“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John iii. 3.
As we have in the last three sermons dwelt particularly on a salvation by faith, we will take the liberty to introduce the subject of the new birth next in order, as it will be, more readily, retained by the reader, in this connexion than otherwise. Indeed, it hears a strong resemblance to them so far as the subject of faith is concerned in our present exposition. But whoever is a careful reader of the New Testament, will discover that the subject of faith, and the genuine repentance which that faith produces, is not of trivial moment.
There is no subject of divine revelation, on which more has been said, preached and written than the one, which we are now about to consider. It has been brought forward by men of talents and erudition as an insuperable barrier against Universal Salvation, and their several adherents have taken it for granted, that it can never be explained in harmony with the sentiment, that all men shall eventually obtain eternal life through the Redeemer of men. But these impressions have arisen from the fact, that they have taken their own views and explanations to be scripturally correct, and from these premises, they have drawn conclusions utterly opposed to the final holiness and happiness of God’s intelligent creation. They have supposed the new birth to be some mysterious change produced by some mysterious operation of the divine spirit on the mind, and that it is in substance a miracle.
One denomination has contended that if a man once obtained this change, he was safe, could never “finally fall from grace,” but would eventually land in the kingdom of immortal glory. Several other denominations admit the new birth to be the same change already noticed, but contend that the subject may fall from grace, and be finally lost. Here then the man, who was, according to their views, born again, might still never see the kingdom of God beyond the grave. On this principle the new birth would be no security, that any one would obtain heaven. According to this sentiment, a man might be born again, fall away, and be born again “until seven times,” and in the end not see the kingdom of God. Those, who advocate this sentiment, believe that faith and repentance prerequisites to the new birth, and also believe in the salvation of infants.