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Chapter III.

Showing How Man Is Renewed In Christ Unto Eternal Life.

In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.Gal. 6:15.

The New Birth is a work of the Holy Ghost, by which man, of a sinner, is made righteous; and from being a child of damnation and wrath, is made a child of grace and salvation. This change is effected through faith, the word of God and the Sacraments; and by it, the heart, and all the powers and faculties of the soul (more particularly the understanding, will, and 8 affections), are renewed, enlightened, and sanctified in Christ Jesus, and are fashioned after his express likeness. The new birth comprehends two chief blessings, namely, justification, and sanctification, or the renewal of man. Tit. 3:5.

2. The birth of every real Christian is twofold. The first is “after the flesh,” the second, “after the spirit;” the first is from beneath, the second from above; the first is earthly, but the second heavenly. The one is carnal, sinful, and accursed, as descending from the first Adam by the seed of the serpent, after the similitude and image of the Devil; and by this, the earthly and carnal nature is propagated. The other, on the contrary, is spiritual, holy, and blessed, as derived from the second Adam; after the likeness of the Son of God: and by this is propagated the heavenly and spiritual man, the seed and image of God.

3. There is therefore in the Christian a twofold line of descent; and, consequently, two men, as it were, exist in one and the same person. The fleshly lineage is derived from Adam, and the spiritual lineage from Christ, through faith: for as the old birth of Adam is in man by nature, even so must the new birth of Christ be in him by grace. This is the old and new man, the old and new birth, the old and new Adam, the earthly and heavenly image, the flesh and the Spirit, Adam and Christ in us, and also, the outward and inward man.

4. Let us now proceed to notice how we are regenerated by Christ. As the old birth is propagated carnally from Adam, so the new birth is spiritually propagated from Christ, through the word of God. This word is the seed of the new creature: for we are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” 1 Peter 1:23. And, again, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” James 1:18. The word of God produces faith; and faith again apprehends the word of God, and in that word embraces Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, by whose spiritual efficacy and virtue man is regenerated or born anew. In other words, regeneration is effected, in the first place, by the Holy Ghost; and this is what Christ means by being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5); secondly, by faith; whence it is said,—“whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God” (1 John 5:1); and thirdly, by holy Baptism; according to that passage of Scripture, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5.

5. In Adam, man has inherited the chief evils; as sin, divine wrath, death, Satan, hell, and damnation; but in Christ, he is restored to the possession of the chief blessings, as righteousness, grace, blessing, power, a heavenly life, and eternal salvation. From Adam, man inherits a carnal spirit, and is subjected to the rule and tyranny of the evil spirit; but from Christ, he obtains the Holy Spirit, with his gifts, together with his comforting guidance. From Adam, man has derived an arrogant, proud, and haughty spirit; but if he would be born again and renewed in his mind, he must receive from Christ, by faith, an humble, meek, and upright spirit. From Adam, man inherits an unbelieving, blasphemous, and most ungrateful spirit; and it is his duty to 9 obtain from Christ a believing spirit, that will prove faithful, acceptable, and well-pleasing to God. From Adam, a disobedient, violent and rash spirit is inherited; but from Christ, we imbibe, through faith, the spirit of obedience, gentleness, and modesty, and the spirit of meekness and moderation. From Adam, we, by nature, inherit a spirit of wrath, enmity, revenge, and murder; but from Christ, we, by faith, acquire the spirit of long-suffering, love, mercy, forgiveness, and universal goodness and benignity. From Adam, man, by nature, inherits a covetous heart, a churlish, merciless spirit, that seeks only to profit self, and grasp at that which is the right of another; but from Christ, is obtained, by faith, the spirit of mercy, compassion, generosity, and mildness. From Adam proceeds an unchaste, unclean, and intemperate spirit; but from Christ, a spirit of chastity, purity, and temperance, may be obtained. From Adam, there is communicated to man a spirit full of calumny and falsehood; while on the other hand, he acquires from Christ the spirit of truth, of constancy, and of integrity. Lastly, we receive from Adam a brutish and earthly spirit; and from Christ, a spirit from above, which is altogether heavenly and divine.

6. Hence, it behooved Christ to take upon himself our nature, and to be conceived and anointed by the Holy Ghost, in order that we might all receive of his fulness. It was requisite that “the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:2), that so human nature might in him, and by him, be restored and renewed, and that we, in him, by him, and through him, might become new creatures. This is accomplished by receiving from Christ, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, for the spirit of folly; the spirit of counsel, for that of madness; the spirit of might, for that of cowardice and fear; the spirit of knowledge, instead of our natural blindness; and the spirit of the fear of the Lord, instead of the spirit of impiety and infidelity.

7. It is in this heavenly change that the new life and the new creation within us consist. For as, in Adam we are all spiritually dead, and incapable of performing any works, except those of death and darkness; so, in Christ, we must be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22) and do the works of light and life. As, by a carnal generation, we have inherited sin from Adam; so, by faith, we must inherit righteousness from Christ. As, by a fleshly descent from Adam, pride, covetousness, lust, and all kinds of impurity, are entailed upon us; so by the spirit of Christ, our nature ought to be renewed, and all pride, covetousness, lust, and envy, be mortified within us. And thus is it necessary that we should, from Christ, derive a new spirit, heart, and mind; even as we derived from Adam our sinful flesh.

8. With reference to this great work of regeneration, Christ is called “the everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6), and we are renewed in him to life eternal, being here regenerated into his likeness, and made in him new creatures. And if our works ever prove acceptable in the sight of God, they must spring from this principle of the new birth; that is, from Christ, his Spirit, and an unfeigned faith.

9. Henceforth we must live in the new birth, and the new birth in us; we must be in Christ, and Christ in 10 us: we must live in the spirit of Christ, and the spirit of Christ in us. Gal. 2:20. This regeneration with its attendant fruits, is described by St. Paul, as the being “renewed in the spirit of our mind,” “putting off the old man,” and the being “transformed into the image of God.” He likewise considers it as the being “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created us,” and “the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Eph. 4:23; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10; Tit. 3:5. It is termed by Ezekiel, “taking away the stony heart, and giving a heart of flesh.” Ch. 11:19. Hence it appears how the regeneration of man proceeds from the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As man, by ambition, pride, and disobedience, turned himself from God; so his apostasy could not be expiated and removed, except by the extreme humility, lowliness, and obedience of the Son of God. And as Christ, when upon earth, was most humble in his conversation among men, so it is necessary, O man! that he should be the same in thee; that he should dwell in thy soul, and restore the image of God in thee.

10. And now, O man! contemplate the perfectly amiable, lowly, obedient, and patient Jesus, and learn of him; live as he lived, yea, live in him, and tread in his steps. For what was the cause of his living upon earth? It was that he might become thy example, thy mirror, and the rule of thy life. He, he only, is the rule of life, and the pattern which every Christian should strive to imitate. It is not the rule of any man whatsoever. There is but one example,—Christ; and him the Apostles have, with one consent, set before us for our imitation. And in the same manner are we called to view his passion, death, and resurrection: even that thou, O man! shouldest with him, die unto sin; and in him, with him, and by him, spiritually rise again, and walk in newness of life, “even as he also walked.” Rom. 6:4.

11. Thus may we see, how our regeneration arises from the passion, death, and resurrection, of our gracious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Hence, St. Peter saith, “God hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Pet. 1:3. And all the apostles will everywhere be found to lay the foundation of repentance and of a new life, in the passion of Christ. St. Peter, indeed, gives this express charge: “Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:17-19); in which we may observe, that the ransom paid for our redemption is urged as the motive to a holy conversation. The same apostle tells us, likewise, that “Christ his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24); and Jesus himself has said: “Thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.” Luke 24:46, 47.

12. It is evident, therefore, that from the passion and death of Christ, proceed both the satisfaction made for our sins, and the renewing of our nature by faith; and that they both are necessary to the restoration of fallen man. The latter, as well as the former, is the blessed effect of Christ's passion, 11 which worketh our renewal and sanctification. 1 Cor. 1:30. Thus the new birth in us proceeds from Christ. And as a means to attain this end, holy Baptism has been instituted, wherein we are baptized into the death of Christ, in order that we might die with him unto sin by the power of his death, and rise again from sin by the power of his resurrection.

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