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being conceded, for his doctrine of falling from grace. And why not for his theory of perfection also, since if regeneration takes effect on any one exercise in the serial soul, it for the instant, or while that exercise lasts, has the man wholly in the power of grace?
Such a hypothesis of the structure of the soul, and such views of the nature of sin, and such theory and doctrine and teaching in the matter of regeneration, are novelties of a score or two of years in the evangelical churches ; and to them we attribute much of that modification of conviction, submission to God, regeneration and uniform Christian life, to which we referred in the opening of this article.
The conviction of sin preceding the supposed regeneration must be much less pungent, comprehensive and overwhelming, because only single acts and moral exercises are under contemplation. The great fountain of evil is not recognized; the agent who commits all this wickedness is denied an existence : that confederate, organic and all-directing embodiment of sin, an anterior, personal and totally depraved soul, is excluded from the system. And in the scheme of Dr. Emmons, whose system sustains an intimate causal if not parental relation to the views we have been unfolding, even constitutional tendencies to sin are denied, in the judgment of such analytic and sympathizing men as Fitch and N. W. Taylor. No base of supplies for all evil, no storehouse full of the munitions of war, no manufactory and arsenal of all hostile weapons, can be proved and pressed on the sinner.
The weapon and the action in a single skirmish or battle, are the front of the offending. No shot and thrust in the Wilderness, or at Chattanooga, can be made to stand out in the enormity of rebellion, like the Tradegar furnaces and iron works, that were in blast and clatter day and night, to supply the material of war. No allowance is made in this theology for a depraved heart back of all sinful conduct, suggesting and stimulating to it, in the first transgression and in all subsequent ones. This system can not logically and legitimately lead a man to cry out from the very depths of a guilty race: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." No such case of total moral ruin can be made out, no such utter moral chaos, as makes one feel the
imperative, indispensable need of a divine, supernatural and recreative interposition. Each cup-full is declared to be vitiated, and needing renovation ; but the sinner can not be made to look toward Sodom and Gomorrah and behold the smoke of that country going up as the smoke of a furnace, where the lake of bitter waters is made and abideth. Conviction in view of single sins, or of a long series of them, must be slight and superficial, compared with that oppressive, crushing sense of a guilty soul shapen in iniquity, and by nature a child of wrath, and constantly a very body of death.
Under such views and teaching, a change of heart, and entrance on a Christian life, must often appear easier and lighter and less marked. For it is a change wrought in a single act or exercise. It is no comprehensive and total change, setting right a corrupt soul, counteracting a constitutional tendency to sin, and implanting what Adam lost, a holy taste, inclination or propensity to a godly life. It is instead, and theoretically, regeneration seriatim of a chain of exercises. In times of deep feeling and of moral crises, leading choices and volitions are rectified. Then and there the change may be marked, but it is only of a single act, or of a section and department of conduct. The man total is not so wrought on, as that the work may, even in figure, be called a new creature, and so lacks striking characteristics.
A change of mere volitions can not be as labored, and deep, and conspicuous, as a change in the soul itself, when one is "created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” This new kind of regeneration is more like sanctification, in its taking effect on single acts, and in being a quiet, continuous process. Hence some of the more evangelical in their tendencies in the liberal school have confounded it with sanctification, as Sears in his treatise on this doctrine. With such the new life starts from some higher and more special human endeavor, and is a growth, and so regeneration is life-long in its accomplishment.
Moreover, this change in our day, in its aggregate manifestation in many communities, seems easier and lighter to the aged in our churches, because the human agency in it is made so prominent, in contrast with its manifestation in earlier days. The man himself, by a specific and most determined choice, VOL. VI.-NO. XXXIII.
makes God and holiness his supreme portion, and so gives a right character to his life. This is a regeneration of volitions rather than of souls, and of actions rather than of agents; and is wrought by man and not God. Men are moved up to this high resolve, under the impression, distinct or vague, according to the temper of the workman, that the resolution is the constituting act, by which they enter in among the children of God. This must seem an easy and light thing to those who have been accustomed to regard the great change from sin to holiness as a new creation, divinely and supernaturally accomplished.
The philosophy and theology that we have been considering obscure, of necessity, and quite do away with the distinction betweeen regeneration and conversion. Failing to make this distinction, the supernatural agency of God in constituting one a Christian is overlooked, and the man is supposed and left to work the change, except so far as the ordinary aid of God may coöperate.
The Scriptures so far ascribe the work to God, as to call the Christian "his workmanship”; and they so far mark it supernatural as to call it a new creation. This we understand to be the restoration of that holy disposition toward God that Adam lost. Receiving it is, we suppose, “putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," after the manner in which Adam was created in the image of God. Thus the kingdom of God, as leaven, or a mustard seed, is divinely started in the natural heart. is an instructing fact, that all, or nearly all, the passages in the Bible, in which this superhuman change is spoken of, are in the passive voice, showing that the subject of the change is so far not an agent in working it, but the subject of it.
Conversion, no less a Scripture doctrine, on the other hand, is man's work, and he is obligated to do it, and no agency his own can do it. The heart being thus prepared to bear the fruits of the Spirit, the man must convert or turn himself from the old way and produce these fruits. He alone can do his repenting, believing, loving and hating, as a Christian. These are acts personal to himself, and can not lie in the range of God's agency.
The man must exercise his own subinission, trust, hope, etc. These new and holy feelings and exercises
and purposes, for the furnishing of which regenerating grace has prepared the soul, are often called the “new heart," and the man is commanded to make it to himself. In the limitations here given to conversion, as moral and holy exercises coming out of the "new creature,” the man does make his new heart; no other being can make it for him, since every onė must perform his own moral actions, which, as holy acts, are in the Scriptures called the new heart. But these exercises are prepared for, and consequent on, the new creation, that, as an act of God, has preceded.
To make the Scriptures self-consistent, secure for God his agency and work in this change from death to life, and impose on man his part and duty, this distinction between regeneration and conversion must be preserved. Not having preserved it, we have reason to fear that a great many self-made Christians have been drawn into the church. They are Christians by volition, by resolution, by solemn, and it may be, agonizing purpose. Their religious life is consequently one of impulses.
Honest, sincere, earnest, flattered with the notion that they can constitute themselves Christians, they make occasional struggles to rise to the level of their spiritual ideal. Excitement only can carry them up to the point to which it first carried them in a supposed regeneration. Having no root in themselves, they endure but for a while. They are misled by their teaching, and are as good Christians as their theory legitimately makes. All such need a soul as well as a series of exercises, and regeneration as well as conversion. Falling from grace and second conversion are terms fit and indispensable to describe the experiences of this kind of religious life, terms that can have no logical or theological place in our old and common creed.
This distinction between regeneration and conversion we think it very important to make and use, that we may preserve the unity of our faith. They are two points and not one, and neither covers the other, or states the whole truth without the other. The two points indicate the two agents in bringing a sinner from death to life; they show what each does, and which work precedes in the order of nature, and which follows. Much discussion is unfortunate and obscure and wasted by failing to discriminate on this doctrine. Authors and preachers are misunderstood. One calls all the work of the two agents regeneration, and seems to leave nothing for the man to do. Another calls it all conversion, and seems to exclude divine and supernatural agency, while yet another reverses the natural order of action by the two agents, and gets holy acts before he gets the holy heart, a process of producing grapes from thorns, and clean things from unclean.
But, on the theory we have been considering, that the soul is merely a series of exercises, this distinction would be a fiction; this confusion must run on; and so man must be left to do the act that constitutes one a Christian, so imparting to that transaction all the imperfection and uncertainty that pertains to the ordinary works of man, under only the ordinary aid and superintendence of God.
“And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; but Rebekah
loved Jacob.”—Genesis xxv. 28. It seems to be a small matter, at first, that each parent had a favorite child in this family, but the consequences are great and sorrowful, showing THE SIN OF HAVING, AND THE EVIL OF BEING, A FAVORITE CHILD.
The subject, thus given us by the text, is not so foreign or obsolete, as it is ancient, to us. This sin and evil are both modern and
Sometimes a parent declares this favoritism for one child; sometimes it is marked by the food,or dress, or pleasures and indulgences of one of the children; sometimes by the opposing choices of the father and mother; sometimes by the favoring plan that forecasts the life of one child, to the detriment or neglect of the others; and sometimes by the last will and legacies. Thus often brothers and sisters are alienated from each other ; houses are divided against themselves, and family feuds are made hereditary. In all which the principle is wrong, and the policy unwise. God has, therefore, caused