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Spirit; but who, when interrogated with respect to his own personal hope, hesitates not to say that he trusts in God, and expects eventually to be saved. The sins of the heart are not sacrificed. The distinctive duties of religion are not discharged. The man is like the world, drowned in its lusts and cares. Not a word escapes from him in commendation of the Saviour. Not a warning is given by him, to his impenitent and ungodly associates. He must not be pressed as to his own personal experience in religion, ! for it is the prerogative of God, he says, to search the heart. His family perceive no other indications of religion about him, than that he goes to church, and "takes the sacrament. No altar is raised near the domestic ! hearth, on which ascends the morning and the evening sacrifice. He is more frequently to be seen in the tavern, than at a prayer-meeting. His voice may be heard in political clubs, but never in a religious conference. He knows from experience, what it is to be filled with wine wherein is excess." He can counsel his friends and neighbors, about their worldly concerns, or declaim against revivals of religion, and "revival ministers,” but knows not how, nor undertakes, to confer with an anxious sinner about the concerns of his soul. And yet he accounts himself a christian! He is trusting in Christ eventually to be saved, but is not willing to be saved just now, and part with all his sins and begin to practice every duty. Nor can he endure that preaching, or that man, which makes him doubt his safety, while he can give no evidence whatever, that his fuith, or what he calls his "faith, purifies his heart,” “works by love," and "overcomes the world” in himself. Miserable delusion! He is floating, on what he calls the means of grace, most quietly down to hell! And that preaching, and those ministers, whose exhibition of doctrinal truth, tends to induce and confirm this soul-destroying delusion, will be found among the guilly causes of his damnation.
Not much less deluding are the system and tactics of those, who, fearing to invade the province of the Spirit, are careful to remind the sinner, at every turn, that he is utterly unable by his own unassisted powers, either to believe, or to repent to the saving of his soul. It might as truly be said, that he cannot rise and walk, by his own unassisted powers, and it would be, by no means, a difficult thing, for one, not hypocondriacally predisposed—whe 'would allow himself to doubt, whether God would assist bim, and perplex his mind about divine agency and human dependence,--to persuade himself to sit still, believing that he had lost the use of his limbs. More ridiculous hallucina tions have actually taken place. The sinner, that truly repents, will learn, more effectually from his own EXPERIENCE, than from all human teaching, to whom the efficacious grace, which made him willing to turn to God, is te be ascribed. To brandish in his face, at every moment, the solemn charge that he CANNOT, as though by some physical necessity of "SINFUL NATURE," it was impossible for him to repent, is, according to the very constitution of the human mind, and to the laws which regulate human thought and action, to take the most effectual method to prevent him from ever doing so.
For it is a wise and benerolent provision of the great Creator, that we never think of attempting to do, what we know is impossible. Every man feels that he will be acting, as absurdly, as fruitlessly, in trying to do, what he knows he CANNOT, and therefore, instinctively refuses thus to mispend his time and strength. Let the rational man, therefore, be addressed by one in whom he has confidence, and the truths and facts of religion, be exhibited to his mind, so as to make the impression, and lead to the conelasion, that he cannot succeed if he tries; yea, dare not attempt in the strength he has,-the only strength of which he is conscious,-to repent and turn to God, and the
inevitable result will be, to lie down and wait for some more convenient season, than the present. Such is actually the result, in many instances, as the protracted impenitence, and deep dainnation of delaying sinners-fully prove. And such are the excuses too, which are drawn from the very mouths of the ambassadors of Christ sent forth to beseech rebels to be rsconciled to God,.--excuses which they are ever prompt, and delighted to render, and oftimes actually do, to the shanie and confusion of the legate of the skies! Look to the barren ministrations of those whose style of preaching, is unvaryingly of the character referred to. Decent outward attendance upon the rites and crdinances of religion, may be secured; but while men may become reputable eitizens, discreet in their behaviour, studious of the doetrines of christianity, and be accounted in the main religious, few, if any, marked and decided cases of conversion, take place, and still more rare, are, that spiritual intercourse, that active and untiring zeal for God, and that anxiety for souls which are indispensible evidences of true piety.
We do not mean, unnecessarily to censure. Nor are we supposing cases, to support our theory. At the moment we pen these lines, our thoughts revert with painful emotions, to a venerable father, who lifts, in the councils of the church, his solemn and thrilling voice of alarm, and denunciation against heresies, errors, new measures, &c., and, who prophesies of the blighting influence of his brethren, that differ from him in their opinions, but under other circumstances deplores that, although he has for near hall a century, been preaching the gospel, he does not know onc instance, in which he has been instrumental in the conversion of a sinner. “By their fruits ye shall know them," says the blessed Redeemer, and if such be the rule of judga ment in this case, would it not be well to suspect, that the error may be nearer home? Surely such exhortations as the following, cannot fail to have a most dclctcrious influencea
"Now my dear young friends, here is your duty; you are called to believe in Christ, and to exercise repentance unto life. But you are not called, but forbidden to attempt this duty in your own strength." It is well, that the feelings of many counteract the influence of their theory, and that the exhortations, suggested alike by the sacred scriptures, and by common sense, notwithstanding a mystie theology, are addressed to the consciences of sinners, to urge them to instant repentance. The exhortations to seek,” and “pray," and "strive,” and “use the means," which are sometimes substituted for those, which it is explicitly given in charge to the minister of Christ, to urge, cannot fail to perplex, bewildcr, distract.
Take the confession of a young man, which has been recently spread before the churches, and whose clear discriminating mind required better counsellors, than it seems to have been his lot to meet: "I was almost ready to despair; but I remembered, that "God's arm was not shortened, that it could not save,' and I determined never to cease from striving: but even this, I knew was what I would not be able to do of myself. This continued to be my state, with little variation, for more than a week." After listening, with great interest, to preaching, and talking with christians, he adds, “nothing they said, however, gave me much encouragement. It was only 'strive,' 'seek,' 'ask,' “knock.' That I was ready to do; and for the few days past, this darkness has been breaking away, and in its place a calm assurance has been succeeding.' The character of that assurance is not described, nor any thing said, as to what it relates, but the connection would seem to intimate, that it refers to the conclusion, drawn in his own mind, that he had become a christian. The writer of these confessions, may have become such;
1 Christian Advocate, vol. ix. p. 516. 2 Missionary Reporter, for Oct. 1831.
but other evidence of the fact, than what he intimates, inMuenced his julgnent in the case, is indispensibly neces sary. The calın assurance of which he speaks, was naturally to have breu expected froin such counsels, and such efforis, ani sunt exriterpent. And the conclusion-as we fear it is to; fide, where such preaching and man. 2.It of ?!?!?!s souls obtain may have been drawn, that the mysti: chr gehad been experienced, the heart had been saretly renered, thongh there had been no distinct consciousness of the voluntary and hearty renuncia. tion of all sin, and confiling in the blessed Redeemer, as an all suficient Saviour, accompanied with a loving and resolut?, ?n: delighted consecration of himself and all, to His service. The above is mcrcly selected as a specimen of the practical bearing of the counsels given by those, who,
instead of directingato.me to the Saviour, and spreading the cruth which is to be bolovel, before the mind, and exposing the filt21 412.1er of every moment's delay to repent, and requiring it, as by the airthority of God, to be instartiycion.--exhort to pray, and read the bible, and usa the means of gracs--secking, knocking, striving after faith and repentance, and what not.
Now; against all such theory and practice, we enter our solemn protest. It is contrary 10 the principles of com.
That teaches us to direct the attention specifically and directly, towards the result to he secured. The means, or process, by which that result is to be obtoined, are, in many cases, instinctively discovered, and while requiring, and urging the final issue, every one feels, that the preliminery processes, which, in the nature of things are necessary to secure it, are also required. But to direct the attention first io these, is, in fact, to cause the mind virtually to lose sight of the great end to be secured. For ex
For example, we are required to believe. Vow every man of common sense knows, that before there can