Reader, do you not love the Lord for his wonderful goodness to his children? What glorious hopes are here! “and he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure”—you now see why the gospel rings with the word faith from one end to the other.
The world previous to the coming of Jesus Christ had no knowledge of immortality through a resurrection, into the kingdom of God. The phrase “born again” is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and of course means something more than a conversion. This subject will be continued in our next.
“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.
The literal rendering of this passage seems to be—“except a man be born above.” The word above being substituted for again more forcibly demonstrates the correctness of my views in the two former discourses.
Many charge the Universalists with denying the necessity of a new birth, or regeneration. But take from me my faith and hope in that glorious truth, and I must at that moment resign the salvation of every human being. Convince me that not another child will be born into this world, and you will at once convince me that this world will shortly be destitute of a solitary inhabitant. Convince me that a man will not be born again, and you will not only convince me that no one will ever enter the kingdom of God, but that the many worlds, that have already passed from the stage of mortal being, and those that shall hereafter follow, will alike be consigned to eternal silence! Endless misery is out of the question. That could have had no existence even had there been no resurrection in Him who is the life of the world; but death would have terminated the existence of all. Such a punishment is not threatened in all the writings of Moses and the prophets. And we cannot reasonably suppose, if such were a principal truth in revelation, that God would suffer four thousand years to elapse without warning his creatures of such an awful doom. Upon our first parents, for transgressing the law, he pronounced all the miseries of life, and uttered the closing sentence, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” Here the doctrine of endless misery (if that be the sentence of the violated law) ought to have been clearly stated to the “covenant head” of our race, so that the same sentence might pass upon all that have sinned, unless they complied with the conditions set before them.
But we leave this point, and will notice the 5th verse which may, perhaps, be considered as an objection to my views, and urged as proof that the new birth is wholly confined to this life. “Except a man be born of water, and of the spirit,” &c. What is here meant by “water”? Ans. Baptism by immersion. This, instead of being an objection to my views, will strengthen them. Baptism in water is nothing more than a figure of our death and resurrection, by which we manifest our faith in the resurrection of the dead, by which faith our hearts are baptized into the spirit and truth of the gospel of Christ.