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Regeneration By John Brine From his book The Certain Efficacy of the Death of Christ All Acts of Faith, evangelical Repentance and new Obedience, flow from a Principle of Holiness created or infused into the Souls of Men, and therefore no unregenerate Person, can fulfill these Conditions and Terms of Life.

(1) If these Things are possible to unrenewed Men, then they may be saved without Regeneration or the new Birth; but if we do not as strangely mistake the Doctrine of the Saviour, in this point, as we do others, according to the Principle of some Men, this cannot be. If a Man may act Faith, without the Grace of Faith wrought in his Heart: If he may exercise Repentance, without the Gift of Grace of Repentance: And if Men act holily, without a Principle of Holiness, implanted in them, they may be admitted to heaven, without such a Change passing upon them, as that of the new Birth is: For though they have not Principles of Grace in them, yet since they believe, repent of their Sins, and sincerely obey God, they shall be Saved. And if Men may Act Faith, or believe, before the Habit or Principle is wrought in them, then either their Act of believing without the Habit, must be taken for Regeneration, or else a Believer is not a regenerate Person: And if this is Regeneration without the Habit of Faith in the Soul, then when a Man believes not, or his Act of Faith is interrupted, he sinks again into a State of Unregeneracy, and Men must be supposed, to become regenerate, or unregenerate, as often as they act, or act not Faith; but this cannot be. And therefore the Infusion of Grace, and a divine Life, into the Heart, must be that Regeneration, the scripture speaks of, and is antecedently necessary to all Acts of Faith, Repentance, and Holy Obedience to Christ.

(2) Regeneration is the Implantation of some supernatural Principle in the Mind; unless the Expressions used about it in Scripture, are to be interpreted infinitely below a Construction, which must be confessed to be obvious and natural, and therefore not to be denied without manifest Necessity. Such Modes of speaking, as, being born again, quicked when dead, and created in Christ, are ( at least ) capable of being constructed without any Degree of Force, of the Production, of something in Men, which before they were not the subjects of: And when it is said that we are new Creatures, it may mean, and seems properly to mean, that some heavenly Principle is created in us, which till that time we had not. This I think must be allowed, and what Necessity can be urged, which should oblige us to understand these Modes of Speech in a lower sense: Unless it is this, Enmity may Love: Unbelief act Faith: And Sin may be productive of holy Acts: And Ignorance discover the true Nature of heavenly Things. In a Word, I can conceive of no other Necessity for this, than only maintaining that one contrary, may produce another: Darkness, Light, Sin, Holiness, and Enmity, Love; and who will not allow of the propriety of this, especially, when it is to answer the desirable End of maintaining the power of FREE WILL in MEN, to choose what is good? It is likely all will grant it; but such as are fully determined to advance the Glory, Sovereignty and Efficacy of divine Grace: These Persons are indeed so tenacious of the Honor of the Grace of God, and at the Time desirous, not to embrace any Principle evidently repugnant to Reason, that they will never allow the Necessity pleaded for.

(3) If Regeneration is not the Infusion of a divine Life into the Heart, then there are not contrary Principles in the Minds of regenerate Persons, then the flesh lusteth not against the Spirit, nor the Spirit against the Flesh: For Spirit and Flesh are not in them: They have not a Law of Sin, and a Law of Holiness in their Minds, nor do contrary Acts flow from contrary Principles, as Acts of Faith, and Acts of Unbelief: But the case in Fact is this, when their Hearts are excited by divine Grace, and their Wills are at Leisure to attend to, and are disposed to concur, with the Influences of the Holy Spirit upon them, Acts of Faith and Holiness are produced, and they spring from the Mind not possessed of any supernatural Principles; but only, as it is under some divine Influences and Impulses. If it is thus, the Bible seems to me a Book most obscure, and I think the Experience of the Saints is not to be accounted for.

(4) That in a believer, which serves the Law of Sin, which is Flesh, and lusteth against the Spirit, is not, or can be, the subject of divine Excitations and Influences to spiritual Acts: Who will say that the Minds of Believers, as depraved, carnal and corrupt, are stirred up, to love God, hate sin, and act Faith on Christ? Should any affirm it, I imagine they will never be able to prove it. Its the spiritual part in a saint, that is excited to spiritual Acts: It is not his Unbelief, that is stirred up to believe in Christ; but his Faith which is wrought in him, as a Principle, in order to the Act. Unregenerate Persons therefore, being in the Flesh, and wholly carnal, they are not meet Subjects for those Excitations, which are spoken of: And such supposed influences, will be eternally ineffectual to produce a single Act of Faith and Holiness in them. Let us then be very plainly told, what is intended by common Helps of divine Grace, and what Effects they do or may produce, if it be thought proper, do they regenerate Men, or do they not? If they do, then, then Men really believe, repent of their Sins, and obey the Precepts of Christ, and shall infallibly be saved: If they do not regenerate Men, then notwithstanding those Excitations, and Impulses and Influences of the Holy Spirit upon them, their Salvation, is absolutely impossible.

(5) God alone, and entirely is the Author of Regeneration, which thus appears:
1. It is the Infusion, Creation, and begetting of a new Life and Principle in the Hearts of Men: This is evident from what has been above observed. The Will of Man cannot rationally be thought to contribute to the Production of any Habit or Principle: So far, as any Habit is owing to the Concurrence of the Will, so far it is acquired and not infused.

2. If the human Will is active herein, it must so either as it is regenerate, or unregenerate, if that Faculty is the Subject of Sin, or of Holiness. If the Will should be said to concur, as it is made holy, that implies a manifest Contradiction, for it supposes a Man to be unregenerate, when he is regenerated, and it is the regenerate Part in him, that renders the Will capable of this Concurrence. If the Will acts herein, and cooperates with divine Grace, as unregenerate in order to Regeneration, then one contrary assists in the Production of another, and it necessarily supposes, that the Will may act in a holy spiritual Manner before it is made holy, which we deny, and ever shall do, until we see it clearly proved, that a Principle of Grace is not necessary to heavenly Acts.

3. If we are actively concerned in our Regeneration, then it is owing to ourselves, (at least in Part) that we differ from others, and become meet to be Partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in Light, and the WHOLE of this Work is not to be ascribed to divine Grace. The Consequence is allowed: The Grace of God indeed has the Honor of being represented as the supreme Cause of the new Birth; but the Will of Man is affirmed to be a Cause, though subordinately to divine Grace; and therefore as Dr. Doddridge plainly suggests, it is of ourselves, at least in Part, that we differ from others, and it is because we will to be regenerated, that we become so.

4. Then the Efficacy of divine Grace is dependent on, and is to be resolved into the WILL of Man: Unless the Will of Man concurs, divine Grace, will not obtain it's End in its Operation: God will be disappointed of his Design in the Influences he affords Men: His Will is resisted, I. e. it is overcome, and his Attempts to regenerate Men proves unsuccessful, and his kind Purposes are rendered abortive: How these Things suit with his Wisdom, and agree to the Nature of his all-powerful Operations, a small Degree of Discernment in spiritual Truths, will enable us to determine. Upon the whole we may safely conclude, That the Salvation of Men is impossible, according to this imaginary conditional Scheme of Salvation: For the Performance of the supposed Terms of Pardon and Salvation proposed to Men, they are absolutely unequal to, and though God has thus conditionally designed their Happiness, he will not it seems, communicate to them that Grace, which is requisite to enable them to fulfill those Conditions, and therefore they must unavoidably perish, and their Damnation is as certain, as if such a conditional Grant or Proposal of Life, had never been made to them.

{This was written against Isaac Watts and the teaching of Richard Baxter and Dr. Doddridge in the offer of Grace to all if they will believe it.} The book he wrote against was The Ruin and Recovery of Mankind by Isaac Watts.