Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Steele In Our Spines: Necessity of Regeneration

The meditations under this listing [Steele In Our Spines] are from Richard Steele's The Properties And Privileges Of An Upright Man, first published in 1670.

And thus I have opened in some poor measure an upright heart. By all this, dearly beloved, you may see the absolute necessity of regeneration, I mean, the thorough change of heart from the state of nature to the state of grace. For certainly man's heart by nature is false, and is far from this uprightness described. How can the soul receive Christ Jesus as he is offered in the gospel, or resign itself to him, without regeneration? How can the heart of a sinful child of Adam be either single, sound, pure, perfect, or plain without regeneration?

What man will study or practice inward, universal, and constant religion till he is regenerated? Who will walk before God, with God, after God, and like God before his heart is changed? Alas these things are neither conceived by the mind nor received by the will of a natural man. He is ignorant in them and an enemy to them. Oh, you must be new creatures or else all our entreaties stand for nothing. We must still begin here, and can parley no further with you unless you yield in this.

Will you be renewed in the spirit of your mind? Would you give all the world for a new heart? Till then you are but rotten at the heart; you walk in a vain show. For all your talk against hypocrites, you are errand [errant?] hypocrites, and shall be condemned as such when those you have so reproached shall be your judges, and shall be openly honored before angels and men. Those poor Mordecais shall be royally arrayed, and you, like proud Haman, shall see it to the breaking of your hearts.

To prevent this, learn this one lesson, sound conversion, which is but restoring the image that you lost in Adam. Your bones were all put out of joint by the fall; this is the painful pluck that puts them in joint again. Would not any man abide a painful pluck to set one bone in joint? Oh, abide one pluck to bring all your soul into frame again. You must be new men or else you cannot be upright men; you must be in Christ before you can walk like him. Your religion is but skin deep till the Holy Ghost has made a holy change.

And therefore, for the Lord's sake, and for your soul's sake, study this point into practice. Give no sound sleep to your eyes while you are such near neighbors to hell; your temperate, just, and honest behavior may make you fall the softer, but without holiness you can never see the Lord -- and a carnal heart can never be holy and upright without regeneration.


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