“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” – Titus iii. 5.
THE salvation of Paul and Titus is the same salvation that embraces the whole election of grace; for there is but one method of salvation brought to light in the gospel. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts iv. 12. We therefore understand the salvation spoken of in this text in its application to all the redeemed of the Lord. The declarations of this scripture are as follows: first, God hath saved us – his people; second, that salvation is not according to or in consequence of any works of righteousness by us performed; but thirdly, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, and all in accordance with the sovereign mercy of God.
Could we, with old Jonah, take a voyage to the secret channels of the mighty deep, and like him feel ourselves pursued by the sovereign hand of the omniscient God, on account of our rebellion against him, and, with that disobedient, peevish prophet be locked up in the belly of hell for three days and three nights, until we were perfectly convinced, as he was, of our helplessness, our total inability to deliver ourselves from our deplorable condition, we incline to the opinion that we would say, as he said, “Salvation is of the Lord;” and with Peter, as above cited, “Neither is there salvation in any other.” By this sweeping declaration, hoever, the fallacy of all the popular institutions of the day, and of all other days, as having in view the salvation of the world, is laid bare. All such pretensions are therefore deceptive, hypocritical and vain; as
“Can do helpless sinners good.”
“He saved us.” In the past tense. The work is done; the salvation of God's people is complete. “He hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” – 2 Tim. i. 9. Many there are in these days of delusion and anti-christian rant, who say, “Truly the Lord saves us; there is salvation nowhere else; but” – but what? “God works by the use of means. We are not machines; we must use the means of grace; we must give up our hearts to God; we must sit on an anxious bench; or we must do something else, and then we must say that God has done it all.” That must be, at best, but a lying system which requires that we should tell lies even in what is called getting religion, and it must certainly be a lie, if e we have done anything in the work if salvation, to say that God has done it all.
But while we are upon this point, let us inquire a moment into New School consistency. They tell us there is something for the sinner to do; if we wait for God to work we shall die in our sins; they ridicule the doctrine of man's entire impotency and helpless condition, and command him to be up and doing; they tell him that the provisions of the gospel are such that if any sinner chooses he can secure an interest in the salvation of the Lord. With this theory for their platform, they hold protracted meetings, erect anxious benches, and perform many wonderful feats, and declare to the unregenerate that God is now offering them salvation, is knocking at the door of their hearts, wooing and beseeching them to comply with the terms of the gospel. They tell sinners, in so many words, if they will do these things they shall be saved; but if they refuse they shall be damned. Suppose the sinner should be kind enough to consent to be saved, and to perform the pre-requisites as instructed by these teachers, if by these means they obtain salvation, they are saved according to their works. These works are either works of righteousness or works of unrighteousness; if of righteousness, they cannot contribute towards the salvation of those by whom they are performed; and if of unrighteousness, they are sinful, and can only expose their performers to the curses of the law. Not by works of righteousness which we have done; and as in the parallel, “Not according to our works,” and again” Not of works, lest any man should boast; not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Eph. ii. 8, 9. If by grace, it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. The man who, in opposition to this array of scriptural testimony, would dare proclaim salvation as depending in part or entirely on works, whether good or bad, is an enemy to God and a base deceiver. Of all such men it is written, “Their judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
Having shown, negatively, that salvation is not according to our works, and consequently that the doctrine of all Arminian workmongers is false, we pass to notice how this salvation is brought home experimentally to the heirs of promise. “By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and according to his mercy.” By the washing of regeneration we understand the cleansing operation of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration. We have attempted to show, when dwelling on the subject of regeneration, that as the effect of being quickened into life we are brought to realize ourselves vile and polluted, and, as no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God, we require to be washed; and as no blood of goats, or other Jewish sacrifices, can cleanse from sin, we require a washing of far superior efficacy. Connected with regeneration there is a fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and uncleanness; and when the sinner is brought, by the Spirit, to the fountain of that blood, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel, he finds that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin; his heart is sprinkled from an evil conscience, and his body is prepared to be washed in pure water. The renewing of the Holy Ghost is that work by which a new principle is implanted, and incorruptible seed by which old things are passed away, and all things become new. All this work of the Spirit is wrought in the saints accordance with a fixed and immutable standard. “According to his mercy, not according to our works.” But brother Fox may inquire concerning the character of this standard. His mercy it is sovereign. “For he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Such is the mercy of God, sovereign, discriminating, immutable, and his own. It is according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
New Vernon, N. Y.,
August 2, 1841.
Editorials Volume 1