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Therefore the two ideas of regeneration cannot be essentially the same.
This observation seems enough to prove the fallacy of the system; for the very words in John and Titus expressly refer to salvation, and to regeneration as connected with it. Salvation is expressly described as the end, and regeneration as the means, connected with and leading to the enjoyment of that end. This clearly implies that the regeneration there spoken of is connected with salvation. But the "relative" regeneration, which we oppose, is confessedly not necessarily connected with salvation. As therefore this relative regeneration is not necessarily connected with salvation, and as that in St. John and Titus is necessarily connected with it, it follows that they cannot be the same thing. The one text says, "According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost;" and the other says, "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." We may here ob
1. That the persons here spoken of as regenerate are saved persons;
2. That the state of mind described is that of morality or holiness;
3. That what they are made meet for is the kingdom of God:
4. That the regeneration intended here is not only necessary to salvation, but prepures the heart for its enjoyment.
So far, then, are these texts from "legitimately" describing a change of state and relation to God, which has "nothing to do" with a change of heart, that they most manifestly describe a real and spiritual change of heart, with its glorious connexions and effects. As to what is said about these texts having reference to baptism, it is not necessary to oppose that idea; for a reference is very frequently made in Scripture to certain means of grace, without any design of circumscribing or limiting the blessings contained in that reference to what is always effected by, or certainly connected with, those means. Very probably baptism may be referred to in Eph. v. 26, 27, where it is said of Christ with regard to his church, "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Yet St. Paul does not by that reference restrain and confine the blessings spoken of to mere relative or external enjoyment, or to such as are always
connected with baptism; but describes, perhaps in connexion with it, the most transcendent and exalted beauties which are exhibited to us in the word of God-"That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing."
With regard therefore to these texts, we hold, first, that it is perfectly demonstrable, that a change of state and relation to God, NOT inclusive of holiness of heart, is not described in them; and, secondly, that from any thing that appears to the contrary, the terms here employed may mean a moral change of nature, and a moral change only.
The whole system then of relative regeneration now rests on the single passage in Matt. xix. 28. If we examine this with a little care, we shall have reason, as we think, to conclude that a reference to a moral change is not even here excluded; no, not upon the interpretation of those whom we oppose.-The reasoning is derived from Parkhurst, who says, that "The word, regeneration, here employed, may denote that great change, which began to take place in the world from the preaching of John the Baptist." What Parkhurst means by that great change," may be readily gathered from the passages of Scripture to which he refers, which are 2 Pet. iii. 13, and 2 Cor. v. 17. In the latter of which are. these words," If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Now, if regeneration here, in the only remaining place, may be applied to a moral change of heart, we are bound by the most serious considerations to understand it in that light throughout.
But suppose we allow, that this text MAY refer to Christ's second coming to that grand "restitution of all things," and particularly to God's children being then born again from their graves, are we to say that no moral change legitimately belongs to what will then take place? Will not the bodies of God's children, for the first time, come into a new world, wholly delivered and purified from the corruption and defilement of sin? And will not the body and soul unite, at that grand consummation, in a new moral, that is, holy state? If not absolutely new as to its nature, yet it will be new as to its perfection and degree. Doubtless the change which will take place, "when this corruptible shall put on incorruption," will not be relative and physical only; but moral also. And if so, the term, regeneration, may be ap
plied to it on this very account. Then also the position, that the term may be "legitimately" applied to a change of state and relation to God, not inclusive of a moral change, must be regarded as utterly void of countenance from the testimony of Scripture.
Bishop Hall, in his divine right of episcopacy, commenting on this passage, in concurrence with Cameron, says, "In the regeneration, that is, in the renovation of the church; for under the state of the Gospel, the church was new born, and made new: according to St. Paul-All things are become new, alluding to the prophet Isaiah, who in this sense, saith, Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.' And Beza himself, though he makes a difference in the pointing, and thereby in the construction, yet grants that according to his second sense, the preaching of the Gospel by Christ and his messengers, is meant by this regeneration, because then the world was, as it were, made new." Who can limit the glory of that holy transition which the righteous servants of Christ shall experience, when they awake after his likeness, as the children of God, being "the children of the resurrection!"
Regeneration, as taught by our Church.
The nature of regeneration, as used in our authorised documents, will, we trust, be easily proved to correspond very exactly with what has been advanced from the word of God. Much the same process may be adopted, though the same order may not be quite convenient. Let it be borne in mind what we are to prove, that is, that regeneration, as taught in our church, is a moral or holy change of heart and character, or, that at least, it includes a moral or a holy change. We shall prove this:
I. From the peculiar language, which is used in the office of baptism, and other documents of our church, to describe the blessing of regeneration, or to encourage us to seek it.
This language is multifarious and diversified; but it is appropriate and peculiar, and ever used with reference to internal and spiritual dispositions, and to them alone. It is
found indeed in connexion with language appropriate to relative blessings; but it could not be the true regeneration, if it were not so connected.
Regeneration then is described in the following terms,"Born anew of water and the Holy Ghost-sanctified with the Holy Ghost-regenerated with the Holy Spirit." We pray thus," Give thy Holy Spirit to this infant-grant that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in himregenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit." It is obviously the great work of the Holy Spirit to make men holy. It is therefore styled spiritual regeneration. And more strongly still is this operation spoken of as implying holy dispositions and effects, when we pray, "Wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost." This is called "the heavenly washing." And this" washing" is clearly no other than a moral operation; or as it is expressed in the Visitation of the Sick, a washing of the soul from "the defilements of sin," that it may be presented "pure" before God.
The Catechism calls it "the inward and spiritual grace," and declares that the Holy Ghost "sanctifieth all the elect people of God." And the article asserts, that the sacraments are signs of grace and instruments by which God doth work invisibly in us." It would be a degradation to our understanding to apply the "inward grace," which is wrought "invisibly in us," to outward and relative considerations. Nothing can possibly describe internal and holy effects and operations, if the work of the Holy Spirit-sanctificationwashing-heavenly washing-and God working invisibly in us, do not. If such language can be transmuted into external privileges, so may all language; and we shall not have a single term or phrase which will convey unequivocally and with certainty the idea of spiritual and internal operations. For this is the precise and appropriate language of our church, and of the Bible, for that end. We have these words, exactly suitable to our purpose, in the Homily for Good Friday," We be therefore washed in our baptism from the filthiness of sin, that we should live afterward in pureness of life."
2. From the definition and description given of regeneration.
The Catechism has specifically defined it to be "a death unto sin and a new birth into righteousness." This is "the inward and spiritual grace." And to prevent the possibility
of mistake on the subject, every regenerate person is supposed, in our baptismal office, to be "dead," and is allowed and admitted, as "being dead unto sin and living unto righteousness," and as being buried with Christ in His death." The participle" being," is here manifestly retrospective, and is properly explanatory of what is supposed to have taken place when the child or person was regenerated.
That regeneration is a holy change is clear from its description in the collects. That for the Nativity has this prayer:"Grant that we being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit." Now, whether "being" here be retrospective or prospective, the petition, " that we may be daily renewed by the Holy Spirit," most certainly supposes that the work of grace has been previously begun. But if the work of the Spirit be not included in the word "regenerate," the prayer will be utterly absurd, and will literally be a prayer for daily renewal before the work is ever prayed for or supposed to have commenced. Moreover, the Collect for the circumcision most clearly means spiritual regeneration by "the true circumcision of the Spirit." And this circumcision undoubtedly imports a holy and moral change of heart and life. This appears, as well from the words themselves, as from those which follow," That our hearts and all our members being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will." The same truth appears from the Collect for Ash-Wednesday,-"Create and make in us new and contrite hearts." This prayer implies two things,-that regeneration is meant by new and contrite hearts,"-and that " new and contrite hearts" most specifically describe a moral and holy change.
3. From the analogy of the new birth and its corresponding images.
Let the reader recollect what has been said on the analogy of the new birth, when we referred to the scriptural meaning of regeneration, which we shall not repeat here. We must, however, observe that regeneration, as used by our church, is the same with the new birth. And as it would violate the principles of common sense, and confound all specific modes of instruction, to call that a birth at which nothing was born, and that person new born" whose moral principles had received no change, so we feel certain, that such is not the meaning of new-birth, as used by our church.