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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
This is the word, and the doc trine connected with it, which hath been, and ever will be, a stumbling-block to the whole world of mere natural men, who receive not the things of the "Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto them, neither can they know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
The carnal mind, in every age of the church, hath been disposed to receive the doctrine of re generation as a mere figure of speech. They are unable to explain it upon any principles of their own, and therefore wish of all things to class it under the character of metaphor or parable. But it will be found to all the unawakened and unregenerated in eternity an awful reality to them. I well remember to have heard it said concerning a prelate of the highest rank in the establishment, who in the close of life expressed himself on this subject in these very solemn words: "I have read (said he) much on the doctrine of regeneration, and I have heard much upon it; should hope, it is after all, but a mere figure of speech; but if it be a real truth, I can only say, that I known nothing of it in my own experience." What a dreadful confession this for a man in his dying hours!
Our blessed Lord, who brought life and immortality to light by his Gospel, brought this doctrine of regeneration also, as a fundamental part of that Gospel, to the full and complete testimony of it in his conversation with Nicodemus the Jew. (John 3:1-21) I beg the reader to pay a close attention to this blessed Scripture, looking up to God the Holy Ghost to render it plain and intelligible; and, under his divine teaching, the doctrine itself cannot fail to appear in its true light.
The holy Scriptures, with one voice, declare, that man by the fall of Adam lost all apprehension of the divine nature; he became virtually dead in trespasses and sins: so that the recovery from hence could only be effected by the quickening influences of the Holy Ghost. Hence every son and daughter of Adam is born, as to spiritual faculties, in a state of spiritual death, and is as incapable, until an act of regeneration hath passed in quickening to a new and spiritual life, of any act of spiritual apprehension, as a dead body is to any act of animal life.
Scripture describes the different degrees of death in a clear and distinct manner. The death of the body is the separation of soul and body, so that the soul, which is the life of the body, if fled, leaves the body lifeless, and without any longer principle of consciousness. "The body (saith an apostle) without the spirit is dead." (James 2:26)
Spiritual death is the death of sin, by reason of the want of the quickening Spirit of God in the soul; so that as Christ is the life of the soul, every Christ-less soul is a dead soul. Eternal death is the separation both of soul and body from God for ever: and this is the state of the unreclaimed and unregenerate wicked.
Now then, as in the first instance, while the soul actuates the body that body is alive, but without; the soul so actuating, the body would be dead; so in the second, unless Christ, who is the life of the soul, actuates the soul by regeneration, that soul continues dead as by original transgression was induced. And in the third, if living and dying without the blessed influence of regeneration, that soul and body must remain in a state of eternal death, and separation from God for ever.
Now, from this Scriptural statement of spiritual death, it will be easy to gather what is meant and implied by the doctrine of regeneration. It is, to all intents and purposes, in the spiritual faculties creating a new life, a new birth, a new nature: hence the Scriptures describe the recovery from sin under the strongest expressions. "You, (saith the apostle, speaking to the regenerated Ephesians), (Ephesians 2:1) hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." So again, Ephesians 2:5 "Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us together with Christ." So againâ€”"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." (2 Corinthians 5:17) And hence the apostle elsewhere saith, that our recovery to a state of grace, and the new life, is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Titus 3:5-6) I only add an humble prayer to God to grant to all his renewed members the sweetest testimony in their own experience to this most blessed truth, that they may know that they are born again, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of our God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Peter 1:23)
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Regeneration'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/pmd/r/regeneration.html. London. 1828.