« EdellinenJatka »
“ in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost;” when “ the fruits of the Spirit in love, joy, peace, &c,” are abundantly brought forth by us; when, as a
Spirit of adoption,” inspiring love to God, and joyful confidence in him, while we cry, “ Abba, “ Father,” he witnesses with our spirits that we “ are the children of God," and is “ the earnest of “ our inheritance;" is there nothing sensible, nothing which may be perceived? Or how can we
evermore rejoice in the holy consolations of the Spirit, if we cannot feel them?!—The word irresistible we disclaim.-It does not appear that the church of England teaches, that special grace, renewing the soul unto holiness, is ever given in vain. And do not those good desires, and pious resolutions, with which the Spirit of God co-operates, spring from the grace of God in Christ ' preventing us, that we may have a good will ? “Do not err, my beloved brethren ; every good
gift and every perfect gift, is from above, and “ cometh down from the Father of lights."2_ • Grant that we, to whom thou hast given a hearty * desire to pray, &c.'3 Stir up we beseech thee “ the wills of thy faithful people.'4 * Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit.' 'Lord have mercy upon us, and 'incline our hearts to keep this law.? 5
· Whoever at the great day of final account shall ' be found to have lived conformably, &c.'6 Ref. 75, 76.
Jam. i. 17. * Col. 3d Sunday after Trinity. Col. 25th Sunday after Trinity. - Communion Service.
6 Ref. 282.
The reader is referred to Book I. chap. i. sect. 4., on the Case of the Gentiles.
· The church of England pronounces, that a regard to the external forms must be accompanied 'by an internal sense of religion; and, while it maintains the indispensable necessity of faith, it declares that no faith will be effectual to salvation, which does not produce a virtuous and holy • life.' 1
How is this internal sense of religion' to be distinguished from ' internal feelings, and the sensible and perceivable influences of the Holy Spirit; except we can have an internal sense of what we do not feel or perceive ? or except we can have a genuine ó internal sense of religion,' independently of the influences of the Holy Spirit? 2 What is said concerning faith, accords exactly with our views.
Not many years since, they were called upon 'to resist the open attacks of infidelity and atheism; ' and at present they have to contend with the ‘more secret, but not less dangerous, attempts of 'schism and enthusiasm.'3
Are then the evangelical clergy in the church, and the Calvinistic dissenters, (according to the latitude, in which the word Calvinist is used in the Refutation,) as dangerous enemies to genuine Christianity as infidels and atheists were ? No, this is not intended; but they are as dangerous
* Ref. 282.
See Book I. chap. ii. sect. 12. sect. 13. On Experiences.
On Internal Feelings:
' to the national establishment.' In what respect? To the real religious interests of the establishment; that is, its subserviency to the success of true Christianity, in this nation and in the world? The evangelical clergy, I must be allowed to think, are peculiarly useful in promoting the genuine interests of the national church in this respect; and would be much more so, were they not systematically thwarted and counteracted by numerous powerful opponents. I must indeed allow, that the efforts and success of the dissenters are formidable to the establishment: yet surely no Christian will say, that the increase of avowed infidels and atheists, in the same proportion as dissenters have lately multiplied, would not be far more formidable to the cause of Christianity, and even to that of the church of England! or, that the nation had not better be filled with dissenters, holding the grand and leading doctrines of the gospel in a practical manner, than with infidels and atheists! The advice given, by some person high in authority, to one who complained of the success of the dissenters, was to out-preach, out
pray, and out-live them.' This states the only method of preventing their final preponderance. The clergy in general, from the highest dignitary to the meanest curate, must be more zealous and scriptural, more "instant in season, out of sea
son,” (euraipws, axáopws) in preaching ; more fervent and constant in prayer; and more holy and heavenly in their lives and example, in all respects, than the dissenting teachers are, if they would effectually stop their progress. All other methods will most certainly be found, by ex
perience, to be mere palliatives, or rather irritatives.
· The proud and selfish nature of man falls an easy victim to the fascinating doctrines of elec* tion and grace.''
If · the doctrine of election and grace' be teaching men to believe that they themselves are elect, and the favourites of heaven, it will certainly please “ the proud and selfish nature of men,' as well as any other instructions, which induce them to think themselves the favourites of heaven without“ repentance and works meet for repentance;" without “faith working by love," and producing obedience; in short, without holiness of heart and life: and it is hard to say, which system of selfcomplacency and self-preference bests suits our proud and selfish nature. But the doctrines of
election and grace' rest on this foundation, that all men are so guilty and depraved that they might most justly have been left, without exception, to perish everlastingly, as “ children of “ wrath,” “ enemies to God,” and “ vessels of 6 wrath fitted for destruction :” that all were incurably, except by divine grace, propense not only to break the holy law, but also to reject the salvation which, in infinite mercy, God had prepared in Christ, and through his atonement and intercession: that regenerating, new creating grace alone can produce a cordial willingness to be reconciled to God: and that, whatever secret reasons God had for conferring this infinitely valuable and unmerited blessing on some, and not on others, the deserving of the elect was not one of thein. Nor can any man know himself to be one of this chosen company, except as it is manifest in his conscience that he repents of, hates, and is dead to, sin; that he believes in the Lord Jesus; that he loves him, and unreservedly endeavours to keep his commandments and copy his example ; and that he loves all who bear his image, and every thing connected with him; and loves all men, with compassion and good-will, after his example: so that all evidences, without our being thus “ in Christ new creatures,” are delusion, enthusiasm, presumption. Nay, even at the highest attainments in devotedness to God and holiness of life, the Christian has not the smallest ground of self-preference, above the felon or murderer: as all the difference between him, and the worst of the wicked, is owing to the special unmerited grace of God; and nothing remains for him but thankfulness, and shame that he makes no more suitable returns. These, I say, are not views congenial to the pride, selfishness, and love of sin, and of the world, which are natural to fallen man. Men may be (and will be, without renewing grace,) proud of any kind of distinction from others in supposed knowledge, virtue, or endowments: and many have been, and are, proud both of Calvinistic and of Anticalvinistic opinions. But he who judges and feels respecting himself, according to the statement above given, will find little to feed his self-complacency; but much to stop his mouth, to silence his objections, reasonings, and attempts at self-justification; to silence his murmurs, resentments, and censoriousness;
1 Ref. 283.