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regeneration, which is more strictly the province of the Philosophy of Christianity,


Of the Cause of Regeneration.

THE cause of regeneration was necessarily m some degree anticipated, by our consideration of its nature; but we now pursue the subject more particularly.

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If the question be asked, who regenerates? or who is the regenerator? The proper answer is, it is God who regenerates; God is the regenerator of a depraved sinner. This truth is fully affirmed in the sacred Scriptures. (John i. 12, 13.) Receivers of Christ" were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (James i 18.) Of his own will begat he us.” (1 John, v. 18.) "Whosoever is born of God is begotten of God." Right reasoning also teacheth as that regeneration, whether considered as a valuable operation, or a valuable influence, or a valuable change and evangelical improvement of the human mind, must be ascribed primarily to God, the great all-involving cause of finite excellence.

If it be asked, how God regenerates? I answer, regeneration is effected by second causes, in respect of which God is the first. I assume in this essay, that supernatural religion, so far as relates to its commencement in the soul of man, is ordinarily through the medium of second causes, extending

the term to include essential reasons of events founded on the chosen and voluntary relations of the properties of some things to the properties of other things, and their circumstances, by the Deity. All second causes I conceive to essentially involve a voluntary concurrence of God, but which concurrence does not involve miracle on the one hand, or admit finite agents to be first causes of their efficiency on the other.

Second, or common causes are proximate or remote. The most prominent object, or ultimate object, in the most remote cause of regeneration, according to my judgment, is, Divine Mercy. All relief under sin and misery is of sovereign mercy. The most prominent object of the next remote cause of the regeneration of sinners is the actual mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we have already paid some attention to. And the most prominent object in the immediate cause of regeneration, is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Our relation to God is relation to a merciful ruler, and relation to an equitable and wise ruler. In the first of these essential characters, though in equity to Christ, he imputes righteousness without works, thus covers our sins and blots them out for his own sake: yet in the latter character he does it in connection with repentance and faith on our part; which being effects of second causes, are of his Spirit. As the basis of the impetration of new covenant blessings is the union of the Saviour's person with our nature; so, that of the application of these blessings is the union of his nature with our persons: By the former, God removed the law enmity; by the latter, removes the heart enmity: On the one is founded his calls to evangelical faith and repentance; on the other, his bestowment of righteousness, holiness, and eternal life.

What is the immediate cause of regeneration? The objects which I conceive to be essential to the

immediate causes of regeneration are, the Holy Spirit, the revelations of God,-power,-operation, -and influence. The active part of this cause includes, the Holy Spirit,-revealed truth,-the ability of both,-and actual operation. The passive part of this cause is, the human mind,-its essential activity, its capacities, and the actual change it sustains. Consistently with this cause, regeneration may be defined, the work of God's Spirit by the instrumentality of the word, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our understanding in the knowledge of Christ, and exciting suitable affections, so that we are influenced to embrace Jesus Christ on the warrant of the gospel, and consequently, are not only justified before God, but in our own judgment, and become the subjects of spiritual life, or a life of faith.

The fact that the concurrence of the Holy Spirit is essential to regeneration, or that he is the first grand medium of the commencement of personal religion, is fully evident; but perhaps it is as futile to attempt a discovery and explanation of the nature and manner of that concurrence, as to attempt a discovery and explanation of the concurrence essential to the procreation of animals, or his concurrence to any other second cause.

First, the HOLY SPIRIT, or Spirit of God. Regeneration is sometimes ascribed to God the Father, as in 1 Pet. i. 3. James i. 18; and sometimes to the Son of God, as in 1 John, ii. 29. But in respect of its immediate cause, regeneration is exclusively ascribed to the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin, renews, sanctifies, works faith and every other grace; begins and carries on the work of grace unto perfection. The gracious change effected in a person is ascribed by our Lord to the Spirit "Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God:"—"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born

of the Spirit is Spirit." (John iii. 5, 6.) "It is the Spirit that quickeneth." (John vi. 63.) St. Paul also to Titus writes, "God our Saviour, saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus iii. 5.) Thus also St. Peter, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. (1 Pet. i. 22.)

Although we cannot philosophically investigate the mysterious concurrence of the Holy Spirit to the commencement of vital personal religion, yet, I think, we may deduce some rules both from revelation and right reasoning, by which to examine the suppositions which have risen, or may arise, in the world for elucidating the mystery.-I conceive

(1.) This concurrence of the Spirit must perfectly accord with the attributes of God, and the nature of man,-must be consonant with the moral sense and moral affections of man, and with every perfection of God. (2) This concurrence must accord with all the revelations of God, and right reasonings from their truths and facts,-God's moral ruling, and spiritual requirement by the law of faith. (3) This assistance of the Holy Spirit must be consistent with all the relative properties of a human being, and with the related properties of all the revelations of God; for the Holy Spirit is the grand medium of the origin of both. (4) There can be no inconsistence between operations of the Spirit on the minds of men, and the most earnest exhortations, invitations, and persuasions addressed by ministers of the gospel, both to unregenerated and to regenerated persons, under the authority of the sacred Scriptures. (5) There can be no inconsistency between operations of the Spirit on the minds of men, and the duty of using means of grace, which is enjoined on regenerated and unregenerated persons in the sacred Scriptures; more particularly, attention to the word and ordinances, searching our hearts, and trying our ways, prayer, and endeavour. (6)

This concurrence of the Spirit must accord with God's assisting, directing, or permitting, I say, permitting the right acts and indifferent acts of man, and all valuable and indifferent changes. (7) Must accord with God's admitting or suffering, but limiting every bad act of man, and every change for the worse in any of his works. (8) That hypothesis cannot exhibit reality, which makes man the efficient part of the cause of his regeneration, or, which asserts that man is first in that valuable change. (9) That hypothesis cannot be true with fact, which represents God as a partial being to his fallen offspring, or, a respecter of persons. (10) Nor can that hypothesis have better claim to reality, which virtually makes him not sincere, but hypocrical in respect of the solemn affirmations, exhortations, and invitations of his holy word.

If these positions be just, may we not rightly infer that the gracious concurrence of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, whatever be its nature, is granted as the light by which we walk, and as the air in which we breathe, to every man; or, according to the apostle, is a manifestation of the Spirit granted to every man to profit withal? Again, keeping an eye on all these positions, for myself I humbly conceive, that the concurrence of the Holy Spirit to regeneration, as distinct from the concurrence of the Holy Scriptures, is by suggestion, and only by suggesting thoughts to the mind. Probably, first, "in representing the Divine truths which Holy Scripture do contain, and press upon us, more clearly to our understandings, that we may have a fuller evidence, stronger conviction, and assurance of them." Secondly, "in bringing these truths to our remembrance, that so they may be present with us when this is requisite, to enable us to resist temptation, and to encourage us to the performance of our duty."

I will here hazard a conjecture, that all ordinary

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