Look at all that is outward, and all that you then see, has no more of salvation in it, than the stars and elements. Look at all the good works you can think of, they have no goodness for you, but when the good Spirit of God is the doer of them in you. For all the outward works of religion may be done by the natural man, he can observe all church-duties, stick close to doctrines, and put on the semblance of every outward virtue; thus high he can go. But no Christian, till led and governed by the Spirit of God, can go any higher than this feigned, outward formality of this natural man; to which he can add nothing, but his own natural fleshly zeal in the defense of it. For all zeal must be of this kind, till it is the zeal of that which is born of God, and calls every creature only to that same new birth from above. "My little children," says St. Paul, "of whom I travail again in birth, till Christ be formed in you." This is the whole labor of an apostle to the end of the world. He has nothing to preach to sinners, but the absolute necessity, the true way, and the certain means, of being born again from above. But if dropping this one thing only necessary and only available, he becomes a disputing reformer about words and opinions, and helps Christians to be zealously separated from one another, for the sake of being saved by different notions of faith, works, justification, or election, he has forgot his errand, and is become a blind leader of all, who are blind enough to follow him. For all that is called faith, works, justification, sanctification, or election are only so many different expressions of that which the restored divine life is, and does in us, and have no existence anywhere, or in anything, but the new creature. And the reason why everything that is, or can be good in us, or to us, is nothing else but this divine birth from above, is because the divine nature dead in Adam, was his entire loss of every divine virtue, and his whole fall under the power of this world, the flesh, and the devil; and therefore the divine nature brought again to life in man, in his faith, his hope, his prayer, his works, his justification, sanctification, election, or salvation. And that ELECTION, which systematical doctors have taken out of its place, and built it into an absolute irreversible decree of God, has no other nature, no other effect, or power of salvation, but that which equally belongs to our faith, hope, prayer, love of God, and love of our neighbor; and just so far as these divine virtues are in us, just so far are we the elect of God, which means nothing else but the beloved of God; and nothing makes us the beloved of God, but his own first image and likeness rising up again in us. Would you plainly know what is meant by being elected of God, the same is plainly meant, as when the scripture says, "God heareth those only who call upon him"; or that he can only be "found by those who seek him"; so he only elects those and that which elect him. Again, "He that honoreth me, him will I honor," says God: "He that loveth me," says Christ, "shall be beloved of me and my Father." This is the mystery of election (N.B.) as it relates to salvation. At divers times and in sundry manners, God may have, and has had his chosen vessels for particular offices, messages, and appointments; but as to salvation from our fallen state, every son of Adam is his chosen vessel, and this as certainly, as that every son of Adam has the seed of the woman, the incorruptible seed of the WORD born along with him; and this is God's unchangeable universal election, which chooses, or wills the salvation of all men. For the ground of all union, communion, or love between God and the creature, lies wholly in the divine nature. That which is divine in man tends towards God, elects God; and God only and solely elects his own birth, nature, and likeness in man. But seeing his own birth, a seed of his own divine nature is in every man, to suppose God by an arbitrary power, willing and decreeing its eternal happiness in some, and willing and decreeing its eternal misery in others, is a blasphemous absurdity, and supposes a greater injustice in God, than the wickedest creatures can possibly commit against one another.