Page images

not such a faith, as is dead, or The gospel requires faith in alone. The faith that will save a Christ, as the condition of pardon, man, is more than a bare specula- not because faith is meritorious; tive belief of the truths of the gos- for it is not. It is the reasonable pel, or a persuasion, which one service of all, on whom the light may have imbibed, that Christ is of the gospel shines, to receive his friend and will save him; ei- Christ, cordially, as their Prophet, ther of which may be possessed by Priest, and King: and, those, who those, whose hearts are full of sin do not thus receive him, are conand at enmity with God. The demned for their unbelief. Believfaith required as the condition of ers are as deserving of punishment salvation, is not a passive recep- for their sins, as unbelievers. But, tion of the doctrines, which exhi- faith is required in the gospel, for bit the character and work of two reasons: first, because it would Christ, as true; but a voluntary be dishonourable to the character and cordial reception of them, as of God, to pardon persevering good, and altogether worthy of transgressors of his law, and desGod. 6. With the heart man be- pisers and rejectors of his Son. lieveth unto righteousness-Faith And secondly, because unbelievers worketh by love.” Hence, be- are unqualified for heaven; as they lieving on Christ, is called, receiv- could neither join in the employing him and coming to him. Be- ments, nor partake of the enjoyfore men can exercise such faith, ments of that holy and happy place. they must become reconciled to God has made the terms of salva-the character, law and government tion in the gospel, as low, as it of God, and love him, as his law was morally possible He should. requires. Hence, faith in Christ, It would have sullied the purity of includes repentance for sin. Those his holiness, made Christ the minwho love God and his law, must ister of sin, and filled heaven with condemn and loathe themselves discord and misery, had God parfor their transgressions. From doned and saved unsanctified, imlove to God, naturally flows that penitent, and unbelieving sinners. godly sorrow for sin, which work- With the terms of the gospel, eth repentance, and which consists all, who enjoy its light, are able not in being sorry, all things con- to comply. When Christ is known, sidered, that sin, as an event, has nothing prevents faith in Him, but taken place, in the Providence of an evil heart of unbelief.

As soon Gød, but in being sorry for one's men understand the peculiar own hateful and criminal exercises truths of the gospel, which exhibit of selfishness and enmity against the true character of the Saviour, God, in themselves considered. they are as well able to love Christ, The true penitent abhors and hum- as to hate Him; and can as easily bles himself, and accepts the pun- receive the truth, as reject it. ishment of his iniquities. And They need no new faculty or powhe, who does this, will cordially er, to enable them to believe unto receive the truth as it is in Je- salvation.

salvation. It depends upon their sus, as soon as it is made known i will, whether to come to Christ to him. The order of gracious ex- and have life, or to reject the counercises, though not always percep- sel of God against themselves.tible, is yet always the same; ac- Hence, it is said, “ Whosoever cording to which, love precedes WILL, let him take of the water of repentance, and repentance pre- life freely.

There is no necessity, therefore,


cedes faith.

of directing sinners to do any thing, men are rational creatures, they before they repent and believe the must, necessarily, know God, begospel ; nor is there any warrant fore they can love Him, and have in scripture to do it. All that men some just views of the character of do, with a selfish, impenitent, un- Christ, before they can believe in believing heart, is sinful, and, in- Him. Christ prayed, that his peostead of recommending them to the ple might be sanctified through the favour of God, only renders them truth, or the word of God; and the more deserving of his wrath. James, speaking of believers,

But, though the terms of thegos writes, “ Of his own will begat He pel are so reasonable and low, and us, with the word of truth.”men are well able to comply with When the truths of the gospel are them ; yet, none do comply, until read or heard, it is the Holy Spirit, they are born of the spirit.'—that awakens attention to them, • Faith is the gift of God-As and causes holy affectious and ex, many as received Him (Christ) to ercises, in view of them. It is of them gave he power to become the great importance, therefore, that sons of God; even to them that the peculiar and essential truths believe on his name; who were of the gospel, be plainly exhibited, born, not of blood, por of the will and that men constantly come to of the flesh, nor of the will of hear them preached ; since they man, but of God.” Which leads are the means, in the hands of the me to state the views, which Hop- | Holy Spirit, of renewing the heart, kinsians entertain, of

and saving the soul from sin and The work of the Holy Spirit, in death. “ It pleases God, by the Tegeneration and sanctification. foolishness of preaching, to save

It is the peculiar office of the then that believe." This is the Holy Spirit, in the economy of re- mean, which He has appointed, demption, to enlighten the minds for the conviction and conversion and purify the hearts of men, and of men; and we have no evidence, to incline them to do, what they are that He will use any other? The always able, but naturally unwil- case, therefore, of those who do ling to do, i. e. their duty towards not hear the gospel, is hopeless. God, their fellow creatures, and The nature of regeneration being themselves.

such as has been represented, it is The Holy Spirit is the author of evident, that, when men experiregeneration, which consists, not ence this change, though dependin the implantation of any new ant, they are yet active: the Holy power or faculty of the mind, nor Spirit does not love, and repent in the restoration of any such pow- and believe for them, but causes er or faculty, lost by the fall; but, them to love, repent and believe: simply in turning the heart or will and hence, they are not conscious from sin to holiness, from opposi- of his agency, but of their own tion to submission, from selfishness exercises only. “ The wind blowto disinterested benevolence.

eth where it listeth, and thou hearIn performing this Divine and rst the sound thereof, but canst gracious work, the Holy Spirit not tell whence it cometh, or whimakes use of the truths of the gos

ther it goeth ; so is every one, pel, as the means of communicat

that is born of the Spirit." Men ing to the understanding, that are as active, at the moment of knowledge of God and of Christ, regeneration, as at any other time,

when God works in them to will


If there be a distinction made,

I may now close


brief sketch between regeneration and conver- of the sentiments of Hopkinsians, sion, it consists in this; that re- with a few words respecting generation expresses the agency of The present justification and futthe Holy Spirit, and conversion ure reward of true balievers. the agency of the creature, in the The word justification does not moral change which takes place, imply, that believers are deliverwhen one begins to exercise that ed from guilt, or that they have holy love, which is the essence of done, either by themselves, or by every Christian grace.

a substitute, all that the Divine law The term sanctification expres- requires. Neither of these is adses that train of holy exercises, missible: for, guilt is indelible, which follows regeneration, and and righteousness is personal. To which is produced by the Divine be justified, is to be pronounced Spirit, in the minds of believers, free from the penalty of the law. unto the end of their lives.- Justification, therefore, is synoniWherever He begins this good mous with forgiveness, or pardon. work, He carries it on, until the As soon as men believe in Christ, day of Jesus Christ.? As preserv- their past sins are forgiven, for etion is création continued; so sanc- bis sake, or through the redemptification is regeneration continued. tion that is in Him. When justiSanctification is imperfect in this fied freely by Divine Grace, men life, not on account of any imper- are prepared to be treated as if fection there is in holy exercises, they had never sinned. And. which are all comprised in that when their justification is comlove, which the apostle calls per- pleted as that of believers is, at fect; but on account of the incon- death, then the way is open for stancy of holy exercises, which are them to be rewarded for all the more or less interrupted by sinful good deeds they have done in this ones, in all believers, so long as life, in the same manner, and on they remain in this world. " There the same ground, as the Angels is not a just man upon earth, that are rewarded for all their acts pf doeth good and sinneth not.". obedience and love. AccordingHence the ground of a warfare, in ly, our Lord assures them, that the breasts of saints, between their even for giving a cup of water to holy and sinful affections; and his disciples, from sincere respect hence their constant need of re- to Him, they shall not lose their pentance, watchfulness, and pray- reward.



ON REVIALS OF RELIGION. if they doubted whether any means No. VII.

ought to be used for this purpose. One topic of discussion proposed They say, it is the work of God, in my first number was, what and therefore it must be wrong for things ought to be done to promote us to attempt to take it out of his a revival of religion. But before hands. They think, that where I enter upon the discussion of this, he intends to carry on a work of I ought, perhaps, to make a few this kind, he is fully able to do it, remarks on the propriety of using without any assistance of ours.means to promote a revival. Many And they say they have no.confi speak and act on this subject, as (dence in those revivals which ar.

the work of man. And for these | he think it necessary to resort to s reasons, they think it wrong to use a system of means, and why does means to promote a revival: and he expect success no further than that those who do so, cannot have he uses them faithfully? Will it be a proper sense of their dependence said, that means are necessary to upon God. And if, at any time, produce effects in the natural they see men deliberately concert- world, but not in the moral? What ing a plan and entering upon a is the proof? Will it be said, that systematic course of operations, the means which are used for the with a view to produce a revival, production of effects in the natural they consider them as virtually world are more uniformly successdenying their dependence, and ful, than those which are used for assuming the prerogatives of God; the production of effects in the and they dare not lend their aid moral world, and that God has in promoting a scheme of this kind, thus, by his providence, indicated which appears to them, if not abso- our duty? This may be thought by lutely impious, yet as the result of some. But it needs better proof very erroneous views.

than has yet been adduced. The I confess, I cannot see why the means which are used in the natuuse of means to promote a revival ral world, sometimes fail of proof religion, should be thus consid- ducing the effect desired. After ered, any more than the use of men have tilled their ground and means to accomplish other objects. sown their seed, the harvest someIs it because a revival of religion times fails of coming to maturity. is the work of God? We also be. But it ought to be remembered, lieve that a revival is the work of that these are not all the means God, and we rejoice that it is so, which are necessary to the producand that He is able to carry it on tion of the effect, even if they are without any assistance of all which men can use;—and that And we also believe, that those the effect never follows from these revivals which are in such a sense means alone. The rain inust dethe work of man, as to exclude the scend, and the sun must shine, or agency of the Holy Spirit, are en- the harvest will not be reaped. titled to no confidence, but are And these are means, as well as spurious and vain.-But we see those before mentioned. In the nothing in all this, to exclude the natural world, the Divine operause of means. It is the work of tions are perfectly uniform.God to cause the earth - to yield Where none of the means are wanther increase. “He causeth the ing, the effect never fails. And grass to grow for the cattle, and the only reason men ever fail, herb for the service of man." The when they have done all in their husbandman is as much dependant power, is, that some other means upon God for the fruits of the are necessary, over which they earth, as the church is for a revival have no control. On this subject of religion. Why does he not say, men act like rational is the work of God to give me a They know they are dependent harvest, and it would be wrong upon God. But they know, also, for me to attempt to take it out of that God works by means, and his hands? Why does he not sit have learnt by observation, that down in idleness, and wait for God He works uniformly. And they to accomplish his own work, since are sensible that if they neglect he is fully able to do it without the faithful application of the

e proany assistance of his? Why does I per means, they have no prospect


of success. In proportion, there- the natural world, no one would fore, as they desire the effect to be expect them to be successful. The produced, they use the appropri- man who but half plows his field, ate means with fidelity and perse- who takes no care in the selection Ferance. And success usually of his seed, who scatters it without crowns their efforts accordingly. judgment, and but partially cov

Now, what reason is there to ers it, has no reason to expect an conclude, that the use of means in abundunt harvest. I think, therethe moral world is not equally fore, that the manner in which we necessary and equally effectual use means in the moral world, is Is it that no effect follows from abundantly sufficient to account them in the moral world, without for their partial success, without the exertion of Divine power?- supposing there is any want of Neither does any effect follow from uniformity in the Divine operathem in the natural world, without tions. And that the supposition the exertion of Divine power.- that they would ever fail, if faithThis, therefore, cannot be a rea- fully used, is perfectly gratuitous, son. Is it that the means used in and destitute of proof. the moral world more frequently But it is a question, whether fail of producing the desired effect, these remarks will apply to the than they do in the natural world? subject of a revival of religion. It It ought to be proved, in the first is clear, that a revival's being the place, that they do more frequent-work of God, will not render them ly fail; and then it ought to be inapplicable; for the production of proved that this failure does not the natural harvest is equally the arise from a want of all the proper work of God. Is a revival, then, means being used, nor from a want the work of God, in a different of their being used with that fidel-sense from his other works? Is it a ity and perseverance with which work of such a nature as to be they are used in the natural world. incapable of being promoted by When men desire an effect to be means? Or are the means adapted prduced in the natural world, they to promote it, means which God are accustomed to use all the means only can use, and in which men in their power, and to use them can have no agency. If these quesfaithfully and perseveringly. But tions can be answered in the afwhen an effect is to be produced firmative, perhaps we shall be jusin the moral world, I think they tified in not attempting to use do not, in general, desire it so means to promote a revival.earnestly, nor so carefully use all What, then, is a revival? A revival the means in their power, nor use is the more lively and vigorous exthem with equal fidelity and per. ercise of religion in the hearts of severance. They have some faint Christians, accompanied usually desires, indeed, and they make by the conversion of sinners. It some feeble efforts, and use some is a work of the same nature as the of the necessary means. But their conversion and progressive sanctidesires soon become languid, and fication of an individual, and difthey use only a part of the neces- fers from it only in being extended sary means, while they neglect to a large number. Is the conothers.--And they too often use version and progressive sanctificathose which they do not entirely | tion of an individual, the work of neglect, in a feeble, irresolute | Go

God, in a different sense from his manner, as though they used them other works? The only difference

If means were so used in ! I can perceive, is, that the effect

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »