Puritan Board Doctor
“Ye must be born again.”-John .iii. 7.
WILLIAM FELTON wrote, The new birth is entirely the sovereign work of the ever-blessed Spirit. It is the coming into a new state; ” If any man be in Christ he is a new creature;” “Ye are God’s workmanship.” ‘Tis the formation of the soul in the image of Christ; “Ye are quickened together with Christ.” ‘Tis the erection of an empire in the heart, never to be destroyed; for the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead dwells in all the regenerate family.
Regeneration differs from conversion; with propriety, we may say, they have often been confounded. The former is life imparted; the latter is life in its act and exercise. With respect to the matter of the Spirit’s work in regeneration, it is perfect in its kind, but progressive in its apprehension. The new-born babe in the mystic family has all the properties of regeneration; but not an understanding of their use: hence we are said to ” grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ;” but who that have been brought into the school of Christ do not find a progression in self-knowledge to loathe and abhor themselves, whilst they are certainly conscious of desiring, with the apostle, to know Christ more, and the power of his glorious resurrection?
The new birth is distinguished by peculiar acts in the soul: hence helplessness is felt, yet help experienced. In the perfection of this work the sinner’s imperfection clearly appears. Thus the life that comes from God heaves the soul to the throne in groans and sighs. The chains that are around the conscience are felt to be galling. Sincere desire for mercy would put up her head; but a cloud is seen, Jehovah is just, cries the anxious prisoner; and, therefore, will he have compassion upon my guilty soul?
I well remember, (sometimes with humbled feelings,) those many years of intense anguish, passed in heavy bondage of soul, whilst waiting for the moving of living waters, the hymns of that blessed man of God, Mr. Hart, and the Bible, being my only companions, except a conscience drenched in agony. I ran from chapel to chapel with a desire to get ease; but they appeared only to minister fresh torment to my distracted soul; and sure I am, as of my own existence, that no relief to such a state can be found, but in the peaceful blood of the cross. Many convictions have been healed by men; but the wounds made by the arrows of the Almighty can receive no cure but from Gilead’s balm. Gilead