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secure to men their freedom in this concern, the author, to be consistent, must hold, that there is no invariable connection between this divine cause, and the repentance of sinners, and that it is impossible for God to exert such an influence upon those who are chosen to salvation, as will certainly and invariably bring them to repentance, without violating their free agency; and then he must hold that, to guard their freedom from infringement, their conversion must be left uncertain, so that it may follow the special purpose and agency of God, or not, as their sovereign will shall decide.
The same as to the doctrine of perseverance. If God should exert such an influence upon the regenerate, as invariably to secure their perseverance in holiness ; then according to the theory of the author, they would loose their free agency. Accordingly, every one who embraces the theory and is consistent, must take care not to ascribe to God an influence which certainly and invariably causes persever. ance, and must not pray for such an influence, as it would take away free agency. · How manifest it is, that the theory which we have considered, stands in direct opposition to the most devout dispositions and prayers of good men. What do sincere Christians desire and pray for so earnestly, as for such an influence of the Holy Spirit, as will certainly and invariably secure them from sin, and lead them to persevering love and obedience? But if God should answer their prayers, and should give the influence which they seek,--if in their love and obedience they should act under so powerful an ab extra cause, a cause so efficaciously producing holiness ; then, according to the Essay, we should lose our free moral agency. Now I cannot but think, that every humble, pious man will be inclined to say, I desire no such freedom as would exclude the effectual operations of the Holy Spirit. Let this divine cause govern me invariably ; let it direct and control my understanding, my heart and my will, certainly and entirely. I crave it as the choicest blessing, that God would efficaciously work in me both to will and to do, so that, in consequence of that influence, I may uniformly will and do what is pleasing in his sight. Let my agency be constantly and wholly governed by the almighty agency of God. Then I shall have a freedom truly precious,-freedom
from the bondage of sin,-freedom from the influence of my own perverse will and desperately wicked heart, the glorious freedom of the children of God.
I may add some further remarks at a convenient time. For the present I shall close, after answering very briefly the very brief questions at the close of the Essay.
1. “In what does fatalism consist ?"
But why does the author put this question at the end of his Essay, after he has so clearly and fully and confidently answered it himself. The fundamental doctrine of fatalism is, he says, that we choose and act invariably according to the strongest motive, or that the strongest desire or motive is the certain and constant antecedent of our volitions.
2. “ What are the different forms of speech in which the doctrine is expressed ?"
These will be found in the books, mentioned below, in which the doctrine is taught.
3. “Is there any difference in the real meaning conveyed by these forms ?”
This any discerning man can determine, who has time to make the comparison.
4. “Is not fatalism a most pernicious doctrine in its tendencies ?”—Answer. The author has settled this also. “ And does it make any difference in the evil, whether it is taught by a wise and pious man, or by the skeptic ?" —An. swer. It is, in some respects, evidently worse for a pernicious error to be taught by a wise and pious man, than by a skeptic.
5. “ What are the books in which fatalism is taught, and by whose influence and authority are they sustained ?"
Answer. According to our author, it is taught in Calvin's Institutes, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, the works of Edwards, father and son, the works of West, Smally, Bellamy, Dwight, Day, Beecher, and such like. And this same doctrine of fatalism, and the books which teach it, are sustained by the influence of almost all the Presidents of our Colleges, almost all our Theological Professors, almost all the ministers and Christians in New England, almost all the Old School and New School Presbyterians, and almost all the orthodox of other denominations.
· SECOND SERIES, VOL. III. NO. I.
REVIEW OF THE MEMOIR OF MRS. SARAH LANMAN SMITH.
By the Rev. N. Adams, Boston, Mass. Memoir of Mrs. Sarah Lanman Smith, late of the Mission in Syria, under
the direction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. By Edward W. Hooker, Pastor of the First Congregational Church, Benninglon, Vl. Boston: Perkins & Marvin. Philadelphia: Henry Perkins. 1839. pp. 407.
We have seldoın, if ever, read a volume of Christian biography which has interested us more than the one before us. We were personally unacquainted with Mrs. Smith, and, though we had heard her spoken of with commendation, we were not prepared for the intense interest with which we perused this volume. We found ourselves, immediately, in communion with a mind of high order; our pleasure increased with the progress of her history ; her dying scene left an impression on our mind almost like that of ascending angels on Jacob's mind at Bethel.
She was born in Norwich, Connecticut, June 18, 1802, and was the daughter of Jabez Huntington, Esq. Her own mother died when Sarah was 7 years old. Her paternal grandfather, Gen. Jedediah Huntington, of New London, an American Officer in the war of the Revolution, was one of the first Corporate Members of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
The first thing which drew our attention in the memoir, was the interesting character of Miss Huntington's conver. sion. We naturally looked for something in the manner and circumstances of it, corresponding with her subsequently marked and interesting history. In teaching that a knowledge of the time and circumstances of conversion is unim. portant, and in attempting, thereby, to encourage those who, in their own cases, cannot identify them, we are in danger of overlooking another truth,—that a clear experience at conversion is eminently useful in the progress of the christian life. No doubt, there is danger, in dwelling much upon this truth, of encouraging the expectation of vivid impressions, and of leading the attention from the substantial nature of Christian experience, to the circumstances in which it occurred, thereby countenancing visionary or imaginative minds in depending upon dreams and impressions, while, moreover, there is danger that the judicious and sincere may sometimes be tempted to rely on the providential circumstances, rather than upon the practical and continuous evidences, of the new birth. Religious experience at conversion, it is true, will generally partake of the natural temperament of the individual, and we cannot expect a manifestation of religious feeling inconsistent with the general habits of the mind. As the falling snow lies down upon the landscape, and takes the prominences of it for its own features, so divine grace in regeneration quietly assumes the natural characteristics of the individual mind, and thus, with infinite wisdom and beauty, preserves the distinguishing traits of individual character. We ought not, therefore, to complain, if particular cases of conversion do not present those evidences of remarkable power which leave no doubt of the reality of regeneration.
But when we meet with a case of conversion, in which the rapid process of thoughts and feelings, and sudden disclosures to the mind of spiritual truths, and the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep in the soul, give unequivocal proofs of the Spirit's power, there is nothing more intensely interesting to a religious mind, nothing of a more thrilling and affecting nature in the subsequent recollections of the convert. Who can doubt that much of Paul's confidence. and zeal, and love, and of his religious enjoyment, was owing to the striking manner of his conversion ? His course through life was as though he had sailed out of a rapid river into the sea, and that river, with a strong current, ran with him across the deep. Some delight in the declaration that God was not in the earthquake, but in the still small voice. God was in the earthquake, at Philippi. Elijah needed the still small voice to reprove his want of confidence in the power of God; but the jailor's prison must be shaken to its foundation that he may be brought to Christ. We believe that one part of the instruction which angelic beings will derive from the work of human redemption will be in the relation, by individual souls, of their experience in regeneration. To us on earth it is a theme that never tires. To hear from individuals of clear conceptions, and strong feelings, and evident
piety, what God has done for their souls, sometimes awakens as strong an interest as our natures can sustain.
We were thus interested in the religious experience of Miss Huntington. She had, for a long time, been the subject of much prayer and faithful Christian effort.
“In returning one evening, however, from a prayer meeting, an intimate friend took occasion to speak to her, plainly, of her spiritual state. She then wept, and opened the feelings of her heart. This was on Tuesday evening. Wednesday passed without any thing spe. cial, except that at a sewing-circle, she chose the more serious part of the company; and, entering into conversation respecting the submission of the sinner to God, she advanced the sentiment that a clear understanding of the nature of submission would ensure the act. The next morning she awoke with a deep impression that it would be her last day of grace ; that God would cut her off or harden her heart, or in some way put an end to her probation. In the evening she attended the regular Thursday conference, and before leaving home knelt down and earnestly prayed that it might be the evening of her submission to the Saviour. It was so. Before the meeting closed, while the assembly was at prayer, she gave up her heart to God. She did it in the full exercise of her understanding, and felt then, and afterwards, that it was peculiarly a rational act. This was on the 10th of August, 1820." p. 20.
On reaching home she threw herself upon her bed; and then had such views of her heart as she never had before. She felt that she was a sinner against God, and loved to sin, and she abhorred herself for it. It was an hour of intense conviction of her sinfulness. Overwhelmed with it, she knelt by her bed, went again to her Saviour, and then found permanent relief." p. 21.
While multitudes know nothing of the time or manner of their conversion, yet give undoubted evidence of piety, it is interesting to meet with those who came into spiritual life almost with the vivid consciousness with which we may suppose angels wake into being.
The reader of the memoir is struck with the entire consecration to Christ which marked Miss Huntington's early Christian character. It was so unreserved, and with such deep emotions, as to leave no doubt of its sincerity. She did not, like many others, relapse from that state of Christian feeling and from that Christian conduct, which attended and followed her conversion, into indifference and worldliness, or become one of that great class of whom, as Christians, you have some hope and much fear. Her path, from the first dawn of Christian hope in her soul, was like the morning-gradually, but perceptibly and beautifully, progressive.