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ter of the agent and of His influence shall not. The regeneration of a sinner is life from the dead in every instance, whether the subject be Jew or Gentile. The preaching of the gospel is indeed the means most frequently employed, and rendered most eílicacious in producing this life; but it possesses no power to this end, except as it may be the word of God. «The hour is coming and now is,” said the Lord of life, "when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
The language, both of the prediction, and of Christ, implies that there is some other life, to be had by men, than that which all in common possess as creatures composed of soul and body. And the allusions in the scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, to a life peculiar and distinguishing, as imparted by the Spirit of God to some, and not to all, prevent the supposition that it is altogether imaginative, and the language merely metaphorical. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickenedt us (made us alive) together with Christ.” It is the object of the following work to investigate, and illustrate that great moral renovation, of which the scriptures speak so decisively, according as it is represented under the idea of LIFE PRODUCED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
The inspired writers employ a variety of terms in treating of this subject, and present it under almost endless aspects. At one time it is called regeneration, at another being born again, one while a raising from the dead, and again creating anew; one while the taking away the hard and stony heart, and at another the giving an heart of flesh; one while the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and at another the law of the Spirit of Life, besides others of . John vi. 25.
† Eph. Ži. 4, 5.
the same general import. It is unnecessary to examine the meaning, or inquire into the reason of each expression. We have selected the idea of life, as the simplest and most comprehensive, and design, by means of it, to subject the whole subject of REGENERATION, or the new BIRTH, in all its grand and important relations, to a careful and candid analysis.
In announcing this design, it may not be improper to apprise the reader of the source and character of the proofs and illustrations to be adduced. The sacred scriptures are assumed to be the INFALLIBLE word of God. Its revelations are not reputed mere abstractions, but simple matTERS OF FACT. So far from the idea being admitted, that the bible is a mere guide to opinions, and calculated to induce theory and speculation, it is affirmed that the disclosures which it makes are solemn declarations of fact, and not the less interesting because originally beyond the sphere of human reason. They affect the character, the condition, the hopes, the destiny of the ruined race of man, and have a most important and essential bearing on individual happiness and expectation. In the interpretation of these words of truth, it is deemed impertinent to ask, “can such a thing be,” or “is it compatible with our notion of the Divine Being.” It is from God's own disclosure of himself—from His revelation of His own mind and will-that we are to form our ideas of Himself. If we imbibe them from another source, we shall err; for naturally we "walk in the vanity of our mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in us, because of the blindness of our heart." If God has been pleased to speak—it is assumed as, unquestionably because most demonstratively, true, that He has it is for us to hear, and not ask impertinently how or why is this or that which He
Eph. iv, 17, 18.
declares to be the fact. They that will reserve to themselves this liberty, and judge of the revelations of the scriptures according as they may meet.or favor their peculiar prejudices and feelings, or as they are pleased to dignify them--their reason, had better act consistently, and proclaim themselves infidels at once, rejecting the authority of the word of God. However common it may be for men to allege they will not believe this or that, because it does not commend itself to their judgment, because it does not comport with their views of God, because they reserve to themselves in all cases the right of private opinion, because they cannot understand it, it will not for one moment be conceded that with such the bible is accounted of paramount authority. Our discussions are with, and for those who feel that "thus saith the Lord” is like the oath among men, and must "put an end to all strife.” All others, though they may pretend to believe in a divine revelation, are mere hypocrites and unbelievers.
Yet, in illustrating the facts which it has pleased God to make known to us in the sacred scriptures, we shall deem it perfectly lawful to avail ourselves of all the light which may be obtained from the analogy of His works. While we magnify revelation, as an authority from which there is no appeal, and insist, that our minds and consciences bow to its decisions without a moment's hesitancy, we are nevertheless far from exalting it as contrary to the established order of nature. There is a beautiful harmony between them, as being alike the offspring of the same bounteous parent, and they serve often to illustrate each other. For, although the kingdoms of nature and of grace may be as perfectly distinct as two distant worlds can be, yet, as they both are established in the same, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the same God who presides over both, and is the author of both; should have maintained an essential concord between them. He does not frame His moral constitutions at variance with His physical. We may have occasion frequently to trace the beautiful analogy between them, and be led to admire the divine original of both. But in doing so we must still claim supreme authority for the written word: and that we may not be 'misunderstood, or our whole subject, and sources of proof rejected as mystical, we shali devote a chapter explicitly to the character of the objects which form the materiel of our knowledge, and the mode by which it is obtained.
Should there be any obscurity in the language in which it has pleased God to speak, the previous question as to what He actually does say, must be carefully and accurately determined. And in determining this, we shall not perplex ourselves, or our readers, with any learned or labored applications of the rules and principles of Hermeneuties as it is called. Common sense, a knowledge of the original languages in which the scriptures were written, and of the customs, manners, and history, &c. which may be necessary to understand the rationale or allusions of its terms, are of principal importance. If criticism becomes necessary, and a demand is made on our philological resources, the reader who is unacquainted with the Hebrew and Greek, shall not be offended by the introduction of things on which he can pass no judgment; but the result of inquiry shall be given in its proper place, while the mode of obtaining that result, or the reasons for maintaining it, shall, to such as may be able and disposed to investigate them, be furnished in notes subjoined. In all controversy, or doubt about the meaning of a passage of scripture, the appeal must be to the very words which the Spirit of God himself has employed, and the signification of those words must be determined by comparing the passages in which they occur, and the manner in which they are used by classical authorities, or those with whom the language was vernacular. Having ascertained the meaning of the words, and relieved the text from obscurity, so that the mind and will of God has been discovered in the plain import of the passage, we shall hold ourselves bound to receive His testimony, without making or entertaining a solitary objection. Whatever is asserted by God claims credence from us, in despite of all imaginations and reasonings to the contrary. It must be assumed as indisputable fact, which, whether we can understand it or not, whether we can unravel its perplexities and solve its difficulties, or must leave it involved in its own native mystery, cannot be rejected or denied, except at the peril of taking from the word of God, and impeaching Him with falsehood. The testimony of Him that cannot lie is evidence, in every case, conclusive and overpowering; and it is more than our souls are worth to doubt, whether it is or can be true, after that God has declared it to be the fact.
Nor shall we admit, for one moment, that there is ground of reproach against us as weak and credulous, though we thus speak. We plant ourselves upon the same solid ground on which the votary of sound philosophy essays to rear his system. He asks not, like the incredulous Jew, “how can these things be?”' but his first inquiry is, is it indeed the fact? Afterwards he tabors to solve the phenomenon. Should he fail to do so, he chronicles the fact and waits for further light to aid his investigations. Should he have ransacked the vast store-house of science, and found nothing that would enable him satisfactorily to explain the mystery, and should theory after theory be framed, and then discarded, and not one ray of light beam upon the dark bosom of his theme, yet does he not feel himself authorized to disbelieve what upon sufficient evidence he is convinced is THE FACT.
However it may seem to be at variance with the established laws of nature, or to involve matters altogether novel or inexplicable, he aumits the phenomenon, admiring and adoring the vastness