« EdellinenJatka »
nite person.” He taught “that God is no respecter of persons ;" which is inconsistent with his “choosing a part of the human race to salvation, and leaving the remainder for eternal misery." He taught also, “that Jesus was ordained the Judge of quick and dead;" which is inconsistent with the doctrine that “men can do nothing to secure their salvation.” pp. 14, 15. We have given these sentences, each containing, in the estimation of Mr. W., a frightsul inconsistency, not for the purpose of saying anything, to remove the mistakes and misrepresentations, and to correct the partial and distorted views of truth, on which the appearance of inconsistency in every instance is grounded : for our readers would think such a labor superfluous, if not, indeed, an implied reflection upon their understandings; but for the purpose of saying to Mr. W., that when he has lived longer, and studied more, and become better acquainted with his Bible, and with our views of truth, and has learned to conceive of them and represent them with greater fairness; we doubt not these seeming inconsistencies will gradually “ vanish in thin air,” without our interference or help.
In discussing the general subject of the Spirit's operations, Mr. W. begins by endeavoring to give his hearers “a definite idea of the phrase • Holy Ghost, or Spirit.'” In doing this, he first denies the personality of the Spirit. “Merely” because it is personified in the Scriptures, "you would no more consider it a person, than you would consider wisdom or death a person.” p. 16. But within less than a dozen lines, we have the following sentence : “ As the spirit of man is man himself, so the Spirit of God is God himself.” God, therefore, in the theology of Mr. W., is not a person! He denies the personality of the Divine Being! Not only are there not three persons in one God, the one God himself is not a person, and cannot speak, or be spoken to, or spoken of, as a distinct personal existence!
“ The Spirit of God is God himself.” Mr. W. does not, of course, use this phraseology in the Trinitarian sense, meaning that the Spirit of God is the third person in the Trinity ; but in the Unitarian sense, meaning that the Spirit of God is the only living and true God.' Adopting for a moment this explanation, let us read, in conformity with it, several passages of Scripture.
"The Lord God and his Spirit hath | "The Lord God and God himself sent me.” Isa. xlvii. 16.
hath sent me." “ It shall come to pass in the last “It shall come to pass in the last days (saith God) I will pour out of my days (saith God) I will pour out of Spirit upon all flesh.” Joel ii. 28. God himself upon all flesh.”
" We are witnesses of these things, “We are witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Ghost whom and so also is God himself whom God God hath given.” Acts v. 32.
hath given.” “ God anointed Jesus of Nazareth “ God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost.” Acts x. 38. with God himself.”
“ God hath revealed them unto us “ God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit scarcheth | by God himself; for God himself
all things, yea, the deep things of searcheth all things, yea, the deep God.” I Cor. ii. 10.
| things of God." "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 « The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the commu- and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you nion of God himself be with you all." all.” 2 Cor. xii. 14.
“ In whom ye also are builded to- “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God, gether for an habitation of God, through the Spirit.” Eph. ii. 22. through God himself.”
“ He that despiseth, despiseth not “He that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath given unto man, but God, who hath given unto us his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thess. iv. 8. |us God himself."
“God hath from the beginning cho- ' “ God hath from the beginning sen you to salvation, through sanctifi- | chosen you to salvation, through sanccation of the Spirit, and belief of the tification of God himself, and belief truth.” 2 Thess. ii. 13.
1 of the truth." As Mr. W. holds to no distinctions in the Godhead, when he says, “ The Spirit of God is God himsell,” he must mean by the words, “God himself," God the Father. The Spirit of God, then, is God the Father. Let us now read in conformity with this explanation, several other declarations of Scripture.
“ Baptizing them in the name of the “ Baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Father, of the Son, and of the Father." Ghost.' Matt. xxviii. 19.
“If ye, then, being evil, know how “ If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly | how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them Father give the Father to them that that ask him.” Luke xi. 13.
ask him.” “I will pray the Father, and he “I will pray the Father, and he shall shall give you another Comforter, that give you another Father, that he may he may abide with you forever; even abide with you forever; even the Fathe Spirit of truth." John xiv. 16, 17. ther."
“ But the Comforter, which is the “ But the Father, which is the FaHoly Ghost, whom the Father will ther, whom the Father will send in my send in my name, he shall teach you name, he shall teach you all things," all things,' &c. John xiv. 26.
&c. “ But when the Comforter is come, “But when the Father is come, whom I will send unto you from the whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which | Father, even the Father, which proproceedeth from the Father, he shall ceedeth from the Father, he shall testestify of me." John xv. 26.
| tify of me." " Through him, we both have access * Thro!igh him, we both have access by one Spirit, unto the Father." Eph. by one Father, unto the Father." ii. 18.
The passages here given are but a specimen of what might be given. They are sufficient, however, to shew, the perfect contrariety of Mr. Whitman's views to the general current of Scripture representation, and, if attempted to be carried through the Bible, in what utter confusion they involve the sacred page. Yet, as has been already said, he expressed these incoherent and unscriptural views, for the purpose of exl.ibiting to his misguided people and the public, “a definite idea of the phrase "Holy Ghost, or Spirit.'"
In speaking of the operations of the Holy Spirit, Mr. W. makes no distinction between his miraculous influences, and what have
been termed his special or sanctifying influences. Indeed, he seems not to know that any such distinction ever had been made, or thought of. The drift of his argument is to prove, that conversions were not effected, either in primitive times, or since, by that same kind of influence, by which the apostles were enabled to speak with tongues, and cast out devils, and perform all manner of miracles. Doubtless, he will be greatly astonished when he is told that there are none among us who suppose that conversions are effected, or ever were, by this kind of influence. Some Unitarians and Arminians have strenuously contended, that the conversions recorded in the Acts were many of them miraculous, and consequently, no example of what is to be expected now. We shall leave Mr. W. to adjust this point with his brethren as he can, while we assure him that we do not regard conversions in the light of miracles. We suppose they are effected by a special operation of the Holy Spirit, but not by a miraculous operation. In the work of conversion, we believe there is a necessity for means. Truth must be exhibited, and must be received. Motives must be presented, and must prevail. The understanding must be enlightened, the will bowed, the heart won; and all this through the instrumentality of wisely adapted means. Is it asked, What need then of the special influences of the Holy Spirit ? We answer, to apply these means, and render them effectual. Means of themselves are not sufficient to melt and break the hard hearts of men. Nor are they sufficient, when attended only by that " ordinary influence," spoken of and admitted by Mr. W.-the same “ by which we are preserved in being,” and without which " we cannot breathe a moment.” pp. 17, 42. The three thousand, who were converted on the day of Pentecost, had all their lives enjoyed this “ordinary influence," and enjoying it, they had often heard the truths of the Gospel. They had witnessed the miracles, and listened to the teaching, of Him who spake as never man spake. Still they were unaffected. The words of Jesus fell powerless and inefficient upon their darkened minds and hardened hearts. But no sooner does Peter, a frail and feeble instrument, but just enlightened from above, begin to address them on the day of Pentecost, and present the truths, and urge the motives, of the Gospel, than they begin to be awakened and distressed, their hearts begin to melt and yield, and they are prepared in a short time to go all lengths with him in building up that cause, which before they had labored to destroy. Now these are the facts; how shall we account for them? They cannot be attributed to the means that were used; for means much more powerful had been used with these men before, and with no effect. Nor can they be attributed to the mere “ ordinary influence of the Divine Spirit, that“by which we are preserved in being." For these Jews had constantly experienced this ordinary influence,” but no good effect had followed. We say, then, because in view of recorded and admitted facts we can say nothing less, that on the day of Pentecost these Jews were the subjects of a special influence of the Holy Spirit ; not one which superseded the necessity of means, or the regular exercise of their own intellectual and free moral powers; but still a special influence, which gave unwonted power to means, and rendered them effectual to the renewing of the heart.
3 TE LETA
Facts of the same general class with those here considered are of frequent occurrence in our own times. They fall continually under the observation of evangelical ministers of the Gospel. Such ministers preach as plainly and closely as they can, and their people hear, and individuals remain unaffected, perhaps for a considerable time. They have the means of grace, and the “ordinary influence” of the Spirit ; but the sleep of sin continues unbroken, the heart remains hard, and no good effects are seen to follow. At length, however, there are different appearances. These same individuals, with precisely the same means and outward advantages, are awakened, are alarmed, are distressed for their souls, and begin for the first time to feel the power and yield to the influence of the Gospel. There can be no more doubt of the existence of these facts, than of the fact that there is a sun in the heavens. They have occurred in thousands and thousands of instances; they occur continually. In what way can they be accounted for, but by admitting a special, not a physical or miraculous, but a special influence of the Divine Spirit, imparting energy to the truth, and melting and breaking the stubborn heart?
The reason, probably, why most Unitarian clergymen deny the special agency of the Holy Spirit, is, that they rarely, if ever, witness facts like these under their ministrations. Their preaching is cold, it is heartless, it is another Gospel, which the Divine Spirit will not own and honor, as the instrument of bringing sinners to repentance. And because they see no evidence of the special operations of the Holy Spirit among their people, and do not pretend to have felt anything of it in their own souls, they flatter themselves, and endeavor to persuade others, that there is no such thing. But how can they satisfy themselves to reason in this way? Are they sure there is nothing true, which they have not seen ? And nothing real, which they have not felt ? Said our blessed Saviour, when on this very subject, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen, and ye receive not our witness.'
We might support our views of the doctrine of divine influences by a direct recurrence to the Scriptures; for in most of the passages which speak of regeneration, this change is expressly ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Thus those who have been born again are said repeatedly to have been born of the Spirit,' and · born of
God.' We read also of the sanctification of the Spirit,' and 'renewing of the Holy Ghost.' But we have chosen rather to avoid a recurrence to the Scriptures, and to rest the point at issue on an appeal to facts. A plain declaration of Scripture is of small account, in the estimation of some persons; but facts are stubborn things. And sure we are, a denial of the special agency of the Spirit in the conversion of sinners, is as inconsistent with facts, as it is with the Bible; as inconsistent with soupd philosophy, as with sound theology.
In one respect, Mr. W. carries the doctrine of regeneration as far, we presume, as any who have preceded him. For he holds that some truly pious persons have needed to be born again, in order to see the kingdom of God. He admits, that Cornelius, before he saw Peter, was a good man, who “ faithfully performed the duties of piety and benevolence.” Still, says he, he “must be born again, before he can be a real Christian, or enter the kingdom of heaven”! p. 11. The eleven disciples too, were good men, who loved their Naster, and had left all to follow him. Mr. W. informs us, however, that “none of them were born again, until after his resurrection”! p. 17. In another part of his Discourse, he tell us of a class " who have been practical Christians from: heir earliest years," who have never been born again, and never need be!
It is amusing to follow this writer from step to step, and see how he can say one thing, or another, just as he finds it necessary to answer a present purpose. This remark has had a pretty full exemplification already. If farther illustration of it is needed, the reader may compare the different descriptions which are given in different connexions, of the characters of the early converts to Christianity. In the commencement of the Discourse, they are spoken of as those who “believe the Christian truths, possess the Christian spirit, and practise the Christian duties”—who have “experienced a very sensible change, from ignorance to knowledge, from error to truth, and from sin to holiness.” pp. 5, 6. Here, the character of the first Christian converts is set high enough. But by and by, it becomes necessary, to accomplish a purpose, that their fair reputation should be tarnished; and Mr. W. shews that he can easily tarnish it. Having spoken of the sins of the apostles themselves, he adds,
“Look next at some of their first converts. Many in the Corinthian church became intoxicated at the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The Ephesians were exhorted to put away“ all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, with all malice.” Unless they had been guilty of these sins, they would not have beendirected to forsake them. Peter exhorts his converts to 5 add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience