« السابقةمتابعة »
maintain a constitutional moral depravity. But this dogma has been shown to be false, and it is admitted to be so by those who maintain the theory now under consideration. Admitting, then, that the constitution is not morally depraved, should it be inferred that any constitutional change or physical influence is needed to produce regeneration? I can see no sufficient reason for believing or affirming that a physical influence is either demanded or exerted. This much I freely admit, that we can not affirm the impossibility of such an influence, nor the impossibility of the necessity of such an influence. The only question with me is, does the bible plainly teach or imply such an influence? Hitherto I have been unable to see that it does. The passages already quoted are of a piece with all that are relied upon in support of this theory, and as the same answer is a sufficient reply to them all I will not spend time in citing and remarking upon them.
(2.) Again: A physical influence has been inferred from the fact that sinners are represented as dead in trespasses and sins, as asleep, &c. &c. But all such representations are only declaratory of a moral state, a state of voluntary alienation from God. If the death is moral and the sleep moral, why suppose that a physical influence is needed to correct a moral evil? Can not truth when urged and pressed by the Holy Spirit effect the requisite change?
(3.) But a physical influence is also inferred from the fact that truth makes so different an impression at one time from what it does at another. Answer: This can well enough be accounted for by the fact that sometimes the Holy Spirit so presents the truth that the mind apprehends it and feels its power, whereas at another time he does not.
(4.) But it is said that there sometimes appears to have been a preparatory work performed by a physical influence predisposing the mind to attend to and be affected by the truth. Answer: There often is no doubt a preparatory work predisposing the mind to attend to and be affected by truth. But why assume that this is a physical influence? Providential occurrences may have had much to do with it. The Holy Spirit may have been directing the thoughts and communicating instructions in various ways and preparing the mind to attend and obey. Who then is warranted in the affirmation that this preparatory influence is physical? I admit that it may be, but I can not see either that it must be, or that there is any good ground for the assumption that it is.
IV. The last theory to be examined is that of a Divine Moral Suasion.
This theory teaches,
1. That regeneration consists in a change in the ultimate intention or preference of the mind, or in a change from selfishness to disinterested benevolence, and,
2. That this change is induced and effected by a Divine moral influence; that is, that the Holy Spirit effects it with, through, or by the truth. The advocates of this theory assign the following as the principal reasons in support of it.
(1.) The bible expressly affirms it. "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."-John 3: 5, 6. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."-1 Peter 1: 23, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures."-James 1: 18. "For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."-Corinthians 4: 15.
(2.) Men are represented as being sanctified by and through the truth. "Sanctify them through the truth: thy word is truth."--John 17: 17. "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."-John 15: 3.
(3.) The nature of regeneration decides the philosophy of it so far as this, that it must be effected by truth addressed to the heart through the intelligence.
(4.) Unless it is so effected it has no moral character. (5.) The regenerate are conscious of having been influenced by the truth in turning to God.
(6.) They are conscious of no other influence than light poured upon the intelligence or truth presented to the mind.
(7.) When God affirms that he regenerates the soul with or by the truth we have no right to infer that he does it in some other way. This he does affirm; therefore the bible has settled the philosophy of regeneration. That he exerts any other than a moral influence or the influence of Divine teaching and illumination is sheer assumption.
1. To represent sinners as regenerated by the influence of truth although presented and urged by the Holy Spirit is virtually to deny total depravity. To this it is answered,
(1.) It does indeed deny constitutional moral depravity and constitutional or physical regeneration.
(2.) Adam and the sinning angels were changed or regenerated from perfect holiness to perfect sinfulness by motives presented to them, at least Adam was. Now if they could be regenerated from entire holiness to entire sinfulness by a moral influence or by means of a lie, is it impossible that God should convert sinners by means of truth? Has God so much less moral power than Satan has?
(3.) To this it may be replied that it is much easier to convert or regenerate men from holiness to sin, than from sin to holiness.
 This, I answer, seems to reflect upon the wisdom and goodness of God in forming the human constitution.
[2.] Should the fact be granted, still it may truly be urged that the motives to holiness are infinitely greater than those to sin, so that the Holy Spirit has altogether the advantage in this respect.
2. If sinners are regenerated by the light of the truth, they may be regenerated in hell as they will there know the truth.
(1.) The bible I answer, represents the wicked in hell as being in darkness and not in the light of the truth.
(2.) The truth will not be presented and urged home there by the persuasive Spirit of God.
(3.) The gospel motives will be wanting there. The offer of pardon and acceptance, which is indispensable to induce repentance and obedience, will not be made then. Therefore sinners will not be converted in hell.
1. This scheme honors the Holy Spirit without disparaging the truth of God.
2. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit through the truth illustrates the wisdom of God. There is a deep and Divine philosophy in regeneration.
3. This theory is of great practical importance. For if sinners are to be regenerated by the influence of truth, argument, and persuasion, then ministers can see what they have to do, and how it is that they are to be "workers together with God."
4. So also sinners may see that they are not to wait for a physical regeneration or influence, but must submit to, and embrace the truth if they ever expect to be saved.
5. If this scheme is true, we can see that when truth is made clear to the mind and is resisted, the Holy Spirit is resisted, for this is his work to make the mind clearly to apprehend the truth.
6. If this theory is true, sinners are most likely to be regenerated while sitting under the sound of the gospel, while listening to the clear exhibition of truth.
7. Ministers should lay themselves out and press every consideration upon the attention of sinners just as heartily and as freely as if they expected to convert them themselves. They should aim at and expect the regeneration of sinners upon the spot and before they leave the house of God.
8. Sinners must not wait for and expect physical omnipotence to regenerate them.
9. The physical omnipotence of God affords no presumption that all men will be converted; for regeneration is not effected by physical power.
10. To neglect and resist the truth is fatal to salvation. 11. Sinners are not regenerated because they neglect and resist the truth.
12. God can not do the sinner's duty and regenerate him without the right exercise of the sinner's own agency.
13. This view of regeneration shows that the sinner's dependence upon the Holy Spirit arises entirely out of his own voluntary stubbornness, and that his guilt is all the greater by how much the more perfect this kind of dependence is.
14. This view of regeneration shows the adaptedness of the Law and Gospel of God to regenerate, sanctify and save the souls of men.
15. It also demonstrates the wisdom of appointing such means and instrumentalities to accomplish their salvation.
16. Physical regeneration under every modification of it is a stumbling block.
17. Original or constitutional sinfulness, physical regeneration, and all their kindred and resulting dogmas are alike subversive of the gospel and repulsive to the human intelligence, and should be laid aside as relicts of a most nonsensical philosophy.
XII. EVIDENCES OF REGENERATION.
In the discussion of this subject I will,
I. MAKE SEVERAL INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.
II. SHOW WHEREIN THE EXPERIENCE AND OUTWARD life
SAINTS AND SINNERS MAY AGREE.
III. WHEREIN THEY MUST DIFFER.
I. Introductory Remarks.
1. In ascertaining what are and what are not evidences of regeneration, we must constantly keep in mind what is not and what is regeneration, what is not and what is implied in it.
2. We must constantly recognize the fact that saints and sinners have precisely similar constitutions and constitutional susceptibilities and that therefore many things are common to both.
3. What is common to both can not of course be an evidence of regeneration.
4. That no state of the sensibility has any moral character in itself. That regeneration does not consist in or imply any physical change whatever either of the intellect, sensibility, or the faculty of will.
5. That the sensibility of the sinner is susceptible of every kind and degree of feeling that is possible to saints.
6. The same is true of the consciences of both saints and sinners, and of the intelligence generally.
7. That moral character belongs to the ultimate intention. 8. That regeneration consists in a change of the ultimate intention.
9. That the moral character is as the ultimate intention is. 10. The enquiry is, what are evidences of a change in the ultimate intention? What is evidence that benevolence is the ruling choice, preference, intention of the soul?
This, it would seem, must be a plain question and must admit of a very easy and satisfactory answer.
It is a plain question, and demands and may have a plain anBut so much error has prevailed as to the nature of regeneration and consequently as to what are evidences of regeneration that we need patience, discrimination, and perseverance and withal candor to get at the truth upon this subject.