Three views only need be considered, all others are modifications of these. The first view puts the efficient cause of regeneration in the human will, the second view in the truth is considered as a system of motives and the third is in the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit.
John Stuart Mill regarded cause as embracing all the antecedents to an event. Hazard, Man a Creative First Cause, 12-15, shows that, as at any given instant the whole past is everywhere the same, the effects must, upon this view, at each instant be everywhere one and the same. ?The theory that, of every successive event, the real cause is the whole of the antecedents, does not distinguish between the passive conditions acted upon and changed, and the active agencies which act upon and change them, does not distinguish what produces, from what merely precedes, change.?
We prefer the definition given by Porter, Human Intellect, 592 ? Cause is ?the most conspicuous and prominent of the agencies, or conditions, that produce a result? or that of Dr. Mark Hopkins: ?Any exertion or manifestation of energy that produces a change is a cause, and nothing else is. We must distinguish cause from occasion, or material. Cause is not to be defined as ?everything without which the effect could not be realized.?? Better still, perhaps, may we say that efficient cause is the competent producing power by which the effect is secured. James Martineau, Types, 1: preface, xiii ? ?A cause is that which determines the indeterminate.? Not the light, but the photographer is the cause of the picture; light is but the photographer?s servant. So the ?word of God? is the ?sword of the Spirit? ( <490617>Ephesians 6:17); the Spirit uses the word as his instrument but the Spirit himself is the cause of regeneration.
A. The human will, as the efficient cause of regeneration.
This view takes two forms, according as the will is regarded as acting apart from or in conjunction with, special influences of the truth applied by God. Pelagians hold the former and Arminians the latter.
(a) To the Pelagian view, that regeneration is solely the act of man and is identical with self-reformation, we object that the sinner?s depravity, since it consists in a fixed state of the affections which determines the settled character of the volition, amounts to a moral inability. Without a renewal of the affections from which all moral action springs, man will not choose holiness nor accept salvation.
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