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but profess them to be the effects of the spirit of bondage, preparing a way to himself for their actual regeneration. 2dly, That they are not for God's bestowing the grace of regeneration from a regard to, and moved by occasion of, these preparations, much less by any merit in them; but they imagine that God, in this manner, levels a way for himself, fills up vallies, depresses mountains and hills, in order tie better to smooth the way for his entrance into that soul. Nay, the British divines add, Thess. vi. :66 That even the Elect themselves never behave in these acts preceding regeneration, in such a manner as that on account of their negligence and resistance, they may not justly be abandoned and forsaken of God." Yet they call them rather preparations for grace, than the fruits and effects of grace ; because they think that even the reprobate may go as far as this : and they affirm, " that these antecedent.effects, produced by the power of the word and spirit in the minds of men, may be, and in many usually are, stifled and entirely extinguished through the fault of the rebellious will. Ibid. Thess. v. But we really think they argue more accurately, who make these, and the like things in the Elect, to be preparations to the further and more perfect operations of a more noble and plentiful spirit, and so not preparations for regeneration, but the fruits and effects of the first regeneration : for as these things suppose some life of the soul, which spiritually attends to spirita ual things, and are operations of the Spirit of God when yo. ing about to sanctify the Elect, we cannot but refer them to the spirit of grace and regeneration. Nor is it any objection, that the like, or the same be also said to be in reprobates : for they are only the same materially, but not förmally. Reprobates also have some knowledge of Christ, some taste of the grace of God, and of the powers of the world to come.
Yet it does not follow, that the knowledge of Christ, as it is -in believers, and that relish of grace and glory they have, is not the gift of the spirit of grace and of glory. And indeed, the things mentioned by Perkins, and the other British divines, are no preparations for regeneration in the reprobate ; either from the nature of the thing, or the intention of God. Not the former : for however great these things may appear to be, yet they are consistent with spiritual death; and the reprobate are so far from being disposed thereby to a spiritual life, that, on the contrary, deceived by those actings which counterfeit spiritual life, they are the more hardened in a real death, and fondly pleasing themselves, are at a greater distance from enquiring after true life, which they falsely
imagine they have obtained. Not the latter : for no inten tion of God can be rendered void. It is therefore necessary that all these things be in another manner in the Elect than in the reprobate. | XII. If this matter be more closely considered, we shall find that the orthodox differ more in words, and in the manner of explaining, than in sense and reality. For the term regenera. tion, is of ambiguous signification : sometimes it is blended with sanctification, and by regeneration is understood that action of God, whereby man, who is now become the friend of God, and endowed with spiritual life, acts in a righteous and holy manner, from infused habits. And then it is certain, there are some effects of the Spirit, by which he usually prepares them for the actings of complear faith and holiness ; for, a knowledge of divinė truths, a sense of misery, sorrow for sin, hope of par. don, &c. go before any one can fiducially lay hold on Christ, and apply himself to the practice of true godliness. God does not usually sanctify a man all at once, before ever he has had any thought about himself and God, and any concern about his salvation. And this is what the British divines seem to have intended; when in confirmatione Secundæ Theseos, they thus speak : “ Divine grace does not usually bring men to a state of justification, in which we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by a sudden enthusiasm, but first subdues and prepares them by many previous acts by the ministry of the word." By which words they sufficiently shew, that, by re. generation, they mean the state of passive justification. But sometimes regeneration denotes the first translation of a man from a state of death to a state of spiritual life ; in which sense we take it. And in that respect none of the orthodox, ifhe will speak consisiently with his own principles, can suppose preparatory works to the grace of regeneration. For, either he would maintain, that these works proceed from nature; and so, by the confession of all the orthodox, are but dead and splendid sins. But none in his right'mind will affirm, that any can be disposed for the grace of regeneration by those things which are sinful. Or he would inaintain, that these works proceed from the Spirit of God. But if thus far he does not operate in another manner in the Elect than in the reprobate : these vorks, not withstanding this his operation, may be reckoned among dead' works, for the orthodox look upon all the actions of the reprobate to be sinful, let them be ever so much'elevated by divine assistance. Thus the British divines, I. c. p. 143 « an evil tree, which naturally þring's forth evil fruit, must itself be first changed to a good tree, before ever it can yield any good fruit. But the will of an unsegenerate person is not only an evil, but also a dead tree." I
now infer, the reprobate are never regenerated, and therefore continue evil trees, without ever producing any other than bad fruit. And so there can be no preparation in such works for regeneration, for the reason above explained. If you say, that these works which you call preparatory are different in the elect: I ask, in what respect? No other answer can be given but this, that they proceed from the spirit of grace and life; right, but then they are not preparations for the first regeneration, but effects of it ; for regeneration is the first approach of the spirit of grace and life, effectually working in the elect,
XIII. You will say then, are there no preparatory dispositions to the first regeneration ? I confidently answer, there are none : and agree with Fulgentius, de Incarnat & Gratia Christi, c. 19. o with respect to the birth of a Child, the work of God is previous to any will of the person that comes into the world ; so also in the spiritual birth whereby we begin to put off the old man.” I own, indeed, spiritual death has its degrees, but with a distinction : what is privative therein, or what it is destitute of, namely, the want of the life of God is equal or alike in all; and in this respect there are no degrees less or more. But what is positive, or, as it were, positive therein ; namely, those evil habits, these indeed are very unequal. In infants there are only those evil habits which come into the world with them : in the adult there are others contracted and deeply rooted by many vitious acts, and a course of wickedness. These again greatly differ, according as, by the secret dispensation of God's providence, the affections of men are niore or less restrained. For though every kind of wickedness, like I a certain hydra, lurks in the heart of all; yet God suffers some to give loose reins to their vices, and to be hurried on as by so many furies ; while he moves others with a sense of shame, and a reverence for the laws, and some kind of love to honour and honesty ; who, in that respect, may be said not to be at such a distance from sanctifying grace, as they 'who are guilty of horrid crimes, which are more opposite thereto than a civil and external honesty of life. But yet whatever length any before regeneration has advanced in that honesty, he nevertheless remains in the confines of death, in which there is no preparation for life.
XIV. Nor do wę agree with those who so inconsiderately assert, that man is no more disposed for regeneration than a stone or an irrational animal. For there are naturally such faculties in the soul of man, as render him a fit subject of regeneration, which are not to be found in stones or brutes. Thus a mai cun be regenerated, but a brute or a stone cannot. In that sense
Augustine $ The author's phrase is quædam velut lerna ; and therefore I have rendered it like a certain Hydra, which was supposed to be a water serpent in the lake of Lerna, having several heads, which grew again as fast as they were cut off. This monster was killed by Hercules.
Agustine de Predest. sanct. c. 5. said, “ the capacity of having faith and love is of the nature of man, but to have them, of the grace of believers." Vossius has proved by proper arguments, that this is to be understood, not of the proximate, but remote capacity, in so far as man has naturally those faculties, in which faith and love may be wrought: Histor. Pelag. lib. 4. P. ,1. p. 418.
XV. But we must not here omit, that the Elect, before their actual regeneration, are honoured by God with various, and those indeed very excellent privileges above the reprobate which are intended, according to the purpose of God, to be subservient for promoting their regeneration in his appointed time. For as God has a love of special benevolence for them, according to the decree of election ; and they are redeemed by Christ, and in a state of reconciliation with God, and of justification, actively taken, it follows : ist, That God often preserves them from those base and scandalous.crimes which are repugnant to common humanity, and that by some assistance of light, of divinity, of conscience and civil honesty, with an accession of s some grace operating internally, and laying a restraint on the wickedness of their nature. 2dly, That all and every one of them, who are brought to the acknowledgement and the common illumination of the truth of the Gospel, are kept from the sin against the Holy Ghost. 3dly, That by the ministry of the word, and other operations of God's special providence towards them, many evident principles of divine truth, are understood by the natural mind, and also imprinted on the natural memory, the meditation of which, immediately after they are regenerated, conduces very much to the confirmation of their faith. And thus, without knowing it, they have collected a very valuable treasure, the excellence and genuine use of which they come not to see, till they are born again. But as these things do not, of their own nature, dispose inan for regeneration, though, by the appointment of God, they are so disposed, as that regeneration is certainly to follow, they cannot but very remotely be called preparations, and they will be such more from the intention of God, than from the virtue of the thing.
XVI. Now after a principle of spiritual life is infused into the elect soul by regeneration, divine grace does not always proceed therein in the same method and order. It is possible that for some time, the spirit of the life of Christ may lie, as it were, dorinant in some (almost in the same manner, as vegetative life in the seed of a plant, or sensitive life in the seed of an animal, or a poetical genius in one born a poet), so as that no vital operations can yet proceed therefrom, though
savingly This is what is generally called restraining grace.
savingly united to Christ, the fountain of true life, by the spirit. This is the case with respect to elect and regenerate infants, whose is the kingdom of God, and who therefore are reckoned among believers and saints, though unqualified through age, actually to believe and practice godliness.
XVII. Moreover, this spirit of a new life will even sometímes exert itself in vital actions in those who have received it in their infancy, as they gradually advance in years, and are qualified to raise their thoughts above the objects of sense. Accordingly it has often been observed, that, in children of five or six years of age, some small sparks of piety and de. votion have shone forth in holy longings, ardent little prayers, and in a certain extraordinary tenderness of conscience, not: daring to do any thing with respect to God,-themselves, or their neighbour, which they have been taught to be displea. sing to God; as also it'appears in their discourses concerning God and Christ, which have been full of a holy and unfeigned love, and breathing something heavenly, which I have not words to express. Thus sometimes God is pleased, “ out of the mouth of babes and sucklings to ordain strength,” Ps. viii. 2. This has been especially observed in some dying children, to the great astonishment of all present.
XVIII. But when the foundation is laid, divine grace does not always grow up in the same manner. ' It often happens that this principle of spiritual life which had discovered its activity in the most tender childhood, according to, and sometinies above, the age of the person, God, by his singular grace preventing the full maturity of the natural faculties, grows up by degrees with the person, after the example of our Lord, who “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour witii God and man,” Luke ii. 52 ; and of John the Baptist, who grew and waxed strong in spirit, Luke i. 80. Such persons make continual progress in the way of sanctification, and grow insensibly “ unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” Eph. iv. 13. We have an il.." lustrious example of this in Timothy, “who from a child had known the Holy Scriptures,” 2 Tim. iii. 15.; and who in his tender youth, to Paul's exceeding joy, had given evident signs of an unfeigned faith, with tears of the most tender piety bursting out at times, 2 Tim. i. 4, 5.
XIX. On the other hand, sometimes these sparks of piety, especially which more sparingly shone forth in childhood, when in a manner covered with the ashes of I knew not what worldly vanities, and carnal pleasures of youth, will appear to be almost extinguished. The allurements of the deceitfub