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never abandon him if he never desert it, which he hopes in God he will never do. Thus a middle course is excellently steered possibly consist with a certainty and confidence of remission, although I may, every day and still more frequently, pray, Forgive me my trespasses !"
It was the condITIONALITY, to which Episcopius here alludes, that gave the greatest umbrage to the Calvinists. In another place I have given a short history of the variations in the Protestant and scriptural doctrine of the Witness of the Spirit, or the Assurance of Salvation. I am aware that many respectable divines, in our days, cannot endure the idea of the Holy Spirit having any share in the grace of Assurance, which they almost uniformly confound with the Unconditional Assurance of the Calvinists: They readily grant, that a Christian may and ought to enjoy the testimony of his own spirit concerning his uprightness and sincerity. I should be gratified to see some attempt made, by such divines, to reconcile these two passages of Scripture, “ The conscience (of the Gentiles also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.' (Rom. ii, 15.) Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.' (2 Cor. i, 12.) The first of them refers to the Heathens, who are deprived of the light of Gospel; and I should be pleased to know in what respect the testimony of a christian's conscience excels that of a heathen's, if the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit be withheld from the former, which is the hypothesis of the divines to whom I have alluded.
In their earnest endeavours to avoid Fanaticism, these divines have adopted one of the chief principles of the Mystics. The latter argue, that, as God is a Being without passions or parts, every believer will display a greater degree of placidity or quietism the nearer approaches he makes towards Divine perfection; that virtue, being its own reward, must be loved for its own sake alone; and that, on this account, the passions, those gross instruments, ought to remain perfectly quiescent and not disturb the current of this disinterested love Divine. This is not the religion which the Bible teaches : Christianity is eminently a religion of motives,- of powerful motives addressed most skilfully by God himself to every passion in the human heart, as well as to the understanding. But these divines wish to make mankind believe, that spiritual influences and the grace of God exercise themselves solely in enlightening the intellect, without refining, elevating, or warming the affections, and diverting them into a purer channel: On this subject their Creed is well expressed by the Deistical poet :
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me NOT TO DO,
That, more than heav'n pursue.
This fll-defined faculty called “ conscience,” is, in their system, to achieve every thing,--to subdue all tumultuous passions, and to impel men to the performance of their duties, without the direct and immediate aid of the Holy Spirit. Yet God, in his infinite wisdom, has been pleased to propound in various forms, “the avoiding of hell,” and “ the wish to gain heaven,” as two grand motives addressed to the affections. Present peace, hope, joy and comfort, are also represented in Scripture as the immediate effects of the Holy Ghost : Therefore to ask and to expect his blessed influences on the human heart, cannot be unscriptural or displeasing to God, who has promised to bestow his Holy Spirit on those who ask him.
Perhaps the plain language of that famoas old Puritan, Dr. Richard SIBBES, may afford some light on this subject : “After this, it pleaseth Christ by his Spirit to open a door of hope, to give some hints of mercy, to let in some beams
between Scylla and Charybdis, so as to threaten no harm or peril to pious souls, on the one hand by a listless security, or on the other by a headlong despair.
of love, and, withal, to raise up the soul, by a spirit of faith, to close with par. ticular mercy opened and offered by the Spirit, whereby the soul sealeth to the truth of the promise : " He that believeth, hath set to his seal that God is true.' (John iii, 33.) God stoops to have his truth, power and goodness, ratified and confirmed by us; when we believe the promise of God in Christ, though it be by the help of the Spirit, we seal God's truth. And then God honoureth that sealing of ours by the sealing of his Spirit. “After you believed, you were sealed,' saith the Apostle ; that is, the gracious love of Christ was further confirmed to them. He that believes in God, by believing, seals that God is true ; and God honours that seal again, by sealing it to the day of redemption. He that believeth, hath the witness in himself, that grace promised belongeth to him; fór he carries in his heart the counterpane of the promises. The Spirit not only revealeth Christ and the promises in general, but, in attending upon the ordi. nances, by a heavenly light the Spirit discovers to us our interest in particular, and saith to the soul, God is thy salvation, and enableth the soul to say, I an God's. I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine. Christ loved me, and gave himself for me. Whence came this voice of St. Paul ? It was the still voice of the Spirit of God, that, together with the general truth in the Gospel, discovered in particular Christ's love to him. It is not a general faith that will bring to heaven, but there is a special work of the Spirit, in the use of means, discovering and sealing the good-will of God to us, that He intends good unto us; and thereupon our hearts are persuaded to believe in God, and to love God as OUR God, and Christ as our Christ. Holy and good men, by this work of the Spirit, are distinguished from civil men, by the work of holiness, which mere civil men have not at all, but despise ;-—from seeming good men, by the depth of that work, &c. A christian is God's, in a more peculiar manner than others: There is not only a witness of the Spirit that God is his, but the Spirit works in him an assent to take God again. There is a mutual appropriation. Where the Spirit seals, God appropriates. God chooseth the righteous man to himself; and we may know this appropriation by appropriating God again : Whom have I in Heaven but Thee ? And what have I in earth in com. parison of thee? There is no action that God works upon the soul, but there is a reflect action by the Spirit to God again. It is the office of the Spirit, as to work Faith and other Graces, so to reveal them to us. Every grace of God is a light of itself, coming from the Father of lights : And it is the property of light, not only to discover other things but itself too;, and it is the office of the Spirit to give further light to this light, by shining upon his own grace in us. An excellent place for this is 1 Cor. ii, 12: “We have received the Spirit that is of God, that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every thing be confirmed: One witness is THE SPIRIT OF MAN, which knows the things that are in man: The other witness is THE SPIRIT OF God, witnessing to our spirits that we are the children of God. Here is light added to light, witness added to wit. ness, the greater witness of THE SPIRIT to the less of our spirits : The Apostle joins them both together, (Rom. ix, 1.) My conscience bears me witness through the Holy Ghost.''
This passage from Dr. Sibbes contains much sound Theology, in which both the Arminians and the Calvinists of the old school could heartily agree; and it will serve to shew some modern divines, that the very testimony of a man's own spirit, which they are accustomed injuriously to oppose to that of God's Spirit, is wrought in the heart by the Blessed Comforter himself.
In Sibbes's “ Fountain Sealed” are many other excellent sentiments, to
.“ (6.) Lastly. What shall I say in conclusion about the congregations of the Lutherans and Anabaptists? These people
which every Arminian, who knows the nature of the scriptural system he has espoused, can readily subscribe. To the commencement of the subjoined paragraph no .evangelical Arminian will object, because it is cautiously expressed : “ There is a distinction between men in God's eternal purpose ; but that con. cerns not us to meddle with further, than to know it in general. God knoweth who are His, and who are not His : But in time the Holy Spirit distinguisheth, and ranks men as they were distinguished before all worlds, and as they shall be at the day of judgment. The beginning of that distinction which shall be afterwards, is in this life: A seal maketh the impression of an image. The prince's image useth to be in his seal : So is God's image in his, which destroy, eth the old image and print that was in us before. The work of sanctifying grace upon the heart is a seal. Whom the Spirit sanctifieth, He saveth. The Lord knoweth who are his : But how shall we know it? By this seal, Let every one that namelh the name of THE LORD, depart from iniquity, not only in heart and affection, but in conversation; and that shall be a seal of his Sonship to him. None are children of God by adoption, but those that are children also by regeneration : None are heirs of heaven, but they are new. born to it. This seal of sanctification leaves upon the soul the likeness of Jesus Christ, even grace for grace. This love the Spirit teaches the heart ; and love teaches us not only our duty, but to do it in a loving and acceptable manner. It carries out the whole stream of the soul with it; and rules all, whilst it rules, and will not suffer the soul to divert to by-things, much less to contrary. The graces that are conversantabout that condition of which the Spirit assureth us, as Faith and Hope, are purging and purifying graces, working a suitableness in the soul to the things believed and hoped for : And the exceller.cy of the things believed and hoped for, hath such an effect upon the soul, that it will not suffer the soul to defile itself. Our hopes on high will lead us to ways. on high ; therefore whilst these graces are exercised about these objects, the soul cannot but be in a pleasing frame."
An Arminian ought to object to some of the following sentences, because it must be his wish to see the humble relentings, and the subsequent reconciliation, of a contrite spirit, described with greater accuracy: “ But oft it falls out, that our own spirits, though sanctified, cannot stand against a subtle temptation strongly enforced: God therefore super-adds his own Spirit. Guilt often prevails over the testimony of blood ; that of water, by reason of stirring corruptions, runneth troubled : Therefore the third, the immediate testimony of THE SPIRIT, is necessary to witness the Father's love to us, to us in particular, saying, "I am thy salvation: Thy sins are pardoned !' And this testimony the Word echoeth unto, and the heart is stirred up and comforted with joy unexpressible: So that both our spirits and consciences, and the Spirit of Christ, JOINING IN ONE, strongly witness our condition in grace that we are the sons of God."
It is also on such points of Assurance as the following, that an Arminian is at issue with a Calvinist. “ Sometimes after this sealing," says Dr. Sibbes, “there may be interrupting of comfortable communion, so far as to question our condi. tion. Yet this calling into question comes not from the Spirit, which, where it once witnesseth for us, never witnesseth against us: But it is a fruit of the flesh not fully subdued ; it is a sin itself, and usually a fruit of some former sin.” Now, an Arminiau believes, that, if this interrupting of comfortable commu. nion” proceeds from a sinful act, on the part of a believer, by such an act he has unchristianized himself. What then is the work of the Holy Spirit? Hax. ing“ once witnessed for" the man, will He “never witness against him?” Just the contrary: For Christ says, 46 When the Comforter is come, He will reprove (or convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The
have divided and are now dividing the Church into pårties, on account of the right understanding or practice of one ceremony or another. Though at the same time they contribute nothing by such efforts towards the promotion of solid piety, either by instilling it with more efficacy, or by establishing it with greater firmness; on the contrary, they injure religion the more by their too pertinacious contests about their own opinions. Though the observance of ceremonies must, as far as possible, be accurately retained, because they have been prescribed by God; yet they are the shadows and representations of the inward probity of the soul, rather than the effecters of it by their own nature, or, as the
man, who by his own sinful act has disinfranchised himself, must therefore always experience this " reproving" or convincing influence before he can hope to find the Holy Spirit approach him as THE COMFORTER. An Arminian also trembies at that fearful declaration of the Lord of Hosts : “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” From the solemn exhortations, in the New Testament, neither to grieve nor to quench the Spirit, he acknowledges the solemn import of this passage: “ Now the just shall live by faith : But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Heb. x, 38.) On those who believe in the possibility of a man “ drawing back” from the good and right ways of the Lord, such texts must have a proper deterring effect; but they are lost on others, who consider a falling away from grace to be impossible. But the language which the Doctor here employs, is only another version of the soothing Calvinistic axiom, “ Once in grace, always in grace !”
For the same reason, the phraseology of the following sentence is exceedingly reprehensible: “Sometimes God leads his children to heaven through some foul way, by which he lets them see what need they have of washing by the blood and Spirit of Christ; which, otherwise, perhaps they would not so much value: When they grieve the Spirit, and the Spirit thereupon grieves them, and that grief proves medicinal; the grief which sin breeds, consumes the sin that bred it.”
God never leads his children through any foul way: On the contrary, all his exhortations direct them to the way of holiness. His children indeed sometimes sinfully run into a way which is displeasing to his purity: They cry to Him out of the deeps, into which their sins have plunged them. God hears their cry: In great mercy he brings them up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, sets their feet upon a rock, and establishes their goings. (Psalm xl, 2.) To assert, therefore, in opposition to the uniform tenour of Scripture, “that God leads his children to heaven through some foul way,” is to make God at once the Author of sin, and affords an alarming inlet to all the desecrating deductions of Antinomians. How different is the fine description which Isaiah gives, (xxxv, 8,) of the way to heaven by the Gospel ! " And a highway shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called THE WAY OF HOLINESS; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those : The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." The holy provisions of the Gospel for the salvation of man are entirely of this sanctifying character ; and God is not so deficient in means for effecting the purification of his people, as to require the aid of sin for its own destruction.
These brief animadversions on the words of Dr. Sibbes, in the substance of which that pious divine had the concurrent testimony of his Puritan brethren, will shew the point of difference between the Arminian and the Calvinistic signi. fication given to “the Assurance of salvation :" While in the former sense it is applied solely as a Divine evidence of a christian's present experience, in the latter it is presumed to be an evidence of absolute election and continued pete scuerance.
expression is, by means of opus operatum. We must never be so foolish, as to place the principal part of our religion in external rites; because God desires now to be worshipped in spirit and truth, and is most urgent concerning the cleansing of the heart. But charity herself is lost, while such long disputes are maintained about the bond of charity; and purity of soul is disturbed and violated, while contests without end are indulged about the baptism of water. It was a declaration of the prophets, which has often been repeated, and must now again be inculcated, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. But a principal part of mercy consists, in not injuring or disturbing those who are in error, but in nourishing them in the bosom of the Church, that they may by this method become better instructed. Knowing, therefore, that the kingdom of God consists not of meat and drink, but of righteousness and peace, and that we are saved in baptism, not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but by the answer of a good conscience towards God,we Remonstrants recommend, offer, and exercise CHRISTIAN LIBERTY in no matters more readily than ini external rites, if we are not able to persuade other people to embrace our sentiments on this subject which we defend as true."
II.—THE DESIGN OF THIS WORK, . These extracts display with tolerable fidelity the real bearings of, Arminianism: It now remains that I render to the public some account of the origin and progress of this production. Upwards of two years ago, I had nearly completed a translation of the First Volume of the Works of Arminius, which also comprises a Memoir of his Life and Writings, more ample than any that had been previ. ously published either in English or Latin. It was my desire to derive from his private letters and other authentic sources of information, the rise and gracious aspect of his doctrines, and the workings of his ingenuous mind while weighing in the balances of the sanctuary the apparently opposite propositions to which I have already alluded, (p. xi.) and I wished to publish these, with a brief account of his learned Dutch cotemporaries and the spread of his principles in foreign countries. My design, how. ever, I soon found, was too comprehensive to be executed in an adequate manner in one volume. Of English Arminianism, respecting the commencement of which the greatest misrepresentations have prevailed, I could give no account: And as I was desirous of presenting to the public a Syllabus of the doctrines of the Dutch Remonstrants who succeeded Arminius, I resolved to , reprint Bishop Womack's Examination of Tilenus before the Triers.
The close of that pamphlet contains an excellent English translation of the Tenels of the Remonstrants, which were presented to the Synod of Dort, and to which the pious Bishop has added