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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 them. 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
of 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.
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 apprehension 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
to the immediate special agency of the Spirit, and which, every reader, at first signi, will per vive, are to be classed amour voluit)! Xar.sns. **?':: fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, pece,!1suring tleness, goodness, faith, meulness, tenperance: against such there is no law.
In the existence and play of these, and their kindred voluntary exercis's, by which the soul turps away from earth and sin to God and holiness, consists the very essence of spiritual life, and accordingly, the Apostle has noticed this circumstance in immediate connection with his enumeration of the fruits of the Spirit. “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit, not being desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” With the exact method by which the Holy Spirit, awakens and elicits those affections or dispositions which influence and determine our choice and actions, we are unacquainted. We know not how one spirit acts upon another, yet do we every day attempt to affect the hearts of those with whom we have much intercourse. And no one thinks it to be altogether a vain attempt. It is by mind and spirit acting on mind and spirit, that all the mighty movements among mankind are effected. Appropriate instrumentalities however, are employed. It is by the feeling uttering of our own thoughts, or the manifestation of emotions, which agitate our own soul, that we affect others. This is all we know in the matter, And the utmost that we know of the Spirit's influence on our hearts, is that it is “ by the word” – “through the truth.” But if through consciousness we can discover in ourselves the various voluntary exercises of faith, love, repentance, hope, fear, and the like, which are
1. Gal.v. 22-23.
2. Gal. v. 24, 25, 26.
described in the sacred Scriptures, as the fruits of the Spirit, we have evidence full and satisfactory of the reality of that special agency by which the sinner is first translated from darkness into light, and being prepared for glory. We have the witness of the Spirit with our spirits, that we are the children of God. Neither sophistry nor ridicule can destroy the evidence of the fact, while such exercises continue. And hence it is, that the simple honest-hearted christian, who has had a vivid experience, whose affections have been excited, and, through the various channels in which they flow, been directed to God
Christ, as His Father and Redeemer,-possesses in himself the witness, which is of more value and efficiency, than all the arguments and philosophy of the wise and learned. “ He that believeth, hath the witness in him, self.” His experience corresponding with the delineation of gracious principles and affections given in the sacred Scriptures, the result of the Spirit's special agency, furnishes him invincible proof of its reality in his own
Human consciousness, and the unerring testimony of the Spirit, unite to prove “hiş calling and clection sure,.".
THE METAPHYSICAL NATURE OF
Ta impossibility of speaking long on such a subject, without indicating
our peculiar philosophical views, as to the operations of the human mindNecessity, therefore, of dispassionate inquiry—The philosophy of divines of former centuries—The Shorter Catechism's metaphysical description of Regeneration—Its philosophy not binding on the conscience of any one, who adopts it as a confession of faith— Votice of different philosophical systems, and their influence on the current phraseology of their votariesA brief view of our constitutional susceptibilities and capacitiesObrious results from it-The laws which regulate the exercise of our constitutional capacities Analogical illustration-Spiritual objects not cognoscible by our senses--- The Bible disclosing spiritual objects to our view, and faith the medium of our knowledge of them—The different effects produced by these objects—Their saving and salutary impressions, referrible to the influence of the Holy Spirit -The christian's evidence of the Spirit's influence on him, not delusive.
It is impossible to speak on the subject of the metaphysical nature of Regeneration, without betraying the peculiar philosophical views, which are taken of the operations of the human mind. How important, therefore, is it, that mutual forbearance, calm and dispassionate inquiry, and brotherly love should prevail, in order to the clear and accurate apprehension of each other's views, as to matters of fact, instead of zealous and animated contention, about points in philosophy, where, perchance, both may be equally far from the truth.
It is easy to perceive, that while the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and the Shorter Catechisms of the Presbyterian Church, have not defined Regeneration, or spoken explicitly on the subject, its metaphysical nature is described, in the account which is given of “EFFECTUAL CALLING.' This description was evidently influenced by the particular views, in mental science, entertained by the framers of that "form of sound words." The moral being, or rather the rational soul of man, is contemplated, as being endowed with various facullies or powers,
which are, at least, virtually considered as distinct from the mind itself. The general classification of these powers, was into Understanding, Will, Affections, Memory and Conscience, and in some treatises on Regeneration, composed by Theologiaus of former centuries, we may trace the influence which their philosophy had, upon their Theological views of this subject. The “Understanding” being accounted the supreme und gererning faculty, men’s aberrations from rectitude, and their disrelish of a life of holiness, were mainly referred to some obliquity in it, or to some injury it had sustained by the fall, which actually incapacitated it for clear and correct apprehensions of the truth. And, in support of this view, it was common to adduce those passages of the word of God, which intimate a darkness and blindness of the understanding.
The above distribution of the faculties of the mind, being assumed as correct, and the understanding being consislered as supreme,--as invested with authority, by the great Creator, to control the passions, and determine the vulitions, according to its peculiar views of truth or excellence,-it was concluded, that what was chiefly wanting towards the conversion of the sinner, was, to introduce into his understanding, correet views of divine truth. Hence, the chief attention was paid by ministers and parents, to the doctrinal instruction of their hearers and children. An unduc importance was attached to the illumination of the mind, because it was thought, that, by means of enlightening the understanding, the Spirit renewed the heart.