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REGENERATION and Renewal are related to

each other as the planting of the tree is related to its growth. It is very necessary that at the outset we should have a clear conception of what regeneration is. In the manuals of theology we sometimes find it described as "a change of nature." But we must take respectful exception to this definition. For by nature must be meant, of course, human nature; and by the expression "change of nature," it is implied that the natural heart can be so transformed and bettered, that it can bring forth the fruits of righteousness and true holiness. Against this presumption the Word of God enters its solemn and emphatic caveat-" Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” *

We hold that the true definition of regeneration is, that it is "the communication of the Divine Nature to man by the operation of the Holy Spirit, through the word." So writes the Apostle Peter : Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and

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*Rom. viii. 7.

precious promises; that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."* As Christ was made partaker of human nature by His incarnation, that so He might enter into truest fellowship with us, we are made partakers of the Divine Nature by regeneration, that we may enter into truest fellowship with God. That great saying

of the Son of God which is so often repeated in the Gospel and Epistles of John, "He that believeth on Me hath eternal life," can convey to us only this idea when rightly understood. The eternal life is not our natural life prolonged into endless duration. It is the divine life imparted to us--the very life of very God communicated to the human soul, and bringing forth there its own proper fruit.


Seeing this point clearly, we can readily understand the process and method of spiritual growth— that it consists in the constant mortification of the natural man, and the constant renewal of the spiritual We can best illustrate this by using the figure of grafting, which the Scriptures several times employ. Here is a Here is a gnarly tree, which bears only sour and stunted fruit. From some rich and perfect stock a scion is brought, which is incorporated into a branch of this tree. Now, the husbandman's efforts are directed, not to the culture and improvement of the old stock, but to the development of the new. Instead of seeking to make the original

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branches better, he cuts them off, here and there, that the sap and vitality which they are wasting in the production of worthless fruit may go to that which is approved and excellent. Here is the philosophy of spiritual culture: "Put off the old man with his deeds"; "the inward man is renewed day by day."

Believing that vigilant and serious attention to spiritual culture is now especially demanded, if we are to cope with the powerful enemies which confront us, let us search for the secret of this divine renewal.

"Day by day" our inward man is renewed. "Give us day by day our daily bread," is the prayer which the Saviour taught us to utter. And yet He said, "It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The bread of the Word is that which we must feed upon if we would enjoy a daily increase in the life of God. It is a trite admonition, but none the less true and vital. Divine growth must follow the development of the divine birth. we were "begotten by the Word of Truth," we must be daily renewed from the same element.


Too few really credit the power of the Word in building up holy character, and, therefore, too few make diligent experiment of the process. Can we think it possible that the food on our tables should be so transmuted in Nature's laboratory that it should reappear, now in the stalwart muscle of the

blacksmith's arm, and now in the fine texture of the poet's brain? And let it not seem incredible that the Word of God, daily received and inwardly assimilated, can reappear in every kind of spiritual power and holy efficiency. Stephen Grellet, waking up from his early sacramental training, saw the washerwomen one day at their tasks. They were washing linen. He says: "I wondered to see what beating and pounding there was upon it, and how beautifully white it came out of their hands. I was told I could not enter God's kingdom until I underwent such an operation; that unless I was thus washed and made white, I could have no part in the dear Son of God. For weeks I was absorbed in the consideration of the subject-the washing of regeneration. I had never heard such things before, and I greatly wondered that, having been baptized with water, and having also received what they call the sacrament of confirmation, I should have to pass through such a purification." Just as it was in the beginning, we see, "How shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?"

But by-and-by this mystery is solved, by being wrought out in a living personal experience, and the regeneration of the Spirit is followed by a long life of eager and humble feeding on the Spirit and the Word of God. And now appears a greater mystery. By a strange and subtle power the hearts of kings and emperors are made to open to this saintly preacher, while they listen entranced as he unfolds to

them the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and pleads the claims of Divine Love. Popes and cardinals, priests and nuns, give ear; their hearts melt, and their eyes flow with tears, while they confess that they never heard it on this wise before. Here is a life which maintained such communion with God, that there was far more of heaven than of earth in it. Let us see in it a living testimony of what the Holy Spirit and the Holy Word can effect when wrought into living Christian character.


We are touching a most vital point now. siology shows us how inevitably the food on which one subsists determines the texture of his flesh. Can the daily newspaper, the light romance, and the secular magazine, build up the fibre and tissue of a true spiritual character? We are not putting any surly prohibition on these things; but when we think of the place which they hold in modern society, and with how many Christians they constitute the larger share of the daily reading, there is suggested a very serious theme for reflection. As the solemn necessity is laid upon the sinner of choosing between Christ and the world, so is the choice pressed upon the Christian between the Bible and literature-that is, the choice as to which shall hold the supreme place. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." Ah! how quickly a day's bodily languor and want of appetite is noted and attended to. But how many days have we known in which there has been no relish for the Word of

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