« AnteriorContinuar »
ly supply 'them with abundant come to make such powerful means of satisfying themselves. resolutions, or to have liis will
“ I. The first reflection which so disposed. To say that he naturally occurs here then, is, does it by his will or resolution, what sort of doctrine, or what no more accounts for the change, method, was made use of in the than to say, that it will account production of so admirable a for a man's taking a journey to change? because on all hands it such a place, that he walked will be allowed, that many are in with his feet thither. the same dreadful circum- “ The doctrines which Mr. stances, in point of morality, and Howard espoused, and to the force it would be very much worth of which alone upon his heart while to try the same medicines he was ever ready to ascribe the upon them.
.change which took place in his " It would be a very absurd and whole man, were JUSTIFICAunreasonable method of eluding TION and RegENERATION. I the force of this whole business use these two terms for the sake to say, " there seems nothing so of conciseness, as I see no rea. very strange or extraordinary in son why Christian divinity, low, it. The man took a sudden and very low indeed, and perfectly strong resolution to alter his contemptible as it appears in the life ; and it was a very happy eyes of polite and fashionable circumstance that he stuck to people at this day, should not the resolution ; and this is the be allowed the use of comprewhole mystery of the matter.” hensive and convenient expres. Such careless thoughts are ex- sions, as well as other sciences. tremely suitable to the sceptical By the doctrine of Justification and superficial taste of the day. is meant, the particular method Such an answer I remember * , laid down in the Scripture of was made to a person, whose honourably acquitting sinful moral change was no less extra- men before their God, through ordinary than that of Mr. How- the atonement or righteousness ard, when he had told his story of Jesus Christ, without the to a person of some eminence in least regard had to their works this kingdom. But surely such or deservings, Rom. iii. 22—27. random observations prove noth- On the contrary it is supposed, ing but the supine indifference that the man who is to be the of those who make them. No subject of Christian justification, doubt all moral changes must is a condemned sinner in himbe attended with some resolu: self, deserving only the wrath of
, tions of the person concerned, God, and too deeply involved in because the will of man must guilt to be ever extricated by pecessarily be interested in any merit of his own. This docthem. But the difficulty is, how trine implies the character of to account for it, that a person the Supreme Being to be inflexso circumstanced should ever ibly holy and just, and m'
room for the surprising di • This fact I had from the person of his infinite mercy by th himself, who is now living, and is a very respectable clergymen in the
stitution of his only b metropolis.
Son, at once to satisf
Justice, to condemn sin, and to state of extreme depravation, exhibit the purest discoveries of needing an entire renovation ia the most unbounded goodness. all their affections and faculties, The reader has seen the influ- which change is called by Christ ence of all this on Mr. Howard's himself by the name of being mind. His distress of soul be- born again, a change effected gan with these very ideas of the solely by the Spirit of God; divine purity and justice, as sig- and therefore those who are nally to be displayed on the last possessed of it are said to be judgment-day, and his peace and born of the Spirit. All then who comfort were at length as sud- boast of man's natural love of denly effected, by the discovery goodness and virtue, and cherish of the doctrine of Justification ideas of the strength of his by Jesus Christ merely through powers to save himself, militate faith, as above explained. Cere wholly against those doctrines tain it is, that the great outlines which he found so useful to his of his change depended on this soul. Indeed it so happens in doctrine, scripturally understood, experience, that the success of in connexion with its just de- such pretended reformers rependencies. It was no smooth sembles that of noisy empirics harangue on the moral fitness in physic; the true lovers and of things, or on the native beau- genuine practitioners of genuine ty of virtue, or on the dignity of virtue being found only among human nature, or on the arbitra- those, whose very dactrine lays ry mercy of God, to the exclu: a solid foundation for humbling sion of his justice and purity, man, and glorifying bis Maker. that had the least concern on his “ Thus far then the presumpmoral alteration. Such schemes tion lies in favour of these two and views may please the taste doctrines of Justification and of corrupt mankind, and many Regeneration, that a change so would think them far more like, confessedly great, or a conversion ly to have effected the change, so extraordinary (will the polite, than a doctrine so simple, and reader allow me the word ? I so contrary to men's natural no- really know no other so proper) tions. Dco alner visum. No such was effected, supported, and car-. happy effects have ever been the ried on entirely by the influence consequence of such lectures; of these doctrines. but the instances of solid benefit “We may now proceed a step derived from the Christian doc- farther, and observe that his trine of Justification are innu- change cannat possibly be acmerable.
counted for in any other way “ The other great Christian than by a divine influence. The doctrine, which he as sincerely doctrines which he espoused, embraced, and which he ever and by the power of which alone looked on as of vast influence in it was effected, are certainly of all his religious concerns, is Re- so peculiar a nature, as to evi.. generation. This doctrine im- dence their divine origin. That plies man, all men without ex- a sinner should be justified beeception, to be naturally in a fore his Maker, purely by the
merit of another, and in the er, will say that he learnt from way of believing only; that them to despise the doctrines of man, in order to become holy, justification and regeneration. and fit for the society of his “ Now a certain divine power is God, must be made a new crea- spoken of in the word, as conture, and be wrought upon by nected with the true preaching the Divine Spirit, not only with- of it. It is said to be “ quick out, but even against all his nat- and powerful, and sharper than ural propensities; and that the any two-edged sword,” Heb. ivi dispositions which constitute the 12. Mr. Howard found it so; character of an holy person, in the day of God's power, a sinshould be faith, hope, and love, gle text overcame his stubborn and these too not of human, but heart, and awed him into subof supernatural origin ; and that mission to the Most High. And the whole happiness of his life when the effect is observed all must be sustained by a mys- along to have been perfectly cor, terious union with an invisible respondent to the descriptions Mediator; these are certainly given in the Scriptures, and he such principles of religion as are became abidingly holy, com. perfectly unlike any thing that fortable, and heavenly minded, ever was invented by mere man. emancipated from the dominion And they are things which lie so of every sin, and truly and fertotally out of our reach, tend so vently filled with the love of purely to the honour of God, God, and of his neighbour, what and are so calculated to stain the shall we say? Have we not here pride of human merit and glory, a demonstration of the truth of that we may safely pronounce Scripture? Does not the coinci. them purely divine ;
dence of what is written, with ever would or could have invent- what is wrought, prove that both ed and propagated such ideas; are equally from God? It may and we all know, or may know, be said, “it seems far more that mankind are naturally too rational, that other kind of docmuch at enmity against them tripe should be preached to ever, of themselves, to receive men.” But if matter of fact them. Now these are the prin; shews indeed, that no other sort ciples of the New Testament, of doctrine does burst the bonds though it is very common for of sin, and make men truly holy, persons professing to believe the should we not say with St. Paul, New Testament to despise and “ The foolishness of God is abhor them. But surely they wiser than men, and the weakhave received their religious ness of God is stronger than principles from a source very men?” What you think imdifferent from the sacred oracles; probable, absurd, and foolish, is and all the use they make of the real wisdom of God; it is these is, by some subtle perver- your own taste that needs to be sion to adapt some few detached rectified, and you ought to think texts to support a preconceived more modestly of your own unsystem. No man, who ever derstanding. I see not how the studied the Scriptures them- conclusion can be avoided, that .selves with reverence and pray- the work of Mr. Howard's con,
version was from God, and that But still in all such cases the the scripture doctrines of regen- radical character remains the eration and justification are di- same. To gratify self, in some vine.
form or other, was the very hea“ And here one sees at first ven of Socrates, of Polemo, and sight, how easy it is to answer of Wharton. To humble themthe question, which with some selves before the Most High, to confidence has been asked, give glory to their Maker, to “Granting that men may be in- love him sincerely and supremefluenced by the Divine Spirit, ly, and to be renewed in the spir, how can men ever distinguish it of their minds, of this they his influences from the emotions knew nothing ; but this is the of their own minds?” Every in- change which my friend expestance of conversion sufficiently rienced. Self lost in him all its answers this question. The props and supports ; ' he was a subject of it knows experimen: 'new creature throughout; he tally, that such holy views and who had always lived for self, tempers could never be the pro- now lived for God. These men duct of his sinful nature ; and I have mentioned, and all who their own native power and glo- walked in their steps, whether ry shew they are from God. He Pagan, Philosopher, or Christian
who has once seen the sun in his by name, are essentially distinct ! majesty, needs no other argu- from this in their whole charac
ment to convince him, that it is ter. They may exchange one not a light of his creating. vice for another ; what they part
“ Till, then, some other ade- with in sensuality, is sure to be quate cause can be assigned for amply compensated in pride. these religious phænomena, of It belongs to God's revealed reli, which no age has ever been whole gion alone, and to the power by ly destitute, it is reasonable to which he applies it to the heart, 'conclude, that “the hand of the to destroy the dominion of vice Lord hath done this, and the universally, and to make a man Holy One of Israel hath created truly humble, wise, and happy. it.”
“ II. The truth of this real in“I
am aware, that a partial re- fluence of the Holy Spirit in formation of conduct is attaina
producing the conversion of sin, ble by other methods. Socrates ners, and the simple nature of might justly boast, that by his Christianity, abstracted from philosophy he had corrected those circumstances of contro, some vices of his nature. And versy and of policy, that so ofthe libidinous Polemo, by hear- ten cloud and embarrass it, would ing Xenocrates' lectures oli appear in a very strong light to temperance, might from a disso- any one who should trace the lute rake, be metamorphosed in- historic progress of the gospel to a proud philosopher. Just as from age to age. It would take the Duke of Wharton, “whose up a volume of some length to ruling passion was the lust of illustrate this, and the employ: praise," might undergo various ment would well recompense alterations of external character, the pains of any who should have "now a punk, and now a friar,” leisure and ability sufficient for
the task. Infidel, malice has justification and regeneration. been gratified, even to satiety, The gates of hell never prevailed with tedious and circumstantial against this church, though aldetails of ecclesiastical history, ways opposed. Here alone the constructed on a very differenttrue nature and beauty of Chrisplan. The intrigues and po- tianity are seen. With these litics of Churchmen, the ambi- dwell the virtues and graces of tion of Popes, the superstition the gospel, faith, hope, charity, of Monks, the subtility of Jesuits, patience, ineekness, self-denial, the external history too of the and the love of heavenly things. Reformation, and the factions of The history of these, as they apvarious sectaries, have been peared in different places and largely exposed. And though circumstances, is, properly speakfew think it worth their while to ing, the history of the church. wade through the voluminous “ But in Mosheim they are narratives of Fleury and Du Pin, scarce at all to be found. Public yet in Mosheim's history their and noisy transactions engage materials have been compressed his attention throughout. "Is into a narrower compass, and this Christianity ? (says the infiyou see in him all that can tend del)-Are these its fruits ? What to disgrace Christianity, reduced good has it done in the world ?” as it were to a point ; and this How much more useful had it is the effect with those who know been to have been more sparing not, and who care not what the in these seenes, and to have laid gospel is, to render them in- open, in an impartial and in. different with respect to Chris- genuous manner, the real church tianity itself, and to extol above of Christ! This would have been all things the sceptical fastidious- properly the history of the pess which, under the decent church; the scenes which chiefnames of moderation and charity, ly fill his book having no more now pervade the polite world. to do with real Christianity, than The excellence, indeed, of Mo- robberies and assassinations have sheim's history is in most things to do with good government. very great, and perhaps unequal. Yet his pains in laying open the led. But as he seems himself evils and abuses is by no means not to have understood the na- to be condemned; it has its solture of Christianity, all, or near- id uses, wbich would appear ally all, his narrative
spent on so to great advantage, had the external things.
history of real Christianity been “ But there was in every cen. given also at the same time. tury, from the apostles' days to For there have ever been ours, a real church, that which some, who, though not many of deserved the name in the best them converted, perhaps, with. sense, men who fearer God, and the same remarkable circumstanwrought righteousness, living by ces that attended Mr. Iloward's faith in the Son of God, and change of mind, have yet been practically applying to their own converted by the same Spirit of hearts the peculiarities of Chris- God, and brought to the same tianity, which, I must still say, principles and sensations; men on Scripture evidence, consist in who felt and owned themselves