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regeneration is to change the hearts of sinners from sin to holiness, or from hatred to love."1
This great change is imperatively needed by every sinner. The ground of this necessity is the fact, that each one is dead in trespasses and sins.' The carnal mind, not subject to the law of God,' has no fitness for a holy heaven? - could not be happy, provided it were to be admitted there. It must be renewed in its spirit, or it can never see the kingdom of God. That this necessity is absolute in the case of every one in his natural (unregenerate) condition, is perfectly obvious to all who believe the doctrine of human depravity. And every one may be convinced of total depravity, who will properly consult the Bible, or the exercises of his own heart."3
Regeneration is an instantaneous change. Denied by many, it is nevertheless agreeable to the reason of the thing, and made certain by fact. The preliminary steps that usually lead to it may be gradual; but the actual beginning of the new life cannot be. It is a new creation, and all God's creative acts are instantaneous.' 'God always acts instantaneously in taking away the old, and in giving a new heart.' 4
In this spiritual renovation, man is not passive but active. He turns from self to God. He is as really active in regeneration, as in conversion, or sanctification.5 Under the impulse of a divine agency, he freely renounces sin and chooses holiness. Universally admitted that men are active in exercising love to God and their fellow-men, how can it be contended that they are passive in regeneration, when this is neither more nor less than the very beginning of love to God? Dr. Emmons here brought his 'Exercise Scheme' into full play, and so applied it as to concentrate the strongest pressure of moral obligation upon the conscience of the unrenewed man. He regarded the doctrine of passivity in this transformation of the inner man, as fraught with exceeding danger. It is in conflict with every command in the Bible.' 6
Regeneration is not supernatural. It suspends no law of nature, and involves no exertion of miraculous power. It is indeed a special work of the Holy Spirit, 'because he renews some and not others, and because in regeneration and sanctification he produces those gracious affections which are not common to mankind.' It is not therefore supernatural. It is in perfect agreement with the laws of his action on human minds, and with the unimpaired freedom and unabbreviated responsibility of each subject of the change. To represent it otherwise, is to invite the dangerous inference, that sinners are literally unable to love God, and repent of sin, or obey any of the divine commands. It is im3 lb. p. 155.
1 Works, Vol. V. pp. 113, 115. Ib. Vol. VI. p. 429.
2 Ib. p. 144.
possible to preach a supernatural regeneration without ministering a fatal opiate to the conscience of the sinner, or at least furnishing him with an excuse for his impenitence which he will be likely to use so as to facilitate his destruction.' 1
That holy love which is the beginning of this new life, continued and exhibited in its appropriate forms, becomes sanctification. Lying at the foundation, it is also essential to the whole superstructure of Christian character. The pure spring, it imparts its qualities to all the streams that issue from it. Everything which the law requires and which enters into the idea of perfect obedience, is the product of benevolent love.' 2 Joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,' are to love, as the branches to the trunk. There can be no such thing as sanctification where love does not fill the heart and prompt the actions of the life.
This great work once begun in the heart, will be carried on unto perfection in the day of Christ.' 'The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus will make the renewed spirit free from the law of sin and death,' and render it 'meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. This is made certain, not by any strength of holy purpose on the part of the Christian, but by the promise of God in Christ. None shall pluck them out of my hand.' The doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, is indeed encouraging and radiant of spiritual beauty to the imperfect Christian; but it holds out no license to sin. The two things have nothing in common. They look altogether in different directions; and are not to be named at the same time, except to repudiate all supposititious connection between them. The very idea of final perseverance involves the denial of sin and a life of godliness. It demands sleepless vigilance, abounding prayer, and earnest endeavor to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The promise of eternal life on condition of saving faith, by no means renders unnecessary the exhortation to strive so as to make one's calling and election sure.' The first exercise of faith renders the salvation of the believer sure, in a certain way; that is, the way of perseverance in holiness.' 3
The means of that great change in the sinner which, continued, becomes sanctification and perseverance to eternal life, is divine truth. To have grace, one must have some knowledge of God; to grow in grace, he must grow in knowledge. Sinners may know the truth and hate it; but they cannot love it without knowing it. The basis of all true love to God, is correct knowledge of God; and the more a Christian knows of the doctrines of Christianity, the more is his heart enlarged and his character exalted.5 'Beholding, as in a glass, the glory 2 Ib. p. 114.
1 Works, Vol. V. pp. 120, 121.
3 Ib. pp. 349-351. 4 Ib. Vol. VI. pp. 52, 53.
5 Ib. Vol. V. pp. 373-575.
of God as it shines in the face of Christ, he is transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.'
We cannot complete the view of regeneration, without turning our attention to its efficient cause. Man is its subject, sin its necessity, love its nature, and truth its means. An inquiry as to its author, conducts us to the belief of Dr. Emmons respecting the
§ 13. Holy Spirit.
He thought that there is no satisfactory reason for the hypothesis ' of the eternal generation of the Son, and of the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost.' The foundation of the Trinity is in the divine nature, not in the divine will. This utterly forbids the idea that the Son, with respect to his Deity, was begotten of the Father, and that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the concurrence of the Father and the Son.' The eternal generation of the Son, and the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost, are such mysteries as it is difficult to separate from absurdities,' and such doctrines as cannot be made to harmonize with the true idea of three equally divine persons in one God.' The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity, inferior in office to the Father and the Son, but equal in every divine perfection. As the Father is by nature God, and by office, Creator, Lawgiver, and Governor; and as 'the Son is by nature God, and by office, Redeemer, Mediator or Saviour; so the Holy Ghost is by nature God, and by office, Sanctifier and Comforter of the heirs of salvation.' Officially, his work is subordinate to that of the Son as well as that of the Father. The atonement which Christ made, the Spirit applies to those who were ordained to eternal life. It is his prerogative to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come. It is under his mighty agency, that the sinner makes him a new heart and a new spirit. God's people become willing in the day of his power, because born of the Spirit.' By the washing of regeneration,' even the renewing of the Holy Ghost,' do they become sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. And not only does the Spirit begin this work in the heart of the Christian, but he perpetuates it. 'He carries on that work of grace within him,' 2 until he qualifies him to engage in the employments and share the bliss of heaven. Means and second causes are utterly powerless to effect that change which introduces the sinner into the kingdom of holiness, or to continue that process by which the soul is purified from the dross of sin and fitted to dwell with God and the Lamb. 'Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit; it is also
1 Works, Vol. IV. p. 114. VOL. VII. No. 27.
2 Ib. p. 134.
the act of the believer. It is no part of our philosophy or our theology, to deny that God begins the work of grace in the heart; and we have the same evidence that he carries it on, as that he begins it. In regeneration God produces the first active principles of grace in the soul; in sanctification he continues and sustains them." The Holy Spirit, possessed of the attributes and performing the works of God, should receive divine worship. We should pray to him for his sanctifying, guiding and comforting influences.' His nature and office are such as to justify and encourage immediate and distinct supplications to him. The peculiar work of the Spirit is of transcendent importance, because it is essential to the salvation of every sinner who reaches heaven. Without it, notwithstanding the amazing love of God in giving his Son to die, and the unequalled sacrifice which Christ has made, not a rebel would be reclaimed to his allegiance to God—not a transgressor forgiven and saved.3 The unrenewed heart deliberately rejects the Saviour will not have him to reign over its affections and purposes, till, under the mighty agency of the Spirit, it is created anew in, Christ Jesus.
In connection with what Dr. Emmons inculcated respecting the Holy Spirit, we may collate his teachings concerning the doctrine of
§ 14. Perfection.
By some it has been contended, that the premises which he claimed to have established in this division of his theological system, necessarily involve the conclusions of Modern Perfectionism.' But he is known to have had as little sympathy with this theory, as any man who has palpably exposed its unsoundness. By direct assertion and various incidental allusion, he taught the imperfection of believers-of all believers in this state of probation. That all Christians should be holy, constantly, perfectly, in thought, word and deed, he believed and preached. Not that they can cherish affections as vigorous, strong and fervent as those of Christ, or the angels of light, or the spirits of just men made perfect;' but they can and ought to be habitually and constantly devoted to the service of God. In the constancy of their holy exercises, must consist their perfection of holiness.4 Should they but uniformly cherish the love of God in their hearts, and never indulge a selfish affection, they would be perfectly holy. Their moral exercises are not partly holy and partly sinful, but either
1 Theol. Review, Vol. I. pp. 112, 113. 3 Ib. p. 123.
* Works, Vol. IV. p. 138.
4 Ib. Vol. V. p. 360.
sinful or holy without intermixture.' They are under the strongest possible obligations to be uninterruptedly in the fear and love of God. This is within the compass of their ability. God's law unequivocally demands it. This law is unabated in its strictness under the Gospel. The new Dispensation offers no palliation, contains no justifying plea for moral imperfection. True, it provides for the pardon of transgressors; but it imperatively demands the perfecting of holiness in the fear of God. Obligation is commensurate with natural ability; and though the influence of past evil habit and vicious example is hostile to their growth in grace and in knowledge, yet Christians have power to be holy as God demands.
This, however, does not prove that they are, in fact perfectly holy. It is the plain teaching of Scripture, confirmed by experience and observation, that believers in this world are exceedingly imperfect. 3 Their life is a constant struggle against sin, in which they are not always victorious. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and they often break their best resolutions by not 'doing the things they would.' Not that the holiness they do have is not holy; not that their right exercises are weaker than those of glorified spirits; not that in the same affections there is a mixture of holiness and sin; but they cherish far too many affections that have nothing morally good in them.4 Believers every where are conscious of having such exercises; and in these consists this imperfection.
This idea of entire holiness or sin being predicated of every feeling of the heart, has been animadverted upon by some with no little severity. Others have pronounced the reasoning of our author on this point as logically sound, but experimentally fallacious. They cannot invalidate his arguments, because his premises commend themselves to right reason and his conclusions are legitimately drawn; but they feel that he must be wrong, and claim that their spontaneous intuitions are more reliable than his logical sequences. Aware that his teachings on this subject were somewhat peculiar, our author anticipated many of the objections which would be urged against him, and so disposed of them as to convince many a mind that his premises are strong, if not impregnable, and his conclusions logical, if not irresistible. Straitened for space, we must forbear to make quotations, and content ourselves with indicating to the reader the pages which he will be richly rewarded for studying.5
The next topic which claims our attention is what Dr. Emmons taught respecting
1 Works, Vol. V. p. 201.
3 Ib. p. 198.