Jul 30, 2009

Campbell vs. Rice on the Ordo

The following are excerpts from the Campbell-Rice debate concerning the "ordo salutis," on the relationship of faith to regeneration, and on the use of means.

Campbell said:

"Mr. Rice has not yet explained to us his views of faith. He has a regeneration without it; indeed, in all cases, I presume, a regeneration anterior to faith. Faith, as I perceive, is the effect of regeneration, not the cause, according to his theory. An holy principle is immediately infused, and then faith is a holy act of a holy soul, regenerated by immediate contact with the Divine Spirit. Hence his adult and infant regeneration are, if I understand him, alike physical, or without the Word of God. Faith or regeneration must be prior—a simultaneous existence is not supposable. With me, faith is first, and repentance, or a change of heart, next in the order of things—in the order of nature and causation. If regeneration be the cause of faith, anterior to faith, without faith, then again, of what use are all human instrumentalities, preaching, Bibles, &c.? I wonder, except to save appearances, why any one should be taught to read the Bible, or go to meeting, until he is born again. If regeneration is not within the control of any mortal instrumentality—if no means are to be used with reference to it, I ask, then, how do men make faith void, and the gospel of none effect? If the Bible be not a moral instrument in this matter, what kind of instrument is it?" (Campbell's Fifth Address)

And again:

"I shall fill out my time with a few remarks on his definition of regeneration. He has at last given us a definition of this important word. But he has not yet answered the great question—whether is regeneration the cause or the effect of faith? Is regeneration the cause of faith or prior to faith; or is faith the effect of regeneration, or subsequent to it? Are they simultaneous? What connection between them? Is there any connection; and if any, what is it? I have brought up the subject in every form I can conceive of, to elicit from him such an expression as will facilitate our clear and satisfactory decision of this much and long litigated case." (Campbell's Sixth Address)

Rice, in his sixth reply, said:

"Just here I will very briefly answer the gentleman's question concerning faith and regeneration, though I am under no obligation to do it. A dead man does not perform the acts which flow from life. He is first alive, and then he acts (try that one on the story of the coming to life of the dead dry bones - SG). Those who are spiritually dead, do not put forth the acts of spiritual life. They are first quickened, then they exercise true faith and love. Spiritual acts flow from spiritual life. This I take to be the doctrine of God's Word."

(All highlighting and emphasis is mine - SG)

Phelps on New Birth

In A. H. Strong's "Systematic Theology," where he addresses the Bible doctrine of "regeneration," he mentions two differing opinions regarding the instrumentality of truth in it.

First, there is the essay - "Is Truth An Instrument In Regeneration?" by Nehemiah Pierce.

In this Pierce takes the Hardshell or Hyper Calvinistic view, the one that says regeneration takes place without the means of the gospel.

See here

Next, there is the essay - "The new birth, or, The work of the Holy Spirit" By Austin Phelps (1878)

See here

Particularly see chapter III, "Truth, the Instrument of Regeneration."

Phelps took the opposite view of Pierce, and the following are excerpts from his writing.

"The scriptural representations on this subject are not recondite; yet they cover all those points of inquiry on which we need instruction, that we may form a consistent theory of the working of Divine Grace. They may be cited, not so much for their force as proof-texts, as for their pertinence in giving us the inspired doctrine in inspired expression. Fortunately, the most salient of the passages declarative of this doctrine need no comment. To utter them is to explain them. It is difficult to mistake the import of the text: "Of his own will begat lie us with the word of truth." To the same effect is tlio Psalmist's declaration: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." The entire burden of the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm is a tribute of adoration to Truth as an instrument of Divine purposes. Why was Paul "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ"? Because "it is the power of God unto salvation."

"By such versatility and boldness of imagery do the sacred writers pour out in profusion their conceptions of truth as an instrument in the execution of God's will. And it is by the aid of these picturesque Scriptures that we must vivify our interpretation of those declarative passages which express logically the instrumentality of truth in regeneration."


"It is scarcely possible to reverent inquiry to err on this point. This is an elemental fact in scriptural theology, which no necessities of philosophy should tempt us to fritter away. Specifications of it may be concisely stated in the following form:

First, that God employs in regeneration Truth as distinct from instruments of physical power. God is wisely studious of congruities. He adapts the instrument to the effect. He selects that which in its nature is fitted to act upon mind, not upon matter. He chooses that which is pro-adjusted to the regeneration of mind, not to its creation. He calls to his service that which intelligence can perceive, heart can feel, will can choose; that which, therefore, the whole man can accept, trust, love, obey.

Again, God employs in regeneration Truth as distinct from falsehood. Not a shadow of evidence appears in the Scriptures that a humam heart was ever changed from sin to holiness by the force of error. No man was ever moved aright by wrong. No soul ever thrived upon lies. Profound and honest belief of the false can never, in its own proper drift, save a man. If it seems to save, there is a way that seemeth right, but the end thereof are the ways of death. If the man is saved in his error, he is not saved by it, but by truth lodged somewhere in it. Pure error tends to destruction as inevitably as fire. An echo comes down the ages of inspiration, "that they all might be damncd who believe not the truth."

Furthermore, God employs in regeneration religious Truth as distinct from all other truth. Not the axioms of mathematics, which appeal only to man's sense of the true; not truths which address only man's sense of the beautiful; not truths which move only man's sense of grandeur; not truths which gratify only man's love of mystery; not truths which quicken only man's sense of honor; not truths which take possession only of man's social affections; not these are the causal instrument of the new birth."

"Moreover, in the regeneration of those to whom the Christian revelation is given, God employs as his chosen and final instrument, Truth as it radiates from the person and the work of Christ: "I am the Truth; I am the Life;" "The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unte salvation"; "Nothing, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

"The Instrumentality of Truth Invariable"

"Yet once more, so far as we can know, God never dispenses with the agency of Truth in renewing the hearts of men. If a question be raised here, it should concern, not the power of God, but the facts of his working. So far as any essential doctrine of theology is concerned, it may or may not be true that infinite power can regenerate a soul by other instrumentalities, or without the intervention of instrument. For the purposes of a practical faith, it may or may not be true that, in the nature of things, regeneration is an act which, apart from the instrumentality of truth, sustains no relation even to omnipotence. Be it so, or be it not, that to the Divine Mind truth and regeneration — the instrument and the effect — stand in relations of necessity immutable and eternal, like the laws of numbers or of diagrams, we need not affirm or deny. The theological question, if any exists, is a simple question of fact. Does God in the renewal of a human soul ever dispense with truth as the instrument of the change?

The answer to this question is not wholly unimportant to consistency of faith. It can be given in few words. It is comprised in two positions, which a moment's reflection will establish.

One is, that if God does in any instance dispense with truth as his moral instrument in the new birth, the evidence of this fact must be a subject of pure revelation. Experience, from the nature of the case, cannot prove it. No man can intelligently affirm himself to be conscious of a divine fiat thrilling his nature, making a new man of him, with no instrumental agency, or with other instrumentality than that of truth. The only evidence any man can have from experience that his heart is changed is the evidence of actual exereises of heart in view of truth. Divine power in the change is, to all consciousness, so blended with the force of truth, — in other words, the efficient cause so interpenetrates the instrumental cause, — that no mind can intelligently separate them. Indeed, consciousness gives us no hint of the Divine Cause, except through the success of the instrument. I cannot go back of my own conscious exercises in view of truth, and affirm that God has changed my heart by sheer will, independently of truth. It is plainly impossible; as absolutely so as that my eye should detect the undulations of sound, or my ear those of light. Regeneration, the divine act, is evidenced to consciousness only by conversion, the human change; and this, again, discloses itself only in responses of the soul to truth. Experience can go no further back than this; and if experience cannot, observation cannot. If, then, God has ever wrought the renewal of a soul in such anomalous manner as that implied in the inquiry before us, the evidence of the fact must be a subject of direct and supernatural revelation; we can know it only from the Scriptures.

The second position, then, in answer to this inquiry, is, that the Scriptures are silent as to the occurrence of any such instance in the history of redemption. They do not explicitly deny, but neither do they affirm. They inform us of many instances of regeneration by means of truth; and of not one without the truth. They proclaim indubitably the law of divine working in this phenomenon of human experience; and they neither by assertion nor hint point us to a solitary exception. They record none in the world's history; they predict none in its future. Here, therefore, argument on this topic may legitimately end. In all our positive reasonings upon it we must assume that no such exception exists. In our practical uses of the doctrine we must assume that none will exist to the end of time. "We cannot logically found any article of our faith on the hypothetical possibility that the fact is otherwise.


"But if conjecture, wiser than truth, must still press inquiry and ask: "How are infants regenerated who die before moral responsibility commences?" we respond by inquiries which are at least as wise; though for ourselves we do not revere them, nor are our dreams troubled if we cannot answer them. We respond by asking: How do you know that they are regenerated? How do you know that irresponsible beings are proper subjects of "regeneration" in the sense in which the Scriptures apply the word to adult sinners? Who has told you that the new birth has any relation to irresponsible infancy more than to irresponsible idiocy? Is a change of heart conceivable in a being who has no heart? What is regeneration in an irresponsible soul? What authority have we for believing anything of such a nondescript? Shall the whole drift of the Scriptures bo held in check by conjectural philosophy?

But, again, how do you know that there are any such infants? Where is it revealed that a soul has ever left this world, or ever will, with moral nature absolutely undeveloped? Who can assure you that moral birth and physical birth are not simultaneous? Who can prove that because a being cannot discern between its right hand and its left, therefore it cannot in any respect or in any degree distinguish right thought from wrong? How much do we know of the possibilities of infantile intuitions? Besides, who knows what the process of dying is, as a means of moral development? Have we never seen an aged infant in its coffin? Moreover, is not the death of an infant, itself an abnormal event? May it not then be one of a group of anomalies which involve an anomalous probation and an anomalous qualification for heaven?

Yet once more: if infants are proper subjects of the same change which adults undergo in regeneration, then are they not sinners? If sinners, have they not sinned? If they have sinned, can they not repent? If they can either sin or repent, can they not know right and wrong; therefore may not they too, in a future world, declare gratefully: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth"? Have ye not read: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Who shall dare to limit God's power of converse with the tiniest image of his own being? Are not the whole heavens mirrored in the retina of a single eyeball? How much greater is the distance — and what matters it to his resources — between God and a speechless babe than between God and you or me? How do we know that in the world of infantile seclusion, before speech has broken the eternal silence from which that world has sprung, God has not ordained a system of moral correspondences with heaven, on which he administers a government of freedom, of law, and of grace, as perfect in its kind as that of Eden; a system which he guards as lovingly as ours; and a system before the mysteries of which angelic wisdom bends reverently, as wo stand in awe around the marvels of the microscope? Is such a system any more incomprehensible or incredible than the laws of communication by instinct in humming-birds? Is it any more marvellous than the autocracy of a beehive?

We confess to an aesthetic sympathy with Wordsworth's fancy in the lines, —

"Thou who didst wrap the cloud
Of infancy around us, that Thyself
Therein with our simplicity awhile
Mightcst hold on earth communion undisturbed."

Theologically, we see no absurdity in the hope that this may be more than poetry. Yet we cannot fortify the hope by revelation or by reason. The proof-texts — where are they? The logic of the facts — to whom has infantile experience disclosed it? Our memory is very reticent; our observation is very ignorant. To our reason, "the cloud of infancy" is very dense. To our faith, the Bible is very still. "What moral mysteries are latent in infantile inind wo therefore do not affirm or deny. We do not know. If revelation had been addressed to infants it might have made us more knowing than we are; but, alas, we cannot be wise above that which is written for our admonition. Yet, if the Scriptures had answered the "obstinate questionings" of wise men on this theme, could the world have contained the books which should be written?"

This view should specially commend itself as a corrective of certain prejudices which may be fatal to religious life. Is there not a class of solidly built minds which are constitutionally incredulous of a supernatural regeneration, because they have 110 conception of it as anything else than the effect of a shock inflicted upon tho spiritual nature? They imagine it as involving a suspense of conscious personality. They have heard believers affirm that it may be imparted to a man in sleep. The creation of Eve seems to them not an inapt symbol of it. Hence, they rank faith in it with other eccentricities of dreams. Their good sense revolts from the whole thing. Have we not known certain timid minds which have believed, indeed, but only to shrink from their faith as a practical experience, because their faith also is steeped in materialism? Regenerating grace as they conceive of it is spiritualized electricity. They recoil from a religious life, for a reason analogous to that which leads them to draw back from a voltaic battery. Contortions, spiritual or muscular, are alike repulsive. Some, too, believe only to despair of salvation; others, only to live ill sullen impenitence, because they are not conscious of the infusion of new vitality into their moral being. Do not pastors often encounter sad inquirers, whoso minds are saturated with conceptions of the new birth scarcely more spiritual than those of Nicodemus? Are not these conceptions in part the result of accepting literally the symbolic language of the pulpit in the enforeement of this doctrine? I have known a man to watch and pray for palpable concussion with the regenerating Power, as he would spread his sails to catch the winds if he were becalmed at sea. Such unfortunate experiences are tho legitimate fruit of any theory of regeneration which reduces a change of heart to an infraction of nature.

A third principle inferable from the doctrine before us, is that of the importance of truthfulness in theological opinion. The new birth as represented in the Scriptures gives no support to the theory, so natural to superficial thought, that belief, as such, is of little moment in religion; that God will judge characters, and not creeds; that we shall not be held responsible for obeying another man's faith in preference to our own. On the contrary, in regeneration charactor and creed are indissolubly united. God's instrument in effecting the change is truth. Falsehood finds no place there. Truth in caricature finds none. The less a man believes of truth, the more distant is he from the probable range of regenerating grace. The more distorted a man's opinions are, the more fearful are his perils. The more negative his convictions become, the more faint becomes all reasonable hope that he will be saved. In terrific consistency with this principle is the scriptural representation of the most hopeless depth of sin, as that of those to whom God sends delusion, that they may believe a lie. God acts in regeneration where truth can act; not elsewhere. The mind that withholds itself from truth is withholding itself from God."

"There is reason to believe respecting many constant listeners to the preaching of the gospel, that here is the exact point at which lies the chief obstacle in their way to heaven. They will not assent to certain truths, the force of which is essential to draw them within the range of God's regenerating decree. They are repelled by one truth; they are heedlessly confused by another; they are uninterested in a third; perhaps in part persuaded of many, they are advancing in consolidation of character with hearty opinions upon none. The Holy Spirit passes them by, because they will not credit his truth. They thrust the instrument of his grace from them, and he leaves them in their sins. He does not there his mighty works, because of their unbelief."

See here

Jul 29, 2009

Fuller vs. Booth

In the "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Andrew Fuller" By John Webster, we learn more about the controversy between Andrew Fuller and Abraham Booth, both Calvinistic Baptists. The following are some excepts from thosee memoirs. (All highlighting is mine - SG)

"Controversy with Mr. Booth"

"It was grief of heart to Mr. Fuller, to have any disagreement with a man whom he so highly esteemed, as the venerable Abraham Booth. But on some minor points there was a difference between them, though not such as would justify the slightest alienation, or require any painful exercise of mutual forbearance. During the controversy on Faith, in which Mr. Fuller was several years engaged with various opponents, who marched forward from the ranks both of Arminians and Calvinists, to meet this redoubtable champion, Mr. Booth watched its progress with considerable anxiety; and finally concluded that he could find a middle path between those Calvinists who admit and those who deny the obligation of sinners to believe the gospel. He at the same time suspected that Mr. Fuller and his friends were too much attached to the sentiments of President Edwards, and other American divines of later date; and that by importing their metaphysical refinements, there would be some danger of relaxing that muscular system of theology to which he himself was so ardently devoted.

Mr. Booth, therefore, published, in 1796, his first edition of "Glad Tidings to perishing Sinners;" the object of which is to prove that "the genuine gospel contains a complete warrant for the ungodly to believe in Jesus." This is a proposition which Mr. Fuller never denied, and which needed but little proof; and it is rather extraordinary that so acute a writer as Mr. Booth should seem to confound the "warrant" to believe, with a disposition to believe, or that state of mind which induces faith. Had the question been, what is it that warrants a sinner to believe in Christ; the obvious answer is, the gospel and that only. But if it were asked, what is it that inclines a sinner to believe ; the only answer is, that sacred influence by which he is renewed in the spirit of his mind. Yet both in the title and tenor of the work, this necessary and important distinction is too much overlooked.

In the progress of his inquiry, Mr. Booth did not fail to animadvert pretty severely on some of the American writers whom he mentioned rather in terms of contempt; and the sentiments of Dr. Hopkins in particular, on the subject of regeneration and justification, he considered as "pernicious," and tending to "corrupt the gospel." His pamphlet soon crossed the Atlantic, where it was attentively examined by Dr. Hopkins, who transmitted to a friend on this side the water, a complete refutation of several of Mr. Booth's positions, accompanied with some pointed strictures on the temper of his performance, and the inconclusive nature of his reasonings. The respect entertained for Mr. Booth, did not permit the printing of this valuable manuscript, and it obtained only a private circulation; for, whatever difference of opinion might exist on some speculative points, all parties were agreed in paying homage to his character. Mr. Fuller apologized to Dr. Hopkins, for Mr. Booth's manner of writing, and his seeming contempt for contemporary authors, in a letter dated March 17, 1798; while he at the same time expressed his own opinion of the manuscript in question.

"I sincerely thank you," says he,"for your remarks on Mr. Booth's performance; which every person of judgment who has seen them, within my knowledge, considers as a decisive refutation. When his piece first came out, I was in London. I looked into it, and soon after called upon him. I told him, as to his first part, I had no objection to it, except this; that it seemed to imply that sinners were very willing to come to Christ, if the door was but open; and all that appeared to be wanting was a right or 'warrant' to come. But as to his second part, I was fully persuaded that he was wrong, and that I could prove him so. To which he made scarcely any other reply than saying he supposed I should not approve of it.

I have remarked the effects of his pamphlet on the public mind. Some of our monthly editors have bestowed indiscriminate praise, without at all understanding the ground of the controversy. People in general do not seem to comprehend his design. They can see no object he has in view, or who, or what he means to oppose, except one. They think his first part savours of an agreement with me; and reckon, therefore, that the whole book was written in order to favour my sentiments on the duty of sinners to believe in Christ. I have been asked for a copy of my first piece on that subject; and when I have answered, it is out of print: 'Well,' it has been said, 'I will get Mr. Booth's book; I reckon they are pretty much alike.' In short, I do not think it will do any harm, owing chiefly to its obscurity.

You are mistaken, however, in Mr. Booth's character: and as for his manner of writing, it may admit of some apology. He is an upright, godly, learned man. But— (1.) He is a generation older than Sutcliffe, Pearce, or myself; and perhaps it may be owing to this that he is less attentive to any thing we write.—(2.) He is a great admirer of Owen, Vitringa, Venema, &,c. and seems to suppose that they have gone to the ne plus ultra of discovery. (3.) Having written a pretty large and valuable work, entitled, "Pedobaptism Examined on the Principles, Concessions, and Reasonings of the most learned Pedobaptists," he there got into such a habit of quotation, that he seems unable to write half a dozen pages without it. And though I believe him to be as honest a man as any in the world, I will not say that he is destitute of what on both sides of the water, for aught I know, may be called 'British pride.' I attribute his misrepresentations of your sentiments to this spirit, by which he was prevented from a patient and candid examination of the whole of what you say, rather than to any unworthy design; for of this he is utterly incapable."

Having published his Glad Tidings, under the full conviction that Mr. Fuller's sentiments were defective and erroneous, he rested satisfied in having taken up an invulnerable position in the doctrine of regeneration by the word of God; and herein, as he supposed, lay the main strength of his performance. In conversation with a friend upon the subject, January, 1798, Mr. Booth observed, that he had consulted nearly twenty bodies of divinity, all of which confirmed his statement of the connection between faith and regeneration; and that if any one could fairly answer his reasoning in page 155 of the first edition of his Glad Tidings, he would give up the whole of his performance; for on that reasoning, the strength of his position depended.

This implied challenge being reported to Mr. Fuller, he very attentively re-examined the passage, and communicated his thoughts to the Editor of these Memoirs, who afterwards submitted them to Mr. Booth's inspection, but without receiving any answer. The reader will find some interest in pursuing this little piece of controversy between these two eminent men, which has not before transpired, though the substance of it may have been wrought into some of Mr. Fuller's later publications.

But are we not said to be begotten 'by the word of truth ?' We are: but the terms begotten, regenerated, quickened, born again, do not appear to be used by the sacred writers in a metaphysical sense; that is, they are not designed to convey the idea merely of that' heart to understand,' which is given in order to conrersion; (Deut. xxix. 4. John xii. 40.) but the whole of that change by which a sinner becomes a saint. I do not think that in scripture, regeneration denotes one stage of that change, and conversion another; but that they are figurative representations of the same thing, which is sometimes called regeneration, sometimes conversion, sometimes a resurrection, and sometimes a creation. In this sense, therefore, I believe regeneration to be by the word of God; and which I think is consistent with a divine influence, giving a heart to understand, that we may be converted and be healed; or that this influence is exerted previously to a voluntary and cordial reception of the truth.

I know not how Mr. Booth will make it appear, that faith and regeneration are coeval in the order of nature. In whatever sense he considers faith, his argument from opposites, and maintaining that regeneration is by the word, renders this coexistence inconsistent. If he considers faith as the belief of the word, which his argument from opposites requires, and yet ascribes regeneration to it, then faith must precede regeneration, as the cause necessarily precedes the effect.

But if he considers faith as "a reliance on Christ for salvation," and the belief of the word as a matter "presupposed," as he has stated it in page 3 ; then regeneration must precede faith. Eve he considers as being depraved by the belief of a lie, and a sinner as being regenerated by the belief of the truth: but if so, regeneration is effected by that which is even previous to faith, or which is "presupposed by it:" it must therefore itself be previous to faith, or to "a reliance on Christ for salvation."

Not deeming the above remarks worthy of attention, Mr. Booth published a new and enlarged edition of his pamphlet, in 1800. The Rev. Thomas Scott, author of a valuable commentary on the Bible, having laid before the public his thoughts on "the nature and warrant of faith," in reference to Mr. Booth's performance, Mr. Fuller was solicited to give a review of both these pamphlets in one of the monthly journals; and when he had done so, it gave considerable offence to Mr. Booth. He also noticed some of his arguments in a new edition of his treatise on Faith, which made its appearance soon after, and which was by no means palatable to the author of Glad Tidings; who by this time began to complain that his antagonist "was always in pursuit of him."

A few friendly explanations, however, were sufficient to adjust the present misunderstanding between the parties, who continued to maintain their respective differences of sentiment, without any hinderance to a cordial intercourse. But unfortunately, another subject for controversy started up, which placed them again in a state of opposition. Some of the monthly editors, as well as others, endeavoured to represent Mr. Fuller as having abandoned his principles on the subject of Particular Redemption; placing its peculiarity not in the degree of Christ's sufferings, or in any want of sufficiency as to the nature of the atonement, but merely in the sovereignty of God respecting its application. This was reckoned an error of such magnitude, as ought to sink him in the esteem of religious people: and had the words of Calvin himself been quoted on this subject, they would have been sufficient in the account of some modern Calvinists, to prove even him an Arminian.

The difference chiefly relates to what precise ideas ought to be attached to the terms substitution and imputation. Mr. Booth conceived that Mr. Fuller had expressed himself in too general terms respecting the extent of the atonement, as opening a way whereby the whole race of man might be saved, as far as respects sufficiency in the atonement, though the number who shall ultimately receive the advantage of it, is limited by the divine sovereignty. He therefore contended that Christ represented a certain number only, whose sins and deserved punishment were transferred to him; and to whom, on the contrary, his obedience and sufferings are imputed, as forming their justifying righteousness.

This hopeless piece of business issued in a correspondence, not between Mr. Fuller and Mr. Booth, (for with the former the latter declined to communicate) but between Mr. Booth and Dr. Ryland, through whom he received Mr. Fuller's statements. The substance of this correspondence was afterwards given to the public, in a dialogue between "Peter, James, and John ;" in which the points in dispute are fairly stated. It is true indeed that this mode of writing is liable to strong objections, as it invariably gives to the dialogist the palm of victory; but that Mr. Booth's sentiments and reasonings are not misrepresented, there is the fullest assurance from the well known integrity of the writer, and the unimpeachable veracity of his friend, the late Dr. Ryland, who addressed to Mr. Booth a private remonstrance, from which the following are extracts :

"As to Mr. Fuller, if I should find any thing in which he has expressed himself inaccurately, I will tell him of it myself; but I will not have the remotest hand in furnishing the many professors, who dislike him for opposing their attempts to annihilate duty, with a term of reproach, that has with them far more weight than twenty scriptural arguments. That a man who is continually employed for God, and has ably defended the cause of God against the most mischievous foes of the truth, should be held up as an object of suspicion and dislike, while the most injudicious and inconsiderate distortions of Calvinism are suffered to pass unnoticed, is to me a matter of unspeakable surprise."

The only design of the writer in reviewing these recollections, is to do justice to the memory of his departed friend, and to prevent as far as possible, the repetition of those misstatements, relative to Mr. Fuller's sentiments, which have already been too often encouraged. No one acquainted with the character of Mr. Booth, can forbear to venerate his memory; but it is undeniable, that his tenacity for a system, and his dread of innovation, subjected him to impressions not the most favourable to free and candid inquiry. It was a matter of grief to Mr. Fuller, that he had to encounter opposition from a man whom he could never approach but with sentiments of reverential esteem, and he often mentioned it with regret; especially as that opposition was demanded, and might have been effective, in another quarter. The collision between such eminent individuals, like two jarring worlds, passing in opposite directions with their blaze of light, cannot fail to be interesting, though only some of their remoter angles came in contact; and it will be wise and honourable in the friends of both, to imitate their virtues, and avoid their imperfections.

Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Andrew Fuller By John Webster

See here

Cron on Ordo Salutis

The following are some scriptural remarks on the "ordo salutis" by George Cron in his book - "The Holy Spirit's Work."

In chapter 13, titled "SPIRITUAL LIFE BEGUN AS WELL AS DEVELOPED BY MEANS OF TRUTH," Cron wrote (emphasis mine - SG):

"Regeneration is not the whole of the process of salvation, but it is a very important part of it. It does not differ essentially from sanctification. It is the initial stage of sanctification, or the germ of holiness. Figuratively, it is the fountain from which the stream of spiritual life issues. If, therefore, regeneration went before faith, and were effected independently of it and the Gospel, it would be comparatively unimportant whether the Gospel was preached, and whether the Word of God was circulated, read, studied, and expounded, or not. But do we gather this from a perusal of the Scriptures? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature" is the Church's "marching orders," direct from the Church's Head; and may we not infer from this that salvation, including its beginning in the soul— regeneration—is somehow conditional on the declaration and reception of Gospel truth? If the Word which the first Christians, taking example by the apostles, went everywhere preaching, herein acting in strict obedience to the Master's injunction, be not the instrument of regeneration, there is no way of properly accounting for the solemnity of the charge which Paul, in the near prospect of martyrdom, delivered to Timothy:—"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom, PREACH THE WORD."

Reading this charge solemnises like coming into the presence of death; but how the apostle ever came to pen it if regeneration go before faith, and is brought about—as Lazarus was summoned from the grave—by the immediate exercise of Almighty power, is to me incomprehensible. If it be answered that, as an expression in Peter's address at the general council held at Jerusalem, and of which we have an account in the fifteenth chapter of Acts, clearly establishes—namely, "purifying their hearts by faith"sanctification turns on faith in "the word of the Gospel," I ask, what conceivable reason can be given for sanctification turning on faith but regeneration not? I should think that if regeneration is what I have denned it, the germ or beginning of sanctification, the hinge of the one is the hinge of both, and that what is adapted to develop holiness is adapted to originate it.

Is regeneration an element in salvation? This will not be disputed; and if not, how comes it that all through Scripture salvation is represented as conditional on faith in the Gospel, if regeneration precede faith, and the sinful heart of man be rectified apart from the Gospel, as by an act of omnipotence light was created? When, in answer to the question "What must I do to be saved?" Paul gave this direction—"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," did the apostle mean that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was the condition of all parts of the process of salvation except regeneration?"

"That in the affair of the soul's regeneration there should be a setting aside of the Gospel, and a dispensing with the act of faith in it, as many contend, is the more astonishing when due note is taken of what is said in the Bible on the subject of the regenerating power of the Gospel in God's word as containing it."

"Why was Paul not ashamed of the gospel of Christ? For the same reason substantially that a physician is not ashamed of a remedy that was never known to fail:—"for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." It is impotence itself relative to the unbeliever, but it is a kind of omnipotence relative to the believer; and, in so writing, Paul honoured the Holy Spirit. But would he have been so proud of it if his inward thought had been that, whatever the Gospel might accomplish in its recipients, there was one thing which lay beyond its might, no matter by whom wielded as an instrument—regeneration.

No more potent reason can be adduced for receiving the word of the Gospel than that with which St. James plies "the twelve tribes of the dispersion:"—"Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness, and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." Would he have predicated of the word ability to save the soul if he had understood that it had no concern with the act of regeneration? Decidedly not; and in thus magnifying it he virtually magnifies the Holy Spirit."

Next, in chapter 14, Cron writes the following under the heading - "Evidence Against The Dogma Of Regeneration Before Faith."

"I HAVE stated that the doctrine of regeneration before faith, and by a direct act of omnipotence, has not an inch of foothold in the sacred writings; and I hasten to show that there is not only no evidence for it, but abundant evidence against it.

The inspired writers constantly represent it as following, and as the effect of faith in Christ; and they set us the example of connecting it with God or the Spirit as the efficient cause, but with the Gospel as the instrumental cause. St. James and the twelve tribes were Christians or regenerate persons, and who had spiritually begotten or regenerated them? It was God; and how had He changed their hearts and made them His spiritual children? With or without means? Let St. James supply the answer:—"Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth." In the presence of this quotation what becomes of the doctrine of regeneration before faith? It vanishes like mist when played upon by the beams of the morning sun, aided by a violent breeze. If an "I will" sufficed to make them God's children, it was not in this way that the Galatians were made His children. Faith in Christ had to do with the change in their case, for we read, "Ye are all the children of God (regenerate) by faith in Christ Jesus."

From 1 Peter i. 22, 23, we learn how the Christian strangers had purified their hearts. For what growth in grace they had experienced they were under obligation to the Spirit; but they were not passive all the while. They were active, and their activity took the form of obedience to the truth. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently." Suppose that they had not obeyed the truth, would the Spirit have carried forward in them the work of sanctification? Assuredly not. We learn further what was the instrumental cause of their regeneration :—"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever . . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you." As one sinner is regenerated, so is another; and how were the Christian strangers regenerated? Peter ought to know; and he points as with outstretched finger to the Gospel or the word of God as the never absent instrument. If they had been born again, his conviction was that each and all had been born again by the immortal seed of the word. The metaphor may be either botanical or physiological. No Gospel, no regeneration; and when we consider what the Gospel is, we are necessitated to think of it as the instrumental cause. This is the right view to take of it, for it is the view which Christ had of it, as is plain from these words,—"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." If the persons addressed continued in the word which He was and preached, they would attain to a thorough knowledge of the truth, and consequent spiritual emancipation, of which regeneration is an element. Why did Jesus not say that the power of God, without the intervention of the truth, would regenerate them, and make them spiritually free?"

See here

Fuller vs Booth and MacLean

The following citations show the war that was waged between Andrew Fuller and Abraham Booth (and others) concerning the "ordo salutis" and of the relationship of regeneration to faith.

Wrote Andrew Fuller:

"The author of Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners (Abraham Booth - SG), though he pleads for faith as including our receiving Christ, and coming to him, yet is decidedly averse from all holy disposition of the heart preceding it, (or Fuller's pre-faith "regeneration" - SG) not only as affording a warrant, but as any way necessary to the thing itself. And as he unites with Mr. MacLean in considering the sinner as an enemy to God at the time of his being justified (or that a sinner is first justified and then regenerated and sanctified - SG), he must, to be consistent, consider faith as having no holiness in its nature. His method of reasoning on the priority of repentance to believing would seem to denote the same thing. He allows speculative repentance, or a change of mind which has "no holiness" in it, to be necessary to believing; giving this as the reason: "While a sinner is either stupidly inattentive to his immortal interests, or expecting justification by his own obedience, he will not come to Christ. It should seem, then, that aversion of heart from the gospel plan, or a desire to be justified by one's own obedience, is no objection to coming to Christ; and that a sinner will come to him, notwithstanding this, provided he be right in speculation, and his conscience sufficiently alarmed. If so, there certainly can be nothing spiritual or holy in the act of coming." The respect which I feel both towards Mr. Booth and Mr. MacLean is not a little; but there needs no apology for opposing these sentiments. Truth ought to be dearer to us than the greatest or best of men.

Lastly, It is objected that the word of God is represented as the means of regeneration: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth." -- "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." And as it is supposed that the word must be understood and believed, before it can have any saving influence upon us; so it is concluded that regeneration must rather be preceded by faith, than faith by regeneration; or, at least, that they are coeval. This objection has been advanced from several quarters and for several purposes. In answer to it, I would, in the first place, offer two or three general remarks.

First, Whether regeneration influence faith, or faith regeneration, if either [p. 410] of them influence the other, they cannot be coeval. One must be prior to the other, at least in the order of nature; as the effect is ever preceded by the cause.

Secondly, Whatever weight this objection may possess, it ought not to be made by any one who denies the belief of the gospel to be saving faith. For, allowing the word, understood and believed, to be that by which we are regenerated, still, if this belief be not faith, but something merely presupposed by it, faith may, notwithstanding, be preceded by regeneration. If faith be the same thing as coming to Christ, receiving him, and relying upon him for acceptance with God, all this, in the order of things, follows upon believing the truth concerning him; no less so than coming to God follows a believing that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We may, therefore, be regenerated by a perception and belief of the truth, and, as the immediate effect of it, come to Jesus, and rely upon him for salvation.

Thirdly, It may be questioned whether this objection ought to be made by those who admit the necessity of a spiritual discernment of the glory of Divine things in order to believing. That this is a principle clearly established in the Scriptures cannot be denied. Seeing the Son is necessary to believing in him. Unbelief is attributed to spiritual blindness (2 Cor. iv. 4) ; and those who believed not the "report" of the gospel are described as "seeing no form nor comeliness" in the Saviour, nor "beauty, that they should desire him."

"Mr. MacLean, speaking of the saving truth of the gospel, says, "It is no sooner perceived and believed than it takes possession of the will and affections," p. 82. This, I should think, is allowing that perception is distinct from believing, and necessarily precedes it. But if a spiritual perception of the glory of Divine truth precede believing, this may be the same, in effect, as regeneration preceding it. Allowing that the word requires to be perceived, ere the will and affections can be changed, it does not follow that it must also be believed for this purpose; for the perception itself may change us into the same image; and, in virtue of it, we may instantly, with our whole heart, set to our seal that God is true.

Now I apprehend that all my opponents (Booth, MacLean, et als. - SG) are included under one or other of these descriptions; and if so, I might very well be excused from any further answer. The word of God may be allowed to be the means of regeneration, and yet regeneration may precede believing.

I do not wish, however, to dismiss the subject without stating my views of it, and the grounds on which they rest. To me it appears that the Scriptures trace a change of heart to an origin beyond either belief or perception, even to that Divine influence which is the cause of both; an influence which is with great propriety compared to the power that at first "commanded the light to shine out of darkness."

That there is a Divine influence upon the soul, which is necessary to spiritual perception and belief, as being the cause of them, those with whom I am now reasoning will admit. The only question is in what order these things are caused. Whether the Holy Spirit causes the mind, while carnal, to discern and believe spiritual things, and thereby renders it spiritual; or whether he imparts a holy susceptibility and relish for the truth, in consequence of which we discern its glory, and embrace it. The latter appears to me to be the truth...It is thus, I apprehend, that God reveals the truth to us by his Spirit, in order to our discerning and believing it."

I see nothing inconsistent between this statement of things and that of James and Peter. We are as properly said to be "born again by the word of God," as we are said to be born into the world by means of our parents; yet as, in this case, the instrumentality of man was consistent with the inspiration of him "who quickeneth all things," and who, by an immediate though mysterious operation of his hand, gave us life; so I conceive it is in the other. The term "regeneration," in the sacred writings, is not always used in that strict sense in which we use it in theological discussion. Like almost every other term, it is sometimes used in a more strict and sometimes in a more general sense. Thus repentance is sometimes distinguished from faith; at other times, it comprehends the whole of that which is necessary to forgiveness, and must therefore comprehend believing. And thus regeneration is sometimes expressive of that operation in which the soul is passive; and in this sense stands distinguished from conversion, or actual turning to God by Jesus Christ. At other times, it includes not only the first impartation of spiritual life, but the whole of that change which denominates us Christians, or by which we are brought as into a new moral world. When the term is introduced as a cause of faith, or as that of which believing in Jesus is a proof, (as it is in John i. 12, 13, and 1 John v. 1,) we may be certain it stands distinguished from it; but when the same things are ascribed to it which peculiarly pertain to faith, we maybe equally certain that it includes it. Thus we read of "the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." If regeneration did not here include faith in Jesus Christ, it would not I conceive stand connected as it does with justification, which is peculiarly ascribed to faith.

Regeneration, taken in this large sense of the term, is undoubtedly “by the word of God.” It is by means of this that a sinner is first convinced of sin, and by this, as exhibiting mercy through Jesus Christ, he is kept from despair. It is by this only that he can become acquainted with the character of the Being he has offended, the nature and demerit of sin, and the way in which he must be saved from it. These important truths, viewed with the eye of an enlightened conscience, frequently produce great effects upon the soul even previously to its yielding itself up to Christ. And the impartation of spiritual life, or a susceptibility of heart to receive the truth, may generally, if not always, accompany the representation of truth to the mind. It was while Paul was speaking that the Lord opened the heart of Lydia. It is also allowed that when the word is received into the soul, and finds place there, it "worketh effectually," and becomes a principle of holy action, "a well of water springing up to everlasting life." All I contend for is that it is not by means of a spiritual perception, or belief of the gospel, that the heart is for the first time effectually influenced towards God; for spiritual perception and belief are represented as the effects, and not the causes, of such influence.

A spiritual perception of the glory of Divine things appears to be the first sensation of which the mind is conscious; but it is not the first operation of God upon it. Spiritual perception is that which the Scriptures call...judgment, or sense, or the judgment arising from holy sensibility, Phil. i. 9. It is that in spiritual things which a delicate sense of propriety is in natural things, in which the mind judges as it were instinctively from a feeling of what is proper. It is by this "unction from the Holy One" that we perceive the glory of the Divine character, the evil of sin, and the lovely fitness of the Saviour; neither of which can be properly known by mere intellect, any more than the sweetness of honey or the bitterness of wormwood can be ascertained by the sight of the eye. Nor can one be perceived but in connexion with the other. Without a sense of the glory of the object offended, it is impossible to have any just perception of the evil nature of the offence; and without a sense of the evil nature of the offence, it is equally impossible to discern either the necessity or the fitness of a Saviour: but with such a sense of things, each naturally, and perhaps instantaneously, follows the other. Hence arise the exercises of "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" and in the order in which the Scriptures represent them.

Much has been said of this statement of things, as involving the absurdity of a godly unbeliever. Scripture declarations and promises, expressive of the safety of the regenerate, have been urged, and a conclusion drawn, that if regeneration precede believing, men may be in a safe state without coming to Christ."* (*Mr. Booth's Glad Tidings, pp. 176, 189)

See here

From these remarks by Fuller it is obvious, as Alexander Campbell pointed out, that Fuller believed in two kinds of "regeneration," one that was "without the means of the word of God," and one that was "by means of the word of God and faith."

Jul 28, 2009

Fuller on Means

"The incorruptible 'seed,' by which we are born again, according to 1 Pet. i. 23, alludes not to the first principle in vegetables, but in animals; and what this is in generation, the word of God is allowed to be in regeneration. This I apprehend is giving all the scope to the passage, which can reasonably be desired.

That there is a divine influence in this change, which is immediate, or without any instrument whatever, is supposed in the preseding paper; but I do not consider this as expressive of the whole change denoted by the term regeneration. I admit regeneration to be by the word of God, and that this truth is taught us by the passage in question, and also in James i. 16; nor does this concession appear to clash with the above position. 'When God created man, he breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul. And in procreation, unless we maintain that souls are generated by human instrumentality, there is an immediate divine agency, very similar to that in creation, and which is expressed by ' forming the spirit of man within him.' Now as this is consistent with man's being brought into existence by the instrumentality of man; why should not an immediate influence from Him who ' quickeneth all things,' be consistent with the instrumentality of the word in regeneration?

Regeneration has frequently been distinguished from conversion; and I have no doubt but the terms are of different signification, as are also the terms creation and resurrection, by which the same divine change is indicated. I am inclined to think that these terms are not designed to express the different stages of God's work upon the soul, but the same divine work under different ideas or representations. It has been said, that regeneration expresses that part of the change wherein we are passive, and conversion that wherein we are active; but the idea of passivity, as well as activity, is included in conversion. God turns us, ere we turn to him. Sinners are said to be converted, as well as to convert. On the other hand, the idea of activity as well as passivity, is included in regeneration. Whatever may be said of the generation of an animal, we can form no conception of the change in the temper of a rational soul, or as the scriptures express it, of' renewing the spirit of our minds,' without the mind being in exercise. It is passive with respect to the agency of the Holy Spirit in producing the change, so as to contribute nothing towards it; but the very nature of the change itself, being from a state of enmity to love, implies activity of mind. It does not therefore seem perfectly accurate to say, we are first endued with spiritual life, and then we become active; no otherwise however, than as by the order of nature, seeing that activity is of the very essence of spiritual life.

Now considering regeneration as expressive of that entire change, by which we enter as it were into a new moral world, and possess a new kind of being (and in this sense I think it is always to be understood in the new testament) it is as proper to say, we are regenerated by the word of God, as it is to say, that 'Abraham begat Isaac;' though in Isaac's coming into the world he was the subject of a divine agency, in which Abraham had no concern."
(pg. 117)

See here where the heading reads as follows:





It was the writings of Andrew Fuller on this topic that gave fodder to Alexander Campbell. Campbell was adept, along with Booth, MacLean, and others, at exposing the weakness of this pre-faith regeneration theory. From the above writing, one can discover the lack of conviction that Fuller had on this issue. He speaks of being only "inclined" to a certain viewpoint. Like Campbell observed, with regard to these views of Fuller, he seemed to say that there are two kinds of "regeneration" in the Bible, one that is first, and occurs without the use of means, or the word of God, and the second, one that necessitates means. This is so much like the old Regular and Hardshell Baptists who divided up the new birth into two, perhaps three, distinct stages. The first was the "begetting" while the second was the "conceiving" or "deliverance" from the womb of conviction.

Campbell himself made a distinction between being "begotten" and being "born." To Campbell, a sinner was "begotten" when he believed the gospel, or received by faith the gospel message, but he was not "born" or "delivered" till baptized in water. In this case, the "begetting" made God the Father while the "birth" (baptism) made the Church the mother.

More to come.

Fuller on Ordo Salutis

The following citations from Andrew Fuller with observations by Priestly show that Fuller embraced the born again before faith error.

"To Fuller, the only way for faith to be holy is for God through his Word to regenerate the heart prior to believing. He writes,

"The...question is in what order these things are caused. Whether the Holy Spirit causes the mind, while carnal, to discern and believe spiritual things, and thereby renders it spiritual; or whether he imparts a holy susceptibility and relish for the truth, in consequence of which we discern its glory, and embrace it. The latter appears to me to be the truth. The following are the principal grounds on which I embrace it."

Fuller then proceeds to lay out his reasons for regeneration preceding faith and repentance:

1) “The Scriptures represent the dominion of sin in the heart as utterly inconsistent with a spiritual perception and belief of the gospel...Hence it will follow that the Holy Spirit must remove the obstacle of unbelief, so that spiritual things may be spiritually discerned.”

2) “Though holiness is frequently ascribed in the Scriptures to a spiritual perception of the truth, yet that...perception itself...is ascribed to the influence of the Holy Spirit upon the heart: ‘The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, and she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.’” In addition, Fuller cites as proof texts 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 John 2:27; and 1 John 2:20.

3) “Every thing which proves spiritual perception and faith to be holy exercises also proves that a change of heart must of necessity precede them, as no holy exercise can have place while the heart is under the dominion of carnality.”

Faith, then, is the effect of the spiritual influence of God upon the heart, which influence (i.e., regeneration) enables the carnal heart to have a holy sensibility toward God. If otherwise, Fuller contends, we have the absurdity of an ungodly believer. Yet, in the final analysis, “the truth appears to be, these things [regeneration and faith] are inseparable; and when promises are made to one, it is as connected with the other. The priority contended for is rather in order of nature than of time...No sooner is the heart turned towards Christ [by regeneration] than Christ is embraced [in faith].” (57)


by Gerald L. Priest

See here

Jul 27, 2009

Robinson on Fuller & Means

"Faith does not distinctly and appreciably precede regeneration, but accompanies it. It is not an instrument, a cause, or an effect of regeneration, but an invariable concomitant or condition of its process. Regeneration, as we have already seen, is God's sovereign act, accomplished through the agency of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of truth. To suppose that justifying or sovereign faith is an effect of regeneration, or that, according to Andrew Fuller, it must arise from a disposition of the heart and can come only from a holy heart, is to suppose not only that a man may be regenerated without the instrumentality (i. e.,without truth which can effect him only through faith, may be created anew otherwise than in Christ Jesus); but that, being regenerated, he may yet be under condemnation, and the wrath of God may still be on him until his new disposition shall lead him to faith in Christ. But that faith accompanies regeneration, and the latter does not occur without the former, is evident when we remember that we are begotten, i. e., regenerated," by the word of truth,"—language which can have no other meaning than that we are changed by the instrumentality of truth applied through the medium of faith. That such is the true relation of faith and regeneration seems to be taught clearly in Jno., 3:5, 6, 10-15. Thi& is clearly exhibited in 2 Peter, 1: 3 ; cf. 1 Jno., 5 : 1. If such is the true relation of faith to the heart, then the subjective view should not be lost sight of."

"By faith in the divine promises- we are made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter, 1: 4."
(pg. 337, 38)

Christian theology
By Ezekiel Gilman Robinson
Published by Press of E.R. Andrews, 1894
Original from Harvard University

See here

Dr. Anderson on Regeneration

Regeneration By William Anderson
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1875
Original from Harvard University

See here

"Proceeding to explain the Nature of Regeneration, I remark, in the first place, that according to a distinction of old theology, it is something which is not only done for a man, but which is also done upon him. In this respect it differs from the Justification or Pardoning of the sinner, which is only something done for him, so as to change his state in the reckoning of Law; whereas Regeneration changes the man himself—gives him a new character. The distinction is valuable on account of the practical lesson which it contains."

"For that Faith which is saluted with the assurance, is at once the cause and evidence of Regeneration. It needs not then that a man should ascend to Heaven to learn if he have been justified there: let him examine, if he have been regenerated here on earth. The knowledge of it is near to him: it lies in his own character."

"I remark in the second place, that Regeneration being something which is done on a man's person, it is his mind, and not his body, which undergoes the change. Neither is this distinction futile, nor is its illustration superfluous."

"The primary characteristic of Regeneration is a change of heart from a state of carelessness about God, or slavish fear of Him, or enmity against Him; of despite to his Person and his government, to his law and his love, to his promises and his threatenings, to his family, and to his inheritance—into a state of filial reverence, confidence, and obedience: of admiration of Him, as being of all who are called great the most excellent; of gratitude towards Him, as being of all benefactors the most bountiful; of dependence on Him, as being of all friends the most tender, faithful, and powerful; and of loyalty towards Him, as being of all Sovereigns, the most rightful, glorious, and gracious—as being One in the contemplation of whom the soul finds all its demands of perfection answered, and in whom it reposes satisfied with the vision; whose favour it seeks after and enjoys as the chief good; to serve whom it regards its highest honour; to advance the interests of whose kingdom engages its warmest patriotism; in whose family it finds its most endeared kindred; and whose house is its longed-for home. Have you any understanding of this? From experience of such a state of feelings in any degree, is it easily comprehensible for you how a heart may be possessed by them to overflowing?" (52)

"Finally: as the secret of all the other changes, it is a change of mind from a state in which the Bible was felt, at best, or rather, in the least degree of evil, the most tiresome of books—into a state in which it is prized as being the book—indeed the Book of Life. Because, as will presently be more amply illustrated, that Book contains the truth, which is the seed of Regeneration, impregnating the soul with its divine principles. Any notion of Regeneration, without such an impregnation of Bible truth, so as to create a constitutional appetite for that truth, is as preposterous as the fancy of a child being careless about its mother's milk." (57)


II. The second department of this topic is the illustration of the necessary holiness as being attainable only through a change from a condition of evil. It is to be shown that this holiness is native to no man; that without the communication of principles which are not natural to him, he will grow up not only destitute of the holiness, but denied with the opposite impurity; and that all who have not yet had such a communication made to them, must in their present state be disqualified for the kingdom of heaven.

The main subject under discussion is Regeneration; so that it would be inopportune to enter extensively into the consideration of Original Sin. Nevertheless, since this is the radical evil which Regeneration is designed to remedy, it is requisite that more be done than simply assert its existence." (690


Precisely so is it in matters spiritual. The change of heart in Regeneration is produced by a previous change of judgment. The erroneous opinions of the sinner are corrected, and that corrects his feelings. He receives new information, and that gives another direction to his affections. Plainly, the Bible removes his delusions; and in showing him the true nature of objects, makes him love many things which he formerly hated,and hate many things which he formerly loved. When he believes its report—when he takes Bible views of objects—looks at them through its telescope—looks at them through its microscope—looks at them through its atmosphere;—when he looks at God, looks at Christ, looks at himself, looks at his soul, looks at this world, looks at death, looks at eternity in Bible light, the look revolutionizes him. See what a commotion has been produced among the affections of his spirit, so soon as this heavenly light, altering the decisions of his judgment, has dawned on his mind ! He is now with ardour pursuing objects which he formerly despised, or feared, or abhorred; and fleeing, as when a man flees from the plague, or from his house on fire, from objects which he formerly considered harmless, or in which his soul delighted. The Bible light has disclosed friends, where he thought there were none but foes; and foes, where he thought there were none but friends (2 Corinthians v. 17).

Such is the Instrumentality by which Regeneration is effected—the Bible believed, that is, received as true: and there are especially two parties here also, as on a former occasion, about whom I am concerned in having the simplicity of the account pressed on their attention, and having it established for their conviction on scriptural authority.

First, there are the conscientious, but ignorant and fanciful, who imagine that there is much more that is mystical, than there truly is, in the regenerative change; and who either distress themselves with doubts because they have no experience of any thing of that character; or, in their search for something extraordinary, discredit the work of the Spirit of Truth, by ascribing to His operation fancies and impressions which are the product of their own weak and disordered minds. To all such, I say, that, in Regeneration, the mind feels nothing differently, in respect of the manner in which the change is produced, from what it feels when changed on some worldly subject, by the reports, or arguments, or representations of a friend. I cannot avoid reiterating the illustration. You felt abhorrence of a certain character last night; this morning you admire and love him; and when your neighbours express their astonishment at the change, you reply, that there is nothing wonderful in the case; that you can give a clear and rational account of it:—that a friend, in whose testimony you have confidence, has since that assured you, that the individual in question is of a very different character from what you had previously supposed him to be; and that your opinions of him having undergone a change, your feelings towards him have necessarily changed too. Is not all this most easily comprehended? Well, the case is every whit as plain and comprehensible in the matter of Regeneration. The Bible is a trustworthy friend's report concerning the character and purposes of God; and the belief of it, in changing the sinner's judgment, changes his heart. He can tell distinctly how he was changed. He says, he once imagined that God was a gloomy, hard task-master, but that, on reading the Bible, he found he had been most grossly and wickedly deluded; that the very reverse was the truth: that he discovered there, that God is a Father so rich in mercy, that he spared not his only begotten Son, when there was need of Him for his salvation. So he opens the Scripture, and pointing to the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel according to John, or the thirty-second verse of the eighth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, or some similar passage of the Regenerating Record, he says with emotion—"There is what changed my heart: it altered my views of God: it gave me a different account of Him from what I formerly entertained, and ever since I have loved Him." It is another question, How was the man brought to the belief of the Bible ? This will be treated of under a subsequent topic. But, meanwhile, let it be clearly understood, that it is the truth of the Bible believed, and this means alone, by which the heart is savingly changed, and when any one tells us of certain feelings which he pleads as an evidence of his regenerated state, let us immediately ask him, What part of the Bible produced these feelings? If he be unable to refer to book, and chapter, and verse, let us ask him, What were the words? Or, if he cannot quote them accurately, let us ask him, What was the idea? Unless he can give us this, we must question the sufficiency and genuineness of his evidence. He is not savingly changed, if it was not the Bible that did the work. That Bible is the seal, and the only seal, which the Spirit employs for making an impression on the heart; and it is not until we discover the impress of its characters, that we are warranted to conclude that the impression is of God." (100, 101)

"Before I proceed with adducing scriptural evidence for the establishment of the point hitherto illustrated only metaphysically, that Bible truth believed works all the change of Regeneration, I observe, that it seems almost preposterous to furnish such scriptural proof. Who needs it? All unregenerated persons feel, at this moment, that, were they to credit the Bible; were they to adopt its views of matters, their hearts would directly undergo a great change..."

"Notwithstanding, however, all this metaphysical and experimental plainness of the point, that it is the truth of the Bible which in changing a man's opinions regenerates him, through the change which is thereby necessarily produced on the affections of his heart; yet, of such importance is it as a practical lesson, and so much has simplicity been obscured in the course of controversy, perplexing the simple, and enervating the preaching of the gospel, that it is necessary to produce a part of the scriptural evidence. I select the following :—

Jamea i. 18. Of his own will begat He us with the Word of Truth.

1 Peter i. 23. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God.

2 Peter i. 4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises ; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.

John vi. 63. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.

John xvii. 17. Sanctify them through thy Truth : thy Word is Truth.

John xv. 3. Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.

John viii. 31, 32. If ye continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.

Ephesians vi. 17. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Hebrews iv. 12. The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Such is a specimen of the scriptural testimony on the subject, in which we find, not only that Regeneration is ascribed in express terms to the instrumentality of the Word, as being that seed by which those who have been born again were begotten of God; but, that, when viewed under particular aspects, the representation is regularly and consistently the same. Is Regeneration a slaying of the natural enmity of the heart? then, it is the Word which is the sword. Is it the quickening of a man into a new life? then, it is the Word which vivifies. Is it the production of a state of holy affection? then, it is the Word which cleanses and sanctifies. Is it an emancipation of the soul from bondage? then, it is the Word which gives the freedom. In sum, Is it an impartation to the soul, morally, of the divine nature? then, the promises of the Word are the vehicle of the communication." (106, 07)

"To believe with the heart, then, necessarily implies nothing more than to be "sincerely convinced," as distinguished from a mere pretence of believing." (111)

I observe, in the second place, that, when the apostles went forth into the world, calling on men to believe the gospel which they preached, in order to their being saved, they must have used the term in its common acceptation; otherwise their speech would have been unintelligible or deceptive. That common acceptation then was, "the crediting of a declaration." Accordingly the apostle, when felicitating the church of Thessalonica on the grace bestowed on them, refers to their faith under this form of expression, "our testimony among you was believed," and again, in the same epistle, he defines it as being "the belief of the Truth" (2 Thess. i. 10, and ii. 13). Why encumber a doctrine so simple, with the representation that there is a great variety of faiths; and perplex some, and cause the delusion of others, in the way we have seen, by calling on them to examine, if it be the right species of which they are possessed? There is no wrong species; there is only one kind, and the proper question is, Believest thou the Record? That is simply, but searchingly, thy trial. When any one, however, answers, that he does believe it, the question is a fair one, when his neighbours proceed to interrogate him respecting his feelings—not that they may determine if his faith be of the right kind, but that they may see if it be true that he believes at all."

"Such are the three points of testimony characteristic of the Bible system; if less than which be believed, there can be no regenerate consequence; but if the whole of which be believed—believed as when you believe any other report which you reckon trustworthy —then is your Regeneration certain. Let us recount the points: That you yourself are naturally in a perilous condition; that God has raised up his Son Jesus to be a Saviour in His threefold character of Prophet, Priest, and King; and that you yourself are divinely welcomed to place yourself under His protection, guidance, and cherishing. Let your understanding be once convinced of the truth of this, and it is impossible that it should communicate such intelligence to your heart without that heart undergoing an entire revolution. The great matter is to attain to the belief; that being secured, all the rest follows in natural and necessary order." (125)

"Since Regeneration and its development in sanctification are effected only by the belief of the truth, these sacraments can avail to salvation only as their symbolical representations are another mode of presenting truth to the mind, another way of proclaiming the gospel; and unless the result be the enlivening and strengthening of faith, their observance is the merest vanity. No delusion can be more childish and fatal than the fancy of some virtue being infused into that baptismal water and eucharistic bread and wine, by priestly incantations, whereby they are endowed with a chemical efficacy for the salvation of the soul!"(127)

I observe, in the third place, that the work does not consist, as others imagine and affirm (like Andrew Fuller - SG), in the production of a holy disposition, antecedently to the presentation of the Word to the mind; so that it is prepared to relish its truths, and thereby induced to believe them. The greatness of the names of many of the divines who hold this opinion, forbids that we treat it with contempt; but I cannot refrain from expressing my astonishment. The greater part of them not only admit, but contend, that it is in the creating of this pre-disposition that Regeneration properly consists. And they do so self-consistently. He who is so disposed as to relish lessons of piety, is already pious, and who is so disposed as to relish lessons of benevolence, is already benevolent; and who is so disposed as to relish the promises, is already heavenly-minded, in the very essence of the various characters. But to what does that "already" refer? Why, to a point of time before the Word is believed—it may be, before a syllable of it has been heard. This I cannot otherwise characterize than as being a palpable contradiction of the Scripture. "He begat us with the Word of Truth;" " Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God." " The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." There stands the testimony, than which there is none more explicit on any subject in the entire Scripture.

According to the dogma of those metaphysicians referred to, the Word would be at best only the aliment of a new life, which was communicated independently of it; whereas, in the passages quoted— and there are many more similar—it is declared to be the life-giving, generative, spiritual seed. Those who are less conversant with the dexterities of metaphysical theology may feel curious about what the abettors of the pre-disposition theory say of these and similar passages."

"Even Dr. Payne, who essentially abets the theory, cannot here withhold his censure, though it is expressed as gently as possible. "I confess," says he, "I have always been dissatisfied with the way in which Mr. Fuller, Dr. Williams, and others have attempted to reconcile these passages (James i. 18, and 1 Peter i. 23) with the sentiments they hold on the subject. James and Peter refer, say they, to Regeneration improperly so called. The proper sense of the term is exhibited in those passages which describe the effect of the direct agency of the Spirit upon the mind. Now, in the first place, I apprehend many of the passages to which they refer do not exhibit exclusively the effect of this direct agency of the Spirit, but the results of the combined influence of the Spirit and of truth, such as, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." And in the second place, I think I may venture to affirm that not one of those passages to which they appeal as exhibiting the effect of the direct influence of the Spirit, although none of them should be excepted against, declares that effect to be Regeneration. Mr. Fuller is, therefore, involved in the curious predicament of affirming a certain effect or change to be Regeneration in the proper sense of the term, which is never said to be such; and of denying that a certain other change (conversion - SG) is, strictly speaking, Regeneration, though it only is designated by that name in the Word of God. We cannot well be wrong in following the apostles James and Peter, in calling that Regeneration which is so denominated by them."

"But, besides being an unscriptural derogation from the honour of the Word, without even an apparent enhancing of the honour of the Spirit, I contend that the dogma is glaringly unphilosophical, and violates common sense. It contains a preposterous transposition of cause and effect. In all our other dealings with men we attempt to influence their dispositions by means of truth; but, according to this inversion, it would be presumptuous for any man to preach the Word, in expectation that the Spirit might bless and use it for changing the sinner's inclinations; the only lawful design being to furnish what might gratify and cherish a disposition—the holy relish—which, perchance, has been theretofore communicated." (164, 65)

"It will be observed that I feel more than usual ardour in the reprobating of this error. The reason is, that I regard it not only with that dislike with which I regard everything that is unscriptural and unphilosophical, but with a kind of personal aversion, inasmuch as it impugns my professional character. On such a principle I should feel that my occupation as a preacher of the gospel would be nearly gone. It would behove me to bid farewell to all my attempts at argument and rhetorical persuasion, with the view of furnishing weapons which the Spirit might employ for quelling an evil, and generating a good disposition; and to limit myself to a simple lection of the Word, and grammatical explanation of its terms. Yea, with the reading of much of the Word itself, I should feel I might dispense; since much of it consists of arguments of refutation and conviction, and of rhetorical enforcement, for which there would be no need nor room, on the principle that there was a disposition already prepared for receiving the simple statement of the truth with admiration and joy. You might as well argue with a child to persuade him of the sweetness of honey. Either, after all my reading and pondering, I mistake the theory; or else it is worthy of being denounced as deeply mischievous, whether to the preacher or hearer of the Word whose mind is influenced by it." (166)

"Dr. Payne, who, as already intimated, has adopted the theory of pre-disposition in a modified form, says, that he knows of nothing with which the producing of that disposition may be compared, but the "primary act of creation." In like manner, I, who unite with those who maintain that it is the faith in order to the disposition, and not the disposition in order to the faith, which the divine agency produces, do not deny that the operation may be of this miraculous character; but there are few, I should think, who would have recourse to such a solution, except as a last resort." (169)

"Though the mode of the operation remain an unexplained and inexplicable mystery, yet the fact of there being a direct action of the Spirit on the mind in producing the necessary faith, being certified to us by the Scripture, we can proceed to use the doctrine of it for practical ends as cogently as if we clearly understood the whole of the process.

Observe, therefore, in the first place, that all are responsible for being regenerated." (170)

"If the Regeneration, then, has not been effected, we are sure that that application for it has not been made, for making which all are responsible." (171)

"The grand plea to be held with him, and all infidel men of whatever sort is, that it is the first duty of an intelligent created nature to submit itself to the Creator for the regulation of its mind, and confidingly to pray, "May the God that made me show me the truth, whereever it may lie, whether in the New Testament or the Koran, in the writings of Paley or Voltaire, or in those of Wardlaw or Priestly!" For such a prayer every man is responsible, in virtue of his dependent nature as a creature; and by the rule of the scriptural assurances already quoted, we are certain that the responsibilities of the duty have not been fulfilled, wherever we find the regenerating faith wanting." (172)

"In the third place, let us be on our guard against a superstitious presumption. We are warranted, indeed, to expect much from the providence of the Spirit in the way of making preparation for the reception of the Word; but we must remember that it is only by his inspiring application of that Word that the great act of Regeneration is ultimately effected; teaching us to be diligent in storing both our own and our neighbours' minds with the ideas of Scripture, that they may be ready for being applied by the divine operation.

Under a preceding department of the subject this matter was largely reviewed; but of such importance is it, that I additionally transcribe here the similar observations of Dr. Payne:—"It sometimes happens that the footsteps of a sinner, going on in his sins, are arrested by unlooked for and dreadful calamities. The hand of death suddenly snatches from him the companions of his guilt, or the power of God stretches him on the bed of affliction, and brings him within the view of the eternal world. Conscience shakes off her slumbers, and will be heard. A spirit of penitence is awakened, and the delightful issue of the visitation is, that he 'becomes a servant of God, having his fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.' Still it is not the affliction which turns his heart from sin to God; affliction is utterly incapable of doing this. It is by the 'incorruptible seed of the Word,' and not by any of the mercies or judgments of God, that sinners are born again. Divine providence is the minister of divine grace, and it is only the minister. It is often employed to awaken serious reflection; to recall the neglected truths of God's Word to the recollection of the sinner; to impress them powerfully on his conscience; and to fix his attention upon that truth which saves the soul from death and condemnation. But still it is the gospel of God, and not the providence of God, that enlightens the eyes and sanctifies the heart" (Lect. xxii).

The practical conclusion is, that we pray as if all depended on the Spirit; and that we work in our personal study of the Word, and disseminating its truth among our friends and throughout the world as if all depended on ourselves. The Church for sowing, and God for giving the increase, is the great rule of our duty and expectation." (175, 176)