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WASHING OF REGENERATION.
ye not that the unrigatevus shall not inherit the kingdom of God I" "And such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Cor vi. 9. 11.
The subject of this sermon on “ The washing of regeneration,” forms so principal a part in the divine truths of the gospel, that the clearest apprehension of it is of indispensable moment, in the church of Christ. Our glorious Lord places it at the very door of revelation, and declares that without it there can be no entrance into his kingdom. (John iii. 3.) And indeed, from the total inability in man, by reason of the Adam-fall transgression, to receive any spiritual knowledge while dead in trespasses and sins ; there can be no desire after Christ, nor any knowledge of Christ, nor even the consciousness that we stand in need of Christ, until by our new birth, we are quickened into a new and spiritual life, to discern our misery, and to learn, by divine teaching, that Christ alone is our salvation. These most interesting truths will, I hope, through the Lord's blessing, be made to appear in the following sermon. I therefore only enter upon it with prayer for the Lord's unction, both upon our persons and services, that we may known as the motto of our title-page expresseth it, that we were by nature alike dead in trespasses and sins ; but “ are washed, we are sanctified, we are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Great and glorious Lord! we implore thy presence to be eminently with us at this time. Let thy holy word be accompanied with thine almighty power. And if consistent with thy sovereign will, let the same blessed effects be felt by thy people before thee as were felt in the family of Cornelius; while the apostle preached Christ among them, “ the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” (Acts x. 44.)
THE WASHING OF REGENERATION.
TITUS II. 5.
The washing of regeneration.
I do not know whether it hath ever struck you, or even if it hath, whether you have dwelt upon it in a manner equal to its importance; but in the book of the Songs (which is wholly of what passeth between Christ and his church) we have our most glorious Lord contemplating the beauties of his church ; and more or less in every feature he draws of her, he is setting forth her vast loveliness, from his comeliness which he had put upon her. Do, I beseech you, study that blessed book of God with an eye to these things; and sure I am, if the Lord be your teacher, you will discover innumerable beauties of this kind, as often as the Lord leads you to the contemplation, and explains its divine contents to your spiritual apprehension.
Among the several graces of the church, which the Lord dwells upon in the fourth Song, after commending the beauties of her
her teeth “ to a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing, whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.” (Song iv. 2.) So delightful to Jesus is this almighty act of quickening his members into the new and spiritual life, that when done he beholds them like the sheep that are shorn, whose fleecy covering, made white by washing, renders them most lovely as a flock. And coming up from the washing, from nature to grace, from dwelling amidst the mire of this world, to the wholesome pastures of the divine ordinances of salvation ; there can be nothing barren nor unfruitful among them, for the twin graces of the Spirit, in faith and love, lead them daily to holy communion with all the persons in the GODHEAD, by which their new life in Christ is made known, and by which they at length discover as he saith himself, “ their righteousness is of me saith the Lord ! ” (Isa. liv. 17.).
My text, and the Scripture connected with it, leads to the same view as the Lord Jesus took of his church, when, as that Song expresseth, he commended the beauties of her person.
The Holy Ghost by Paul, in a verse or two preceding the text, had been speaking of the universal fall and apostacy of our nature, the church as well as the world being alike involved in one common ruin with Adam. And it is of the church the Holy Ghost is always speaking when describing the delinquency of man: for to the world of unrenewed men the Lord speaks not ; for how can nature, while dead in sin, receive any knowledge of what belongs to spiritual life ? “ For we ourselves also (said Paul) were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” What an awful portrait the Holy Ghost hath here drawn! To whom doth it belong? Nay, to every man and to all men. It is the universal family picture of every son and daughter of Adam by the fall. And without an act of regeneration, or the new birth, there can be no salvation. For though our new birth is not salvation, (for salvation is the incommunicable work of Christ) yet without it in the new and spiritual life, we have no spiritual faculties to partake of it.
Paul having thus stated the deplorable condition of all men by nature, and the church alike implicated in the same condemnation, proceeds to shew the happy deliverance of the church, by the rich, free, sovereign grace of God. “But after (saith he) that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” I have read the whole of this beautiful passage, though I mean to confine myself in my sermon, to the consideration of the doctrine of my text, namely, “the washing of regeneration." I would only just remark, that here all the persons in the GODHEAD are included. The kindness and love spoken of refers to God the Father, whose mercy is said to have been the predisposing cause of providing salvation. And the act of regeneration, though in this Scripture personally ascribed to God the Holy Ghost, is not so exclusive of the persons of God the Father or the Son; for the whole constituting one and the same Godhead in the unity of the divine essence, are alike agents in the divine work. But while the Scriptures in their statement authorize this view of the subject, they do, in a yet more immediate manner, give authority to consider the act of the new birth, as the result of the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
In following up this subject I propose, as the Lord shall be pleased to enable me, in the first place, to observe what the holy Scriptures havé taught in relation to it, and what a marvellous act of grace is wrought in that day, in the spiritual faculties of every one made the happy partakers of the wash