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ful calm, and the true sense of the sacred writings might still have been an enigma to the man who ardently desired to worship his God in sincerity.
There are two senses which the language of scripture bears—a plain and common-sense meaning, one that is consistent with reason and acceptable to the human mind as the Almighty bas formed it; and another that is mysterious, awful, above the human understanding, and through necessity taking refuge in the exalted character of Deity, which is far above the comprehension of mortals. If the Almighty intended to give to his intelligent creatures a revelation which was to be embraced by their mental powers and become the guide of their lives, the former must surely have been the course he would pursue. I cannot, therefore, but regard it as a happy omen of the present time, that professing characters at large are driven, or are still diverging, into these extremes; because there is the greater probability of the one or the other being found to be altogether without foundation.
It remains for us now to consider in what manner this high tone of orthodoxy operates, both as to the moral character of those who profess it, and as to their views of the large proportion of God's creatures, whom they cannot regard as included within the covenant of grace.
And, first, as to the moral character of those who hold these high notions. To us it does appear that its natural tendency is to produce in the subjects that receive this doctrine a carelessness as to moral purity, and an entire reliance upon the saving grace of God, without even the thought of attempting to work out their own salvation. If the avowal they make be true, that man is naturally incapable of himself of thinking a good thought or doing a good action, such as shall be acceptable to God and obtain his approbation—if nothing earthly can deliver a man from the state of depravity and iniquity into which he is fallen through the sin of the first parent, and a direct visitation of the Holy Spirit is indispensable to make of him a new man, and bring him into a state of
him in the way of salvation,—there is no conclusion more direct than this, that no one need care in what manner he acts, because nothing is left to bimself: he may eat and drink, he may walk in the desire of his corrupt heart, and in the sight of his defiled eyes; for to-morrow he shall die. No, indeed, he shall not die; but shall be necessa
rily doomed to eternal misery, unless relief comes from he knows not where, and finds him he knows not when. These are natural consequences of the doctrines of human corruption and divine grace, and to carnal reason, which, indeed, is the only reason we are in possession of, they are inevitable.
But these are not the conclusions which are always drawn from such principles by those who profess them. Nor do they in general admit that it is indifferent how a man acts after he has been brought into a state of salyation, as we may be inclined to argue. It is but fair to hear how the professors of these opinions express themselves upon this point.
“ You say that evangelical preaching is the great inlet to sin. It is to the want of it that I ascribe the abounding of iniquity. You contend that the doctrine of grace
leads to licentiousness : 1 assert that it is that grace alone which bringeth salvation, that can teach us, or when taught can enable us to practise, the divine lessons of denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously and godly in the world. In your calculation, a system of morality is competent to the full correction of the minds and manners of the people : according to my creed, nothing short of a change of heart can accomplish a reform." Hawker.
The great Redeemer was not only to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself, but he was to take away the love of sin and the dominion of sin out of the mind of the redeemed, by forming within them a new nature. And this regeneration of the heart was to form the most unequivocal and decided testimony of the character of the people of God in all ages of the church. Ye must be born again."
“ We contend and we prove, in the lives of all that are partakers of grace, that it is a doctrine according to godliness. Every thing that is amiable is included in it, as referring to all the great branches of moral and religious practice. It is impossible it should be otherwise. It cannot fail of its effect in a single instance. If a saving change from God's Holy Spirit has passed upon the heart, a sure consequence must follow, and to the accomplishment of this great design the whole tendency of evangelical preachiog, as an instrument in the hand of God, is directed." Ibida
Thus it appears, that while in the first instance these professors can use language like this, “ You must despair of obtaining salvation by your works, your sorrow for sin and your future amendment; and this will make the gospel welcome to you” (Burder's Village Sermons); and again, “ Neither shall I recomiend human strength to exert itself in acts of moral virtue towards your own salsation;" and thus, on the very face of the subject, a sinful, man is checked in any disposition to reform he may indulge ; -yet, on the other hand, they hold the impossibility of those persons being guilty of sin wbo have once truly received the grace of God. “ The doctrines of grace, wherever they are received into the heart, have a blessed tendency to: reform the morals of mankind.” And when it is remarked, that the natural fruit of these opinions must be indifference and even criminal indulgence, it is replied, “ The exception to the general depravity arises from that preventing and restraining grace which, like the hidden spring of a machine, 'acts most when least perceived." As there are, without controversy, many exceptions to this general de prayity among that class of professing Christians who do not receive the doctrines of grace, it cannot well be that these doctrines are the operating cause with them; if they be so, they must be secret springs indeed which thus restrain men, totally ignorant of them, from iniquity,
With respect to the believers in these doctrines, it will most readily be confessed, that there are among them abundance of excellent characters of the purest moral conduct, and the kindest and most amiable spirit. They certainly fear to sin as much as any man can, who deems it necessary to watch over himself, and who thinks that such a watchful care may preserve him from sin. The end is the same in both: it is a pure, a virtuous and a useful life. In the one it is attributed to the influence of the Almighty Spirit, acting powerfully and irresistibly upon him: in the other it is attributed to a sincere desire arising in the mind to fulfil the commandments of God, and to the exercise of that power and that choice with which God has endowed man to be instrumental to his own salvation. It appears to us to be a direct and an unavoidable corollary from the doctrines we have been considering, that unless a man has received this saving grace, and is, by the immediate intius ence of the Holy Spirit, made a new man in Christ Jesus, he cannot be saved from the wrath to come, but must without
redress be condemned to everlasting punishment. And this is the sentiment which has been usually entertained by those who have professed the Calvinistic creed. They have held the most intolerant opinions of all who do not. believe as they do, and have not been marked out as the favourites of Divine
mercy Catholics have usually avowed, and avow it still, that without the pale of their church there is no salvation ; and Calvinists have almost every where been compelled to acknowledge, that there is salvation in no other than in their own way of belief, and even then only for those to whom the purchased love of the Redeemer has been transferred ; for even they cannot find words to prove that every true Calvinist will be included in the act of grace. In many instances, and especially among the most illiterate, whose violence is commensurate with their ignorance, high Cale vinism has held this language ; its professors have fear, lessly pushed their doctrine to its proper consequences ; yet does feeble man know so little in what he believes, although guided, as he flatters himself, by the Divine Spirit, that the milder spirit of the times never can penetrate his contracted heart, and infuse a sentiment directly opposed to his very faith, to that faith which he deems the only saving faith, and to that doctrine which he calls the very sum and substance of Christianity.
"If my apprehension of things be true," says our late neighbour, " there is no one motive in the whole gospel which enforces that charity which is the fulfilling of the law, so much as the consideration of that love which is manifested in the doctrine of the incarnation. The Chris. tian who contemplates the love of God in this extended light, ought to be supereminent in its imitation, when compared with all other professors of the gospel, in proportion as his conception of the great Author of his salvation is more exalted than theirs: and in no instance, perhaps, does a more ample field open to us for the exercise of this bem nignity of temper than upon subjects of religious dispute. Important as the topic we have been considering appears to us, and most essential as it should seem to every man as an article of faith, yet let none of us presumptuously prescribe limits to the Divine mercy, nor conclude that every one who cannot receive the belief of it with equal conviction with ourselves, will be excluded from eternal happiness. God forbid that the terms of salvation should be
within such parrow bounds." "Have we not encourage. ment to hope from various parts of scripture, that many a virtuous and conscientious Heathen, who never heard of the name of Jesus, but yet lives up to the best of his ena deavour agreeably to the light of nature and the information God has been pleased to give him, will be included in the Christian covenant, and, through the atoning merit of our Divine Lord, be among the redeemed at the last day? Shall not that Almighty Lord, who keepeth mercy for thousands, the great Judge of all the earth, do right?"
“And is it not possible also, that the Christian who hath both heard of and venerates the game of Jesus, and endeavours to observe the strictest obedience to the moral parts of the gospel-may he not be ránsomed from the guilt of his nature by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the influence of the Holy Spirit ; although he believes not the importance of the one, and is unconscious of the operation of the other? Are the bounties of Divine Mercy to be restricted to our proper conceptions of them; and shall their merit and efficacy be lost if we comprehend them not in their full extent? Would not this be to check the operations of Omnipotence by human power, and altogether to suspend the blessings of God upon the will of man?"
“We cannot know what causes there may be to hinder the same truth from affecting alike the mind universally. What from constitutional temper, from early prepossession, the effects of ignorance, of education, of unavoidable prejudice in some, and the want of information in others-it is impossible for any to ascertain the precise degree of error which constitutes wilful or unintentional belief. And
very evident, that while the former deserves the ševerest reprehension, the latter calls for pity and compassion. And shall we then, with the scanty knowledge which we possess, presume to determine where the error lies ? Shall we erect a tribunal, and place ourselves in the forbidden chair, and pronounce the definitive sentence of condemnation upon so grand a subject as the eternal salvation of the soul ? Let us leave points of this awful nature to him who alone is competent to judge them. He knows the human heart, and knows both its weakness and its perversity, and can ascertain between wilfal blindness and a defect of vision. And however we may feel, as in deed we cannot but feel, a most anxious apprehension and concern for the final condition of that brother who, posa
yet it is