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ture. By this means, the popish doctrine of transuiatantiation was introduced. Because the Saviour called the bread and wine of the sacramental feast, his bodjr and blood, the pipists have made it essential to salvation, to befieve that these symbols were the real body and blood of the Lord. This mere conversion of a figure of speech, into a literal expression, has brought on the most bloody persecutions, and been the means of the death of many of the true disciples of Jesus. But to destroy men's bodies is not so great an evil as to destroy their souls. And is not the error, which we have in this section, been endeavoring to detect, peculiarly calculated to destroy souls? And has not this error crept in, by a perversion of the figurative language, of the apostle, in that noted text, Rom. viii. 16; The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God? We know that when two men bear witness together, though they may be perfectly agreed, yet their testimony is distinct, the one from the other. With this manner of witnessing in view, our opponents think they have ground for their distinction between the direct, and indirect witness of the Spirit. They are looking for the Spirit to speak, and bear witness in some way, entirely distinct from his sanctifying operations on the heart; which last they consider as a kind of inferior testimony. Thus, by an overstraining of this allusion to a human witness, they are led to look for some other evidence of adoption, besides the spirit of adoption; and fur some other evidence, that they belong to Christ, besides their having the spirit of Christ j and a life of conformity to him. By means of this misconception of the text referred to, do we not expose ourselves to be deceived by every spirit? Do we not, as it were, invite the enemy to deceive us?
2. Attention to this subject has led us to discover, (if we mistake not,) the cause why our opponents do not talk of false and delusive hopes, as taking place among their own people. It has been remarked by those,who had have great opportunity to hear the Methodist preachers, that they do not preach, as if there wete any danger that their converts would be deceived by a false hope. And is not this defect in their preaching,
.the fruit of their mistaken notions about the witness o* the Spirit? Their converts all have the direct witness of the Spirit, which does not depend on any obedience of the heart or life; and this is the most material witness, without which, according to their doctrine, the other kinds of witness cannot exist. If any one declave that he has this witness, we do not see how we can reason with him concerning its genuineness, for it is nothing which is described in the word of God, or which can be defined by man: It is neither holiness in the heart, nor holiness in the life. If any of their converts utterly apostatize, even then there are no doubts entertained of the genuineness of their conversion.—. They are all represented as having fallen from a state of real grace ; none of them are considered, as even now making it manifest, that they took lamps without oil. And all this appears to us, to be the natural result of their mistake about the witness of the Spirit.
We hope these remarks will not be considered, as prompted' by an unkind and contentious spirit. How could we say less, and clear our skirts of the blood of souls? We are not seeking to destroy our antagonists, but to save them. We hope they will candidly review this matter, and that if they become convinced, .that their sentiments on this point are of a dangerous tendency, they will renounce them. If their experimental religion should prove to be essentially defective, how great will be the defect?
3. We would add another remark, which shall close the section: The remark is this; That if the wittiest, and the fruits of the Spirit, are the same, it is natural to expect, th.it the evidences of our justified state should increase, or diminish, according to the degrees of sanctification of which we partake. Hence the exhortation, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure." The Spirit's witness in our favor, is in proportion to his gracious work on our hearts, for it is by this alone that he bears witness with our spirit, that we are. the children of God. In proportion therefore, as our hearts and lives are brought into a conformity to the attested &nd indubitable witness of the Spirit, in the written word, we have well grounded evidence, that we are born of God. By bringing forth much of the fruits of the Spirit, we not only glorify our heavenly Father, but make it evident that we are the disciples of Christ. In this, and in ne other, way, may we all seek to enjoy a full assurance of hope unto the end!
A TINDICATIOX OF THE DOCTRINE OF DISINTERESTED LOVE OR BENEVOLENCE J BEING A REPLY T0 OBJECTIONS MADE AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE BY JIB BANGS, IN HIS SIXTH LETTER.
IF the reader has become convinced, that the witness of the Spirit is to be looked for in the holy change, which takes place in the heart of the convert ; he will naturally inquire, What Is the nature of that change? .what is there imparted which is new? To this inquiry we answer, The love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. We also say, it is a love which may be known by thisj that it is not selfish, but disinterested.
The first inference drawn from the seventh Serm'on, in the volume which called forth Mr. B's animadversions, was this, That selfishness, and disinterested love, are the sources of all the sin, and of all the holiness in the universe. From the Letters before me, I find that my antagonist denies the very existence of that principle, which in the sermon was considered as the source ef all the holiness in the universe, " Disinterested benevolence," says Mr. B. "is a phrase often used by. Hopkinsian writers, and it sounds very pleasing to the ear, but is something to which man is a total stranger," p. 269. His principal objections against the doctrine of disinterested love or benevolence, will now be noticed.
I. He objectsrthat it is inconsistent in the very nature of things, to be actuated by disinterested motives; since it supposes us to be interested, and disinterested at at the same time. "No man," says our author, " can be actuated by a principle that he does not possess.— And to be disinterested, is to have no interest in our welfare. But to have no interest in a thing, is to be wholly indifferent about it, that is, to have no concern about it. And can a man act from a principle in which he takes no interest, concerning which he is entirely indifferent, and which he feels not to operate in Ms heart?'' p. 172. This objection is a mere play upon words. Our opponents must know, that we do not use the word disinterested, as being synonymous with indifferent.— The word selfish is pietty generally understood to convey a bad idea, an ide'a of something criminal; and it is common to use the word interested, as conveying the same idea with selfish. Thus we say, a msn is governed by interest; or he is actuated by interested motives, when* we mean that he is selfish. Now it is convenient to have some word to express the opposite of a selfish temper, and as the word interested is used to imply the same thing as sc(fish, it was not at all unnatural, that the word disinterested should come into use, as expressing the opposite of selfishness. When it is used in opposition to selfishness, it is evident that it cannot mean the same as no interest, but rather as pointing out another sort of interest, totally different from the interest sought by a selfish being. When Moses would not accept the offer of being made into a great nation himself, in distinction from the twelve tribes; but preferred to have his name blotted from God's book, rather than to see Israel destroyed, and their God dishonored, he seemed nobly to rise above selfish considerations. This we express by saying, that he manifested a disinterested spirit: but we would by no means be understood to say, that he felt indifferent about the gtoty of God, and the good of Israel, which was the interest or good, which he preferred to his own honor and prosperity. He did not feel uninterested in the glory cf Jehovah, or in the good of his people. But