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REGENERATION AND RENOVATION.
TITUS iii. 5.
The washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
IT has pleased God to make outward and visible signs the means and the pledge of conveying and assuring to us inward and spiritual blessings. Baptism is the mean and pledge to those who worthily receive it, of "a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness;" that is, God in this sacrament releases them from the guilt of their past sins, and endues them with that Holy Spirit, whereby they may "die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness." From being children of wrath, that is, without any title to the forgiveness of sin, the favour of God, or the joys of immortality, they are made the children of grace, entitled to the pardon of sin, to the grace and favour of God, and the joys of heaven. This change in their spiritual state or condition is called regeneration. The change in the hearts and lives of those who are the subjects of baptism, which this ordinance sets forth, and which it furnishes them the means of effecting, is called the "renewing of the Holy Ghost," or renovation. This important distinction of terms is sanctioned by the language of Scripture, and of the primitive church; and, derived
from this pure source, has been happily preserved, amidst prevalent error and severe opprobrium, in the articles and offices of our church, and of the church from which we have descended. These views of the doctrine of regeneration and renovation, and the application of these doctrines to persons receiving baptism at different ages, and under different circumstances, were laid before you in two preceding discourses.
From the views which have been offered, I trust, you are impressed with the deep conviction, that it is the indispensable duty of all who have been regenerated in baptism, in order to secure the privileges then solemnly covenanted to them, to obtain the renewing of the Holy Ghost, renovation and sanctification of heart and life.
This renovation consists in the exercise of repentance and faith, producing holy obedience. In the case of adults, therefore, receiving baptism rightly, "truly repenting, and coming unto God by faith," the renewing of the Holy Ghost in a degree precedes and accompanies this holy sacrament. But the regeneration of baptism, while it conveys and assures to them the blessings of the Christian covenant, imposes on them the obligation to increase and to perfect their renovation and sanctification, by "growing in grace, and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; by continually mortifying all their evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living."
In the case of adults receiving baptism unworthily, not exercising true repentance and faith, while they receive in this sacrament a conditional transfer of all the blessings of the Christian cove
nant; the actual exercise of repentance and faith, producing renovation and sanctification of heart and life, is necessary, in order to render their baptismal regeneration effectual, and to secure to them the blessings conditionally bestowed upon them. And in the case of infants, the regeneration of baptism is the mode which God has appointed for conveying to them the efficacy of that atonement which was made by Jesus Christ for original sin, for the hereditary depravity of human nature; and it is the mode by which they are reinstated in that immortality which their first parent forfeited. But as the powers of their mind unfold, and they become capable of moral action, they must engage in the great Christian work of dying unto sin and living unto righteousness; they must exercise repentance and faith, leading to a renunciation of sin, and to sincere obedience to God's commands; they must thus "daily be renewed by God's Holy Spirit," or they will forfeit their baptismal privileges of being "members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven."
Hence then it appears that baptismal regeneration is designed to set forth and to enforce the renovation and sanctification of the heart; and that this renovation is indispensable, to secure to us the privileges which in baptism were conferred
And hence must appear the importance of the fifth division into which this subject was originally divided, viz.
V. To enforce the means by which spiritual renovation, in those who were regenerated in baptism, may be obtained, increased, and preserved.
My brethren, you should regard this part of the subject with the deepest interest. You have all, I conclude, received the washing of regeneration; you have all received a title to the privileges of being "members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven." Unless, therefore, you are ready, (God forbid the supposition should be justified!) unless you are ready to despise and to reject these privileges, with which the highest temporal objects that engage the ardent affections and pursuits of mankind can be no more compared, than can the evanescent moments of time to the ever-enduring ages of eternity-the inquiry must be of supreme importance as to the means of acquiring and preserving the renovation of the soul, which only can entitle us to the exalted privileges of the baptismal covenant. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." a man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." These are the declarations which impress infinite importance on the inquiry on which we now enter, as to the means by which this change of heart and life, this spiritual renovation, may be obtained, increased, and preserved, by which we may become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
And on this point there is a remark of fundamental importance. This renovation, in its commencement, its progress, and its perfection, is the work of the Holy Spirit exciting and aiding, but not irresistibly impelling our own powers and exertions. To establish the agency of the Holy Spirit in our renovation, and our co-operation with his blessed influences, would exceed the limits and be foreign to the design of the present inquiry. But
the Christian who reads his Bible, and finds there the declarations, that we are "saved by the renewing of the Holy Ghost," that we are "sanctified by the Holy Spirit," that we must "work out our salvation, for it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do," and innumerable other declarations to the same effect, will not hesitate humbly to receive, and gladly to cherish a doctrine, the necessity of which results from a sober estimate of the weakness of his nature, and which, without destroying his free agency, endues it with celestial strength, and crowns it with immortal triumphs. And the churchman will be faithless to that church to which it is his boast that he belongs, as well as treacherous to his own virtue, peace, and felicity, if he does not devoutly recognise the same doctrine in the articles, and in the prayers of the liturgy. "We have no power to do good works," says one of these articles, "pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing" (going before)" us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will." "Cleanse therefore the thoughts of our hearts," is the fervent address of the liturgy, "O God, we beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit;" "grant that we, being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit;"" and for as much as without thee we are not able to please thee, mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts;" "as by thy special grace preventing us, thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help may we bring the same to good effect;" and "mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that