"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. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." [John 3:3-8]
Jesus, hath so very plainly stated, both the principles of the new birth, and the effects which follow; that there can need, when taught of God, nothing more than an attention to our Lord's own words, to enter into a full apprehension of the subject. By the birth of nature, involved in the Adam-fall of sin and transgression, the, Church of Christ, as well as the whole world at large, is born in a polluted, carnal, and ungodly state. So that there must be a new birth by grace, and which the glorious Covenant of Redemption hath secured for the whole seed of Christ, to bring forth into a new and spiritual life. Without this saving change passing upon the sinner, there can be no possibility of entering the kingdom of God. From a grace-union with Christ, given by God the Father, before all worlds, to the Church, (Ephes. 1:4) this interest in the adoption-character of children is secured; and by the act of regeneration, wrought by God the Holy Ghost upon the soul, a meekness for grace here, and glory hereafter, is accomplished.
But plain as this statement is, to every truly regenerated child of God, who is himself an happy partaker of the unspeakable mercy; every carnal man, like this Pharisee, with whom our Lord conversed on the subject, will cry out, how can these things be? But so hath the Holy Ghost taught us to expect. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things. 1 Cor. 2:14,15. Reader! this is a blessed reality, to which the whole Church of God, in heaven and earth, can and do bear witness. There is not one now among the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven, but what was once in the Adam-nature of an unawakened, carnal state: and out of which he was brought, by this sovereign work of God the Holy Ghost upon his soul. Neither is there one among the children of God in the Church upon earth, when regenerated, but what hath by the same distinguishing mercy, passed from death to life; and been translated from the power of darkness, into the kingdom of God's dear Son. John 3:14. Coloss. 1:13.
I must request the Reader not to overlook the beautiful similitude which the Lord made use of, for illustrating this sovereign work of God the Holy Ghost. The source of the air in nature, is altogether unknown. We see, and feel, the powerful effects of it; and that is all we know of it. The greatest philosopher, and the poorest peasant, are here upon a level. Neither of them can explain, how storms are gendered; where winds are first raised; what keep them up, and carry them on; where they retire when the blast is over; and what becomes of them when gone. Now (saith Jesus,) so is every one that is born of the Spirit. And the figure is beautiful also on another account, in respect to the free agency of the air: The wind bloweth where it listeth. So God the Spirit displays the sovereignty of his Almighty Power, in coming; when, and where, and how; as seemeth good to his holy will and pleasure. But how is every one who is made the happy partaker of such distinguishing mercy constrained to join the Apostle's hymn of praise, and say with him, Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Cor. 9:15. On the subject of Regeneration, see Titus 3:4,5.