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Q. 18. Is the doctrine of atonement taught by revelation only, or is it a dictate of reason, or of the light of nature ?
A. Reason and the light of nature can give no information on this subject. The doctrine of atonement is derived wholly from the Sacred Scriptures. And it is this which peculiarly distinguishes Christianity from Deism, Mohamedanism, Paganism, and all other religions. None, therefore, who reject the atonement ought to be considered as believers in the religion of Christ.
Regeneration. Q. 1. In what does the new birth or regeneration consist ?
A. 1. It does not consist in baptism by water, nor in external reformation of manners, nor in conversion from one religious sect or denomination to another, nor in the communication of any new natural faculties to the soul, nor in any succession of terrors or consolations, nor in any revelation or impression of God's purpose to save, nor in a modification of any religious opinions, nor in mere conviction of sin. But, 2. It does consist in a radical holy change in the affections of the heart, or in the commencement of holiness in the soul. Regeneration is a moral and not a physical change. (a)
Q. 2. Does regeneration render the soul completely holy?
Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
(0) 1 John iv. 7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.-2. Cor. v. 17. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.-Eph. iv. 22–24. That ye put off concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness
A. It does not. The soul is sanctified but in part in this state of existence—it does not become perfect in holiness till at death. It is contrary to Scripture to suppose that any arrive at sinless perfection in this life. (b)
Q.3. Is regeneration instantaneous or progressive ?
Ă. It is instantaneous. There is no time when, in a spiritual sense, a person is neither dead nor alive, neither a saint nor a sinner, neither for Christ nor against Him. Of course, there was a moment of time, when the renewed in heart became changed. Regeneration, or the commencement of holiness in the soul, is, consequently, instantaneous. This idea seems to be taught also by the language frequently used in Scripture to represent regeneration, as “passing from death unto life,' new birth, 'new creation. These events—resurrection to life, birth, creation—are sudden and instantaneous. God, however, may employ a longer or shorter time in preparing the soul by the operations of His Spirit for the reception of the divine life. What is termed sanctification, or the increase of holiness in the soul, is progressive. The subject of it goes on from one degree of grace to another, until he becomes wholly conformed to the divine law, and is perfectly prepared for heaven.
Q. 4. Is the time when regeneration takes place always known to its subjects ?
A. It frequently is known, though not always. The experience of Christians differs in this respect. (c)
Q. 5. Is regeneration indispensably necessary to salvation ?
(6) Eccl. vii. 20. For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.-Job ix. 20. If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.-Rom. vii. 24. 0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?-1 John i. 8. 10. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(C) Actá ii. 41. Then they that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
A. It is, for the following reasons.
1. None but holy beings can be happy in heaven, where all is holiness. The unrenewed in heart would be totally disqualified and incapacitated for the employments and enjoyments of the heavenly world, because of their entire sinfulness and disrelish of everything holy. 2. Were the unregenerate admitted to heaven, God could not behold them with approbation and delight. But He will approve, and take complacence in all those that dwell in His presence. Hence the wicked must be changed in heart, in order to become inhabitants of heaven. 3. The Scriptures impliedly and expressly declare, that none but the regenerate shall see the kingdom of God. (d)
Q. 6. Does this change take place after death?
A. It does not. This life is the only day of grace and probation allotted to man; the next is a state of retribution. There will be no alteration in the character of men after death. (e)
Who is the Author of regeneration ? A. God the Holy Ghost. He is the great and efficient Agent in regeneration. (f)
(d) John ii. 3. 7. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.--Heb. xii. 14. Follow peace with all men ; and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.—Gal. vi. 15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any. thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.-Rom. vii. 7, 8. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.-1 Cor. ii. 14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(e) Rev. xxii. 11. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.-Eccl. ix. 10. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
(f) Ezek. xxxvi. 26. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away
stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Q. 8. Does God act as a sovereign in regenerating the hearts of men ?
A. He does. He renews whom, and at what time, and by what means, He pleases. (g)
Q. 9. Is the moral freedom of man destroyed or impaired in regeneration ?
A. It is neither destroyed nor impaired. God does not act upon man as a mere machine. The Divine influence is adapted to the nature of the soul. The Holy Spirit operates upon the understanding, affections, and will, according to the essential properties and laws of each, and without doing violence to the principles of man's intelligent and moral nature. Divine agency, though above our comprehension, is, nevertheless, real and consistent with human freedom. Sinners are perfectly conscious, that in the change effected in regeneration, they are free from compulsion, and exercise a perfect moral agency.
Q. 10. Is the influence of the Holy Spirit in regeneration special or common?
A. It is special. That is not common every day's experience proves.
Were this the case, all men would be regenerated. This, however, is very far from being the fact. That it is special is evident, because it is imparted to some and not to others, and because it produces effects which are not common to mankind in general. It is often called irresistible, not in the sense of unresisted, but in the sense of overcoming all resistance; God makes the subjects of it willing in the day of His power. The
John i. 13. Which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.—Tit. iii. 5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
(g) Rom. ix. 16. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God thai showeth mercy.--Cor. iii. 6, 7. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth ; but God that giveth the increase. - James i. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.
common influence of the Spirit, to whatever degree extended, leaves the heart unwilling to be saved upon the terms of the Gospel; but His special influence, however low in degree, makes the heart willing to accept of his salvation. (h)
Q. 11. Why is the influence of the Spirit necessary to change the heart ?
A. Not because man has not a capacity, that is, all the natural faculties requisite; but because he will not receive and obey Christ. It is his disaffection to God, and his unwillingness to do his duty, which render the influences of the Spirit necessary. This nem cessity, therefore, so far from excusing his impenitence, is the strongest evidence of his criminality, (i)
Q. 12. Is man active, or passive, in regeneration ?
A. In one sense he is active, and in another sense he is passive. He acts freely, while he is acted upon by the Holy Spirit. There is a sort of coincidence in the divine and human agencies, though not, in strictness of language, a co-operation. This is evident from the consideration, that man is required to make himself a new heart, and that God gives the new heart. (j)
Q. 13. What are the evidences of regeneration ?
A. Little or no evidence of regeneration is to be derived from an apprehended ability to specify the time, place, manner, and other circumstances of the change. The principal evidences are, 1. A heartfelt sense that the doctrines of the Bible are true
(h) Ps. cx. 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning ihou hast the dew of thy youth. (i) John v. 40. And ye will not come to me,
ye might have life. (j) Ezek. xviii. 31. Cast
away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed ; and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, house of Israel? -Ezek. xxxvi. 26. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.Philip. ii. 12, 13. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.