Imágenes de páginas

emotions, to which, from constitution, he may be a stranger, is a hopeless outcast, a condemned reprobate. And to this forlorn and desperate state are those reduced, however humble, pious, and sincere, who are not conscious of a divine impulse. Dr. Hawker, the Vicar of Charles, in Plymouth, after having said, that “to be perfectly satisfied in our mind of the great truths

mentary and irresistible act of grace. The doctrine of conversion is treated in the clearest manner, and with the most accurate knowledge of the subject, by Archbishop Tillotson, Sermon 55th, whose discourses on “ The Nature of Regeneration, and its necessity in order to justification and salvation,” contain an admirable exposition of the whole matter, placing both its real import, and the gross misapprehensions of it, in the fullest and strongest light. His motives for examining this point at large, are thus modestly and candidly expressed :That I have so long insisted upon this argument, and handled it in a more contentious way than is usual with me, did not proceed from any love to controversy, which I am less fond of every day than other; but from a great desire to put an end to those controversies and quarrellings in the dark, by bringing them to a clear state and plain issue, and likewise to undeceive good men, concerning some current notions and doctrines, which I do really really believe to be dishonourable to God, and contrary to the plain declarations of scripture, and a cause of great perplexity and discomfort to the minds of men, and a real discouragement to the resolutions and endeavours of becoming better. Upon which considerations I was strongly urgent to search these doctrines to the bottom, and to contribute what in me lay to the rescuing of good men from the disquiet and entanglement of them."-Serm. 56.

Had the Archbishop lived in our days, would he have been less urgent to put an end to these controversirs and quarrellings in the dark ?


of the gospel, and to be as perfectly convinced of having a personal interest in all the blessing's of the gospel,” is an object of the first concern, adds the following extraordinary assertion : “ That every truly regenerated believer in Christ hath those evidences in his own experience, is what I not only affirm from the authority of the holy word, (whatever reproaches it may bring upon me from the carnal and ungodly world) but I venture to believe that the facts themselves are so fully and circumstantially proved to the believer's own experience, in the daily occurrences of his life, who is made the happy partaker of such unspeakable mercy, that they require nothing more than the suitable attention of the mind, in order to ascertain their reality."'* Such is the fundamental principle of this divine; and this confused passage, which, however, is one of the clearest in his book, is a proper introduction to all that follows. It intimates that in every regenerate christian his own experience is the test not only of divine truths, but of his personal interest in all the blessings of the gospel, that is of his own salvation. The daily occurrences of his life, and the suitable attention of his mind, will ascertain the certainty of these facts.The regenerate christian must have this experience; and this experience, therefore, is a necessary criterion of a regenerate christian. Those persons, who having adopted the doctrine of St. John, considered themselves as born again by the sanctification of the spirit, because they had been baptized in the name of Christ, and believed his word, are informed, by a new evangelist, that this is no pledge, or, at least, an insufficient pledge, of the divine favour. The sensible experience of grace is the only assurance both of faith and hope : 'the only proof of a regenerate state! so that the calm dispassionate believer, who obeys the laws of the gospel, and practises the duties it enjoins, may still be an alien from Christ, if his temperate imagination do not discern the fact to be otherwise in the daily occurrences of his life, that is in those emotions, which are peculiarly termed' experiences. Let not the reader suppose that good works are intended by such occurrences, those are "professedly disclaimed, and out of question': but, the Doctor's meaning will be best explained, so far as it is explicable, by some passages in the treatise itself.” “ If,” he says, “ I do not greatly err, from the very first traces of the renewed life, until that grace is consummated in eternal glory, there may be found, more or less, in the circumstances of every believer's experience, a multitude of the most sweet and precious instances."'* . . ."; .;. i in

* Preface to a Pamphlet, entitled, “ The Spirit's Work in the Heart."

13: * Spirit's Work, &c. p. 20.


. Reader, shall I possess so much influence with you, as to prevail upon you to look into the workings of your heart for those decypherings of the blessed spirit.* For as in the greatness and sovereignty of this almighty character, he testifies for all the sacred persons of the godhead, and to them, in the heart of the believer; so he no less. gives assurances to all the covenant-promises of redemption, that they are “yea and amen in Christ Jesus.” And without this precious testimony of the spirit, the believer, in the seasons of soul exercises, would neither be enabled to see them in their fulness, or discover their suitableness and sufficiency to his own case and circumstances, much less to find the privilege or the power of pleading for the fulfilment of them before the mercy seat.”+ Reader, do you know what these things mean? Do you know what it is at times to mourn the absence of the blessed spirit, when you come before the mercy seat, and pine under the sensible abatements or with-drawings of his influences? Can your closet witness for you or your bed in the night-watches how self-abashed you have lain before the high throne, when a sense of sin, and a conscious distance from God hath forced your heart to cry out, like the church of old, “ The comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me!" Alas! if you are altogether ignorant of

* Spirit's Work, &c. p. 26.

+ Id. p. 29.

[ocr errors]

such soul exercises as these, how shall you ever have a proper estimate of divine gifts; or learn the immense difference between those heartstraitenings and bondage-frames well known to the true believer in prayer; and that freedom of soul under the actings of grace, in which as the apostle saith, “ Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."*

I have found this office in the spirit's work at times so very interesting and precious (if I may venture to say so) in my own experience, that I cannot but beg to recommend it to the reader's notice, with the more particular attention. My memory of divine things is so treacherous, that, like a sieve, every thing valuable runs through it, and leaves nothing of the finer parts behind.”+ An unfortunate confession! “ If, perchance, I should be addressing a heart, somewhat like my own, prone to the forgetfulness of divine things, and who feels a partiality from the consciousness of it, to this feature of office in the Holy Ghost's ministry, there is a method I would recommend to him, which, under grace, I have found useful to myself in this particular; to bring to remembrance again the things of God; and that is, by committing to his keeping for a future day of necessity, what our memories are too treacherous to keep for ourselves. We should do in this instance by God the Holy Ghost, as

* Spirit's Work, &c. p. 34, 35.

Id. p. 38.

« AnteriorContinuar »