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sinners will see and know the equity of their punishment, so that every mouth will be stopped, and all become guilty before God; yet the enmity of their hearts, there is reason to think, will be thereby heightened rather than diminished. In short, mere knowledge is in itself neither good nor evil, but is essential to both good and evil; that is, it is essential to moral agency. If knowledge were obliterated from the mind, man would cease to be an accountable being; in every condition of existence, therefore, whether pure or depraved, he retains this in different degrees, and will retain it for ever, whatever be his final state.
From hence I conclude, that what is produced by the Holy Spirit in regeneration, is something very different from mere knowledge.
Secondly, That which the Holy Spirit produces in regeneration, corresponds to the nature of Divine truth: but the nature of Divine truth is such, that mere light in the understanding is not sufficient to receive it. In proof of the former of these positions, I refer to the words of the apostle in Rom. vi. 17, Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you: or rather, according to the marginal reading, into which ye were delivered.* The Gospel, or form of doctrine which it contains, is a mould, into which the heart, softened like melted wax, is, as it were, delivered or cast; and from whence it receives its impression. Every mark or line in the gospel-mould, leaves a correspondent line in the renewed heart. Hence Christians are represented as having the truth dwelling in
* Εις οι παρεδόθητες
them; their hearts being a kind of counterpart to the Gospel. That mere light in the understanding is not sufficient to receive the Gospel, will appear by consid ering the nature of those truths which it contains. If they were merely objects of speculation, mere light in the understanding would be sufficient to receive them; but they are of a holy nature, and therefore require a correspondent temper of heart to enter into them. The sweetness of honey might as well be known by the sight of the eye, as the real glory of the Gospel by the mere exercise of the intellectual faculty. Why is it that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, but because they are spiritually discerned? A spiritual or holy temper of heart is that in the reception of gospel-truth, which a relish for poetry is in entering into the spirit of a Milton or a Young. Mere intellect is not sufficient to understand those writers; we must feel as well as think; must possess a portion of the same spirit as that which possessed the writers; and why should it be thought unreasonable, or even mysterious, that we must possess a portion of the same spirit which governed the sacred writers, in order properly to enter into their sentiments?
Thirdly, That which the Holy Spirit communicates in regeneration corresponds with the nature of Divine requirements; in other words, the same thing which is required by God as the Governor of the world, is bestowed by the Holy Spirit in the application of redemption; both the one and the other is not mere light in the understanding, but a heart to love him. The language of Divine requirements is as follows: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and VOL. III.
mind, and strength; Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts, and be no more stiffnecked. Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, and with all your hearts.* The language of the promises is perfectly correspondent to all this, with respect to the nature of that which is bestowed; And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.†
Fourthly, That which the Holy Spirit communicates in regeneration, being the great remedy of human nature, must correspond with the nature of its malady: but the malady of human nature does not consist in simple ignorance, but in the bias of the heart, therefore such must be the remedy. That regeneration is the remedy of human nature, and not the implantation of principles which were never possessed by man in his purest state, will appear from its being expressed by the terms washing and renewing: the washing of regeneration, the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which convey the ideas of restoring us to purity, and recovering us to a right mind. Regeneration implies degeneracy; the nature of that which is produced therefore by the one must correspond with that which we had lost, and be the opposite of that which we possessed in the
*Mark xii. 50. Deut. x. 16. Ezek. xviii. 31. 1 Sam. xii. 34
other. Now that which we had lost was the love of God and our neighbor. Love is the fulfilling of the law; love, therefore, comprehends the whole of duty; consequently the want, or the opposite, of love comprehends the whole of depravity. No, if it be said, the understanding is darkened: true, but this is owing to the evil temper of the heart, Eph. iv. 18. There is no sin in being ignorant, as observed before, any further than that ignorance is voluntary, or owing to some evil bias. This we are sure is the case with wicked men with respect to their not understanding the gospel. Why do ye not understand my speech? said our Lord to the Jews; the answer is, Because ye cannot hear my word. His word did not suit the temper of their hearts; therefore they could not understand it. Prejudice blinded their eyes. Here then lies the malady; and if the remedy correspond to it, it must consist in being renewed in the spirit or temper of our minds, and not merely in having the intellectual faculty enlightened.
It may be said, we cannot love that of which we have no idea, and therefore light in the understanding is necessary for the exercise of love in the heart: be it so; it is no otherwise necessary than as it is necessary I should be a man, in order to be a good man. There is no more virtue or holiness in knowledge, any farther than as it arises from some virtuous propensity of the heart, than there is in being possessed of human nature. This, therefore, cannot be the grand object communicated by the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
Should it be farther objected, that those, who plead for a new light in the understanding, mean by it more than mere speculative knowledge; that they mean spir
itual or holy light, such as conforms the heart, and life. To this I should answer, If so, the light or knowledge of which they speak is something more than knowledge literally and properly understood; it must include the temper of the heart, and therefore is very improperly distinguished from it.
To represent men as only wanting light, is indeed acknowledging their weakness, but not their depravity. To say of a man that hates his fellow-man, "He does not know him: If he knew him, he would love him," is to acknowledge that the enmity towards the injured person is owing to mere mistake, and not to any contrariety of temper or character. The best of characters might thus be at variance, though it is a great pity they should, especially for any long continuance. If this be the case between God and man, the latter is not so depraved a creature as we have hitherto conceived of him. The carnal mind is not enmity against God, but merely against an evil being, which in his ignorance he takes God to be. To this may be added, if sin originate in simple ignorance (which is supposed, in that the removal of this ignorance is sufficient to render us holy) then it is no more sin; nor is there any such thing as moral evil in the universe. So far as we can trace our volitions or actions to simple ignorance, or ignorance in which we were utterly involuntary, so far, as we have already seen, we may reckon ourselves innocent, even in those cases wherein, had we not been ignorant, we should have been guilty. These are serious consequences, but such as at present appear to me to be just. The above is submitted to the consideration of Tardus and the reader, as the result of the maturest reflections of the writer.