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sion to his will, supreme and constant love to him for what he is in himself, repentance and self-abasement for sins against him, and faith in Christ who condemned sin in the flesh, and made the great atoning sacrifice. And to make men see and feel the full weight of their obligations to perform these duties, they must be taught all the counsel of God. For this exhibition of divine truth contains the full strength of all the motives that can be derived from knowledge, holiness and happiness, time and eternity, the infinite Creator and all creatures, and from heaven earth and hell. It is powerfully adapted to arrest the attention, impress the conscience, and bind the heart to obedience. And though the natural heart often rises and rages, and opposes this system of divine truth, yet the conscience ever stands ready to silence all its murmurs, and bind it to a cordial obedience to its demands. This is the means of grace which God has appointed to arrest attention, convince the sinner of his enmity and bring him to cordial submission to himself. Or as the Indian convert at Stockbridge expressed it to Dr. West, after having thrown a worm upon the coals, "Just so, me squirm, and squirm, as long as me could squirm, but now me all still still-."
But in comparison with this exhibition of motives to love, repentance, and faith, how weak and contemptible is that exhibition derived from a partial and superficial exhibition of divine truth, which in a great measure if not entirely slides over the conscience, and only excites the weak and temporary pssions of slavish fear, carnal hope, and personal interest. What person with an enlightened understanding, and awakened conscience would not turn away from such motives to religion with disgust and inward contempt. And through the ignorance, blindness and selfishness of sinners lead them in multitudes to compy with such motives and inducements to religion, who can believe that their compliance with such selfish inducements, will prepare them for a holy heaven, and for fellowship with holy beings.
[To be continued.)
HOW A GENUINE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE IS not TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS FALSE.
An Extract from the Christian Spectator.
1. True christian experience, is not to be distinguished by the degree or the succession of anxiety and joy, which a person may have felt. There may be great mental distress on the subject of religion, without even a thorough conviction of sin. There are persons overwhelmed with the apprehension of their sinking into hell, of their being surrounded with fiends, of the day of grace being past, or of their sins being unpardonable, who have scarcely any convic
tion of the nature of sin, as an offence against a being of infinite glory, or of its extent, as consisting in a heart of opposition to the law of holiness. There are those who tell of their "hearts of stone," their "load of guilt," and their "sins set in order before them,' and who are really tempted beyond measure, who yet, when inquired of, can tell of nothing in which sin most essentially consists; and who seem to have no distinct perception of any one feeling in their hearts, that is contrary to the holiness of God. may be terror without conviction, so there may be conviction, clear and deep, without conversion. The work of the Holy Spirit, on moral agents, may be arrested. And this may be done by their entertaining a delusive hope, as well as by a more direct resistance. Let a person who has for years been struggling with a condemning conscience, and the dread of an expected judgment, find his latent convictions and suppressed fears brought up anew by the Spirit of God, with a power too great to be overcome; and then let him lay hold of some imaginary evidence of a saving change, as a witness from God, that he is forgiven. What more is necessary, to make his burden remove; a transport of joy possesses his mind, and his happiness for a few moments appears to him greater than the sum of what he had found in his whole life before? Most unsafe would it be to trust to such a transition of feeling, however wonderful or joyful, because it may be the result of natural principles, as well as of a spiritual change.
2. Nor can a genuine experience be distinguished by the existence or fervor of other strong affections, which may be mingled with it. There are those who feel assured of the genuineness of their religion, because of the love to God and men which it involves. Such love as they feel, they are confident, can proceed from no evil source. It is certainly true, that nothing is more heavenly than christian love. It is more excellent than knowledge, prophecy, miracles, or the powers of speech which men or angels use. It is the chief of christian graces, the life, the essence of them all. But in proportion to its excellence, should be our care to distinguish it for the scriptures admonish us that there are false resemblances of love. What fervor of love to our Savior, appeared in the multitudes who, at various times, were brought under a temporary persuasion that he was their expected Messiah! How zealously they followed him over deserts and seas, and adhered to him by day and by night; and, as though the ground were not good enough for him to tread upon, spread their garments in the way, and shouted Hosanna to the Son of David! Yet no sooner were their selfish expectations crossed, than their vociferations were no less earnest and frequent "crucify him! crucify him!" The same thing, he said, would be true of men in other times. "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold, but he that endureth to the end. the same shall be saved:" implying that the love, which, amidst abounding iniquity does not endure, but waxes cold, is not that which accompanies salvation. So the event has proved. Such was the love of the Galatian converts towards the apostle Paul, that they would have been ready to pluck out their eyes and give them
to him; yet he afterwards found occasion to fear, that their blessedness had come to nothing. And what minister of the gospel has not found oceasion to entertain, in regard to some who had been hopefully converted under his labors, the same fears? Nor is this wonderful. Let a person suddenly pass from distressing fears of hell, to a confident persuasion of his interest in the divine favor, and he must of course, by the operation of natural principles, be filled with admiration of the God and Savior who, as he imagines, has done so great things for him. Nor is love to his Divine Benefactor the only affection. He is impressed with his unworthiness of so wonderful a mercy; as Saul, when told of his designation to the throne of Israel, said, "Am not I a Benjaminite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?" He is moved with a sense of his ingratitude to so gracious a deliverer; as that false hearted king confessed with tears his ingratitude to David, when spared by him from instant death. He delights in others who admire the change, as the worst of men love their admirers and flatterers; and he is moved also with commisseration for persons around him, whom he regards as being in their sins, and earnestly endeavors to persuade them to seek the same deliverance which he has found, as the instinctive feelings of humanity incline men to pity their fellow-beings when in danger, and to desire their rescue. From the common principles of our nature, there may be a semblance not only of christian joy and love, but of christian humility, brotherly affection, compassion for sinners, and zeal for their conversion. The mere existence of such affections, therefore, does not distinguish the work of the Holy Spirit; nor does the strength of them; more especially since a mere flow of natural feelings under delusive apprehensions, meets not the resistance by which affections truly spiritual are always clogged and opposed.
3. Nor is genuine experience distinguished by the freedom in prayer, or fluency of other religious addresses which may accompany it. There are many persons, who, if they see any of their acquaintances who had been reserved on subjects of religion, suddenly coming forth with fluent and copious expressions of religious feeling, hastily conclude, that they must have been divinely taught. If they see this in children, or in persons who had been ignorant, diffident, and unused to public addresses, the evidence of a divine influence seems to them beyond a reasonable doubt. "Such a person's mouth," they say, "is opened, his tongue is loosed, he speaks the language of Canaan, his soul is enlarged to speak the praises of God, and as water from a fountain, the sentiments and feelings of religion flow from his heart. Surely he would be incapable of this, were he not divinely assisted." But how deceptive is such a conclusion! Where, in all the Bible are we referred to such effects, as evidences of christian character? Or what is there, in the nature of such effects, to distinguish the christian graces? The most which they prove is, that a person is strongly affected with subjects pertaining to religion. It is the nature of the affections, whatever objects may engage them, to open the lips in free and earnest communications. The starving beggar, is earnest in petitioning for re
kef at our doors; and the anxious mother, whose child has wandered into lonely woods, or been torn from her arms by a ruffian, is eloquent in pleading with her neighbors to recover it. So when persons are free and earnest in religious addresses, it is indeed a satisfactory proof of strong emotions; bnt the nature of those emotions it cannot prove; for they may, in any degree of strength, originate in natural feelings, as well as the grace of God. Such emotions may be founded in delusion, as well as in the knowledge of the truth. An overweening forwardness in expressing them, so far from indicating their spirituality, is rather an indication of dominant pride. It is a pertinent remark of a distinguished experimental writer, that "a Pharisee's trumpet shall be heard to the town's end, while simplicity walks through the town unseen." As a tree burdened with leaves is seldom found bending with fruit, and as clouds borne along upon the wings of a tempest afford but little refreshing rain, so professedly christian converts, boastfully forward in speaking of their experience and showing their gifts, rarely glorify God by substantial and permanent fruits of righteousness With this very allusion, the apostles Peter and Jude, speaking of persons who under a show of christian zeal had been received into the church, designate them, as "clouds without water carried about of winds, and trees whose fruit withereth."
4. Christian experience is not to be distinguished by the confidence of a person of good estate. There are those who profess to know that they are children of God. Their feelings assure them of this. They no more doubt it, than they doubt their existence. The Spirit itself they say, beareth witness with their spirit, that they are the children of God. But what is the witness of the Spirit? Is it inspiration? an immediate suggestion, such as was given to the apostles? a direct testimony of the Holy Spirit, whether by a revelation, an impression, a vision, a dream, or any other sign distinct from the sanctifying influence of the Spirit, informning them, that they are forgiven and saved? What evidence have they that what they call the witness of the Spirit, is really his testimony? Can they show from the scriptures, or the nature of the case, that the same effects may not be produced without his agency? And will a rational man, on a subject of such importance, conclude, without evidence, that a suggestion, an impression, a pleasurable sensation, is from God? This did the Montanists of the second century. This did the Anabaptists of the sixteenth. This the enthusiasts of every age have done; and their lives in ten thousand instances, have shown the miserable delusion of their pretensions. What then is the witness of the Spirit? It is no other than the testimony of the Spirit in the scriptures of truth, that those who have the character of the children of God, as it is there delineated, are entitled to the privileges of children, together with the sanctifying work of the Spirit, forming a person to this character. That he may perceive this witness, therefore, he must clearly see, by examining the scriptures, what that character is, and be able to distinguish it; and then by examining himself, he must find his own character is such. Hence there may be occasion of doubt, and must be occa
sion for deep, solemn, jealous, and often repeated inquiry. If these things are so, that confidence which discards examination, and violently rejects doubt, carries evidence of delusion in its face. We do not say that it proves a man not to be a christian; but it does prove, that on a subject of vital importance he does not see things as they really are.
For the Hopkinsian Magazine.
THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION.
It frequently happens, that the doctrine of election is tacitly acknowledged by some people, who profess to disbelieve it. A few years ago, the writer was present at a religious meeting in the State of Connecticut. After the religious exercises were over, an Arminian gentleman expressed his disapprobation of the doctrine of election. He affirmed, with much confidence that the doctrine was untrue; and could not be maintained, by fair and conclusive arguments. A preacher, who was present, requested the privilege of stating to him a few questions. To this he consented. The following dialogue, between the preacher and the Arminian, immediately ensued, P. Mr. B. do you profess to be a christian?
P. Do you believe that God made you a christian?
P. Do you believe that God determined to make you a christian before he made you one?
P. When did God determine to make you a christian?
A. Why, said he, with an emphasis, before you and I were in being.
Here the company smiled, and the dialogue ended.
INFLUENCE OF PARENTAL INSTRUCTION.
During the last year an investigation was made in one of the most flourishing Theological Seminaries of our land, to determine how many of the students had been blessed with pious parents.-Upon careful enquiry, it was found that there were 125 students present: of 77, both parents were pious; of 112, the mothers were pious; of 1, the father only was a professor of religion; leaving only 12, or about one tenth of the whole number, whose parents were both unacquainted with religion. It is believed that this proportion