"Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God."--John 3:3.
In daily life our thoughts are most occupied with things that are most necessary for our existence. No one murmured that the subject of the price of bread was frequently on the lips of men at a time of scarcity, because they felt that the subject was one of vital importance to the mass of the population? and therefore they murmured not, though they listened to continual declamatory speeches, and read perpetual articles in the newspapers concerning it. I must offer the same excuse, then, for bringing before you this morning the subject of regeneration. It is one of absolute and vital importance; it is the hinge of the gospel; it is the point upon which most Christians are agreed, yea, all who are Christians in sincerity and truth. It is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation. It is the very groundwork of our hopes for heaven; and as we ought to be very careful of the basement of our structure, so should we be very diligent to take heed that we are really born again, and that we have made sure work of it for eternity. There are many who fancy they are born again who are not. It well becomes us, then, frequently to examine ourselves; and it is the minister's duty to bring forward those subjects which lead to self-examination, and have a tendency to search the heart and try the reins of the children of men.
To proceed at once, I shall first make some remarks upon the new birth; secondly, I shall note what is meant by not being able to see the kingdom of God if we are not born again; then I shall go further on to note why it is that "except we are born again we can not see the kingdom of God;" and then expostulate with men as God's ambassador before I close.
I. First, then, THE MATTER OF REGENERATION. In endeavoring to explain it, I must have you notice, first of all, the figure that is employed. It is said a man must be born again. I can not illustrate this better than by supposing a case. Suppose that in England there should be a law passed, that admission to royal courts, preference in office, and any privileges that might belong to the nation, could only be given to persons who were born in England--suppose that birth in this land was made a sine qua non, and it was definitely declared that whatever men might do or be, unless they were native born subjects of England they could not enter into her majesty's presence, and could enjoy none of the emoluments or offices of the state, nor any of the privileges of citizens. I think if you suppose such a case I shall be able to illustrate the difference between any changes and reforms that men make in themselves and the real work of being born again. We will suppose, then, that some man--a red Indian, for instance--should come to this country, and should endeavor to obtain the privileges of citizenship, well knowing that the rule is absolute and can not be altered, that a man must be a born subject, or else he can not enjoy them. Suppose he says, "I will change my name, I will take up the name of an Englishman; I have been called by my high-sounding title among the Sioux; I have been called the son of the Great West Wind, or some such name; but I will take an English name, I will be called a Christian man, an English subject." Will that admit him? You see him coming to the palace gates and asking for admission. He says, "I have taken an English name." "But are you an Englishman born and bred ?" "I am not," says he. "Then the gates must be shut against you, for the law is absolute; and though you may have the name of even the royal family itself upon you, yet because you have not been born here you must be shut out." That illustration will apply to all of us who are here present. At least, nearly the whole of us bear the professing Christian name; living in England, you would think it a disgrace to you if you were not called Christian. You are not heathen, you are not infidel; you are neither Mohammedans nor Jews; you think that the name, Christian, is a creditable one to you, and you have taken it. Be ye quite assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian, and that your being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it--the being born again as a subject of Jesus Christ.
"But," says this red Indian, "I am prepared to renounce my dress, and to become an Englishman in fashion; in fact, I will go to the very top of the fashion; you shall not see me in any thing differing from the accepted style of the present day. May I not, when I am arrayed in court dress, and have decorated myself as etiquette demands, come in before her majesty? See, I'll doff this plume, I will not shake this tomahawk, I renounce these garments. The moccasin I cast away for ever; I am an Englishman in dress, as well as name." He comes to the gate, dressed out like one of our own countrymen; but the gates are still shut in his face, because the law required that he must be born in the country; and without that, whatever his dress might be, be could not enter the palace. So how many there are of you, who do not barely take the Christian name upon you, but have adopted Christian manners; you go to your churches, and your chapels, you attend the house of God, you take care that there is some form of religion observed in your family; your children are not left without hearing the name of Jesus! So far so good; God forbid that I should say a word against it! But remember, it is bad because you do not go further. All this is of no avail whatever for admitting you into the kingdom of heaven, unless this also is complied with--the being born again. O! dress yourselves never so grandly with the habiliments of godliness; put the chaplet of benevolence upon your brow, and gird your loins with integrity; put on your feet the shoes of perseverance, and walk through the earth an honest and upright man; yet, remember, unless you are born again, "that which is of the flesh is flesh," and you, not having the operations of the Spirit in you, still have heaven's gates shut against you, because you are not born again.
"Well," but says the Indian, "I will not only adopt the dress, but I will learn the language; I will put away my brogue and my language that I once spoke, in the wild prairie or in the woods, far away from my lips. I shall not talk of the Shu-Shuh-gah, and of the strange names wherewith I have called my wild fowl and my deer, but I will speak as you speak, and act as you act; I will not only have your dress, but precisely your manners, I will talk just in the same fashion, I will adopt your brogue, I will take care that it shall be grammatically correct; will you not then admit me? I have become thoroughly Anglicized; may I not then be received?" "No," says the keeper of the door," there is no admittance, for except a man be born in this country, he can not be admitted." So with some of you; you talk just like Christians. Perhaps you have a little too much cant about you; you have begun so strictly to imitate what you think to be a godly man, that you go a little beyond the mark, and you gloss it so much that we are able to detect the counterfeit. Still you pass current among most men as being a right down sort of Christian man. You have studied biographies, and sometimes you tell long yarns about divine experience; you have borrowed them from the biographies of good men; you have been with Christians, and know how to talk as they do; you have caught a puritanical twang, perhaps; you go through the world just like professors; and if you were to be observed, no one would detect you. You are a member of the church; you have been baptized; you take the Lord's Supper; perhaps you are a deacon, or an elder; you pass the sacramental cup round; you are just all that a Christian can be, except that you are without a Christian heart. You are whitewashed sepulchres, still full of rottenness within, though garnished fairly on the outside. Well, take heed, take heed! It is an astonishing thing, how near the painter can go to the expression of life, and yet the canvas is dead and motionless; and it is equally astonishing how near a man may go to a Christian, and yet, through not being born again, the absolute rule shuts him out of heaven, and with all his profession, with all the trappings of his professed godliness, and with all the gorgeous plumes of experience, yet must he be borne away from heaven's gates.
You are uncharitable Mr. Spurgeon. I do not care what you say about that, I never wish to be more charitable than Christ. I did not say this; Christ said it. If you have any quarrel with him, settle it there ; I am not the maker of this truth, but simply the speaker of it. I find it written, "Except a man be born. again, be can not see the kingdom of God." If your footman should go to the door, and deliver your message correctly, the man at the door might abuse him never so much, but the footman would say, "Sir, do not abuse me, I can not help it; I can only tell you what my master told me. I am not the originator of it." So if you think me uncharitable, remember you do not accuse me, you accuse Christ; you are not finding fault with the messenger, you are finding fault with the message; Christ has said it--"Except a man be born again." I can not dispute with you, and shall not try. That is simply God's Word. Reject it at your peril. Believe it and receive it, I entreat you, because it comes from the lips of the Most High.
But now note the manner in which this regeneration is obtained. I think I have none here so profoundly stupid as to be Puseyites I can scarcely believe that I have been the means of attracting one person here, so utterly devoid of every remnant of brain, as to believe the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Yet I must just hint at it. There be some who teach that by a few drops of water sprinkled on an infant's brow the infant becomes regenerate. Well, granted. And now I will find out your regenerate ones twenty years afterward. The champion of the prize ring is a regenerated man. O! yes, he was regenerated, because in infancy he was baptized; and, therefore, if all infants in baptism are regenerated, the prize-fighter is a regenerated man. Take hold of him and receive him as your brother in the Lord. Do you hear that man swearing and blaspheming God? He is regenerate; believe me, he is regenerate; the priest put a few drops of water on his brow, and he is a regenerated man. Do you see the drunkard reeling down the street, the pest of the neighborhood, fighting every body, and beating his wife, worse than the brute. Well, he is regenerate, he is one of those Puseyite's regenerates--O! goodly regenerate! Mark you the crowd assembled in the streets! The gallows is erected, Palmer is about to be executed; the man whose name should be execrated through all eternity for his villainy! Here is one of the Puseyite's regenerates. Yes, he is regenerate because he was baptized in infancy; regenerate, while he mixes his strychnine; regenerate while he administers his poison slowly, that he may cause death, and infinite pain, all the while he is causing it. Regenerate, forsooth! If that be regeneration, such regeneration is not worth having; if that be the thing that makes us free of the kingdom of heaven, verily, the gospel is indeed a licentious gospel; we can say nothing about it. If that be the gospel, that all such men are regenerate and will be saved, we can only say, that it would be the duty of every man in the world to move that gospel right away, because it is so inconsistent with the commonest principles of morality, that it could not possibly be of God, but of the devil.
But some say all are regenerate when they are baptized. Well, if you think so, stick to your own thoughts; I can not help it. Simon Magus was certainly one exception; he was baptized on a profession of his faith; but so far from being regenerated by his baptism, we find Paul saying, "I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." And yet he was one of those regenerates, because he had been baptized. Ah! that doctrine only needs to be stated to sensible men, and they will at once reject it. Gentlemen that are fond of a filigree religion, and like ornament and show; gentlemen of the high Beau Brummel school will very likely prefer this religion, because they have cultivated their taste at the expense of their brain, and have forgotten that what is consistent with the sound judgment of a man can not be consistent with the Word of God. So much for the first point.
Neither is a man regenerated, we say, in the next place, by his own exertions. A man may reform himself very much, and that is well and good; let all do that. A man may cast away many vices, forsake many lusts in which he indulged, and conquer evil habits; but no man in the world can make himself to be born in God; though he should struggle never so much, he could never accomplish what is beyond his power. And, mark you, if he could make himself to be born again still he would not enter heaven, because there is another point in the condition which he would have violated--"unless a man be born of the Spirit, he can not see the kingdom of God." So that the best exertions of the flesh do not reach this high point, the being born again of the Spirit of God.
And now we must say, that regeneration consists in this. God the Holy Spirit, in a supernatural manner--mark, by the word supernatural I mean just what it strictly means; supernatural, more than natural--works upon the hearts of men, and they by the operations of the divine Spirit become regenerate men; but without the Spirit they never can be regenerated. And unless God the Holy Spirit, who "worketh in us to will and to do," should operate upon the will and the conscience, regeneration is an absolute impossibility, and therefore so is salvation. "What!" says one, "do you mean to say that God absolutely interposes in the salvation of every man to make him regenerate?" I do indeed; in the salvation of every person there is an actual putting forth of the divine power, whereby the dead sinner is quickened, the unwilling sinner is made willing, the desperately hard sinner has his conscience made tender; and he who rejected God and despised Christ, is brought to cast himself down at the feet of Jesus. This is called fanatical doctrine, mayhap; that we can not help; it is scriptural doctrine, that is enough for us. "Except a man be born of the Spirit he can not see the kingdom of God; that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." If you like it not, quarrel with my Master, not with me; I do but simply declare his own revelation, that there must be in your heart something more than you can ever work there. There must be a divine operation; call it a miraculous operation, if you please; it is in some sense so. There must be a divine interposition, a divine working, a divine influence, or else, do what you may, without that you perish, and are undone; "for except a man be born again, be can not see the kingdom of God." The change is radical; it gives us new natures, makes us love what we hated and hate what we loved, sets us in a new road; makes our habits different, our thoughts different, makes us different in private, and different in public. So that being in Christ it is fulfilled: "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."
II. And, now I must come to the second point. I trust I have explained regeneration, so that all may see what it is. Now, WHAT DOES THE EXPRESSION, "SEEING THE KINGDOM OF GOD," MEAN? It means two things. To see the kingdom of God on earth is to be a member of the mystical church--it is to enjoy the liberty and privileges of the child of God. To see the kingdom of heaven means to have power in prayer, to have communion with Christ, to have fellowship with the Holy Ghost; and to bring forth and produce all those joyous and blessed fruits which are the effect of regeneration. In a higher sense, "to see the kingdom of God," means to be admitted into heaven. Except a man be born again, he can not know about heavenly things on earth, and he can not enjoy heavenly blessings for ever--"he can not see the kingdom of God."
III. I think I may just pass over the second point without remark, and proceed to notice, in the third place, WHY IT IS THAT "UNLESS A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, HE CAN NOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD." And I will confine my remarks to the kingdom of God in the world to come.
Why, he cannot see the kingdom of God, because he would be out of place in heaven. A man that is not born again could not enjoy heaven. There is an actual impossibility in his nature, which prevents him from enjoying any of the bliss of Paradise. You think, mayhap, that heaven consists in those walls of jewels, in those pearly gates, and gates of gold; not so, that is the habitation of heaven. Heaven dwells there, but that is not heaven. Heaven is a state that is made here, that is made in the heart; made by God's Spirit within us, and unless God the Spirit has renewed us, and caused us to be born again, we can not enjoy the things of heaven. Why, it is a physical impossibility that ever a swine should deliver a lecture on astronomy; every man will clearly perceive that it must be impossible that a snail should build a city; and there is just as much impossibility that a sinner unmended, should enjoy heaven. Why, there would be nothing there for him to enjoy; if he could be put into the place where heaven is, he would be miserable; he would cry, "Let me away, let me away; let me away from this miserable place!" I appeal to yourselves; a sermon is too long for you very often; the singing of God's praises is dull, dry work; you think that going up to God's house is very tedious. What will you do where they praise God day without night? If just a short discourse here is very wearying, what will you think of the eternal talkings of the redeemed through all ages of the wonders of redeeming love? If the company of the righteous is very irksome to you, what will be their company throughout eternity? I think many of you are free to confess that psalm singing is not a bit to your taste, that you care naught about any spiritual things; give you your bottle of wine, and set you down at your ease, that is heaven for you! Well, there is no such a heaven yet made; and therefore there is no heaven for you. The only heaven there is, is the heaven of spiritual men, the heaven of praise, the heaven of delight in God, the heaven of acceptance in the beloved, the heaven of communion with Christ. Now, you do not understand any thing about this; you could not enjoy it if you were to have it; you have not the capabilities for doing so. You, yourselves, from the very fact of your not being born again, are your own barrier to heaven, and if God were to open the gate wide, and say, "Come in," you could not enjoy heaven, if you were admitted; for unless a man be born again, there is an impossibility, a moral impossibility, of his seeing the kingdom of God. Suppose there are some persons here who are entirely deaf, who have never heard sounds; well, I say they can not hear singing. Do I when I say it, say a cruel thing ? It is their own disability that prevents them. So when God says you can not see the kingdom of heaven, he means that it is your own disability for the enjoyment of heaven, that will prevent you ever entering there.
But there are some other reasons; there are reasons why
"Those holy gates for ever bar Pollution, sin, and shame."
There are reasons, besides those in yourselves, why you can not see the kingdom of God, unless you are born again. Ask yon spirits before the throne: "Angels, principalities and powers, would ye be willing that men who love not God, who believe not in Christ, who have not been born again, should dwell here?" I see them, as they look down upon us, and hear them answering, "No! Once we fought the dragon and expelled him because he tempted us to sin; we must not and we will not, have the wicked here. These alabaster walls must not be soiled with black and lustful fingers; the white pavement of heaven must not be stained and rendered filthy by the unholy feet of ungodly men. No!" I see a thousand spears bristling, and the fiery faces of a myriad seraphs thrust over the walls of Paradise. "No, while these arms have strength, and these wings have power, no sin shall ever enter here." I address myself moreover to the saints in heaven, redeemed by sovereign grace: "Children of God, are ye willing that the wicked should enter heaven as they are, without being born again? Ye love men, say, say, say, are ye willing that they should be admitted as they are?" I see Lot rise up, and he cries, "Admit them into heaven! No! What! must I be vexed with the conversation of Sodomites again, as once I was?" I see Abraham; and he comes forward, and he says, "No; I can not have them here. I had enough of them while I was with them on earth--their jests and jeers, their silly talkings, their vain conversation, vexed and grieved us. We want them not here." And, heavenly though they be, and loving as their spirits are, yet there is not a saint in heaven who would not resent with the utmost indignation the approach of any one of you to the gates of paradise, if you are still unholy, and have not been born again.
But all that were nothing. We might perhaps scale the ramparts of heaven, if they were only protected by angels, and burst the gates of paradise open, if only the saints defended them. But there is another reason than that--God has said it himself--"Except a man be born again, he not see the kingdom of God." What sinner, wilt thou scale the battlements of paradise when God is ready to thrust thee down to hell ? Wilt thou with impudent face brazen him out? God has said it, God hath said it, with a voice of thunder, "Ye shall not see the kingdom of heaven." Can ye wrestle with the Almighty? Can ye overthrow Omnipotence? Can ye grapple with the Most High? Worm of the dust! canst thou overcome thy Maker? Trembling insect of an hour, shaken by the lightnings when far overhead they flash far athwart the sky, wilt thou dare the hand of? Wilt thou venture to defy him to his face? Ah! he would laugh at thee. As the snow melteth before the sun, as wax runneth at the fierceness of the fire, so wouldst thou, if his fury should once lay hold of' thee. Think not that thou canst overcome him. He has sealed the gate of Paradise against thee, and there is no entrance. The God of justice says, "I will not reward the wicked with the righteous; I will not suffer my goodly, godly Paradise to be stained by wicked ungodly men. If they turn I will have mercy upon them; but if they turn not, as I live, I will rend them in pieces, and there shall be none to deliver." Now, sinner, canst thou brazen it out against him! Wilt thou rush upon the thick bosses of Jehovah's bucklers? Wilt thou try to scale his heaven when his arrow is stringed upon the bow to reach thine heart? What! when the glittering sword is at thy neck and ready to slay thee ? Wilt thou endeavor to strive against thy Maker? No potsherd, no; contend with thy fellow potsherd. Go, crawling grasshopper; go, fight with thy brothers; strive with them, but come not against the Almighty. He hath said it, and you never shall, you never shall enter heaven, unless you are born again. Again, I say, quarrel not with me; I have but delivered my Master's message. Take it, disbelieve it if you dare; but if you disbelieve it, rail not at me, for it is God's message, and I speak in love to your soul lest, lacking it, you should perish in the dark, and walk blindfold to your everlasting perdition.
IV. Now, my friends, A LITTLE EXPOSTULATION WITH YOU, and then farewell. I hear one man say, "Well, well, well, I see it. I will hope that I shall be born again after I am dead." O, sir, believe me, you will be a miserable fool for your pains. When men die their state is fixed.
"Fixed as their everlasting state, Could they repent, 'tis now too late."
Our life is like that wax melting in the flame; death puts its stamp on it, and then it cools, and the impress never can be changed. You to-day are like the burning metal running forth from the cauldron in the mold; death cools you in your mold, and you are cast in that shape throughout eternity. The voice of doom crieth over the dead, "He that is holy let him be holy still; he that is unjust let him be unjust still; he that is filthy, let him be filthy still." The damned are lost forever; they can not be born again; they go on cursing, ever being cursed ; ever fighting against God, and ever being trampled beneath his feet; they go on ever mocking, ever being laughed at for their mockery; ever rebelling and ever being tortured with the whips of conscience, because they are ever sinning. They can not be regenerated because they are dead.
"Well", says another, "I will take care that I am regenerated first before I die." Sir, I repeat again, thou art a fool in talking thus; how knowest thou that thou shalt live ? Hast thou taken a lease of thy life, as thou bast of thy house? Canst thou insure the breath within thy nostrils? Canst thou say in certainty that another ray of light shall ever reach thine eye? Canst thou be sure that, as thine heart is beating a funeral march to the grave, thou wilt not soon beat the last note; and so thou shalt die where thou standest or sittest now? O, man! if thy bones were iron, and thy sinews brass, and thy lungs steel, then mightest thou say, "I shall live." But thou art made of dust; thou art like the flower of the field; thou mayest die now. Lo! I see death standing yonder, moving to and fro the stone of time upon his scythe, to sharpen it; to-day, to-day, for some of you he grasps the scythe--and away, away, be mows the fields, and you fall one by one. You must not. and you can not live. God carries us away as a flood, like a ship in a Whirlpool; like the log in a current, dashed onward to the cataract. There is no stopping any one of us; we are all dying now! and yet you say you will be regenerated ere you die! Ay sirs, but are you regenerated now? For if not, it may be too late to hope for to-morrow. To-morrow you may be in hell, sealed up for ever by adamantine destiny, which never can be moved.
"Well," cries another, "I do not care much about it; for I see very little in being shut out of Paradise." Ah, sir, it is because thou dost not understand it. Thou smilest at it now; but there will be a day when thy conscience will be tender, when thy memory will be strong, when thy judgment will be enlightened, and when thou wilt think very differently from what thou dost now. Sinners in hell are not the fools they are on earth ; in hell they do not laugh at everlasting burnings; in the pit they do not despise the words "eternal fire." The worm that never dieth, when it is gnawing, gnaws out all joke and laughter; you may despise God now, and despise me now, for what I say, but death will change your note. O, my hearers, if that were all, I would be willing. You may despise me, yes, you may; but O! I beseech you, do not despise yourselves; O! be not so fool-hardy as to go whistling to hell, and laughing to the pit; for when you are there, sirs, you will find it a different thing from what you dream it to be now. When you see the gates of Paradise shut against you, you will find it to be a more important matter than you judge of now. You came to hear me preach to-day, as you would have gone to the opera or playhouse; you thought I should amuse you. Ah! that is not my aim, God is my witness, I came here solemnly in earnest, to wash my hands of your blood. If you are damned, any one of you, it shall not be because I did not warn you. Men and women, if ye perish, my bands are washed in innocency; I have told you of your doom. I again cry, repent, repent, repent, for "unless ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." I came here determined this morning, if I must use rough words, to use them; to speak right on against men, and for men too; for the things we say against you now are really for your good. We do but warn you, lest you perish. But ah! I hear one of you saying, "I do not understand this mystery; pray explain it to me." Fool, fool, that thou art; do you see that fire ? We are startled up from our beds, the light is at the window; we rush down stairs; people are hurrying to and fro; the street is trampled thick with crowds: they are rushing toward the house, which is in a burst of flame. The firemen are at their work; a stream of water is pouring upon the house; but hark ye! hark ye! there is a man up stairs; there is a man in the top room; there is just time for him to escape, and barely. A shout is raised--"Aho! fire! fire! fire! aho!"--but the man does not make his appearance at the window. See, the ladder is placed against the walls; it is up to the window sill--a strong hand dashes in the casement! What is the man after, all the while? What! is he tied down in his bed? Is he a cripple? Has some fiend got hold of him, and nailed him to the floor? No, no, no; he feels the boards getting hot beneath hit, feet, the smoke is stifling him, the flame is burning all around, he knows there is but one way of escape, by that ladder! What is he doing? He is sitting down--no, you can not believe me--he is sitting down and saying, "The origin of this fire is very mysterious; I wonder how it is to be discovered; how shall we understand it?" Why, you laugh at him! You are laughing at yourselves. You are seeking to have this question and that question answered, when your soul is in peril of eternal life! O! when you are saved, it will be time then to ask questions; but while you are now in the burning house, and in danger of destruction, it is not your time to be puzzling yourselves about free will, fixed fate, predestination absolute. All these questions are good and well enough afterward for those that are saved. Let the man on shore try to find out the cause of the storm; your only business now is to ask, "What must I do to be saved? And how can I escape from the great damnation that awaiteth me?"
But ah! my friends, I can not speak as I wish. I think I feel, this morning, something like Dante, when he wrote his "Il Inferno." Men said of him that he had been in hell; he looked like it. He had thought of it so long, that they said, "He has been in hell," he spoke with such an awful earnestness. Ah! I if I could, I would speak like that too. It is only a few days more, and I shall meet you face to face; I can look over the lapse of a few years, when you and I shall stand face to face before God's bar. "Watchman, watchman," saith a voice, "didst thou warn them? didst thou warn them?" Will any of you then say I did not? No, even the most abandoned of you will, at that day, say, "We laughed, we scoffed at it, we cared not for it; but, O Lord, we are obliged to speak the truth; the man was in earnest about it; he told us of our doom, and he is clear." Will you say so? I know you will.
But yet this one remark--to be cast out of heaven is an awful thing. Some of you have parents there; you have dear friends there; they grasped your hand in death, and said, "Farewell until we meet you." But if you never see the kingdom of God, you can never see them again. "My mother," says one, "sleeps in the graveyard; I often go to the tomb and put some flowers upon it, in remembrance of her who nursed me; but must I never see her again?" No, never again; no, never, unless you are born again. Mothers, you have had infants that have gone to heaven; you would like to see your family all around the throne; but you will never see your children more, unless you are born again. Will you bid adieu this day to the immortal? Will you say farewell this hour to your glorified friends in Paradise ? You must say so, or else be converted. You must fly to Christ, and trust in him, and his Spirit must renew you, or else you must look up to heaven, and say, "Choir of the blest! I shall never hear you sing; parents of my youth, guardians of my infancy, I love you, but between you and myself there is a great gulf fixed; I am cast away, and you are saved." O, I beseech you, think on these matters; and when you go away, let it not be to forget what I have said. If you are at all impressed this morning, put not away the impression; it may be your last warning; it will be a sorrowful thing to be lost with the notes of the gospel in your ears, and to perish under the ministry of truth.