THE first subject in order may be stated thus: What is the difference, if any, between regeneration, the new birth, and conversion? By regeneration, we understand that work of the spirit of God, by which the subjects of divine grace are quickened from a state of death in trespasses and sins into spiritual life. In this work that life which was given them in Jesus Christ before the world began, is communicated to them by the instantaneous operation of the Holy Ghost. This work is as independently and emphatically the sovereign work of God, as was the creation of the world, and consequently admits of no instrumentality or secondary causes of any kind, quantity or quality whatever. "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, to reveal his Son in me, straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood." Regeneration brings its subjects into that state wherein the subject is alive to spiritual sensations; being quickened, he can realize something of the holiness of the law, of his sinful state, of the mountain of his guilt, the justice of his condemnation; of his utter inability to appease the wrath or cancel the demands of the law of God. Though ushered, by regeneration, into a new condition, so that he feels, sees, hears and understands things very differently from what he ever did before, yet he cannot see how God, can sustain his justice short of executing on him the sentence of the law. The opening to the understanding of the poor, distressed, quickened soul, the joys of his salvation, to bring him to the experience of the forgiveness of sins, to remove the load of his guilt, to hush the thunders of Mount Sinai, and to open to him the blissful portals of light, life, joy and immortality, is what we mean by the new birth.
In the new birth the laboring soul is set at liberty; is born into light, love and peace; into a new element, new joys, new desires and new exercises; "old things are passed away, and all things are become new;" the terrors have subsided, the thunders have ceased; joy succeeds the smart, and the whole soul is absorbed in the love of God - love to God, to his word, to his people, his ordinances, and to all things lovely in the divine estimation. This gracious work qualifies a man to see, the kingdom of God; but this alone does not bring him into that kingdom; he was a member of the spiritual kingdom before, but of the visible he is not a member until he takes on him the yoke of Jesus in the ordinance of baptism.
Conversion is a term which may be applied to any change either in men or things. Regeneration and the new birth are certainly a conversion, because a change is effected; but many conversions may take place where there is no saving change wrought. Thus we have in a brief way expresses our views on the first items of the inquiry.
New Vernon, N. Y.,
August 2, 1841.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 699 - 700