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dium of the word, and that word exerted upon the understanding. This, I confess, appears to me to be tantamount to resolving all spiritual influence into the influence of the word itself. The Gospel, or word of God, undergoes no changethe Spirit's influence is not exerted upon it. It is the same before it is believed, as after it lias been believed; and, therefore, if influence is exerted at all, it must be exerted on the human subject to bring him into a different state of affinity towards the things of God. The reasoning of Hopkins in the preceding Note, seems to me perfectly conclusive on this point.
My respected friend, Dr. Wardlaw, in his valuable discourse on the Holy Spirit, and his influence does not appear to me to have discovered his usual precision on this subject. He contends that “the first operation” of the Spirit, is the spiritual illumination of the understanding, in order to the conversion of the heart." This is precisely the converse of Hopkins's doctrine. Dr. Wardlaw is not, however, consistent with himself; for he afterwards maintains, “ that in the Scriptures, ignorance is so far from being represented as the origin and cause of the enmity, that the case is reversed; the enmity being pointedly said to be the cause of the ignorance." -Discourses on the Socinian Controversy, p. 230. In this I entirely agree. But then, if man's enmity to God and his word is the cause of his ignorance of him, I beg to ask how the removal of the effect should remove the cause, or how illuminating the understanding can tend to the conversion of the heart. The Doctor afterwards indeed says, that he includes “in spiritual illumination, the production of a spiritual taste.” But this does not explain the argument, or render it consistent to my apprehension. Illumination cannot, by any known principles of operation, include taste. The opening of a man's eyes will not improve his palate. The difficulty seems to me to be, in a great measure, removed, by acknowledging the
joint and harmonious operation of two causes producing one effect. The Holy Spirit operating directly pou the heart, the word upon the understanding. The one removing the enmity, the other dispelling the ignorance. The former breaking down the barrier and opening the channel; the latter entering and filling it with all holy principles. I am very glad to understand, that Dr. Wardlaw is about to publish a new edition of his valuable work, on the Socinian Controversy, in which an additional discourse on the atonement is to appear, with the greater part of his critical observations in the reply to Mr. Yates.
Note [U]. p. 86.
By the two classes of persons referred to in this paragraph, I intend-those who hold the popish doctrine of the opus operatum of the sacraments, of whom there are not a few beyond the pale of the Romish Church. How many seem to believe that there is some mysterious efficacy in the mechanical observance of certain religious ordinances! They satisfy themselves that they have done their duty, when they have gone through the round of a prescribed service, though they are ntterly unconscious of experiencing one right feeling in their hearts, or the operation of one ray of light on their understandings. I meant also to include, under the same description, a class of persons, who despise the superstitious notions now referred to, but who symbolize with the sentiment-as they seem to acknowledge no influence but that of the word or outward means. From observation, I am satisfied that this is the case with the body of the real followers of Glas and Sandeman. I say the real followers, to distinguish them from a numerous class of religious persons to whom the epithet of
Sandemanian has often been ignorantly and improperly applied. The mechanical manner in which the genuine Sandemanians observe divine ordinances, the absence of devotional feeling among them, and the ridicule with which they treat all religious experience, while they contend fiercely for the forms of religion, are lamentable proofs of the assertion now made. It would not be difficult to trace the connexion between the sentiments avowed by Glas and Sandeman in their writings this effect, among their followers. It is very evident to me, that Sandeman in particular, while in words, he seems to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit, virtually denies it in his reasonings, and resolves all influence into that of the revealed testimony itself.
By the other class of persons, who separate the influence and the means from each other, I intend chiefly the disciples of the hyper-Calvinistic school; though among many who do not go all lengths with these high-flyers, there is a great deal of loose and confused thinking on this subject. How often do we hear such expressions as—“Ah, we are poor creatures, we can do nothing till God's time come.-Such a one has been waiting many years by the pool of ordinances, the angel will descend and trouble the waters by and by.-Till the day of Christ's power come, nothing can avail.” The most careless observer of what passes in the religious world, must be sensible of the extent to which this language prevails, and of the soothing influence which it appears to have on the conscience. It is very desirable that we should be deeply convinced of our entire dependence on God for every good thing ; but if we exercise that dependence at the expense of using our faculties, or attending to the plain injunctions of his holy word, we are deceiving ourselves. If the former class of persons betray ignorance of their own character and circumstances, the latter discover no less ignorance of the character of God, and of his method of treating men.
Individuals satisfying themselves these principles, and crying peace, peace, ought to be told--that now is the accepted time, and now is the day of God's salvation : that every day, is God's day of power to deliver those who seek him: that it is their duty therefore to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near: that if they neglect to do so, they are sinning against God, and against their own souls. Men do not wait for God; but he waits to be gracious to them. Instead of being thus spoken to, they are often addressed as the dear people of God, who are left to walk in darkness, and who cannot by any means obtain a knowledge of their interest in Christ. All the promises of the word of God, which are addressed to the people of Christ, are brought forward to comfort them. Before they have given any evidence of faith and repentance, they are told-that “their warfare is accomplished, and their iniquity forgiven,” if they can only persuade themselves that it is so. I want words to express my feelings and conviction of the injurious tendency of this kind of preaching. It is not wonderful that persons accustomed to be thus deceived and soothed, cannot hear any thing of a different nature. To them the preaching of Christ and his apostles would we proved gall and wormwood.
It is under the influence of the same mistaken views, that some who profess to be among the few who preach the Gospel, dare not venture to call upon their hearers to repent and believe it. “Poor souls, what can they do, they have no more power to believe than a dead body has to exercise the functions of life.” It is surprising that such men preach at all; for there must be as little power to receive the promises, as to obey the precepts of the Gospel. It must be quite as vain to administer its consolations, as its rebukes.
It is all very melancholy, however, that common sense, consistency, Scripture, and the souls of men, should be sacrificed to a few
plirases, on which eternal changes are rung—“But the people love to have it so."
The conduct of Christ in requiring the impotent man to take up his bed and walk, and the man with the withered arm to stretch it out, and Lazarus lying in his grave to come forth, must appear to such persons to have been very absurd. What power had they to hear or to obey such injunctions. They forget that he who issued the command, sent forth at the same time the influence which ensured and produced compliance with it. And thus it is still - It is while we are proclaiming the Gospel, and commanding men to believe it, that the Divine Spirit goes forth to heal, and to impress it upon the heart. It is equally vain, therefore, to expect the blessing of God, while we neglect the means, as it is to expect the means to succeed without the blessing.
Note [X]. p. 88.
That the success of the Gospel in modern times lias been in the full proportion of the means employed to propagate it, it would not be difficult to shew, did the bounds of a Note permit such a discussion as the subject would require. When it is considered that little more than thirty years have elapsed, since exertions to propagate the Gospel among the heathen began to be made on a large scale, the degree of success which has followed those exertions is very encouraging. It has not been equal in all quarters, indeed; but in few places where a vigorons effort has been made and persevered in, has there been an entire failure.
The actual conversions which have taken place, and in the sincerity of which we have satisfactory reason to trust, have been numerous; more numerous than the Christian public are