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poraneous devotion. They were, says Dr. Taylor, men of
divine eloquence, in pleading at the throne of grace, raising
and melting the affections of their hearers, and being happily • instrumenta in transfusing into their souls, the same pious and
beavenly gift.' If we seek the reason of these distinguished attainments, none will suggest itself more readily or more forcibly to our minds, than this, that they were men of distinguished piety: They “ walked with God." They not only adopted the Psalmist's resolution, “ Evening and morning, and " at noon will I pray;" but they were accustomed peculiarly to appropriate hours and days to exercises of devotion. They lived in the recollection that they were to dwell with God through eternity; and they wisely cultivated friendship with him here. Thus prepared for public services, when they rose to lead the devotions of their people,“ out of the abundance of the
heart the mouth spake.” We would be far from intimating, that pious ministers in our day do not cultivate the same habits ; but this we must say, that amid the variety of public concerns which demand their attention, there is a far greater danger of the neglect of a devout practice, than our fathers realized : and here we would remind students, and young ministers, that without an effort they cannot expect to form retired and devotional habits; habits by which their predecessors were distinguished, and which so eminently qualified them for the discharge of the public duties of their stations.
The importance of this subject to Protestant Dissenters, and the improbability of our soon recurring to it, (for we have no desire to follow the example of some of our brethren, in dragging our mode of worship into every theological discussion,) have induced us to extend this article beyond its otherwise proper limits. We shall therefore be brief in our notice of some of the remaining topics of the Dean's discourse.
As a suitable introduction to the display of what he bolds' to be orthodox preaching, Dr. H. informs us, “ Our standard of
orthodoxy is the Bible. We have no other guide, nor do we 6 seek one. Mr. R.
Mr. R. replies: • It would appear not a little strange to guileless people, to hear a common soldier disown submission to all authority except that of the people, though he might justify his paradox as ingeniously as the clergy attempt to prove their sole submission to the Bible.
The soldier might say the people called the king to the throne, the king chooses the commander in chief, he commissions my colonel, captain, &c &c. so that I really obey the people. Equally, not more true is the assertion made by clergymen, that their only guide is the Bible, when there always intervene, ist. The law of the land; 2nd. The King's or Queen's Majesty, the Head of the Church ; 3rd. The articles, canons, liturgy; 4th. The Bishop; and sometimes there is a fifth guide to please, my patron.' p. 52.
• How, in his view of it, the Gospel is preached,' Dr. H, enounces in four particulars; in no one of which we differ from him. But these particulars, as discussed by Dr. H., are intended to be, (what indeed we generally expect in a thin, sober-looking sermon, with purple covers,) a refutation of Calvinism. The Dean of Chester, like mauy of his coadjutors in the good work of refutation, knows but little ''what is Cal
vinisin, and what is not ;' and therefore he has aimed his · shafts' with very little judgement: the far greater part of them doing quite as much execution on what he considers as his own system, as they do on that of the Calvinists.
There are those,' we are told, who think that salvation through Christ is only partial; in other words, that it is restricted and con. fined to a few chosen and highly favoured individuals; and that whilst all the rest of mankind are left to perish, these have been from all eternity destined to eternal glory, as being alone " the 66 called of God in Christ Jesus." ;
Dr. H. has not taken the trouble to inform his hearers, whether he means partial, restricted, confined, in design--or partial, restricted, confined, in application. If he means the latter, we would ask him, Is it any peculiarity of Calvinism, to consider salvation by Christ, as partial, restricted, confined ? Must not every Arminian daily see numbers dying around him, whom the utinost stretch of his charity will not permit him to think genuine Christians ? But from the words. These have
been from all eternity destined to eternal glory,' it may be presumed the meaning is partial, restricted, confined in design. And can any scheine that escapes the wildest atheism, separate the circumstances and character of men from the will of the Creator. The question generally debated between Calvinists and Arminians, is not whether there was such a destination with God, but whether it had or had not respect to the foreseen character and conduct of its object.
Such writers as Dr. H. may also need be informed, that though the Calvinists consider all real Christians as chosen ' and highly favoured, yet are these Calvinists never found to assert that real Christians are few.
Of questions of this nature, these greatly maligned professors of religion are generally inclined to dispose, in the manner of their Divine master, who, when asked by an over curious, though perhaps well-meaning individual, 'Are there few that be saved replied in language at once repressing fruitless curiosity, and urging the uncertainty as a motive to the greatest diligence in personal religion ; "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for
many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be 4 able."
In page 16 Dr. H. says,
From these then, and numerous passages to the same effect, which, were it necessary, I might adduce, (and yet, not one of the quoted texts has any relation to the point they are intended to prove,) there is I contend no such thing as election, in the Cal. vinistic sense of that vord. The spirit and the letter of Scripture concur in this principle, that all men may be saved, and may come to the knowledge of the truth.'
The Calvinistic teacher would say as cordially as Dr. H. that all men may be saved, and may come to the knowledge
of the truth.' And this same Calvinist would go much farther than would be esteemed decorous, in the polite auditories which the Dean of Chester is accustomed to address, and would say, that the only obstacle to all men being saved, and coming to the knowledge of the truth, is, their unwillingness; an unwillingness, which is now their greatest crime, and which will hereafter be their greatest misery.
It must have occurred to every person who is conversant with theology, that many of the most odious and frequently assaulted terms in theological debate, are seldom used but by adversaries, and seldom by them, unless for the sake of exposing the ideas supposed to be conveyed by them, to universal execration. This is very much the case with such terms as sudden conversion, irresistible grace, and the sudden and irresistible influences of the Holy Spirit. Dr. H. would have deemed himself to have acted an unmanly part, had he not brought his artillery to play on this obnoxious phalanx.
• At the same time it is indispensable, that we should guard carefully against its abuse; (i. e. of the doctrine of divine influences ;) and I here allude particularly to those, who hold it as one of their leading tenets, that the influences of the Spirit are sudden and irresistible, and that by a clear and sensible perception, which they call inward experience, they are enabled to ascertain the very time, and place, and occasion, when he operates on the soul.' p. 19.
We do the Author a kindness in closing our quotation here, and in thus hiding the shame of those writhings and contortions, into which his antipathy against the doctrine of the sudden and irresistible influences of the Holy Spirit has betrayed him. As he is speaking of those influences, by which the higbest effects of Christianity are produced, by which we are "as it were “ created anew in rigbteousness and true holiness," we consider him as uniting with no small proportion of his brethren, in reprobating the doctrine of sudden conversions. The great difference, perhaps, between what are esteemed sudden conversions, and those which are gradual, is not so much in the nature of the change, as in the circumstances of the indi
vidual who is the subject of it. Conversion, i. e. that change which constitutes us Christians, all will admit to be the effect of the
agency of the Holy Spirit. But unless Christians are supposed to be always, and from the earliest period of their lives, the subjects of such a degree of that agency, as is necessary to conversion, (a supposition to which the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration may lead some persons, but which will never be admitted by the sound part of the Christian Church,) we must conclude, that there is a time when such a degree of that agency begins to be afforded to the individual; and when, as the effect of this, he begins to turn, to change. Conversion then, strictly and philosophically considered, must be sudden; sudden in regard to the Agent, and sudden in regard to its subject; because conversion depends on a certain degree of the influence of the Spirit of God; a degree of that influence of which, in an unconverted state, we are destitute; a degree of it which can never be communicated to the human mind without producing conversion as its effect; and a degree of it for which that mind can have no inclination, no desire, in its unconverted state.
That all conversion, strictly and philosophically considered, must be sudden, may be further argued from the fact, that the Holy Scriptures give us no idea of the existence of an intermediate state, between the possession of real religion and the want of it. We are either 6 without God and with“ out hope"_" dead in trespasses and sins," or we are " heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” — not living unto « ourselves, but unto him which died for us and rose again. If such be the immense distance between the possession of true religion and the want of it, and if there be no medium between the one of these states and the other, then that agency which effects so great a change, must be sudden ; and the change which is effected in consequence of that agency, must also be sudden.
But while we would oppose these facts to the flippant assertions of a large body of declaimers, we deprecate the thought that all who are really converted are enabled to ascertain the ' the very time and place and occasion,' when the Holy Spiriť
operates on the soul.' The annals of the Christian Church, in these later ages, teach us, that a large number of Christians, and particularly of those Christians who have had a pious education, are but imperfectly acquainted with the time, the
place, and the occasion of their conversion to God; while other Christians, and particularly such as before conversion, were notoriously profligate, might, as Paley expresses it, as
easily forget escape from a shipwreck,' as forget the circumstances of their conversion. Vol. VII. N.S.
The term irresistible, as applied to the influences of the Holy Spirit, is frequently assaulted with as much fury and as little skill, as the term we have just noticed. When Calvinists speak of irresistible grace, they do not mean, that the Spirit of God forces men contrary to their will, but that according to the language of the Holy Scriptures, (language applicable to the Spirit, though immediately referring to the Son of God) “ His people shall be willing in the day of his “ power." "The Holy Spirit changes the nature ; and the effect of this change of nature is, the will refuses the evil and
chuses the good.'
We consider Mr. Redford as conceding too much, when he says, • that the influences of the Spirit may be sudden and irresis• tible; that sometimes they are so; that certain individuals
can ascertain the time, the place, and the occasion, when he operated upon their soul, will the very Reverend Dean
seriously deny? That these are the invariable methods of « God's operation I know of no class of Christians who af• firm.' That certain individuals only, and not Christians in general, can ascertain the circumstances of their conversion, is a point which has no connexion with the question on the nature and mode of that agency by wbich conversion is effected. All Christians may be the subjects of the same kind and degree of Divine agency, though, as already stated, all Christians may not be able, with equal clearness, to trace the effects of that agency on their minds and conduct.
At p. 20, we find Dr. H. proclaiming with the air of a man who esteems himself to have made some wonderful discovery in theological science,
"The truth is this—that only such a portion of spiritual aid is imparted to the soul, as is perfectly consistent with the moral character and the free agency of man; that we are left entirely to our own discretion either to improve or reject it.'
With the first part of this authoritative enanciation of the truth we fully coincide; but what advantage this position gives to Dr. H.'s system above every other, we cannot ascertain. It would seem from the way in which Dr. H. has expressed himself, that he considers his system, as discovering the exact
portion of spiritual aid,' which is perfectly consistent with • the moral character and free agency of man;' or at least that he considers himself as possessing the important secret. The remaining part of the passage is objectionable on higher grounds. We are informed that we are left entirely to our own discre• tion, either to improve or reject,' that portion of spiritual aid, which is imparted to the soul. If Dr. H. means that we shall, either improve or rejeet the portion of spiritual aid imparted to us, according to the bias of our nature, we agree