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may perhaps, lie in the soul's submitting itself into the hands of divine sovereignty, as most fitly having a right to do with him as he pleases: or in a supreme regard to God as a most glorious Being, and rightful Lord. Now this, when considered as the effect of the holy spirit's agency, enabling, or causing the soul to turn to God, is called regeneration; but when considered as an activity essential to spiritual life, and formally as the soul's act, it is cal. led conversion; but these are only different views, and aspects of the same thing. For regeneration undoubtedly denotes a moral effect produced by the spirit of God. But this effect, which he produces, is the soul's turning to God. Surely nothing short of this can be called the new birth. Regeneration is the implantation of holiness in the heart. Now certainly, there can be no real holiness without turning to God. The soul that has not turned to God, is still, without controversy unregenerate. Hence it follows,
Observation 4. That this principle wrought in the soul in regeneration, is not something antecedent to every act and exercise of holiness, but includes in it, or is a first act or exercise of holiness, of the same nature with all the exercises of holiness that follow after, through the course of life.
To cause life is to cause action; for activity is essential to the idea of life. When the holy spirit regenerates a sinner, he communicates an active principle, otherwise it were not life. But to talk of an active principle existing in the soul absolutely without action, would be a contradiction; now this action must be clear. ing to God. Hence arises,
Observation 5. A fifth observation, viz. that this principle of . spiritual life consists in, or includes some new view of the mind, and determination or approbation of the will.
This must be the case, because it is a moral principle; otherwise, it could not be the principle of a course of moral action; when therefore, a principle of spiritual life is implanted, a moral effect is produced; but that effect which includes no acts of the understanding and will, but is absolutely antecedent to them, must be a mere physical, and not a moral effect, and then to regenerate, would be to create in a physical, not a moral sense.
I think, the sacred scriptures set the matter in the same light with the above observation. Sometimes this happy change is expressed by the term light, Eph. v. 8. Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Sometimes it is represented under the notion of being made willing. Psal. cx. 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. Either of these
expressions includes the other. Thus when the regenerate are called light, the matter is not confined to the understanding only, but includes the approbation of the will, and to be willing, certainly, includes the view of the understanding; for there can be no act of the will without it; sometimes both are set in view together, as Acts xxvi. 18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Certainly to open the eyes and turn from darkness to light, is to enlighten the understanding, and to turn to God is an act of the will. To the same purpose is 2 Cor. iv. 6. For God hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. To see the glory of God, must include both the view of the understanding, and the approbation of the will. It is no objection to this, to say, these scriptures speak of this change largely taken. For admitting that, yet it is not by way of contra-distinctiop from, or exclusive of the first instance; but the first existence of life comes under the same predicament. Thus they, who were sometimes darkness, are not said to be enlightened only but to be light. God in the new creation, shines into the heart, in a manner analogous to his shining in the natural world, when he created light in it.
It is very easy to say, that in regeneration, a holy temper is produced whence this knowledge and volition arise; but perhaps, it would not be so easy to tell, in that connexion, what we are to understand by that temper. Surely we are not to conceive of a moral, in the same manner as of a natural temper. In the latter, we take into consideration such a certain, yet various construction of the human frame, as is apt to produce such and such passions and feelings of nature. Now, if we have an idea of the former any thing like this, we must then consider it only as a new faculty created in the soul, and has nothing moral in it, any more than the understanding or will considered as natural faculties. But if we conceive of it as a moral determination of the soul towards God, then we must consider it as including some apprehension of God in the understanding, and an act of the will embracing him, which brings the matter to what I have said. Thus we are, as it were insensibly led to some apprehension of what this divine principle is, or wherein it consists, though we cannot comprehend the manner of the holy spirit's operation in producing it, or explain how it exists. It is an experimental practical knowledge of God, or it is a new view of the infinite perfections of God, with the approbation of them in the will as most excellent; or, which is, indeed, the same thing under its proper denomination, it is a su
preme love to God: supreme love to God, is the very essence of true religion. Hence it is called the fulfilling of the law. Rom. xiii. 10. Our Lord mentions love to God and our neighbour as the sum and substance of the whole law. Mat. xxii. 37, 38, 39, 40. No action can be called true obedience, if it do not flow from love to God, and every exercise of true grace may be reduced to this as its principle.
Observation 6. The holy spirit makes use of the word of God as a mean in the work of regeneration, which he renders irresistibly efficacious for that purpose.
I am far from thinking with the Arminians, that the only influence of the holy spirit in this matter lies in what they call moral suasion; that is, as I understand it, the holy spirit having sel before us the arguments and motives of the gospel in the word, both by his providence, and an influence upon the mind, excites its attention to these things, and assists the natural facul. ties in weighing those arguments and motives, and thus strives to persuade the sinner to a compliance with gospel overtures, but still leaves it with himself to yield to, or reject those arguments by a sovereign act of his own will. According to this, it is only an objective light that is set before the mind, as contained in the word; a representation of objects, as yet at a distance, of which the mind has no knowledge but by the report and description of the word; and perhaps the most, if not all the light, which is usually called common illumination, may be obtained this way.
Nor can I agree with some, even eminent Calvinistic divinės, that there is only a gradual difference between common and sav. ing illumination; I believe there is a specific difference; there is in regeneration a subjective light created in the soul, which, though it is the knowledge of a glorious object presented to the mind, yet may fitly be called subjective in respect of the manner of its communication, as contra-listinguished from, though not opposed to the mere objective light of the word before described; it is an immediate intuitive sense, or knowledge of the moral perfections and character of God, not gained by way of conclusion from premises or by argumentation, but arising from the approach of God to the soul, by way of gracious presence; he thus takes possession of the heart, and fills it with a sense of himself by his presence in a peculiar manner; and this is a way of knowing, very different from that received merely by the description and report of the word; and therefore a different kind of knowledge, viz. by way of spiritual sense and experience. Though we cannot perceive or explain the manner of this divine presence or ac
cess to the soul, yet the fact is abundantly witnessed by the experience of God's people; notwithstanding, they have an habitual spiritual knowledge of God and divine truths, yet, at one season, they are distressed with darkness, and cannot get any proper views of God; at another, they shall be full of light, and astonished with the view of divine glory; now what is the reason of this vast difference? surely, not from any difference in the objective light of the word, or their capacity to meditate upon it. But the reason of it is, the absence of God in the one case, and his glorious presence in the other; therefore, their first such knowledge of God was from such an approach to the soul, or divine presence in it. And for the reality of this experience in God's people, I refer to the account the sacred scriptures give us, sometimes of their bitter complaints of God's hiding himself, and panting for him as the hart for the water brooks; at other times, of their rejoicing in his beauty and glory, with which they are, as it were, transported; and, I think these words of Job, xlii. 5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, fully justify this distinction of objective and subjective knowledge; for admit that the design of the words is to represent the very lively views he had of the divine excellency, so that comparatively speaking, all his former, even experimental views were but like report; yet, by a parity of reason there is a vast difference between experience in the lowest degree and report; and he goes upon this principle, that report, or by the hearing of the ear, is a very languid and imperfect way of knowing, compared with sight and intimate acquaintance. These are very different kinds of knowledge, as different as the knowledge a man has of a country from an historical account and map of it, or the report of travellers, and that he has from travelling through, and seeing it himself. Thus then, by this presence of God in the soul, it has a knowledge of him, which it could not possibly have without it, by the most animated descriptions and representations of the word. It was thus, even innocent Adam knew the moral character and excellency of God, not only by objective evidence from without, but also by subjective evidence, from his experience of the divine presence.
But all this does not exclude moral influence by way of argument, the arguments contained in the word; but rather accounts for their irresistible efficacy. Though mere moral suasion will not do the business, yet it is not excluded; it is a moral effect that is to be produced; therefore, it is natural enough to expect that the power producing it should be exerted in a moral way;
and consequently, a moral mean with great propriety be admitted.
That this matter may be better apprehended, I beg leave to observe, that the blessed God must be exhibited to the mind as an object of contemplation, in order to any act of the will towards him. The will approves him as most fit and worthy to be chosen, which must be founded upon the contemplation of him in the mind. Length of time is not, indeed, necessary for this purpose. The operations of the mind are very quick. Were we to suppose an adult, who had no opportunity of the word, to be regenerated; no doubt, a reflection upon his own intuitive perceptions would exhibit the blessed God to the mind, as an object of contemplation. For it is absurd to suppose a new heart to exist in an adult person without any ideas of God and divine things in the understanding; for that is to suppose a person regenerated, and yet al. together ignorant of God; to turn to God without any knowledge of him, which, I think, is a contradiction, and the same thing as to say, a man is changed without any alteration; the thief on the cross seems to be an instance of the contrary: though he lived in the land of Judea, and had opportunity of the word of God, it is not probable a man of his abandoned character sought any considerable acquaintance with it; yet his speech to his fellow-criminal, and his address to Jesus Christ, showed very considerable discoveries of God, and the character of his Saviour.
But let it be considered, that with respect to sinners who live under the means of grace and enjoy the word of God, though, by reason of their estrangement from God, they have no proper. views of divine truths, yet their understandings are possessed of some general speculative knowledge of them: yea, convinced sinners have more, they have such an experimental knowledge of the law convincing them of sin, as is effectual to arouse them out of their fatal security, and confute their false notions, and awaken them to a very solemn attention to the word of God. Now in regeneration, the intuitive views, impressed on the mind by the divine presence, are exactly the same with the descriptions and delineations of the divine character in the word. The mind therefore, instead of reflecting immediately upon its own perceptions, looks forward to the word. Now the man's eyes are opened, and he understands the scripture in a manner he never could before; there he sees this glorious object represented as in a glass; from thence the reflection is so strong and lively as irresistibly, though in a moral way, to determine the will; for surely, it is very apprehensible, that the views of the mind may be so experimental,