleled simplicity in the language in which it describes them. But, if the thing here spoken of is also great and sublime, if this inward reformation of the soul be mighty and universal, a change far above the ordinary notices of reason, and which, whilst it embraces amendment of the outward conduct, and is ordinarily effected in the use of the various means of instruction, demands also a principle and spring of life in the heart; rises above all the impressions and dictates of nature, and unites man again to

God; makes religion our delight as well as our duty, and gives a choice and freedom in the pursuit of it; then the language we have detailed is natural and intelligible; then, instead of surpassing the dignity of the change, no images can reach it; the things spoken of here, as elsewhere, are deep and mysterious, but the terms are simple and appropriate; then our concern is to rise with the help they afford, to the grandeur of our heavenly calling, and, neglecting minor points, to imbibe the main purport and sentiment of the infallible word of God.

We shall be the more impressed with the paramount importance of this subject, if we bear in mind, in the next place, the rank which the general doctrine of a change of heart, thus emphatically described in Scripture, holds in the system of Christianity. Our Lord's discourse with Nicodemus,-one of the most solemn discourses in the whole of our Saviour's ministry; a discourse with a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, a master of Israel, one convinced of our Lord's divine mission, and evidently desirous of instruction,-is an eminent instance in point. The very abruptness with which our Lord appears at once to have addressed him, and the extent and force of his remarks, are calculated to strengthen the impression. In like manner, the circumstance of a sacrament having been instituted under the law, and con

tinued, though with circumstantial variations, yet in substance the same, under the Gospel, as the sign and seal of inward purification, displays its real magnitude. For, as the institution of the Passover first, and then of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is designed to show the supreme importance of the doctrine of our Lord's vicarious sacrifice; so the rite of circumcision of old, and the sacrament of baptism now, equally exhibit the necessity of internal holiness; and thus the two branches of salvation, the pardon of sin and the regeneration of the heart, are perpetually set forth and displayed to the church. It deserves great consideration also, that this is the chief blessing of the evangelical covenant. A law written on the mind, and put into the heart, a right spirit, a heart of flesh, are predicted by the Prophets as the leading peculiarity of that covenant of grace which was to surpass and supersede that of the law 3.

It will, however, confirm us in the view which we are now taking of the importance of this inward renewal, to point out its connexion with the other essential truths of revelation. Because, if we should discover that the other doctrines of the Gospel necessarily require this particular one, in order to render them complete; and that, so far from standing by itself

3 Jer. xxxi. 33. Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Heb. viii. 10.

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