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3. No new power has been added ;-no extra foreign force introduced. Phrenologically speaking, there is no new faculty in the mind; no new protuberance on the skull will appear to show the location of the extra power. The sin has been wrought by the same mind that, up to the present time, has avoided it. It is not that a foreign foe has crept in by stealth and subsidized our powers; we ourselves have done the deed that condemns
4. But on the other hand, there is a disregard of the authority of conscience and moral obligation, forever felt to be supreme in the soul. No man can help regarding the voice of his conscience as the assertion of the highest law, nor avoid the loss of self-respect when he disregards its claim. Up to the present time it may be supposed that this moral power has been yielded to ; now the rightful ruler has been at least temporarily dethroned.
5. But, while the conscience has been denied the privilege of governing us, and its authority has been set aside, our action has been determined on some other, and of course, on some lower grounds. We never act intelligently without motives ;-in other words we never act in one direction rather than another without some ground or reason for so doing—if it be not a degradation of that word to employ it in such a connection. And in discarding the higher and better motive we have adopted and acted on the lower. The conscience protests against the wrong
What is it then that points out that course, calls for its adoption and endorses it? It must be either blind impulse, improperly cherished desire, or planning self-interest ; for, setting obligation aside, these are the motive forces that remain. Neither of these is a proper guide or safe counsellor. They were not meant to be rulers but servants. They have their high uses in the human economy, but they are good in their own sphere, not otherwise. Every man who sins, therefore, has, for the time, done two wrong and dangerous things, besides performing the outward act;—he has wrested the sceptre from that part of his nature which God has made regal, and then he has given it, for the time at least, to another portion whose only office is to serve and obey. We do not forget that the mind is a unit ; we use this form of speech for the sake of a clearer designation of the wrong deed.
6. This act of sin has destroyed the internal harmony of the doer. Monarch and vassal have changed places; and from both the throne and the footstool will come forth the elements of a fierce struggle. A real king is kingly in his humiliation. A conscience is made to rule,—to serve can never be its normal function. It must protest against the usurpation for which it suffers,—it cannot help struggling to regain its seat. It will never cease save as it is paralyzed, wholly perverted or destroyed; and neither of these things is very likely to take place. The passion, the selfish tendency, was never made to rule, but to be a subordinate. In its false position it will use the newly gotten power strangely and mischievously. It will prescribe any laws but wise and good ones, and it will resist to the last the determined efforts of the conscience to regain its seat. Life loses thus its internal harmony. Opposing and mighty forces are at war, and the soul is like a troubled sea when it cannot rest.
7. There results from this act of sin a diminution of moral power. The conscience is practically weakened by being once overborne; the passion has acquired strength and become more clamorous in consequence of triumph and indulgence. The soul has taken a wrong bias, and so, besides the former work of keeping it erect, there is required an added energy sufficient to overcome its leaning. And every act of sin carries this deteriorating process further and further forward.
8. Conscious guilt is incurred as another result of the sin. Before God and his law-once the desired standing-placethe soul feels uneasy and blushes with hanging head. Innocence has departed and given up its place to self-reproach. And this last has not only sometimes a tendency toward repentance, but often a tendency in the opposite direction. The first impulse of a self-condemned man is perhaps always to retrace the step; but if that be not yielded to—and as a fact it is only seldom that it is so yielded to—it is followed by a prevailing tendency to hide or excuse the crime.
excuse the crime. So the pair in Eden sought the shelter of the trees, and when they could be hidden no longer, they came forward in an attempt at self-vindication; and no one who reads history or studies himself can fail to perceive that they have begotten children in their own likeness. And when that sense of guilt becomes intense, it often, perhaps usually, operates to blot out the hope of redemption, and so paralyzes all effort in that direction.
This is the fallen state of man. What now does he need to remedy his condition, and bring to him the spiritual life which he was made and fitted to enjoy ? The answer to that question will be a definition of Regeneration ; for all agree in believing that this is the work effected by Regeneration.
In view of what has been said, the answer is simple. His sin does not result from excess or deficiency of powers, but from the misuse of them,—disarrangement, abuse and perversion. His passions are good things ; so are his instincts and appetites; so is his regard for himself. These are all needful forces, but they have no principle of self-regulation. They are not a law unto themselves. Over and above them God has set intellect and conscience, the one to discern the facts, the other to apply and enforce the law. Appetite and desire are excited by any and every object corresponding to them ; their awaking is no sin ; it is not a matter of choice whether they shall wake, but onc of necessity. But it is then the office of the ruling powers to decide when, how and how far they may find gratification. The desire for food is the condition of life ; its indulgence without restraint makes the sin of gluttony and drunkenness. The love of true power and distinction is the perpetual impulse to the ascent of a man or an angel ; indulged without limit and unrestrained by moral law, its offspring is the demon of selfish ambition. The impulse to ward off danger is our source of safety ; follow its promptings blindly and its matured fruit fills the heart with revenge. And it is in this perverted form of action that sin always consists. What is wanted, therefore, is a restoration of the powers of the man to their normal relations and functions, and a moral help to preserve their balance and promote their culture.
That makes the man's nature. whole and glorious; and when his guilt is pardoned and God bends over him in tenderness and sympathy and fellowship, a new spiritual life is kindled whose expansion shall be the object, and whose added vigor the glory, of an eternal future.
But to specify :
1. Regeneration práctically re-establishes the authority of the conscience,-enlightening and invigorating it for a still more royal service, quickening it with an energy that makes its voice like the echoed speech of God.
2. It subdues and subordinates the passions and the tendencies toward self, so that they are servants more or less docile at the feet of a higher lawgiver, and learn to act under the direction of duty.
3. It stills the inward tumult and gives unity to the soul's action. Peace has succeeded to the storm ; and the spirit is a quiet arsenal of harmonious forces.
4. By a well known law, moral power to resist evil tendency or achieve an external result, is greatly augmented and put on the path of constant progression.
5. There comes also an assurance that the incurred guilt is forgiven us; so that the soul rises from the stooping of its fear, full of hope and courage and humble self-reliance as it stands before men and God.
6. The goodness and mercy and love, which have been concerned in effecting this regenerating work, open its eyes newly to its obligations, awaken its deep joy and gratitude, excite a sympathy for God's glory and man's welfare that bind it to duty with the strongest moral cords ; while the glowing future bears the spirit onward to where it shall drop off all the badges of its wretched years and life, and awake satisfied in God's likeness.
The agencies in Regeneration may be easily inferred. They
1. God; in his manifestations, special and general, in nature, providence and the Bible.
2. The word of truth ; the foolishness of preaching, teaching us what we are, showing us how we are fallen, revealing our perils, offering us deliverance.
3. The Spirit of grace giving that word reality, making it quick and powerful, bringing it home to our remembrance and hearts.
Ourselves; conscious of sin, suffering from quiet, craving peace, and at last yielding ourselves to these higher influences which have been adapted to our wants and are mighty for our quickening.
It is objected that this view makes too little of conversion! We do not see the ground of the objection. Does it make less than the facts or the scriptures make of it? Is it a light thing? Is it nothing or little to restore a turbulent family, or a belligerent state to quiet and harmony? Is it a slight thing to bring out of a block of marble the Greek slave or the Belvidere Apollo? from some varied pigments to develop the Transfiguration of Raphael? or group the words of a lexicon into Patrick Henry's speech, or Shakespeare's Hamlet, or Milton's Paradise Lost? But there are more significant elements in the chaotic and sinful soul capable of more surprising combinations and grander results, when God puts forth his hand to create the spirit anew and bring out its resources and shine upon it with his glory.
Sacred History and also profane, are valuable as records of past events, and especially so as they show that God reigns over the nations of the earth and providentially superintends the affairs of
“He putteth down one and setteth up another.” “He causeth the wrath of man to praise Him.” “The counsel of the froward is carried headlong.” “ The blind are led by a way they knew not. “ The wise are taken in their own craftiness." “The way of the wicked is turned upside down. Those that dig a pit for the good to fall into, fall into it themselves; and those that plot for the ruin of the good, find that disaster, confusion, dismay and destruction come upon themselves. He who notices the falling sparrow, careth for the righteous, and will have them "in everlasting remembrance."