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Regeneration is the lodgement by the Holy Spirit of the new principle of life. This is love to God, which is the ruling motive of every genuine Christian. There is a radical and an essential difference between those who are born again and the best of those who lay claim to only natural goodness, a beautiful moral character revolving around self as a centre. But the great transition from spiritual death to spiritual life does not make the child of God at once complete in holiness. The Holy Spirit in sanctification does not work magically, nor mechanically like a washing machine, "but by the influence of grace, in accordance with the essential constitution of man, and in the way of a vital process, only by degrees completely renewing the soul." While the Spirit in the new birth touches the whole nature, the thoughts, the feelings and the will, so that the man is a new creature, his renewal is not complete in any part. At first he is in spiritual knowledge only a babe. His faith is unsteady and often mingled with distrust, while his love is not usually strong enough to secure uninterrupted victory over temptation. The enthronement of love does not immediately render the pleasures of sin unattractive, nor destroy the painfulness of self-denial, nor instantaneously change sinful habits. Such is the state of immature converts to Christ, "the flesh lusting against the Spirit." The Corinthians were characterized as "carnal, walking as men." We know that John says that "he that has been born of God sinneth not" when he is describing those whom he styles "fathers" or adult believers, just as Paul describes the same class as having "crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts."1
Neither of these apostles is describing an ideal Christian, as some teach who deny the possibility of complete deliverance from depravity in this life. They are describing regeneration at its climax, the glorious possibilities of the birth from above, when it has culminated in perfected holiness.

Bishop Foster sums up the defects of the experience of regeneration in a more comprehensive manner than we remember seeing in any theological treatise. He does not minify the experience of regeneration, but declares it to be a glorious experience. He, however, shows its defects in this manner:
I note, third, that dissatisfiedness of the soul with itself is a common experience of all regenerate souls, varying from intense distress at times to mild regret. Its experiences are not satisfactory. It has a prevailing consciousness of inexcusable defects. It does not reach its ideal. It feels the chiding of the Holy Spirit. It lashes itself with reprovings. It often carries an unhealed wound because of its unfaithfulness or failure to be what it feels it ought to be. There is the abiding consciousness that there is something better for it. When it is upheld and sustained in an average experience, and others think well of it, and there is no external failure visible to other eyes, it discerns Inward poverties which grieve and distress it. It would love more, be more patient, more brave, more trusting, more cheerful, stronger, more robust; it would work more and do more and be more. There are holy yearnings in it after something higher and nobler. There is often a distressing sense of remaining evil in it. I think I am safe in saying this is universal experience. subsequent to the experience of regeneration. This has been called in our theologizing and in the theologizing of all the Christian schools, 'the remains of the carnal mind.' 'unextracted roots of inbred sin,' 'the spirit of the flesh,' 'natural corruption,' 'seeds of depravity,' 'the old man,' and by various other semi-scriptural names. These phrases all point to a fact, but not unfrequently a sensuous meaning is attached to them which leads wide apart from the truth which they aim, to represent. They are supposed to represent some sediment or infusion in the soul or in the body, or in both, which must be washed out. What is meant and what is true Is this: when the soul is forgiven and its affections are turned to righteousness, so that it passes from under dominion of evil, impulses and inclination to evil are not completely eradicated. They still arise and assert themselves. They assail and disturb the peace of the soul. They have a constant tendency to prevail with it. They find support in its old habits and in its native lusts — that is, desires and cravings.2
In the above truthful condensation of experience it will be noticed that the bishop teaches that we are not entirely sanctified at conversion — a doctrine often denied in the Church to-day. He teaches as John Wesley did, that there remains yet that which needs a farther work of the Spirit, which is called, in the language of theology, entire sanctification, which supplements the defects of the soul still remaining after regeneration.

The adverse influences and tendencies which continue after the new birth imperil the very existence of the new principle of love to God by overcoming and choking it, unless it is continually nourished and strengthened by divine grace. Strength is supplied to the believer by the inner presence of the Holy Spirit. His indwelling is by faith. If faith declines, the Spirit's sphere in the soul is narrowed. If confidence in God is "cast away" — a possible act against which we are warned in the Scriptures (Heb. x. 35) — then the Spirit withdraws, or rather, is excluded by unbelief, and love, the vital spark of the spiritual life, expires. Hence the question whether the Spirit shall be a merely transient impulse toward purity, or a lasting power, depends on the free will of the regenerate soul. The parable of the sower is exemplified to-day in the case of those who have no depth of earth. Their love to Christ soon degenerates into a mere sentiment with little or no influence on practical life, and in a short time the sentiment itself entirely evaporates, and the soul becomes "twice dead, plucked up by the roots" (Jude 12 ). What is the safeguard against such a disaster? It is such an indwelling of the fulness of the Spirit as excludes everything contrary to the divine nature by filling and flooding the soul with a love that is ever enlarging the vessel and ever filling it to the brim. Then love is perfect in the sense that it is no longer mixed in kind and so weak in degree as to be unable to encounter the temptation successfully. Says Prof. Candlish:
The new life of Christianity is a unity, and though, on account of the imperfect and abnormal condition of most Christians, it does not show itself with perfect symmetry, yet it tends toward moral excellence and perfection in every direction, and the more vigorous the central principle of religious life is, the more will particular virtues be developed and increased.
This is progress toward entire sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and is a necessary condition of that crowning work. The question is often asked, "Why does not the Spirit entirely sanctify when He regenerates?" We answer, it is because that neither the consecration nor the faith of the penitent sinner is adequate to this complete work. The person then surrenders his bad things, he lays down his arms, quits his rebellion and sues for pardon. This is all that his faith grasps. But he soon learns that a deeper consecration is requisite, that all his good things, his possessions, his bodily powers, his intellectual faculties must be fully consecrated to Christ. To pour all his money into the treasury of his imperilled country and to give his life by enlisting in her military service is far different from the act of surrender as a prisoner of war. In the next place, faith for entire knowledge of one's spiritual needs and a larger comprehension of the vastness of the supply found in Jesus Christ. This deeper knowledge is not found in the spiritual babe.

Moreover, at the risk of being suspected of predestinarianism, I insist on another reason why the Spirit does not entirely purge the soul at the new birth. The impartation of spiritual life to a dead soul is wrought by the Spirit alone without the soul's co-operation, though it is active in conversion, but passive in regeneration. Theologians would call the first a case of synergism and the second an instance of monergism. If our distinction between these works of the Spirit is correct, it affords a sufficient reason why entire sanctification could not be wrought by the Spirit at the time of the new birth. The old man cannot be crucified without the co-operation of the new man. He must sign the death warrant of that sin in the flesh which the Son of God by His sacrifice for sin has condemned, in order to make that condemnation effectual for the destruction of "the body of sin" (Rom. vi. 6).
In implanting the new life at first, the Holy Spirit has to deal with a soul that is indeed essentially active, but in regard to spirituality insensible or opposed to the call of God. Hence this work is entirely due to divine power; we are His workmanship, created in Christ unto good works. But in the preservation and development of the new life the Spirit has to deal with a soul that is now spiritually alive and able and inclined to work in the same direction as His work.3
In sanctification "we are God's fellow-workers" (I Cor. iii. 9, Revised Version). Hence the momentous import of the exhortation of Paul, "Carry out with fear and trembling your own salvation. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work for. his good pleasure."4 The occasion for fear and trembling arises from the fact that God's work in me may fail to reach perfection because of my failure to work perfectly with Him. It is indeed a solemn and awful thing to be fellow-workers with the holy God in the production of the most valuable thing in the universe, a holy character. In the work of purifying ourselves while God is refining us how careful should we be lest through lack of faith in His exceedingly great and precious promises we should mar the work of His Spirit in perfectly conforming us to the image of His Son. As a slight motion may spoil the image which the king of day is imprinting on the prepared plate, so a little self-indulgence or heedlessness or wavering of faith may blur the image of Christ which the Spirit is creating in me. I am responsible not only for all that I can do towards completed holiness, which is perfect consecration, but I am also responsible for all that the Holy Ghost can do with my co-operation.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the progressive sanctification of the newborn soul is indirect: in opening the heart to receive the truth,5 the instrument of purification; in giving vigor to the spiritual life; in strengthening the will to resist temptation, and in diminishing the power of evil habits. It is repressive of depravity rather than totally destructive.

The entire eradication of the propensity to sin is by the direct and instantaneous act of the Holy Spirit responsive to a special act of faith in Christ claiming the full heritage of the believer.
When we learn that God claims us for His own, and when, after fruitless personal efforts to render Him the devotion He requires, we learn for the first time that God will work in us by the agency of His Spirit and by actual spiritual contact with Christ the devotion He requires, and when we venture to believe, . . . we find by happy experience that according to our faith it is done to us. The experience thus gained becomes an era in our spiritual life. We feel that we are then holy in a sense unknown to us before.6
It is in reference to this distinctive act of the Sanctifier that it is noted by an eminent expositor "that in the New Testament we never read expressly and unmistakably of sanctification as a gradual process." This is said in view of the almost universal use of the aorist tense of the verbs to sanctify and to cleanse.

To this distinct and decisive action of the Holy Spirit in the extinction of proneness to sin, bringing the believer into the land of rest, in marvelous contrast with His previous wilderness experience, after His regeneration, there are too many intelligent and trustworthy witnesses to be lightly passed by as of no account. They assure us that they were truly converted and received the direct witness of the Spirit to their adoption; that they did not backslide, but grew in grace; that they were not conscious of living in willful violation of any known law of God, and that they could testify that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. But they solemnly aver that through all their regenerate life, before receiving Christ for their entire sanctification, they were conscious of a strong inward enemy whom they were striving to bind and cast out but always failed; that by the study of the Scriptures they found that this rebel within was called "the old man," whom theologians style "original sin;" that after reading or hearing the testimony of those entirely consecrated souls who had through specific faith and importunate prayer found complete deliverance, they sought for this distinctive work of the Holy Ghost, and at an ever-memorable date they emerged into a blissful consciousness of inward purity and profound peace far beyond all former experiences. This victory many have attested decades and scores of years. Dr. Asa Mahan, whose temper in his youth was so ungovernable that his father predicted that in a fit of anger he would kill some one and expiate his crime on the scaffold, and whose irascibility in the early years of his Christian ministry was the cause of untold grief, testifies to a change wrought by the Holy Spirit so great as to make the last forty years of life years undisturbed by one gust of irritability, though he often met with insults and other occasions to call it forth if it had been slumbering within. The Sanctifier had cast out this demon and so adorned the place of his former abode with the fruits of the Spirit and so filled it with His own permanent fulness that he could not return though he may have "taken with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself." The Lord be praised! There is a power which not only cleanses but also keeps. It is to be noted that the witnesses to whom we refer agree in testifying that this entire sanctification was subsequent to regeneration, and that it was accomplished by the Spirit in an instant, and not by the processes of growth.

This negative work of the Spirit in the eradication of inherited proneness to sin is followed by an illimitable development of all the Christian graces. One may reach the point where sin is all destroyed and love become perfect,
i. e., pure and unmixed, and yet his power of moral discernment and his mental enlargement be capable of increase through time and through eternity. His spiritual development will be commensurate.

  • Perfection in degree of love is never to be attained.
  • Perfection in kind is the gift of the Holy Ghost to the believer now.

There prevails in certain religious circles the doctrine that in the new birth a new nature is created, while the old nature, or old man, continues till physical death extinguishes his life. It is said that the old nature is nailed to the cross, but he does not die so long as the human spirit acts through a material organism. Denial of the possibility of entire sanctification in the present life is an obvious inference. Another outcome of this error is that depravity is necessary, and that it is beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit in the application of the blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin. Hence the notion of two natures existing in every Christian, however consecrated, so long as he is in the body, the one a new creation and therefore sinless, and the other sinful and beyond all hope of change for the better, is exceedingly mischievous, palliating and excusing evil propensities. When we speak of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling Sanctifier we will examine the alleged scriptural proofs of this doctrine. We insist that the work of the Spirit in the new creation of the penitent believer in Christ is not the creation of new faculties, but the rectification of those already existing, weakened and marred by sin. He has no need of a new reason for even after the fall, reason in man grasps the same self-evident truths that exist in God, In fact, the modern teaching of philosophy is that truths of intuition are the activity of God immanent in the soul of man. His sensibilities, both natural and moral, have been damaged by the fall of Adam, and his will has become enslaved to his perverted affections and depraved desires. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to lift this yoke of bondage and to bring the newborn soul into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. He whom Christ Jesus makes free is free indeed. It is the slave that is emancipated and not a new being just created. Such a being would need no act of emancipation. It is the office of the Spirit to give the will the gracious ability to make holy choices, and to clarify the moral sense or conscience so that its decisions will all harmonize with ethical axioms or immutable morality. The "new creature" spoken of by Paul is a figure of speech for the vivid presentation of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the renewal of a soul badly shattered by sin. Conscience is restored to full activity both in its power to discern and its power to approve or to condemn. The human spirit may well be compared to a skylight in the dome of his being through which he was designed to have a vision of spiritual realities. But sin has darkened the windows and intercepted the heavenly vision. The remedy is not in the demolition of the old skylight and the setting of a new one, but in the thorough cleansing of the original window by One who by taking up His abode in that dome can always keep it transparent by His purifying presence. The process seems to be first to cause the law of God to shine into conscience, the light of forgiveness, then the light of purity, "having no more conscience of sin."

Another error obstructive of the spiritual life of all the so-called sacramentarian churches — more than half of Christendom — consists in a perversion of the meaning of Christ's words to Nicodemus, "born of water and the Spirit." Those who magnify the sacraments as saving ordinances, and some who do not teach baptismal regeneration, teach that the words "born of water" refer to water baptism. But others including the writer, insist that these words have no reference to that ordinance which was not made obligatory upon believers until after Christ's resurrection, years after his dialogue with Nicodemus. The identification of water baptism with the new birth has wrought untold harm to myriads of souls, deluding them with a shadow of the requisite for salvation instead of the substance, the impartation of spiritual life and initial sanctification symbolized by water. We sympathize with Weisse, though we cannot use his strong language, that to make regeneration depend upon baptism by water "is little better than blasphemy." We believe with Neander, Calvin, Grotius and other scholars, that Christ here intends the symbolic import of water, and not water itself, as an agent of cleansing, according to an ancient figure which expressed one idea by two nouns connected by "and" instead of a noun and an adjective, as, "we drink from
cups and gold" for golden cups. Thus, "ye must be born of water and the Spirit" for the purifying Spirit. Desiring to give his distinguished hearer a clear idea of the change which the Spirit must work in the natural heart, he adds the idea of initial cleansing by using the word "water."

In like manner a more thorough purification is expressed by the words of John the Baptist descriptive of Christ, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire," an agent of cleansing far more effective than water in the purification of earthen and metallic utensils. We cannot here, as some do, read and as meaning or, "with the Ghost or fire," meaning all who do not receive the Holy Spirit's baptism must be baptized with hell fire. We prefer the exegesis of Bishop Hopkins,
those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are, as it were, plunged into the heavenly flame, whose searching energy devours all their dross, tin and base alloy.
Here is a promise of a richer blessing, a more thorough sanctification and a far larger equipment for effective service than that which is enjoyed by the average Christian of to-day.
The purification at conversion, comparatively superficial, is only that which may be fitly symbolized by water baptism. But fire searches the inmost springs of life. The baptism of fire must be such a close and intimate contact of the holy God with the inner man, as to light up its dark secrets and burn out its uncleanness.

1. See Appendix Note E.

2. Merrick Lectures on "The Philosophy of Christian Experience."

3. Prof. Candlish

4. Dean Alford's version of Phil. ii. 12, 13. 98

5. "In If Thess. ii. 13, sanctification of the Spirit is placed in close connection with belief of the truth. And from Acts xxvi. 18 we learn that not only forgiveness of sins, but a lot among the sanctified, is obtained by faith in Christ. This accords with the broad principles asserted in Mark is. 23, 'All things are possible to him who believes;' in Gal. iii. 14, 'That we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,' and in Acts xv. 9, 'By faith having purified their hearts,' and with a great mass of Bible teaching which I have not space to quote and expound. In Rom. vi. 11, St. Paul bids us 'Reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, but living for God in Christ Jesus.' This reckoning is the mental process of faith, for it results in assurance resting upon the promise of God." — J. A. Beet's "Holiness as Understood by the Writers of the Bible," page 55.

6. J. A. Beet's "Holiness as Understood by the Writers of the Bible," page 60.

7. "The Baptism in Fire" Rev. Charles Edward Smith.