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Some peculiar life, as produced by the Spirit, spoken of by Christ and the
prophets-The design of the work stated— The character and source of proof to be adduced--Illustrations drawn from the analogy of nature legitimate-God's moral and physical constitutions not at varianceMode of interpreting scripture—The divine testimony paramount evidence—The biblical student should not violate the principles of sound philosophy—The principles to conduct the investigation avouched--The author's hopes expressed.
It was long since predicted, that some divine energy should be exerted to produce life in the souls of men. “And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live,”* said "the Lord God” by the mouth of Ezekiel. Whether this language is wholly metaphorical, will be seen in the progress and result of the discussion contained in these pages. The PREDICTION relates particularly to the conversion of the Jews. That event shines conspicuously in prophetic story, and we are directed to it, as to the bright morning star which immediately precedes, and even shines resplendent in the rising glory of millennial day. What shall be the circumstances connected with their national regeneration, time alone will disclose. The operative and efficient agent will be the Spirit of God, and the immediate effect and proof of His influence, will be the possession of life in their souls. However the circumstances conducive to the conversion of the Jews shall differ from those ordinarily employed by the Spirit, the charac
. Ezek. XxYİ. 14.
ter of the agent and of His influence shall not. generation of a sinner is life from the dead in every instance, whether the subject be Jew or Gentile. The preaching of the gospel is indeed the means most frequently employed, and rendered most eílicacious in producing this life; but it possesses no power to this end, except as it may be the word of God. “The hour is coming and now is,” said the Lord of life, “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live."*
The language, both of the prediction, and of Christ, implies that there is some other life, to be had by men, than that which all in common possess as creatures composed of soul and body. And the allusions in the scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, to a life peculiar and distinguishing, as imparted by the Spirit of God to some, and not to all, prevent the supposition that it is altogether imaginative, and the language merely metaphorical. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickenedt us (made us alive) together with Christ.” It is the object of the following work to investigate, and illustrate that great moral renovation, of which the scriptures speak so decisively, according as it is represented under the idea of LIFE PRODUCED BY THE SPIRIT
The inspired writers employ a variety of terms in treating of this subject, and present it under almost endless aspects. At one time it is called regeneration, at another being born again, one while a raising from the dead, and again creating anew; one while the taking away the hard and stony heart, and at another the giving an heart of flesh; one while the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and at another the law of the Spirit of Life, besides others of
| Eph. i. 4, 5.
John vi. 25.
the same general import. It is unnecessary to examine the meaning, or inquire into the reason of each expression. We have selected the idea of life, as the simplest and most comprehensive, and design, by means of it, to subject the whole subject of REGENERATION, or the NEW Birta, in all its grand and important relations, to a careful and candid analysis.
In announcing this design, it may not be improper to apprise the reader of the source and character of the proofs and illustrations to be adduced. The sacred scriptures are assumed to be the INFALLIBLE word of God. Its revelations are not reputed mere abstractions, but simple MAT
So far from the idea being admitted, that the bible is a mere guide to opinions, and calculated to induce theory and speculation, it is aflirmed that the disclosures which it makes are solemn declarations of FACT, and not the less interesting because originally beyond the sphere of human reason. They affect the character, the condition, the hopes, the destiny of the ruined race of man, and have a most important and essential bearing on individual happiness and expectation. In the interpretation of these words of truth, it is deemed impertinent to ask, “can such a thing be," or "is it compatible with our notion of the Divine Being." It is from God's own disclosure of himself—from His revelation of His own mind and will—that we are to form our ideas of Himself. If we imbibe them from another source, we shall err; for naturally we walk in the vanity of our mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in us, because of the blindness* of our heart.” If God has been pleased to speak-it is assumed as, unquestionably because most demonstratively, true, that He has- it is for us to hear, and not ask impertinently how or why is this or that which He
TERS OF FACT.
* Eph. iv. 17, 18.
declares to be the fact. They that will reserve to themselves this liberty, and judge of the revelations of the scriptures according as they may mect. or favor their peculiar prejudices and feelings, or as they are pleased to dignify them--their reason, had better act consistently, and proclaim themselves infidels at once, rejecting the authority of the word of God. However common it may be for men to allege they will not believe this or that, because it does not commend itself to their judgment, because it does not comport with their views of God, because they reserve to themselves in all cases the right of private opinion, because they cannot understand it, it will not for one moment be conceded that with such the bible is accounted of paramount authority. Our discussions are with, and for those who feel that "thus saith the Lord” is like the oath among men, and must "put an end to all strife.” All others, though they may pretend to believe in a divine revelation, are mere hypocrites and unbelievers.
Yet, in illustrating the facts which it has pleased God to make known to us in the sacred scriptures, we shall deem it perfectly lawful to avail ourselves of all the light which may be obtained from the analogy of His works. While we magnify revelation, as an authority from which there is no appeal, and insist, that our minds and consciences bow to its decisions without a moment's hesitancy, we are nevertheless far from exalting it as contrary to the established order of nature. There is a beautiful harmony between them, as being alike the offspring of the same bounteous parent, and they serve often to illustrate each other. For, although the kingdoms of nature and of grace may be as perfectly distinct as two distant worlds can be, yet, as they both are established in the same, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the same God who presides over both, and is the author of both, should have maintained an essential concord between them. He does not frame His moral constitutions