Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
1. That which engaged God to the work of regeneration was merely His own will and good pleasure (Romans 9:18). God's will is the reason of all His actions; you will find the highest cause to be will, love, and mercy. God can have no higher motive, nothing without Himself, no foresight of faith and works, He was merely inclined by His own pleasure (John 15:16). This is applicable divers ways.
(1) To stir us up to admire the mercy of God, that nothing should dispose His heart but His own will; the same will that begat us, passed by others: whom He will He sayeth, and whom He will He hardeneth.
(2) It informeth us the reason why, in the work of regeneration, God acteth with such liberty: God acteth according to His pleasure; the Holy One of Israel must not be limited and confined to our thoughts (John 3:8).
2. The calling of a soul to God is, as it were, a new begetting and regeneration. This is useful —
(1) To show us the horrible depravity of our nature; repairing would not serve the turn, but God must new make and new create us, and beget us again.
(2) To show us that we are merely passive in our conversion: it is a begetting, and we contribute nothing to our own forming (Psalm 100:4).
(3) It showeth us two properties of conversion.
(a) There will be life. A man cannot have interest in Christ, but he will receive life from Him.
(b) There will be a change. At the first God bringeth in the holy frame, all the seeds of grace; and therefore there will be a change: of profane, carnal, careless hearts, they are made spiritual, heavenly, holy (Ephesians 5:8).
3. It is the proper work of God to begetus: "He begat." It is sometimes ascribed to God the Father, as here, and so, in other places, to God the Son: believers are "His seed." (Isaiah 53:10). Sometimes to the Spirit (John 3:6). God the Father's will: "Of His own will begat He us." God the Son's merit: through His obedience we have "the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:5). God. the Spirit's efficacy: by His overshadowing the soul is the new creature hatched and brought forth. It is ascribed to all the three Persons together in one place (Titus 3:5, 6). It is true, the ministers of the gospel are said to beget, but it is as they are instruments in God's hands. So Paul saith, "I begat you" (1 Corinthians 4:15); and of Onesimus he saith, "Whom I begat in my bonds" (Philemon 1:10). God loveth to put His own honour many times upon the instruments. Well, then —
(1) Remove false causes. You cannot beget yourselves, that were monstrous; you must look up above self, and above means, to God, who must form you after His own image.
(2) It showeth what an honourable relation we are invested with by the new birth. He begat us. God is our Father; that engageth His love, and care, and everything that can be dear and refreshing to the creature.
4. The ordinary means whereby God begetteth us is the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:23). The influences of the heavens make fruitful seasons, but yet ploughing is necessary. It is one of the sophisms of this age to urge the Spirit's efficacy as a plea for the neglect of the means.
5. The gospel is a word of truth; so it is called, not only in this, but in divers other places (2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 1:12; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15). You may constantly observe that in matters evangelical the Scriptures speak with the greatest certainty; the comfort of them is so rich, and the way of them is so wonderful, that there we are apt to doubt most, and therefore there do the Scriptures give us the more solemn assurance (1 Timothy 1:15).
Parallel VersesKJV: Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.