Imatges de pàgina

pressed for all, it would be unreasonable to expect that it should be slavishly inserted, and never implied or assumed in any verbal form of the promise. Much more, when that conditionality is abundantly and explicitly declared, are we bound to hold it as implied in those passages where God engages faithfully to perform the divine side of the gracious covenant.

REGENERATION. We have said that, consequent upon our justification, the Holy Spirit is imparted unto us no longer in its mere convicting power, but in its enlightening, quickening energy; giving us not, iudeed, a new organic faculty, but the power and disposition, with our existing faculties, freely to love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourself. This is regeneration. Though always concomitant with justification, it is in the order of nature consequent. So truly new is this gift by the Holy Spirit, so new and powerful are the views, feeling, purposes of the man, that it is said he is a new creature; that all things with him are made new; that he is born anew, born of God, regenerated. He is now a child of God — a member of the justified family of God.

We thus hold that regeneration succeeds justification. It is the unregenerate, who is first convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit, who considers upon his wicked ways, and seeks repentance, who examines the law of God, and the Gospel of Christ, in order to learn the method of escaping the wrath to come, who bows in penitent prayer for the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to the accomplishment of the work, and who does at successive points receive, in consequence of these his preparatory doings, the gracious aid of God. To the question, can these actions of the unregenerate man be holy, and so acceptable to God, we seem to ourselves to have abundant answer. They are not holy in the absolute sense of the word; and yet in their place they are acceptable and accepted by God, as by him prescribed to the man in his case. As the first step of the prodigal son, though performed in the land of his Vol. XIX. No. 74.


profligacy, at a moment when he should be in his father's house, was the rightest he could in the case perform, was the necessary condition to his return, so that act of the prodigal was accepted, even before the prodigal himself was accepted. It is not necessary that an act be absolutely holy in order to God's bestowing upon it a relative approbation. God can confer an imputative holiness, even upon the utensils of the temple. In the substance and in the organism of man God recognizes, because there exists, notwithstanding its pravity, a sublime excellence, both of substance and structure. Man's immortality and high moral being, intellect, affections, conscience, and will, with his power of realizing eternity, retain him, fallen as he is, at the head of God's lower creation. Though the gold be totally dim, God cognizes the preciousness of its substance. Even while dead in trespasses and sins, his holiness permits him to love us, and he still knows how to accept us. And when, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, man before repentance performs works meet for repentance, and before justifying faith, exercises faith preparatory to justification, God conventionally accepts those works and faith, so far as they go, before he fully accepts the man; and when, by the enabling aid of the Holy Spirit, he performs before acceptance the faith conditional to acceptance, God justifies him,“justifies the ungodly.” Unless the sinner can perform preparatory and conducive acts to regeneration, if all actions are wicked, and equally wicked, and equally unacceptable to God, then we see not how a sinner can take any course towards regeneration and salvation. The whole work ap . pears arbitrary and unconditioned, and the bewildered siu. ner has only to sit and wait the sovereign grace.

Regeneration is the act of God. It presupposes conditions previously performed by the man; but in the work itself, God is the doer, and man the submissive recipient. It presupposes anterior justification, and the performance, by the free will of the sinner, of all the conditions requisite to the work. The Holy Spirit aids in those conditioned acts, but, except, perhaps, at particular points, never necessitates.

The sinner acts as a free, responsible agent, and his free agency, so far forth as it exists and extends, excludes necessitation or predestination as its contradictory. Upon the decision and choice of the man as a free agent, it ultimately depends whether the condition be performed and salvation attained, or rejected and eternal death incurred. This is the great alternative point of man's free probation. From his own essential and central self is the decision most freely made; upon his own central and essential self must the eternal responsibility rest. And, hereby, though man be condemned, God shall be justified.

WITNESS OF THE Spirit. Where God performs directly the work of justification and of regeneration, is it not to be expected that he will as directly give notice of so wonderful a mercy? And this thought suggests the reasonableness of the doctrine of the witness of the Spirit, directly testifying to us that we are born of God.

The witness of our own spirit is that self-judgment which we are rationally able to pronounce, in the light of consciousness and scripture, that we are the children of God. This is a logical inference, drawn from the fruits we find, by self-examination, in our minds and external conduct.

But besides this, is there not felt in every deep religious experience, a simple, firm assurance, like an intuition, by which we are made to feel calmly certain that all is blessedly right between God and our own soul ? Does not this assurance seem to come into the heart as from some outer source? Does it not come as in answer to prayer, and in direction, as if from him to whom we pray ? Scripture surely makes the assuring and witnessing act of the Spirit to be as immediate and direct as the justifying or regenerating acts. Hereby, then, we have the witness of God's Spirit, concurrent with the witness of our own spirit, testifying to the work of our regeneration. “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” Rom. viii., 16.

ELECTION AND REPROBATION. All God's choices are elections. Some of these elections are unconditional; namely, all his predeterminations in regard to material, non-volitional objects, the absolute disposing of which violates no free agency in the exercise of responsible volition. But there is also a class of conditional elections or predeterminations by God, which are so far contingent, as that they are conditioned upon the actual per

formance of certain free acts by the finite agent as foreseen. • Those free acts, required by God as conditions to this elec

tion, are by divine grace placed in the power of every responsible agent, so that the primary reason why any are not elected is, that they do not exercise their power of meeting those conditions. And since every responsible agent has the power to make his own calling and election sure, and every elect person has full power to reject the conditions, so it is not true that the number of the elect can be neither increased nor diminished. Every man has gracious powers to be elected according to the eternal purpose of God. All men may be saved. Every individual, by grace divine, may place himself in the number of those who are chosen from before the foundation of the world. The reprobates are those who, abusing the conferred grace of God, resisting the Holy Spirit, reject the conditions of salvation, and so fail to present the necessary tests to their election. The elect are chosen unto good works, to holy faith, to persevering love, to a full manifestation of the power of the gospel during their probationary life, and upon their full performance of this their work and inission, they attain, through grace divine, to a rich, unmerited salvation.

IMMUTABILITY OF THE LAW. The law, as given to Adam, requiring pure and perfect holiness, has never been withdrawn from the race, and can never be changed. It is its perfectness and immutability which necessitate the atonement and the redemption. Through our whole human history, its pure ideal stands to reveal to us, by our distance beneath its level, the depth

of our fall. Whether our sin be responsible or not, it is by the law that we measure its amount. By it, too, we measure the elevation through which we must pass by the redemption to our final restorement in the glorification. Yet inasmuch as we have, by our own voluntary sinfulness, ratified our original sin, and taken upon ourselves the control and the guilt of our sinful nature, so the law furnishes us the measure of our voluntary ruin. And for the finally impenitent, inasmuch as they had the means to the full restorement in the glorification, the law furnishes the just amount of their final condemnation. The law is indeed holy, just, and good; yet for the finally guilty, by the law is the knowledge of sin and the experience of hell. By the deeds of that law can no flesh hope to be justified. In the presence of that law can no human merit stand. Under the Christless infliction of its penalty must all flesh die. For one and for all the only hope of salvation is by the way of faith alone, in the abounding atonement of the dying son of God.

ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION, OR CHRISTIAN PERFECTION. At our justification we are held by God as absolved from all past sin, and treated as if perfectly pure from the guilt of sin. The law, though not abolished, and though it still remains the standard of our condemnation, apart from Christ, is not the standard of our acceptance through Christ. If, then, we are accepted by the law of faith, do we also receive from Christ the power to retain that undiminished acceptance without our complete fulfilment of the pure Adamic law?

Experience shows, at any rate, that few, if any, do, from the moment of their justification, retain the fulness of that first acceptance. Though regenerate, and breathing holy aspirations after holiness empowered within them by the blessed Spirit, such is still the inexperience and ignorance of the ways of satan, such is the natural bent of former habit, and such the unsteadiness of the will, that most, if not all, do grieve the Holy Spirit, and come under

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