The fifth proposition which Dr. F. L. Bos and Rev. E. G. van Teylingen jointly subscribe to, reads as follows:
“That the most wise God has ordained the use of the gospel to be the seed of regeneration, and food of the soul,” and that, “it must be far from either instructor or instructed “to presume to tempt God in His church by separating what He in His good pleasure hath most intimately joined together,” (Canons of Dordrecht, III, IV, 17.) “although the sovereign power of the Spirit to operate already in the unconscious heart of the child must be fully and reverently acknowledged.”
Let us first of all quote Art. 17, referred to, in full: “As the almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but requires the use of means, by which God of his infinite mercy and goodness hath chosen to exert his influence, so also the before mentioned supernatural operation of God, by which we are regenerated, in no wise excludes, or subverts the use of the gospel, which the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration, and food of the soul. Wherefore as the apostles, and teachers who succeeded them, piously instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to his glory, and the abasement of all pride, and in the meantime, however, neglected not to keep them by the sacred precepts of the gospel in the exercise of the word, sacraments, and discipline; so even to this day, be it far from either instructors or instructed to presume to tempt God and the church, by separating what he of his good pleasure hath most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is his work advanced; to whom alone all the glory both of means, and of their saving fruit and efficacy is forever due. Amen.”
Now, it is evident that this proposition really presents another compromise,—that of mediate regeneration in the case of those that can consciously receive the gospel, and of the possibility of immediate regeneration in the case of little infants.
It seems, at least, as if this is such a compromise.
In reality it is not, because the proposition simply (quotes, except for the last part, the Canons of Dordt, III, IV, 17; and to this all Reformed people subscribe, whether they believe in immediate or in mediate regeneration.
Hence, suppose that Dr. Bos, as a liberated man, believes in mediate regeneration, as he very probably does, and the Rev. van Teylingen in immediate regeneration, they can still use the same language, that is, the language of the confession. Hence, the proposition may not even be a compromise.
The only suggestion that the two brethren approach each other in a compromise is the last clause, ‘although the sovereign power of the Spirit to operate already in the unconscious heart of the child must be fully and reverently acknowledged.” There Dr. Bos evidently concedes to the Rev. van Teylingen that in the case of children the possibility of immediate regeneration must be granted; and on the other hand, the Rev. van Teylingen by implication, though not expressly, seems to concede that in the case of adults regeneration is always through the preaching of the Word.
As to our own conviction in this matter, we shall present it, D.V., in a following issue.