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CILAPTER THE SECOND,
OF REGENERATION. A S the term Regeneration, or New-birth, is A frequently used by modern Calvinists, when speaking of their favourite tenets of instantaneous conversion and indefectible grace, it may be proper to explain the application and true meaning of this word in Seripture, and in the Public Formularies of our Church.
It was observed in the former chapter, that the transgression of Adam causes all his posterity to be born with a corrupt nature ; that the recovery from this fallen condition cannot be accomplished but through the atonement of Christ; and that baptism is, by the appointment of our Saviour himself, the form and seal of admission into his religion. “They that receive baptism rightly (9),” are immediately translated from the curse of Adam to the grace of Christ; the original guilt which they brought into the world is mystically washed away; and they obtain forgiveness of the actual sins which they may themselves have committed ; they become reconciled to God, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and heirs of eternal happiness; they acquire a new name, a new hope; a new faith, a new rule of life. This great and wonderful change in the condition of man is as it were a new nature, (9) Art, 27. G2
a new state of existence; and the holy rite by which these invaluable blessings are communicated is by St. Paul figuratively called “Regeneration (9)," or New-birth. Our Saviour in his conversation with Nicodemus, as recorded by St. John, first says, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (r);" and when Nicodemus did not comprehend how a man could be born a second time, Christ explained what he meant by being “ born again” in these words, “ Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, lie cannot enter into the kingdom of God (s):" it is universally agreed that to be “ born of water and of the Spirit,” referred to the Sacrament of Baptism, which our Saviour was hereafter to institute, and therefore being “ born again” and baptism signify the same thing. John the Baptist had declared that our Saviour would baptize with the Holy Ghost (t). This Regeneration or New-birth by Baptism is alluded to in several of the Epistles, “ begotten again unto a lively hope (u);" “ dead in sins, and quickened together with Christ (x);" “buried with Christ in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him
through (9) Tit. c. 3. v. 5. This is the only place in which the word Regeneration itself is used in Scripture, except Matt. c. 19. v. 28. where it refers neither to Baptism, nor to the Calvinistic sense of the word. (r) John, c. 3. v. 3. (s) V.5. (t) Matt. c. 3. v. II.
(u) 1 Pet. c. I. v. 3." (*) Eph. c. 2. v. 5.
through the Faith of the operation of God (u);": “ born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible (v):" these expressions all relate to a single act once performed upon every individual-an act essential to the character of a Christian, and of such importance that it is declared to be instrumental to our Salvation, “baptism doth now save us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (y);" “ according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of Regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (2). “As we are not naturally men without birth, so neither are we Christian men, in the eye of the church of God, but by new-birth; nor, according to the manifest ordinary course of divine dispensations, new-born, but by that baptism which both declareth and maketh us Christians. In which respect we justly hold it to be the door of our actual entrance into God's house, the first apparent beginning of life fb).” Christians then have, what Bishop Pearson calls “ a double birth (c),” namely a natural birth from Adam, and a spiritual birth from Christ. There cannot be two natural births, neither can there be two spiritual births. There cannot be two first entrances into a natural life, neither can tbere be two first entrances into a spiritual life.
There (u) Col. c. 2. v. 12. (x) 1 Pet. c. 1. v. 23. (y) 1 Pet. c. 3. v. 21. (%) Tit. c. 3. v. 5. (b) Hooker, Book 5. (c) On the Creed, Art, 1.
There cannot be a second Baptism, or a second Regeneration. 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 promised (d),” a repetition of the promise is never necessary; being once made by Him," with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (e),” it continues in force for ever. The promise is indeed conditional ; and if men neglect to perform the conditions, they have no longer any claim to the privileges and blessings of the covenant into which they entered. Those Christians, who, in the primitive age, had fallen into error or relapsed into wickedness, 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 renewed in the spirit of your mind (f);" “ Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (g);” “The inward man is renewed day by day (h),” 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 (i).”
St. (d) Heb. c. 1o. v. 23. (e) Jas. c. 1. v. 17.
) Eph. c. 4. v. 23. (8) Rom. c. 12. v. 2, (h) 2 Cor.c. 4. v. 16. (i) Heb. c. 6. v. 6.
St. John, in the Revelation, commands the churches, which held unsoumd doctrine, or were guilty of immoral practices, not to be regenerated, but to “repent (j).” The words Regeneration and born again are, therefore, in Scripture applied to the one immediate effect of baptism once administered, and are never used as synonymous to the repentance or reformation of a Christian, or to express any operation of the Holy Ghost upon the human mind subsequent to baptism. “And the Christians did in all antient times continue the use of this name for baptism; so as that they never use the word regenerate or born again, but that they mean or denote by it baptism (k).”
We shall find this word used exactly in the same manner in our Liturgy, Articles, and HomiJies. In the beginning of the service of Public Baptism of Infants, we pray, that the infant brought to be baptized “inay be washed and sanctified with the Holy Ghost; may receive remission of his sins by spiritual Regeneration; may be born again ; and that the old Adam may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in him.” Immediately after the priest has baptized the child by pronouncing the words commanded by our Saviour, and has sigued him with the
sigo (j) Rev. c. 2. v. 5, & 16. c. 3. v. 3, & 19. (k) Wall's Hist. of Inf. Bapt. Int. Sect. 6.