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nate in misconception of the meaning attached to words. Many of the differences of opinion, which subsist, would be entirely removed, if a little definition took the place of debate. To guard against mistake therefore, it becomes necessary first to settle the import of the phrase, the means of grace. This is not a phrase found in the Scriptures, but is an expression, introduced by man, to designate some religious priv. ileges, or some necessary circumstances antecedent to the recep. tion of the influences of the Holy Spirit. The word grace is used to express the agency of God upon the heart in renewing it, and the phrase, the means of grace, is used to express the steps to this agency, or the previous cir. cumstances, in which it is necessary, that we should be placed, in order to our becoming the subjects of it. The reading of the Scriptures, attendance on public worship, and prayer to God are placed by some among the principal means of grace; not that these will certainly lead to the renovation of the heart, for they may all be abused, but that usually they precede conversion and seem necessary to it.
The question now presents itself, Does the unconverted sinner, in reading the Scriptures, in hearing the preaching of the preaching of the truth, and in addressing his prayer unto God, perform that, which will gain him, still remaining unconverted, the favor of God, or procure the renewing influ. ences of the Holy Spirit? It may seem incredible, that a question of this kind could be agitated for it is no more nor less than this, whether a man still subject to his native depravity,
and who has no love to God, and consequently never obeys. the law of God in its spirit; whether this man thus radically unholy and never obedient, does what is pleasing to God, and what will draw down his blessing? But a question of this kind has arisen, and it is necessary to discuss it.
If men are not naturally depraved, corrupt, destitute of holiness, opposed to what is good, condemned by the divine law, and liable to the wrath of God; then there is no necessity for the renovation of the heart, and the grace of conversion, of which we are speaking, is not indispensable to salvation. But if without this renovation, and this grace to effect it none can be saved; if as it is said, the means of grace are absolutely necessary to be used; then the depravity of man must be admitted; for otherwise this necessity would not exist. The corruption of the human heart being then acknowledged, let us suppose the unconverted sinner using one of the means of grace; for instance, addressing his prayer to God for salvation. If he has no love to God, no holy desires, no regard to what is excellent, but merely directs his attention to deliverance from a state of future suffering; can such a prayer be heard? can such a prayer be a reason for the bestowment of grace? Admitting that he prays for deliverance from sin, as he remains entirely destitute of love to the divine character and law, being unconverted, can such a prayer be regarded as any thing better than mockery? The word of God indeed requires us to ask for spiritual blessings,,
but it requires us to ask "in faith," and expressly says to us, "if we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear "God heareth not sin. ners, but if a man be a worshipper of God, and doth his will, him he heareth." Now by what process of reasoning can it be demonstrated, that a man, destitute of a believing, penitent frame of mind, destitute of the temper of the gospel, will obtain that object, which which the Scriptures teach us can be obtained by him only who hates iniquity, who possesses faith, and who does the will of God?
The prayer of an unconverted sinner for holiness, that is the supplication of a man for what he hates, is not very dissimilar to the kisses of an enemy. The external expression of esteem is very proper, but the heart be. lies it. The impenitent sinner, while attending upon the means of grace with a heart opposed to what is good, is represented by some as performing a duty, which is acceptable to God. Against a sentiment of this kind one cannot too strongly protest. Let the sinner be informed, if his teacher please, that those, who attend the means of grace, are more likely, judging from facts, to be renewed in the spirit of their minds, than the heathens, who know not the gospel; more likely also, than those in christian countries who search not the sacred volume and hear not the preachers of divine truth.
But let them be taught at the same time, that they can do nothing, which shall render them acceptable to God, before they repent of their sins, before they love the character of the Most Holy. Let
them be taught, that if they re. main impenitent, their religious privileges will only swell their guilt. This is the instruction, which is given us in the sacred volume, and instruction of a dif. ferent kind tends to produce a false and a fatal composure of the mind. If men can persuade themselves, that they are doing what is acceptable to God, while they remain impenitent and unrenewed, then they will dis. miss their fears. They will al low, indeed, that they have not reached a great height of excelleuce, but they have no doubt every allowance will be made for the imperfection of human nature. The absolute necessity of faith in Christ, or of a complete change of heart, in order to any degree of acceptance with God, will be overlooked; and while the sinner does not consider it as his immediate duty to repent, he will flatter himself with safety in the midst of his preparatory labors and perhaps die in his sins. Neither John the Baptist, nor the Lord of Glory, directed men to attend diligently upon the means of grace in order to conversion; but knowing the obli. gation laid upon sinners instantly to forsake all inquity, and the danger of a moment's delay, the very first words, which they uttered at the commencement of their public preaching, were, "REPENT YE."
There can be no intermediate
spot between impenitence and penitence, between being the friend and the opposer of God; and if the impenitent, who are completely disobedient to the divine command, can at the same time have a sincere desire to obey it, and while in this state can do
that, which is acceptable to God, we find ourselves bewildered and lost; we know not what to make of the gospel.
If there be any plain doctrine in Scripture, we think it is this, that all religion in the heart of man results from the influences of the Holy Spirit, or from the agency of God. It is He, who brings men out of darkness into light and makes them willing in the day of his power. But the representations, which we sometimes hear would lead one to suppose, that the impenitent sinner exerts himself to change his own heart, and with some assist ance from heaven effects the work. Sometimes he is represented as striving in vain; he does what he can on his part and must wait for a blessing upon his efforts. Sometimes we are taught that conversion, or the love of God, instead of the love of the world, is a difficalt enterprise which the worldly, impenitent sinner is very desirous of accomplishing, but which he cannot effect, because his strength is inadequate to the purpose; that he is very willing to break his own hard heart, but has not vigor enough in his arm to strike the blow. Surely this representation does not accord with the representations of Scripture. The word of God teaches us, that the impenitent love darkness, and will not come to the light; that they refuse to hearken to the instructions of the gospel; and that they despise the holy Savior of the world. It is on account of this opposition to truth and this voluntary disobedience to the divine command, and because this opposition is so radical, and this disobedience so entire, that the agen
cy of the Holy Spirit is necessary to renew the heart, to subdue the will, to purify and ele vate the affections. Because men are commanded to repent, it has been inferred, that they can repent of themselves; but is the inference just? Is there any absurdity in supposing, that men may be under obligation to do, and may be required to do, what they are utterly averse from per. forming? Because the thief resolves to persist in stealing, is it absurd for the civil authori ty to prohibit theft? If men are indisposed to obey the divine law, if they love and continue in the paths of sin, while they are commanded to be holy, it were preposterous to suppose them making efforts for what they do not desire. Hence, if they ever be come wise to salvation, it must be because God in his mercy gives them wisdom from above.
This world presents to the view of God but two descriptions of men, his friends and his enemies, the holy and the unholy, saints and sinners, the righteous and the wicked. Both of these classes may read the Scriptures, and attend public worship, and abstain from labor on the sabbath, and repeat the words of a prayer. But in the case of the one, the principle of love to God pervades and sanctifies the whole; in the case of the other, every thing is cold and formal and heartless ; there is no goodness, no love of excellence, no attachment to truth, no acceptance with God.
In the Father of mercies originates all holiness. Christ commissioned his disciples to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation, promising to be with them even unto the end of the world.
It is by this promise, by the hope of the divine blessing upon their labors, and not because sinners will of themselves make a good use of instruction, that the preachers of the gos. pel are encouraged to proclaim to transgressors their guilt, and to make known to them the invitations of mercy. Christ will give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him.” Was there no assurance of this kind, if the divine power was not expected to renew the hearts of all, who are "chosen to be holy," every discerning minister of the gospel, who knows the wickedness of the human heart, would be no more disposed to preach the truth to sinners, with any hope of success, than he would be inclined to wrestle with the whirlwind.
LETTER TO A LADY.
My young friend,
WITH what words shall I address you on the all important and highly interesting subject of religion. Were it not for your connexion with eternity, I might perhaps leave you to seek for happiness in the perishable enjoyments of time and sense. Deeply sensible of my own frailty and continual exposure to the arrest of death, suffer me to express the solicitude I feel, not for your temporal, but spiritual interest; the former, when compared with the latter, is less than nothing and vanity. Young persons enter upon the busy stage of life with raised expectations of permanent satisfaction. They seek it in the riches, honors, and pleasures of the world, which are utterly unsatisfying in their nature
and uncertain in duration. What is more fleeting than the wealth of earth? How often do we see those who were in the height of prosperity, suddenly reduced to the vale of adversity, friendless and forsaken. Honor is of ten but an empty name; and the pleasures of the worldling are attended with toil and followed with a sting. Be persuaded
then to seek those riches which will last for ever-which the wreck of nature and the crush of worlds cannot destroy. Aspire after the honor which cometh from God, and not after the vain applause of sinful worms. the refined, noble, intellectual de. lights, which result from the assured forgiveness of all your sins, peace of conscience, an interest in Christ engage your ardent de sires and earnest prayers.
There is more real enjoyment in one hour's communion with God, than in a long life of sensu. al joys. Ask the aged Christian (whose outward condition is poor and wretched, who early enlisted under the banner of the divine Redeemer, and who has since lived near to God amidst all the changes of life) whether he would exchange those blissful moments of converse with his Father in heaven, for all the riches, and honors, and pleasures of him, who lives without God? No. He will rather lament that he deferred an attention to the one thing needful so long. He will grieve at the re collection that he neglected the offers of a compassionate Savior, that he resisted the strivings of the Holy Spirit, and wasted so much time in the gratification of sinful desires, and in the pursuit of unworthy objects.
You may perhaps be loth to
relinquish amusements; but, my friend, religion offers you the purest joys. "O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the man that trusteth in him." Instead of making you gloomy and unsocial; religion will inspire you with true cheerfulness. Yes, those who have experienced the power of godliness on their hearts can testify, that the ways of wisdom are pleasantness, and all her paths peace."They will assure you that they were strangers to real joy, until they were made partakers of the precious promises of the gospel of Christ. His doctrines are now their richest treasure, his precepts impose I a salutary restraint on their passions and appetites, while their affections centre on divine things.
They look forward with joyful anticipation to that blessed day, which will emancipate them from sin and sorrow, and introduce them to the blest society of heaven, "where they will ever be with the Lord" and be continual. ly "satisfied with his likeness," progressing in knowledge and holiness.
If you have any affection for your Christian friends, if any love to your parents, if any regard to your minister, "who is watching for your soul, as one that must give account:" if any gratitude to Him whose love was stronger than death," if any sense of your own mor. tality and the solemnity of eternity, be intreated by the mercies of God to present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Acquaint now yourself with Him and be
at peace, and thereby good shall come unto you." MYRA.
ON UNIVERSAL SALVATION.
the doctrine of universal salvaIn the arguments used to prove tion; much stress has been laid on the signification of the original Greek word translated ev.
erlasting or for ever. Dr. Chauncey contends, that no argument in favor of the doctrine of eternal punishment, can be drawn from the sense of the original aiwv, which signifies an age or period of time, and not strictly, eternity; and is often used to express a limited duration.
But it is believed the primitive and true sense of the word has been overlooked. By examin ing the original languages, it is found, that the ancients communicated their ideas of time, by the names of circles, applied to the revolution of the heavenly bodies, by which portions of time are measured. the god of time, signifies, in the Celtic, a circle, or rotundity. The Greek aíwv is evidently formed from the Celtic ain, a circle, or great circle, which is also the root of annus, and the Roman Janus, originally written Eanus. The word then originally denoted the annual revolution of the earth in its orbit, the great circle, or year. The oriental name of the sun Or, was probably the same word applied to that luminary for its circular form.
Our word age has a like origin; Chaldee, Hebrew, and Arabic hug, or choug, a circle, an orbit, a ring; Sanscrit yug, an age or period; Irish celtic agh,