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AVOWED SENTIMENTS OF THE BISHOP ON REGENERA
TION, JUSTIFICATION, FAITH, AND GOOD WORKS,
The Bishop's avowed Sentiments on REGENERATION,
1. The subject stated. § 2. The 'word Regeneration as used by Calvinists. § 3. Admitted
by them in different senses. § 4. They do not confound Regeneration and Conversion. § 5. Nor limit the time of either,
§ 6. Remarks on being “ born of Water and of the Spirit.” 7. In what sense Baptism may be called a new birth. § 8. A
spiritual change not an immediate effect of Baptism. $ 9. The formation of Christian virtues and tempers may be called Regeneration. $ 10. The Calvinists do not confound Regeneration with
“ indefectible grace.” § 11-25. Passages out of the New Testament produced by the
Bishop to prove that Regeneration signifies Baptism, examined. § 26. Christians have a double birth. $ 27. Candidates for
Baptism were supposed to be regenerated in the scriptural sense. 28–31. The meaning of the term Regeneration, as used by the
Christian Fathers, examined.
§ 1. Under this head, we find his Lordship explicitly avowing, and indeed contending, that regeneration is the immediate effect of baptism--and is never used in scripture or by the Fathers to express any operation upon the human mind subsequent to baptism. Thus he states his thoughts on the term itself and its meaning. As the term Regeneration, or New
birth, is frequently used by modern Calvinists, 6 when speaking of their favourite tenets of in• stantaneous conversion and indefectible grace, • it may be proper to explain the application and true meaning of this word in scripture,
and in the public formularies of our church.'Those who are baptized are immediately trans• lated from the curse of Adam to the
of * Christ.— They become reconciled to God, par• takers of the Holy Ghost, and heirs of eternal happiness.—This great and wonderful change in the condition of man is as it were a new nature, a new state of existence; and the holy rite by which these invaluable blessings are 'communicated is by St. Paul figuratively called
Regeneration," or New-birth. Many similar ' phrases occur in the New Testament, such as “born of Water and of the Spirit;"“ begotten again unto a lively hope;"
;" “ dead in sins, and 'quickened together with Christ;" “ buried with · Christ in baptism;" “ born again, not of cor
ruptible seed, but of incorruptible.”—“Baptism * doth now save us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” According to his mercy he
saved us by the washing of regeneration, and * the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” “Except ' a man be born again, he cannot see the ' kingdom of God."* • The word Regeneration
* Refut. p. 83.
* therefore is in scripture solely and exclusively applied to the one immediate effect of baptism once administered, and is 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 i to baptism.'* His Lordship also quotes the following passages with approbation: “ The Christians did in all ancient 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.” + “ Regeneration in the language of the Fathers constantly signifies the participation of the sacrament of baptism.”
§ 2. The ' modern Calvinists,' it is true, use the word “ Regeneration,” to express something different from baptism; but not what his Lordship ascribes to them-not“ instantaneous con'version and indefectible grace. The previous question here is, whether they are authorized to use this word, in different connections, with different acceptations, provided they give a definition of their meaning? Supposing, without granting, that the word in scripture usage always
* Refut. p. 86.
denotes baptism, by what law are they deprived of the customary privilege of using any word, in any language, to denote a determinate meaning affixed to it, when that meaning is announced and stated? And if it be lawful thus to use a word differently from the inspired writers, (as is frequently allowed in other instances) much more is it lawful to deviate from the custom of ecclesiastical writers, whether ancient Fathers or English Reformers. This, however, is urged only for argument' sake.
§ 3. Modern Calvinists admit the term Regeneration in three acceptations, principally, according to the connection. First, as denoting, figuratively, baptism: secondly, the immediate effect of divine influence on the mind : thirdly, the formation of Christian tempers and graces. The Christian Fathers, and after them many of the Protestant Reformers—by a frequent figurative use of the term Regeneration for Baptism, the outward sign-have greatly contributed to confound both. At first, they no doubt thought that the figure was sufficiently plain, and that there was no danger of mistaking the one for the other. The thing signified being always more excellent than the sign, there is a propensity in the human mind to give the sign the more honourable appellation. Sometimes, the thing signified is to be inferred, without any
determinate name distinct from the sign. In this case, there is an equal propensity to magnify the latter until the former is totally eclipsed. Thus the Jews made circumcision, as an outward rite, to be both the sign and thing signified; or, more properly speaking, the latter was absorbed in the former. And when Saint Paul contended that the thing signified might be enjoyed by the Gentiles without the sign, how violent was the opposition! The priests and the scribes, the rabbis and the common people, almost in a body, opposed him. Of the truth of this statement the apostle's letters to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews, are abundant evidence.
§ 4. We do not confound regeneration with conversion ; for, by the former we understand an immediate effect of the operation of God the Holy Ghost in-the mind; but by the latter the voluntary act of the mind in turning from all forbidden objects and pursuits to God and holiness by Jesus Christ, as the consequence of regeneration. The important change expressed by regeneration is the work of God, and may take place in an infant, but conversion, implying a voluntary act upon conviction, cannot take place in an infant mind. Regeneration may also take place at baptism, or before, or after baptism; but were we to say that it must be at or by