Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

anity to men, whose senses bore testimony to the

supernatural endowments of the preachers : and • thus, “ in the demonstration of the Spirit and of

power,” they converted multitudes to a steadfast 'belief in Christ, and to consequent holiness of living. But therefore to suppose that the eloquence of a mere human preacher, assisted only by the ordinary visitations of divine grace, is to be followed by the immediate conversion of mul

titudes of sinners, to whom the truths of the 'gospel have been long familiar, to uniform habits

of Christian purity, were as gross an absurdity as 'to suppose that a peasant could verify the boast

of Archimedes, and move the earth; or that an astronomer could realize the fiction of romance, and divert the sun from his orbit.'!

If the suiccess of the apostles had been the direct effect of their miracles, no eloquence of any mo- i dern preacher could at all supply the want of them.'. But, if true conversion was then, and is now, effected by the power of the Holy Spirit, accompanying the word preached by his life-giving energy in the soul; then modern preachers, who make no pretensions to eloquence, may hope that, while even they, such inferior workmen, “ plant and "", water, God may give the increase,” in the conversion of some sinners, at least, among their hearers ; not only to a more Christian belief than they before had, but to uniform habits of Christian

purity.' As, however, it is too notorious to be denied or doubted, that great multitudes of baptized persons do live ungodly, immoral, and grossly

Mant's Tracts, 56.

wicked lives, the question occurs to us, Are these multitudes to be left as more hopeless, and more absolutely incorrigible, than even the poor gentiles, or are they not? If they are not, we must endeavour and pray for their conversion from sin to holiness, from the world to God; and the only inquiry must be, What are the proper methods which we ought to use for that purpose ?

With this passage from Dr. Mant the sentiments of his Lordship may be compared.

“Those who call themselves Christians merely because they happen to be born in a Christian country, but attend neither to the doctrines nor 'to the duties of the gospel, seem to differ but

little, with respect to the point now under consid'eration, from those to whom the gospel was first ‘preached. The process in both must be nearly

the same. The nominal Christian, who has hitherto neglected the portion of grace vouchsafed

to him at the time of his baptism, may by some 'cause be roused from his indifference, and be

come convinced of the error of his ways : he 'may at length be brought to a sense of his duty,

by listening to religious instruction, or by the ‘awakening force of severe affliction : but the ‘firmest conviction of the truth of the gospel, the ‘ keenest sorrow for past offences, and the strongest

resolutions of amendment, will not, in his fallen and degenerate state, enable him of himself to 'do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God. ‘His will must be guided, and his actions must be assisted, by the Holy Spirit.''

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Dr. Mant says, 'To represent conversion as uni'versally necessary to all Christians, because it ‘was universally necessary to all men before they * became Christians, &c. is a distinguished and * fundamental error in the Methodistical creed.' _ If indeed any persons, baptized in infancy, have not neglected the portion of grace vouchsafed to • them at the time of their baptism ;' but have from childhood lived a truly Christian life; they need not the entire conversion which others do : but surely all others need it as much as the circumcised Jews did when addressed by Peter ; 2 and indeed, by the Bishop's concessions, nearly as much as the gentilęs did.

SECTION XVI.

- On Assurance of Salvation.

. Is such earnestness, in enforcing the duty and necessity of active exertion, consistent with that passive waiting for the impulses of the Spirit, which modern enthusiasts recommend to their

hearers; or with that assurance of salvation, .which they so confidently inculcate?'3

- It may be left to those 'modern enthusiasts,' who recommend to their hearers 'passive waiting

for the impulses of the Spirit,' to answer the former part of this quotation : and all those, in whose sermons or books such passive waiting' is recommended, may fairly be classed with that com

Mant's 'Tracts, 64.

? Acts iii. 19.

Ref. 58.

pany. Upon a full investigation, however, a very small number, either of modern Calvinists, or of the evangelical clergy, will be found at all concerned. They also 'who confidently inculcate * the assurance of salvation' as essential to faith, or as every one's duty, (which many have done, and some still do,) must answer for themselves : but this involves a subject which requires some explanations and distinctions, and which holds no obscure place in the scriptural delineation of Christianity. - The word ASSURANCE is here used in the popular sense, not as denoting that absolute certainty which admits of no degrees, and excludes all possibility of doubt; for we have that kind of assurance in only few things; but as meaning a persuasion and confidence, though capable of fluctuation, which gives habitual satisfaction and peace, and, from time to tiine, joy and exultation to the soul. Higher assurance than this we do not possess in any of the dearest interests of this life ; concerning few of them so high. This kind and degree of assurance we suppose to be intended by the apostle, when he thus exhorts his brethren ; “We desire that every one of you do “ give the same diligence to the full assurance of “ hope unto the end :"! clearly intimating both how it is to be obtained, and how preserved; and thus answering distinctly his Lordship’s question. Indeed, without some prevailing confidence of this kind, how could we be “ patient in tribula“tion, and joyful in hope ?” So far is assurance,

Heb. vi. 11.

thus explained, from belonging exclusively to enthusiasts, ancient or modern, to Calvinists or Anticalvinists, that no man ever had a due sense of the immense importance of the words ETERNAL SALVATION and ETERNAL DAMNATION; no man ever had any adequate views of his guilt, and exposure to the latter, or any right value for the attainment of the former, who could rest satisfied without it. The uncertainty of life, and the infi- ., nite concern which depends on our state towards God when called hence, must excite urgent and almost intolerable anxiety, while the whole is considered as altogether uncertain: that is, should we die this night, whether we should open our eyes in heaven or in hell! This distressing solicitude, it is readily allowed, exposes a man to many temptations; and, if not led on by scriptural instruction to seek and find a well grounded assurance of salvation, he will be in great danger of taking shelter in some of those “refuges of “ lies," which superstition and enthusiasm abundantly set before his anxious mind. Here then is the Christian teacher's wisdom and duty: instead of exclaiming against all assurance as enthusiastical, and calling it, as one does, the demon of

assurance;' to distinguish between “ the pre« cious and the vile ;” and to shew in what way the scripture teaches men to seek “a hope," con- nected with joy and peace," " and which maketh « not ashamed.”2 “ For the work of righteous“ness shall be peace; and the effect of righteous“ness quietness and assurance for ever.”3

[ocr errors][merged small]
« EdellinenJatka »