A H Strong on Regeneration
"In the primary change of disposition, which is the most essential feature of regeneration, the Spirit of God acts directly upon the spirit of man. In the securing of the initial exercise of this new dispostion - which constitutes the secondary feature of God's work of regeneration - the truth is used as a means. Hence, perhaps, in James 1: 18, we read: "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth." Instead of "he begat us by the word of truth," - the reference being to the secondary, not to the primary, feature of regeneration. The advocates of the opposite view - the view that God works only through the truth as a means, and that his only influence upon the soul is a moral influence (Campbellite view - SG) - very naturally deny the mystical union of the soul with Christ. Squire, for example, in his Autobiog., 343-378, esp. 360, on the Spirit's influences, quotes John 16: 8 - "he will convict the world in respect of sin" - to show that God regenerates by applying truth to men's minds, so far as to convince them, by fair and sufficient arguments, that they are sinners."
"For a view that truth is "energized" or "intensified" by the Holy Spirit, see Phelps, New Birth, 61, 121; Walker, Philosophy of Plan of Salvation, chap. 18."
Scriptural regeneration is God's (1) changing man's dispositions, and (2) securing its first exercise."
The Scriptural view is that regeneration, so far as it secures an activity of man, is accomplished through the instrumentality of the the truth."
"Man is not wholly passive at the time of his regeneration. He is passive only with respect to the change of his ruling disposition. With respect to the exercise of this disposition, he is active. Although the efficient power which secures this exercise of the new disposition is the power of God, yet man is not therefore unconscious, nor is he a mere machine worked by God's fingers."
"When a convert came to Rowland Hill and claimed that she had been converted in a dream, he replied: "We will see how you walk, now that you are awake."
"If God did not renew men's hearts in connection with our preaching of the truth, we might well give up our ministry."
"E. G. Robinson: "The conversion of a soul is just as much according to law as the raising of a crop of turnips."
"Only as the sinner's mind is brought into contact with the truth, does God complete his regenerating work. And as the change of inward disposition and initial exercise of it are never, so far as we know, separated by any interval of time, we can say, in general, that Christian work is successful only as it commends the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2)."
"On truth as a means of regeneration, see Hovey, Outlines, 192, who quotes Cunningham, Historical Theology, 1:617-"Regeneration may be taken in a limited sense as including only the first impartation of spiritual life...or it may be taken in a wider sense as comprehending the whole of that process by which he is renewed or made over again in the whole man after the image of God, -i.e., as including the production of saving faith and union to Christ. Only in the first sense did the Reformers maintain that man in the process was wholly passive and not active; for they did not dispute that, before the process in the second and more enlarged sense was completed, man was spiritually alive and active, and continued so ever after during the whole process of his sanctification."
"Dr. Hovey suggests an apt illustration of these two parts of the Holy Spirit's work and their union in regeneration: At the same time that God makes the photographic plate sensitive, he pours in the light of truth whereby the image of Christ is formed in the soul. Without the "sensitizing" of the plate, it would never fix the rays of light so as to retain the image. In the process of "sensitizing," the plate is passive; under the influence of light, it is active. In both the "sensitizing" and the taking of the picture, the real agent is not the plate nor the light, but the photographer. The photographer cannot perform both operations at the same moment. God can. He gives the new affection, and at the same instant he secures its exercise in view of the truth."
"For a denial of the instrumentality of truth in regeneration, see Pierce, in Bap. Quar., Jan. 1872: 52. Per contra, see Anderson, Regeneration, 89-122. H. B. Smith holds middle ground. He says: "In adults it (regeneration) is wrought most frequently by the word of God as the instrument. Believing that infants may be regenerated, we cannot assert that it is tied to the word of God absolutely." We prefer to say that, if infants are regenerated, they also are regenerated in conjunction with some influences of truth upon the mind, dim as the recognition of it may be. Otherwise we break the Scriptural connection between regeneration and conversion, and open the way for faith in a physical, magical, sacramental salvation. Squier, Autobiog., 368, says well, of the theory of regeneration which makes man purely passive, that it has a benumbing effect upon preaching: "The lack of expectation unnerves the efforts of the preacher; an impression of the fortuitious presence neutralizes his engagedness. this antinomian dependence on the Spirit extracts all vitality from the pulpit and sense of responsibility from the hearer, and makes preaching an opus operatum, like the baptismal regeneration of the formalist." Only of the first element in regeneration are Shedd's words true: "A dead man cannot assist in his own resurrection." (Dogm. Theol., 2:503)."
"A. J. Gordon, Twofold Life, 22-"Regeneration is the communication of the divine nature by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word (2 Pet. 1:4..."
"Conviction of sin is an ordinary, if not an invariable, antecedent of regeneration. It results from the contemplation of truth. It is often accompanied by fear, remorse, and cries for mercy. But these desires and fears are not signs of regeneration. They are selfish. They are quite consistent with manifest and dreadful enmity to God. They have a hopeful aspect, simply because they are evidence that the Holy Spirit is striving with the soul. But this work of the Spirit is not yet regeneration; at most, it is preparation for regeneration. So far as the sinner is concerned, he is more of a sinner than ever before; because, under more light than has ever before been given him, he is still rejecting Christ and resisting the Spirit. The word of God and the Holy Spirit appeal to lower as well as the higher motives; most men's concerns about religion is determined, at the outset, by hope or fear. See Shedd, Dogm. Theol., 2:512."
"There is a prevenient grace as well as a regenerating grace. Wendelfus indeed distinguished five kinds of grace, namely, prevenient, preparatory, operant, cooperant, and perfecting."
"While in some cases God's preparatory work occupies a long time, there are many cases in which he cuts short in righteousness (Rom. 9:28). Some persons are regenerated in infancy or childhood, cannot remember a time when they did not love Christ, and yet take long to learn that they are regenerate. Others are convicted and converted suddenly in mature years."
"As there is danger of confounding regeneration with preparatory influences of God's Spirit, so there is danger of confounding regeneration with sanctification."
"Both Luther and Calvin used the word regeneration is a loose way, confounding it with sanctification."
"E. G. Robinson: "Regeneration is in one sense instantaneous, in another sense not. There is necessity of some sort of knowledge in regeneration."
"The doctrine of Alexander Campbell was a protest against laying an unscriptural emphasis on emotional states as evidences of regeneration-a protest which certain mystical and antinomian exaggerations of evangelical teaching very justly provoked. But Campbell went to the opposite extreme of practically excluding emotion from religion, and of confining the work of the Holy Spirit to the conscious influence of the truth."
"A candidate for ordination was once asked which came first: regeneration or conversion. He replied very correctly: "Regeneration and conversion are like the cannon-ball and the hole-they both go through together." This is true however only as to their chronological relation. Logically the ball is first and causes the hole, not the hole first and causes the ball."
Notice how Strong seems to divide up the new birth into two stages, at least for theological reasons. But, he also acknowledges that the Scriptures equate the two.
Notice how Strong refers to Pierce, whose article on the question of means in the new birth was cited from. Pierce divided up the birth into stages as the Old Hardshells and Regular Baptists. He even attempted to use James 1: 18 to prove it.
Strong does affirm that regeneration or the new birth is not completed till one is converted by faith.