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sire beside Thee. My flesh faints and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever," is the language of the living soul. It lives in God-mind and heart dwelling on his love.
It will readily be admitted, that the language of the scriptures, favours this general view of the nature of Regeneration. It is not in one or two places only, but frequently ; yea, uniformly, that life is predicated of the renewed man. This life commences with his faith, or belief in the testimony of God, the first in the series of those acts and exercises in which it consists. The Saviour says, that “ Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." As the great object promotive of that life, He calls Himself the "bread of life;” “The resurrection and the life;">3 “The way, the truth and the life;" "The prince of life."5
They that believe on Him, are said to be partakers of life; while those on the other hand who refuse to believe, are spoken of as dead, or devoid of life. “These things" says the Evangelist John, "have I written unto you, that ye might believe upon the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through His name."6 (He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life.”
The unrenewed and unbelieving, are represented as refusing to come to Him, who alone can impart life. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life, and as being actually dead. “The time is coming, and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live."9
The transition from an unbelieving to a renewed state, is described by various expressions, but all involving the idea of life. “We know that we have passed from death 1 John vi. 53.
2 John vi. 48. 3 John xi. 25. 4 John xiv. 6
5 Acts iii. 15.
6 Join xx. 31. John iii. 36.
8 John v. 40.
9 Johnv. 25.
unto life," "But God who is rich in mercy for the great love wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ;">2 s«Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively (living) hope;" "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;"4 "Ye must be born again;" "Your life is hid with Christ in God;"6 "I will put my spirit within you, and ye shall live;" "He that hath the Son, hath
It is unnecessary to multiply passages. The above will suffice, to show how commonly the sacred scriptures attribute life to the renewed man, as connected with, or promoted by his faith. Paul says, distinctly, “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me;" and "the just shall live by faith."0 Will any one say that all this is metaphorical? We admit that occasionally some metaphysical allusion may be made, by the term life, to the great moral transformation which is effected in guilty sinners by the Spirit God. But it is an outrage upon language to say that in all the passages quoted, life is metaphorical. With equal propriety might we say that lise itself is a metaphor; that in fact there is no such thing.
We have already seen in a general point of view, from a strict and careful examination of the nature of life, as far as we can approximate it, that there is a state of things induced in the human mind, by the Spirit's agency, which corresponds exactly and literally with our definition of life. Why then shall we reject the idea of life, and persuade ourselves, that as applicable to our moral nature, the term is
1. 1 John ii. 14. 2. Eph. ii. 4, 5. 3. 1 Peter i. 3. 4. Peter i. 3. 5. John ii. 7.
6. Col. 21.3. 7. Ezek. xxxvii. 14. 8. 1 Juhi v. 12. 9. Gal. ii. 20. 10. Romans i. 16.
merely metaphorical? Must we take it for granted, that there can be no real life, but what we find associated with, and dependent on, material organization? Who does not see that the supposition is altogether unphilosophical and gratuitous ? God is a spirit, and yet He is "the living and true God.” The blessed Saviour, too is called emphatically, “The living one;" “ I am he that liveth (3) and was dead; and, behold I am alive for ever more." And it is expressly stated, that “As the Father hath life in Him. self, so hath He also given to the Son, to have life in Him
Is all this metaphor ? But if not, and if life is predicable of a pure spirit, as is God, why should we deem it necessary to believe, or suspect for one moment that there may not or cannot be such a state of things induced in the human soul, such acts and emotions elicited, as may be best understood by accepting in its obvious import the language of scripture, which speaks of a believer's life. Thething is unquestionably possible. No one can successfully contend for the restriction of life to the narrow limits of the material creation. If he admits that God lives, really and truly, and that His life is not metaphorical, then must he admit that there may be a real life peculiar to the human soul.
But in so saying, we are not to be understood as teaching, or admitting for one moment, any more in reference to spiritual than natural things, that life is an essence, a principle, or a substance, existing per se, and being itself the cause of those actions we denominate vital. Let the reader bear in mind the idea and definition of life already advanced, and not attribute to us the mistaken assumption which pervades the writings of some, that life is an essence, or principle per se. In this very thing, we honestly believe is to be found the origin of much of that dispute which is now tending to sunder brethren, who ought to be 1 Rev. i. 18.
2 John. v. 26.
united in heart and effort for the salvation of souls, as well as the source of a vast deal of that obscurity which has enwrapped in almost impenetrable mist, the subject of a sinner's regeneration, and we doubt not, contributed to bewilder, perplex, ensnare, and ruin the souls of many. If any will represent regeneration as the creation of a new principle of spiritual life, we call upon them previously to prove that life is a principle at all. This must be done before any inference, with regard to the nature of regeneration, as being the communication of a principle of spiritual life can be analogically deducible. But this subject deserves more particular consideration, and is reserved to the next chapter.
REGENERATION NOT A PHYSICAL
Man not naturally possesed of spiritual life-Beginning appropriately to
act he begins to live-This beginning the new birth—Regeneration not the infusion of a new principle of spiritual life-Ignorance and erroneous views of some Theological writers with respect to the nature of life-Thence erroneous and vague language with regard to regeneration–Quotations from Skepp-Witsius—Charnock—Hopkins—A late attempt to screen old Calvinistic writers from Dr. Cox's charge that they held and taught the doctrine of a physical regeneration-Quotation from Turretine-Dr. Owen's explanation--Dr. Witherspoon's admission--An example of strange discrepancy between them—Quotations from Dr. Owen—The influence which his false physiology had on his philosophical views of Regeneration-Also of Greenhill-Boston—The Stahlian doctrine and Hunterian theory of life both lay false foundations for analogical illustration-A particular examination of the attempts to repel the accusation with regard to a pbysical regeneration-Quotations from Dr. Edwards—No new sense -Nor holy principle-Nor spiritual instinct sufficient explanations of the nature of regeneration-All liable to objection-Some objections against the doctrine.-1. It exceedingly obscures the grace of God—2. renders the apostle's declaration difficult to be understood, Heb. vi. 4, and 5– 3. robs the Spirit of the glory of being the immediate author of christian graces—4. has a deleterious influence on personal piety—5. destroys a sense of moral obligation-6. is based on a false assumption.
The life of the rational soul, it has been seen, consisted originally in the relative series of those actions appropriate to its necessitibilities, and capacities, in the perception, approbation, pursuit and enjoyment of the divine favour, as its true and supreme felicity. This life has been lost.