THE NEW BIRTH
A Sermon preached by John Kershaw,
Zoar, London, May 6th, 1855
`Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ John 1.13.
Take notice of the threefold negative in reference to being born again; first; that it is not of blood nor of the will of the flesh; nor of the will of man; secondly, the positive declaration concerning the new birth, it is solemnly declared ‘but of God;’ and in the third place, the scriptural remarks and evidences of a poor sinner being born of God.
Religion does not run in the blood from the parent to the child. This is shown from sundry parts of the Scriptures and proved to a demonstration from observation and experience. Being born again is not of the will of the flesh, because the flesh, poor, corrupt, and depraved nature, which is what we are to understand by the flesh, stands directly opposed to regeneration in its commencement; and that flesh is said to lust against the Spirit, to fight and war against the grace of God in the heart all the way through, so that it is not of the will of the flesh that we are born of God, but it is contrary to it. Man’s corrupt, depraved will ever was, is now, and ever will be, in opposition to God’s work of grace in the soul of a poor sinner; so that man neither in reference to his blood, nor his flesh, nor his will, has anything to do with the work of regeneration, as regards the effecting of it. Our text declares we are ‘born of God.’
It is God’s work to create a poor sinner anew in Christ Jesus, to quicken the sinner dead in trespasses and sins, to call him by His efficacious and all-conquering grace, to open the heart, to open the blind eyes, and to unstop the deaf ear. Whatever metaphor is used it implies that the work is exclusively effected by God. Though the Lord does, and will honour instrumentality, that instrumentality is nothing without the power and gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. Paul plants, and Apollos waters, but there is no increase in the conversion of sinners, no lofty looks brought down, no haughty heart abased, but as the power of God is made manifest in (lie word; no soul is truly humbled, and brought into the liberty of the sons of God, but as the power of the Lord is displayed, not by creature might, but by the power of the great Creator of the heavens, the mighty God of Jacob.
We now come to the evidence you and I have that we are or are not born of God. This is a very solemn subject. Oh that the preacher may be under the guidance and direction of the unerring spirit of God in entering upon it. The Lord grant you the hearing ear, and the understanding heart, and a spirit of serious examination. Let there be great searchings of heart among us, that we may see how matters stand between God and our precious, never-dying souls. We may have a form of godliness, a name to live, and make a great show in the flesh, and yet not be born of God. And what will it avail us in the dying hour, in the swellings of Jordan, if we are destitute of a good hope through grace of interest in the finished work of the Redeemer? If we are born and taught of God, we have Christ formed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit of God, the hope of immortal glory, which hope to the heaven-born soul is an anchor sure and steadfast.
But to the subject in hand – the evidences of being born again, adduced from the Word of God. Now what is the evidence of a child being born into the world, and that the child is a living child? As sure as the child is born, and is alive, so sure the child will cry. The still-born child never cries. So it is in a spiritual point of view. As soon as God’s work of grace in regeneration takes place in the soul of the poor sinner, that poor sinner, like a new-born child, will begin to cry, will begin to pray. Crying or prayer is the very breath of the soul that is born of the Spirit of God; and no one of Adam’s fallen race ever did or ever can cry and pray to God spiritually, until the Lord has commenced the work of regeneration and of grace in his soul. He may indeed pray, but not spiritually. Devils prayed, and the Lord answered and granted their request, that they might go into the herd of swine. A natural man may pray, and it is right he should, for those natural favours and mercies which he feels he stands in need of, and he should be thankful to his great Creator and Benefactor for them. It was Nebuchadnezzar’s great sin that he did not acknowledge God, in whose hand his breath was. There neither is nor can be spiritual prayer without regenerating grace.
Now, we must have proof from God’s own word for every statement that we bring forward; and in reference to this subject we shall refer to Saul of Tarsus. Before he was born of God, and called by God’s grace, he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, one that made long prayers, and used ‘vain repetitions,’ and loved to be heard for their much speaking; no doubt he was a very fine prayer-maker, and much admired for his talent and ability, but he never spiritually cried to God, till God regenerated his soul. When Jesus met him in the way to Damascus, and took possession of his soul, and said, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me’? … it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,’ then the word of the Lord, that is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, entered into his very heart and soul. Jesus pulled down the strong man armed, that had been keeping his palace in safety, and set up His own kingdom in his soul. ‘Lord,’ said Saul, ‘what wilt thou have me to do? I am in Thy hand. like clay in the hand of a potter,’ – an evidence that grace had taken possession of his soul. He was made willing in the day of the Lord’s power. The Lord directed him where to go, and said it should be told him what he should do and suffer for His name’s sake. And the Lord appeared to Ananias and bade him to go to this Saul of Tarsus. Ananias was alarmed and raised objections. ‘All, Lord,’ he said, ‘we know how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem and here he hath authority to persecute us and put us into prison. Do not send me into the paw of this Benjamite, who is coming like a wolf against Thy people.’ But the Lord settled all his scruples by informing him that after all Saul’s persecution he was a vessel of mercy and he said, ‘Behold he prayeth, he is praying and crying to Me.’ He was truly converted; he was like the new-born babe; so that when Ananias understood his character and knew that he was a vessel of mercy, he felt soul-union with him, entered into his house, called him brother and spoke to him the words of eternal life.
We have something here, my friends, to test ourselves by. Are we living without heartfelt prayer to God? If so, there is no evidence that we are born of God. We may read and pray as thousands have done today, drawing near to God with our lips, but having our hearts far from Him. Prayers may be repeated in words, but yet not felt in the soul. The preparation of the heart for real spiritual prayer is from the Lord alone. As sure as a sinner is born of God, God convinces him of sin, and lays death, the judgment of the great day, eternal realities, with a solemn weight upon his mind. Many before God have been made, like the Philippian gaoler, to tremble in their soul and to answer to the character `to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.’ The poor sinner trembles not only in body, but in soul, and cries out with the publican, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner;’ and that will be his prayer all through the wilderness, and on a dying bed. Through the atoning blood of the Lamb I make my plea, ‘0 God, be merciful to me.’ The poor publican was born again when he was bowed down with sin and guilt, and dared not lift so much as his eyes to heaven but smote upon his breast, while he exclaimed with his whole heart and soul, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ If we are born of God and feel ourselves sinking with a guilty conscience, with the burden of our sins, sins more in number than the hairs of our heads, and too heavy for us to bear, we shall cry to the Lord, and our prayers will be, ‘Lord, save me, or I perish.’
I do not think that the prayer of them that are born of God is very long; it is more in broken accents, and heartfelt breathings and longings: `Lord, help me; 0 Lord, I am oppressed; undertake thou for me.’ David was born of God when he felt himself sinking in the mire, clay, and the horrible pit. He cried unto the Lord, the Lord heard him, raised him up, fixed him upon the Rock of ages, and established his goings. Beloved, can you give any account of the Lord so working in your soul, to will and to do of His own good pleasure, so that you are necessitated to go to some quiet secluded place, for self-examination, to kneel down before the Lord, and confess your sin and sinfulness; to tell the Lord that if He were to mark iniquity, and deal with you according to your transgressions, you could not stand before Him; to pray with earnestness and fervency that He would save you, and teach you, and guide you, and make you as He would have you to be’? If you are born of God, there will be heartfelt sighing, and groaning, and lamentation, and woe in your souls, because of the discoveries you have made of the depravity of your. natures, of the evil of your hearts, of your manifold transgressions. If you are born and taught of God, you will be arraigned at God’s bar, in the court of your conscience, and tried by God’s law; all hope of saving and helping yourselves will be cut off, and you will be brought in guilty and condemned; and lying at the feet of the dear Redeemer, you will say, ‘I am resolved, and this is my last defence, if I perish, to perish at the footstool of Thy mercy.’
These are some of the evidences that a poor sinner is born of God. Those who are born of God can no more live without prayer, without crying to God and panting, than they can live without food. Those who are born of God have their hungerings and thirstings after Him. ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ Natural water can rise no higher than its own level – natural and worldly things. Grace, like spiritual water, will rise to its own level –spiritual realities. ‘The water which I shall give him’ – regeneration, my Holy Spirit, and my grace – ‘shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.’ The springing well is felt in the heaven-born soul, who feels and says with David, ‘My soul followeth hard after God.’ ‘As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God.’ In the soul that is born of God there is a going out in meditation, in prayer, in sighs, in groans, in pantings, and breathings, and longings after the Lord, that we may know Him feelingly and experimentally for ourselves, that we may have His sweet love shed abroad in our hearts. Man, in nature, never wants to feel the love of Christ. The heaven-born soul cries to the Lord that he may have a knowledge of and interest in redeeming love and blood; that, living or dying, he may be found clothed in Immanuel’s robe of righteousness; that he may stand complete and accepted in the Beloved; that lie may be conformed to His image, and may live to His honour and glory. He be the Lord to make him a seed to serve Him and a generation to call I him blessed. This is the evidence of life in the souls of God’s living and regenerated family. Do you know anything of it? I hope many of you can say, ‘My soul responds to these Bible statements, and these experimental evidences of being born of God.’
But again. Another evidence of our being born again we have in our Lord’s own words, ‘Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ In what sense of the word are we to become as a little child? Nicodemus could not make this out; he was amazed at the doctrine. ‘Can a grown man,’ he said, ‘enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again?’ No; that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Yet the metaphor holds good. If we are born of God, we are converted, and experimentally become as little children. We have the emblem described more fully by the Lord Himself in the 16th chapter of Ezekiel under the form of a new-born child cast out into the open field to the loathing of itself, in its blood, unwashed, unclothed, destitute, and forlorn, the very picture of helplessness, unable to do the least thing for itself; it can do nothing but cry. Now there is not a man that is born of God, and truly taught his helplessness, his depravity, nakedness and inability even to think a good thought, who does not see in this child an emblem of himself. More than 40 years have I seen myself described as a poor sinner in the new-born babe, under these very circumstances. If any of you think you have got a good heart and can do anything for yourselves towards your salvation, either in whole or in part, you are not true-born babes, you are not truly and spiritually born and taught of God, and made acquainted with your indigence and helplessness.
This emblem will not only fit the new-born babe in grace; but the child, the young man, the father and mother in Israel will find themselves as weak and helpless, and as dependent upon the Lord as the new-born babe was. Before I left the vestry tonight and entered the pulpit, though I have long been in the work of the ministry and long known the Lord, I think I felt my own weakness, inability, and insufficiency to do anything spiritually good, to preach the word of life to comfort, and profit, and edification, as much as I ever did in my life. If we are born of God like this little child, we feel our weakness and helplessness. And we cannot, my friends, be too sensible of our own weakness, helplessness and sinfulness, nor lie too humble in the dust before the Lord. Paul says, ‘When I am weak, then am I strong;’ and the Lord says He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increases strength. See the regard that the Lord has for a poor sinner that is truly born of God, converted, and become as a little child! In the very case under consideration we read that the Lord passed by and saw the new-born babe, looked upon it with compassion and love, and spread His skirt over it – typical of His glorious robe of righteousness with which He adorns the heaven-born family, the heirs of immortal bliss; He washed the child – emblematic not only of the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, but of all our sin and pollution being washed away in the atoning blood of the Lamb.
Heaven-born souls cannot do without blood, the atoning blood of Christ, the precious fountain open for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Lord adorned and decorated the child; and so the time was a time of love. Thus we see the evidences of being born again and becoming as little children – seeing and feeling our helplessness, our weakness, our insufficiency, our inability, our real spiritual poverty and destitution. All we can do is to add sin to sin, and to bewail our wretchedness. But the Lord will have mercy and compassion upon the poor sinner thus born of His blessed Spirit, and will do everything for him that he stands in need of.
I have no doubt there are many precious souls here tonight who say, ‘Well, the emblem of a new-born babe sets forth my case. I am as weak, helpless, and dependent as the new-born babe; I am nothing but sin and weakness; I can do nothing but make the rent worse; the Lord must do all, or I am undone.’ Are you brought to the point that you really and solemnly feel that you are nothing, that you can do nothing, and that all must be done for you? Have you really learned that solemn truth that dropped from the Master’s lips, ‘Without me ye can do nothing”? and that if Christ strengthens you, ye can do all things? These are scriptural marks and evidences of a child being born of God.
Again. Peter illustrates this by a metaphor similar to that which we have just had under consideration, only he directs our attention in another channel. ‘As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ Now, first to the emblem, and then to the illustration of its spirituality.
The God of nature has implanted in the very constitution of the newborn babe a craving desire for the milk of its mother, that it may grow thereby. The affectionate mother takes the babe to her arms, and how naturally does the child begin to suck, while the mother looks down upon it with the greatest love and affection, and if she is a gracious, God-fearing woman, she looks higher, and prays that ten thousand blessings may rest upon it. Then come to the reality of the subject. The God of grace has implanted in the very constitution of a regenerated child of God a fervent, earnest, craving desire for the sincere milk of God’s word, the word of His grace, the sacred Scriptures, a desire for the ministration of the word by His sent servants. As sure as a poor sinner is born of God he will be led to obey the word of God: ‘Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.’ I have seen many who have been born of God, and before that time they could not read a chapter, and some of them did not know even their letters; but such a thirst came upon them, such a desire for the word of God, that they have asked some friends to teach them their letters. Then they have been able to put two or three words together and read little sentences; and then they have turned to the New Testament, and could read the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Afterwards some books and some hymns which have been made good for their souls. How fast they learn! They are the best learners, because they have the Spirit and grace of God dwelling in them, and creating a fervent desire to know the sacred Scriptures, to have them written upon the fleshy tables of their heart by the Spirit of the living God, that they may be the living epistles of our Lord Jesus Christ, known and read of all men, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of God, not upon tables of stone, but upon the fleshy tables of their hearts.
We had some years ago a singular incident illustrating this. There lived in a village an old grey-headed sinner bordering upon fourscore years old.
There were two God-fearing men in the village who felt for the old man; and one of them said to him, `Our minister is going to preach at a friend’s house on such a night; I will call for you. Will you go with me?’ ‘No,’ he said, I won’t. I will have nothing to do with you Dissenters. I am a Churchman. All my ancestors were church people. I was christened, and confirmed, and married at church, and I intend to be buried there, and it is enough for me.’ `Well,’ said the other, ‘You and I have been good friends; I have several times done you a kindness, and I should take it as a kindness it’ you would come with me and hear our minister preach the word of eternal life.’ ‘Well,’ said the old man, ‘You certainly have been a good neighbour, and have done me many kindnesses, and if it will oblige you, I will go.’ The time came, and the God-fearing man called for the grey-headed sinner, and poured out his heart in prayer that the Holy Ghost would wound the conscience of the old man. The minister drew the bow at a venture; the Holy Ghost directed the arrow, and the man felt a wounded conscience. He went home, and sitting by the fire, he reflected and looked into the grate, but he said not a word for a considerable time. His old wife, an ignorant woman, said to him in the Lancashire dialect, ‘What’s to do? ‘I cannot tell,’ said the old man; ‘But yonder minister said words that sank deeper into my soul than any that ever dropped from the lips of man in all my born days.’ ‘Ah!’ she said, ‘I thought how it would be; they’ll make us as bad as themselves. We’ll not desert our religion; thou shalt go no more.’ SO much for her ignorance. But when the word of the Lord is rivetted in the conscience like a nail in a sure place, it cannot be erased. The next time the old man did not want to be called for; he longed for the time to come, and he went again, and the Lord wrought more powerfully and effectually than before. He returned with greater exercises and soul concern about eternal realities than ever he felt before. He sat in the same position before the fire as he did on the previous occasion, and as a newborn babe this man of fourscore desired the sincere milk of the word. `I wish,’ he said to his wife, ‘you would find me our old Bible.’ It needed to be found, for it had not been used for months, or perhaps for years. The Bible was found; the wife takes her apron and rubs off the dust, and gives the book to her husband. He reads a little here and there, and ponders it over in his mind, and then he says, ‘I say, wife, is this our right old Bible, that we had ever since we were married?’ `Yes,’ she said, ‘You know we never had any other.’ Then he reads again, and after thinking with greater earnestness, he says, ‘I say, is this our right old Bible?’ `Yes,’ she says, ‘why can’t you believe me’? We never had another.’ `Well, then,’ says he, ‘If it’s our right old Bible, I’ve got new een’ –that is, new eyes. Yes, the eyes of his understanding were opened; the veil of ignorance was rent off; he had a new heart, new desires, and he began to see the wonders recorded in the sacred Scriptures. As sure, my friends, as a soul is born of God, so sure will that soul have a desire for the word of God; and though it condemns and reproves him he must come to the light. `Search me, 0 God, and know my heart… and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 0 Lord, teach me; I am dark and ignorant; instruct me.’ If we are born of God, we shall be glad that we have the Scriptures in our own mother tongue, and we shall read them for edification, and comfort, and profit; we shall say as Jeremiah did, ‘Thy words are found; I did eat them, and they were the rejoicing of my heart.’ ‘How sweet,’ said David, ‘are thy words to my taste, yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.’ The soul that is not born of God does not enjoy this sweetness; he does not eat the word of God and inwardly digest it, and live upon it by precious faith. But more on this branch of the subject. If a man is born of God, prior to that birth he has been spending his Sabbaths in carnal pleasures and amusements, as thousands have been doing in your great city this day, neglecting the means of grace, and turning their backs upon the preached gospel, and when I look at that class, I have no stone to throw at them. I see the day in the eye of my mind when I hated the means of grace and fled from them as much as I could. The people of God were to me a people of no pleasure and enjoyment. I remember saying, when my father and his associates used to meet in prayer, ‘Poor moping fools! men of no pleasure and enjoyment!’ And I said within myself, when my father would compel me to attend prayer meetings, for I did not like this exercise of his authority, though I revered him as a natural father, ‘The day will come when I shall be my own master, when I shall be from under your authority and then I will go with my companions, and have my enjoyment.’ But, oh! my soul has blessed the Lord a thousand times that, before I came to that age, my soul was born of God; God’s grace and kingdom were set up in my heart, and the result was, as I was about to describe; for if a man is born of God, old things must pass away, old companions must be forsaken, old practices must be left off, and new feelings and desires fill the soul. Where there is a thirst for the word of God’s grace, the soul will go to the house of God, and love to hear the character of the poor sinner described, delight to hear the way of salvation pointed out through the precious blood of the Son of God. Where there is a desire for the sincere milk of the word, as recorded in the Bible; where there is a desire for the ministration of the Word, and a delight to hear the silver trumpet of the gospel blown, that soul is born to God. The tabernacles of the Lord become amiable. Oh what an amazing change regenerating grace produces! The soul that is born of God can say, ‘How amiable are thy tabernacles, 0 Lord’? I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, where prayer is offered and praise is sung, and the everlasting gospel preached, and where the saints of the most high God meet, than dwell in the tents of wickedness.’ 0 how amiable is the place where the Lord condescends to meet and bless His family! These are undeniable scriptural evidences that we are born again, and if we are born of God, we are the sons of God, and joint-heirs with the Lord of life and glory. But in connection with this subject, we observe again, that if we are born of God and blessed with spirituality, the new man is created in righteousness and true holiness. Oh let us pause here, and seriously examine ourselves by the rule laid down. If we are born again of God, we have a spiritual appetite, a spiritual palate, and nothing can satisfy our longing desires but God, the living God of salvation. If a soul is born of God, let him have all the gold and silver, and lands and tenements heaped upon him; let him have all the honours and titles that can be given among men; will they satisfy him’? will they bring peace and rest and joy into his soul’? No; the heaven-born soul in such circumstances will feel, ‘All is vanity below the sun, and vexation of spirit,’ and will exclaim on this subject
`Were I possessor of the earth,
And called the stars my own.’
And oh my soul has felt the next lines:
`Without thy graces and thyself,
I were a wretch undone.’
The heaven-born soul can never be satisfied with the world, but must aspire to nobler, more glorious, and substantial things.
Again if we are born of God, we shall never be satisfied with ourselves and our efforts. Other men are pleased and delighted with what they do, and have a good opinion of themselves; they are pure in their own eyes, anal see their need of being washed from their filthiness. If you and I were to test ourselves by this principle, if we are born of God, the longer we live the more dissatisfied shall we be with our depraved natures, our evil hearts, our vain thoughts, our sinful inclinations, our evil tempers, our murmurings and repinings. Heaven-born souls exclaim, ‘0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ ‘In me, that is my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.’ Thus if we are born of God, we have humiliating views and feelings concerning ourselves; and a minister of Jesus Christ, lifting up his voice like a trumpet, can never lay a heaven-born soul too low. The soul that is thus laid in the dust, responds inwardly, and says, ‘Down with guilty sin! 0 wretched man! Unprofitable, hell-deserving sinner that I am; I never can be laid too low.’ The ever-blessed Spirit of God always brings down lofty looks, abases proud hearts, and lays them as beggars in the dust; and according to Hannah’s song, such shall be regarded of the Lord, and set among princes; they shall inherit the throne of God, for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s.
If we are born of God, nothing will satisfy our appetite but what is embodied in that blessed declaration, ‘I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.’ Here, heaven-born soul, are the Lord’s hungry poor, here is the provision of the Father’s house that satisfies the Father’s children. The poor prodigal was born of God when he began to be in want, and to feel a craving appetite for the bread of his father’s house, and he says: ‘In my father’s house there is bread enough and to spare; I will arise, and go to my father.’ He does not say, ‘I will tell him what a good lad I have been’ ; there is not a word of goodness or worthiness; but he says, ‘I will tell him that I have sinned against heaven, and in his sight and am no more worthy to be called his son.’ 0 brethren, nothing will satisfy the heaven-born soul but Jesus Christ in His glorified person, Immanuel, God with us; Jesus in His covenant engagement; the precious Christ in His incarnation; the faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; Christ in His glorious robe of righteousness, who has finished our transgression, made an end of our sin, and reconciled us unto God, Christ and Him crucified; Jesus bearing our sins in His own body, and carrying them into the land of forgetfulness, dying for our sins, being made a curse for us; salvation finished by the incarnate God on the cross, exclaiming, with His last expiring breath. ‘It is finished!’ Heaven-born souls are never satisfied, never happy, never comfortable. but as they seek and enjoy their dear Redeemer, as their All in all. What is your comfort, friends? What is the joy and rejoicing of your soul? If you are born of God, and know anything of His love, your answer is, ‘Christ Jesus is precious to my soul; He is the joy of my heart. Oh that He would but shed abroad his sweet love in my soul, and constrain me to love and serve Him better, more acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.’
Again, the heaven-born soul, like Paul, renounces everything in himself, counts all but dross for the excellency of Christ Jesus his Lord, for whom he suffered the loss of all things, and counts everything but dung that he may win Christ. Then the heaven-born soul says, ‘Oh that I may be found in Christ, not having on my own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness of God by faith, that I may be found built on the Rock of ages, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail; that all my sins may be washed away in the blood of the Lamb, and my conscience be sprinkled with that blood of atonement which speaketh better things than that of Abel; that I may be conformed to the image of Christ, have the mind of Christ, the spirit of Christ; and that I may honour and glorify Him with my body and spirit, which are His; that I may hold on and endure to the end, be kept by His power, upheld by His mighty hand, and landed safe in immortal glory.’ Dost thou want the prayer of the heaven-born soul? ‘
Guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.’ Dost thou want the song of exaltation of the heaven-born soul’? ‘This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death, and we shall be with him for ever.’
But the strength of my body fails. Glad I am of your attention to these solemn realities. Let me ask, how many of us have reason to believe from these statements, founded upon the word of God, that we are born again? Some dear child may say, ‘I can scarcely tell what to reply. I hope and trust I have some of the marks. We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. I do love the brethren. I revere the place where God’s honour dwells; but I have such a hard heart; and with me the great difficulty is, I cannot tell when the work began. Paul, for instance, could tell. Lydia could tell about God opening her heart, to attend to the words spoken by Paul. Zaccheus could tell when the Lord called him down from the tree. The woman at Jacob’s well could tell. I could tell sundry times when my conscience has been wounded; when the power of God laid fast hold of me, and broke my soul down, so that my eyes flowed with tears.
But there are others of the Lord’s family who, I believe, if their salvation depended upon it could not tell when they were first called by divine grace, and born of God. They have had convictions; their conscience has been wounded; but those convictions wore off, and they sank back again for a time into sin. The Lord followed them, by grace hunted them out, sickened them of the world and themselves, and eventually brought them lost and ruined, and miserable in their feelings, to the feet of Jesus, and enabled them to rest their souls’ eternal all upon the dear Redeemer. We read in God’s word, ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: So is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ The Spirit is compared to wind which bloweth where it listeth; it is in the hand of Go