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But it is of importance to make one remark here, on the meaning of a change of state: it seems to be as diversified as that of regeneration itself. This observation, duly borne in mind, may render the improper definitions of regeneration less pernicious in their effect than might at first sight be imagined. It ought to be particularly noticed, that in scripture a change of state, and a change of disposition always correspond as to time and nature.
The above observation will enable us to perceive the impropriety of the reasoning of some warm friends of spiritual regeneration. They seem willing to allow that a change of state does always take place in baptism, though not always a change of nature. But what is the nature of that change of state which always attends baptism? Is it a change of state, which admits to privileges short of salvation? or one, which embraces salvation? If salvation is not connected with it, it can be only comparatively unimportant, a mere image of the true one. It may, indeed, be called a baptismal change of state : but then we must contend, that this mere image of a change of state bears precisely the same relation to the real change of state, which is connected with salvation, as baptismal regeneration does to spiritual regeneration, of which it may be called the image. But then, it must be observed, that this image of a change of nature as truly takes place at baptism as the image of a change of state: and when the real, the saving change of nature takes place, then, also, the real, the saving change of state takes place. It must be obvious to all scripturally informed minds, that a title to salvation without a change of nature, or a change of nature without a title to salvation, would be useless in the economy of man's redemption. There cannot then be a change of state, connected with salvation, where there is not, at the same time, a spiritual change of heart and disposition. These always correspond, and always go together.
It appears, therefore, that in the various discussions respecting the meaning of regeneration, the grand and fundamental principle which makes regeneration necessary, is frequently quite forgotten. If writers espouse the notion, that regeneration must needs be confined to baptism, they find it requisite to reduce the meaning of regeneration to something which may be supposed always to take place in baptism. But in doing this, it does not seem to be considered, that they hereby run directly into one of the greatest evils, namely, this,—that meanings of regeneration are admitted, which cannot possibly be the right meanings, because they do not answer the purposes of regeneration.
The meaning of regeneration must be sought for from the design of regeneration : and no meaning of the term can possibly be the true one, which does not serve the ends and purposes for which regeneration is necessary. But what, we may inquire, is the end of regeneration?' What is its use? What makes it necessary ? The answer to this inquiry is given by our Saviour: He assures us that it is necessary for salvation. But what stands in the way of salvation? The answer is obvious, it is sin. What then is requisite to be effected? Two essential things,-the pardon of sin,--and the destruction of its power in the soul.
These two ideas are essential to salvation. All notions, therefore, of regeneration, which do not embrace these two ideas, or necessarily imply their presence, must certainly be wrong.
Here, then, we have a sure criterion by which to judge of the true meaning of regeneration. It must either include, or imply, as present, both the pardon of sin, and the removal of its reigning power and pollution; that is, it must involve in its own nature, or as its necessary connections, both justification and sanctification,-or, in other words, both a title to heaven, and a meetness for enjoyment of that holy place,both a change of state and a change of nature.
These following propositions may therefore be laid down as fundamental axioms in determining the nature of regeneration :
I. Regeneration is absolutely, and in all cases, necessary to salvation.
II, Salvation, in all cases, is necessarily connected with regeneration.
III, Regeneration must then include, or have connected with it, every thing essential to salvation.
IV. Whatever meaning, therefore, is attached to regeneration, which does not embrace in it, or imply as being present, every thing necessary to salvation, is infallibly erroneous.
The following propositions may also be considered as axioms :
1. Pardon of sin and holiness, or justification and sanctification ; or, which is the same thing, a change of state and a change of nature, are absolutely necessary to salvation.
II. Salvation is, in every instance, connected with each and all of these ;-therefore,
III. All these, in every instance, are connected with each other : for, as regeneration is connected with salvation, it must be connected with each and every one of these things which are connected with salvation.
IV. Where any of these things, therefore, are wanting, there no salvation can be, no regeneration ;-all are wanting.
We wish, especially, to warn the reader, that this subject does not require theological nicety in the use of terms. When, therefore, we use the phrase, pardon of sin, as synonymous with justification, and sanctification as the same thing with regeneration or the new-birth, we are not to be understood as considering them precisely the same. But as they imply and involve one another, the design is fully answered: and no good could ensue from any further preciseness. And be it ever remembered, that this discussion, of all others, depends on the broad and fundamental basis of the gospel of Christ, and not at all on the finer shades of difference between analogous words and phrases.
Supposing, then, our propositions to be true, which cannot, we presume, be fairly denied, we shall find no great difficulty in proving that our interpretation of the term Regeneration is the right one.
1. There is found in different writers on this subject a very great variety of meanings given to Regeneration, considered as relative : all of which, or nearly all, may be considered as neither including a change of heart,* nor as necessarily attended by any holy disposition, nor even as necessarily effective or productive of sanctification of spirit. One authort asserts, that sanctification is “not the neces-, sary, but the implied and legitimate consequence of rege
* The “complex” meaning of regeneration, which Mr. Gauntlett maintained, as the true meaning of the scripture and of our church, as well as Bishop Wilson's definition of the church doctrine on this subject
, embrace, we admit, both a change of nature and the baptism of water. But these do not properly come under the character of “relative” regeneration, and will be noticed hereafter.
† Bishop Bethell,
meration.” Another * finds great fault with those divines who admit into their definition of regeneration a holy and spiritual principle of new life. “And so regeneration,” he says, came to be used for the visible change, and almost for sanctification ; and its original sense, as denoting a privilege of the Christian church, was wholly lost.' The Old Testament fathers, according to the same writer, were “greatly sanctified, yet were not, therefore, regenerate.' Such interpretations as these, according to the foregoing propositions, must of necessity be erroneous: because where sanctification is not, there salvation is not, and regeneration is not.
Hence we remark, that however truly such a change may be connected with, and demonstrated to take place in, baptism, it is really nothing to the purpose ; and nothing is gained by it but confusion of ideas and loss of the real subject. For it may be true, and yet be unaccompanied with any one thing essential to salvation. Their labour, therefore, is utterly useless ; for it is still necessary that another, that is, a spiritual regeneration should be experienced before men can enter into the kingdom of God. And, indeed, it is worse than useless ; for this awful consequence is likely to ensue in practice,--that having once supposed a regeneration to have taken place, it is seldom we hear of any other being inculcated as of essential import to our salvation ; and it is very certain that some, and perhaps most of these evasions of the meaning of regeneration are intended to be substitutes for every other regeneration, and for every internal change whatever that is needful for salvation.
2. Spiritual regeneration, as we use the term, precisely answers to every idea for which regeneration is needed. It includes a holy change of nature, which is our meetness for salvation ; it is necessarily connected with forgiveness of sin and adoption into the family of God, and, therefore, with being made heirs of salvation. It is, as has been rightly said by Archbishop Laurence, “a restoration to divine favour, comprehending remission of sin and adoption into the number of the elect,” And we agree with him when he says of this restoration,—this “is, I apprehend, uniformly represented in our liturgy as the inseparable concomitant of regeneration." p. 10.
This holy change of nature, this spiritual regeneration, is, then, the regeneration which we embrace. This is what answers the ideas necessary, and nothing short of this regeneration will answer them.
* Dr. Pusey.
3. Before we proceed, however, to prove that this holy change of nature is regeneration, the true one, and that no possible interpretation, not including a holy change of heart, can be the true regeneration, we would, to avoid all needless cavils, make one observation, which is this,—That it is not necessary to our argument to prove that nothing more than a holy change of nature is comprehended under any language made use of in the scriptures, or in the authorized records of our church. This is obvious for two reasons :
1. If the meaning we plead for is included, it is quite sufficient; because what we contend for, is a meetness for salvation, and what leads to the possession of it. · This is all that is required. Besides, the other exposition is vastly below ours in comprehensiveness and importance ; therefore, if our ideas are only proved to be included, it will sufficiently answer our design. But should more than we contend for be found to exist, as long as what we plead for be found to exist also, this would only make the meaning of regeneration still farther distant from that which we oppose than our own definition is, and would, à fortiori, establish our own and subvert the opposite sentiments. If it be asked, Has not our church made the “ public recognition”. of a man's profession, or in other words, his baptism, a “part of regeneration ?” We answer, Not a part of regeneration, but a pledge,” and “means generally necessary to obtain it.
2. As every relative privilege, such as adoption, justification, &c., which is necessary to salvation, is connected with regeneration, according to our views of it, and doubtless must be so to answer its design; therefore, if any
should contend that those privileges are included in the very essence of regeneration, though such a notion would darken and confound some other truths of religion, it would not apparently prejudice the present discussion; and it is consequently of less importance to oppose it on the present occasion. We may, however, remark, that the inseparability of a relative change from a real change of heart, has probably led many to speak of them as the same thing.
By Relative change, as used in this connexion, we mean a change in man's relation to God and his title to heaven. As born into the world man is a child of wrath :" but when spiritually regenerated, adopted, and admitted into covenant