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But if regeneration mean, receiving spiritual life, from Christ “the second Adam," “ the life-giving “ Spirit,” by the power of the Holy Spirit; then infants are as capable of it as adults; and neither the one nor the other can be saved without it. And God, by whom John the Baptist was “ filled “ with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb," is able to communicate divine life by regeneration to as many of those who die in infancy, as he sees good; and he may give it to all of them, for any thing that we know to the contrary. Here nothing is expressly revealed, only he says to the believer, “ I will be a God to thee, and to thy .“ seed ;" and the believer's children who die before the commission of actual sin, whether baptized or not, have done nothing to forfeit the covenanted blessing. ,
'Baptism conveys the promise of those privileges and blessings, which God has been graciously pleased to annex to the profession of the Christian faith; and, as “he is faithful that proinised," a repetition of the promise is never necessary, &c.'l,
In what part of scripture is baptism said to convey the promise to those who receive it, apart from the state of heart with which they receive it? But indeed what are those privileges and blessings, which God has been graciously pleased to annex to the profession of Christian
faith? '--". With the heart man believeth unto “ righteousness, and with the mouth confession is
1. Ref. 85.
« made unto salvation."! But, if the “ confession “ of the mouth” be without the “ believing with “ the heart," it is mere formality and hypocrisy. Will he be saved who is merely baptized, but does not believe? Will not he “ who believeth “ not be damned,” whether he is baptized or not?
-“Now also,” that is, under the gospel, “the axe .“ is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree, “ therefore, that bringeth not forth good fruit “ is hewn down and cast into the fire." If any object to this statement, that it renders baptism of no efficacy or advantage, let him receive his answer from the apostle, when replying to the same objection to his doctrine concerning cir.cumcision. “What advantage then hath the Jew? “ or what profit is there of circumcision ? Much “every way, chiefly because that unto them were “ committed the oracles of God.” It admits those who receive it into that company who have
the means of grace,' and who especially have the sacred scriptures, and it gives them many and great helps to become “ wise unto salvation by “ faith in Jesus Christ;” but nothing beyond this, simply and by itself.
Those Christians, who in the primitive age had fallen into error, or relapsed into wicked'ness, are never in the New Testament exhorted ' to regenerate themselves, or taught to wait in a passive state for regeneration by the Holy Ghost.
They are called upon to be renewed; “ Be re- . • newed in the spirit of your mind;” “Be ye trans
" Rom. x. 10.
? Matt. iii. 10-12.
• Rom. iii. 1, 2.
formed by the renewing of your mind;” “ The * inward man is renewed day by day;” which indicates a progressive improvement, and not a
sudden conversion. The restoring those who • had departed from the truth as it is in Jesus is 'not called regenerating them, but “ renewing
them again unto repentance.” St. John, in the * Revelation, commands the churches which held unsound doctrine, or were guilty of immoral practices, not to be regenerated, but to “ repent."']
It might be supposed from this statement, that the apostles, and primitive teachers of Christianity, were used in general to exhort unbaptized persons, Jews or gentiles, 'to regenerate themselves ;? but that they carefully avoided this exhortation, in addressing the baptized, even when ' fallen into 'error, or relapsed into wickedness. But where do we, in their writings, meet with the least trace of any thing that favours this opinion? Where is there one exhortation, in any part of scripture, to men'to regenerate themselves ?' And, we add, where does this expression occur in the writings of modern Calvinists? The exhortation, as to the true meaning of it, and as far as it can properly be used, is contained in such words as those of the Lord by the prophet, “Make you a new heart, and “ a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of “ Israel?”? and in those of our Lord, “ Make the “ tree good and his fruit good.” But many Calvinists shun the use even of these scriptural addresses ; so far are they from exhorting persons, . baptized or unbaptized, toʻregenerate themselves!'
- Ref. 86.
? Ezek xviii. 31.
3 Matt. xii. 33.
They who attempt exactness in discrimination consider regeneration as the immediate work of God's preventing grace; and conversion as the subsequent effect: and on this ground they would maintain, that the exhortation to regenerate • themselves' is unscriptural, but that the call “ repent and be converted” is scriptural. God by regeneration works in us the will; then, by his adjuvant grace working in us the power, we “work “ out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” They who do not approve or attend to these exact distinctions call on sinners to “repent and be con“ verted,” to “repent and believe the gospel," and not to regenerate themselves :' and they address the baptized and the unbaptized, those who never seemed to be converted and those who have relapsed, in exactly the same manner. Thus St. Jaines, without intimating any discrimination between Christians and such unbaptized Jews as might see his epistle, says, “Submit yourselves, “ therefore, to God: resist the devil, and he will “ flee from you: draw nigh to God, and he will “ draw nigh unto you : cleanse your hands, ye “ sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded : be afflicted and mourn and weep; let
your laughter be turned into mourning, and “ your joy into heaviness : humble yourselves in “ the sight of God, and he shall lift you up."] ,
It is not meant that any, here vindicated, think no exhortations respecting regeneration ought to be used. Parents should be exhorted to present their children for baptism; and earnestly to pray
James iv. 6—10.
that they may receive, not only the outward sign, but also the thing signified in baptism, namely,
a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteous'ness ;' in which prayers other Christians should fervently join them. And, as the children become capable of instruction, they ought to explain the need, and nature, and effects of regeneration to them; using every means, on which they can hope for the divine blessing, to bring them acquainted with it. Many similar duties are required, as of the most indispensable obligation, from sponsors, ministers, and teachers in this respect. Nay, such persons as become convinced, that regeneration is absolutely needful to salvation, should be taught to use diligently all those means by which God ordinarily effects regeneration ; and to pray continually to him to “create in them a clean heart," to “ turn them that they may ue turned.” None should be taught or left to wait in a passive state
for regeneration of the Holy Ghost.'—What respects that progressive renewal, of which we judge regeneration to be the beginning, will fall under our consideration in another part of this book."
See also Book I. c. ii. $ 15: On Sudden Conversion.