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in regard to every blessing of salvation, does not make the gracious will of God precede the will of man, is not saving doctrine; “ For by grace are ye saved." It may be the doctrine of sincere and earnest men, it may produce excitement, but this excitement is nothing else than the galvanizing of the creature, that by his striving and struggling he may imitate the work of the Creator, and which in due time will subside into torpor, and apathy, and death.
Let it not be said that to ascribe all to grace is a doctrine of self-annihilation, a doctrine that reduces man to nothing. It is the very opposite. Such dependence upon a creature would be the ruin of independence, it would be self-annihilation. But dependence on God is man's independence; subjection to God is man's liberty ; to be filled with the fulness of God is man's sufficiency. By the grace of God I am what I am.” “ I can do all things through Christ, that strengtheneth me." - When I am weak then am I strong.'
Nor let it be said that the action of divine grace takes away, or in the least infringes man's true liberty as a rational and responsible creature. The freedom of Lazarus, whether in mind or in body, was not diminished because he was raised from the dead by the power of the Saviour; the free agency of Adam was not the less because he had no hand in his own creation; the liberty of no man is impaired by the fact that he owes his existence to a cause extrinsic to himself. And though God, in regeneration, were literally raising the soul from a natural as well as a spiritual death, though he were literally making men anew, there would be in this nothing inconsistent with the liberty and moral responsibility of the soul. Much less, therefore, is this the case when the death from which they are delivered is a death in sin, when the life to which they are restored is spiritual life, a life which is produced by the Spirit of God acting on the spirit of man, for the purpose of producing spiritual results. The action, of spirit upon spirit, for the production of spiritual results, must of necessity be spiritual, cannot possibly be otherwise than spiritual ; and, therefore, the charge brought against this doctrine of converting man into a machine, is a narrow, superficial, material view of the subject, which a little consideration might correct in any mind capable of reflection. And in so far as the liberty of man is concerned, the agency of the Spirit is not of a privative, restraining nature, it does not take away from man any perfection that he possesses, or in the least prevent him from its exercise. So far from this being the case, the agency of the Spirit is perfective in its nature, it gives to man good which he had not, it restores what sin had taken away, it frees from the dominion which sin and Satan had usurped, and to charge an agency so merciful and benignant, so adapted to the soul's nature, and so calculated to promote its advancement, with abridging the liberty of the soul, is just as if one should be charged with abridging the liberty of slaves because he procured their emancipation, or of prisoners because he opened the doors of the dungeon in wbich they had been long immured, and knocked off the fetters with which they had long been bound. God draws “ with the cords of love, and with the bands of a man,”_with “ the cords of love," to show that it is a sweet and pleasant action, which man follows voluntarily,-with "the
bands of a man," to show its accordance with our rational and responsible nature.
And, while the application of redemption is of grace, this in no degree excuses man, for man's inability is not only sinful, his inability is SIN ITSELF. He cannot come because he will not come; he will not come because he loves sin more than deliverance from sin, and he loves sin more than boliness, because his nature is depraved by sin. Unbelief is the concentrated expression of man's depraved and rebellious nature. There is not an element of evil in the soul, body, or spirit of man, which does not yield its contribution to the formation of unbelief. It is generated, nourished, strengthened, and partakes of the nature of all “ the lusts of the flesh and of the mind." There is not a carnal, a covetous, a sordid, a selfish, a sensual, an un. worthy, a base, a criminal feeling, that does not lend its influence to begin, to continue, or to increase unbelief. It is, therefore, the sum of all evils, that state of the mind in which man is likest Satan, the father of lies, in which he is at the farthest remove from the nature of Jehovah, God of truth, and a state of soul which is opposed to all his holy commandments. “Without faith it is impossible to please God," but, from its composition, while he remains God, it is impossible for bim not to be displeased with unbelief. The unbeliever, even apart from his actions, is condemned already, because his whole nature is in a state of alienation, rebellion, and hostility against God, and proven to be so by bis refusing to submit to the God of holiness and mercy as revealed to him in Christ Jesus, and by persisting in his opposition in spite of all the anthority of God addressing him in the law, and all the tenderness of God entreating him in the gospel.
This doctrine viewed in its scriptural relations, ought not to be con. sidered as any bindrance to activity and diligence, but as being, on the contrary, the greatest encouragement to personal exertion. The doctrine of scripture on this subject is not a mere barren negation; it contains a positive element of life and energy; it points to a source of energy sufficient, in itself, for the renovation of our whole race. The scripture not only says man cannot, it also says God can. It discovers human weak. ness, in order to lead the soul to trust in the almighty and “everlasting strength of the Lord Jehovah.” “ With man, indeed, it is impossible,” that brings down pride and self-sufficiency, and lays them low for ever in the dust. “But with God all things are possible :” this may awaken hope from her slumbers, and cause her to spread ber drooping wings and look upward; for here is a power that can enable the soul to "mount up on wings as the eagle.” However low, O sinner! you may have fallen into the pit, however deep you may have sunk into the mire of depravity, God is able with “the cords of love and the bands of a man" "to take you from this fearful pit and from this miry clay, and to set your feet on a rock, and establish your goings.” No man can come unless God draw him, but there is no man whom God cannot draw. God is willing to give to every sinner who asks him a new heart and a right spirit, and ought not all to take him at his word, and say, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew within me a right spirit ?" If we had to depend on ourselves, if we had no hope but in our own ability, we might sit down in despair; for we would be as unable to ascend in spirit to the heaven of heavens, as
we are by all our contrivances to rise above the attraction of our globe, and wing our way to another planet. But the promise of divine assistance, the promise that God will “help us, and that right early," in all our endeavours, this should rouse, and excite, and animate us to the greatest diligence, and constancy, and earnestness in working out our own salvation. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do.”
Salvation being of grace, the most rebellious have access to the Father on the mercy-seat ; the guiltiest have access to the merits of the Redeemer; for the most abandoned, and depraved, and hardened, there is access to “ the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Every sinner has access to the grace of a three-one God, and in the way of using all God's appointed means, as means of grace, as means of coming to Christ, and to God in Christ, in aiming to cast himself on the merits of Christ for pardon, on the fulness of Christ for sanctification, on the grace of the Godhead as revealed in Christ for a whole salvation,-every sinner in the way of doing this with diligence, and earnestness, and prayer, may be sure of a gracious reception. “While yet a great way off,” God will come out and meet you, he will admit you into his favour, and adopt you into his family, and treat you as his beloved son, and there shall be "joy in heaven before the angels,” because another soul has been born for glory, and that joy shall ascend above the loftiest of the angelic ranks, it shall sparkle in the throne of the Godhead, it shall delight the heart of our glorified Redeemer who “shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.”
CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE AND RESOLUTIONS
OF WILLIAM MITCHELL, 1742. Although there is nothing very remarkable or original in the following paper, yet, perhaps, it may not be uninteresting to the readers of the Original Seccssion Magazine. It is expressive of real religion, as felt and manifested by a Christian a hundred years ago. And although the writer was not a Seceder, yet be seems to have been a genuine disciple of our common Lord; and at the present moment four or five of his descendents are ministers of the Gospel of Christ.
A RECORD OR MEMORIAL Of God's loving-kindness to WILLIAM MITCHELL, at Spittleton, in the
Parish of Ratho, about eight miles west from Edinburgh, upon the old road to Glasgow; and his RESOLUTIONS in every day life.
Easter Spittleton, the 2d of August 1742. I bave often thought, that one great cause, why God bides His face from His servants, and why He keeps them in doubts and fears all their life long; and makes them go mourning as it were to their graves—to be Unbelief-calling in question the faithfulness of God. This keeps them from imitating Jacob, who wrestled with God in prayer and prevailed.
Our Saviour assures us that “ the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence
and the violent take it by force.” Ifa man's affections are really raised above this earth, and placed in heaven where his treasure is, he cannot in my opinion satisfy himself as to his state better than by continued importunity in prayer, to the God of all grace, (whose secrets are with them that fear Him,) for evidences of His love in Christ Jesus. What greater evidence of His love can we desire or expect, than to have the truth of His own precious word confirmed in our souls ? How can we enjoy peace till we believe the Scriptures ?—not only by assenting to their truth as Devils do—or as the worst of men do, by the powerful persuasions of natural conscience. Who cannot see the reasonableness of the commands and threatenings of God's Law? We must not satisfy ourselves with merely assenting to the truth of God's word—we must give our heart's consent to it, and with our whole soul say that the commandment is holy, just, and good. We must not be bearers of the word only, but we must be doers of it. We must receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practise it in our lives. Until we can say, from a sense of God's love to us, “ O the height and the deptb, the length and the breadth of the love of God, who spared not His own beloved Son, but gave Him up to the death for us ; and gives Him to us, shall he not give us also sensible evidences of His love to us in particular? That bence. forth we may go on in our Christian journey rejoicing in the Captain of our Salvation."
With regard to my own experience, I record it for the glory of God. I prayed frequently ; but, alas! as frequently arose from prayer, without knowing whether or not I was accepted in the Beloved—ill the 17th of June, in the year 1742,—when God, I am sure, put it into my heart to petition Him in the manner above spoken of. In this exercise I was enlarged above the power of nature, assisted by the mighty power of God. It pleased God to bless that part of our Saviour's prayer, to my comfort and confirmation, in John's Gospel, 17th chap. 17th verse,“ Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” But, especially, the last clause of the verse came home with such power upon my mind, that I can no more doubt of the love of God, than I would have done, if He had sent an angel to tell me His word was truth. And we are told, if we believe not the scriptures of truth, neither will we be persuaded though one rose from the dead.
About this time, I had such manifestations of His love, as have kept me ever since from questioning His love to me. On Sabbath immediately after this, which was the 20th of June, I had an opportunity put to my hand of commemorating the dying love of my now exalted Redeemer in the West Kirk of Edinburgh. In the strength of God I have gone on from strength to strength ever since. Although I have been aseailed with the temptations of Satan, yet I am sure the grace of God is sufficient for me. We must quit ourselves like men and be strong. Being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, we must go on conquering and strive ing to conquer all our lusts, until we are made more than conquerors through him who loved us, and who bath washed us from our sins in bis own blood.
I went yesterday (Sabbath) to the West Kirk again, and there renewed my former engagements—to be the Lord's, by a solemn taking the
Almighty God—all the holy angels-and all the people there present—as witnesses of the resolutions I then had, and still have, of being for the Lord and not for another—to be his wholly, only and for ever; being assured that He is faithful who haib promised to keep me by his mighty power through faith unto salvation.
Because I cannot go there this day to return my tribute of praise and thankfulness, I have set it apart as a day wherein I am to contemplate the goodness, condescension, and love of my glorious Redeemer, in whom all the seed of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.
O my soul bless God the Lord, and not be forgetful of all his gracious benefits.
Seeing my Maker bath condescended to be my Husband, and hath taken me to be his Spouse, I am resolved, by the assistance of his grace,
I. To part with all other lords which have had dorninion over me, and to be for the Lord, and not for another. For it were the worst kind of adultery, after I have tasted of the heavenly gifts and been made rtaker of the Holy Ghost_bave tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the world to come—for me to depart from my Husband. He who is the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.
II. I am resolved, by the grace of God assisting me, to be humble under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt me in due time. For pride is one of the chief works of the devil wherever it appears. Our blessed Redeemer showed the most perfect pattern of humility, and he that would be bis disciple must walk even as he walked.
III. I am resolved, grace assisting me, to be patient under affliction. Knowing I shall not be afflicted above what I shall be enabled to bear, and also that the light afflictions which are but for a moment will work for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. If we do well and Buffer for it; we take it patiently—this is acceptable in the sigbit of God. For even hereunto were we called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps.
IV. I am resolved, by grace assisting me, to be content with my condition in life, knowing that to grudge at the providence of God is a heinous sin, and would be an evidence that I did not believe that promise of my Saviour, all things work together for good to them who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
V. I am resolved, by the grace of God, to have universal charity, without which I would be as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. I will extend it not only to those who are of the same party with myself, and to those whose judgments in most things run parallel with mine own, but will also cherish benevolence towards those who are really mine enemies.
I am resolved to love my neighbours as myself. I wish them the same degree of happiness with myself, and am enabled to pray, " Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Knowing the Spirit of God saith, that though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and my body to be burned, if I want charity it availeth me nothing. If any man say that he loveth God, yet bateth his brother, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
VI. I am resolved, by the grace of God, to pay a universal obedience to all His commandinents without exception. Believing that to be the best