« PreviousContinue »
effects. But this again is contrary to the supposi. tion of its being only known by its connexion with baptism, so that turn which way he will, there is not, and cannot be, any explanation of regeneration, or any description of its effects or operations in any the least degree in the Bible, upon the supposition of Dr. M. that regeneration has no evidence but its connexion with baptism.
Supposing, then, that this were true, (which we shall soon see far from it,) that God has given no description of regeneration or any of its necessary effects, then this extraordinary thing will follow ; namely, that we cannot know what regeneration is, nor so much as have the least conception about it. We can certainly know nothing of regeneration but what is revealed; but if nothing is revealed about it but its connexion with baptism, then we can have nothing else, nor can we so much as guess or conjecture what it is, because nothing is revealed. Nor can regeneration have any assigned use or operation. It can have no office to perform, nor any influence on the disposition and conduct of mankind, at least none that is known to belong to it, otherwise it would be known and discovered by them.
But are we then indeed to believe that we partake of “regeneration ?" A thing which has no assignable nature, qualities, or use; a thing which cannot possibly be known to produce any ellects; or to have any known office or operation.
Are we indeed to believe, that the God of all grace and mercy has made so unknown, so inexplicable, so inoperative, so useless a thing necessary to salvation ?
On the Evidences of Regeneration.
Notwithstanding what Dr. M. allodges against
our own imagination, and our own feelings," as “ questionable guides" to direct us in search of regeneration, I am much mistaken if the scriptures do not lead us to seek for, and expect, internal evidence of our own state.
St. John informs us, " he that believeth hath the witness in himself.” And St. Paul asssures us respecting real Christians ; “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”+ And all the exhortations to examine ourselves whether we “ be in the faith," &c. necessarily imply that satisfaction may be obtained by the pious and diligent mind. A child of God then may
havc evidence of the spiritual state of his soul. Evidence of his adoption and regeneration. Yea, inay“ know that he is passed from death unto life." --Should Dr. M. say that our “ imagination," and
feelings” are too much concerned here, and that they are poor
guides” and may mislead us; I would reply that the evidence is scriptural; and that though the unregenerate ; as pharisees, hypocrites, and self-deceivers, are mişled by their own erroneous feelings ; yet those who are born of God are kept by his grace, from this awful state of natural blindness and self. delusion ;f so that they may “know of the doctrine whether it be of God."
1 John y. 10.
+ Rouans viii, 16, 17. 1- John v. 20.
This it is true, is only evidence to the possessor. There is however, evidence of an external kind, by which regeneration may be discerned.
The nature of evidence should be sought for from from the nature of the thing of which it is evidence. But the new birth is a change of a moral nature ; therefore moral cvidence must be sought to prove it. Regeneration is a new nature---a new man---the beginning of a life of holiness, the commencement of sanctification. · This we have seen is the idea of the church and of the scriptures; and Dr. M. we have likewise seen, admits the same notion of the new birth, though he has never fairly explained it, nor seems consistent upon it. He says, by his pupil, I was “ quickened by the Holy Spirit, who had infused into me a new principle of life.” And in the next words speaks of this as utterly inconsistent with the being “ dead in trespasses and sins.” (50). He
approves of the church instruction, which states the regenerate to have “s undergone a death unto sin and a new birth into righteousness." Yet he contends that “sanctification and purity unspotted and unblemished holiness,* is effected by the
washing of water," and the “ operation of the holy Spirit” in baptism; and moreover calls these effects by the term “ regeneration."
Now without straining Dr. M.'s language too hard, we learn that the change effected, is of a moral and spiritual nature; that the Author is the Holy Spirit :---that purity and holiness, are either of its essence, or essential effects :---that it is a death unto sin and new birth unto righteousness :---and that we may not doubt in the least that this change
• Ephesians v. 25--27
is of the heart and disposition, that is, internal and not a relative (or merely relative) change; he speaks of being born again, as introducing us into a new “spiritual life.” That this spiritual is avalogous to the natural life; which though it may be ill, doce not admit of our being born a second time; so neither does the spritual life allow of our being a "second time regenerate, or a second time born again.” (48) With these observations of Dr. M. agree what have before proved about the requirements for entering into covenant: namely, that the covenant, its provistons---its stipulation and eng agements are all spiritual: and that spirituality of mind is re-required of every person who would enjoy the privileges of it. We have here, then, a criterion (neither depending on the “ imagination, or feelings;") a criterion set up by Dr. M. in correspondence with the church of England and the word of God. On this criterion I build the following argument; that is,
That whatever the church requires for admission into covenant with God, sł e requires as evidence of our being in covenant with him. And our being truly and spiritually in covenant is the same thing as being born again, and having a title to everlasting life. This matter requires no deep argumentation, The business is simply this : it cannot be an engagement without the heart. Without this, there is no covenant. That, then, which is required for its formation, is required to evidence its formation; or, in other words, that which the church requires as necessary to begin a covenant, she requires as necessary to continue and display it.
But we have seen that she requires faith and repentance. Then it must require faith and repentance to the continuance and evidence of this covenant.
We must here make a few remarks upon planation given of the inward and spiritual grace in the catechismı; and this will of itself demonstrate that holiness and good works are evermore attendant upon regeneration, or at least, that they issue immediately and directly out of it.
It is,” she says, death unto si., a:id new birih unto righteousness.” Now, regeneration is this. Here, then, our church has set us to rights at once. Dr. M. ton, approves of this description. But since we are thus clearly informed what regeneration is, we cau be at no loss to know where to find it. 66 A death unto sin" is visible, sensible, demonstrative. This every one may see, examine, and prove; there cannot easily be fallacy here.---So of " a new birth unto righteousness. Here, again, this is evident, manifest, palpable. The soul is now set upon righteousness, loves it, speaks of it, pursues it; it is the life of a christian : he is born to it: this “
new birth embraces a nature suitable and congenial to righteousness. Thus a person who is born of God, is a “ new creature: old things are passed away ; behold all things are become new." This we perceive is the new birth, “ the inward and spiritual grace." It is not only a possible accompaniment, but the very thing itself. This “is the inward and spiritual grace.” To talk, then, of persons being
66 born again," who are living in sin, yea, “dead in trespasses and sins," proves how soon the very nature of the new