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termost, and he may be equally as. sured that he will in no wise cast out any one who comes unto him for salvation. But the assurance of hope, (which respects the personal interest of an individual in his salvation,) is not to be attained without Christian diligence: since it must be sounded on a careful comparison of the character of true believers, as delineated in the word of God, with our own exercises of the heart, and their practical influence on the life. When grace indeed is in lively exercise, a formal induction of evidences may not be needful to the enjoyment of this inestimable blessing; but when this lively hope is not obtained by regular self-examination, yet it would bear the closest trial. As a person with an ear for music, may judge of the goodness of a composition, without a formal process; but still his taste would be justified by exact rules; and even if he could not explain its particular beauties himself, a more scientific person could easily do it for him. Or as a mother may know by internal consciousness, that she has a strong affection for her child, without an enumeration of proofs; but she could produce them easily enough, if it were requisite. Is it enthusiasm to suppose sincere love to God may be as sensibly felt 1 We think not, though if a man pretended to love God, and was not concerned to keep his commandments, we should set him down for a liar, who had not the truth in him.
We think, however, that the ordinary influences of the blessed Spirit are infinitely more valuable, especially to the subject of them, than his extraordinary inflences. It is a far happier thing to be a true saint, than to prophecy like Balaam, or to work miracles like Judas Iscariot. But though the ordinary influences of the Spirit can be known only by their effects,
in drawing the soul to Christ, and conforming it to his blessed image; yet by this effect they may be satisfactorily known. Man is far off from God by nature, he is very far gone from origimal righteousness. And he that has returned to God, in the way of his appointment, may justly conclude that he has been led by the Spirit: for Christ expressly declared, that no one can come to him, except the Father who sent Him draw him. But if the Spirit has led the soul to Christ, he will also cause him to run in the way of God's commandments. He that sincerely depends on Christ's obedience unto death, as the ground of his justification, will also regard his obedience as the pattern of his sanctification. “He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” These are not conces. sions we make to stop the mouths of our adversaries, but important truths which we earnestly inculcate on all our hearers. My dear departed friends were used to insist upon them continually; and God is witness that we do the same. The Reviewer says, “ man cannot distinguish between that love of God, of virtue, and of man, which proceeds from human principle and motive, and that which flows from the influence of the divine Spirit,” p. 27. Will the Reviewer abide by his implied concession, that there is such a thing as the latter? Surely then it must be distinguishable by the immediate subject of it; and may become so, in a greater or less degree, by the judicious spectator. If a man loves God supremely, under a scriptural view of his moral character; as displaying all those excellencies which can excite veneration, esteem, delight, and gratitude; if he is charmed especially with the brightest manifestation of his perfections, in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; if the love of the Saviour constrains him to depart from all iniquity, and to live not to himself, but to him who died and rose again; if the love of virtue or true holiness be sincere, universal and intense, such as never can be satisfied till the soul is perfectly freed from sin, and conformed entirely to the divine image; if the love of man be disinterested, universal, and having respect principally to their eternal welfare, while we shew its sincerity, by alleviating their temporal wants and distresses, according to the ability God has granted us; then we are not afraid nor ashamed to ascribe it to the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Reviewer says, p. 51, “Let our aspirations be intense, provided they are not esteemed supernatural in their sources, or made unpractical in their offects.” Against the latter we should contend as earnestly as ever he could do; but God forbid we should refuse to give the whole praise of whatever is spiritually good, to him who worketh in us, both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. If ever we performed any good works, we will confess that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” We pretend not to search the heart, and expect to find ourselves sometimes mistaken, as to those whom in the judgment of charity, we supposed to be renewed in the spirit of their minds. But, while we admit, that God alone infallibly knows them that are his, yet we feel ourselves bound to treat those as real Christians, who appear to bear the fruits of the Spirit. As to such men as Newton and Scott, with whom I was intimately acquainted for so many years, I can no more doubt of their eminent and prac
tical piety, than of my own existence. This Reviewer seems indeed to think, that the loss of all relish for the ball-room and the theatre, indicates as morbid a state of feeling, as the seclusion of the cloister, or the pains of the scourge: (p. 51.) As to myself I never felt any inclination for either; but I trust we may be fitted to glorify God upon earth, and to enjoy him in a better world, without trying any preparatives of this kind. I verily fear the Reviewer only turned over the memoirs of these blessed men, to seek some ground for cavil; and must consider him as criminal in no small degree, in thus labouring to conceal from his readers, the continual attention they both paid to holy practice. This is peculiarly prominent in the Memoirs of Mr. Scott. The Reviewer seems to agree with us, in his statement of the ertraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit, p. 27; but in p. 29, when he refers to Mr. Scott's little daughter, he uses that term in a very different sense; as if there could be nothing special, and remarkably worthy of notice, in what we call the ordinary influences of the Spirit; so as to prove, by their effects, that they were the real cause of true conversion, and of all that is spiritually good in the human mind. The great question is, do not the Scriptures in general, and especially the writers of the New Testament, lead us to this conclusion, that God can, and often does, effectually influence the mind of a sinner, so as to turn him from the love of sin, to the love of holiness; and from confidence in self, to faith in Christ? What else is the meaning of circumcising the heart to love the Lord; of creating a clean heart, and renewing a right spirit: of taking away the heart of stone, and giving a heart of flesh; putting his fear in the heart, and writing his law upon it? What meaneth the Spirit's convincing of sin, of righteousness and judgment; taking of the things of Christ and shewing them to the soul: opening the heart, to attend to the things spoken by his ministers; turning men from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God; commanding light to shine out of darkness, and shining into the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; rescuing from the power of darkness and translating into the kingdom of God's dear Son; and quickening those who were dead in trespasses and sins 3 Is not Christ exalted, as a prince and a Saviour, to give repentance as well as remission of sins? Is it not affimed, “By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God?” Did not the Saviour say, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit 1” Are not real Christians repeatedly described, as walking not after the flesh, but af. ter the Spirit? Does not the apostle say, “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any one have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Is it possible to explain these expressions, as referring only to some occult change produced by infant Baptism; which does not discover itself by its fruits in one instance out of a thousand, nor previous to the abundant display of human depravity, in one in a million ? If a man can be found, who evidently lives a life of faith on the Son of God, who endures as seeing him that is invisible; who crucifies the flesh with its affections and lusts; who habitually lays himself out for the divine glory, and labours to pro
mote the eternal welfare of his fellow-men; is this man to be censured because he humbly ascribes the happy change he has experienced, to the special influences of the Holy Spirit? If he who had been like Newton, a hardened profligate, or like Scott, a self-righteous, proud Socinian, is enabled to the end of his days, to walk in newness of life, as a humble, zealous Christian, continually opposing sin, and endeavouring to turn sinners from the error of their way, and to build up professed believers in their most holy faith; are such men to be despised as enthusiasts, for giving God the whole glory of the good wrought in them, and done by them? I remember Mr. Newton told me, many years ago, that when Mr. Wesley first read his narrative, he said, “He did not wonder that he should become a Calvinist.” But this Reviewer instead of allowing him gratefully to exclaim, What hath God wrought? Would have had him ascribe it all to the early instructions of his mother, though these are sagaciously and candidly suspected, of “fostering in him an indolent dreary imagination, little suited to the real duties of life.” Yet to them, or to the remaining “elements of his own moral being,” p. 38, must the great happy and permanent change be ascribed, rather than to sovereign distinguishing grace I What then are we to make of the apostle's declaration, that “ as many as have received Christ,” and who are therefore authorized to consider themselves as the “ sons of God, were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God?” Had this writer impartially examined Mr. Scott's Memoirs, or his other writings, he must have been convinced, that no English Divine was ever more careful to enforce practical religion, or to guard against
real enthusiasm and self-deception Like Edwards, in his treatise on religious affections, he strenuously maintains, that gracious and holy affections have their exercise and fruit in holy practice. See the twelfth sign of gracious affections, p. 279–356. The same writer shews, in p. 95, &c. that there are no signs of grace which can suffice to enable those to descern their own good estate, who are very low in grace, or have departed much from God, and sunk into a carnal unchristian frame, nor is it agreeable to God's design, that such should know their good estate, nor desirable that they should, but every way best they should not ; and we have reason to bless God, that he has made no provision that such should certainly know the state that they are in, any other way than by first coming out of this evil frame, and returning to God. It would be easy to refer to numberless passages, in Mr. Scott's exposition especially, which would prove the extreme injustice of the representation this Reviewer endeavours to give of his religion. The volume of his letters, and the extracts from an unpublished work also, which his son has printed, since the Memoir of his Father's life, would surely make him ashamed of his treatment of this excellent man, if his prejudices against evangelical religion are not such, as to divest him of all candour and impartiality. 2 o' Bristol, February 21, 1825.
who a sew years ago, resigned that earthly dwelling, for “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” The beau
tiful vale of T- was to the south,
with hanging-woods skirting along the side of the river, and rocky cliffs projecting from the summit of the hills. I soon attained the point where my late friend's house is situated. A small runnet of water, and a narrow road, are on one side; and a garden of herbs, and rows of gooseberry trees, are seen in front. An old wooden gate admits you on the east, by a clean, paved path, to the threshold of the cottage. With what pleasure have I often traced this path, and how many a happy hour have I spent! But its inhabitant is changed, its surniture removed. There is no longer to be seen that ancient and curiously carved desk which contained his books; nor that old oaken chair, in which he so often held converse with eternal things; nor that family clock, which had so long measured his hours. All is changed within the dwelling; and I am glad to turn from it to meditate on— The excellent character of its late tenant. 1. He was remarkable for early piety. Many good people lament the ungodliness and immorality of their children: let such parents enquire whether they have not been negligent in giving them religious instruction, in restraining them from vicious examples, or in evidencing to them by a good example, the influence and power of the gospel. The father of the person I am describing, was a man of primitive integrity, fond of retirement, and deeply attached to the religion of Jesus Christ. His views of divine truth were much like those professed by the United Brethren; but distance, and the solitude of his residence, prevented him from enjoying much intercourse with Christian friends. He did not fail, however, to bring up his children “ in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The deceased, with an elder brother, who was destined for extensive usefulness, received their first religious impressions under their father's roof. There is, on the opposite side of the valley, a neat dwelling, at the foot of a lofty peak: this house, with the small estate attached to it, was the property of the parent of my friend. One can scarcely conceive any place more adapted for retirement and devotion; nature has sheltered it on every side from winds and tempests, an extensive common lies to the south, and its appearance might justify one in calling it a garden in a wilderness. Here D–– was taught to seek and love the Saviour—here, like Isaac, he walked out in the fields to meditate; and I have now before me some of his papers, which contain pleasing evidences of his early devotedness to God. In one of these papers, after expressing his sense of his own depravity, he concludes a short piece, written in verse, with the following lines:— “Exert thine arm, O God of love; Send down thy Spirit from above: Inflame my heart with love divine; With love to thee, and all that's thine.” He studiously refrained from evil company, and was singularly harmless and upright in his conduct. The word of God was his study from a child, and his parents were rewarded for their anxious attention to his eternal interests, by the dutifulness of his conduct and by the satisfaction of seeing him an useful, pious, and happy youth. 2. An eager desire for knowledge, and diligence in seeking it were striking traits in his character. Though, while his father lived, he assisted in managing the farm, and
was accustomed to weave for his maintenance, till laid aside by sickness; he so husbanded his time and opportunities, that he obtained considerable knowledge of the Latin language, and was also able to read the Greek Testament. I have been surprised with his readiness in recollecting the words of the original text, when conversing on various passages of the word of God. The Scriptures, especially of the New Testament, were his constant delight. He gladly availed himself of opportunities of consulting commentaries and other books illustrative of them. He tried the spirits; whether they were of God; his religious principles were well digested. After proving all things, he held fast that which was good. He was able to give a reason of the hope that was in him, and was painfully sensible of the injurious influence of distorted views of divine truth. He ever strove to receive the Gospel in its own spirit, and for its proper ends. While he was far from indulging a sectarian spirit, he generally read but few authors. He was much attached to the writings of the excellent Jonathan Edwards, and would often recommend them to his young friends. The works of Dr. Owen, Dr. Watts, and Mr. Flavel, were often in his hands. He greatly esteemed the devotional writings of the late Mr. Meikle; and a short time before his death, was often reading Dr. Dwight's System of Theology. He was accustomed to make extracts from authors in the course of his reading, and many interesting volumes of this description, were directed by him, to be appropriated, after his decease, to the use of young ministers. He was fond of poetry, especially when employed for religious purposes; and I well recollect the pleasure with which he spoke of a visit to the neighbourhood, where