Imatges de pÓgina

diately around us. We could wish every Christian might read it, and we should not fear that by doing so, he would not be more expanded, as well as more active, in all his sympathies and efforts. - It is a good book.

4. Spiritual Songs, for Social Worship, adapted to the use of Families and private circles in the seasons of Revivals, to Missionary meetings, to the Monthly concert, and to other occasions of special interest. Words and music ar. ranged by Thomas Hastings of UTICA, and LOWELL Mason of Boston. Utica : Hastings & Tracy, & W. Williams.

We have received a copy of this work, and are happy in recommending it as worthy, so far as we can judge, of the patronage of the public. The conviction that familiar melodies are required for the purposes above mentioned has at length become so general that many religious societies have been known for a while to lay aside its ordinary psalm and hymn tunes, substituting in their place, ballads, ditties and other similar melodies, as auxiliaries to sacred praise ; and to provide, in some measure, a remedy for these abuses, as well as to furnish a convenient manual for private use, appears to be the leading object of the Spiritual Songs.

The melodies are chantant and familiar, and several of them have been composed, it is stated, expressly for this work. We do not perceive that any of them have been injuerd by irrevelant associations. The words have evidently been selected with care; and in all things the compilers appear to have aimed at that species of chaste simplicity, which is so favorable to the promotion of genuine religious feelings. The work may be had of Carter & Hendee the Publishers in Boston, and of the Booksellers generally.

5. Sketch of the Bille, for Children and Youth. With Notes. By H. GRAFTON CLARK,

The design of this little work appears to be to present a very brief outline of the scripture history, with the dates of the principal events.. The notes are intended to illustrate the events with which they are connected; and the whole is written in a neat and perspicuous style, adapted to the capacity and understanding of the young. We should think it well adapted to be useful among the children and others just coming to an acquaintance with the Bible at our missionary stations.

[blocks in formation]

To the Committee of the Revival Association in the Theo

logical Seminary, Andover.


Not having had room in my last to say all I wished by way of remark on the historical sketch of facts and principles constituting the general subject of my Letters, I now subjoin my Fifth and last general remark, which is, that Christian preachers, who wish their ministrations to be blessed of God for the promotion of revivals, ought correctly to understand and represent the subject of DIVINE INFLUENCE, in the conversion of sinners.

This is a point concerning which God is jealous of his own prerogatives. The sanctification of the human heart, is so eminently the special work of his Spirit, that the minister who denies or but half believes the truth on this subject, or who substitutes for it some theory more flattering to human pride, is destined to labor amid spiritual barrenness. At any rate, he cannot see a genuine revival of religion, as the proper fruit of his own labors. At all periods indeed, individuals claiming to be Orthodox, have entertained views more or less erroneous as to the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. But, for a long period, the faith of our Calvinistic churches, especially in NewEngland, has been as much settled on this subject, as on any other in religion; and it would be just as reasonable at this day to revive all the debates of past ages on the doctrine of justification or atonement, as on this. A spirit of bold speculation, however, has arisen in our time, and advanced theories re



specting regeneration, the same in substance as those which have been often refuted and abandoned heretofore, but which being now advanced with the imposing air of novelty, are in opinion dangerous to the interests of evangelical and experimental piety, just so far as they are embraced.

Do you ask me to specify what I mean? It is reasonable that you should wish this; and I will endeavor to do it with as much clearness and brevity as I am able.

One theory then to which I refer, is that which denies any direct, divine influence in regeneration, and ascribes the change wholly to moral suasion. This is an old error revived. It was familiar to my earliest theological studies; and through my whole ministry, though this sentiment has never had a single respectable advocate till lately, the reasons why I have thought it an error, and a serious one, have been the same that I shall now state.

How does God operate on minds? Whatever range we inay give to our speculations, I suppose all must come to this result, that it must be done by an influence either mediate or immediate, and that no mode of influence besides these two is conceivable.

By mediate influence we mean that which attends the employment of second causes, operating according to the settled laws of mind ;-as where instruction removes ignorance, argument produces conviction, and eloquence awakens emotion. There is a philosophical sense, in wbich the action of second causes on intelligent beings is properly ascribed to God; just as we say he governs the animal

, vegetable, and planetary worlds by laws appropriate to each.

By immediate influence we mean that which is direct, without the intervention of second causes. Calvinistic preachers have always ascribed the renovation of a sinner in the large sense, to both these kinds of divine influence. When they speak of conversion, as including the Christian graces, or denoting the commencement and progress of holiness in the heart, they refer to the direct agency of the Holy Spirit, and also to the instrumentality of means. But when they speak of regeneration, as denoting merely the commencement of sanctification, and as being an instantaneous, not a progressive work, it is the immediate agency of God, and that only, to which they refer.

You must be well aware that there are religious teachers now, of considerable name, who boldly aver that God does not, and cannot exert any other influence on the heart of a sinner than the mediate kind, which consists in the power of motives. A popular preacher has been accustomed to use language like the following: “In renewing men, the Spirit employs means. He does not come and take right hold of the heart, and perform an operation upon it; but he presents motives; he persuades by means of truth, ard the heart is overcome.”—To change men's hearts, requires only the presentation of truth by the Spirit of God. His influence differs not at all from that of the preacher, except in degree.' Doubtless you have heard the sentiment maintained in the pulpit, or seen it in theological discussions, that 'the Spirit of God changes the sinners heart, just as we change a man's purpose in any case by persuasion, and that any direct influence, distinct from moral suasion, would be inconsistent with the laws of moral agency.

To this theory I object in the first place, that it contradicts the plain declarations of the Bible. Not a twentieth part of the evidence on which I make this statement, can be or need be adduced here. “Whose heart the Lord opened, that she altended unto the things that were spoken by Paul.” Ask any plain Christian to interpret this, and he will tell you here was a direct divine influence on the heart of Lydia, not only distinct from the influence of means, but expressly preparatory to the access of this influence. “ The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; as the rivers of water he turneth it wbithersoever he will." How is this? Suppose some one should ask, “ Does the Lord come, and take right hold of the king's heart?" Yes, doubtless, for it is “ in his hand.Let such as feel a difficulty in this language, search for an interpretation. If there is a difficulty, common sense did not create it, and need not stop to explain it. But if illustration were needed, it might be found in one simple case of fact. Nehemiah prayed, with great importunity and perseverance, that the king of Babylon's heart might be turned," to favor the re-building of Jerusalem. That heart was barricaded by policy, pride, and prejudice against the enterprize. But while no "moral suasion" was brought to bear upon it, from argument and motives, or even from a knowledge of Nehemiah's prayers having been offered ; it was effectually “turned,” in answer to those prayers, by an invisible influence from heaven.

"God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts." How did God produce light? By the agency of Gabriel, or the instrumentality of other second causes ? No, but by the immediate energy of his own word, "Let there be light.” So in regeneration, he shines in our hearts ; 'Let there be love to God.? Call this moral suasion, and what becomes of Paul's analogy, in which consists the whole significance of his language? Was light persuaded into existence, at the beginning ? Paul preached to the Corinthian converts, but the light

that shined in their hearts, was an immediate influence of the Holy Spirit.

“Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." How was Isaiah moved in uttering predictions of the Messiah? Certainly by a direct influence of the Holy Ghost, not by moral suasion. True the kind of influence in this case was very different from that employed in regeneration ; but it shows that immediate access to a human mind, is not impossible to Him who made it, nor inconsistent with the laws of moral agency. Again,

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, to will and to do, of his good pleasure.” How does God work in men's hearts, to produce holy volition and action ? The theory says, by motives ;—"just as one man's mind is influenced, in any case, by the persuasion of another.” But unperverted Christian experience says, 'An immediate, divine influence is super-added to the motives of the Gospel.

I object to the theory of moral suasion, in the second place, because it subverts the scriptural doctrine of depravity. The question is, have the light and motives of the Gospel, when exhibited to the sinner, the same power to change his heart, that argument has to influence his judgment in common cases ? Suppose you state to him the common argument to prove the existence of God. He is an intelligent man; he sees the force of that argument fully; his understanding is convinced. But suppose you proceed, and set before this same man, with equal clearness, the moral character of God; do you, by the same process, bring him to love it? If so his opposition to God before, was not to his true character; it was founded in mistake. All he needed was intellectual light to correct his false views of God, and then he was pre-disposed to love him ; for opposition to every false character of God, denotes a right, and not a criminal state of heart.

Now this is not such a sinner as the Bible anywhere describes. Paul speaks of men who were opposed to God, not merely by intellectual mistake, but " their understanding was darkened, because of the blindness of their heart." The Jews rejected the Messiah, not because the means of moral suasion were wanting, but in using these means," the veil was on their hearts." And Christ speaks of them, not as pre-disposed to love the true character of God, if they had only been instructed so as to see it ; “Ye have both seen and hated both me and

« AnteriorContinua »