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of baptism3, and those in a way which by no means explicitly states the connexion between them; whilst, in the various histories of persons baptized, in the New Testament, not one case, that I am aware of, occurs, in which any mention is made of attendant regeneration. Such passages, moreover, as the following, appear fully to confirm my statement: Of his own will begat he us, by the word of truth. Who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God. He that doeth righteousness, is born of God. Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God. In Christ Jesus I have begotten you, through the Gospel. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. These passages speak of the new birth independently of baptism, assign it to other causes, and point out other evidences of it besides the administration of the rite; and there
3 John, iii. 5. Titus, iii. 5.
4 James, i. 18. 1
iii. 10. 1 Cor. iv. 15.
Pet. i. 3, 23. 1 John, ii. 29. v. 4.
fore lead confessedly to our conclusion, that this change, under whatever circumstances it apparently take place, whether immediately connected with baptism or not, may, and ought to be called by the scriptural term Regeneration or New birth.
We shall be confirmed in this view, by recollecting that the greatest divines of our church, including the Reformers themselves, frequently speak of regeneration and the new birth simply, and by itself, as well as in connexion with the sacrament of baptism. With them, so far as I understand their language, conversion, renovation, regeneration, new birth, a new creature, transformation, are terms employed as applicable, in common, to the general doctrine of the incipient recovery of man to the image and love of God; not, indeed, in opposition to what may perhaps be called, the ecclesiastical completion of it in baptism, or to its occurrence by means of that rite; but still not as invariably connected with it. Standing, then, on this undisputed ground, we shall scarcely be afraid to trust ourselves to the simple language of the inspired writers, and of those who have unhesitatingly followed their example 5.
5 The fact that the oldest and best divines of our church do employ the terms Regeneration and New birth, without any direct reference to the sacrament of baptism, is not, I believe, questioned. The manner in which some would ac
Nay, more; when we consider the magnitude of that change in all the faculties of the soul, which we have before described, in connexion with the actual character, in every period of life, of the vast majority of those who have been baptized; must not this one consideration forbid us to suppose that regeneration is invariably connected with baptism? For myself, at least, I must distinctly avow that this one consideration, independently of other numerous, and in my mind conclusive arguments on the subject, is abundantly sufficient to prevent my entertaining for a moment such a supposition. And on this ground, not only the propriety, but the necessity of the use of the term which I am now maintaining, seems to me at once and undeniably to follow.
Nor do I conceive that I shall justly incur the charge of uncharitableness, if I venture to inquire, whether the reasons which cause some at least to differ from this view of the subject, and to contend that regeneration and the new birth are never to be spoken of as distinct from the sacrament of baptism, may not, in a great degree, be resolved into, what I must consider, a most inadequate conception of the nature of the inward renewal of the heart itself? Do
count for this fact, by distinguishing between a sacramental and a general use of the words, rather confirms than weakens the above argument
they not object to the simple and scriptural application of these words, because they object to the strong language in which the radical recovery of man is delineated, and to the incalculable moment which is ascribed to it? Do they not object to them, in common with many similar, or nearly similar figures, by which this inward life of God in the soul is represented and enforced? Would they not be disposed to wave their objections, if these particular words were employed in a sense agreeable to their own view of a change of heart; and persevere in them, if, abandoning the mere words, the same degree of spiritual and vital religion were enforced under any other? Indeed, is it not natural and almost necessary, that, as they take an incomparably lower view of this inward change itself, they should protest against a separation between it and the external rite? And is not this the main reason why such a separation is represented by them as forced and extravagant? I must be allowed, at least, to state my conviction, that the strong and vivid conception of what the commencement of real and universal religion is, forms a most important pre-requisite to the conclusions which I am endeavouring to establish; and that it is not, in the great majority of cases, a mere term which is in dispute, but the decision of the nature and importance of that incipient transform
ation of man, on which all religion rests, and which has ever been a main topic of controversy between the worldly and the more spiritual members of the visible church of Christ".
"To argue about a mere term, even though it were a scriptural one, would be little worthy of the charity which should distinguish the followers of Christ, except as the use of it may clearly stand connected with the important doctrine of the real magnitude of a radical change of heart. That the question concerning the employment of the words Regeneration and New birth is for the most part so connected, I am well persuaded. Under the mask of this apparently subordinate position, the real attack is usually directed against vital and spiritual religion. The single word Regeneration, indeed (if it is to be distinguished from the terms New birth or the being born of God, born of the Spirit, born again, &c.), as it occurs only twice in the New Testament, and in one of those places in a sense unconnected with my present subject, and in the other with an allusion to baptism *, might perhaps be allowed to stand more properly attached to the inward change of nature as conveyed, or attested and completed, by the appointed sacrament of Christ, or might even be confined to that application. But as the ordinary meaning of it appears to be as nearly as possible equivalent to that of the New birth, and as the two words are commonly either joined together or employed as synonimous, in the services of our church, I cannot, for myself, see the propriety of conceding that general use of it, which the argument of my discourse and the decided language of Scripture appear to require; especially when I recollect that it is by the gradual substitution of new phrases in divinity, that the most serious errors have always been introduced. Still
Matt. xix. 28.-Titus, iii. 5.