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dreds and thousands go on. in blasphemy and crime, to their eternal ruin? Why is it, that through all the ghanges, which eventuate in the history of one and another, there is ever and anon something stirring within him, reproving him for his sins and short-comings, and leading him to look to and depend on God and Christ alone, while others, with more outward opportunities, and more likely means to rouse their consciences, remain entirely indifferent? Why does the word come with power into the heart of this man, and not into that of him, that sits beside him? Why is a burden of distress laid on the heart of God's people, for this one and another, and great fervency in prayer for their sal. vation is induced, while others excite no interest in the heart, and no freedom in prayer for them is felt? And why, in despite of all his resistance, is this, and the other rebel spirit made to bow in submission at the feet of Jesus, while others set their mouth against the Heavens, and through the pride of their countenance, will not seek after God?
The answer is plain, and may be given in the language of God Himself, “I have loved thee with an everlasting Jove, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee;"> or, in that of the blessed Redeemer; “I thank thee, O Fa. ther, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." The words of God, as reported by the pro. phet, in the 43a chapter of Isaiah, are very explicit, and they only assert individually of the members of the church, true christians, what is elsewheresaid of them collectively, as true alike of each and every one, “This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise." The truth is, there is not a promise of the well ordered covenant, which does not imply such an agency. What mean such
1. Jer. 31, 3.
2. (Mat. xi. 25.
3. Isai. 43, 21
expressions as these—“I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”! «Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your silthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse, you:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you;
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." It is impossible for language to be more pointed, and plainly indicative of a special agency on the part of God, towards the conversion of sinners.
Although it may be truly said, that the primary reference of these passages, is to the great and wondrous effusion of the blessed Spirit of God, when the remnant of the Jewish pation, which is now scattered over the face of the earth, shall be converted unto God, yet does not the agency by which this shall be effectuated, differ, in character, from that which is exerted, and has been, from the first, for the con version of a sinner? For the apostle has shewn, that the grand principle involved in these promises, is applicable throughout the whole period of the Evangelical church. What God says, in reference to the ultimate conversion of the Jews, was fulfilled on the day of Penticost, and is still in every revival of religion, and conversion of a sin
"I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, (it) as one mourneth for an only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, (it) as one that is in bitterness for a first born."
Assuredly, these things mean something direct and special, in which all do
1. Jer. Xxxi, 33.
2. Ezek. xxxyi. 25–28.
Zach. xii, 10.
not alike share. The Saviour has explicitly asserted the fact, “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." Unto alltaat truly believe, there is actually a pledge of special strength and grace given. “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." "Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will help thec; yea I will stengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee, with the right hand of my righteousness." What does such language mean! Is it not pre-eminently calculated to deceive, if it is not designed to teach us, that God does and will vouchsafe His special agency, to them that believe and bestow on them another sort of care, from that which he imparts to sinners in general.
The fact must be beyond all dispute, among those that accredit the word in its plain common sense meaning, and receive it as of paramount authority. “ The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand."! - The Lord
6. knoweth (that is takes a special and approving cognizance of) the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” God has determined, as the Apostle intimates, " to make known the riches of his glory or, the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory." Here is a special gracious agency on the part of God, distinctly and positively asserted, embracing alike His providence and His spiritual communications, and exerted with the express design of bringing guilty sinners to Himself; and, in exact accordance with this view, the same Apostle, in addressing himself to a body of reputed and professing christians, expressed his entire confidence, that “He which had begun in them a good work, (would) perform
1. John vi, 44-65. 4. Psalm, xxxyii. 23--24,
2. 2 Cor. xii, 9.
5. Psalm, i. 6.
3. Isai. xli, 10. 6. Rom. ix. 23.
it until the day of Jesus Christ." Nothing can be more explicit than the following, which, in fact, asserts a special agency on the part of God for the salvation of his people. from the beginning to the end, well sustaining the title given to our Redeemer, when He is said to be "the author and finisher of our faith." Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethMoreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them he also glorified." This is not theory. It is the Spirit's own declaration of facts, and if it is lawful to take the plain and obvious import of expressions, and language can have any definite meaning at all, a special divine agency in the sinner's salvation, is most clearly and conclusively taught.
To trace the effects of that agency, on the different constitutional or characteristic properties of our nature, is as legitimate as it is interesting and profitable. For there is abundant evidence, appropriate to the subject, and as satisfactory as any other species of evidence, which subserves. our acquisition of knowledge;--it is that of consciousness. Consciousness takes cognizance not of abstract essences; but of the acts or doings, and feelings, or emotions of our own minds and hearts. These acts and exercises are as strictly matters of fact, as any thing can be: for they do as actually take place in the mind and heart of the individual, as the events which transpire in the world around us.
The heart is itself a world in miniature, and there needs but very little attention to discover, what scenes are transacted there, and how incessantly and actively, the thinking and feeling soul of man, is occupied according to its various capacities. Disease may, through the sympathy be
2. Heb, 2.
S. Rom. viii980
tween mind and body, derange or powerfully excite; but even of our most bewildered and extravagant and delirious thoughts and feelings, consciousness makes faithful report, though indeed, for very sufficient and obvious reasons,
, memory is oft-times unable to recall thein. However wild may be the vagaries of human thought, they are nevertheless real events or acts, in the life and history of the individual moral being, and, as far as they are faithfully reported by consciousness, and recorded by memory, become legitimate matters of investigation. Now, the reality of the special agency of the Spirit of God, in the production of gracious affections, or in giving character to the moral being, by eliciting appropriate acts and exercises of his constitutional capacities, is perfectly ascertainable. For, God Himself, in His own word, has described to us, most accurately, those gracious affections, which, while they are our own voluntary exercises, and as such, are strictly cognoscible by consciousness, are nevertheless denominated, “the fruits of the Spirit," and referred to the Spirit and His special influence, as their appropriate
or the precise manner in which the blessed Spirit comes in contact with our minds, if we may so speak, or how it is that He throws back the current of our disordered affections, and restores the mind and heart to their appropriate exercise, we cannot tell. We know not how he preserves in appropriate action, any living creature what. ever. But, we may know and trace the immediate effects of his agency, inasmuch as they all lie in our own voluntary acts and exercises, of which we are distinctly conscious, and are produced, through the instrumentality of the truth, or word of God, which is adapted to our apprehchsion as intelligent creatures, and is calculated to arrest our thoughts, attract and rivet our hearts. An apostle has enumerated some of those things which are to be referred