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words which the Holy Ghost hath taught, by the eye of the mind; and thus he looks at things not seen which are eternal, while the things which are seen, by corporeal light are temporal-It was on this account that Christ told Nicodemus that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God; for, said he in another place, where he was asked the question of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come? "the kingdom of God (said he) cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, lo !here; or lo! there; for behold the kingdom of God is within you." Luke. 17. 20-21. "The righteousness which is of faith speaketh in this wise, Say not in thine heart who shall ascend into heaven? (that is to bring Christ down from above;) or who shall descend into the deep? (that is to bring Christ again from the dead) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Rom. 10. 6-9.
Nicodemus, it appears, was himself converted by hearing the sound of the Spirit of God, by the teaching of the Holy Ghost through Jesus Christ; for every word that he spoke wasthe word of God. Nicodemus was taught of the Spirit that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up; that whosoever, believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life; this he believed by the right evidence, the testimony of the Holy Ghost; for said he to the Saviour, WE KNOW that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest execpt God be with him. The reasons for my believing that Nicodemus was born again, and actually discerned the kingdom, or reign of God by the instruction of Jesus Christ in that conversation, are found in his conduct and observations afterwards: "The chief Priests, and Phairsees said unto the officers, whom they sent to bring Jesus unto them, why have ye not brought him? They answered unto them, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, are ye also deceived,? &c. Nicodemus saith unto them, (the same that come to Jesus
by night being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man before it HEAR him and know what he doeth? They answered, and said unto him art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no Prophet, And every man went unto his own house." John 7. 4453. The conduct of Nicodemus after Christ was crucified, evinces a divine change of heart: "And there came also Nicodemus," (with Joseph of Arimathea) "(which at the first came to Jesus by night) and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes about an hundred pound weight; and after they had embalmed his body they buried it in a garden where he was crucified." John 19. 38-41. This conduct of Nicodemus strongly indicates a divine influence upon his heart by the instructions of the Saviour, which were estab, lished in his mind, and heart, by the miracles he wrought. "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit." If the woman wrought a good work when she anointed the body of Jesus Christ for the burying, and manifested her devotion to him; Nicodemus' conduct, after his death, was no less expressive of his love to, and veneration for him. Nicodemus was renewed by knowledge af ter the image of him who created him. Colos. 3. 10; for he learnt Christ, having heard him, and being taught by him as the truth is in Jesus, and was thereby renewed in the Spirit or disposition of his mind. Eph. 4. 20-23. And this was preparatory to the physical regeneration of the bo. dy,or its resurrection from the dead by the physical operations, and power of the Holy Ghost.
The same subject continued.-The connexion between Baptism, Faith, and Regeneration, considered; and the use of Baptism, as an ordinance, in the Christian Church
The design of the mediatorial government of Jesus Christ, or of the Gospel dispensation, is to restore that which was lost by the fall of man, or by his apostacy from God. Before
man rebelled, he enjoyed union, and communion with God and was the subject of his beatific smiles. By the fall he lost that communion, and with it the knowledge of God,. and became liable to his wrath, and curse. A mediator. was appointed, whose body was prepared, and consecrated a sacrifice for sin. Heb. 10. 810; he was also to restore the knowledge of, and immediate union with God, which were lost. Matth. 11. 27. "Therefore, (as the Apostle says, according to the translation, and commentary of Macknight,) if any one be in Christ or united to him by faith, he is a new creature: old things, his former vicious inclinations, bad practices, and corrupt principles, have passed away. Behold all things have become new! But all these new things are the work of God, who hath reconciled us Jews, and Gentiles to himself through Jesus Christ; and hath committed to us Apostles the ministry of the Gospel, whereby, this happy reconciliation is produced, which consists in preaching that God is by Christ BRINGING BACK the world to himself, promising not to punish them for their trespasses, but to pardon them upon their faith and repentance. And by inspiration hath put into us Apostles the doctrine of reconciliation. In Christ's stead therefore, who is God's chief embassador, we execute the office of subordinate em-* bassadors. And seeing God beseeches by us, we pray in Christ's stead; saying to all men, Be ye reconciledro God: lay aside your enmity, and accept the pardon he offers you by us. For this strongest of all reasons, That him, even Christ who knew no sin, God hath made a sin-offering for us, that we might be righteous in the sight of God, through the merits of his death, and the influences of his Spirit" through the Gospel. 2 Corinth. 5. 17--21. In consequence of the death of Jesus Christ, man, since the fall, has been put upon a gracious state of probation; it will not end until this administration closes; nor will the COMPLETE bringing back, or restoration of man to his God, be effected until the glorious resurrection of the body from the dead; a pre-requisite to which, is faith in Jesus Christ. The ⚫ church militant is a shadow or faint representation of the church triumphant, or the heavenly kingdom beyond the grave. The kingdom of God on this side of the grave
may be seen or discerned through the revelations of God's Spirit, believed; we, however, see spiritual things through a glass darkly or obscurely: but, in the life to come, we shall see them face to face, clearly. 1 Corinth. 13. 12. The seeing spiritual things while in this life obscurely, as through a glass; and the clear perception which will be realized in the life to come, as mentioned by Paul, seem to be the consequence of the relative situation of the human mind, and body, in regard to spiritual things, as spoken of in the conversation of our Lord with Nicodemus. He told him that "Except a man be born again he cannot SEE the kingdom of God," John 3. 3. or discern the reign of grace, because it is spiritually discerned; the natural man cannot see this; it is not perceived through corporeal light by the bodily organ, but through the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, by the eye of the mind; 2 Corinth. 4-6. by which we are transformed by the renewing of the mind. Rom. 12-2. He also told him, that except a man be born of WATER, and of the SPIRIT, he cannot ENTER INTO the kingdom of God;” observing, at the same time, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." John 3.5-6. The new birth, as far as it is a pre-requisite to the seeing or discerning the kingdom of God, in this life, is effected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in, and by which that kingdom is established; and through which the connexion between the kingdom of God upon earth, and his glorious kingdom beyond the grave, in heaven, is perceived; as well as the relation which the subjects of the Gospel reign, bear (who receive Christ as he is offered) to the kingdom of glory, and immortality. In reference to it, and to aid the views, and exercises of faith by sense, the ordinances of the Gospel, Baptism, the Supper, the Sabbath, &c. were established. The regeneration, in its absolute sense, which is necessary to our entering into the kingdom of heaven, is effected by the power of the Holy Ghost in the resurrection from the dead. This fundamental article is embraced by the faith of the Gospel, and is an important, and efficient principle in producing that change of heart, or holiness, without which no man shall see God. The truth,
certainty, and authority of the Gospel, in this respect, rests wholly upon the divinity of Jesus Christ in his mediatorial character as the Prince of Peace. His resurrection from the dead with a glorious body, is a sure pledge of the glorious resurrection of those who believe in him, and live the life of faith upon him; because such is his promise. When thus born of the Spirit in its full sense we shall be Spirit; for this natural body shall be raised a spiritual body; and thus qualified by the immediate physical operation of the Spirit, we shall enter into the kingdom of God in the eternal world, of which baptism, as a door of entrance into the church below, is a sign.
I wish to be a little explicit upon this subject, that I may be intelligible. I have observed that regeneration by the Spirit, in a full, and absolute sense, implies a renovation of the physical and bodily nature, as well as the intellectual, and moral powers of man. The two latter are effected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ believed, and acted upon as the rule of life: hence Paul says, "the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. 2. 20. I also observed, that the prospect of the resurrection from the dead through Jesus Christ, (which is the only foundation of such a hope) is an efficient principle in producing the newness of life in this state of trial: hence Peter's expression upon the subject, according to Macknight's translation, "Blessed BE the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who accord. ing to his great mercy, hath begotten us again to a living hope, (or the hope of a new life) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, procured in the heavens for us, who by the power of God are guarded, or kept THROUGH FAITH to the salvation prepared to BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME; the time of Christ's second coming. 1 Pet. 1.3-5. We are saved by hope, said Paul: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." Rom. 8. 24. The thing hoped for is the redemption of our bodies. ibid 23. The thing hoped for, viz. the redemption of our bodies from the dead,