Apr 28, 2009

Hyper Calvinism's Regeneration III

In a book titled "Discourses on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; divine influence and its connexion with instituted means: divine influence and its connexion with instituted means," written by William Orme and published in 1828 from Oxford University, the writer says:

"By the other class of persons, who separate the influence and the means from each other, I intend chiefly the disciples of the hyper-Calvinistic school; though among many who do not go all lengths with these high-flyers, there is a great deal of loose and confused thinking on this subject. How often do we hear such expressions as—"Ah, we are poor creatures, we can do nothing till God's time come.—Such a one has been waiting many years by the pool of ordinances, the angel will descend and trouble the waters by and by.—Till the day of Christ's power come, nothing can avail." The most careless observer of what passes in the religious world, must be sensible of the extent to which this language prevails, and of the soothing influence which it appears to have on the conscience. It is very desirable that we should be deeply convinced of our entire dependence on God for every good thing ; but if we exercise that dependence at the expense of using our faculties, or attending to the plain injunctions of his holy- word, we are deceiving ourselves. If the former class of persons betray ignorance of their own character and circumstances, the latter discover no less ignorance of the character of God, and of his method of treating men." (pg. 232)

See here

Here is another witness from the 19th century where the born again before faith error is identified with Hyper Calvinism.

Hopkinsianism or Calvinism?

In an article titled "A Contrast Between Calvinism and Hopkinsianism," by Ezra Stiles Ely, and in Chapter Ten, in that section "Of Effectual Calling," the writer contrasts the views of the Hopkinsians with that of "Others," or of Hopkin's Hyper Calvinism versus historical creedal Calvinism.

According to the writer, the views of the Hopkinsians are described thusly:

"The divine operation in regeneration, of which the new heart is the effect, is immediate, or it is not wrought by the energy of any means as a cause of it but by the immediate power and energy of the Holy Spirit, It is called a creation, and the divine agency in it, is as much without a medium, as in creating something from nothing. Men are not regenerated, in the sense in which we are now considering regeneration, by light or the word of God." (yr. 1811)

See here

The views of Samuel Hopkins, together with those of Joseph Bellamy, were truly Hyper Calvinistic. Their regeneration before faith view was not readily accepted by all. Sadly, it was accepted and promoted by some able Baptists, such as Andrew Fuller. But, it was successfully refuted by other able Baptists, such as Abraham Booth.

Booth attacked Hopkins and his born again before faith error and his denial of means in regeneration. He also attacked Fuller for embracing the regeneration before faith error. Later, Alexander Campbell, with others, would attack this hybrid notion of the Hyper Calvinists.

Luther on Regeneration

Under the paragraph heading "Regeneration and Conversion," Martin Luther wrote:

"Those whom the Holy Spirit has brought to repentance and faith are in a state of regeneration and conversion. The change which has taken place in them is called a new birth or regeneration, because a new life has been planted in them. It is called conversion, because they have been converted or turned from sin to righteousness, from self to God.

It is not necessary that a Christian should be able to point to the exact time of his conversion. The important question is not, "When were we converted?" but, "Are we now in a converted state?" that is, "Are we now penitent and believing?"

(An explanation of Luther's small catechism By Martin Luther, Joseph Stump)

See here

Thus, Martin Luther did not put faith before regeneration and new birth, nor did he conceive of regeneration as being distinct from conversion.

Hyper Calvinism's Regeneration II

In "THE EVANGELICAL REPOSITORY" (SIXTH SERIES, No. I.—September, 1874), in an article titled "THE ORIGIN AND FORMATION OF THE EVANGELICAL UNION" (No. XXII), there is information about a dispute among churches over issues respecting "regeneration before faith." The following citation identifies the regeneration before faith view as an element of Hyper Calvinism.

"Since the same questions were put in 1844 to the five suspected churches by the four Glasgow churches, in order to bring out unmistakably the views of the former on the Work of the Divine Spirit, and the Election of Grace, it would naturally be expected that considerable similarity would be found in all the reasonings transmitted in reply. It strikes us, therefore, that since we have indicated the course of the argument pursued in the correspondence with the Hamilton Church, we need not linger long over the rest of the series. A few of the more prominent varieties, however, in these theological epistles may be noticed with profit.

The letter sent to the Bellshill Church was undoubtedly more Calvinistic in its type than that sent to the neighbouring church in Hamilton. The hyper-Calvinistic doctrine of Regeneration before Faith was plainly insisted upon in it; and credit for the same was given by rumour to the pastor of the Nile Street Church, now settled in England. It need not be matter of surprise, therefore, that after postulating such a dogma, the writer should turn round upon the members of the Bellshill Church, and say, "Brethren, we are at a loss to conceive what you have done with the doctrine of Regeneration ; for we can see no place for it in your system." The simple-minded people had no difficulty in replying that they had put the doctrine exactly where the Apostle James and the Apostle Peter had put it: for the former had said, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (i, 18); and the latter, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

See here

Hyper Calvinism's Regeneration

Alexander Campbell wrote:

"Certain Baptists have, I know, in former times, first propounded a theory of antecedent regenerationbefore faith, repentance, and baptism. This, indeed, we have deemed, and do think equally unchristian and unreasonable. That a man is regenerated without, and independent of, the knowledge of God, of Christ, or of the Holy Spirit, without hearing or believing the word, was once a dogma of a sect of hyper-Calvinists known to history. But I presume that sect, or schism, is not now known in Kentucky. The know nothing, believe nothing, and do nothing regenerated Baptists, have, if I mistake not, vanished away from both Virginia and Kentucky, within the memory of some living men. And certainly Mr. Ford will as cordially non-fellowship them as his humble servant would, if, indeed, he could be introduced to any such ultra oxygenated hyper-Augustinian rantists or Baptists."

The Millennial Harbinger By Alexander Campbell, William Kimbrough Pendleton, Charles Louis Loos

See here

Was Campbell in error to consider the born again before faith error a part of "Hyper Calvinism"? Or, was he correct? Is a denial of means in regeneration an element of Hyper Calvinism? I believe it is and I agree with Campbell that this denial of regeneration by means of the truth is a foundation stone in the Hyper Calvinistic system.

Apr 25, 2009

Carson on Regeneration II

Here are some additional citations from Dr. Carson showing he believed in regeneration by means and that sinners are begotten by faith. Carson also may be called a Calvinist. (emphasis mine - SG)

"The power of God is manifested by bringing to spiritual life those who are spiritually dead. All men are by nature dead in sin. Spiritual life is as immediately the effect of Divine power as is natural life. "And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." Babbling smatterers in philosophy may refer to the science of mind, and, on the authority of metaphysics, explain away the clearest attestation of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures, they tell us, cannot contradict sound philosophy, and the doctrines of the Holy Spirit are made to conform to those of the schools. Down, vile impostor! dost thou pretend to know more of the mind of man than does its Creator?

As it is the power of God that brings to life the spiritually dead, so it is the Gospel, testifying of Jesus, that is always the means of communicating this life. By his word the Almighty power of the Son of God made the world: by his word he new-creates his peculiar people. He spake, and all things started into existence: he called for light, and light shined out of darkness. He speaks in the Gospel, and the dead awake and rise. He shines into the heart, and the most ignorant of savages obtains the knowledge of God, which is life and salvation. In creation he gives men the light of reason: in redemption he gives them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his own character. So profound is the sleep of spiritual death, that if all the angels of heaven were to address sinners they would not awake. Nothing but the power that awakened Lazarus in the grave can awake dead sinners. The Gospel, then, is the power of God to salvation to every one who believeth."

In chapter "Power of God displayed in the Gospel" (pg. 128)

The works of ... Alexander Carson
By Alexander Carson
Published 1863

See here

Carson on Regeneration by Faith

The great Baptist apologist, Dr. Alexander Carson, wrote the following words in his famous book - "Baptism in its mode and subjects." They show that he did not believe the "born again before faith" error. (emphasis mine - SG)

"But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." I Cor. vi. 11. Here also washing and sanctification are distinguished; and both are effected in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Faith in Christ is that through which they are washed; and the Spirit of our God is the agent who washes them by this means. This washing is represented in baptism, to which this passage refers."

"The heart is said to be purified by faith, Acts xv. 9. Now, if faith purifies the heart, the water in baptism cannot be essential to the purification. It must be an emblem—not a means. The purification is effected without it, and before its application.

It is on a good conscience produced by faith in Christ, as distinguished from the external washing, that Peter places the value: 1 Peter iii. 21.

"Seeing," says Peter, "ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." 1 Peter i. 22. It is the belief of the truth, then, that purities the soul—not the water of baptism. This purification is effected by the Spirit: he is the agent, and the truth is the instrument. The water is an emblem; but whether it has place or not, it has no share in the effect, either as an efficient, or as an instrument. "Being born again," says he, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God." In the whole process of the spiritual birth the word of God is the only means, as the Spirit is the only agent."

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Here the washing of regeneration is expressly distinguished from the renewing of the Holy Ghost. What in John iii. 5, is called born of water, is here called the washing of regeneration; and what is there called born of the Spirit, is here called the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Born of water, then, and born of the Spirit, are two distinct things; and born of the Spirit is not, as many suppose, the explanation or meaning of born of water. The washing of regeneration is the washing that takes place when we are born again of the incorruptibIe seed of the word, or by the belief of the truth. We are washed by faith in the blood of Christ. This washing takes place before baptism, and there must be evidence that it has taken place, before any person is entitled to be emblematically washed in baptism. The person who is thus washed is also renewed by the Holy Ghost. We are regenerated by faith, and not by the rite of baptism. Baptism is an emblem of this washing and regeneration."
(Baptism in its mode and subjects By Alexander Carson - pg. 478-79)

See here

Dr. Carson plainly says that we are born again by the gospel and by faith in it.

Apr 24, 2009

Webster on Regeneration II


"The author regrets his inability to give the name of the writer, who has so ably and satisfactorily refuted Dr. Ridgley's opinion, that the word cannot be the instrument of regeneration. The article first appeared in the third volume of the Religious Monitor, in 1827.

"Observing lately,upon reading Dr. Ridgley's Body of Divinity, on the subject of regeneration, a sentiment advanced by the Dr. upon that subject, which, in my opinion, is very exceptionable; and a sentiment, which, as far as is known to the writer of this paper, was never maintained before by any who passed for orthodox on the general and leading doctrines of the gospel,—as the Dr. will be considered as an authority by many on subjects of this kind, and as the work is, by a late extensive edition of it, published in this country, put into the hands of great numbers, and something like the sentiment advanced by the Dr. begins to make its appearance in some of the publications of modern times, whose character for orthodoxy is not disputed, I concluded it might perhaps be of service to some of your readers to send my thoughts upon the sentiment advanced by him, to your useful miscellany for insertion, if you deem them worthy of a place there.

What we dislike in the account the Dr. gives of this saving work of God upon the soul, is that he makes regeneration to take place without the instrumentality of the word, or any of the ordinary means of grace; and his arguments to prove that this is indeed the case, we consider to be very inconclusive, and involved in great obscurity, if not founded upon mistaken views of the nature of a work of grace in the soul, both in regeneration, and in progressive sanctification.

That a work of God, whether of nature or of grace, may be entitled to the character of a creation work, it is not requisite that it be accomplished without means, and our asserting that the word is the instrument, in what is called the new creation, is accordingly without that absurdity the Dr. would attach to it. Our admitting, too, that this new creation is effected by the instrumentality of the word generally, lays no ground for the assertion, that then we would be created by faith; because, though the word cannot profit without faith, yet faith does not go before, but follows the word, which both begets the act of faith and the principle which produces it, being, in the hand of the Spirit, the instrument for this purpose."

"Having presented his arguments to prove that regeneration is accomplished without the instrumentality of the word, he tries to account for the other way of thinking on this subject. "I am ready (he says) to conjecture that what leads many divines into this way of thinking, is the sense in which they understand the words of the Apostle, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." 1 Pet. i. 23, and elsewhere, "Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." James i. 16. Whereas, this does not so much respect the implanting the principle of grace, as it does our being enabled to act from that principle; and it is as though he should say, he hath made us believers, or induced us to love and obey him, by the word of truth, which supposes a principle of grace to have been implanted: otherwise the word of truth would never have produced these effects. Regeneration may be taken not only for our being made alive unto God, or created unto good works, but for our putting forth living actions proceeding from that principle which is implanted in the soul. I am far from denying that faith and all other graces are wrought in us, by the instrumentality of the word; and it is in this sense, that some who treat on this subject, explain their sentiments when they speak of being born again by the word."

Of consequence, according to the Dr., regeneration, strictly speaking, and the new birth, are quite distinct things, according to any conception we are to form of them; and the new birth is not to be referred to that change which takes place when the sinner is brought from nature to grace, nor to be restricted to any given period of time, but is a thing which is taking place every day; according as the believer is carried out by new supplies of grace, he attains to the practice of duty. "It is (he says) our being enabled to act from that principle: and it is as though he should say, he hath made us believers or induced us to love and obey him by the word of truth:" which is but what God is doing by his Spirit upon his people every day, by means of his word, and various other ordinances of his grace. And lest we should misunderstand him, and conclude that he intends only to show, that the Apostle meant, that only those who are born again can do good actions, but that he means something more than this, he adds, "Regeneration may be taken, not only for our being made alive to God, &c. but for our putting forth living actions," attempting to prove thereby, that these passages, if they respect regeneration at all, it must be in this very extended sense of the word. It is some such a kind of new birth as the Arminians receive into their creed, which they may have and lose, and which rises and falls as, they stand or fall from grace; for in the language of the Dr. being born again, may be taken, for our putting forth living actions, proceeding from that principle. But this the believer does not always, or at least sometimes he does it in so small a degree that it is scarcely perceptible. He is sometimes more, sometimes less active, spiritually, as the measure of grace is, which is given to him, according to the gift of Christ.

There is only one way by which, when he asserts that to be born again is, our being enabled to act from that principle implanted in regeneration, he can be supposed to mean, with any shade of consistency with himself, that the new birth is a work of God which takes place at one and the same moment of time, and that is by allowing him to consider it as an ability given by God, to exercise the principle implanted in regeneration, (for he says it is different from regeneration properly so called,) which man continues ever after, unaided of God, to put forth of himself, so that he is like a clock, that put together by its maker and set in motion, moves by a power inherent in itself; because, if the ability of the Christian to act from that principle, is by continued supplies of grace, and more or less, as these supplies are granted, it could not be one act of God, but a continued acting or a succession of acts, in the way of communicating that ability. But as he says it may be taken for the putting forth of living actions, this seems to put it beyond a doubt, that according to him, it is not to be confined to any given time, or particular act of God, towards the sinner. So much with respect to the Dr.

The Editor of the Philadelphia edition, in a foot note, defends the sentiment and advances some things equally as exceptionable concerning this first work of the Spirit of God upon the soul.—"No intervention (he says) of second causes seems necessary.—The Spirit of God is the agent; the soul of man is the subject of influence; and he is said to open the heart, to give a new heart, to create anew, to enlighten the mind in the knowledge of the truth, to work in us to will and to do; or to give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. From such expressions, it may be gathered that sight, knowledge, new dispositions, and a change of inclinations, are the effect of regeneration, not the thing itself." Again: "If the Holy Spirit acts no otherwise than by motives, angelic natures do this also, and no more power is ascribed to the Searcher of hearts than to them." He makes it to be entirely a physical change, and seems to mistake the view of those who hold that the Spirit of God, in regeneration, uses the instrumentality of the word. For it is not their opinion, that the Holy Spirit acts no otherwise than by addressing motives to the soul, in regeneration. On the contrary, they maintain, that while he addresses with motives, he exerts a power, in producing this change, through the word, so as these motives take their effect; and this is the sole reason, according to them, why the same motives presented to every hearer of the gospel, which are lost upon many, to others have an efficacy in them, to draw them to Christ. But this will be considered afterwards."

"After a very able argument in defence of the instrumentality of the word in regeneration, this author concludes the whole thus:—

"We shall close this paper with mentioning two objections which may be brought forward against all we have said on the subject, and giving a reply to them; the rest of the objections, of any seeming consequence, having been already attended to in our review of the Dr's. own arguments.

"The first is—that some infants are regenerated before they actually believe; and is not this a proof that the Spirit does not always act in regeneration by the instrumentality of the word, and acts in this work, as respects the implantation of the principle of grace without the word? To which we reply, that as the Lord's manner of dealing with those infants, which are the subjects of saving grace, is among the secret things which belong to himself; it cannot be a rule by which we are to judge in the case of capable subjects of actual faith, more especially when we find it declared so plainly in scripture, that it is by the instrumentality of the word he both regenerates and sanctifies the latter. Regenerated infants are subjects also of justification, though they are not capable of the actual exercise of faith in Christ, through the word exhibiting Christ to us as the Lord our righteousness; and we do not see how their being the subjects of regeneration, without the instrumentality of the word, could prove that regeneration in adults-is accomplished without it; more than their being justified, would prove that adults may be and are justified persons in the sight of God, all such as are actually justified without a receiving of Christ as the Lord their righteousness.

The second objection is—that regeneration is an instantaneous work, or rather act of God; but to suppose it to be accomplished by the word, as the means or instrument, would make it to be the result of a process of reasoning in the mind of the regenerated person, and of a process of exercise upon the word, whjch could not comport with its being an instantaneous act. Supposing the word to be the instrument, it can only be so by a discovery both of the person himself, and of Christ the proper object of faith therein, in order that it may be operative in producing this change, if its instrumentality is at all to be admitted in the first work of regeneration. But it may be replied, that that discovery becomes a saving discovery, only when the person sees the excellence and suitableness of Christ, the glorious object of faith, his own welcome, with the heart's approbation of the object, and appropriation of him, which is faith, or a believing sight, because it is a sight of Christ in the way of applying the revelation which is made of him in the gospel, to his own particular case; while all that is short of this is no more than what the natural man, by a natural and common work of the Spirit may attain. And, it is so much instantaneous, as that there is no intermediate condition between this saving sight of Christ, and what may be the mere fruit of a common operation of the Spirit. But, the moment he obtains it, the change passes upon him, and the word, in the hand of the Spirit, is the instrument."

223 - CHAPTER V.


"Why does the Spirit use the term calling? To denote the medium which God uses to convert men, namely, the voice of the gospel, and the proclamation of the word, than which nothing more suitable and convenient could be given to the rational creature.—De Focatione et Fide. Quest. 1. Sect. 4.

Although the Spirit in effectual calling acts not without the word, nevertheless he acts not only mediately by the word, but also operates in the soul immediately with the word, that the call must necessarily take its effect.— Quest. 4. Sect. 23.

On the Lord's opening of Lydia's heart, against the Remonstrants.

"It is in vain that it should be laid down here, that this opening of the heart can also be effected by the word, as it is elsewhere said, Acts xxvi. 18, 'That Paul was sent to the Gentiles to open their eyes, and convert them from darkness to light.' Especially as it is in such manner that it does not differ from [Lydia's] attention; but is used for one and the same thing, as God is said to have opened her heart, when she attended to the words of Paul: nothing else is intimated, than, that the preaching of Paul was efficacious, and that the praise of its efficacy must be ascribed to God, the first moving cause of all things. For although the opening of the heart is in this manner ascribed objectively to the word, as far as it can. be done by a moral cause; because it is not accustomed to be done without the word, but according to its presence; and it is ascribed in- strumentally to the ministers of the word, because they are the organs which God uses for this work. It cannot, however, be effected simply by the word, or by the word of God proposed by men, unless the Holy Spirit add a distinct internal power by the word. This intervention through the word externally proposed to the mind is received with faith by her. This Luke distinctly notices, when he says, she first heard Paul, that is, it [the opening of the heart] came between his preaching, and her receiving the word. Because, indeed, the preacher brings it in vain to the ears, unless the Creator open the heart, and the word knocks in vain against the door of the heart closed by unbelief and ignorance, unless, by the grace of God, it should be opened; therefore, he adds, that God opened her heart, that she attended to the things taught by Paul; the end and effect of this opening is noted. And so three things are distinctly enumerated, which concur in effectual calling: first, the action of Paul preaching; the action of God opening the heart, and the action of Lydia with her heart opened, and embracing the word by faith; which three things flow spontaneously from the words of Luke.—Id. Quest. 4. Sect. 36.

In treating of the new birth, which he calls a creation, resurrection, regeneration, drawing, &c., he says, "it is also expressed by illumination, doctrine, persuasion; and that both these classes of words and similes are sweetly and efficaciously conjoined in the same places, as when the spouse joins running with drawing— Song i. 2,4." See also John vi. 44; 1 Cor. ii. 4; Eph. i. 18, 19; Jer. xx. 7;* Hosea ii. 14; 2 Cor. v. 14. After quoting these texts, he then adds: " Hinc idem evangelium, quo conver- timur, et potentia, et sapientia vocatur." " Hence the same gospel by which we are converted, is called both the power and the wisdom of God."—Id. Sect. 2Q.—Turreline.

The first principle of the new creature is faith. Faith is a part of this new creature. The new creation is an evangelical impression, and therefore corresponds in its intention with the gospel. This is the instrument whereby the creature was wrought; and this was appointed and published for the glory of God, "Glory to God in the highest."

It ia necessary by God's appointment, for all the degrees of the new birth, and all the appendages to it. When God shows his own glory for a farther change, he represents the species of it in the glass of the Gospel; "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory." 2 Cor. iii. 18. It is the ministration of the Spirit in all the acts of the Spirit. If the Spirit quicken, it is by some gospel precept; if it comforts, it is by some gospel promise; if it startles, it is by some threatening in the word: whatsoever working there is in the Christian's heart, it is by some word or other dropping upon it. If any temptation which assaults us be baffled, it is by the word which is the sword of the Spirit. The life of the Christian is made up of increasing lights, refreshing comforts, choicer inclinations of the heart towards God; by the same law whereby the soul is converted, the heart is rejoiced, and the eyes are farther enlightened.

As God will have the mediation of his Son honoured in the whole progress and perfection of grace as the meritorious cause, the efficacy of the Spirit as the efficient cause, so he will have the word in every step to heaven honoured as the instrumental cause; that as Jesus Christ is all in all, as the chief, so the word may be all in all as the means. As God created the world by the word of his power, and by the word of his providence bid the creatures increase and multiply, so by the word of the gospel he lays the foundation and rears the building of his spiritual house.

Let the word be whispered by the Spirit in the ear of a rebel sinner, and the curtains which obscured his sin from his eye, drawn open, that he may see what a nest of devils he has, what astonishment will it raise in him! how will he stand amazed at his folly! how will he loathe that self, which he before so vehemently loved?

When the word like fire, and the heart like tinder come close together, the heart catches the spark and burns.

The word seems to have an active force upon the will, though the manner of it be very hard to conceive. It is operative in the hand of God for sanctification; the petition of our Saviour, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," John xvii. 17, seems to intimate more than a bare objective relation to this work; it both shows us our spots and cleanses them. It is a seed; seed, though small, is active; no part of the plant retains a greater efficacy, all the glory and strength of the plant in its bud, blossoms, and fruit are hidden in it; the word is this seed, which being settled in the heart, by the power of the Spirit, brings forth this new creature. It is a glass that not only represents the image of God, but by the Spirit changes us into it, 2 Cor. iii. IS. A sword that pierceth the heart, Heb. iv. 12; yea, sharper than a two- edged sword, dividing asunder the soul and spirit ; it is a fire to burn. The Spirit does so edge the word, that it cuts to the quick, discerns the very thoughts, insinuates into the depths of the heart, and rakes up the small sands from the bottom, as a fierce wind does from, the bowels of the sea. It is God's ordinance to batter down strong holds; though it be not a natural instrument to work necessarily, yet .lt is likened to natural instruments, which are active under the efficiency of the agent which manages them; and this, also, in the hand of the Spirit, works mighty effects. So that the word is mighty in operation as well as clear in representation; for an activity seems to be ascribed to it by the scripture metaphors. The chief activity of it is seen in the likeness which it produces in the soul to itself. Seeds have an efficacious virtue to produce plants of the same kind with that whose seeds they are, so that the word produces qualities in the heart like itself. The law in the heart, is the law in the word transcribed in the soul; a graft which changes a crabbed stock into a sweet tree, Jas. i. 1,2; like a seal, it leaves a likeness and impression of itself; it works a likeness to God as he is revealed in the gospel; for we are changed into the same image;—what image? The same image which we behold in that glass, 2 Cor. iii. 18, not his essential image, but the image of his glory, represented in the gospel for our imitation. The word is the glory of God in a glass, and imprints the image of the glory of God in the heart. It is a softening word, and produces a mollified heart; an enlightening word, and causes an enlightened soul; a divine word, and engenders a divine nature: it is a spiritual word and produces a spiritual frame; as it is God's will, it subdues our will; it is a sanctifying truth, and so makes a sink of sin to become the habitation of Christ To conclude, this is certain, the promise in the word breeds principles in the heart suitable to itself; it shows God a father, and raises up principles of love and reverence; it shows Christ a mediator, and raises up principles of faith and desire. Christ in the word, conceives Christ in the heart; Christ in the word, the beginning of grace, conceives Christ in the soul, the hope of glory.—Charnock on the Instrument of Regeneration.

Now, the Spirit of God hath a sovereignty over three things in order to the conversion of sinners:

1. Over the word which works.
2. Over the soul wrought upon.
3. Over the time and season of working.— Flavel, Vol. 2. p. 297—299.

See here

Apr 23, 2009

Campbell on Fuller III


"MR. FULLER, in his Strictures on Sandemanianism, New York edition, page 7, makes the following remarks:--

"It is not my design to censure Sandemanianism in the gross. There are many things in the system which, in my judgment, are worthy of serious attention. If Mr. Sandeman, and his followers, had only taught that faith has revealed truth for its object, or that which is true antecedent to its being believed, and whether it be believed or not--that the finished work of Christ, exclusive of every act, exercise, or thought of the human mind, is that for the sake of which a sinner is justified before God--that no qualifications of any kind are necessary to warrant our believing in him--and that the first scriptural consolation received by the believer arises from the gospel and not from reflecting on the feelings of his own mind towards it, they would have deserved well of the church of Christ."

"Fuller and Sandeman agree too well in metaphysical regeneration, or a regeneration without any thought, volition, or act of mind or body...But to return to metaphysical regeneration. With Mr. Fuller there is a twofold regeneration--a "strict" and a "general". "Like every other term," says he, in the appendix, page 210, "it [482] (regeneration) is sometimes used in a more strict and sometimes in a more general sense." We have before shown the term is used but twice in all the Jewish and Christian scriptures."

"In his Strictures on Sandemanianism, written some years afterwards, he says, page 135:--"Though in a general sense it be true that we are regenerated by believing the gospel, yet in a more particular sense it is equally true that we are regenerated in order to it." Mr. Fuller has a general regeneration to offer to his opponents when he is pressed by their arguments, and a particular regeneration for himself.

This particular or strict regeneration, he defines to be "a real physical work, whereby the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life to the souls of all who are truly regenerated," p. 132. He adds, "When God created the soul of man originally in righteousness and true holiness, I suppose it must be allowed to have been a physical work. Man certainly was not induced by motives to be righteous any more than to be rational." The doctrine, then, is, God made man righteous as he made him rational without any moral means, and now he makes, or creates, him anew, or regenerates him without any means, other than he employed in making man rational, or in creating man at first. This philosophy is most unphilosophic, and what is incomparably worse, it makes the Word of God of non-effect. Mechanical power is employed upon what already exists; but physical power, when referred to God, denotes such energy as was displayed in originating the heavens and the earth, or such power as was displayed in causing an ear to grow on Malchus, an arm or limb upon a maimed person, or the infusion of life into Lazarus, Dorcas, and the son of the widow of Nain.

To talk of a physical work upon the soul is, in my humble opinion, preposterous in the extreme. Not a Doctor in christendom can define it: no, not one. To argue about an indefinable nonentity is not more ridiculous than to hear scribes and elders talk about a physical operation upon a spirit, or upon the soul of man. Such a thing is inconceivable to any mind unsophisticated by mysticism. The spirit of man ought to have been shown to be susceptible of such a power. Why did all the doctors of physical regeneration of spirits, all the living and all the dead, take for granted, that the spirit, or soul of man, is, or can be, a subject of physical influence or power? They seem, one and all, to have taken this for granted; and so all their reasonings are based upon a mere assumption. We may be the first who have called this assumption in question; but whether or not, we affirm it to be an untenable, because an irrational and unscriptural assumption. No man can demonstrate from any principle, natural or moral, that the soul of man can be the subject of any operation, or power, that is either physical or mechanical. Let some of the Fullerites attempt this; for if this cannot be sustained, their system vanishes into smoke. Whenever they prove that any power other than moral, or any power purely physical, can operate upon [483]
the soul of man; in one word, that it can be the subject of physical operations, then I will prove that spirits may be pierced with a dagger, or beheaded with a sword.

But the assumption is absurd on other grounds. Physical power could not renew, or regenerate, man, because his fall was not effected by physical power. If the soul of man had been physically destroyed, it might be more plausible (but even then only plausible) to talk of its being physically restored. If the Devil had overcome and ruined Eve and Adam by physical power, then it would have been necessary for man to be physically cured, or restored by physical power. But Satan did not operate physically upon the soul or body of Eve, and consequently physical power is not now called for. He operated by motives, arguments, or what is called moral means. By these means the happy pair were dethroned.

We shall suppose a case and submit it to the Fullerites. Suppose, then, Satan, who was stronger than Eve, had physically, or by power, taken hold of her arm, opened her fingers, and made them close on the fruit of the forbidden tree, and then, by his strength, made her hand pull it off, and put it into her mouth, would she have fallen by such an act? They answer, No. I am bold to affirm that they will say, that man could not have fallen by any physical operation. If, then, man could not fall by physical operations, how can he be restored by them? It is, in my judgment, as impossible to restore, or renew, man by physical operations, as it was for him to fall by such means. As he could not fall by physical operations, it is absurd, then, to argue that he can be renewed by them. Wise, and learned, and good as Andrew Fuller may have been, and as his American and English disciples now are, we cannot refrain from affirming that, to our apprehension, they appear to assume, as a fundamental principle, a position at war with reason, experience, and revelation. I trust that if any of his disciples in this country think the system defensible, they will attend to, and attempt to solve on some principle, the case which we have here submitted.

The power which Satan employed was his word. All his energy was put forth in his word. He was a better philosopher than any of our opponents; for he knew too well that a spirit could not he operated upon physically, and, therefore, he could not even imagine such a thing as the fall of man by physical operations.

Satan has an honor bestowed upon him by the mystic spiritualizers to which he is not entitled. They represent him as wiser and more puissant than the Almighty. They say he could subvert and ruin the race of men by his word without any physical operation on the body or soul of man; but God cannot restore, or save man by his word without the use of other weapons than Satan employed against him. Satan's bow and arrow, his sling and stone, say they, call for the artillery, all the munitions of Heaven, physical and moral.

Prove, then, Fullerites, that Satan used other means than his word to ruin man, before you say and teach that God's word is not able to restore him!! Prove that the soul of man is, or can be, the subject [484]
of physical operation before you preach physical regeneration. Prove that physical power can restore one morally depraved, or that sin can be cured by strength, or the conscience by force before you proclaim the impotency of God's word, or the necessity of almighty strength to now create, or repair, the soul of man.

Until these remain, of the dark and barbarous night of Mystery Babylon, are scattered to the four winds of heaven, until these fragments of the Platonic science, falsely so called, and the Aristotelean categories are banished from christian assemblies, the oracles of the living God will be despised, and men will grope in darkness, live and die in doubt, and in despair, as they have so often and so long done under the doctrine of physical and metaphysical regeneration.

Incur what censure we may, our veneration for the great Teacher sent from God, and our benevolence for our deluded contemporaries, command us to expose the sophisms of the schools, and to proclaim an interminable war against mystic doctors, mystic systems, and mystic religionists, however consecrated in the affections of a population whose reason has been perverted, whose minds have been confused, and whose consciences have been polluted with the mysteries and idolatries of an apostate church.

We have traced these errors to their sources. And, if the Lord permit, we will assist others in tracing them through all their meanderings up to the fountain. We have now glanced at only one of the assumptions in the propositions in which it was found. Concerning the implantation of "spiritual life," we shall offer some remarks in our next.

EDITOR. (Nov. 1830)


"IT will be remembered that Mr. Andrew Fuller defines his strict regeneration to be "a real physical work, whereby the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life to the souls of all who are truly regenerated." It were well for mankind that the terms were well defined which writers use in all these great controversies, on the one side of which all is life; and on the other side of which all is death. To make men damnably erroneous for a tenet, contradictory to "essential points," it is surely necessary and all-important that these essential points should be plainly expressed, in a style familiar and perspicuous to all. In this definition of "strict regeneration" there is great obscurity resting upon the subject for the want of a definition of the terms. It is a philosophical definition and couched in terms excogitated by speculative reasoners; very unlike the terms which the Holy Spirit employs to communicate his mind to men upon the gospel.

A "physical work" few understand; and "spiritual life" is a phrase not understood by a tithe of those who use it. Ask a majority of our proclaimers and teachers what they mean by either, or both of these expressions, and how embarrassed will they be to give an intelligible definition. Mr. Fuller gives a hint or two indicative of his meaning of "physical power." He means a power in which there is nothing moral; that is, in which there are no motives presented. As for example, no motives were presented to man in order to make him rational: he was made rational without argument, or persuasion; just as he was made with two eyes or two feet. The power that made man rational was the same which made a fish swim, a bird fly, or a stone quiescent; and was put forth in the same manner. No moral power, or power influencing by motive, was displayed in giving either fins and scales, or their use, to fishes; or wings and their use to birds. Fire acts physically upon metals; and a hammer in the hand of the smith who uses it, works physically upon the iron. But he that overcomes by persuasion, argument, or motive, works morally, as philosophers would call it; and such power as operates upon the understanding,
will, or affections of men to induce to voluntary action, is called moral power.

It appears to be more consonant with the christian philosopher, Paul the Apostle, to affirm that the quickening act, or that which imparts spiritual life is the act of remission. This he positively affirms. "You," says he to the Colossians, chapter ii. 13, "who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he made alive, having forgiven you all trespasses." Sin cut man off from the spiritual system. Our iniquities have separated between us and our God. They have gone up over our heads as a cloud; yea, as a thick cloud, and we see not the light of his animating countenance. "Dead in trespasses and sins" is the death of which the Apostle has spoken. Absolve or remove these trespasses and sins, and we can approach God with confidence, and can have communion and fellowship with him. Without this there can be no friendly connexion; so no life. But so soon as we are buried and raised with Jesus, we begin to enjoy this new life; "we are made alive together with him;" and as those alive from the dead, we now walk in a new life--have our fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Whatever that act be which engrafts us into Christ, that is the act by which the life that is in him is communicated to us. If that act be a physical operation upon the mind, then is spiritual life imparted by such an act; but if, as Paul teaches, we are "planted together with him," or "put him on;" by being through faith "immersed into his death," then we are born of God only when "born of water and [539]
the Spirit," and made alive from the dead, when raised with him to a new life. "If, then, you be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God; for you are dead (wherein you were once alive) and your life is hid with Christ by God." EDITOR. Dec. 1830


"TO-DAY I beguiled the tediousness of the road from Zanesville to New Lancaster, Ohio, by reading Fuller's Strictures on Sandemanianism a second time. I was not a little entertained with many things in this work; and I might add, amused, if one might be amused with a zealous controversy about regeneration between three Doctors, who seemed to agree to differ with one another in a matter in which they are so well agreed that their greatest embarrassment is to explain the difference in their respective systems, or to show that there is a very important difference between them, yet so subtle and minute as to require the greatest labor in words to make it intelligible. Messrs. Archibald M'Clean, Ecking, Sandeman, and Fuller, are continually figuring in these pages. One while almost agreed in all the cardinal points of faith, repentance, justification, and regeneration, and ever and anon so opposite to one another, that Jews and Samaritans are quite as sociable as they.

Mr. Fuller introduces them into his pages as so many characters in a drama--only with so much ambiguity that the reader cannot conclude till he comes to the last page whether it is to be a comedy or a tragedy; and even then, without taxing his memory, it is not easy to decide whether the whole performance ought to be dedicated to the comic or the tragic muse. Suffice it to say, that the most knotty point in the volume is to decide whether the physical influence consists in removing blindness or hatred, ignorance or enmity, previous to the impartation of spiritual life. Messrs. M'Clean and Ecking appear to agree that the removal of ignorance, as the cause of unbelief and unregeneracy, or "spiritual illumination," is essentially previous to faith. Mr. Fuller will have something more necessary as a previous principle; and between him, Sandeman. M'Clean, Ecking, and Co. the controversy is not about the necessity, but the nature of this previous change of mind. A spiritual principle of life, or a spiritual principle of light, superadded to the preached gospel, must, on either hypothesis, be infused or communicated as prerequisite to faith. With Messrs. M'Clean and Sandeman this previous principle of illumination is "the truth passively received." Mr. M'C. says, as quoted by Mr. Fuller, page 126, "It is not pleaded that any truth or sentiment is communicated to the mind by the Spirit, besides what is already revealed in the word, and the illumination of the Spirit is to MAKE MEN PERCEIVE AND UNDERSTAND THAT REVELATION WHICH IS ALREADY GIVEN, IN ITS TRUE LIGHT." Mr. Fuller contends for a QUICKENING INFLUENCE which he cannot explain; but such an impartation of life as that communicated to Tabitha by the immediate power of God, which at once makes the mind spiritual, destroys the enmity, and new-creates the soul previous to believing, and in order to believing the gospel. "That for which I contend," says he, page 120, "is, that there is a change effected in the soul of a sinner, called in scripture, giving him eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to [568] understand--a new heart and a right spirit--a new creation, &c. &c.--that this change is antecedent to his actively believing in Christ for salvation; and that it is not effected by motives addressed to the mind in a way of moral suasion, but by the mighty power of God." In page 133 he represents Mr. M'Clean, his opponent, as essentially agreeing with him, and more fully explains this work of the Spirit upon the regenerated in the words following:--"He (Mr. M'C.) holds with the necessity of a divine supernatural influence being superadded to the word, by which the mind is illuminated and rendered spiritual. But if divine influence consist in any thing distinct from the influence of the word, it must be supernatural and physical. The party is also equally unconscious of it on his principles as on mine: he is conscious of nothing but its effects. He finds himself the subject of new views and sensations; but as to knowing whence they came, it is likely he thinks nothing of it at the time, and is ready to imagine that any person, if he would but look into the Bible, must see what he sees so plainly taught in it. He may be conscious of ideas suggested to him by the word, and of their effect upon his mind; but as to any divine influence accompanying them, he knows nothing of it."

He also introduces President Edwards as teaching that a "NEW SPIRITUAL SENSE" is communicated in regeneration, and defining spiritual understanding in the following words, p. 111: "It consists in a sense of the heart of the supreme beauty and sweetness of the holiness, or moral perfection of divine things, together with all that discerning and knowledge of things of religion, that depend upon and flow from such a sense." "Spiritual understanding consists primarily in a sense of heart of that spiritual beauty--I say, a sense of heart; for it is not speculation merely that is concerned in this kind of understanding."

These extracts fully show Mr. Fuller's views of the physical work upon the heart is order to faith; and prove that, in his view, a person is regenerated or born again of that which he receives; than which we cannot conceive a greater outrage upon the use of words, figures, and analogues. The pangs of the new birth, as explained, are transferred to the child. In nature the mother travails; but in grace these Doctors make the child travail in birth! Paul once said that he travailed in birth in bringing forth his spiritual children; and that though the Corinthians had ten thousand instructers, they had not many fathers; for he was their only father, having begotten them by the gospel. But Paul had respect to the propriety of the analogy and language, and not to the marrow of modern divinity. The regenerated unbeliever, or he that, is born again in order to faith, receives the sixth sense, or a sense in the heart, by which he perceives the truth before he believes it.

All these Doctors agree that man is naturally dead; but the nature; of this death, or rather the cause of it, is not so unanimously agreed upon. A death in trespasses and sins it is said to be; but whether ignorance, carnality, or hatred, as such, is the cause of their spiritual death, is with them an important question: for with them the removal of the cause is the removal of the effect. Removing the ignorance [569] by supernatural and physical illumination with one; slaying the enmity, or destroying the carnality by the infusion of spiritual life, with another, is the necessary work of regeneration in order to faith. According to the Scriptures, which theorize not upon this subject, some persons are said to be dead in trespasses and sins. To this apply their favorite maxim, "Remove the cause and you remove the effect," and then we approach the Scripture doctrine, as stated in my last essay on this subject. "You who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive, having forgiven you all trespasses." Remove the sins and the death in trespasses and sins, as an effect is removed."

"Mr. Fuller labors to prove that faith is "a spiritual act" and a "holy act," in order to prove that a man must he spiritual and holy before he can perform such an act. "Believing is a holy exercise of the mind." p 52. To say, with Mr. Sandeman, that "the holiness of faith is in the truth," Mr. F. repudiates; "because it places the nature of a thing in its cause, and in the object on which it terminates." p. 53. Yet in page 39, he affirms, that "to say that faith includes no holiness, and yet produces it as the seed does the plant, is to contradict the established laws of nature, according to which every seed produces its own body. If holiness, therefore, were not included in faith, it would not grow out of it." Now what is this but affirming that the nature of a thing is in its cause, and in the object on which it terminates? If Celadon love Amelia as his mistress, is not his affection of the same nature with its cause and the object on which it terminates? But this only by the way.

The holiness of faith and its spirituality, as taught by Mr. Fuller, arises from its being "the act of a holy person--of one born of the Spirit." If this were worth a controverting, we might show it to be a gratuitous assertion. Are all the acts of the Spirit of God spiritual in Mr. Fuller's sense of the word? If so, matter is spiritual; for the Spirit of God is said to have operated upon it. Are all God's acts holy in his sense of the term? Then was the creating of the fowls, and the fishes, and the reptiles, holy acts. This will convert wisdom, power, and goodness, every attribute and work of God, into one called holiness?

Holiness is a term which appears to he little understood by some of our most erudite teachers. The term holy is used, as it etymologically imports, to denote separation from that which is common or unclean. God's presence on Horeb made the mount holy for the time being; and every knife, fork, and spoon belonging to the service of the tabernacle, because separated and not for common use, was holy. As disciples are separated to the Lord, they are saints or holy persons. But only as separated, are they said to be sanctified or holy: for this [570]
the term imports. Holy acts are the acts of persons sanctified or separated to God. To call a person holy, or any of his acts or feelings holy, before he is sanctified through faith and immersion, is as much at war with reason and the meaning of language, as with the plainest affirmations of the Apostles.

But in all the refinements of these religious metaphysicians, one thing seems to have escaped their notice, that there is as great an incongruity in representing their natural mind, or "natural man," as being a fit subject of this physical, regenerating, sanctifying energy, as there is, according to their own reasoning and showing, in an unregenerated person believing; or being fitted, without such supernatural aid, to receive the testimony of God. IS NOT GOD'S WORD AS HOLY AS GOD'S POWER, AND GOD'S POWER, ON THEIR REASONING, AS HOLY AS GOD'S WORD?"

"But the doctrine of Mr. Fuller is, that independent of the word believed, without the word, and in order to enabling a person to believe it, the Spirit of God does impart something he is pleased to call spiritual life, by a physical operation, as he made man rational, at first; and until this work is completed, and to effect which, neither argument, nor motive, wish, nor prayer, nor any agency in the power of man, can avail any thing; man is as dead as Lazarus in the grave, as to all power to help himself, to believe, repent, or obey the gospel; and that God withholds this power from some, and imparts it to others according to no other rule or principle than his own secret purpose. This is a capital item in Mr. Fuller's gospel, who yet disguises it all in a parade about the universality of the atonement, while it is as special in its application as this secret decree, physically and supernaturally to impart spiritual life to A, B, and C, which he calls regeneration in order to faith "strict and literal, and evangelical regeneration," from which D, E, and F are excepted, for no other reason than this same special and secret decree!!!! I hope I shall be excused from a farther exposition of this popular doctrine of metaphysical regeneration and its tendencies.

EDITOR. Oct. 1830

See here

Apr 22, 2009

Pre-Faith Regeneration Refuted

The following are some insightful citations from "THE EVANGELICAL REPOSITORY" from JUNE, 1863, by a writer for the periodical, and is worth posting here in the Gadfly. For those who promote the view that regeneration precedes faith these citations are your invitation to come forward and challenge the scripturalness of what is stated in them.

The front page of the periodical reads as follows:

Principles of the Reformation,
as set forth in the


"Our Calvinistic opponents hold that the exertion of direct power is that which is distinctive in the Spirit's saving work; and that the influence through the truth is subsequent and secondary; while we hold that the exertion of power through means of the truth is that which is distinctive of his saving work; and that, so far as a direct influence, apart from the truth, is exerted, it is only secondary or auxiliary, and is therefore always kept subordinate to the legitimate influence of truth on man's moral nature. Since this is the distinctive point between us and them, it is fortunate that it is one in itself of considerable simplicity; and one, moreover, on which we may expect a definite decision from consciousness and scripture. If we ask consciousness, it ought to be able to tell us, whether a man ceases to be the enemy, and becomes the friend of God, or changes from being a hater to being an admirer of Divine things, suddenly without any truth presented, or any exercise of his mind; or whether such a change be traceable proximately to certain truths presented, which, through the mind's, attention and consideration, produced the new convictions, feelings, and disposition! If a man were to rise from his bed entirely changed from what he was the night before, and could give no account of it, as it had taken place without a moment's thought, or truth considered, or addition to his knowledge, that would be a circumstance sufficiently remarkable to ensure its remembrance. But if a man can give an account of the process of his change of views and feelings towards God and divine things by referring to certain truths brought before his mind, which wrought in him new convictions, new feelings, and new aims in life, it is evident that the entire change has truth as its proximate cause, and of this cause alone can consciousness testify, of the efficient cause operating through the proximate one, consciousness cannot take cognizance. If consciousness testify of the saving change without the truth, the verdict is for our opponents, but if it testify that truth is always found as the proximate cause of the change, then for us is the decision. So also Scripture, as the record of God's wondrous works and the infallible expositors of human experience as seen by God, will be able to give a clear answer to our question, are the saving influences of the Holy Spirit in their distinctive nature Direct or Mediate? "Mediate" is the answer which, in our opinion, both Scripture and consciousness furnish. To shew this will be the aim of the following remarks."

"II.—That truth is the means or instrument by which the Spirit regenerates and sanctifies the soul. Hitherto our attention has been directed to the simple fact that there is an operation of the Spirit in the soul. But whether this work is direct or through means, remains for consideration. It may give interest to the following observations to quote a few sentences from two modern authors, who certainly do not belong to the ultra-Calvinistic school. Dr. W. H. Stowell, in his volume on "The Work of the Spirit," says:—"The notion that through these means, as channels and instruments, the Holy Ghost works invisibly within men—against that notion, by whatever words conveyed, we must gravely and conscientiously protest. Who that ponders the meaning of words can believe that either prayer or preaching is the means through which the actual gift of salvation is conveyed? Neither can it be any disparagement of the preaching of the gospel to regard it as being, what it really is, the truth of God addressed to man, but not the vehicle of the Spirit, by which man is prepared to receive the message with the faith, whereby we are saved" (pp. 166 and 167, 2d ed.) In his preface to his work on Original Sin, Dr. Payne says:—"With the most poignant feelings of regret he finds that, in some quarters, the influence of the Holy Spirit in conversion is identified with that of the truth to enlighten and persuade men, thus leaving the all-important question, * * * how a depraved mind comes to understand and believe the gospel, utterly unexplained, and even untouched." Without criticising the contents of these quotations, or questioning the accuracy of the words employed, they convey the definite idea that the essential, the distinctive thing in the Spirit's work, is a direct influence, and that the idea of the influence which regenerates and sanctifies being through means, is one which causes "poignant regret," and against whch there is a "grave and conscientious protest." Since we affirm that the influences of the Spirit in their distinctive nature are mediate, and since those call both a "regret" and a "protest" from two such men against our affirmation, it becomes us to examine it with considerable minuteness."

"1. That the Spirit operates upon the soul through means, and not directly, is rendered probable by the analogies of the divine procedure in general. It may, we think, be received as a sound general principle, that God never introduces the miraculous or creative when the natural or instrumental is competent to accomplish his designs. It is only when there is nothing in the established system of things adapted to his purpose that the creative, immediate, or direct energy of God is put forth. An exception to this rule must be well attested before it can be accounted worthy of credence. It will not suffice to say that the radical change in the sinner's heart is by Scripture ascribed to God, and, therefore, God did it creatively without the intervention of means ; because the buds and blossoms of spring, the luxuriance of summer, and the mature fruits of autumn are no less his workmanship, though they be produced through certain means, and not, like the wine at Cana and the loaves on the mountain side, by direct omnipotence. Both in the natural and the miraculous there is divine power as the efficient cause; but in the former, divine omnipotence works under certain conditions, and in accordance with the established nature of things; while in the latter, its work is unconditioned, absolute, creative. We believe that divine power is as really put forth to sustain the body in life as it was to call Lazarus from the dead, yet we call the one natural and the other miraculous, because the former is conditioned by certain means, the latter is absolute; while concerning each we say, "This is the doing of the Lord." Now that the saving change is originated and brought to its consummation—that the spring-time of germs, bud, and blossom of the soul's regeneration, the growing summer of its sanctification, and the abundant harvest of its perfection in glory, are indisputably ascribed to the Holy Spirit, as little involves a direct, unconditioned, divine power, as the fruitfulness of nature. If such a power is put forth in producing the phenomena called conversion and sanctification, it is a departure from the ordinary rule of power exerted through means, it ceases to be natural, and must be miraculous, and consequently requires the most clear and positive proof in order to be credited. Apart from such unassailable evidence in support of the direct theory, we would, from the all-pervading use of means seen in everything with which we are familiar, conclude that the operations of the Spirit will be found to be a new though wonderful application of the principle: Ends attained through a system of means. It is of no use in this matter to point to certain passages, and say "There the saving change is ascribed to the Spirit, and therefore he has done it by direct power;" because it can at once be rejoined, "Certain passages ascribe the production of food to God's power, and therefore, on the same principle, he does it by direct power, as in the case of the manna." This style of reasoning proves too much, for it sets God aside from everything, and gives him praise for nothing but the creative and miraculous, than which nothing can be more absurd.

2. The presumption in favour of the Spirit's work being mediate, and not direct, is confirmed by the thing done in the soul. We have already shown that the change, in its origin and subsequent development, is moral in its nature. From all that is known of mind, we submit whether it be possible to conceive of a moral change without the presentation and apprehension of truth as the instrumental or proximate cause? Take any of the mental or moral changes which occur every day in common experience; each man is able to refer to the cause of his change of mind in some truth or fact. If we found a man yesterday full of hatred against some one, and today we find him overflowing with gratitude, love, and admiration, we would at once conclude that he had good reasons for the change. Our consternation would be considerable, did he tell us that he had no reason in the world for ceasing to hate, and beginning to love and admire; that the change came over him like magic; and that now he could not but love him, who, for anything he knew, was his malignant foe. Alas! for such a man, with such a doleful experience; reason reels on her throne—he is insane. Why think of such an experience as indicating an unsound mind? Because it is impossible to conceive a rational mind undergoing such a change without truth as the proximate cause. Again, if we found a man holding the most preposterous ideas on some branch of science, we would solicit his attention to some textbook, that the truths there expounded might extirpate this error from his mind. Why should we do this, and not tell him to change his mind on that subject there and then by a direct effort of will? Just because we cannot conceive of such a mental change without truth as the instrument. If this man should tell us that he had abandoned his ideas on the given subject, and yet could give no reason for the change—that he had neither found them false nor others true—but that he had just, by the pure power of his will, disbelived them, we should regard the man as making sport. His experience as stated is inconceivable, without mental aberration. Dr. Anderson, in his work on "Regeneration," has the following remark:—"There is no arrangement in our mental economy more obvious than that our affections are regulated and controlled by our judgments, and that, if we desire to change men's feelings, we must labour to change their opinions. Notwithstanding its plainness, however, so strong is its bearing on the doctrine of Regeneration, and so ready are some to contradict all their formerly professed philosophy when brought into contact with this subject, that I judge it proper to amplify the illustration, though at the risk of its being regarded superfluous." (P. 75.) The "illustration" is loo long to quote; but its design is to show that the changes of thought and feeling in the mind are produced through means of truth. Now, such a change as the new birth transpiring in the mind must be a matter of consciousness, and surely it will be able to tell whether it was done by a direct power, or through means of certain truths. We appeal to all who nave been the subjects of the new birth, if it was not preceded by truth, and if it was not that truth which revolutionised their moral state. With confidence we anticipate an answer in the affirmative. Moreover, who would regard that man as born again who could not give any reason for his change, except "It was the Spirit's work, and he did it as he listeth"? Why would suspicion rest upon such a man's conversion? Because truth known is the means by which every moral change is produced. Left to the evidence of consciousness alone, every regenerated person would say, "I felt the truth change me;" because the mind can be conscious only of that which comes next it, and can testify only of the proximate cause which, in conversion and sauctification, it finds to be "the word of truth." So then, even granting, for the sake of argument, that, by a direct operation on the soul, the Spirit produces a change, that change, as the product of mere power, must be in the essence and constitution, and not one in the moral condition of the soul; for, whatever the mind is in its powers naturally, or may be conceived to be by the direct power of the Spirit altering its substance and essential attributes, it is, in its present or possible existence and nature, under the physical department of the universe, in common with trees, rocks, and stars. In that case, there is in the soul's change as little of the moral as there was in converting water into wine at Cana. The supposed direct operation of the Spirit must, from the very nature of the case, stop short of a moral change. In order to this, just because mind is mind, there must be the presentation of truth to awaken into exercise -those primitive or supplemented powers, and then we can conceive of a moral condition of mind being evolved. It therefore follows that, if the Spirit exert a direct energy upon the soul, it must be subordinate, and only accessory to the influence which he exerts through the truth; and, consequently, that that which is distinctive of his work is its being mediate, through "the word of the Lord, which liveth and abideth for ever."

3. That the truth of God is the means by which the Spirit produces, and consummates the great moral change in the soul, is still further evidenced by the vast importance which is attached to the Scriptures and to the preaching of the Gospel. The statements of the Bible itself concerning its incomparable value are practically endorsed by the entire Church of Christ, so that it is a foregone conclusion, that divine truth is indispensable to the conviction, conversion, and sanctification of the soul. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul," is the immutable basis on which the Church rests as an organisation, the design of which is to "hold forth the word of life, and to shine as a light in a dark place." If the truth were not necessary in effecting the moral change of regeneration, the Sabbath and its privileges would be delusive, leading man to expect that its services and ordinances were means through which the Spirit works. The gospel ministry seeking by arguments to convince, and by entreaties, grounded on all that is solemn and lovely, sublime and terrible, to persuade men to be converted, and to walk in the paths of holiness, would be ridiculous, seeing these arguments and persuasions had nothing to do with the change in question. Sabbath-school teachers would be engaged in a bootless work, receiving for their patience and labour the confounding reward..."

"The direct theory thus stultifies those labours of the Church which have been not only its solemn duty, but its greatest ornament, and makes them meaningless and absurd. We are no advocates of priestly functions, sacramental efficacy, or of rites and ordinances possessing inherent power to save souls. With the "opus operatum " of Rome we have no sympathy in any shape or dilution; but if the Sabbath and its privileges, the Church and its ordinances, and, above all, the preaching of the Word of Truth, be not the means by which the Spirit regenerates the soul —if these, as means or instruments by which the Spirit converts, justly cause "poignant regret," and against which there is justly made "a grave and conscientious protest," then the whole is a sand hill of practical error, and the sooner some whirlwind scatters it the better for man, and the more honouring to the Spirit. According to the direct theory, the preaching of the truth, &c., may serve certain important purposes, but is not in the slightest degree useful in the soul's regeneration; "that is the Spirit's own work, and he does it as he listeth." The fact, however, is that the Spirit, in establishing the great system which he in his infinite wisdom designs to carry out, has made the preaching of the truth and the living up to the truth the imperative duty of the Church, and the only way by which it can give glory to the Spirit, and impart imperishable benefits to the unsaved world. All this rests upon the idea that the truth as it is in Jesus is the means or instrument by which the Holy Spirit effects that moral change which buds and blossoms upon the earth, and bears the perfect fruits of holiness in heaven.

4. That truth is the instrument by which the Spirit works is confirmed by the fact, that the soul is regenerated and sanctified through faith. We find that the soul in its change, at the commencement and in all the subsequent stages, is a believing soul; it has faith in God, in Christ, and in all the promises. Hence the broad distinction between believers and unbelievers—"He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned." This fundamental truth is asserted in various forms : —"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved;" "By grace are ye saved through faith ! " "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God;" "Purifying their hearts by faith;" "Them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." According to these passages, the great change from sin to holiness, from eternal death to eternal life, so far as man is concerned, turns on the question, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God ?" Where faith is, there we find a saved soul. "Certainly," says some one, "but the question to be solved is, How does a depraved man come to possess this faith ?" Granting to the Westminster Divines, as we cheerfully do, that "the Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us;" and granting, moreover, that Paul says "it (faith) is the gift of God," will any man inform us how faith can be wrought in the soul, or given to it without a truth on which that faith rests? If there is meaning in words, or certainty in facts of conciousness, faith is a state of mind co-relative to trutha state of mind utterly impossible in the absence of an object accounted true; and, consequently, we cannot conceive of faith wrought in the soul by a direct energy, but must regard it as "wrought" or "given" mediately through truth. Hence, we argue that that which is distinctive of the Spirit's work in giving faith, is its being through means of a credible testimony...faith as an actual state of mind must have for its origin and continuance a truthful testimony. Since, then, justification, sanctification, and salvation are through faith, and since faith is impossible without the truth on which it rests, it follows that the distinctive nature of the Spirit's operation, in giving us faith or working faith in us, must be that it is mediate; and it also follows that, in so far as a direct energy is exerted, it must be subordinate and auxiliary to that which is through means of the "Word of Truth."

5. Finally, that the truth is the instrument by which the Spirit effects and consummates the saving change in the soul, is rendered absolutely certain from the express testimony of Scripture. The Bible is a consistent whole of truth; it will, therefore, be sufficient to quote a few passages :—John viii. 32, xv. 3, xvii. 3, 17 : "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Now ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken unto you. This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou nast sent. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." Acts xv. 8, 9: " Giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." Because the truth as it is in Jesus is the means of regenerating the soul, as a preacher of the Gospel, Paul uses these remarkable words:—1 Cor. iv. 15 : Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." Eph. v. 25, 26 : " Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." James i. 18 : " Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth." 1 Peter i. 22, 23 : " Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit; * * * Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever." These passages expressly assert that both regeneration and sanctification are produced through means of the truth of God. That class of passages which we formerly quoted ascribe the saving change of the soul to God; this class, which we have just presented, informs us by what means God produces and perfects that change. Putting the two classes together, we find their doctrine is, that God regenerates and sanctifies the soul through means of the Word Of Truth. Hence, it inevitably follows that the divine efficient influence in the saving change must, in its distinctive nature, be mediate and not direct."

"We have endeavoured to prove, from the nature of the change and from the testimony of Scripture, that the saving influences of the Spirit are given through the truth, but it is not incumbent upon us to explain how, in all respects, those mediate influences produce the results. In all our inquiries we reach certain things which are ultimate, and do not admit of analysis.

In opposition to the views which we have presented, that the soul is regenerated through the belief of the truth, the advocates of the direct theory maintain that a man is regenerated before he either knows or believes the Gospel. According to this theory, a man is "renewed," is a "new creature," is "born of the Spirit," in order that he may believe. We shall allow them to speak for themselves. Dr. Stowell says:—"Here, we must repeat, is a clear line of distinction between that system of truths, motives, and appeals, by which the Spirit addresses men in the Gospel, and that inward work by which he actually renews the spirit of man. The external system is one fact—the inward operation is another fact. In the one case the Spirit addresses all to whom the Gospel comes—in the other he regenerates those by whom, in consequence of that regeneration, the Gospel is received" (.p 140.) According to this, regeneration is first; and receiving the Gospel is second. "In consequence of this regeneration the Gospel is received" In speaking of the reason why a man accepts the blessings of the Gospel, he says:—"His state of mind, when he does accept them, is owing to that somer thing which grace has done. That something is what we mean by the quickening, the renewing, the regenerating of a man by the Holy Ghost" (p. 139.) Here again the quickening, renewing, and regeneration of the man precedes his acceptance of the blessings or the Gospel. Dr. Payne, in his preface to his work on Original Sin, says:—"The great question is, not how the truth operates when it is understood and believed, but how the carnal mind comes to understand and believe it. 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.' He resists the entrance of the truth; he hates the truth; and the more clearly its holy nature is discerned, the more powerfully is his hatred elicited." Hence, a "special influence or the Spirit" must be put forth to destroy this hatred to truth. Dwight says: —"It has been extensively supposed that the Spirit of Grace regenerates mankind by communicating to them new, clearer, and juster views of spiritual objects. * * * Yet it appears to me clear that the account I have now given of this subject is not scriptural nor just. Without a relish for spiritual objects, I cannot see that any discoveries concerning them, however clear and bright, can render them pleasing to the soul. If they are impleasing in their very nature, they cannot be made agreeable by having that nature unfolded more clearly. He that dislikes the taste of wine will not relish it the more, the more distinctly and perfectly he perceives that taste. Nor will any account of its agreeableness to others, however clearly given, and with whatever evidence supported, render the taste agreeable to him. To enable him to relish it, it seems indispensable that his own taste should be changed, and in this manner fitted to realise the pleasantness of the wine." In like manner the sinner dislikes spiritual objects, and the more clearly they are presented the more does he hate them. "It seems, therefore," he adds, " indispensable, that, in order to the usefulness of such superior light to the mind, its relish with respect to spiritual objects should first be changed. * * * This, I apprehend, is the true progress of this work in the human soul. A relish for all spiritual objects never before existing in him, is communicated to every man who is the subject of regeneration by the Spirit of God. Before this event he disrelished all such objects; now he relishes them all. Before he was an enemy of God; now he becomes a friend of God." (Ser. Ixxiv.) This new relish, disposition, or regeneration has for its first great result or effect "the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." (Ser. Ixxvi.) Hence the vital change— the new birth precedes faith in Christ.

On this theory of regeneration by the power of the Spirit, without the truth and in order to faith, we would briefly remark, First: according to Dwight's representation of this theory, the unregenerated have an aversion to spiritual things, unconquerable and uncontrollable, like the man's disrelish for wine; or like the man of whom we have heard, whose loathing at fish caused him, at the sight or smell of it, to become instantly sick. If, therefore, the unrenewed man has such an insurmountable abhorrence of the Gospel, there is certainly no hope of his accepting it till he get a new spiritual relish or taste. But if his soul reject the Gospel, as his palate nauseates at wormwood and gall, how can he be criminal for that strong hatred of spiritual objects'? The sinner's loathing of such objects, like the man's disrelish of wine or his horror ot fish, is an infirmity which excites pity, but forbids anything approaching to censure. Where does Scripture adduce a constitutional disrelish of spiritual objects as an apology for man's rejection of God and the Saviour?

Secondly: The preaching of the Gospel to the unregenerate is not only preposterous in itself, seeing it has no adaptation to overcome this "disrelish," but it is also positively cruel to the unrenewed themselves; because, while incapable of benefiting them, the Gospel rouses their disgust and kindles their hatred ; "the more clearly its holy nature is discerned, the more powerfully is their hatred elicited." This disrelish and hatred of the truth makes it impossible for the truth to do anything to the unrenewed soul except enrage it, "till its relish with respect to spiritual objects shall first be changed." Just think of the friends of the man who has the supposed disrelish for wine always setting it before him, always praising it, always pressing it upon his attention, always beseeching him to love and receive it; or think of the friends of that man who becomes sick at the sight or smell of fish setting it before him at every meal, placing it in every room, talking of it at every interval, and commending it to his acceptance. What would you think of persecuting men with such unconquerable dislikes in such a cruel manner? Yet that is just the position in which this theory places the preacher of the Gospel to the unregenerated. The unrenewed man has no relish for spiritual objects; "they cannot be made agreeable by having their nature more clearly unfolded;" yea, "the more clearly their holy nature is discerned, the more powerfully is his hatred elicited." Let all preachers, therefore, know that the more clearly they exhibit Christ, the more the unrenewed man hates the "holy child Jesus;" the more eloquent they become in the praises of Christ, the more fiercely his hatred burns; and the more earnest, and unceasing, and persuasive their appeals, his abhorrence is the more elicited. Surely, if this theory be true, it would be more humane not to annoy and torment the unregenerate with the Gospel, till a relish for all spiritual objects never before existing in them is comnmnicated. However, the great commission is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," and, assuredly, Jesus did not send his ambassadors clearly to exhibit the truth, only the more powerfully to elicit the unconverted soul's hatred against God and himself.

Thirdly: The theory of regeneration before faith in the Gospel is an inversion of the natural and well-known order of mental operations, in which a change of moral sentiments and dispositions is always preceded by a change of views and beliefs. In all other cases, if we wish to change a man's feelings and dispositions, we aim at changing his opinion, knowing that if we do not successfully storm the ramparts of his intellect we cannot take the citadel of his heart. The theory before us overturns all this. Dr. Stowell says :—"Neither do we expect any man to believe the Gospel—as we are persuaded he could if he would, and as we are sure he ought—till he is born of the Spirit;" and then, "in consequence of that regeneration, the Gospel is received." (Pp. 140, 267.) Here is a radical moral change—a man "born of the Spirit," "a new creature," having "right dispositions towards God," relishing all spiritual objects instead of disrelishing them—loving everything of a spiritual nature instead of loving nothing—a friend ot God instead of an enemy;—all Before the Gospel is received. Now, if it is a "great puzzle "how the carnal man comes to understand and believe the Gospel before he is regenerated, it is, to us at least, infinitely more puzzling to tell how a radical moral change of heart and dispositions takes place prior to the belief of the truth; to tell how a man can have a "holy relish," "a right disposition towards God," and a hatred to sin, while he entertains the same unbelief towards God, and the same opinion of sin as when his feelings and dispositions were the reverse. It contradicts all the known laws of the human mind, that the sinner, as this theory affirms, hates sin and turns from it, while his views of it are the same as when he loved it; that his heart relishes those spiritual objects which he formerly loathed, and cleaves to God as his friend, whom he formerly hated as his foe, while the cross of Christ, its attractions and sublime significance, are perhaps unknown, or at best a mere fiction unworthy of his confidence. Indeed, it is to us inconceivable that there should be an entire moral change of the feelings and dispositions in respect to spiritual objects without an antecedent belief, or reception of that Gospel truth which exes the evil of sin, manifests the glorious excellency of God, and plays the heart-subduing loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ, eourthly: This theory of regeneration, by a distinct, direct act of the Spirit before the Gospel is believed, is not only subversive of the known order of mental operations, but is also unsupported by Scripture. Against our previous remark, it is replied— "When the Spirit of God regenerates, the change produced goes deeper than consciousness; it is not vouchsafed according to moral laws which are known and appreciated; we cannot understand it, because it bears no analogy to anything with which we are familiar. The reason for believing it is God's own testimony." Well, we unhesitatingly assert that God's own testimony does not support the theory, even with a single passage. Where we ask, is evidence from Scripture to prove that being born of the Spirit precedes faith—that there is a moral change without a mental process? It avails nothing for the advocates of this theory to point to those passages which ascribe regeneration and sanctification to the Spirit, or which speak of God beginning a good work in the soul, quickening and working in the soul to will and do of his good pleasure, &c.; because the fact that the Spirit produces the change does not prove that he does it by a direct power, antecedently to the belief of the truth. From the passage, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man," we might as logically reason that the grass and herb are caused to grow without air or moisture, soil or sun, as reason that, since a man is regenerated by the Spirit, therefore the Spirit regenerates him without truth, faith, reflection, or consciousness of any mental process. It is a begging of the question to point to passages which ascribe regeneration to the Spirit, and then assert that he produces that change before faith by a direct power; for not one of them, either explicitly or implicitly, speaks of a direct energy renewing the heart before the Gospel is received. The moral phenomena of the soul are ascribed to the Spirit, on the same principle as physical results are referred to God; because, though he employs a system of means, the effects have their efficient causes in divine power.

Fifthly: This theory of regeneration before faith is not only unsupported, but expressly contradicted by Scripture. The theory says, "a man is brought into a new life without the truth;" but God says, "of his own will begat he us by the Word of truth." The theory affirms that the soul is born of the Spirit by a direct, distinct act; but the Bible says, "being born, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God." Can anything be more express? The sure testimony of the living God confirms the testimony of consciousness, that the Spirit introduces the soul into a new moral life, "by the Word of Truth— by the Word of God;" and that that life is nourished by the pure milk and the strong meat of the Word. This instrumentality of the Word, in both regeneration and sanctification, is recognised as a fundamental principle throughout Scripture; its denial assuredly makes the "living oracles" a "dead letter," and converts those divine words, which "are spirit and life," into verbal mummies. We heartily concur with the closing sentence of Dr. W. Anderson's remarks on this theory of regeneration before faith :—"Either, after all my reading and pondering, I mistake what the theory is; or it is worthy of being denounced as deeply mischievous, whether to the preacher or hearer of the Word whose mind is influenced by it."
(pg. 237-57)

See here