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NATURE AND INSTRUMENT
The kingdom of God is as if a man should cast seed into the
ground, ... and the seed should spring and grow up, he
BY C. WEBSTER,
J. WHETHAM & SON, 144 CHESTNUT STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, by C. WEBSTER, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
WM. S. Young, Printero
Tappan Presb, an
This little book is presented to the Christian public from no desire of authorship. It is the result of a call in the providence of God, which the writer had no liberty to disobey.
The doctrines of Pelagians and semi-Pelagians on the one hand, and the denial of the instrumentality of the word in regeneration on the other, although apparently opposites, will be seen, by a perusal of these pages, to flow spontaneously from the same radical error, namely,-an undue exaltation of the natural man's ability of will.
The reader will find no tincture, either of party spirit or denominational pride; but an humble inquiry into that great change which passes upon all those who are redeemed from among men, before their admission into the presence and enjoyment of God. More than a hundred of the best authors, to which the
writer could obtain access, have been consulted, compared with the scriptures, and with each other. The result of this laborious research is here brought to view within a narrow compass, in the hope of promoting, through the blessing of God, the spiritual interest of such as have neither the means nor leisure for extended research.
Religious controversy, having its origin in the imperfection of human nature, is always attended with present evil; but all experience demonstrates that its ultimate effects have generally proved beneficial. The present work is, in a great measure, necessarily controversial; but the author has laboured to avoid, as much as possible, the spirit of mere controversy; as truth, and only truth, has been uniformly the object of his ardent pursuit.
A few individuals are found, perhaps, in every community, who handle the word of God as they would a ball in a game of cricket, merely to display their dexterity, or obtain a victory. This class of persons may be discovered by their misrepresentations of the obvious meaning of others; by their carping at
words; by their denials or perversions of scripture; and by their laboured arguments in defence of error.
The author desires no participation with such persons in their folly.
The great importance, nay indispensable necessity of a clear and simple style, in such a discussion as the present, has been kept constantly in view. The footsteps of the flock” of God have been attentively considered. No sentiment has been advanced, touching the essentials of true religion, which is not supported by the suffrages of the learned and pious in all ages, who have committed their views to writing for the benefit of their fellow men, and “who being dead, yet speak.”
It will be perceived that an accurate knowledge of the nature of regeneration is essential to a correct understanding of the means by which it is effected.
Several new errors, which have been vented since Charnock wrote, are here met and refuted. Dr. Witherspoon's standard work on the subject, though of more recent date, is “ A Practical Treatise," exhibiting more directly the evidences, than the nature of the change. It is, however, believed the reader might derive