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heart to" the love of God. “We now ask, is there no tendency in these acts and states of the sinner's mind to carry the soul forth to God in holy love?-a tendency which, if wholly uncounteracted, would flow out in holy love to God."* “We do not say that the contemplation will result in holy love; but we say that in proportion to its intensity and the vividness of its perceptions, it will make known to human consciousness a tendency to produce love, direct and powerful, and not easily resisted.”+ “These acts have the same tendency when the sinner is regenerated by the holy Spirit.” “When self-love prompts the first act of sober consideration, there is in this act a tendency to augmented feeling, and-this feeling tends to fix contemplation, and this again to deepen feeling; andthus by mutual action and reaction of thought and feeling, the process, were there no effectual counteracting influence, would go on until it terminated in a change of heart. -Such acts and states therefore have a tendency to such a result. But if they have this tendency according to the constitution of man as a moral agent, and would, if uncounteracted, be followed by a change of heart without grace, then they must have the same tendency when man gives his heart to God through grace.”'S · Of all specific voluntary action, the happiness of the agent in some form is the ultimate end."||
“We now ask what acts of the sinner must be denoted by the phrase using the means of regeneration ?" They are "acts of sober consideration and thoughtfulness which were dictated by a regard to his own well being.”'T * 227-231.
$ 234, § 222, 3. | 24. 1 217.
“While the selfish principle continues its active influence in the heart,—no meditation on divine truth can properly be considered as a using of these means.
“ Divine truth is never in fact thus used by the sinner until the identical moment when he submits to God.”+ There is then, after all, no using of the means of regeneration till the very act which is regeneration itself.
This is on the whole just such a journey as I should expect a supremely selfish man and totally depraved sinner would make in his own strength from sin to holiness. Treading selfishness under his feet with a heart caring for nothing but himself; panting with “truly sincere desires -for acceptance with God” while blind to his “excellence" and caring for nothing but to shield himself from punishment; completely detached from the world, and just prepared to give his heart to God as soon as he can obtain "clear, just, and vivid views of his glories," the precise things that never were seen but by holy eyes; put upon using the means of regeneration when the act cannot possibly precede regeneration itself. If this is the road travelled by the self-determining power, surely "the way of transgressors is hard,” I should hope that this single attempt might discourage the nations from essaying to go in this new path. Surely it is better to "go in the strength
the Lord God;" to “make mention of his “righteousness, even of” his “only."
One grand object which Dr T is aiming at is to improve the manner of addressing sinners. “We think the Gospel is not now, as it was by the apostles, brought before the human mind in the character and relations of a cause which is to produce an immediate effect.-Every sinner may become, and is authorized to believe that he may become, a Christian on the spot.—No one performs his duty the more for being told it ought to be done, while the conviction is also forced on the mind that it will not be done. The conviction of the present practicability of duty is indispensable to the present performance of duty."* This is undoubtedly true of muscular efforts ; but whether the sinner is more likely to love God for being told that he can, in a form to encourage his native self-dependence, is another question. He ought to be called upon to repent immediately. His obligations cannot be too forcibly pressed. Every excuse should be wrested from him, and especially the plea of inability. He may be told that he deserves eternal fire for delaying a moment. And after he is thus brought under a crushing sense of his obligations and guilt, instead of casting him upon
+ Christian Spectator for 1830, p. 148.
his own resources, I have always found it most expedient to cast him helpless upon the strength and mercy of God. I have told him, But after all these obligations you never will repent unless God breaks that stubborn heart. You will get into the fire if you can: you certainly will if God is not stronger than you. There is no hope for you unless God conquers the rebel at his feet. Such an exhibition of his desperate wickedness and obstinacy, is the best means to make him die to all hope from himself,—to bring him to cast himself dead at his Maker's feet,—to die that he may be made alive. From what I have seen in past revivals, I am ready
* Christian Spectator for 1829, p. 2, 3.
to say of this method, as David said of Goliath's sword, “ There is none like that; give it me.”
In a pamphlet under the signature of an Edwardean, lately published in Connecticut, it is stated of Dr T;"He says in substance that all sin consists in self-preference.Consequently sin must be the transgression of a known law.-Consequently—infants, as they are incapable of this self-preference or transgression of a known law, have no moral depravity, and as they are born destitute of holiness," have no moral character.'*
Notice of Two other Writers.
Our brethren of this general school insist on putting into natural ability a power which works without divine efficiency. One of them says, “Surely the Dr would not suppose that men have natural ability to love God unless they are naturally able to change their temper. Neither would he contend that the mind can change this temper without
any action or choice of its own. [A volition before every volition, and so one before the first. ]—It may be said without impiety that almighty power can no more affect the actions or decisions of the mind, than-motives can influence matter. There is no way to change the character of the mind—but by motives."
The other writer is the reviewer of Dr Sprague's Lectures on Revivals, and of the Letters in the Appendix, in the Christian Spectator for March 1833. In one of those Letters I had attempted to explain, not, as the reviewer says, “ the nature of man's inability,” (not a word of that,) but the manner in which men who had acted with me had stated the full natural ability and obligations of sinners. I will quote the passage.
“ We have shown them that their obligations rest on their faculties, and are as reasonable and as complete as though the thing required was