OBJECTION THREE. " Regeneration is styled A NEW BIRTH; as therefore we are passive in our generation, so must we be also in our regeneration."
ANSWER. The falsehood of this argument is evident from this consideration, — that this new birth is ascribed to the word of God, which only works upon us by moral suasion; as when the scripture says, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; (Romans 10:17) that we are begotten by the word of the living God; (1 Peter 1:23) that God himself hath "begotten us by the word of truth. (James 1:18)
(ii.) It is also ascribed to the ministers of God, as when St. Paul tells the Corinthians he had " begotten them by the gospel.’ (1 Corinthians 4:15) If then this new birth, when it is ascribed to God's word or ministers, cannot import that they produce it by an irresistible action, in which we are purely passive, it will not follow that God, of his Good Spirit, does so convert men, because they are said to be born of God, or of the Spirit.
Secondly. This regeneration being the phrase used by the Jews concerning their Proselytes, they being said to be then recens nati, ‘new-born babes,' and born to holiness. (Strom. 1. 5. p. 552.) Our Lord translates the metaphor from them to his disciples renewed after the image of God in true holiness, and sanctified throughout in all their whole man. Nowhere is such an intrinsic change in " the whole spirit, soul, and body," and the whole tenor of this man's life for the better, that he may well be said to be 'born again,' who is thus changed into another man; for if when the Spirit of prophecy came upon Saul he was 'turned into another man ;'(1 Samuel 10:6) much more may he be said to be so who has the Spirit of sanctification dwelling in him. And seeing it is by the operation of the Holy Spirit that this change is wrought within us, it fitly is expressed by being "born of the Spirit."
Seeing, lastly, we are thus born ' not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, that is, the word of the living God, who of his own will hath begotten us again by the word of truth,' therefore we are as fitly said to be ' born of God.'