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The New Birth.

The New Birth.

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" Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be bom again ''
(or, "from above"). John iii. 7.

" Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be bom again ''
(or, "from above"). John iii. 7.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Dec 01, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE NEW BIRTH.BY EDWARD CAIRD." Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be bom again '' (or, "from above"). John iii. 7. It must be confessed that to many readers of Scripture in the present day the teaching of the New Testament with respect to what in theological language is termed the doctrine of ' regeneration,' sounds as strange and foreign to their own experience as did our Lord's words in the ears of Nicodemus. We are all indeed, as life wears on, conscious of many changes of thought and feeling, of opinions, tastes and principles of judg-ment ; but, for the most part, these changes come upon us so slowly and gradually that it is only by an effort of reflection that, looking back on our former selves, we become aware of the transitions we have undergone. Seldom or never do we experience any such swift and sudden mental revolutions, any such radical transformations of character as could be re- presented as nothing less than a re-creation of our  being, a second birth of the soul. For our Lord's
70 THE NEW BIRTH. 71 incredulous auditor, indeed, the strangeness of this doctrine was partly due to misapprehension — to his understanding in a gross and physical sense what was true only in a figure. Yet the figure of a second birth would be meaningless if it did not imply a revolution in man's spiritual nature as great as if the interpretation put upon it by Nicodemus were literally true. Marvellous as would be an actual re-entrance on life with our whole past history obliterated from our consciousness ; marvellous as it would be for one surrounded by the cares and respon-sibilities of manhood, or sinking into the feebleness of old age, to feel the shadow on the sundial of life going back and the light of life's morning once more shining on his path, yet, if the figure have any mean-ing, this is a marvel which must somehow reflect itself in man's spiritual life.
Could we entertain for a moment the strange fancy that some one here who is now far advanced in life should become conscious, as if by some mysterious spell passing over him, of a new freshness beginning to be infused into the springs of his physical life, so that the features on which time had graven its seemingly indelible impress were being moulded anew into the roundness and softness of childhood, and that the worn and exhausted frame was becoming animated once more by ' the buoyancy and elasticity of days long bygone,' — extravagant as such a conception may 72 UNIVERSITY SERMONS.  be, it would lose all its figurative significance if it did not point to a moral and spiritual regenera-tion, a transmutation in the inner life as radical in some point of view as a literal and physical re- juvenescence. But when we turn to our own experi-ence, and reflect how utterly unconscious we are in ourselves or in our observation of others of any such

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