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WE have already considered the purport of the word

CHOSEN, as it relates to the people of God; and, therefore, in this place, it may be proper to treat more especially of the word GENERATION.

Generation hath various senses in the holy scriptures, But its primary and leading sense, and its sense particularly in this title, seems to be a nation, a race, or family, derived from one stock, or progenitor. The original word is taken from a root, which signifies to form as well as to bring forth; and the figure, applied to the children of God, declares, that they are begotten again unto a lively hope,* of God's own will with the word of truth,† and so are born again of the spirit of God,‡ not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the WORD of God who liveth and abideth for ever.§ They were once of the generation of the world, and a seed of evil doers; but now, in Christ, they are chosen from that corrupt stock and generation, and brought into a new stock, even the gener ation of God's children.

Because of this new state into which the redeemed are

* 1 Pet. i. 3.

John iii. 5.

Ps. Ixxiii. 15.

↑ James i. 18.

§ 1 Pet. i. 23.


brought, and because of this new nature, even the divine nature, of which they partake;* all of which is by the wonderful operation and mere grace of God; the words new creation, regeneration, first resurrection, adoption, &c, are used to point out both that express and free agency of the Most High, and also the privileges which they rightly obtain by being thus truly and spiritually his new-born children. These words, employed by God, are not mere words of flourish and ornament, such as we see in the writings of men; but really denote that extraordinary alteration of mind and affections, which every real Christian feels within himself upon his conversion, and which, by the very terms of it, can be attributed to no less a power than that of God. For, as it would be monstrous to common sense to say, that a person created or produced hiniself and formed all the faculties of human nature within him; so is it no less absurd, in the spiritual view, to affirm, that any believer raised himself from the death of sins, or could be raised by the mere talking of another creature like himself, or without the immediate intervention of the Lord. Perhaps, it is more absurd to affirm this than the other, because the production or renovation of matter is evidently of less consequence and more gross than the production or change of a spirit from an almost diabolic and miserable,state to a divine and happy being. Christ, with a word, could raise a dead body; but he was constrained to die and rise again, in order to quicken the spiritually dead and to induce in them the newness of life.

* 2 Pet. i. 4. Heb. iii. 14. vi. 4.


All this generation proceeds in Christ, through the love of the Father, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the cxth Psalm speaks of it as a matter of divine counsel, and as a particular revelation of it from JEHOVAH to the ADONAI Messiah: Sit thou at my right hand, that is, possess my almighty power, till thine enemies, Satan, sin, and death, be subdued. JEHOVAH

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shall send the rod of thy strength, thy commissioned

power as the King and High priest of thy people, out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people, shall be willing [3, free willingness itself] in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness. From the womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth; or, "more than the dew from the womb of the morning is the dew of thy progeny." This generation shall be numerous as the drops of dew in the morning, shining with resplen❤ dent holiness, when the Sun of righteousness shall arise

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To this purpose speaks very excellently the judicious Hooker. "That which moveth God to work is goodness, and that which ordereth his work is wisdom, and that which perfecteth his work is power. All things which God, in their times and sea sons, hath brought forth, were eternally and before all times in God; as a work unbegun is in the artificer, which afterward bringeth it unto effect. Therefore whatsoever we do behold now in this present world, it was enwrapped within the bowels of divine mercy, written in the book of eternal wisdom, and held in the hands of omnipotent power, the first foundations of the world being as yet unlaid. So that all things which God hath made are in that respect the offspring of God: they are in him as effects in their highest cause; he likewise is actually in them, the assistance and influence of the Deity being their life. Let hereunto SAVING EFFICACY be added, and it bringeth forth a special offspring among men, containing them to whom God hath himself given the gracious and amiable name of soNS. Eccl. Polit. B. v.


them in the appointed day of his power. Hence upon these children of the resurrection are said to be a great multitude, which no man could number; though, compared to the world at large out of which they are taken, they are called a little flock and a small remnant.

As this generation is from Christ, they are renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created them. There is not only an alteration in their circumstances, but a change in their life. As they are new-born and brought into a new and holy family, they have the spirit and likeness of the family: and this is one of their testimonies, that they really belong to it. It is not possible to believe, that a creature, deformed with all the ugliness of sin, wallowing with the swine of this world in impurity, and associating with the enemies of God's houshold, can at any rate be a child of God. There are no such monstrous births as these from the Holy Spirit. Our Lord says of such, Ye are of your father the devil, and his works ye will do. As by their fruits, we can discern the children of God from the children of Belial; so the generation of God's children being made free from sin, and from its pre

Luke xx. 36. They are children of the resurrection, because of their special appointment to life eternal, and therefore they can die no more, as our Lord declares. This is a common phrase among the Hebrews to denote a particular condition or allotment; thus, children of Belial, children of wrath, children of death, children of this world, the child of a house, &c, signified their devoted state of life or mind. So the learned Constantine L'Empereur observes, Filius hujus vel illius rei apud Hebræos dicitur, qui specialem quandam ad rem istam habet relationem; adeo ut licet aliis etiam competat, sibi speciali et proprio respectu conveniat. De leg. Hebr. c. iv. §6.



vailing power, as one of their greatest mercies and privileges, they have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. They are redeemed from sin, and there. fore, in the strength of their Lord, they fight against it and prevail. This is the seal of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit: and this inward seal, and outward fruit are the proofs to them, that indeed they are partakers of the grace of life, and that the never-ending kingdom of God is set up in their hearts. But if professors can produce nothing of this kind in the court of their own consciences, or in the view of the world; let them not deceive themselves with the thought of belonging to God's chosen generation, but strictly examine and prove their own selves, as in the presence of God, whether Christ be in them or not, or whether the prophet's words may not be fulfilled in each of them, He feedeth them on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, is there not a lie in my right-hand? † They, that are born of God, have the proper life of their Father in them; and that life, being a life of power and holiness, will most certainly discover itself in those actions which are peculiar to it.

We do not contend, in these important subjects for mere notions and opinions, for the shadows of speculation or abstract theories, but for real, living, and substantial truth, which we have not only heard and seen and looked upon with a spiritual ear and eye, but which we have handled, and tasted, and enjoyed, by a heart-felt and confirmed experience. And therefore we can humbly,

Rom vi. 14,


+ Isa. xliv. 20.


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