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time and during the process of the work, in any sense of the present
agency, at all concerned or operative in the new birth. Man is both
the subject and the cause of the new creation. He quickens his own
heart, and nurses and develops it through the whole process of regen-
eration, with no concurring agency from God. He is, at once, his own
spiritual father, mother, and child — and thus self-originated, he goes
forth the sole and unaided architect of his own fortune, and climbs
onward and upward to the rest of the perfect. True, he is furnished
with a verbal directory, telling him the way, but with this no aid
is given strengthening him to follow it He must walk alone and in
his own strength, amid its perils and over its wearisome heights, and
experiencing nothing but the triumphs of his own power, and enjoy-
ing nothing but the self-gratulation of his self-saving victories, and
hoping for nothing save the ultimate attainment of the promise!
reward, as meet achievement of his own meritorious struggles, he must


work out as a glorious and mighty hero, unaided and alone, his own

We trust there are but few who hold, even spiritually, this impious
and godless theory of human deliverance. Sure we are, that no one
can practically walk by it, and be a Christian at all. His heart is
not, can not be in any vital union with Christ. As well might we
expect a branch to furnish the juices of its own growth, or a stream
to feed its own fountains, as that a Christian can live and grow in
all spiritual graces, without constant and perpetual union with Christ,
the everflowing fountain opened in the house of David for sin and
undeanness, in whom dwelleth all the goodness of the Godhead bodily,
and in whom alone, as the head of all principality and power, we are
complete. Of such it must be truly said, that being puffed up by their
fleshly mind they do not hold the Head, from whom the whole body,
by the joints which bind it, draws full supplies for all its needs, and
is knit together, and increases in godly growth.

We know of no one thought more prominent and vital in the Chris-
tian scheme than this of actual, real, abiding, living union with Christ
and his people. The w^ritings of the Apostles abound with the over-
flowings of their faith in and experience of this ever-present and sus-
taining power. They describe it as Christ being in us, and as our
being in Christ : John, the beloved Apostle, speaks of it as a matter
of knoicledge; "Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit
which he hath given us;" and again, "Hereby know we that we dwell
in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."* Our
Saviour himself says, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my
Father, and ye in me, and I in you." t

It is illustrated by a vine and its branches; by a foundation and
the building resting upon it: by a body and its members; and with
great force and beauty by the mysterious union and oneness of husband
and wife.

Its beneficial results include all the peculiar privileges and bless-
ings of the Christian — for without Christ we are nothing. It is because
we are in him that his righteousness is imparted to us (Phil. iii. 9) ;
that we are made free from condemnation (Rom. viii. 1); that we
are delivered from the dominion of sin (John iii. 6); that we are
created anew (II. Cor. v. 17); that the Holy Spirit dwelleth in us
(Rom. viii. 10) ; that our prayers are answered (John xv, 7) and that
we shall have confidence at his coming (I. John ii. 28) : and surely the
man who lacketh all these things, not being in Christ, not holding the
Head, is no Christian. False teachers are all such, who would beguile
us of our reward and keep us still subject to ordinances. Well might

•I. John iii. 24; iv. 13. f John xiv. 20.


the Apostle, filled with the sublime contemplation of this glorious
union, exclaim, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth
is named, that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory,
to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and
grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is
the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth ; and to know the love
of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the
fullness of God.*

But whilst this is so manifestly a doctrine, we might almost say
the sum total of practical Christianity, we are not content to receive
it as such. We must push our speculations beyond the declared fact,
and the experienced blessing, into the inquiry as to the possible manner
in which the union is effected and enjoyed. We must have a philo-
sophic answer to the how of this revealed doctrine, and if in these
inquiries we can not agree, the next step is to erect our speculative
defenses into grounds of fellowship, and tests of orthodoxy. So far as
this inquiry relates to our part in entering into and enjoying this
union, the inquiry is not only legitimate, but necessary. What he must
do — his faith and his works are, indeed, man's great and appropriate
concern. About these he must diligently search the Scriptures, and
examine his own heart. Every means placed within his power must
be known and employed; every instrumentality appointed to help him
must be called into requisition, and diligently and faithfully used; no
precept, and no example should be ignored or neglected. His faith must
be commensurate with the truth as it is revealed, and his practice, the
living exponent, and legitimate fruit of his faith. On these points
be may, and it is his imperious duty, constantly and prayerfully to
search the Scriptures.

But suppose that in this search he finds some promise, the perform-
ance of which rests with God. Suppose he meets with declarations
respecting spiritual aids and influences, which, upon the condition of
his faith and obedience, the heavenly Father, in the simplest, most
literal and positive language, assures us he will render to his frail
and erring children to help them in their endeavor to work out in fear
and trembling their everlasting salvation; — shall he falter to receive
such because he can not penetrate into the mystery of the manner in
which it may be done? Because his speculative talent is weak, too
weak to untangle the mystic maze of spiritual intercommunicatioR,
shall his faith be staggered and his prayers hindered? Or, if by long
and vexing thinking and reflection, he has at length constructed a

•Eph. iii. 14-19.


cunningly devised theory by which, to his own satisfaction at least, he-
can solve the mystery, shall he next propound this as God's revelation
and set it up as a standard of other men's thinking and believing?
Should he not rather humbly and meekly say, God's ways are not
as our ways. These are the deep things of God. Let us receive them
in faith and practice, work and pray for the blessing, rather than
dispute and divide about the philosophy. The promise is of God; the
gift to be conferred is of his grace; the means, instrumentalities and
conditions of its reception, so far as our action is involved, are clearly
and positively revealed, and now, what have we to do to reply against
GodI Let us believe and obey — and the truth of the doctrine shall be
demonstrated by the trial, in the sweet and blissful experience of every
true and loyal-hearted disciple who sits as a child at the feet of Jesus
and his inspired teachers — "If any man will do his will, he shall know
of the doctrine, whether it be of God." *

Brethren, let us take care that we be not beguiled of our reward
by these vain, and, in some instances, impious attempts to prescribe
laws to the divine agency, and to set limits to the working of his won-
drous will. It is enough for us to attend to our own part in the work-
ing out of our salvation, and to leave the part of God to himself. Our
speculations can not make or unmake one principle or law, nor a^d to
nor subtract from one element of agency or power that our Creator
has reserved in his own hands, and we but waste our time and injure
the peace of Zion when we presume to intrude into things which ice
have not seen ; which are revealed to us as facts, the philosophy of
which is not griven, and which, it may be is too high for our present
power ever to reach. w. k. p.

In the Harbinger for 1861, page 677, Isaac Errett says:


We frequently find an error in the use of the terms here used as a
caption, out of which grow many misunderstandings. They are popu-
larly used as equivalents, or nearly so. Hence the consciousness o?
a change within is often accepted as an evidence of pardon. The
natural result of abandoning rebellion and returning to the will of God
— namely, a sweet peace and satisfaction of soul — is regarded and
accepted as the voice of God conveying an inner revelation cf forgive-
ness. Hence, too, when we insist on the Bible affirmation of baptism
"for remission of sins," it is caught up as an affirmation of baptismal
regeneration : we are regarded as teaching that in baptism God makes
an immediate communication to the soul, alike of regenerating power
and of spiritual joy — giving through baptism an inner revelation of
pardon and adoption.

'John vii. 17.


It may be well, therefore, to clear these terms of ambiguily, and
clearly mark the line of distinction between them.

Regeneration is a new creation. When this term or its equivalents
is applied to physical nature — as to the resurrection of the dead, and
the new heavens and earth* — it expresses a work of omnipotence
wrought on inanimate matter, and is used in its literal sense. When
applied to the spiritual nature of man, it expresses a work of grace
wrought on a rational, responsible nature; and is used figuratively.
It is a work resulting in new views, new principles, new affections,
new aims, new enjoyments, and fully consummated in a new life, f
It is wrought, not by omnipotence, but by the word of truth, through
which the life-giving, life-sustaining power of the Spirit is communi-
cated; t and is consummated in baptism, through which the believing
penitent enters into new relationships and a new life.§ A regenerated
man, therefore, is a new creature in these particulars:

1. He has new principles — being now a man of faith, where before
he was an unbeliever, and walked by sight, "according to the course
of this world." Thus while we read, in one passage, "circumcision
availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature;" \\ we have
the same sentiment expressed in the same epistle, substituting faith
for the new creature: "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avail-
eth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith." **

2. He has new desires and affections — hating sin and loving right-
eousness — divorced in his heart from the world, and loving God.
Hence the verse last quoted has the following attribute of faith spe-
cially mentioned: "which worketh by love."

3. He sustains neiv relationships — having entered into the kingdom
of God, where God is his Father, Jesus his King and Saviour, the Holy
Spirit his Guest, the church his home. Christians his brethren, angels
his servants, and the world, the flesh and the devil his enemies. He
is "in Christ Jesus," a new creature. "Old things are passed away;
behold all things are become new." ft

Now all this change — this series of changes — is internal, save th«
change of state or relationship accomplished by the birth of water —
baptism. The first distinction, then, to be made is. That regeneration
ts wrought in or upon us; but the same can not be affirmed of the
forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness takes place in the heart of the party
sinned against. "There is forgiveness with God." "Forgive one
another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Now when
men forgive one another, does forgiveness take place in the heart oi
the offender? Nay, in the heart of the offended party. If A sins

-Matt. xix. 28; II. Pet. iii. 13; Rev. xxi. 1, 5. + John i. 13; iii. 3, 5; II. Cor. v. 17;

1. Pet. i. 23; Tit. iii. 5. X I. Pet. i. 23; .las. i. 18. $John iii. 5; Tit. iii. 5; Eph. v. 26.

II Gal. vi. 15. «=Gal. v. 6. -H-See II. Cor. v. 17; Gal. v. 6; vi. 15.


against B, and forgiveness is ever exercised, every one must see that
forgiveness is present as a matter of consciousness in the heart of B,
and not in the heart of A. Therefore, while regeneration is wrought
ill us, foryivcness is accomplished in heaven, at the mercy-seat. It is
the act of the Sovereign who holds the pardoning power. Is not this
a very wide distinction — regeneration wrought on earth, forgiveness
iji heaven; regeneration wrought in the heart and in the life of fhe
sinner, forgiveness in the heart of Godf Is it not passing strange that
they should ever be confounded?

It is replied, however, that although God dispenses pardon at the
mercy-seat, yet he conveys the evidence of pardon to the penitent in
an immediate communication of the Holy Spirit, so that pardoning love
is felt and known in the sinner's heart. On this we remark:

1. That even were this true, the communication of pardon must
still, in the nature of things, be widely different from that moral and
spiritual change which is called regeneration. The fact that I hate
sin and love righteousness and holiness, must always remain different
from the fact that God has pardoned my sins. The former might be
fully realized without any knowledge of the latter. The latter does
not follow even as a logical consequence of the former, but simply
because of the revelation God has made of himself in the gospel. But

2. We deny that there is any such special revelation to the indi-
vidual heart of forgiveness. We do not deny the power of God to make
such communication, if he saw fit; but we deny that he has promised
to make such revelation. We affirm that he has forbidden us to
expect it.

(a) In the general proclamation of pardon in the gospel, connecting
the promise of pardon with certain conditions. "Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and
is baptized shall be saved." * Now this is a mere nullity if there is
a special revelation of the fact of pardon, apart from the gospel.
Indeed, if such special revelation assures the soul of pardon on any
other than gospel conditions, it contradicts the gospel, and makes it
a lie — which Is worse than a nullity. On the other hand, if the special
revelation merely reaffirms the gospel conditions, it is useless, since
these are already known and substantiated as divine; and, on this
supposition, the special revelation can not be given until the conditions
are complied with, when it surely is not needed, and has no value.
Moreover, there is so much danger of delusion in these internal reve-
lations, that they must be tried by the external revelation before one
knows whether to believe them or not! "I have heard what the
prophets said that prophesy lies in my name, saying, / have dreamed, I

'■Mark xvi. 15, 16.


have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets
that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own
heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their
dreams, which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers
have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream,
let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my
word faithfully: what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."*
"To the law and to the tesitimony; if they speak not according to this
word, it is because there is no light in them." t

(&) It is forbidden by express Scripture precept. "Say not in thine
heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down
from above: ) or. Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up
Christ again from the dead.) The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth
and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach; that if
thou Shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in
thine heart that God hath raisied him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." f Compare this with the passage from which it is drawn
(Deut. XXX. 11-14,) and be satisfied that we have not to wait for special

(c) Facts forbid it. Not Cornelius, nor Saul, nor the Ethiopian,
could get a special internal revelation of pardon. The angel would
not tell Cornelius. The Holy Spirit would not tell the Treasurer of
Ethiopia. Jesus himself would not tell Saul. Cornelius had to send
for Peter.§ The eunuch had to learn from Philip. || Saul had to learn
from Ananias.** From the day that Jesus ascended to heaven, there is
not an instance of the evidence of pardon communicated in any other
way than by the conditions and promises of the gospel, uttered by
human lips. The evidence of pardon is in the gospel promise; and that
promise being conditional, we approach it through compliance with the
conditions. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." ft
"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ,
for the remission of sins."H "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth
the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him
from the dead, thou shalt be saved." §§ "Whosoever shall call on the
namie of the Lord shall be saved — for the same Lord over all is rich
in mercy to all that call upon him." |1 1| "Arise and be baptized, and
wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord." ***

In perfect harmony with this, the Westminster Confession says:
"The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used,
is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a
sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth admin-

• Jer. xxiii. 25-28. f Isa. viii. 20. t Rom. x. 6-9. $ Acts x. 5, 6.

II Acts viii. 27-40. **Acts xxii. 10-16. ++ Mark xvi. 16. U Acts ii. 38.

$$Bom. X. 9. II II Rom. x. 12, 13. =-*Acts xxii. 16.


isler it; but upon the work of the Spirit and the tcord of instilulioii,
which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thcerof, a
promise of benefit to icorthy receivers."

We are not forgetful of the passage so constantly quoted to prove
this disputed point: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit
that we are the children of God." * But this is wide of the mark.
We are discussing the evidence of pardon — not the evidence of sonship.

We are prepared now to put the distinction between regeneration
and forgiveness in another form. Regeneration is a matter of con
sciousness — forgiveness is a matter of faith. We knoic we believe*
we know we repent; we know we are baptized; these are matters of
experience, because they are wrought in or upon us. But we can not
ft el or know that our sins are forgiven; we believe this — our faith
resting on the promise of God. We feci iii consequence of forgiveness —
a feeling of peace and joy, proportioned to the clearness and fullness
of our faith, flowing in upon the heart that embraces the promise of
pardon in the gospel.

Can not the reader now see that baptism can be for remission of
sins, \\ithout involving the idea of baptismal regeneration? Baptism
enables the proper subject of it to lay hold on the conditional promise
of pardon, and say, this now is mine. It therefore simply conveys
the Scriptural assurance of pardon to the person spiritually qualified
to receive it.

There is, indeed, a point of contact between, regeneration and remis-
sion of sins. The latter is the irnmediate result of the former. The
baptism which consummates regeneration in a change of state or rela-
tionship, is the very act which brings us to the gospel promise of
pardon. But if any minds unaccustomed to nice discriminations, finJ
themselves in danger of confusion at this point, let them reflect, that
all that is generally called regeneration has preceded the act of hap-
tistn. The change of mind and of heart — the turning of the inner man
to the knowledge and love of Jesus, to a trust in His sacriflce, and an
acquiescence in his will — has already been accomplished in faith and
repentance. Baptism but accomplishes a change of state — an entrance
into new covenant relations; and in establishing covenant relations,
entitles its subject to the covenant promise, "I will be merciful to your
unrighteousness, and your sins and iniquities I will remember no
more." t

Gospel conditions run into each other and blend so perfectly, that
we dislike to enter on too nice a classification. Yet it may assist to
guide some minds aright if we present an outline of the gospel arrange-
ment, so far as conditions are concerned. We simply forewarn the

^-Roin. viii. 1(>. +II.-1). viii. 1(M2.


metaphysical reader that we are aware how certainly these conditions
run into each other, and how easily metaphysical cavils can be raised
over this or any other syllabus:


1. Faith, or a new mind, "\ constitute a new creation, inter-

2. Repentance, or a new will, I nally and externally, in princi-

3. Baptism, or a new state, j pie, in aim, and in position.


1. Faith ultimates in a new heart, purified from selfishness, and

trusting in Christ;

2. Repentance in a new life, redeemed from rebellion, and accept-
ing the Lordship of Jesus;

3. Baptism in a good conscience, purified from the sense of guilt.

So that the subject of these is
a Pure in his desires;
& Submissive to the will of God;
c Pardoned and accepted as a child of God, and in his new state

prepared to receive the Holy Spirit, and to live the Christian



1. Faith rests on the truth of God;

2. Repentance on the goodness of God;

3. Baptism on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

We believe, because the truth of God banishes our doubts.

We repent, because the unspeakable love of God conquers our stub-

We are baptized, because the authority of the Lord Jesus has become
all in all to us.

The result of all this is,

a The forgiveness of sins.

6 Adoption into the family of God.

c The earnest of the Spirit.

d The hope of everlasting life.

Is it not a new creation?

This regenerated person has now, as his portion, until heaven is
gained :

1. The Word of grace, to guide him.

2. The Throne of grace, to shelter him.

3. The Spirit of grace, to comfort him.

Continuing faithful to the end, he will be the subject of a physical
resurrection of the dead; and a purified spirit in a glorified body will
inherit the new heavens and earth, wherein righteousness shall dwell
forever. i. e.


In 1859, page 61, Mr. Campbell says:


These are the four cardinal themes of the true Christology, and of
a Biblical Theology. Very much, indeed, depends upon a Scriptural
definition and appreciation of terms so cardinal. They give birth to
four verbs of large comprehension, — to regenerate, to justify, to sanc-
tify, and to adopt.

These being, one and all, Scriptural terms, we must consider their
precise Scriptural currency and value in the apostolic writings, if we
would enjoy the gospel. Their popular currency, in modern creeds,
is, indeed, one inquiry, and their evangelic currency, in the apostolic
diction and style, is quite another inquiry. The latter, with us, is
paramount. We have, on former occasions, remonstrated against an
erroneous conception and appropriation of these terms. They are yet
occasionally used inappropriately, the four cardinal terms in modem
and in original Christian terminology. Regeneration is represented in
the Greek Christian Scriptures, by Paliggenesia. It is not found, or
has no representative in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is a new covenant
or New Testament term. And, therefore, it belongs exclusively to the
Christian Institution. In Matt xix. 28, its first occurrence, it is
defined by our highest authorities in these words: "Regeneratio per
quam ihi intelUgiiiir totius naturae nostrae perfecta renevatio et instau-
ratio, plenaria peccati et mortis abolitio;" which we literally translate
in the following words:

By this word is here understood — "a perfect renovation and instaiir

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 59 of 70)