Jul 29, 2009

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?"

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