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confirmation of it in v. 3 and 8 of the same chapter. The question then arises, How are persons regenerated, agreeably to the Scriptures ? And this question we shall answer in the phraseology of the Bible. God regenerates mankind through the truth.' 1 Pet. 1: 23, “ Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God," dla lóyov Okov. John 8: 32, “The truth shall make you free.” John 17: 17, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” Jas. 1:1,“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” Mr. Campbell makes a distinction between “being born of God” and “ being begotten of” him, but this distinction is unavailing. For the above cited passages declare that persons are both born of God, and begotten of God, “ by the word of truth.” Other passages in great abundance, declaring the same, can be easily adduced. If therefore men are regenerated, or born again, by the truth, and if the phrase “born of water and of the Spirit, signifies nothing more than being regenerated, which the Campbellites admit, it follows that Mr. Campbell's exposition of this passage, so far at least as regards his inferences from it, is false.
This passage being regarded as the great pillar of the system under consideration, it may reasonably be demanded, that, baring exposed the falseness of the foregoing exposition, I should at least attempt to make known the true import of the phrase
üdaros xai avevparos, of water and of the Spirit. I shall proceed to do so with brevity.
We shall first consider the occasion of Christ's introducing this phraseology, and then its import.
It is an excellent observation, which lord Bacon somewhere makes, that “ being unlike man, who knows man's thoughts only by his words, Christ, knowing man's thoughts immediately, never answered their words, but their thoughts :”—that is, he always answered their thoughts, whether their words really expressed them or not. Le Clerc, profiting by this suggestion, has remarked upon the passage before us, (see his Harm. fol. p. 520,) that the answer of Jesus does not seem direct, but that Nicodemus, having premised what is contained in ver. 2, was about to ask Jesus what he ought to do in order to be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, which was at hand; and that it is this unuttered part of his address that the remarks of Jesus are a reply to."
Hence nothing can be more to the point than our Lord's reply; though, without this clew, (or, at least, granting the supposition that the whole of the conversation is not recorded,) it
has somewhat the appearance of abruptness : Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless a inan be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, not comprehending the import of this declaration, Jesus proceeds to explain it; in which explanation he uses the phrase immediately under consideration.
By referring to the original, we find a clew to the meaning of the passage, which will at once divest it of the apparent obscurity of our Saviour's allusion to water; in which, in fact, the chief obscurity exists. We refer to the appellation given to Nicodemus, ó Addoxulos, not “a master of Israel," (as our translation renders it,) but“ the teacher;" and critics have labored very much from finding the definite article in this connection. But it is only necessary to suppose that Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrim, had been, in liis regular turn, officer of the day, who presided over the dispensation of baptismial water, in the constant, and almost innumerous Jewish purifications; and all is plain. The reason then is at once apparent, why he is denominated “ the master of Israel,” and also why our Saviour makes the allusion to water.
But what is the meaning of the phrase εξ ύδατος και πνεύματος ? Ans. Our Saviour, instructing a Jew to whom the prophetic writings were known, uses these two words in the order in which they are recorded, that the latter might interpret the former, meaning by the phrase, spiritual water: i. e. “You have, sir, been baptizing with water, but let me tell you, that outward baptism will not qualify you for being an inhabitant of the kingdom you speak of. Unless you are baptized internally, or with spiritual water, you cannot,” etc.
That such is the meaning of these two words, and that thus Nicodemus understood them, we see not how it can be disputed by any who will attend to the phraseology of the Scriptures. See e. g. Matt. 3: 11, nevetuarı xai nvoi, with spiritual fire. Mait. 4: 16, ¿v yoipa xui oxlo Javarov, in the region of the shade of death. 1 Cor. 2: 4, εν αποδείξει πνεύματος και δυνάμεως, in the demonstration of the powerful Spirit. Coll. 2: 8, δια της φιλοσοφίας και xevñs anárns, by the vain deceits of philosophy. So also Acts 17: 25, nãou Goriv xai avonv, to all the breath of life; an expression equivalent to tvoriv Suns (of the LXX) in Gen. 2: 7. So also 2 Macc. 7: 23, tó atveüua xai zriv Gwriú vuiv, he shall restore to you the breath of life. Gen. 3: 16, ras dunas gov xal tov drevayuóv gov, thy sorrow from, or by, thy conception. See also 1 Peter 3: 18. Exodus 34: 9. Ephesians 2:2. Heb. 2:14. See this very happily illustrated by Grotius, in loco, to whom, to save space and the reader's patience, I beg leave to reser.
But Mr. Campbell strenuously objects against interpreting one part of the passage figuratively, and the other literally, as he says is done when we take the word Spirit literally, and water figuratively. He contends that the whole verse “must be either literal or figurative throughout.” But in this assertion there is betrayed a great want of consideration ; for there are innumerable passages of Scripture which demonstrate its falseness. Not to insist on Matt. 3: 11, take John 7: 38, “ He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The phrase “He that believeth on me,” every one will admit, is to be understood literally; and yet the concluding phrase is figurative, as Jobo bimself tells us in the next verse, “ But this spake he of the Spirit.” See also Is. 44:3. John 4: 13, 14, etc.
The Campbellites also object very strenuously, (and with apparent reason,) against making the two words water and Spirit refer to Spirit alone. They maintain that “such a construction must make nonsense of the whole passage.” We have known them to be exceedingly witty while sermonizing on the subject, affirming that it made the Saviour say, “Except a man be born of Spirit and of the Spirit,—which is unintelligible.” And then the exegetical ability of their opponents would fairly smoke again beneath the scorchings of their ridicule. But before they should have ventured to ridicule the exposition which we give of this passage, it would have been wise in them to have enquired whether their witticisms could not be successfully retorted. For in the present instance they have been peculiarly unfortunate. In their exposition of the phrase, they do the very saine thing for which they have undertaken, in so contemptuous a manner, to sneer at others. They assert that “regeneration and immersion in water, are two names for the same thing." Of course, then, if (as they assert) ödwq, water, in the text refers to inmersion in water, it of course refers to regeneration, for “they are two names for the same thing.” But they also declare that the whole phrase "water and the Spirit,” refers only to regeneration ; and therefore aveūpa, Spirit, must likewise refer to immersion. And thus water refers to immersion, and Spirit refers to it likewise. So that the Campbellites' sneers might be returned with interest.
We proceed to consider their
Argument from Titus 3: 5. In the present controversy, this passage is the one next in importance to the preceding. “ Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” This is supposed to be a full proof of the doctrine that baptism is equally essential to salvation as “the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” By the phrase "washing of regeneration," the Campbellites understand immersion in water; and they take for granted that it can mean nothing else. See Mill. Har. Er. Nos. 1. and 6. and Vol. II. No. 3. This argument may be thus stated : If the “renewing of the Holy Ghost” relates to being born again, which our opponents admit; and if the phrase “washing of regeneration” refers to baptism, which it would be absurd to deny; and if God saves us“ by the washing of regeneration, (i.e. baptism,) and the renewing of the Holy Ghost," it follows that water baptism is, on their own principles, no less essential to salvation than is the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This is their argument, and at first sight it seems plausible ; for the received text reads δια λουτρού παλιγγενεσίας, και ανακαινώσεως πνεύματος αγίου. .
But how perfectly preposterous does this reasoning appear when viewed in connection with the principles under discussion. The advocates of those principles sagely inform us that regeneration and immersion are the same thing'; “in the apostle's style, two names for the same thing ;” and yet they aver that immersion is here said to be equally essential as regeneration; that is, immersion is equally essential as immersion ; which it is presumed that few would deny.
I make these remarks, not to evade the apparent difficulty before stated ; (the argument is one that has been, in substance, long employed by the papists, and we therefore deem it important to consider it carefully ;) but it is an argument which Mr. Campbell and his followers cannot employ seriously without surrendering into the hands of their opponents more than they gain by it. This will be fully seen presently.
The preceding argument is plain, unambiguous, and admits of no exceptions. Let us then pause and ask, Whether the conclusion does not directly contradict the scripture facts already adverted to under our examination of John 3: 5? And if it does, whether that conclusion is not necessarily false ? But further, the Campbellites must admit, that if baptism is the “ laver of regeneration," if it is the “ scripture method of being born again,” it must be so in every case, at least when administered by an apostle. But can any one seriously believe that all whoin the apostles baptized were regenerated in the scripture sevse of the term ? That Simon Magus was scripturally " born again, converted, regenerated,” at the precise moment that he had “no part nor lot in the matter," and was “in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity ?” and so of Ananias, Sapphira and others. Can it be possible for a rational man to give assent to such a proposition ? But until it is assented to, this passage cannot be pressed into the service of supporting their scheme.
Now, however plausible an argument founded on the foregoing translation of this passage may appear to be, yet when critically investigated it fades away as the murky vapor before the rising sun. For λουτρού παλιγγενεσίας and ανακοινώσεως aveupatos aylov, manifestly refer to the same thing ; the latter clause being exegetical of the former.
Any one conversant with scripture criticism will readily admit that it is no uncommon thing for the latter clause of a passage to be explanatory of the former. “When he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even (xal) the Father," 1 Cor. 15: 24. See also 1 Thess. 1: 3, 17, (in Campbell's translation) Titus 2: 13. And in the Old Testament see Gen. 6: 17. 7: 21—24. 37: 24. 40: 23. 42: 2. 49: 25. Judges 5: 3. Ezek. 34: 11. Judges 3: 10. But to cite all the passages would be to quote a large part of the Bible.
Mr. Campbell knows perfectly well that the only correct rendering of xal in numberless instances in the New Testament is “eren;" and he knows too that in a great number of instances in bis version of the New Testament he has thus translated it ; see e. g. Acts 7: 5. 1 Cor. 15: 24. 1 Thess. 1: 3. 2 Thess. 2: 16. And the reader can judge for bimself, whether Mr. Campbell would not have given it the same rendering in the instance before us, could he have subserved the interests of his sect as well by doing so, as by the translation which he has given.
There is also a manifest and strong reason for adopting this rendering. Baptism, when properly performed is “ a work of righteousness which we have done;" but Paul declares that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but