We know our own natural existence only through the phenomena of thought and sense. So we know our own spiritual existence, as new creatures in Christ, only through the new feelings and experiences of the soul. ?The will does not need to act solitarily, in order to act freely.? God acts on the will, and the resulting holiness is true freedom. <430838>John 8:38 ? ?If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.? We have the consciousness of freedom but the act of God in giving us this freedom is beyond or beneath our consciousness.
Both Luther and Calvin used the word regeneration in a loose way, confounding it with sanctification. After the Federalists made a distinct doctrine of it, Calvinists in general came to treat it separately. And John Wesley rescued it from identification with sacraments by showing its connection with the truth. E. G. Robinson: ?Regeneration is, in one sense instantaneous, in another sense not. There is necessity of some sort of knowledge in regeneration. The doctrine of Christ crucified is the fit instrument. The object of religion is to produce a sound rather than an emotional experience. Revivals of religion are valuable in just the proportion in which they produce rational conviction and permanently righteous action.? But none are left unaffected by them. ?An arm of the magnetic needle must be attracted to the magnetic pole of the earth, or it must be repelled; there is no such thing as indifference. Modern materialism, refusing to say that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, is led to declare that the hate of God is the beginning of wisdom? (Diesselhoff, Die klassische Poesie, 8).
(c) This change, however, is recognized indirectly in its results. At the moment of regeneration, the soul is conscious only of the truth and of its own exercises with reference to it. That God is the author of its new affection is an inference from the new character of the exercises, which it prompts. The human side or aspect of regeneration is Conversion. This and the Sanctification (including the special gifts of the Holy Spirit) which follows it are the sole evidences in any particular case that regeneration is an accomplished fact.
Regeneration, though it is the birth of a perfect child, is still the birth of a child. The child is to grow, and the growth is sanctification. In other words, sanctification, as we shall see, is simply the strengthening and development of the holy affection which begins its existence in regeneration. Hence the subject of the epistle to the Romans ? salvation by faith ? includes not only justification by faith (chapters 1-7) but sanctification by faith (chapters 8-16). On evidences of regeneration, see
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