Arhive pe categorii: New Birth


by A.W. Pink

Two chief obstacles lie in the way of the salvation of any of Adam’s fallen
descendants: bondage to the guilt and penalty of sin, bondage to the power
and presence of sin; or, in other words, their being bound for Hell and their
being unfit for Heaven. These obstacles are, so far as man is concerned,
entirely insurmountable. This fact was unequivocally established by Christ,
when, in answer to His disciples’ question, “Who then can be saved?”, He
answered, “with men this is impossible.” A lost sinner might more easily
create a world than save his own soul. But (forever be His name praised),
the Lord Jesus went on to say, “with God all things are possible”
(Matthew 19:25, 26). Yes, problems which completely baffle human
wisdom, are solvable by Omniscience; tasks which defy the utmost efforts
of man, are easily accomplished by Omnipotence. Nowhere is this fact
more strikingly exemplified than in God’s saving of the sinner.
As intimated above, two things are absolutely essential in order to
salvation: deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin, deliverance from
the power and presence of sin. The one is secured by the meditorial work
of Christ, the other is accomplished by the effectual operations of the Holy
Spirit. The one is the blessed result of what the Lord Jesus did for God’s
people; the other is the glorious consequence of what the Holy Spirit does
in God’s people. The one takes place when, having been brought to lie in
the dust as an empty-handed beggar, faith is enabled to lay hold of Christ,
God now justifies from all things, and the trembling, penitent, but believing
sinner receives a free and full pardon. The other takes place gradually, in
distinct stages, under the Divine blessings of regeneration, sanctification,
and glorification. In regeneration, indwelling sin receives its death-wound,
though not its death. In sanctification, the regenerated soul is shown the
sink of corruption that dwells within, and is taught to loathe and hate
himself. At glorification both soul and body will be forever delivered from
every vestige and effect of sin..3
Now a vital and saving knowledge of these Divine truths can not be
acquired by a mere study of them. No amount of pouring over the
Scriptures, no painstaking examination of the soundest doctrinal treatises,
no exercise of the intellect, is able to secure the slightest spiritual insight
into them. True, the diligent seeker may attain a natural knowledge, an
intellectual apprehension of them, just as one born blind may obtain a
notional knowledge of the colorings of the flowers or of the beauties of a
sunset, but the natural man can no more arrive at a spiritual knowledge of
spiritual things, than a blind man can a true knowledge of natural things,
yea, than a man in his grave can know what is going on in the world he has
left. Nor can anything short of Divine power bring the proud heart to a felt
realization of this humbling fact; only as God supernaturally enlightens, is
any soul made conscious of the awful spiritual darkness in which it
naturally dwells.
The truth of what has just been said is established by the plain and solemn
declaration of

1 Corinthians 2:14, “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.” Alas that so
many evade the sharp point of this verse by imagining that it applies not to
them, mistaking an intellectual assent to spiritual things for an experimental
acquaintance of them. An external knowledge of Divine truth, as revealed
in Scripture, may charm the mind and form ground for speculation and
conversation, but unless there is a Divine application of them to the
conscience and heart, such knowledge will be of no more avail in the hour
of death than the pleasing images of our dreams are of any satisfaction
when we awake. How awful to think that multitudes of professing
Christians will awaken in Hell to discover that their knowledge of Divine
truth was no more substantial than a dream!
While it be true that no man by searching can find out God (

Job 11:7),
and that the mysteries of His kingdom are sealed secrets until He deigns to
reveal them to the soul (

Matthew 13:11), nevertheless, it is also true
that God is pleased to use means in the conveyance of heavenly light to our
sin-darkened understandings. It is for this reason that He commissions His-servants
to preach the Word, and, by voice and pen, expound the
Scriptures; nevertheless, their labors will produce no eternal fruits unless
He condescends to bless the seed they sow and give it an increase. Thus,
no matter how faithfully, simply, helpfully a sermon be preached or an
article written, unless the Spirit applies it to the heart, the hearer or reader.4
is no spiritual gainer. Then will you not humbly entreat God to open your
heart to receive whatever is according to His holy Word in this booklet?
In what follows, we shall, as God enables, seek to direct attention to what
we have referred to at the beginning of this booklet as the second of those
two humanly insurmountable obstacles which lies in the way of a sinner’s
salvation, and that is, the fitting of him for Heaven, by the delivering of him
from the power and presence of sin. Such a work is a Divine one, and
therefore it is miraculous. Regeneration is no mere outward reformation,
no mere turning over a new leaf and endeavoring to live a better life. The
new birth is very much more than going forward and taking the preacher’s
hand: it is a supernatural operation of God upon man’s spirit, a
transcendent wonder. All of God’s works are wonderful. The world in
which we live is filled with things which amaze us. Physical birth is a
marvel, but, from several standpoints, the new birth is more remarkable. It
is a marvel of Divine grace, Divine wisdom, Divine power, and Divine
beauty. It is a miracle performed upon and within ourselves, of which we
may be personally cognizant; it will prove an eternal marvel.
Because regeneration is the work of God, it is a mysterious thing. All
Godworks are shrouded in impenetrable mystery. Life, natural life, in its
origin, in its nature, its processes, baffles the most careful investigator.
Much more is this the case with spiritual life. The Existence and Being of
God transcends the finite grasp; how then can we expect to understand the
process by which we become His children? Our Lord Himself declared that
the new birth is a thing of mystery:
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth,
so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (

John 3:8).
The wind is something about which the most learned scientist knows next
to nothing. Its nature, the laws which govern it, the causation, all lie
beyond the purview of human inquiry. So it is with the new birth: it is
profoundly mysterious.
Regeneration is an intensely solemn thing. The new birth is the dividing line
between Heaven and Hell. In God’s sight there are but two classes of
people on this earth: those who are dead in sins, and those who are
walking in newness of life. In the physical realm there is no such thing as
being between life and death. A man is either dead or alive. The vital spark.5
may be very dim, but while it exists, life is present. Let that spark go out
altogether, and. though you may dress the body in beautiful clothes,
nevertheless, it is nothing more than a corpse. So it is in the spiritual realm.
We are either saints or sinners, spiritually alive or spiritually dead. children
of God or children of the Devil. In view of this solemn fact, how
momentous is the question, Have I been born again? If not, and you die in
your present state, you will wish you had never been born at all.
1. The need for regeneration lies in our natural degeneration. In
consequence of the fall of our first parents, all of us were born alienated
from the Divine life and holiness, despoiled of all those perfections
wherewith man’s nature was at first endowed.

Ezekiel 16:4, 5 gives a
graphic picture of our terrible spiritual plight at our entrance into this
world: cast out to the loathing of our persons, rolling ourselves in our own
filth, impotent to help ourselves. That “likeness” of God (

Genesis 1:26)
which was at first stamped on mansoul, has been effaced, aversion from
God and an inordinate love of the creature having displaced it. The very
fountain of our beings is polluted, continually sending forth bitter springs,
and though those streams take several courses and wander in various
channels, yet are they all brackish. Therefore is the “sacrifice” of the
wicked an abomination to the Lord (

Proverbs 15:8), and his very
ploughing “sin” (

Proverbs 21:4).
There are but two states, and all men are included therein: the one a state
of spiritual life, the other a state of spiritual death; the one a state of
righteousness, the other a state of sin: the one saving. the other damning;
the one a state of enmity, wherein men have their inclinations contrary to
God, the other a state of friendship and fellowship, wherein men walk
obediently unto God, and would not willingly have an inward notion
opposed to His will. The one state is called darkness, the other light:
“For ye were (in your unregenerate days, not only in the dark, but)
darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (

Ephesians 5:6).
There is no medium between these conditions; all are in one of them. Each
man and woman now on earth is either an object of God’s delight or of His
abomination. The most benevolent and imposing works of the flesh cannot
please Him. but the faintest sparks proceeding from that which grace hath
kindled are acceptable in His sight..6
By the fall man contracted an unfitness to that which is good. Shapen in
iniquity and conceived in sin (

Psalm 51:5), man is a “transgressor from
the womb” (

Isaiah 48:8):
“they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies”

Psalm 58:3),
“the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”

Genesis 8:21).
He may be civilized, educated, refined, and even religious, but at heart he is
“desperately wicked” (

Jeremiah 17:9), and all that he does is vile in the
sight of God, for nothing is done from love to Him, and with a view to His
“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree
bring forth good fruit” (

Matthew 7:18).
Until they are born again, all men are “unto every good work reprobate”

Titus 1:16).
By the fall man contracted an unwillingness to that which is good. All
motions of the will in its fallen estate, through defect of a right principle
from whence they flow and a right end to which they tend, are only evil
and sinful. Leave man to himself, remove from him all the restraints which
law and order impose, and he will swiftly degenerate to a lower level than
the beasts, as almost any missionary will testify. And is human nature any
better in civilized lands? Not a whit. Wash off the artificial veneer and it
will be found that
“as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man”

Proverbs 27:19).
The world over, it remains solemnly true that
“the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be” (

Romans 8:7).
Christ will prefer the same charge in a coming day as when He was here on
“Men loved darkness rather than light” (

John 3:19)..7
Men will not come to Him that they might have “life.”
By the fall man contracted an inability to that which is good. He is not
only unfitted and unwilling, but unable to do that which is good. Where is
the man that can truthfully say he has measured up to his own ideals? All
have to acknowledge there is a strange force within dragging them
downward, inclining them to evil, which, notwithstanding their utmost
endeavors against it, in some form or other, more or less, conquers them.
Despite the kindly exhortations of friends, the faithful warnings of God’s
servants, the solemn examples of suffering and sorrow, disease and death
on every side, and the vote of their own conscience, yet they yield.
“They that are in the flesh (in their natural condition) cannot please
God” (

Romans 8:18).
Thus it is evident that the need is imperative for a radical and revolutionary
change to be wrought in fallen man before he can have any fellowship with
the thrice holy God. Since the earth must be completely changed, because
of the curse now resting on it, before it can ever again bring forth fruit as it
did when man was in a state of innocency; so must man, since a general
defilement from Adam has seized upon him, be renewed, before he can
“bring forth fruit unto God” (

Romans 7:4). He must be grafted upon
another stock, united to Christ, partake of the power of His resurrection:
without this he may bring forth fruit, but not “unto God.” How can any
one turn to God without a principle of spiritual motion? How can he live to
God who has no spiritual life? Row can he be fit for the kingdom of God
who is of a brutish and diabolical nature?
2. The need for regeneration lies in man’s total depravity. Every member
of Adam’s race is a fallen creature, and every part of his complex being has
been corrupted by sin. Man’s heart is “deceitful above all things and
desperately wicked” (

Jeremiah 17:9). His mind is blinded by Satan

2 Corinthians 4:4) and darkened by sin (

Ephesians 4:18), so that his
thoughts are only evil continually (

Genesis 6:5). His affections are
prostituted, so that he loves what God hates, and hates what God loves.
His will is enslaved from good (

Romans 6:20) and opposed to God

Romans 8:7). He is without righteousness (

Romans 3:10), under
the curse of the law (

Galatians 3:10) and is the captive of the Devil. His
condition is truly deplorable, and his case desperate. He cannot better
himself, for he is “without strength” (

Romans 5:6). He cannot work out.8
his salvation, for there dwelleth no good thing in him (

Romans 7:18).
He needs, then, to be born of God,
“for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creation” (

Galatians 6:15).
Man is a fallen creature. It is not that a few leaves have faded, but that the
entire tree has become rotten, root and branch. There is in every one that
which is radically wrong. The word “radical” comes from a Latin one
which means “the root,” so that when we say a man is radically wrong, we
mean that there is in him, in the very foundation and fiber of his being, that
which is intrinsically corrupt and essentially evil. Sins are merely the fruit,
there must of necessity be a root from which they spring. It follows, then,
as an inevitable consequence that man needs the aid of a Higher Power to
effect a radical change in him. There is only One who can effect that
change: God created man, and God alone can re-create him. Hence the
imperative demand, “Ye must be born again” (

John 3:7). Man is
spiritually dead and naught but all-mighty power can make him alive.
“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so
death passed upon all men” (

Romans 5:12).
In the day that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died spiritually, and a
person who is spiritually dead cannot beget a child who possesses spiritual
life. Therefore, all by natural descent enter this world “alienated from the
life of God” (

Ephesians 4:18), “dead in trespasses and sins”

Ephesians 2:1). This is no mere figure of speech, but a solemn fact.
Every child is born entirely destitute of a single spark of spiritual life, and
therefore if ever it is to enter the kingdom of God, which is the realm of
spiritual life (

Romans 14:17), it must be born into it.
The more clearly we are enabled to discern the imperative need of
regeneration and the various reasons why it is absolutely essential in order
to a fallen creature being fitted for the presence of the thrice holy God, the
less difficulty are we likely to encounter when we endeavor to arrive at an
understanding of the nature of regeneration, what it is which takes place
within a person when the Holy Spirit renews him. For this reason
particularly, and also because such a cloud of error has been cast upon this
vital truth, we feel that a further consideration of this particular aspect of
our subject is needed..9
Jesus Christ came into this world to glorify God and to glorify Himself by
redeeming a people unto Himself. But what glory can we conceive that
God has, and what glory would accrue to Christ, if there be not a vital and
fundamental difference between His people and the world? And what
difference can there be between those two companies but in a change of
heart, out of which are the issues of life (

Proverbs 4:23): a change of
nature or disposition, as the fountain from which all other differences must
proceed—sheep and goats differ in nature. The whole mediatorial work of
Christ has this one end in view. His priestly office is to reconcile and bring
His people unto God; His prophetic, to teach them the way; His kingly, to
work in them those qualifications and bestow upon them that comeliness
which is necessary to fit them for the holy converse and communion with
the thrice holy God. Thus does He
“purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works”

Titus 2:14).
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of
God? Be not deceived” (

1 Corinthians 6:9).
But multitudes are deceived, and deceived at this very point, and on this
most momentous matter. God has warned men that
“the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”

Jeremiah 17:9),
but few will believe that this is true of them. Instead, tens of thousands of
professing Christians are filled with a vain and presumptuous confidence
that all is well with them. They delude themselves with hopes of mercy
while continuing to live in a course of self-will and self-pleasing. They
fancy they are fitted for Heaven, while every day that passes finds them the
more prepared for Hell. It is written of the Lord Jesus that
“He shall save His people from their sins” (

Matthew 1:21),
and not in their sins: save them not only from the penalty, but also from the
power and pollution of sin.
To how many in Christendom do these solemn words apply,
“For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found
to be hateful” (

Psalm 36:2)..10
The principal device of Satan is to deceive people into imagining that they
can successfully combine the world with God, allow the flesh while
pretending to the Spirit, and thus “make the best of both worlds.” But
Christ has emphatically declared that “no man can serve two masters”

Matthew 6:24). Many mistake the force of those searching words: the
true emphasis is not upon “two,” but upon “serve”—none can serve two
masters. And God requires to be “served”—feared, submitted unto,
obeyed; His will regulating the life in all its details, see

1 Samuel 12:24,
“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou
serve” (

Matthew 4:10).
3. The need for regeneration lies in man’s unsuitedness to God. When
Nicodemus, a respectable and religious Pharisee, yea, a “master in Israel,”
came to Christ, He told him plainly that “except a man be born again” he
could neither see nor enter the “kingdom of God” (

John 3:3, 5 )—either
the Gospel-state on earth or the Glory-state in Heaven. None can enter the
spiritual realm unless he has a spiritual nature, which alone gives him an
appetite for and capacity to enjoy the things pertaining to it; and this, the
natural man has not. So far from it, he cannot so much as “discern” them

1 Corinthians 2:14). He has no love for them, nor desire after them

John 3:19). Nor can he desire them, for his will is enslaved by the lusts
of the flesh (

Ephesians 2:2, 3). Therefore, before a man can enter the
spiritual kingdom, his understanding must be supernaturally enlightened,
his heart renewed, and his will emancipated.
There can be no point of contact between God and His Christ with
a sinful man until he is regenerated. There can be no lawful union
between two parties who have nothing vital in common. A superior
and an inferior nature may be united together, but never contrary
natures. Can fire and water be united, a beast and a man, a good
angel and vile devil? Can Heaven and Hell ever meet on friendly
terms? In all friendship there must be a similarity of disposition;
before there can be communion there must be some agreement or
oneness. Beasts and men agree not in a life of reason, and therefore
cannot converse together. God and men agree not in a life of
holiness, and therefore can have no communion together
(Condensed from S. Charnock)..11
We are united to the “first Adam” by a likeness of nature; how then can we
be united to the “last Adam” without a likeness to Him from a new nature
or principle? We were united to the first Adam by a living soul, we must be
united to the last Adam by a quickening Spirit. We have nothing to do with
the heavenly Adam without bearing an heavenly image (

1 Corinthians
15:48, 49). If we are His members, we must have the same nature which
was communicated to Him, the Head, by the Spirit of God, which is
holiness (

Luke 1:35). There must be one “spirit” in both: thus it is
written, “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (

1 Corinthians
6:17). And again God tells us,
“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His”

Romans 8:9).
Nor can anything be vitally united to another without life. A living head
and a dead body is inconceivable.
There can be no communion with God without a renewed soul. God is
unable on His part, with honor to His law and holiness, to have fellowship
with such a creature as fallen man. Man is incapable on his part, because of
the aversion rooted in his fallen nature. Then how is it possible for God and
man to be brought together without the latter experiencing a thorough
change of nature? What communion can there be between Light and
darkness, between the living God and a dead heart? “Can two walk
together, except they be agreed? (

Amos 3:3). God loathes sin, man
loves it; God loves holiness, man loathes it. How then could such contrary
affections meet together in an amicable friendship? Sin has alienated from
the life of God (

Ephesians 4:18), and therefore from His fellowship; life,
then, must be restored to us before we can be instated in communion with
Him. Old things must pass away, and all things become new (

Corinthians 5:17).
Gospel-duties cannot be performed without regeneration. The first
requirement of Christ from His followers is that they shall deny self. But
that is impossible to fallen human nature, for men are “lovers of their own
selves” (

2 Timothy 3:2). Not until the soul is renewed, will self be
repudiated. Therefore is the new-covenant promise,
“I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an
heart of flesh” (

Ezekiel 11:19)..12
All Gospel duties require a pliableness and tenderness of heart. Pride was
the condemnation of the Devil (

1 Timothy 3:6), and our first parents fell
through swelling designs to be like unto God (

Genesis 3:5). Ever since
then, man has been too aspiring and too well opinionated of himself to
perform duties in an evangelical strain, with that nothingness in himself
which the Gospel requires. The chief design of the Gospel is to beat down
all glorying in ourselves, that we should glory only in the Lord (

Corinthians 1:29-31); but this is not possible till grace renews the heart,
melts it before God, and moulds it to His requirements.
Without a new nature we cannot perform Gospel-duties constantly.
“They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh”

Romans 8:5).
Such a mind cannot long be employed upon spiritual things. Prickings of
conscience, terrors of Hell, fears of death, may exert a temporary influence,
but they do not last. Stony-ground may bring forth blades, yet for lack of
root they quickly wither away (

Matthew 13). A stone may be flung high
into the air, but ultimately it falls back to the earth; so the natural man may
for a time mount high in religious fervor, but sooner or later it shall be said
of him, as it was of Israel,
“their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in
His covenant” (

Psalm 78:37).
Many seem to begin in the Spirit, but end in the flesh. Only where God has
wrought in the soul, will the work last forever (

Ecclesiastes 3:14:

Philippians 1:6).
As regeneration is indispensably necessary to a Gospel-state, so it is to a
state of heavenly glory. It seems to be typified by the strength and
freshness of the Israelites when they entered into Canaan. Not a decrepit
and infirm person set foot in the promised land: none of those that came
out of Egypt with an Egyptian nature, and desires for the garlic and onions
thereof, with a suffering their old bondage, but dropped their carcasses in
the wilderness; only the two spies who had encouraged them against the
seeming difficulties. None that retain only the old man, born in the house of
bondage; but only a new regenerate creature, shall enter into the heavenly
Canaan. Heaven is the inheritance of the sanctified, not of the filthy:.13
‘that they may receive an inheritance among them which are
sanctified through faith that is in Me’ (

Acts 26:18).
Upon Adam’s expulsion from paradise, a flaming sword was set to stop his
reentering into that place of happiness. As Adam, in his forlorn state, could
not possess it, we also, by what we have received from Adam, cannot
expect a greater privilege than our root. The priest under the law could not
enter into the sanctuary till he was purified, nor the people into the
congregation: neither can any man have access into the Holiest till he be
sprinkled by the blood of Jesus:

Hebrews 10:22” (S. Charnock).
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Said Christ, “I go to
prepare a place for you” (

John 14:2). For whom? For those who have,
in heart, “forsaken all” to follow Him (

Matthew 19:27). For those who
love God (

1 Corinthians 2:9) love the things of God: they perceive the
inestimable value and beauty of spiritual things. And they who really love
spiritual things, deem no sacrifice too great to win them (

3:8). But in order to love spiritual things, the man himself must be made
spiritual. The natural man may hear about them and have a correct idea of
the doctrine of them, but he receives them not spiritually in the love of
them (

2 Thessalonians 2:10), and finds not his joy and happiness in
them. But the renewed soul longs after them, not by constraint, but
because God has won his heart. His confession is
“Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth
that I desire beside Thee” (

Psalm 73:25).
God has become his chief good, His will his only rule, His glory his chief
end. In such an one, the very inclinations of the soul have been changed.
The man himself must be changed before he is prepared for Heaven. Of the
regenerate it is written,
“giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”

Colossians 1:12).
None are “made meet” while they are unholy, for it is the inheritance of the
saints; none are fitted for it while they are under the power of darkness, for
it is an inheritance in light. Christ Himself ascended not to Heaven to take
possession of His glory till after His resurrection from the dead, nor can we
enter Heaven unless we have been resurrected from sin. “He that hath.14
wrought (polished) us for the self-same thing (to be clothed with our
Heavenly house) is God,” and the proof that He has done this is, the giving
unto us “the earnest of the Spirit” (

2 Corinthians 5:5); and where the
Spirit of the Lord is “there is liberty” (

2 Corinthians 3:17), liberty from
the power of indwelling sin, as the verse which follows clearly shows.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”

Matthew 5:8).
To “see” God is to be introduced into the most intimate intercourse with
Him. It is to have that “thick cloud” of our transgressions blotted out

Isaiah 44:22), for it was our iniquities which separated between us and
our God (

Isaiah 58:2). To “see” God, here has the force of enjoy, as in

John 3:36. But for this enjoyment a “pure heart” is indispensable. Now
the heart is purified by faith (

Acts 15:9). for faith has to do with God.
Thus, a “pure heart” is one that has its affections set upon things above,
being attracted by “the beauty of holiness” (

Psalm 17:15). But how
could he enjoy God who cannot now endure the imperfect holiness of His
children, but rails against it as unnecessary “strictness” or puritanical
fanaticism? God’s face is only to be beheld in righteousness.
“Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no man shall
see the Lord” (

Hebrews 12:14).
None can dwell with God and be eternally happy in His presence unless a
radical change has been wrought in him, a change from sin to holiness. This
change must be, like that introduced by the fail, one which reaches to the
very roots of our beings, affecting the entire man: removing the darkness of
our minds, awakening and then pacifying the conscience, spiritualizing our
affections,, converting the will, reforming our whole life. And this great
change must take place here on earth. The removal of the soul to Heaven is
no substitute for regeneration. It is not the place which conveys likeness to
God. When the angels fell. they were in Heaven, but the glory of God’s
dwelling place did not restore them. Satan entered Heaven (

Job 2:1),
but he left it still unchanged. There must be a likeness to God wrought in
the soul by the Spirit before it is fitted to enjoy Heaven.
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”

1 Corinthians 15:50).
If the body must be changed ere it can enter Heaven, how much more so
the soul, for.15
“there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth”

Revelation 21:27).
And what is the supreme glory of Heaven? Is it freedom from toil and
worry, sickness and sorrow, suffering and death? No: it is, that Heaven is
the place where there is the full manifestation of Him who is “glorious in
holiness”—that holiness which the wicked, while presumptuously hoping
to go to Heaven, despise and hate here on earth. The inhabitants of Heaven
are given a clear sight of the ineffable purity of God and are granted the
most intimate communion with Him. But none are fitted for this unless
their inner being (as well as outer lives) have undergone a radical,
revolutionizing, supernatural change.
Can it be thought that Christ will prepare mansions of glory for those who
refuse to receive Him into their hearts and give Him the first place in their
lives down here? No, indeed; rather will He “laugh at their calamity and
mock when their fear cometh” (

Proverbs 1:26). The instrument of the
heart must be tuned here on earth to fit it to produce the melody of praise
in Heaven. God has so linked together holiness and happiness (as He has
sin and wretchedness) that they cannot be separated. Were it possible for
an unregenerate soul to enter Heaven, it would find there no sanctuary
from the lashings of conscience and the tormenting fire of God’s holiness.
Many suppose that nothing but the merits of Christ are needed to qualify
them for Heaven. But this is a great mistake. None receive remission of
sins through the blood of Christ, who are not first “turned from the power
of Satan unto God” (

Acts 26:18). God subdues their iniquities whose
sin He casts into the depths of the sea (

Micah 7:19). Pardoning sins and
purifying the heart are as inseparable as the blood and water which flowed
from the Savior’s side (

John 19:34).
Our being renewed in the spirit of our mind and our putting on of the new
“which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”

Ephesians 4:23, 24),
is as indispensable to a meetness for Heaven, as an having the
righteousness of Christ imputed to us is for a title thereto. “A malefactor,
by pardon, is in a capacity to come into the presence of a prince and serve
him at his table, but he is not in the fitness till his noisome garments, full of
vermin be taken off” (S. Charnock). It is both a fatal delusion and wicked.16
presumption for one who is living to please self to imagine that his sins
have been forgiven by God. It is “the washing of regeneration” which gives
evidence of our being justified by grace (

Titus 3:5-7). When Christ
saves, He indwells (

Galatians 2:20), and it is impossible for Him to
reside in a heart which yet remains spiritually cold, hard, and lifeless. The
supreme pattern of holiness cannot be a Patron of licentiousness.
Justification and sanctification are inseparable: where one is
absolved from the guilt of sin, he is also delivered from the
dominion of sin, but neither the one nor the other can be until the
soul is regenerated. Just as Christ’s being made in the likeness of
sinflesh was indispensable for God to impute to Him His people’s
sins (

Romans 8:3), so it is equally necessary for us to be made
new creatures in Christ (

2 Corinthians 5:17) before we can be,
legally. made the righteousness of God in Him (

2 Corinthians
5:21). The need of our being made “partakers of the Divine nature”

2 Peter 1:4) is as real and as great as Christ’s taking part in
human nature, ere He could save us (

Hebrews 2:14-17).
“Except God be born, He cannot come into the kingdom of sin.
Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of
righteousness. And Divine power—the power of the Holy Spirit,
the plenipotentiary and executant of all the will of Godhead—
achieves the incarnation of God and the regeneration of man. that
the Son of God may be made sin, and the sons of God made
righteous” (H. Martin).
How could one possibly enter a world of ineffable holiness who has spent
all his time in sin, i.e., pleasing self? How could he possibly sing the song
of the Lamb if his heart has never been tuned unto it? How could be
endure to behold the awful majesty of God face to face, who never before
so much as saw Him “through a glass darkly” by the eye of faith? And as it
is excruciating torture for the eyes that have been long confined to dismal
darkness, to suddenly gaze upon the bright -beams of the midday sun, so it
will be when the unregenerate behold Him who is Light. Instead of
welcoming such a sight
“all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him”

Revelation 1:7);
yea, so overwhelming will be their anguish, they will call to the mountains
and rocks,.17
“Fall on us. and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the
throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (

Revelation 6:17).
And, my reader, that will be your experience, unless God regenerates you!
When the Lord Jesus said “That which is born of the flesh is flesh”

John 3:6) He not only intimated that every man born into this world
inherits a corrupt and fallen nature, and therefore is unfit for the kingdom
of God; but also that this corrupt nature can never be anything else but
corrupt, so that no culture can fit it for the kingdom of God. Its tendencies
may be restricted, its manifestations modified by education and
circumstances, but its sinful tendencies and affections are still there. A
corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, prune and trim it as you may.
For good fruit, you must have a good tree or graft from one. Therefore did
our Lord go on to say, “And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This
brings us to consider.
We have now arrived at the most difficult part of our subject. Necessarily
so, for we are about to contemplate the workings of God. These are ever
mysterious, and nothing whatever can be really known about them, save
what He Himself has revealed thereon in His Word. In endeavoring to
ponder what He has said on His work of regeneration two dangers need to
be guarded against: first. limiting our thoughts to any isolated statement
thereon or any single figure the Spirit has employed to describe it. Second,
reasoning from what He has said by carnalizing the figures He has
employed. When referring to spiritual things. God has used terms which
were originally intended (by man) to express material objects, hence we
need to be constantly on our guard against transferring to the former
erroneous ideas carried over from the latter. From this we shall be
preserved if we diligently compare all that has been said on each subject.
In treating of the nature of regeneration, much damage has been wrought,
especially in recent years, by men confining their attention to a single
figure, namely, that of the “new birth,” which is only one out of many
expressions used in the Scriptures to denote that mighty and miraculous
work of God within His people which fits them for communion with Him.
Thus, in

Colossians 1:12, 13 the same vital experience is spoken of as
God’s having “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints
in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath.18
translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Regeneration is the
commencement of a new experience, which is so real and revolutionizing
that the one who is the subject of this Divine begetting is spoken of as a
“new creature”; “old things are passed away, behold, all things are become
new” (

2 Corinthians 5:17). A new spiritual life has been imparted to the
soul by God, so that the one receiving it is vitally implanted into Christ.
The nature of regeneration can, perhaps, be best perceived by comparing
and contrasting it with what took place at the fall, for though the person
who is renewed by the Spirit receives more than what Adam lost by his
rebellion, yet, the one is, really, God’s answer to the former. Now it is
most important that we should clearly recognize that no faculty was lost by
man when he fell. When man was created, God gave unto him a spirit and
soul and body, Thus, man was a tri-partite being When man fell, the Divine
threat “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” was duly
executed, and man died spiritually. But that does not mean that either his
Spirit or soul, or any part thereof, ceased to be, for in Scripture “death”
never signifies annihilation, but is a state of separation. The prodigal son
was “dead” while he was in the far country (

Luke 15:24), because he
was separated from his father. “Alienated from the life of God”

Ephesians 4:18) describes the fearful state of one who is
unregenerated, so does “she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth”

1 Timothy 5:6), that which is dead spiritually is dead Godwards, while
alive in sin the spirit and soul and body, each being active against God.
That which took place at the fall was not the destruction of either portion
of man’s threefold being, but the vitiating or corrupting of them. And that,
by the introduction of a new principle within him, namely, sin, which is
more of a quality than a substance. But let it be stated very emphatically
that a “nature” is not a concrete entity but rather that which characterizes
and impels an entity or creature. It is the nature of gravitation to attract, it
is the nature of the wind to blow, it is the nature of fire to burn. A “nature”
is not a tangible thing, but a principle of operation, a power impelling to
action. Thus, when we say that fallen man possesses a “sinful nature,” it
must not be understood that something as substantial as his soul or spirit
was added to his being, but instead, that the principle of evil entered into
him, which polluted and defiled every part of his constitution, as frost
entering fruit spoils it..19
At the fall, man lost none of the faculties with which the Creator had
originally endowed him, but he lost the power to use his faculties
Godwards. All desire Godwards, all love for his Maker, and real
knowledge of Him, was lost. Sin possessed him: sin as a principle of evil,
as a power of operation, as a defiling influence, took complete charge of
his spirit and soul and body, so that he became the “servant” or slave “of
sin” (

John 8:34). As such, man is no more capable of producing that
which is good, spiritual, and acceptable to God, than frost can burn or fire
“they that are in the flesh (remain in their natural and fallen
condition) cannot please God” (

Romans 8:8).
They have no power to do so, for all their faculties, every part of their
being, is completely under the dominion of sin. So completely is fallen man
beneath the power of sin and spiritual death, that the things of the Spirit of
God are “foolishness” unto him, “neither can he know them” (

Corinthians 2:14).
Now that which takes place at regeneration is the reversing of what
happened at the fall.. The one born again is, through Christ, and by the
Spirit’s operation, restored to union and communion with God; the one
who before was spiritually dead, is now spiritually alive:

John 5:24. Just
as spiritual death was brought about by the entrance into man’s, being of
the principle of evil, so spiritual life is the introduction of a principle of
holiness. God communicates a new principle, as real and as potent as sin,
Divine grace is now imparted. A holy disposition is wrought in the soul. A
new temper of spirit is bestowed upon the inner man. But no new faculties
are created within him, rather are his original faculties enriched, ennobled,
and empowered. Just as man did not become less than a threefold being
when he fell, so he does not become more than a threefold being when he
is renewed. Nor will he in Heaven itself: his spirit and soul and body will
simply be glorified, i.e., completely delivered from every taint of sin, and
perfectly conformed to the image of God’s Son.
At regeneration a new nature is imparted by God. But again we need to be
closely on our guard lest we carnalize our conception of what is denoted
by that expression. Much confusion has been caused through failure to
recognize that it is a person, and not merely a “nature” which is born of the
Spirit: “ye must be born again” (

John 3:7), not merely something in you
must be; “he which is born of God” (

1 John 3:9). The same person who.20
was spiritually dead—his whole being alienated from God—is now made
spiritually alive: his whole being reconciled to God. This must be so, or
otherwise there would be no preservation of the identity of the individual.
It is the person, and not simply a nature which is born of God:
“Of His own will begat He us” (

James 1:18).
It is a new birth of the individual himself, and not of something in him. The
nature is never changed, but the person is—relatively, not absolutely.
The person of the regenerate man is essentially the same as the person of
the unregenerate: each having a spirit, and soul and body. But just as in
fallen man there is also a principle of evil which has corrupted every part of
his threefold being, which “principle” is his “sinful nature” (so-called
because it expresses his evil disposition and character as it is the “nature”
of swine to be filthy), so when a person is born again another and new
“principle” is introduced into his being, a new “nature” or disposition, a
disposition which propels him Godwards. Thus, in both cases, “nature” is a
quality rather than a substance. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit”
must not be conceived of as something substantial, distinct from the soul of
the regenerate, like one portion of matter added to another; rather is it that
which spiritualizes all his inward faculties, as the “flesh” had carnalized
Again; “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” is to be carefully
distinguished from that “spirit” which every man has in addition to his soul
and body: (see

Numbers 16:22;

Ecclesiastes 12:7;

12:1). That which is born of the Spirit is not something tangible, but that
which is spiritual and holy, and that is a quality rather than a substance. In
proof of this compare the usage of the word “spirit” in these passages: in

James 4:5 the inclination and disposition to envy is called “the spirit
that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.” In

Luke 9:55 Christ said to His
disciples, “ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of,” thereby
signifying, ye are ignorant of what a fiery disposition is in your hearts. See

Numbers 5:14;

Hosea 4:12,

2 Timothy 1:7. That which is
born of the Spirit is a principle of spiritual life, which renovates all the
faculties of the soul.
Some help upon this mysterious part of our subject is to be obtained by
noting that in such passages as

John 3:6, etc., “spirit” is contrasted from
the “flesh.” Now it should scarcely need saying that “the flesh” is not a.21
concrete entity, being quite distinct from the body. When the term “flesh”
is used in a moral sense the reference is always to the corruption of fallen
man’s nature. In

Galatians 5:19-21 the “works of the flesh” are
described, among them being “hatred” and “envying,” in connection with
which the body (as distinguished from the mind) is not implicated—clear
proof that the “flesh” and the “body” are not synonymous terms. In
Galatians 5 the “flesh” is used to designate those evil tendencies and
affections which result in the sins there mentioned. Thus, the “flesh” refers
to the degenerate state of man’s spirit and soul and body, as the “spirit”
refers to the regenerate state of the spirit and soul—the regeneration of the
body being yet future.
The privative (darkness is the privative of light) or negative side of
regeneration, is that Divine grace gives a mortal wound to indwelling sin.
Sin is not then eradicated nor totally slain in the believer, but it is divested
of its reigning power over his faculties. The Christian is no longer the
helpless slave of sin, for he resists it, fights against it, and to speak of a
helpless victim “fighting,” is a contradiction in terms. At the new birth sin
receives its death-blow, though its dying struggles within us are yet
powerful and acutely felt. Proof of what we have said is found in the fact
that while sin’s solicitations were once agreeable to us, they are now hated.
This aspect of regeneration is presented in Scripture under a variety of
figures, such as the taking away of the heart of stone (

Ezekiel 36:26),
the binding of the strong man (

Matthew 12:29), etc. The absolute
dominion of sin over us is destroyed by God (

Romans 6:14).
The positive side of regeneration is that Divine grace effects a complete
change in the state of the soul, by infusing a principle of spiritual life, which
renovates all its faculties. It is this which constitutes its subject a “new
creature,” not in respect of his essence, but of his views, his desires, his
aspirations, his habits. Regeneration or the new birth is the Divine
communication of a powerful and revolutionizing principle in the soul and
spirit, under the influence of which all their native faculties are exercised in
a different manner from that in which they were formerly employed, and in
this sense
“old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”

2 Corinthians 5:17)..22
His thoughts are “new,” the objects of his choice are “new,” his aims and
motives are “new,” and thereby the whole of his external deportment is
“By the grace of God I am what I am” (

1 Corinthians 15:10).
The reference here is to subjective grace. There is an objective grace,
inherent in God, which is His love, favor, goodwill for His elect. There is
also a subjective grace which terminates on them, whereby a change is
wrought in them. This is by the infusion of a principle of spiritual life,
which is the spring of the Christian’s actions. This “principle” is called “a
new heart” and a “new spirit” (

Ezekiel 36:26). It is a supernatural habit,
residing in every faculty and power of the soul, as a principle of holy and
spiritual operation. Some have spoken of this supernatural experience as a
“change of heart.” If by this expression be meant that there is a change
wrought in the fallen nature itself, as though that which is natural is
transformed into that which is spiritual, as though that which was born of
the flesh ceased to be “flesh,” and became that which is born of the Spirit,
then, the term is to be rejected. But if by this expression be meant, an
acknowledgement of the reality of the Divine work, which is wrought in
those whom God regenerates, it is quite permissible.
When treating of regeneration under the figure of the new birth, some
writers have introduced analogies from natural birth which Scripture by no
means warrants, in fact disallows. Physical birth is the bringing forth into
this world of a creature, a complete personality, which before conception
had no existence whatsoever. But the one who is regenerated had a
complete personality before he was born again. To this statement it may be
objected, Not a spiritual personality What is meant by this? Spirit and
matter are opposites, and we only create confusion if we speak or think of
that which is spiritual as being something concrete. Regeneration is not the
creating of a person which hitherto had no existence, but the renewing and
restoring of a person whom sin had unfitted for communion with God, and
this by the communication of a nature or principle of life, which gives a
new and different bias to all his old faculties. It is altogether an erroneous
view to regard a Christian as made up of two distinct personalities.
As “justification” describes the change in the Christian’s objective
relationship to God, so “regeneration” denotes that intrinsic subjective
change which is wrought in the inclinations and tendencies of their souls
Godwards. This saving work of God within His people is likened unto a.23
“birth” because it is the gateway into a new world, the beginning of an
entirely new experience, and also because as the natural birth is an issuing
from a place of darkness and confinement (the womb) into a state of light
and liberty, so is the experience of the soul when the Spirit quickens us.
But the very fact that this revolutionizing experience is also likened unto a
resurrection (

1 John 3:14) should deliver us from forming a one-sided
conception of what is meant by the “new birth” and the “new creature,” for
resurrection is not the absolute creation of a new body, but the restoration
and glorification of the old body. Regeneration is also called a Divine
“begetting” (

1 Peter 1:3), because the image or likeness of the Begetter
is conveyed and stamped upon the soul. As the first Adam begat a son in
his own image and likeness (

Genesis 5:3), so the last Adam has an
“image” (

Romans 8:29) to convey to His sons (

Ephesians 4:24;

Colossians 3:10).
It has often been said that in the Christian there are two distinct and diverse
“natures,” namely, the “flesh” and the “spirit” (

Galatians 5:17). This is
true, yet care must be taken to avoid regarding these two “natures” as
anything more than two principles of action. Thus in

Romans 7:23 the
two “natures” or “principles” in the Christian are spoken of as “I see
another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.” The
flesh and the spirit in the believer must be conceived of as something very
different from the “two natures” in the blessed person of our Redeemer,
the God-man. Both the Deity and humanity were substantial entities in
Him. Moreover, the “two natures” in the saint result in a necessary conflict

Galatians 5:17), whereas in Christ there was not only complete
harmony, but one Lord.”
The faculties of the Christian’s soul remain the same in their essence,
substance, and natural powers as before he was “renewed,” but these
faculties are changed in their properties, qualities and inclinations. It may
help us to obtain a clearer conception of this if we illustrate by a reference
to the waters at Marah (

Exodus 15:25, 26). Those “waters” were the
same waters still, both before and after their cure. Of themselves in their
own nature, they were “bitter,” so as the people could not drink of them;
but in the casting of a tree into them, they were made sweet and useful. So
too with the waters at Jericho (

2 Kings 19:20, 21), which were cured by
the casting of salt (emblem of grace,

Colossians 4:6) into them. In like
manner the Christian’s affections continue the same as they were in their
nature and essence, but they are cured or healed by grace, so that their.24
properties, qualities and inclinations are “renewed” (

Titus 3:5), the love
of God now being shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit (

What man lost by the, fall was his original relation to God, which kept all
his faculties and affections within proper exercise of that relation. At
regeneration the Christian received a new life, which gave a new direction
to his faculties, presenting new objects before them. Yet, let it be said
emphatically, it is not merely the restoration of the life which Adam lost,
but one of unspeakably higher relations: he received the life which the Son
of God has in Himself, even “eternal life.” But the old personality still
remains. This is clear from

Romans 6:13, “but yield yourselves unto
God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as
instruments of righteousness unto God.” The members of the same
individual are now to serve a new Master.
Regeneration is that which alone fits a fallen creature to fulfill his one great
and chief duty, namely, to glorify his Maker. This is to be the aim and the
end in view in all that we do:
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to
the glory of God” (

1 Corinthians 10:31).
It is the motive actuating us and the purpose before us which gives value to
each action:
“When thine eye (figure of the soul looking outward) is single
(having only one object in view—the glory of God), the whole
body is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, the body is full of
darkness” (

Luke 11:34).
If the intention be evil, as it certainly is when the glory of God is not before
us, there is nothing but “darkness,” sin, in the whole service.
Now fallen man has altogether departed from what ought to be his chief
end, aim, or object, for instead of having before him the honor of God,
himself is his chief concern; and instead of seeking to please God in all
things, he lives only to please himself or his fellow-creatures. Even when,
through religious training, the claims of God have been brought to his
notice and pressed upon his attention, at best he only parcels out one part
of his time, strength and substance to the One who gave him being and
daily loadeth him with benefits, and another part for himself and the world..25
The natural man is utterly incapable of giving supreme respect unto God,
until he becomes the recipient of a spiritual life. None will truly aim at the
glory of God until they have an affection for Him. None will honor Him
supremely whom they do not supremely love. And for this, the love of God
must be shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit (

Romans 5:5), and
this only takes places at regeneration. Then it is, and not till then, that self
is dethroned and God enthroned; then it is that the renewed creature is
enabled to comply with God’s imperative call,
“My son, give Me thine heart” (

Proverbs 23:26).
The salient elements which comprise the nature of regeneration may,
perhaps, be summed up in these three words: impartation, renovation,
subjugation. God communicates something to the one who is born again,
namely, a principle of faith and obedience, a holy nature, eternal life. This
though real, palpable, and potent, is nothing material or tangible, nothing
added to our essence, substance or person. Again: God renews every
faculty of the soul and spirit of the one born again, not perfectly and finally,
for we are “renewed day by day” (

2 Corinthians 4:16). hut so as to
enable those faculties to be exercised upon spiritual objects. Again; God
subdues the power of sin indwelling the one born again. He does not
eradicate it, but He dethrones it, so that it no longer has dominion over the
heart. Instead of sin ruling the Christian, and that by his own willing
subjection, it is resisted and hated.
Regeneration is not the improvement or purification of the “flesh,” which is
that principle of evil still with the believer. The appetites and tendencies of
the “flesh” are precisely the same after the new birth as they were before,
only they no longer reign over him. For a time it may seem that the “flesh”
is dead, yet in reality it is not so. Often its very stillness (as an army in
ambush) is only awaiting its opportunity or a gathering up of its strength
for a further attack. It is not long ere the renewed soul discovers that the
“flesh” is yet very much alive, desiring to have its way. But grace will not
suffer it to have its sway. On the one hand the Christian has to say,
“For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is
good I find not” (

Romans 7:18).
On the other hand, he is able to declare,.26
“Christ liveth in me, and the life which 1 now live in the flesh I live
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself
“for me” (

Galatians 2:20).
Some people find it very difficult to conceive of the same person bringing
forth good works who before brought forth nothing but evil works, the
more so when it be insisted upon that no new faculty is added to his being,
that nothing substantial is either imparted or taken from his person. But if
we rightly introduce the factor of God’s mighty power into the equation,
then the difficulty disappears. We may not be able to explain, in fact we are
not, how God’s power acts upon us, how He cleanses the unclean (

10:15) and subdues the wolf so that it dwells with the lamb (

11:6), any more than we can thoroughly understand His working upon and
within us without destroying our own personal agency; nevertheless, both
Scripture and experience testify to each of these facts It may help us a little
at this point if we contemplate the working of Godpower in the natural
In the natural realm every creature is not only entirely dependent upon its
Maker for its continued existence, but also for the exercise of all its
faculties, for “in Him we live, and move (Greek, ‘are moved’) and have our
being” (

Acts 17:28) Again; as the various parts of creation are linked
together, and afford each other mutual support—as the heavens fertilize
the earth, the earth supplies its inhabitants with food, its inhabitants
propagate their kind, rear their offspring, and cooperate for the purpose of
society—so also the whole system is supported, sustained and governed by
the directing providence of God. The influences of providence, the manner
in which they operate on the creature, are profoundly mysterious: on the
one hand, they are not destructive of our rational nature, reducing us to
mere irresponsible automatons: on the other hand they are all made
completely subservient to the Divine purpose.
Now the operation of God’s power in regeneration is to be regarded as of
the same kind with its operation in providence, although it be exercised
with a different design. God’s energy is one, though it is distinguished by
the objects on which, and the ends for which, it is exerted. It is the same
power that creates as upholds in existence: the same power that forms a
stone, and a sunbeam, the same power that gives vegetable life to a tree,
animal life to a brute, and rational life to a man. In like manner, it is the
same power that assists us in the natural exercise of our faculties, as it is.27
which enables us to exercise those faculties in a spiritual manner. Hence
“grace” as a principle of Divine operation in the spiritual realm, is the same
power of God as “nature” is His process of operation in the natural world.
The grace of God in the application of redemption to the hearts of His
people is indeed mighty as is evident from the effects produced. It is a
change of the whole man: of his views, motives, inclinations and pursuits.
Such a change no human means are able to accomplish. When the
thoughtless are made to think, and to think with a seriousness and intensity
which they never formerly did; when the careless are, in a moment, affected
with a deep sense of their most important interests: when lips which are
accustomed to blaspheme, learn to pray; when the proud are brought to
assume the lowly attitude and language of the penitent; when those who
were devoted to the world give evidence that the object of their desires and
aims is a heavenly inheritance: and when this revolution. so wonderful has
been affected by the simple Word of God, and by the very Word which the
subject of this radical change had often heard unmoved, it is proof positive
that a mighty influence has been exerted, and that that influence is nothing
less than Divine—God’s people have been made willing in the day of His
power (

Psalm 110:3).
Many figures are used in Scripture, various expressions are employed by
the Spirit, to describe the saving work of God within His people. In

Peter 1:4 the regenerated are said to be “partakers of the Divine nature,”
which does not mean of the very essence or being of God, for that can
neither be divided nor communicated—in Heaven itself there will still be an
immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creature, otherwise the
finite would become infinite. No, to be “partakers of the Divine nature” is
to be made the recipients of inherent grace, to have the lineaments of the
Divine image stamped upon the soul: as the remainder of that verse shows.
being “partakers of the Divine nature” is the antithesis of “the corruption
that is in the world through lust.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 this transforming miracle of God’s grace in His
people is declared to be a “changing” into the image of Christ. The Greek
word there for “change” is the one rendered “transfigured” in

17:2. At Christ’s transfiguration no new features were added to the
Savior’s face, but His whole countenance was irradiated by a new light; so

2 Corinthians 4:6 regeneration is likened unto a “light” which God
commands to shine in us—note the whole context of

2 Corinthians 3:18.28
is treating of the Spirit’s work by the Gospel. In

Ephesians 2:10 this
product of God’s grace is spoken of as His “workmanship,” and is said to
be “created,” to show that He, and not roan, is the Author of it. In

Galatians 4:19 this same work of God in the soul is termed Christ’s
being “formed” in us—as the parents’ seed is formed or molded in the
mother’s womb, the “likeness” of the parent being stamped upon it.
We cannot here attempt a full list of the numerous figures and expressions
which the Holy Spirit has employed to set forth this saving work of God in
the soul. In

John 6:44 it is spoken of as a being “drawn” to Christ. In

Acts 16:14 as the heart being “opened” by the Lord to receive His
Truth. In

Acts 26:18 as the opening of our eyes, a turning us from
darkness unto light, and the power of Satan unto God. In

2 Corinthians
10:5 as the “casting down imaginations. and every high thing that exalteth
itself against the know1edge of God, and bringing into captivity every
thought to the obedience of Christ.” In

Ephesians 5:8 as being “light in
the Lord.” In

2 Thessalonians 2:13 it is designated the “sanctification of
the Spirit.” In

Hebrews 8:10 as God’s putting His laws into our mind
and writing them on our heart—contrast the figure in

Jeremiah 17:1!
Thus it should be most apparent that we lose much by limiting our
attention to one figure of it. All we have given, and still others not
mentioned, need to be taken into consideration if we are to obtain anything
approaching an adequate conception of the nature of that miracle of grace
which is wrought in the soul and spirit of the elect, enabling them to
henceforth live unto God.
As man was changed in Adam from what he was by a state of creation, so
man must be changed in Christ from what he is by a state of corruption.
This change which fits him for communion with God, is a Divine work
wrought in the inclinations of the soul. It is a being renewed in the spirit of
our minds (

Ephesians 4:23). It is the infusion of a principle of holiness
into all the faculties of our inner being. It is the spiritual renovation of our
very persons, which will yet be consummated by the regeneration of our
bodies. The whole soul is renewed, according to the image of God in
knowledge, holiness and righteousness. A new light shines into the mind, a
new power moves the will, a new object attracts the affections. The
individual Is the same, and yet not the same. How different the landscape
when the sun is shining, than when the darkness of a moonless night is
upon it—the same landscape, and yet not the same. How different the.29
condition of him who is restored to health and vigor after having been
brought very low by sickness; yet it is the same person.
The very fact that the Holy Spirit has employed the figures of “begetting”
and “birth” to the saving work of God in the soul, intimates that the
reference is only to the initial experience of Divine grace:
“He which hath begun a good work in you” (

Philippians 1:6).
As an infant has all the parts of a man, yet none of them come to maturity,
so regeneration gives a perfection of parts, which yet have need to be
developed. A new life has been received, but there needs to be growth of
it: “grow in grace” (

2 Peter 3:18). As God was the Giver of this life, He
only can feed and strengthen it. Thus,

Titus 3:5 speaks of “the
renewing” and not the “renewal” of the Holy Spirit. But it is our
responsibility and bounden duty to use the Divinely-appointed means of
grace which promote spiritual growth: “desire the sincere milk of the Word
that ye may grow thereby” (

1 Peter 2:2); as it is our obligation to
constantly avoid everything which would hinder our spiritual prosperity:
“Make not provision for the flesh to the lusts” (

Romans 13:14), and cf.

Matthew 5:29, 30;

2 Corinthians 7:1.
God’s consummating of the initial work which we experience at the new
birth, and which He renews throughout the course of our earthly lives, only
takes place at the second coming of our Savior, when we shall be perfectly
and eternally conformed to His image, both inwardly and outwardly. First,
regeneration; then our gradual sanctification; finally our glorification. But
between the new birth and glorification, while we are left down here, the
Christian has both the “flesh” and the “spirit,” both a principle of sin and a
principle of holiness, operating within him, the one opposing the other: see

Galatians 5:16, 17. Hence his inward experience is such as that which is
described in

Romans 7:7-25. As life is opposed to death, purity to
impurity, spirituality to carnality, so is now felt and experienced within the
soul a severe conflict between sin and grace. This conflict is perpetual, as
the “flesh” and “spirit” strive for mastery. From hence proceeds the
absolute necessity of the Christian being sober, and to “watch unto prayer.”
Finally, let it be pointed out that the principle of life and obedience (the
“new nature”) which is received at regeneration, is not able to preserve the
soul from sins, nevertheless, there is full provision for continual supplies of
grace made for it and all its wants in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are.30
treasures of relief in Him, whereunto the soul may at any time repair and
find necessary succor against every incursion of sin. This new principle of
holiness may say to the believer’s soul, as David did unto Abiathar when he
fled from Doeg:
“Abide thou with me, fear not; for he that seeketh my life seeketh
thy life; but with me thou shalt be in safeguard”

1 Samuel 22:23).
Sin is the enemy of the new nature as truly as it is of the Christian’s soul,
and his only safety lies in heeding the requests of that new nature, and
calling upon Christ for enablement. Thus we are exhorted in

4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
If it ever be a time of need with the soul, it is so when it is under the
assaults of provoking sins, when the “flesh” is lusting against the “spirit.”
But at that very time there is suitable and seasonable help in Christ for
succor and relief. The new nature begs, with sighs and groans, for the
believer to apply to Christ. To neglect Him, with all His provision of grace,
whilst He stands calling on us,
“Open to Me… for My head is filled with dew and My locks with
the drops of the night” (

Song of Sol. 5:2),
is to despise the sighing of the poor prisoner, the new nature, which sin is
seeking to destroy, and cannot but be a high provocation against the Lord.
At the beginning, God entrusted Adam and Eve with a stock of grace in
themselves, but they cast it away, and themselves into the utmost misery
thereby. That His children might not perish a second time, God, instead of
imparting to them personally the power to overcome s-in and Satan, has
laid up their portion in Another, a safe Treasurer; in Christ are their lives
and comforts secured (

Colossians 3:3). And how must Christ regard us,
if instead of applying to Him for relief, we allow sin to distress our
conscience, destroy our peace, and mar our communion? Such is not a sin
of infirmity which cannot be avoided, but a grievous affront of Christ. The
means of preservation from it is to hand. Christ is always accessible. He is
ever ready to “succor them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2: 18). O to betake
ourselves to Him more and more, day by day, for everything. Then shall
each one find.31
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”

Philippians 4:13).
All men are by nature the children of wrath, and do belong unto the world,
which is the kingdom of Satan (

1 John 5:19), and are under the power
of darkness. In this state men are not the subjects of Christ’s kingdom, and
have no meetness for Heaven. From this terrible state they are unable to
deliver themselves, being “without strength” (

Romans 5:6). Out of this
state God’s elect are supernaturally “called” (

1 Peter 2:9), which call
effectually delivers them from the power of Satan and translates them into
the kingdom of God’s dear Son (

Colossians 1:13). This Divine “call,”
or work of grace. is variously denominated in Scripture: sometimes by
“regeneration” (

Titus 3:5), or the new birth, sometimes by illumination

2 Corinthians 4:6), by transformation (

2 Corinthians 3:18), by
spiritual resurrection (

John 5:24). This inward and invincible call is
attended with justification and adoption (

Romans 8:30;

1:5), and is carried on by sanctification in holiness. This leads us to
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:
so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (

John 3:8).
Though the wind be imperious in its action, man being unable to regulate
it; though it be mysterious in its nature man knowing nothing of the cause
which controls it; yet its presence is unmistakable, its effects are plainly
evidenced: so it is with every one that is born of the Spirit. His secret but
powerful operations lie beyond the reach of our understanding. Why God
has ordained that the Spirit should quicken this person and not that, we
know not, but the transforming results of His working are plain and
palpable. What there are, we shall now endeavor to describe.
1. The illumination of the understanding. As it was in the old creation, so
it is in connection with the new.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”

Genesis 1:1)..32
That was the original creation. Then came degeneration: “And the earth
became without form and void (a desolate waste) and darkness was upon
the face of the deep.” Next came restoration: “And the Spirit of God
moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, Let there be light: and
there was light.” So it is when God begins to restore fallen man:
“For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory
of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (

2 Corinthians 4:6).
The Divine illumination which the mind receives at the new birth is not by
means of dreams or visions, nor does it consist in the revelation of things
to the soul which have not been made known in the Scriptures. Not so, the
only means or instrument which the Holy Spirit employs is the written
“The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding
unto the simple” (

Psalm 119:130).
Hitherto, God’s Word may have been read attentively, and much of its
teaching intellectually apprehended; but because there was a “vail” upon
the heart (

2 Corinthians 3:15) and so no spiritual discernment (

Corinthians 2:14), the reader was not inwardly affected thereby. But now
the Spirit removes the vail, opens the heart to receive the Word (

16:14), and powerfully applies to the mind and conscience some portion of
it. The result is that, the one renewed is able to say
“One thing 1 know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see”

John 9:25).
To particularize:
The sinner is now enlightened in the knowledge of his own terrible
condition. He may, before this, have received much scriptural instruction,
subscribed to a sound creed, and believed intellectually in “the total
depravity of man”; but now the solemn declarations of God’s Word
concerning the state of the fallen creature are brought home in piercing
power to his own soul. No longer does he compare himself with his
fellows, but measures himself by the rule of God. He now discovers that he
is unclean, that his heart is “desperately wicked,” and that he is altogether
unfit for the presence of the thrice holy God. He is powerfully convicted of
his own awful sins, feels that they are more in number than the hairs of his.33
head, and that they are high provocations against Heaven, which call for
Divine judgment on him. He now realizes that there is “no soundness”

Isaiah 1:6) in him, and that all his best performances are only as “filthy
rags” (

Isaiah 64:6), and that he is deserving of nought but the
everlasting burnings.
By the spiritual light which God communicates in regeneration the soul
now perceives the infinite demerits of sin, that its “wages” can be nothing
less than eternal death, or the loss of Divine favor and a dreadful suffering
under the wrath of God. The equity of God’s law and the fact that sin
righteously calls for such punishment is humbly acknowledged. Thus his
mouth is “stopped” and he confesses himself to be guilty before God, and
justly liable to His awful vengeance, both for the plague of his own heart
and his numerous transgressions. He now realizes that his whole life has
been lived in utter independence of God, having had no respect for His
glory, no concern whether he pleased or displeased Him. He now perceives
the exceeding sinfulness of sin, its awful malignity, as being in its nature
contrary to the law of God. How to escape the due reward of his iniquity,
he knows not. “What must I do to be saved?” is his agonizing cry. He is
convinced of the absolute impossibility of contributing anything to his
deliverance. He no longer has any confidence in the flesh; he has been
brought to the end of himself.
By means of this illumination the renewed soul, under the guidance of the
Spirit through the Word, now perceives how well-suited is Christ to such a
poor, worthless wretch as he feels himself to be. The prospect of obtaining
deliverance from the wrath to come through the victorious life and death of
the Lord Jesus, keeps his soul from being overwhelmed with grief and from
sinking into complete despondency because of the sight of his sins. As the
Spirit presents to him the infinite merits of Christ’s obedience and
righteousness, His tender compassion for sinners, His power to save,
desires for an interest in Christ now possesses his heart, and he is resolved
to look for salvation in no other. Under the benign influences of the Holy
Spirit, the soul is drawn by some such words as, “Come unto Me all ye that
labor and are heavily laden, and if will give you rest,” or “him that cometh
unto Me I will in no wise cast out,” and he is led to apply to Him for
pardon, cleansing, peace, righteousness, strength.
Other acts besides turning unto Christ flow from this new principle
received at regeneration, such as repentance, which is a godly sorrow for.34
sin, an abhorring of it as sin, and an earnest desire to forsake and be
completely delivered from its pollution. In the light of God, the renewed
soul now perceives the utter vanity of the world, and the worthlessness of
these paltry toys and perishing trifles which the godless strive so hard to
acquire. He has been awakened from the dream-sleep of death, and things
are now seen in their true nature. Time is precious and not to be frittered
away. God in His awesome Majesty is an object to be feared. His law is
accepted as holy, just and good. All of these perceptions and actions are
included in that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. In some
these actions are more vigorous than in others, and consequently, are more
perceptible to a man’s self. But the fruits of them are visible to others in
external acts.
2. The elevation of the heart. Rightly does the Lord claim the first place:
“he that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of
Me” (

Matthew 10:37).
“My son, give Me thine heart” (

Proverbs 23:26)
expresses God’s claim: they
“first gave their own selves to the Lord” (

2 Corinthians 8:5)
declares the response of the regenerate. But it is not until they are born
again that any are spiritually capacitated to do this, for by nature men are
“lovers of their own selves” and “lovers of pleasure more than
lovers of God” (

2 Timothy 3:2, 4).
When a sinner is renewed, his affections are taken off his idols and fixed on
the Lord (

1 Thess. 1:9). Hence it is written “with the heart (the
affections) man believeth unto righteousness” (

Romans 10:10). And
hence, also, it is written,
“if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be accursed”

1 Corinthians 16:22).
“And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of
thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart”

Deuteronomy 30:6).
The “circumcising” of the heart is the “renewing” of it, severing its love
from all illicit objects. None can truly love God supremely till this miracle.35
of grace has been wrought within him. Then it is that the affections are
refined and directed to their proper objects. He who once was despised by
the soul, is now beheld as the “altogether lovely” One. He who was hated

John 15:18), is now loved above all others.
“Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth
that I desire beside Thee” (

Psalm 73:25)
is now their joyous confession.
The love of God has become the governing principle of the life (

Corinthians 5:13). What before was a drudgery is now a delight. The praise
of man is no longer the motive which stimulates action; the approbation of
the Savior is the Christian’s highest concern. Gratitude moves a hearty
compliance with His will.
“How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God”

Psalm 139:17)
is now his language. And again,
“the desire of our soul is to Thy name, and to the remembrance of
Thee. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my
spirit within me will I seek Thee early” (

Isaiah 26:8, 9).
So too the heart is drawn out to all the members of His family, no matter
what their nationality, social position, or church-connection:
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we
love the brethren” (

1 John 3:14).
3. The emancipation of the will. By nature, the will of fallen man is free in
only one direction: away from God. Sin has enslaved the will, therefore do
we need to be “made free” (

John 8:36). The two states are contrasted in
Romans 6: “free from righteousness” (v. 20), when dead in sin; “free from
sin” (v. 18), now that we are alive unto God. At the new birth the will is
liberated from the “bondage of corruption” (

Romans 8:21 and cf.

Peter 2:19) and rendered conformable to the will of God (

119:97). In our degenerate state the will was naturally rebellious, and its
practical language was,
“Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him?” (

Exodus 5:2).
But the Father promised the Son,.36
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power”

Psalm 110:3),
and this is accomplished when God
“worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure”

Philippians 2:13 and cf.

Hebrews 13:21).
“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. And I will put My Spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall seek My
judgments, and do them” (

Ezekiel 36:26, 27).
This is a new covenant promise (

Hebrews 8:10), and is made good in
each renewed soul. The will is so emancipated from the power of
indwelling sin as to be enabled to answer to the Divine commands
according to the tenor of the new covenant. The regenerated freely consent
to and gladly choose to walk in subjection to Christ, being anxious now to
obey Him in all things. His authority is their only rule, His love the
constraining power:
“If a man love Me, he will keep My words” (

John 14:23).
4. The rectification of the conduct. A tree is known by its fruits. Faith is
evidenced by works. The principle of holiness manifests itself in a godly
“If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth
righteousness is born of Him” (

1 John 2:29).
The deepest longing of every child of God is to please his heavenly Father
in all things, and though this longing is never fully realized in this life
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect”

Philippians 3:12)
—nevertheless he continues “reaching forth unto those things which are
“Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine whereto ye
were delivered” (

Romans 6:17 mar.)..37
The Greek word for “form” here signifies “mold.” Observe how this figure
also presupposes the same faculties after the new birth as before. Metal
which is molded remains the same metal it was previously, only the fashion
or form of it is altered. That metal which before was a dish, is now turned
into a cup, and thus a new name is given to it: cf.

Revelation 3:12. By
regeneration the faculties of the soul are made suitable to God and His
precepts, just as the mould and the thing molded fit one another. As before
the heart was at enmity against every commandment, it is now molded to
them. Does God say, “Fear Me,” the renewed heart answers, “I desire to
fear Thy name” (

Nehemiah 1:11). Does God say, “Remember the
sabbath day to keep it holy,” the heart answers, “the sabbath is my delight”

Isaiah 58:13). Does God say, “love one another,” the new creature
finds an instinct begotten within him to do so, so that real Christians are
said to be “taught of God to love one another” (

1 Thess. 4:9).
A change will take place in the deportment of the most moral unconverted
man as soon as he is born from above. Not only will he be far less eager in
his pursuit of the world, more scrupulous in the selection of his company,
more cautious in avoiding the occasions to sin and the appearance of evil,
but he realizes that the holy eye of God is ever upon him, marking not only
his actions, but weighing his motives. He now bears the sacred name of
Christ, and his deepest concern is to be kept from everything which would
bring reproach upon it. His aim is to let his light so shine before men that
they may see his good works and glorify his Father which is in Heaven.
That which occasions him the deepest distress is not the sneers and taunts
of the ungodly. but that he fails to measure up to the standard God has set
before him and the conformity to it after which he so much yearns. Though
Divine grace may preserve him from outward falls, yet he is painfully
conscious of many sins within: the risings of unbelief, the swellings of
pride, the oppositions of the “flesh” to the desires of the “spirit.” These
occasion him deep exercises of heart and lead to humble and sorrowful
confessions unto God.
It is of great importance that the Christian should have clear and scriptural
views of what he is both as the subject of sin and of grace. Though the
regenerate are delivered from the absolute dominion of sin (

6:14), yet the principle of sin, the “flesh” is not eradicated. This is clear

Romans 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body,
that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof”: that exhortation would be
meaningless if there were no indwelling sin seeking to reign, and no lusts.38
demanding obedience. Yet this is far from saying that a Christian must go
on in a course of sinning:
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed
remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”

1 John 3:9),
the reference there being to the regular practice and habit of sinning.
Nevertheless, prayerful heed needs to be constantly paid to this word,
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not” (

1 Corinthians 15:34).
The experiences of Paul, both as a subject of sin and of grace, are recorded
in Romans 7. A careful reading of verses 14-24 reveals the fact that grace
had neither removed nor purified the “flesh” in him. And as the Christian
today compares his own inner conflicts, he finds that Romans 7 describes
them most accurately and faithfully. He discovers that in his “flesh” is no
good thing and he cries “O wretched man that I am.” Though he longs for
fuller conformity to the image of Christ, though he hungers and thirsts after
righteousness, though he is under the influence and reign of grace, and
though he enjoys real fellowship with God, yet, at seasons (some more
acutely felt than others) he feels that though with the mind he serves the
law of God, yet with the flesh the law of sin. Yea, every experience of
reading the Word, prayer, meditation, proves to him that he is, in his fallen
nature, “carnal, sold under sin,” and that when he would do good, evil is
present with him. This is a matter of great grief to him, and causes him to
“groan” (

Romans 8:23) and yearn the more for release from this body
of death.
But ought not the Christian to “grow in grace?” Yes, indeed. Yet let it be
said emphatically that growing “in grace” most certainly does not mean an
increasing satisfaction with myself. No, it is the very opposite. The more I
walk in the light of God, the more plainly can I see the wiliness of the
“flesh” within me, and there will be an ever-deepening abhorrence of what
I am by nature.
“For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is
good I find not” (

Romans 7:18)
is not the confession of an unbeliever, nor even of a babe in Christ, but of
the most enlightened saint. The only relief from this distressing discovery
and the only peace for the renewed heart is to look away from self to.39
Christ and His perfect work for us. Faith empties of all self-complacency
and gives an exalted estimate of God in Christ.
A growth “in grace” is defined, in part by the words that immediately
“and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”

2 Peter 3:18).
It is the growing realization of the perfect suitability of Christ to a poor
sinner, the deepening conviction of his fitness to be the Savior of such a
vile wretch as the Spirit daily shows me I am. It is the apprehension of how
much .1 need His precious- blood to cleanse me, His righteousness to
clothe me, His arm to support me, His advocacy to answer for me on High,
His grace to deliver me from all my enemies both inward and outward. It is
the Spirit revealing to me that there is in Christ everything that I need both
for earth and Heaven, time and eternity. Thus, growing in grace is an
increasing living outside of myself, living upon Christ. It is a looking to
Him for the supply of every need.
The more the heart is occupied with Christ, the more the mind is stayed
upon Him by trusting in Him (

Isaiah 26:3), the more will faith, hope,
love, patience, meekness, and all spiritual graces be strengthened and
drawn forth into exercise and act to the glory of God. The manifestation of
growth in grace and in the knowledge of Christ is another thing. The actual
process of growing is not perceptible either in the natural or in the spiritual
sphere; but the results of it are—mainly so to others. There are definite
seasons of growth, and generally the Christian’s spiritual graces are
growing the most while the soul is in distress through manifold
temptations, mourning on account of indwelling sin. It is when we are
enjoying God and are in conscious communion with Him, feasting upon
the perfections of Christ, that the fruits of the Spirit in us are ripened. The
chief evidences of spiritual growth in the Christian are a deepening hatred
of sin and loathing of self, a higher valuation of spiritual things, and
yearning after them, a fuller recognition of our deep need and dependency
on God to supply it.
Regeneration is substantially the same in all who are the subjects of it:
there is a spiritual transformation, the conforming of the soul unto the
image of God:
“that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (

John 3:6)..40
But although every regenerated person is a new creature, has received a
principle of faith and holiness which acts on every faculty of his being, and
is indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit, yet God does not communicate the
same measure of grace (

Romans 12:3;

2 Corinthians 10:13;

Ephesians 4:16) or the same number of talents to all alike. God’s
children differ from each other as children do at their natural birth, some of
whom are more lively and vigorous than others. God, according to His
sovereign pleasure, gives to some a fuller knowledge, to others stronger
faith, to others warmer affections—natural temperament has much to do
with the form and color which the manifestation of the “spirit” takes
through us. But there is no difference in their state: the same work has
been performed in all, which radically differentiates them from worldlings.
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?”

1 Corinthians 6:2).
Does not this clearly denote, yea, require, that the “saints” shall exercise a
distinguishing holiness and live quite otherwise than the world? Could one
who now takes the Lord’s name in vain be righteously appointed to sit in
judgment upon those who profane it? Could one who lives to please self be
a fit person to judge those who have loved pleasure more than God? Could
one who has despised and ridiculed ‘puritanic strictness of living,’ sit with
Christ as a judge on those who lived in rebellion against Him? Never:
instead of being the judges of others, all such will find themselves
condemned and executed as malefactors in that Day.
“The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He
withhold from them that walk uprightly” (

Psalm 84:11).
“Grace and glory” are inseparably connected: they differ not in nature, but
in degree. “Grace” is glory begun; “glory” is grace elevated to the acme of

1 John 3:2 tells us that the saints shall be “like Him,” and
this, because they will “see Him as He is.” The immediate vision of the
Lord of glory will be a transforming one, the bright reflections of God’s
purity and holiness cast upon the glorified will make them perfectly holy
and blessed. But this resemblance to God, His saints do here, in measure,
bear upon them: there are some outlines, some lineaments of God’s image
stamped upon them, and this too is through beholding Him. True, it is
(comparatively speaking) through a glass darkly, yet “beholding” we “are
changed into the same image from glory to glory (from one degree of it to
another) as by the Spirit of the Lord” (

2 Corinthians 3:18)..41
In conclusion, let both writer and reader test and search himself in the
presence of God, by these questions. How stands my heart affected toward
sin? Is there a deep humiliation and godly sorrow after I have yielded
thereto? Is there a genuine detestation of it? Is my conscience tender, so
that my peace is disturbed by what the world calls “trifling faults” and
“little things?” Am I humbled when conscious of the risings of pride and
self-will? Do I loathe my inward corruption? What engages my mind in sea
sons of recreation? Are my affections dead toward the world an alive
toward God? Do I find spiritual exercises pleasant and joyous or irksome
and burdensome? Can I truthfully say,
“How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey
to my mouth (

Psalm 119:103)?
Is communion with God my highest joy? Is the glory of God dearer to me
than all the world contains?


Regeneration by: Asahel Nettleton, 1783-1844

by: Asahel Nettleton, 1783-1844

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God — John 1:12-13.
The important and simple doctrine taught by these words, is that those who receive Christ-who have power given them to become the sons of God and who believe on his name are born of God. In other words, every real Christian becomes such by a special exertion of Almighty power to change his heart. The phrase born of God-begotten of God, so often used by the writers of the New Testament is figurative. Its propriety, when applied to things of a spiritual nature, arises from the analogy which exists between the beginning of our natural and spiritual existence. Believers are the sons of God and this must be understood in a peculiar sense. All men equally receive their existence and natural faculties from the Creator, and in this sense are all the children of God. But when the Scriptures apply the phrases sons of God and children of God to the saints by way of distinction, it must be to point out a relation to God which is not common to all men. This relation is wholly of a new and spiritual nature; and God is the sole author of it, and by virtue of it they are his sons, they are said to be born of him; begotten of him, in allusion to the relation between earthly parents and their children.
The object of this text is to deny that our relation to God as his spiritual children is produced in any way, but by his own special and sovereign power. It was originally adapted to oppose the carnal prejudices of the Jews. For the common opinion was that all who could be counted as the children of Abraham were heirs of the divine promises and entitled to eternal life. This notion was uniformly opposed by Christ and his apostles. Leaving an attempt to ascertain the precise meaning of the phrases „not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” I observe that there were three ways in which individuals became the reputed children of Abraham: by regular descent; by unlawful connection; and by adoption. Let the method be which it might, the Jews supposed that whoever became a child of Abraham, of course, became a child of God. The celebrated Lightfoot supposes the object of the Evangelist is to cut off the false hopes of the Jews, by denying that either method and of course any method of becoming the children of Abraham would make them the children of God. Another birth is necessary; a new filiation from above. They must be born again-born of God. Whatever may be the particular meaning of the text, the obvious general impression from it, and the one designed to be made by the sacred writer is that all other ways of becoming the sons of God are false and visionary, except that of being born of him. It was spoken to meet the prevailing prejudices of the day, and may now be used in the same manner.
Of all subjects, that which respects change from death unto life, is certainly one of the most important, and interesting to us. To have clear and definite ideas here is of great moment. Error on such a fundamental point is awfully perilous.
In one sense all things are of God. He is the Creator and governor of all. All a man’s powers and faculties are from God, and all the means of grace and institutions of religion are ordained by him. But when the Scriptures speak of being born of God, they mean something more than that a man is influenced by these means and institutions in the use of his ordinary powers and faculties.-To prevent misconception, I have said that regeneration is the special work of Almighty power. Errorists have never dared to deny, directly, that saints are born of God; because this would be to renounce all appearance of belief in the Scriptures. They have chosen a surer method of propagating their sentiments. While they retain the language of the sacred writers, they have attacked and frittered away their meaning, until regeneration becomes the mere application of an external rite, or a persuasion of mind affected in an ordinary manner and a consequent reformation of morals.
To expunge error serves to illustrate the truth. I shall briefly consider some false notions respecting regeneration and then proceed to illustrate what it is to be born of God.
I need not consume the time in labouring to prove that baptism is not regeneration. Nothing is plainer than that an external rite cannot change the heart. Baptism is only a sign or token of the saving influences of the Holy Spirit, and is not that work itself. It cannot be the token of a thing, and the thing itself at the same time. Both the Scriptures and experience show, that all who are baptized are not regenerated; for in their lives and conversation many who are baptized differ not from the „world which lieth in wickedness.”On this, I shall only add the words of an eminent English divine, „This scheme,” says he, speaking of regeneration by water baptism, „is the utter rejection and overthrow of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. „And again, „The vanity of this presumptuous folly is destructive of the grace of the gospel; invented to countenance men in their sins; and to hide from them the necessity of being born again; and therein of turning unto God. But my beloved Christian brethren, you have not so learned Christ.”
The absurdity of substituting this and other things of a like nature is so palpable and gross, that it is very likely to be seen and apprehended, where any considerable degree of knowledge respecting the nature of religion exists. There is far less danger from such extravagant notions than from those which are more specious and imposing.
Pelagius in the 4th century first invented and advocated a scheme of regeneration which, with a few modifications, sometimes in the phraseology, and sometimes by partial additions or diminutions, has been the scheme of the great body of all sectaries, who have dis-sented from orthodox evangelical sentiments. Authors have appeared in different periods and in various countries, who have brought forward this specious scheme of the new birth, as principally illustrated, or defined by themselves; and many whose reading is superficial have been deceived into this supposition. The fact is, that almost the whole system of vague and inadequate notions on this great subject is only the heresy of Pelagius, so universally condemned by the ancient Church, which has now been newly dressed up, after the modern fashion, to secure a better reception.
The fundamental truths of the Pelagian and Arminian scheme, (for they are in substance the same) are these:
1. That God not only proclaims the offers of grace and salvation to all men alike, but that the Holy Spirit is equally and sufficiently distributed to all men to insure their salvation, provided they duly improve the benefits bestowed upon them.
2. That the precepts and promises of the gospel are not only good and desirable in themselves, but so suited to the natural reason and interests of mankind, that they will of course be inclined to receive them, unless overpowered by prejudice, and an habitual course of sin.
3. That the consideration of the threatenings and promises of the gospel is sufficient to remove these prejudices and reform that course.
4. That those who thus seriously reflect and amend their lives have the promise of the Holy Spirit, and are entitled to the benefits of the new covenant.
Under this specious statement of fundamental principles which is apt to strike an inconsiderate mind in a favorable manner, the very life and soul of gospel truth is taken away. On this scheme, all men are regenerated alike, originally; all having an equal measure of the Spirit, and the difference between one man and another is to be ascribed wholly to himself; to the improvement he has made of the blessings vouchsafed. And regeneration is a reformation of life, induced by moral suasions, or commenced in consequence of the understanding being enlightened and the affections being moved by divine truth alone. If you ask, how does salvation proceed from divine grace on this plan, the answer is that all the means of improvement are bestowed by God and herein is the grace.
The whole scheme is simply this, God gives faculties and grace to all, and to all alike and thus furnished, they work out their own salvation, being persuaded to do this by the promises and threaten-ings of the gospel. The dreadful mischief which this extensive and popular scheme has caused springs from its plausibility-from such an appearance of truth, mixed with so many great and dangerous errors.
That the Holy Spirit makes use of the word and many other instruments to bring sinners to Christ, I have no doubt. But that men are naturally so inclined, as to approve of and obey the precepts of the gospel, unless some peculiar course of sin or prejudice prevent them, contradicts the whole tenor of the gospel, in which it is a fundamental principle, that by nature we are children of wrath, and that we are at enmity with God and blinded to the light of his truth and dead in trespasses and sins. That the Holy Spirit is communicated to all in a sufficient manner to save them, entirely overthrows the idea of any special grace, and makes one man as much born of God as another! Our text says that as many as received Christ, and believed on his name, were born of God. If so, others who did not, were not born of God, and the undistinguishing influences of the Spirit cannot be maintained.
It is a great stumbling block, in the way of many, that God should give more of his Spirit to one, than another. To remove this subject of prejudice, Pelagius and multitudes ever since, have maintained that all men receive gifts alike, and are alike furnished to work out their salvation. This effectually destroys the new birth, and makes it alike common to every man. On this scheme Judas had as much grace as Paul, Ahab who sold himself to work wickedness, as David, a man after God’s own heart. All the difference between them, was owing to the different manner in which they improved their privileges.
I know such doctrine is agreeable to corrupt nature; and the easy reception it has met with ever since it was first preached proves how agreeable it is to carnal reason. But neither the Scriptures nor experience afford us any reason to believe it. I do not doubt that the Spirit of God strives with all men who are not reprobates. I fully admit it. I admit that the promises and threats of the gospel would be sufficient to persuade us to a holy life, if our understandings were neither darkened, nor our affections depraved. But after all this, I deny that common grace makes us the sons of God, or that we are persuaded to be Christians without any special divine influence; or that all men receive the same measure of the Spirit.
After all preparatory means all the promises and threats of the gospel all the operations of common grace and all exertions of unregenerate sinners, they must be born of God to become his children. There must be a new creation, a work accomplished by Almighty power „a sovereign-special-supernatural act”, like making a world, or raising the dead, as to the power exerted, and without such an act no one can ever see the kingdom of heaven. Persuasion is not sufficient to make men new creatures. If the Spirit operates on the minds of men only by setting persuasive arguments or motives before them, be the kinds never so diverse or well adapted to this purpose, yet after all, it depends on the will of man whether any shall be regenerated or not. On this scheme the glory of regeneration would belong to ourselves. It would be uncertain also, whether Christ would have any spiritual seed, as it would depend after all upon the uncertain determination of each individual before whom the motives were set. This then contradicts the Scriptures. God does not confine his operations to setting motives of persuasion before men, thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.
Moral persuasion to a better life confers no new real, supernatural strength to the soul, which may enable it thus to live. No new taste no new spiritual discernment springs from persuasion. If regeneration comes thus, then a man begets himself, he is born of himself, he makes himself to differ from others. On this plan the Spirit of God has no more to do than Paul or Apollos.
Besides, this is not for what we pray; we pray not that motives may be set before us to regenerate ourselves, but that God would change us, create us anew. The ancient churches urged this prayer upon the heretics, who denied a supernatural work in regeneration, and they felt themselves sorely pressed without.
There is then only one way left for a creature dead in trespasses and sins to rise to life. This is by the power of God which quickens him-creates him anew. Observe in what language sacred writers have chosen to communicate their ideas on this subject: born of God; begotten of God; quickened; or made alive from the dead; created anew. If it be said this is figurative language, I agree to it, but if there be any correctness in the figures, the work of regeneration must be the commencement of a new spiritual existence. On any other grounds the language of the Scriptures is of all books the most fancied, unmeaning, and obscure.
You may suppose all the preparation, all the knowledge; motives; morality (in the common acceptation of the term); unregenerate strivings which you please; after all there must be a new creation,-the dead must be quickened-believers must be born of God. The same energy which brought Christ from the dead-the exceeding great power of the living God must perform the work. This is the apostle’s statement, that we may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.
Indeed, my friends, where else can we look for the origin of such a change as makes believers pass from death to life but the omnipotence of the divine Spirit? Is it our understanding which accomplishes this change? But our understanding is darkened. „The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them.” Is it our will? But we are „prone to evil as the sparks fly upward.” Our wills are perverse and rebellious. Is it our strength? Christ died for the ungodly who are without strength. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think a good thought. Is it our merits? We merit nothing but utter rejection. Is it the ministers of God who persuade us? Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God gives the increase.
Every effort has been made by the ingenuity of man, by palpably erroneous schemes, and by plausible ones, to wrest the glory of this work from the hands of the divine Spirit, and claim the operation for ourselves; at least to share in the honor of it. After all, its origin can be traced only to the free and sovereign grace and Almighty power of God. The work is all his; and the glory must and will forever belong exclusively to him.
It is a doctrine supported by the great light of the Reformation and by the pillars of the evangelical churches ever since: that regeneration is a physical work. And by this they mean there is an actual new creation, as absolutely so as when the world was created; that a new spiritual taste or discernment, and principle is implanted by a sovereign creative operation, and not simply a new direction given to the old faculties.
Such a work being proved, the whole system of evangelical truth; the doctrines of grace; of divine sovereignty; of election; of redemption only by Christ; of human depravity and others connected with them, all flow from it. There is one grand, harmonious, and perfect system: and God is the sum the substance and the glory of all.
My friends, I am fully aware of the difficulties incident to the doctrines here laid down. I know full well how ready the natural heart is both to oppose, and misconstrue them. But if the Bible supports them, it is enough. Here our carnal reason must bow. Here our proud hearts must submit. Charge them with mystery-with inconsistency-with unprofitableness, O sinner, and you assail not man, but God. Look on his word and read. There it stands; and it is written in characters of light, „which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This is the only birth which can fit us for heaven, „Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We may please our fancies, and gratify our self-righteousness, by adopting loose Pelagian sentiments on this subject; we may remonstrate against such absolute dependence on the grace of God as has now been advocated, but a new heart, and a right spirit will after all be found of such absolute necessity, that without them we must perish forever.

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