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encountered him in debate, yet he had to answer a great many captious questions, and often to hear his doctrine branded as heresy. This occurred especially at Jerusalem, where his adversaries took occasion from certain expressions, to accuse him of treason; which the civil relations of the country easily offered the means of doing. A Sanhedrim assembled under the Romish governor, Pontius Pilate, found bim guilty; and Pilate, contrary to his own convictions, yielding to the urgency of the excited people, ordered him to be crucified. But the execution of the Sanhedrim's sentence, bad an effect very different from that contemplated. The headlong procedure, in disregard of the usual forms of justice, strengthened and united his followers. They saw in the transaction, not merely the execution of an innocent person, but a conspiracy against the Deity, with which he was filled, and by whose spirit actuated, he, for the salvation of all, gave up his body to torture and contumely. From the period of Christ's crucifixion, his followers ceased to be Jews, and of course pass out of the province of our history into that of the church of Christ. The Jews themselves did not at the time view this transaction so important, as they must afterwards have found it to be.
Notwithstanding this separation of Christians from Jews, the doctrines of Christianity, which had once prevailed extensively among the Jews, continued to operate among them, and gave rise to several subordinate sects, such as the Ebionites and various others, which gradually drew off.* .
* Several important facts are brought out, in this chapter, which merit particular attention, as coming from a learned Jewish Rabbi, who has devoted his life to the investigation of such subjects, and who is considered by intelligent Jews as the most profound historian of the age. They are the following.
1. At the time our Savior was on earth, the religion of the Pharisees and doctors of the law, and of their numerous followers, actually was just such, as it is described in the New Testament. It was professedly founded on an oral law, handed down by tradition. It was confined very much to external acts of worship, such as praying and fasting, and to cerernonial observances. All its prescriptions fell under one or other of the six heads, of Seeds, Women, Festivals, Property, Things sacred, and Things clean and unclean. It considered the punctilious observance of ceremonial laws 'as so meritorious, that no other atonement for sin was necessary. It koew nothing of regeneration, or a change of heart ; and it made little account of the moral conduct. It expected a Messiah of the house of David;
but it supposed he would be a restorer of the Jewish commonwealth, and a powerful worldly prince or king over their nation.
2. This system of religion was not the pure Judaism of the Old Testament Scriptures, or of Moses and the prophets, but it was the device of the Rahbis, Hillel, Sbammai, and others, who lived in and near the period of Christ's advent. It was however, not brought to perfection in a single age. The Rabbis labored upon it for centuries; and, it being a systein of their making, it is properly called Rabbinism. In the days of our Savior it was taught only by oral communication; and it was afterwards embodied in the Mishna, which being the text of the two Talmuds, is of course the basis of the prevailing modern Judaism. The first authors and projectors of this system, had, no doubt, honest intentions; but tbey swerved widely from the Holy Scriptures, and they and their followers have lived in an ideal world of their own creation, and most of them were enthusiasts in the proper sense of the term.
3. Besides this numerous party adhering to Rabbinism, there were, at the time of Christ's advent, a very considerable body of Jews, chiefly plain cominon people, unambitious of distinction, and standing aloof from the political agitations, who held very different sentiments, and viewed the whole system of Rabbinism as a mere tissue of ex. ternal sanctity. They looked to the Spirit, the divine, the all sinsubduing spirit, as alone able to put an end to the public disorders, to reform the world, and to restore mankind to the lost favor of God. And accordingly, they were expecting a kingdom of God, a spiritual and holy kingdom, to arise out of Judaism, which should bless all nations. And as the times grew darker, and iniquity abounded, they became more and more ardent in their aspirations for the speedy appearance of this kingdom of God, for the advent of the Messiah, the manifestation of God, and the actual redemption of the world from sin. These views, more or less developed, spread widely anong the Jews of that age, and especially among those who chose to live a still and quiet life of devotion, and to serve the public chiefly as pious monitors and revered pious men.—Hence,
4. Christianity in its great outlines, was no new religion to the Jews. Its fundamental doctrines had been known and extensively believed among them, before Christ came, though they became more general after bis advent; and many of its prominent features lingered among them, after the separation of the followers of Christ from the Jewish church. It was in fact, taught by the ancient propbets, though obscurely; and it was from this source, that a knowledge of it was derived by the pious Israelites who died before Christ came.
5. Dr. Jost, though a Jew, delineates the character and the course of John the Baptist, and he describes the life, the preaching, the miracles, and the crucifixion of Christ, as fully as bis limits would permit, and throughout, in perfect accordance with the statements of the four evangelists, from whom he probably borrowed his account. Hence we infer, that in his view, the statements of the Evangelists are faithful and true, so far as facts are concerned, or that they are genuine and authentic history, and not spurious or fabricated accounts on which no reliance can be placed.
6. For the sake of distinctly marking the contrast—or “opposition," as he calls it-between Rabbinic Judaisin and genuine or primitive Christianity, Dr. Jost states the following facts : viz.—The sinfulness or depravily of men by nature, was the great and fundamental principle of Christianity, or the assumed fact on which the whole system rested. And hence, regeneration by the Divine Spirit, or the necessity of a change of beart; the insufficiency of good works, or obedience 10 any law whatever, to secure the favor of God; and the necessity of an atonement for sin, in order to the salvation of men ; are among the prominent and most distinguishing doctrines of Christianity. Jesus Christ, inoreover, announced himself as the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. And immediately after his crucifixion, his disciples regarded him as being so filled with the Deity, that the conspiracy against him was, in fact, a conspiracy against the Deity himself; and they considered him as having voluntarily given up his body to torture and contumely, for the salvation of mankind. Such in its outline, was primitive Christianity, according to the finding of this learned and candid Jew, who professes to have carefully examined all the ancient records and traditions on the subject, and then, without canvassing “the numberless different expositions” of those documents, to have given us their plain obvious meaning, as it appeared to bis unbiassed and penetrating mind.—Let those who profess themselves Christians, and yet discard any or all these doctrines, account for it if they can, that such a man should find them to be obviously the great and leading doctrives of Christianity, as it was taught by Christ himself, and received by his original followers and disciples.
ARTICLE X. The Pårases Born of God,' AND 'BORN AGAIN,' IN THE
By Rev. Samuel H. Cox, D. D. Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, N. Y.
No real believer in the Scriptural doctrine of regeneration, can doubt its importance; and every experienced disciple, or every genuine subject of the same, knows its reality. He may indeed doubt, sometimes, whether his own experience of it is
genuine, but not that there is such a thing. If there be do such thing, as some venture to allege, then is experimental piety a vain imagination, and all true godliness becomes identical with a heartless and insipid devotion to merely exterior duties. But there is such a thing, as certainly as the veracity of Jesus Christ is incontrovertible. And hence, as indispensable to salvation, absolutely and in every instance, its importance is at once manifest and awful.
The valid and intelligent belief of this doctrine, is perhaps one of the easiest and fairest criterions, by which to discriminate the disciple from the formalist. He who holds the word only, while he denies, reduces, or sophisticates the thing, regeneration, is a very questionable sort of Christian. And he who mystifies or mistakes the true doctrine, although in godly sincerity of motive, often does a worse injury, in effect, than he who denies it. But there are various degrees of this last error, and arising from very dissimilar causes.
A false philosophy often vitiates the doctrine of regeneration, and vitiates also all the lessons of the pulpit in regard to it. Many err through a faulty phraseology, which in effect does justice neither to the thing itself, nor to their own conceptions of its nature. But there are phrases of exceptionable or de fective quality in the wonted English of our very Bibles, which leave their imprint deep on the mind and radiate their own evil influence through the ministrations of a life-time. A defective phrase transmits a wrong idea, and on such a subject as this, may do incalculable harm.
One evil which improper phrases seldom fail to occasion, is that of offending taste, and alienating those minds in which the associations of scholarship and elegant literature predominate, over those of piety ; to which one of the noble essays of Foster has done the happiest justice.
There are some objections that appear valid on several grounds, to the phrases at the head of this Article. That they are peculiar to a set of religionists; that they are easily perverted to the uses of cant; that they are improperly translated; that they are strictly inapplicable ; that they involve a violation or abuse of a trope, their proper figurative sense being mystified by their use; and that the true meaning and the proper phraseology, as they would much better agree together, so would they better explain the great subject of regeneration and reflect light on topics of kindred character and greatness; all
ed. What the le proper is from wing the showines, and certainly
this is alleged with conviction, and probably with truth, at least in certain aspects and relations of their use, against the phrases as now stated and considered.
We propose the substituted phrases, begotten of God, and begotten from above ; and for that in 1 Peter 1: 23, avayayavvnuévos, rendered being born again, we prefer, being regenerated, not of corruptible seed, etc. This last word, in its compound state, occurs only in one other instance in the New Testament; and that is in the same chapter, verse 3, and rendered rightly in the main ; though we prefer it thus; who, according to his abundant mercy, hath regenerated us, avayevvňoas vuās, to a living hope, etc. .
To be born again, is better expressed by the term regenerated. . When however the word avwtav is rendered again, we object, that the less is taken for the greater, and the worse for the better. Its proper meaning, wben connected with the subject of regeneration, is from above ; which is also a richer and more lucid expression, showing the source, the paternity, the divinity, of the great change; and showing as well, by necessary implication, its grandeur, importance, and celestial excellence. Besides, the idea of again is fully and certainly included in the other, as well as surpassed and superseded in use. The word occurs thirteen times in the New Testament. In Matt. 27: 51, And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top [from above] to the bottom. In Mark, 15: 38, the same. In Luke, 1: 3, it is used more tropically ; having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first. The figure here seems to be that of a tablet or map of time, perpendicularly adjusted, on which, beginning ävolev, at the top or from above, and proceeding downward, the events are written successively, of which he had the alleged knowledge. In the same way is the word used by Paul, in his speech before Agrippa, Acts 26:5. The Jews-knew me from the beginning, (from the top of the record, ävolév,) if they would testify.
In Gal. 4: 9, the word again occurs twice ; and in the latter instance renders ävojev imperfectly, if not improperly. It means there, as in the two preceding examples, from the top downward; or, thoroughly, entirely ; thus, the weak and beggarly clements, whereunto ye desire again, [or thoroughly, utterly, from above to below, or from first to last,] to be in bondage.
In John 19: 23, we have it in the sense of entirely, and alSECOND SERIES, VOL. II. NO. 111. 24