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obscure his immediate influence. The apostle says, that "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” “The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth." Now these are all voluntary exercises of the human mind; and that ever a sinner is brought to exercise and exhibit faith, love, repentance, &c. is attributed by the apostle to the immediate and special influence of the Holy Spirit. It is philosophy, based on a false physiology, which comes in and says the Spirit secures the exercise of these graces by infusing grace, or by putting into the soul a principle of life, or by creating a disposition for holiness, which principle or disposition is the immediate cause of those holy exercises of mind and heart, technically called the graces of the Spirit. As to the precise nature of that influence which the Spirit exerts, we will not presume to speak. It is through the truth, by the gospel, by the word, and must therefore be adapted to the nature of man, as a voluntary agent. We cannot explain the nature of that influence which one mind exerts on another, and therefore it would be absurd to expect, that we should understand the influence of the infinite mind on ours. But this we do know, that however powerful and invincible, in matters of ordinary interest, the former may be, it does not in the least degree affect obligation, or destroy the voluntariness of those actions which result from conviction. Neither does the Spirit's influence in convincing and converting the sinner from the error of his ways. We admire the wisdom, benevolence, grace and power of the man who subdues his enemy, and wins the heart to love, which once was rankling with hatred against him, and never attribute, in such a case, to the successful suitor, the infusion or creation of any principle, by an act of plıysical power, as the
immediate cause of this change in all the feelings of the heart. And shall we give less glory to the Holy Spirit, who changes the heart of stone into an heart of flesh, and by his winning and subduing influence elicits those exercises of faith and love and repentance, &c. which form the character anew, and mould it into the likeness of the Son of God? Shall we thrust the Spirit back, loose sight of his grace, and attribute to him the mere exercise of creative power, in this marvellous work of converting and sanctifying the soul? Shall we give glory to the renovated man, and inflate him with pride, by leading him to believe, that a creative act of God has lodged in him a cause of holy exercises, and that for his gracious affections and their continual exercise, he is not at every moment indebted to the special agency of the Spirit of God? That be far from us. It is to the marvellous, gracious and immediate influence of the Spirit, who begets and sanctifies us through the truth, that we refer all our holy exercises.
This remark is intended to apply not only to the first, but to all the subsequent exercises of faith and love and repentance, It is true, that those whose language intimates a physical regeneration, which lodges in the soul a cause of holiness, do also teach the continued agency of the Spirit, in preserving that cause in existence and operation; and in this agency they make the work of sanctification to consist. But the agency of the Spirit, in this whole work, is contemplated under the aspect of an exercise of physical power on the part of God, corresponding with that which heexerts in maintaining in existence the creature he has produced. Thus Dr. Owen says, that “the work of holiness, in its beginning, is like the seed cast into the earth, viz: the seed of God, whereby we are born again. And it is known how seed that is cast into the earth doth grow and increase. Being variously cherished and nourished, it is in its nature to take root and to spring up, bringing forth fruit. And both these, even the
first planting and the increase of it, are both equally from God by His Spirit,” Speaking of the graces of the Spirit he says that "He brings them forth from the stock which he has planted in the heart.” Thus the whole agency of the blessed Spirit, in the work of eliciting and preserving in exercise the christian graces, is made to possess no other character than that, which as the great agent in creation and providence he exerts. We cannot but think that this militates alike against the special and gracious character of the Holy Spirit's work in regeneration and sanctification. For it differs not in character from His creating and preserving power, which He exercises throughout his boundless uni
We candidly confess that we cannot discern either the grace or specialty of that work of the Spirit in subduing a rebel, which resolves His influence into the same agency that He exerts as the Creator and Preserver of all things. If the sinner is born again, and preserved in holiness by the mere exercise of physical power, producing and sustaining a new creature in the soul, the interference of the Spirit in this wondrous work is of no higher character than that of giving being to, and supporting his creatures. It may be a display of his wisdom and power, but the grace of it is exceedingly obscured.
That we have not misrepresented the character of that agency attributed to the Spirit, by the advocates of a physical Regeneration, will be apparent from the following similitude, which Dr. Owen has traced between the growth of a tree, and the sanctification of a believer, and which, instead of understanding as an analogical illustration, he has literally interpreted, when noticing the Scriptural prediction, "I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring, and they shall spring up as among the grass, as the willows by the water courses. "These
1. Ones on the Spirit. v. ii. p. 76, 79. 2. Isai. xliv. 3, 4.
trees and plants," says he, "have the principle of their growth in themselves. They do not grow immediately from external adventitious aid and furtherance ; they grow from their own seminal virtue and radical moisture. It is no otherwise in the progress of sanctification and holiness. It hath a root, a seed, a principle of growth and increase in the soul of him that is sanctified. All grace is immortal seed, and contains in it a living growing principle. That which hath not in itself a life and power of growth is not grace.” Here then the renovated man has in himself a life and power of growth, or else according to Dr. Owen, he has no grace.
And to this seminal virtue, communicated in regeneration, must we refer the power of growth. The agency of the Spirit is only concerned in so far as by some general law, it contributes to its developement! Who then can consider the Spirit, if this be the case, as the immediate author of holy exercises ? The believer by the seminal virtue in him grows and thrives, having power in himself, the Spirit's agency merely supporting and preserving the new creature in him ! But this is in direct contradiction of Paul's experience, who, though a converted man, said "in me, that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing,"2 but who “through the Spirit did mortify the deeds of the body."
4. We cannot neglect, also, to notice the deleterious influence which the doctrine of physical regeneration must necessarily have on personal piety. The christian's consolations and activity are alike impaired by it. For he is put upon a search after some mystical effect of the Spirit's work on his soul, which as the appropriate and immediate cause of his voluntary exercises and actions is to determine his character, in the sight of God, rather than to the exercises and actions themselves. These he may indeed observe as reported by his consciousness, but still his mind is 1. Onven on the Spirit, vol. ii. p. 87. 2. Rom. vii. 18. 3. Rom. viii. 13.
kept distracted and divided, for he is labouring to ascertain the existence of a new creature in himself, which is the cause of holiness. Of the existence of this new creation in him, he never can have direct evidence, through consciousness or in any other way;and labouring under the impression that regeneration consists in the production of this new creature in him, by the direct exercise of physical power on the part of God, be may be kept for a long season overshadowed with gloomy doubts and suspicions with regard to his character in the sight of God, and his right to enjoy christian consolations, or mistake the excitements and hallucinations, which are, often the result of nervous irritability, and most extraordinary, for the operation of God's Spirit.
The instances of both sort are not rare. We have traced the practical effects of this view of Regeneration in both respects. Persons possessed of natural talents, and whose gifts might be employed with great advantage to others, hesitate and refuse to take a full and decided stand on the side of Christ, and resolutely to act in the business of religion, through a fear that possibly they are not regenerated, and consequently, that their acts are and must be sinful, and will be by no means continuous. The cause of continuous holy exercises they suppose to be lodged in the regenerate man himself, not in the immediate gracious influence of the Spirit pledged to faith, and having no satisfactory proof that there ever has been any thing of this sort in them, they feel that it would be better for them to wait for further evidence and not commit themselves, or jeopard the cause of piety, by undertaking to discharge the distinctive duties of religion. And this state of things has been often induced and confirmed by the conduct of professors, and parents, and church officers, who have refused to accredita person as a follower of Christ, on the first announcement of his evidences of christian character, and recommended him