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have stated, whether or not men be totally depraved before regeneration, I drop the above distinction," &c. p. 69. But did Mr. B. "drop the above distinction ?" I think it likely that when he wrote the quoted sentence, he intended to do it; but nothing is more evident than that he went on to reason just as if the question had been according to his statement. In page 71, he says, "The point in debate then is, not whether men are totally depraved, when they come into the world, and while destitute of all the benefits of Christ, but whether they remain so until they are justified, pardoned or accepted in the Beloved; for I understand these terms synonymously." A few lines further on he says, "If I comprehend your meaning, by regeneration, you mean the same as justification, or pardon of sin." If so; why did he wish to have a different statement of the question from that which I made? A little further on he says, "You make repentance and faith subsequent to justification, and not antecedent to it." Here again my antagonist writes as if he confounded regeneration with justification; or as if he could perceive no difference between the two. He confounds the two again, p. 74; "If then all are enlightened, and yet all are not regenerated, then sinners are enlightened before they are justified." See again page 76; "He is not totally blind, totally dark, and totally under the power of Sutan until justified." Again; That a sinner is convicted and heartily sorry for sin previous to justification, is abundantly manifest from scripture." Again on the next page; "That a sinner must repent before he is justified, is equally evident from scripture." The argument is continued on the next page; "Inasmuch therefore as repentance precedes the blotting out of sins, a sinner must repent before he is justified." After two or three sentences we have this; "But a man totally depraved has no such light, nor any such grace; and therefore he is not totally graceless, or depraved until justified." Among other quotations to the same effect, I will select one more→→ it is on the 84th page: "From the preceding arguments it appears plain that a sinner has grace to enlighten his understanding, to awaken him to a sense of sinfulness, to work in him a godly scrrow for sin to enable him to repent of it, and to enable him to believe
in Jesus Christ, before he is justified-and this is the point contended for in the debate." To all this I reply, This is not the point contended for in the debate : and all this labor of our antagonist, to prove that men do not remain totally depraved until justified, might have been saved; for we believe it as fully as he can.* Justification is an act of God's free grace; regeneration is a work of God's spirit. We are justified through faith, therefore faith is antecedent to justification. It is the penitent believing sinner whom God justifies; but he regenerates the impenitent and unbelieving sinner; and this regenerating power of God is the very thing, which makes him become a penitent, and a believer.t Regeneration effects an alteration in the heart, and consequently in the character of the sinner; while justification alters his condition, with respect to the divine law. Before he is regenerated his heart is totally sinful, having no love to God; but after regeneration he is possessed of some holiness, the love of God being shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost. Before he is justified, he is under the curse of the law, being condemned already; but after he is justified, he is freed from condenination, he is now not under law, but under grace.
We do not pretend to say, that regeneration and justification are things which are wide apart, as to the time of their taking place; but they are terms which communicate perfectly distinct ideas, and the one is as much antecedent to the other, as a cause is antecedent to its effect. In the golden chain of grace, given us by Paul in the 8th chapter of Romans, these are two distinct links, and they are placed in the same order in which we have now placed them: "And whom he called, them
It is a little strange that when Mr. B. came to review what he had written, he did not discover that he had not at all met the question, as it was stated in my Sermon, and as he had once consented to have it stand. See Letters, p. 69.
I know some have understood Rom. iv. 5, in such a sense as to imply that God justifies men in an unrenewed state. But this is far from being the sentiment of Mr. Bangs' antagonist. He fully believes, that in the sense of the passage now referred to, all the redeemed church now are, and always will be viewed as ungodly, and as such be justified wholly by grace.
he also justified." Called, in this text, manifestly means effectual calling, which is but another way of expressing regeneration, or the new birth. And this holy calling is what prepares the way for justification.
Mr. B. complains, p. 72, that it was difficult to understand what I meant by regeneration. I am truly surprised, that an Arminian should be put to it to understand what a Calvinist means by regeneration. It would not be strange if we on our part, should be put to it to understand what they mean by regeneration or a change of heart, who deny the entire sinfulness of the unregenerate; for how can a time be fixed on, from which to date the spiritual birth of that man, who has always had some spiritual life, even before he is born of God? But we who hold, that all the unrenewed are totally depraved, up to the moment of regeneration, find no difficulty in telling what we mean by this change. It is no more difficult than to tell what we mean by the resurrection of Lazarus, or by the opening of the eyes of the man born blind.
I would here ask, Why did Mr. B. have such an exceeding desire to shift the question from regeneration to justification? Was it to avoid coming to the point? Did he not know that we should not contend that men were totally depraved until justified? Is it not altogether better to come to the very point wherein we differ? otherwise we shall make trouble and expense to our readers, without their receiving any profit.
I shall now just glance at some of the arguments of my antagonist which are designed to prove that it is not true, that all the unregenerate are totally depraved.
What he says, p. 68, about the constant shortening of the time of the public debate from the time it was agreed on, until it actually took place, has no force as an illustration for the purpose for which it was introduced; unless he considered us as holding, not only that the sinner is as totally depraved the moment before he is regenerated as ever; but also that he is then, even in point of time just as far from the change as he ever was. On the next page he begins another illustration, which is good, if properly applied. By the greater privileges which the Americans have under their new government, he would illustrate the merciful
eircumstances in which we are placed by the coming of. Christ. True, our circumstances are very merciful. Light is come into the world, but until we are regener ated, our character is not changed; for we evidently love darkness rather than light. That very part of our world, on which the Sun of righteousness, in the most. proper sense, arose, is not represented as being thereby meliorated as to the state of their hearts, except those who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The frivileges of the Jews were then great,-never so great before; but their hearts were not any better. That generation which saw the Saviour, and heard the good tidings of salvation from his own blessed lips, were more intolerably wicked than the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We believe that the interposition of the Redeemer, has put all mankind into a salvable state, but not in a state of salvation. All mankind have not a little holiness imparted to them, by reason of the interposition of the Redeemer; but are described as being wholly dead in sin, until by a regenerating power they are quickened and made alive. By a natural state, it appears that Mr. Bangs means, the state which man was in, without any Saviour provided; by a natural state, we mean, the state which sinners are in, before their hearts are changed by the Spirit of God. We also believe, that these two states, as our character is respected, are the same. As we understand the scripture, an unrenewed man has nothing of the nature of holiness in his heart, any more than he would have had, if no Saviour had been provided. What do our opponents mean by that grace which God gives to those who still remain unregenerate? Do they mean that it is some degree of holy affection?-that it is something of the same nature which is given in the new birth? Why then do they not call it the new birth? But if they mean something which falls short of the nature of holiness, why do they bring it in to disprove the total depravity of the unrenewed?
This initial grace which precedes the new birth, Mr. B. considers as being necessary to render it consistent for God to require our obedience. His words
on this subject are these "The foundation of our ob ligation, is the relation in which we stand to God and his creatures but he never can, consistently with his nature as a just and benevolent being, require the ful filment of this obligation without affording all proper assistance. Moreover, it is utterly impossible in the very nature of things, to require us to see without light, to hear without sound, or to love without grace." p. 79, If the divine character cannot be saved, without giving up total depravity, then surely it must be given up. But where is the force of the argument which we have to meet ? We are obliged to God as his creatures; but he cannot require us to fulfil the obligation without affording all proper assistance.' But what is proper assistance? In the next sentence we learn that it is grace. How much grace is proper assistance to render us obliged? Must it be enough to make us actually comply with the obligation? But this would be regenerating grace. All grace which falls short of making us fulfil our obligation, after all, leaves us in a state of entire depravity. Mr. B. represents it to be inconsistent, that we should be required to love without grace, as to see without light, or hear without sound, But let him remember, that those who preach that sinners are totally wicked, do at the same time declare, that the true light shineth, and the gospel trumpet is sounding. They therefore add, Open your eyes and see; open your ears, and hear the joyful sound. Perhaps it will be replied, "But your doctrine says, We have no eyes, we have no ears. This is a mistake. Our doctrine says, Sinners have eyes, but they see not; and ears, but they hear not; for their eyes have they closed, and their ears have they stopped.
According to the scheme of our author, if Christ had not been provided for man, his obligation to love his Creator, would have forever ceased; or if the obligation had remained, he could not consistently have required the fulfilment of it on our part. Those very wicked men of whom Mr. B. speaks, p. 94, who in this world are given over to a hard heart and a reprobate mind, so as to be properly denominated totally defiravcd, as they are now destitute of grace, cease to be under obligation to love God; at least they cannot now