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he enjoys all the heavenly blessings through Christ: therefore it is
called "the kingdom of heaven." All this is signified in his death,
burial, and resurrection wuth Christ; or in his being born of water.
Hence the necessity of being buried with Christ in water, that he
may be born of water, that he may enjoy the renewal of the Holy
Spirit, and be placed under the reign of favor.

All the means of salvation are means of enjoyment, not of procure-
ment. Birth itself is not for procuring, but for enjoying the life pos-
sessed before birth. So in the analogy — no one is to be baptized, or
to be buried with Christ; no one is to be put under the water of
regeneration for the purpose of procuring life, but for the purpose of
enjoying the life of which he is possessed. If the child is never bom,
all its sensitive powers and faculties can not be enjoyed; for it is after
birth that these are fully developed and feasted upon all the aliments
and objects of sense in nature. Hence all that is now promised in the
gospel can only be enjoyed by those who are born again and placed in
the kingdom of heaven under all its influences. Hence the philosophy
of that necessity which Jesus preached, — "Unless a man be born again
he can not discern — unless a man be born of water and Spirit he
can not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

But let no man think that in the act of being born, either naturally
or metaphorically, the child purchases, procures, or merits either life
or its enjoyments. He is only by his birth placed in circumstances
favorable to the enjoyment of life and all that makes life a blessing.
"To as many as received him, believing in his name, he granted th»>
privilege of being children of God, who derive their birth not from
blood, nor from the desire of the flesh, nor from the will of man. but
from God."


"He has saved us," says the Apostle Paul, "by the bath of regen-
eration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured on us
richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being Justified by his
favor, [in the bath of regeneration.] we might be made heirs according


to the hope of eternal life." Thus, and not by works of righteousness,
he has saved us. Consequently, being born of water and the renewing
of the Holy Spirit are not works of merit or of righteousness, but
only means of enjoyment. But this pouring out of the influences, this
renewing of the Holy Spirit is as necessary as the bath of regeneration
to the salvation of the soul, and to the enjoyment of the hope of
heaven, of which the Apostle speaks. In the kingdom into which we
are born of water, the Holy Spirit is as the atmosphere in the kingdom
of nature — we mean that the influences of the Holy Spirit are as neces-
sary to the new life as the atmosphere is to our animal life in the
kingdom of nature. But on this topic we have said so much in our
"Extra Defended," that to it we must refer our readers who are still
inquisitive on the subject. All that is done in us before regeneration,
God our Father effects by the loord. or the gospel as dictated and con-
firmed by his Holy Spirit. But after we are thus begotten and born
by the Spirit of God — after our new birth, the Holy Spirit is shed on
us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; of which the peace ot
mind, the love, the joy, and the hope of the regenerate is full proof:
for these are amongst the fruits of that Holy Spirit of promise of
which we speak. Thus commences


"Newness of life" is a Hebraism for a new life. The new birth
brings us into a new state. "Old things have passed away; all things
have become new," says an Apostle: "for if any one be in Christ he
is a new creature." A new spirit, a new heart, and an outward char-
acter corresponding to this change, are the effects of the regenerating
process: "for the end of the charge," the grand result of the remedial
system, is "love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faitl'
unfeigned." "Love is the fulfilling of the whole law," and the fruit of
the whole gospel. It is the cardinal principle of all Christian beha-
viour, the soul of the new man, the breath of the new life. Faith
works by no other rule. It is a working principle, and love is the
rule by which it operates. The Spirit of God is the spirit of love and
the health of a sound mind. Every pulsation of the new heart is the
impulse of the spirit of love. Hence the brotherhood is beloved, and
all mankind embraced in unbounded good will. When the tongue
speaks, the hands and feet move and operate under the unrestrained
guidance of this principle, we have the Christian character drawn to
the life. For meekness, humility, mercy, sympathy, and active benev-
olence, are only the names of the various workings of this all reno-
vating, invigorating, sanctifying, and happifying principle. "He that
dwells in love dwells in God and God in him."


The Christian, or the new man, is then a philanthropist to the
utmost extent of the meaning of that word. Truth and love have made
him free from all the tyrannies of passion, from guilt, and fear, and
shame; have filled him with courage, active and passive. Therefore,
his enterprise, his capital enterprise, to which all others minister, is
to take part with the Saviour in the salvation of the world. "If oy
any means I may save some," are not the words of Paul only, but of
every neic mari. Are they merchants, mechanics, husbandmen; are
they magistrates, lawyers, judges, or unofficial citizens; are they mas-
ters, servants, fathers, sons, brothers, neighbors; whatever, or wherever
they may be, they live for God and his city, for the King and his
Empire. They associate not with the children of wrath — the miser,
the selfish, the prodigal, the gay, the proud, the slanderer, the tattler,
the rake, the libertine, the drunkard, the thief, the murderer. Every
new man has left these precincts; has broken his league with Satan
and his slaves, and has joined himself to the family of God. These he
complacently loves, those he pities, and does good to all.

The character of the new man is an elevated character. Feeling
himself a son and heir of God, he cultivates the temper, spirit, and
behaviour, which correspond with so exalted a relation. He despises
everything mean, grovelling, earthly, sensual, devilish. As the only
begotten and well beloved Son of God is to be the model of his future
personal glory, so the character which Jesus sustained amongst men,
is the model of his daily imitation. His every day aspiration is —

" Thy fair example I would trace,
To teach me what I ought to be;
Make me by thy transforming grace.
Lord .Tcsus. daily more like thee."

The law of God is hid in his heart. The living oracles dwell in his
mind; and he grows in favor with God as he grows in the knowledge
of God and of Jesus Christ his Lord. As a newborn babe he desires
the unadulterated milk of the word of God, that he may grow by it;
for as the thirsty hart pants after the brooks of water, so pants his
soul after God. Thus he lives to God, and walks with him. This is
the character of the regenerate, of him that is born of God, of the new
man in Christ Jesus. This is that change of heart, of life, and of
character, which is the tendency and the fruit of the process of regen-
eration as taught and exemplified by the Apostles, and those com-
mended by God, in their writings.

We now proceed to offer a few remarks on physical regeneration,
the second part of our subject.



Our mortal bodies are yet to feel the regenerating power of the
Son of God. This is emphatically called "the glory of his power."
"The redemption of the body" from the bondage of corruption, is the
consummation of the new-creating energy of him who has immortality.
Lite and incorruptibility were displayed in and by his resurrection
from the dead. It was great to create man in the image of God,
greater to redeem his soul from general corruption, but greatest of all
to give to his mortal frame incorruptible and immortal vigor. The
power displayed in the giving to the dead body of the Son of God
incorruptible glory and endless life, is set forth by the Apostle Paul
as incomparably surpassing every other divine work within the reach
of human knowledge. He prays that the mind of Christians may be
enlarged to apprehend this mighty power — that the Father of glory
would open their minds, "that they might know the exceeding greatness
of his power in relation to us who believe^ — according to the working
of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him
from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heav-enly
places." Faith in this wonderful operation of God — hope for the riches
of the glory of the inheritance of the saints in light, are the most
powerful principles of action which God has ever planted in the human
breast. This is the transcendent hope of the Christian calling, which
imparted such heroic courage to all the saints of eternal renown. This
better resurrection in prospect, has produced heroes which make cow-
ards of all the boasted chiefs of worldly glory. As the magnetic
needle ever points to the pole, so the mind influenced by this hope
ever rises to the skies, and terminates on the fulness of joy and the
pleasures forevermore, in the presence and at the right hand of God.

To raise a dead body to life again, is not set forth as more glorious
than by a touch to give new vigor to the palsied arm, to impart sight
to the blind, or hearing to the deaf; but to give that raised body the
deathless vigor of incorruptibility, to renovate and transform it in all
its parts, and to make every spirit feel that it reanimates its own body,
that is as insusceptible of decay, as immortal as the Father of eternity,
is a thought overwhelming to every mind, a development which will
glorify the power of God, as the sacrifice of his Son now displays his
righteousness, faithfulness, and love to the heavens and to the earth.

This new birth from the dark prison of the grave, is fitly styled
"the redemption of the body" from bondage, "the glorious liberty of
the sons of God." As in our watery grave the old man is figuratively
buried to rise no more, so in the literal grave, the prison of the body,
we leave all that is corrupt; for he that .makes all things new will
raise us up in his own likeness, and present us before his Father's


face in all the glory of immortality. Then will regeneration be com-
plete. Then will be the full revelation of the .sons of God.

Immortality, in the sacred writings, is never applied to the spirit of
man. It is not the doctrine of Plato which the resurrection of Jesus
proposes. It is the immortality of the body of which his resurrection
Is a proof and pledge. This was never developed till he became the
first born from the dead, and in a human body entered the heavens
Jesus was not a spirit when he returned to God. He is not made the
Head of the New Creation as a Spirit, but as the Son of Man. Our
nature in his person is glorified; and when he appears to our salvation,
we shall be made like him: we shall then see him as he is. This is the

Christian hope.

"A hope 80 great and so diviiio

May trials well endure,
And purify tlie soul from sense and sin,
As Christ himself is pure."

Thus matters stand in the economy of redemption. Thus the divine
scheme of regeneration ia consummated: the moral part, by the oper-
ation of moral means; the physical part, by the mighty power of God
operating through physical means. By the word of his power he
created the heavens and the earth; by the word of his grace he reani-
mates the soul of man; and by the word of his power he will again
form our bodies anew, and reunite the spirit and the body in the
bonds of an incorruptible and everlasting union. Then shall death "be
swallowed up forever."

" Where now thy victory, boasting grave ?"
But for this we must patiently wait "We know not what we shall be.'*
We only know, that when he appears we shall be like him; that we
shall see him as he is.

One would imagine, from the voluminous arguments, debates and
sermons upon the theory of regeneration, that a sound theory was
essential to salvation: that it must be preached in every sermon, in
order to regenerate the hearers. Nothing can be more preposterous.
Who can think that any theory of the resurrection or regeneration of
the body, can affect the body in the grave! As little can any theory
affect the unregenerate, or those dead in trespasses and in sins. A
sermon upon generation, or upon natural birth, would be as efficacious
upon those unborn in bringing them into this life, as a sermon upon
moral or physical regeneration. This explains the fact, that in all
the accounts of apostolical preaching to Jew and Gentile — in all the
extracts of tlieir sermons and speeches found in the New Testament,
the subject of regeneration is not once mentioned. It is. in all the
historic books of the New Testament, but once propounded, but onci^


named; and that only in a private conference with a Jewish senator
on the affairs of Christ's kingdom. No theory understood or believed
by the unregenerate; no theory proposed to them for their acceptance,
can avail any thing to their regeneration. We might as reasonably
deliver a theory on digestion to a dyspeptic, to cure his stomach — or
a theory upon vegetation to a scion, to hasten its growth, as to preach
any view of regeneration to a sinner, to make him a Christian.

Of what use, then, are the previous remarks on this subject? I
will first candidly inform the reader, that they were not written for
his regeneration, either of mind or body; but for the benefit of those
who are employed in the work of regenerating others, and for the
convictions of such Christians as may have been induced to regard us
as aiming at nothing but the mere immersion of persons, as alone
necessary to the whole process of conversion or regeneration, in their
acceptation of these words.* The use of this theory, if it have any,
is, as a guide to those who are laboring publicly or privately for the
regeneration of sinners. If we have assigned a proper place to facts,
testimony, faith, feeling, action, the bath of regeneration, the renewing

■■■It may again be necessary in this fastidious age to remark, that in this essay, in
order to disabuse the public mind on our use and acceptation of the term regeneration,
■we have taken the -widest range -which a supreme regard for the apostolic style could, in
our judgment, allow. While -we argue that the phrase bath of regeneration (Tit. iii. 5) is
equivalent to immersion, as already explained, and as contradistinguished from the re-
newiwj of the Holy Spirit, of -which the immersed believer is a proper subject; we have
spoken of the -whole process of renovation, not in the strict application of the phrase,
(Tit. iii. 5,) but rather in tlie -whole latitude of the figure employed by tlie Apostle. It is
not the first act of begetting, nor the last act of being born, but the -w^holc process of
conversion alluded to in the figure of generation, to -which we have directed the attention
of our readers. For, as often before stated, our opponents deceive themselves and their
hearers by representing us as ascribing to the -word immersion and the act of immersion
all that they call regeneration. While, therefore, we contend that being "born again,"
and being immersed, are, in the Apostle's style, two names for the same action, we are
far from supposing or teaching that in forming the new man there is nothing necessary
but to be born.

If any ask why this matter was not fully developed in our first essays on this subject,
our answer is, Because we could not anticipate that our opponents would have so repre-
sented or misrepresented our views. Were a General asked why he did not arrange all
his troops in the beginning of the action as he had them arranged when ho triumphed
over his enemy, he would reply that the manoeuvres and assaults of the enemy directed
the disposition of his forces.

Our opponents contend for a regeneration begun and perfected before faith or bap-
tism—a spiritual change of mind by the Holy Spirit antecedent to either knowledge,
faith, or repentance, of which infants are as susceptible as adults; and therefore, as we
contend, make the gospel of no effect. By way of reprisals they would have their con-
verts to think that we go for nothing but water, and sarcastically call us the advocates
of " water regeneration." They think there is something more sublime and divine in
"spirit regeneration ;" and therefore claim the title of orthodox. This calumny has
been one occasion of the present essay, and it has occasioned that part of it which gives
the fullest latitude to the term regeneration, which analogy gives to the figure used by
the Apostle. But when we speak in the exact style of the living oracles on this subject,
we must represent being born again, (.John iii. 5,) and regeneration, (Tit. iii. 5,) as relating
to the act of immersion alone. See Extra Defended, pp. 24-36.


of the Holy Spirit, and a new life, the course is fairly marked out
They are to present the great facts, to declare the whole testimony of
God to sinners, in order to their conversion or regeneration. Like
Paul, In his account of his labors in Corinth, they must go out, not in
the strength of human philosophy, "hut declaring the ieslimony of
Ood," and laying before their hearers "the wonderful works of God. "

This is the use, and the only proper use of sound theory on any
subject. It is to guide the operator, not the thing operated upon. I
would hope, under the Divine blessing, to be the means of regenerating
more persons in one year, never once naming regeneration, nor specu-
lating upon the subject, by stating and enforcing the testimony of God,
than by preaching daily the most approved theory of regeneration ever
sanctioned by any sanhedrim on earth.* With these views we have,
then, offered the preceding remarks; and shall now briefly turn our
attention* to


The word regeneration we have found once used in the sense of a
new state of things, or of the introduction of a new state of things.

*Auguat l«^— I have jnst now opened the Cincinnati Baptist Journal of 2f)th July, from
which r reaii an approveil definition <>f regeneration. It is orthodox, spiritual, physical,
mystical, and metaphysical Regeneration. It is quoted from the Standard. Regenera-
tion, in the Evatijdical i<tandard, is thus defined :—

" Is the sinner active in regeneration ? Certainly ho is. His mind is a thinking,
rational principle, which never ceases to act; and therefore, when the word pamie is
applied to it, by Old Divines, or by Calvinists, they do not mean that it is literally dead,
like inert matter, which requires a physical impulse to put it in motion. They only
mean to convey the Scriptural idea that the Holy Spirit is the sole agent in regeneration,
and that the sinner has no more efficient agency in accomplishing it, than Lazarus had in
becoming alive from the dead. Still they grant that his mind is most active, but un-
hap|)ily its activity is all against Iho Divine influence; as the Scriptures assure us. un-
ngenerated persons ' do always resist ' the strivings of the Spirit. ' Every imagination
of the thoughts of man's heart, is only c\i\ continually.' 'There is none that doeth
good, no, not one.' The sinner, therefore, instead of voluntarily co-operating with the
Holy Spirit, does all he can to rf«i.?niis divine influence, and pretend his own regeneration
until he is made willing by almighty power."

What a comfortable thing is this theory of regeneration ! The sinner is to be re-
generated when actively striving against the Divine influence. At the moment of regen-
eration "he has," in one sense, " no more efllcient agency in accomplishing it, than
Lazarus had in becoming alive from the dead; " and in another sense, he is not passive,
but "does all he can to regi.~t the Divine influence, and prevent his own regeneration,
until he is made willing by almighty power." This is ftanda d divinity; and he that
preaches this divinity, is a pious, regenerated, Regular Orthodox Baptist Christian
Minister! How much value, on this theory, is all the preaching in Christendom? The
Holy Spirit may be busily at work upon some drunken sot, or some vile debauchee, who
is a.s dead as Lazarus on one side, and on the other resisting the Spirit, with all his moral
and physical energy, up to the moment that the almighty arm pierces him to the heart,
without a sword, and makes him alive by killing him!l!

The absurdity and licentiousness of such a view of the great work of renovation, wo
had thought so glaring, that no editor in the West would have had boldness to have pub-
lished it. This is a proof of the necessity of our present essay, and will explain to the
Intelligent reader why we have given to the whole process of renovation the name of
legeneration, which properly belongs to the last act.


(Matt. xix. 28.) In this application of the word, we would turn the
attention of our readers to the necessity of the regeneration of the

I speak not of the regeneration of any sectarian establishment.
They are built upon another foundation — upon the foundation of
decrees of councils, creeds, formularies, or acts of Parliament. But
we speak of those societies that professedly build upon the founda-
tion of Apostles and Prophets, without any human bond of union,
or rule of life — our brethren of the reformation or regeneration now
in process.

Should any one imagine that the state of things to which we have
attained is the sole, or ultimate object of our aspirations, or our efforts,
he would do us the greatest injury. Societies indeed may be found
amongst us far in advance of others in their progress towards the
ancient order of things; but we know of none that has fully attained
to that model. It is, however, most acceptable to see so many societies
formed and forming under the banners of reformation, with the deter-
mination to move onwards in conformity to the sacred oracles, till
they stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Our opponents can not, or will not, understand how any society can
be in progress to a better order of things than that under which they
may have commenced their pilgrimage. Their sectarian policies were
soon formed, and the limits of their reformation were soon fixed,
beyond which it soon became heretical to move. The founders of all
new schisms not only saw through a glass darkly, but their horizon
was so circumscribed with human traditions, that they only aimed at
moving a few paces from the hive in which they were generated. A
new creed was soon adopted, and then their stature was complete.
They bounded from infancy to manhood in a few days, and decided
if any presumed farther to advance, they should be treated as those
who had refused to move from the old hive. Hence it became as
censurable to grow beyond a certain standard, as not to grow at all.
This never was our proposition, and never can be our object. We have
no new creed to form, no rules of discipline to adopt. We have taken
the Living Oracles as our creed, our rules and measures of faith and
practice; and in this department, have no additions, alterations, nor
amendments to propose. But in coming up to this standard of knowl-
edge, faith, and behaviour, we have something yet before us, to whicli
we have not attained.

That we may be distinctly understood on this subject, we shall
speak particularly on the things wanting in our individual characters,
and of the things wanting in our church order, to give to our meetings
that interest and influence which they ought to exert on the brothei-
Jiood and on society at large.


It will be understood, that our remarks on the things which are
v/anting in the disciples, are applicable not to every individual, but to
the general mass. And first of all, there is wanting a more general
and particular knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, than is possessed
by the great majority of the reformers. There is, perhaps, wanting a
taste or disposition for that private devotional reading of the oracles

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 55 of 70)