09 November 2006

Motivation (11): Van Mastricht

Peter Van Mastricht (1630-1706), the Dutch theologian whose writings Edwards called "much better than Turretin, or any other book in the world, excepting the Bible, in my opinion," wrote a Theoretical and Practical Theology, from which Soli Deo Gloria has published a portion under the title A Treatise on Regeneration.

"[R]egeneration, strictly so called, finds man spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:2, 5), into whom it infuses the first act or principle of the spiritual life, by which he has a power or ability to perform spiritual exercises."

"[A] man who is spiritually dead can hear spiritual truth; he can also, grammatically at least, understand what he hears. He can moreover approve in his judgment, at least speculatively, what he understands; and lastly he can, in a general manner, have some kind of affection toward what he approves. Nor does the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration and spiritual treat the elect as stocks or brutes, but as rational creatures, to whose reception, the Redeemer, with the terms of salvation, has been already offered by the external call. To receive this, the Spirit has invited them by the most pressing motives. Yea, it is possible that persons who are as yet spiritually dead may, if not by the powers which they naturally possess, yet by the assistance of common grace arrive to certain attainments not accompanying salvation (Hebrews 6:4-5, 9), or that are not inseparably connected therewith. So that we are not to think that there is nothing to be done with the unregenerate. However, while they perform all these things, they do nothing at all which is spiritual, or at least nothing in a spiritual manner (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)."

"As this spiritual life, bestowed in regeneration, is seated in the will, it is called a new heart (Psalm 51:12), a heart of flesh, or a heart easily affected (Ezekiel 36:26), a heart on which God has written His fear (Jeremiah 32:39-40; Hebrews 8:10), by which the regenerate walk in His statutes (Ezekiel 11:19-20). For the Holy Ghost implants in the heart or will by regeneration a new inclination or propensity towards spiritual good. For although the will naturally has a kind of propensity toward moral good in general (Romans 2:14-15) and toward external religious duties (Luke 18:10-12; Philippians 3:5-6), whereby in duties with which salvation is not connected an unregenerate person may sometimes perform things that are really wonderful (Mark 10:19-21; Hebrews 6:4-5), yet as for their propensity towards spiritual and saving good, mankind has utterly lost it by sin; hence they are said to be dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5), and insufficient to think even the least thought that spiritually good (2 Corinthians 3:5). Wherefore it is absolutely necessary that a new propensity toward spiritual good be restored to the will (Romans 7:22; 2 Thessalonians 3:5). For although the will naturally follows the last dictate of the practical understanding, so that were the understanding but sufficiently illuminated an immediate renovation of the will might seem unnecessary, yet this is to be admitted as truth only when the understanding, in its last dictate, judges agreeably to the inclination of the will."

--A Treatise on Regeneration, ed. Brandon Withrow (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 2002), 7-24. First published 1699.

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