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the light cannot have any effect, or answer any end, till they are so far made single, as to admit the light. Therefore, that operation which changes the evil eye to a single eye, cannot be by means of light; but must take place antecedent to any light, or any influence or effect that can be produced by it."--Hopkins's System of Divinity, vol. i. p. 536.
To this view of the matter I assent on the whole, with the exception of what is said respecting the antecedence of the Spirit's influence to the operation of truth, for which I do not see the necessity. When we decide, however, the modus operandi of the Spirit's influence in regeneration, pronouncing it on the one hand physical, or on the other moral, are we not stepping out of our province, and pronouncing an opinion on a subject in which we are incompetent to form a correct judgment? I question whether the Spirit's operation corresponds altogether either with what we call physical or moral. These terms indeed express all the ideas we have of such operations; but it does not therefore follow, that the influence can be of no other kind. We know nothing at all about it, but from the effects we either witness or experience. We know when the conversion of a sinner takes place, that God has been operating, and that his word has been operating. The nature of the influence of the word we know; it must be on the understanding, and on the other powers of the mind, through that faculty. But the nature of God's direct opera. tion we know not, any more than we know how life is first communicated, or Dow the silent operations of nature are carried on. I fear the metaphysical speculations of the American school, and that of Dr. Williams, if carried into the pulpit, are not calculated either to throw much light on these mysterious processes, or to render any essential service to the souls of men. The Scriptures employ popular language, and however we may discuss certain subjects in private or in
writing, if we refine in public instruction more than the inspired writers do, we shall miss our aim.
Whether “ endeavouring to exalt the divine word, is a growing error in many of our pulpits and societies,” I am not sufficiently informed to affirm or to deny. I rather think the contrary is the more prevalent error, and that sufficient ase is not made of that mighty instrument which God has put into our hands. My views of the necessity of the Spirits influence are as strong and decided as my views of the importance and suitableness of the Gospel. But the exercise of the former God has reserved to himself; while the employ. ment of the latter he has committed to men. There can be no improper exercise of divine influence, but there may be a very imperfect and inadequate use of the means which are committed to us. Of those means prayer is an important part, and there may be such deficiency in the use and the principle of this holy exercise, as will interfere with the success of all our endeavours.
Note [T]. p. 80.
The combined operation of two powers or causes producing one effect, is one of the commonest of the processes of nature with which we are conversant. Thus in chemistry, the combination of an acid and an alkali, produces a neutral salt. The combination of two gases produces water. The union of fire and gunpowder produces an explosion. A mordaunt which has no colonr, and a colouring matter which has no power of fixing itself, are usually combined together in the process of dying. If you apply the mordaunt only, you have no colour; if you apply the colouring matter only, your dye will wash off; if you combine their operation, you produce a
fixed dye. Thus also in epidemics—there seems to be required a predisposition, and the presence of infectious matter; -the one without the other will not expose to danger. I do not adduce these instances as complete illustrations of the subject under consideration; but they are the best which occur to me. In regard to these and similar things, we have a certain controul over both the causes. It is not so in regard to the word and Spirit of God. We can use the one, but the other is exercised entirely by God himself. Still, it is not the word only, or the Spirit only, which regenerates a sinner, but the combined operation of both.
This view of the inatter ought to settle the controversy abont the order of the mutual influences of the word and Spirit of God upon the mind. The question, which has the priority, can answer no purpose, but to gender an endless logomachy. It is as Mr. Newton well represented it, like trying to ascertain, whether the heart or the lungs first begin to play in the human system. In the dispute between Fuller and Maclean respecting the nature of faith, and whether there exists in those who believe a previous holy principle, much time and talent were thrown away. On both sides it was acknowledged that faith and believing signify the same thing; that the faith of the Gospel is the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost operating upon him. And yet, these excellent men maintained a controversy about the nature of faith, which was never terminated satisfactorily to either party. It seemed to turn on the question, whether the disposition produced the faith, or faith the disposition. The former was the sentiment of Fuller, the latter that of Maclean. Both appear to me to have been right and both to be wrong. It is useless to speak of priority and posteriority--the influences must be combined. The Divine Spirit operates on the heart or disposition, while the Divine word addresses the understand
ing.–The result is, the regeneration of the sinner, and the belief of the truth.
Perhaps this view of the matter may reconcile some other conflicting opinions. “ The subject of this operation,” says Dr. Hopkins, “ in which this change and effect is wrought, is the will of [or] the heart; that is, the moral and not tlie natural powers and faculties of the soul. As moral depravity is wholly in the will or heart, the source and seat of all moral actions, the divine operation directly respects the heart; and consists in changing and renewing that. The understanding or intellect, considered as distinct from the will, is a natural faculty, and is not capable of moral depravity. It may be hurt and weakened, and improved to bad purposes, as other natural faculties may, by the moral corruption or sinfulness of the heart. But nothing is necessary, in order to remove the disorders of the intellect, and all the natural powers of the soul, but the renovation of the heart. So far as the will is right, the understanding, considered as a natural faculty, will be rectified and do its office well. Therefore regeneration is in Scripture represented as consisting in giving anew heart—a heart to know the Lord. The Scripture indeed speaks of the understanding being enlightened, and of its being darkened; and of being, without understanding, as criminal; and represents a good understanding as comprehending all virtue or ho. liness. But the understanding in these instances is not considered and spoken of as mere intellect, distinct from the will or heart; but as comprehending, and principally intending the heart, which is the seat of all moral perception and exercise."-System of Divinity, vol. i. p. 533.
In quoting this passage from Dr. Hopkins, and assenting to his view of the direct or immediate influence of the Spirit of God on the heart or soul of man, I would not be understood as fully adopting his distinction as to its exclusive operation on the will. May we not err on this subject by distinguishing
the faculties of the soul too nicely? The Scriptures, as he admits, frequently comprehend them all under the word heart. We speak about faculties and powers till we almost forget that the human soul is one thing. We divide and subdi. vide it, till we perplex ourselves by our own distinctions. The different operations of the mind are rather the effects of different objects presented to it, than the exercise of different faculties.
In opposition to this statement of Hopkins, Mr. Maclean, and those who are of his sentiments, would contend for the heart in scripture being put for the understanding, or intellect, and that the divine operation must always begin there. “Many are of opiuion,” says Mr. Maclean,“ that, in regeneration, the Holy Spirit operates upon the mind in a physical or mecha. nical manner, previous to and abstract from the introduction of light into the understanding, or by such operations as are suited to work upon material subjects. But waving this metaphysical and useless speculation, let it be observed, that the operations pleaded for are of a moral or spiritual nature, suited to the rational spirit of man, to the nature and regular exercise of his mental faculties, or to the constitution of his nature, as a reasonable and accountable creature. They consist chiefly in illuminating the understanding in the knowledge of divine truths, producing a firm persuasion of their reality, and a deep impression of their importance; in moving the will freely by suitable motives, to choose the good and refuse the evil, and in exciting the affections suitably to the nature and quality of the objects presented to the mind."-Maclean's Works, vol. ii. p. 143.
Here, and in other parts of his writings, Mr. Maclean, though an undoubted believer in the influences of the Holy Spirit, and in its necessity to conversion, gives up, if he can be understood, all immediate influence of the Spirit upon the mind, and contends that it is exerted only through the me.