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šin, and thirsting after spiritual blessings; and contending that no other descriptions of men have any warrant to embrace them. · This notion Mr. B. has successfully combated, proving, we apprehend, beyond all just contradiction, that the invitations of the gospel are addressed to sinners as sinners.
There are several important particulars, however, in which Mr. B. and Mr. S. disagree, and which are well worthy the attention of those who wish for clear and accurate views of evangelical truth. Mr. B. is partial to the term warrant, and seems to have studiously kept the idea of obligation out of sight., Mr. S. on the other hand, undertakes to prove that faith in Christ is the duty of all who hear the gospel, and observes, that no warrant seems to be required for obedience to a plain commandment. Considering faith, however, as implying an all-important benefit, he admits the propriety of the enquiry, what warrant a sinner has for expecting it from his offended God ? In this view, he observes, (p. 8.) “ The term warrant signifies a ground of encouragement, authorizing an application, and giving sufficient reason to expect success ; insomuch that he who applies in the prescribed manner, cannot be rejected consistently with the truth of the Holy Scriptures.” Such a ground of encouragement, Mr. S. allows to exist in the word of God, irrespective of all holy dispositions whatever.
But Mr. B. not only denies the necessity of a change of heart to warrant our believing, but explodes the idea of its being necessary to the act of believing itself; or, as he defines it, of relying on Christ for salvation ; contending also, that prior to his justification, the sinner performs no good act, but is an enemy to God. Mr. S. takes the opposite ground, maintaining that no mai ever believed in Christ while under the dominion of sin ; that saving faith is the effect of regeneration, or the renewal of an unholy creature to a right spirit; anı that those who work not, but believe in him icho justifieth the ungodly, are not persons who are inactive, hut
“ who cease to work in respect of justification ;” not enemies to God, but having transgressed his law, are rendered for ever incapable of being justified by any thing done by themselves; or in any other character than that of ungodly, to whom mercy is shewn merely out of regard to the righteousness of him in whom they believe.
To establish these positions, Mr. S. confines his attention to one leading point, which makes up the body of his performance, namely, that faith is not a mere act of the understanding, but a holy exercise of the heart.* Our author seems to have apprehended, that if this idea could be established, his work would be done ; and to have reasoned on some such principles as the following:
If faith itself be an exercise, it must be the effect of regeneration; as no sinner, while an enemy to God, can be induced by any influence, human or divine, to perform that which is spiritually good. Farther, if faith itself be a holy exercise, and
précede justification, the sinner when he is justified, though being a transgressor of the law, he be in the account: of the Judge of all, ungodly, yet is not actually at eninity with God; inasmuch as every degree of holy exercise must be inconsistent with such a state of mind.
· In the discussion of this leading point (which, after all, we incline to think Mr. B. does not deny, though he may have advanced things inconsistent with it) Mr. S.
goes over a great variety of topics, and examines various passages
of Scripture which had been produced on the other side. The most forcible of his arguments, as they appear to us, are the following:
Our Lord assures us, that no man came to him exccpt he was taught of God-drawn of the Father-had heard and learned of the Father : And has this teach
* See President Edwards on this subject, in a volume of his Misrellaneous Works lately published, entitled, Remarks on Important Theolugical Controwersies, p. 393.
ing, drawing, hearing and learning, he enquires, nothing holy in his nature ? (page 44.)
Faith in Christ is not only the source of all obedience which follows after it, but is itself an act of obedience : but all obedience is the expression of love, and is never performed by an unrenewed heart, not even by divine influence. (p. 18, 19.)
Unbelief arises from an evil heart, which loveth darkness rather than light : faith, therefore, which is its opposite, arises from the love of light rather than darkness. (p. 42.)
As unbelief is attributed to voluntary blindness, so faith is ascribed to a holy illumination, to light shining into the heart, which gives it a holy bias.
Regeneration is assigned as the reason why some believed in Christ, while others received him not. Of their believing on his name, this is given as the cause : they were born, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (p. 50.)
Faith in Christ is the effect and evidence of regeneration: Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. That this is the sense of the passage, is evident from the similar phraseology used of other effects and evidences of regeneration by the same writer, and in the same epistle : “ Every one that loveth is born of God.”_" Every one that doth righteousness is born of him.” (p. 51.) · Repentance is constantly represented as previous to forgiveness, and consequently to justification, of which forgiveness is a branch ; it is also generally nientioned as preceding faith in Christ, and in some instances as influential on it. “Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out--repent and believe the gospel. If, peradventure, God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truthYe repented not, that ye might believe. (p. 73.)
Mr. B. pleads that the word of God is the mean of regeneration, and the seed or principle of spiritual life. Mr. S. replies, not by denying
either of these positions, VOL. II. No.2.
but by suggesting that we cannot explain the mannet in which God uses the word in regeneration, any more than that in which animals and vegetables are produced according to the course of nature. (p. 60.) And though the word of God be the seed from whence the fruits of grace arise, yet must the ground be made good ere it will be received, so as to become productive.
Mr. B. alledges the case of the prodigal as favoring his idea of there being nothing good in a man prior and in order to believing. Mr. S. replies, “ And did our Lord in this parable represent the returning sinner as driven' merely by distress to seek deliverance from God? What did he then mean by the expression when he came to himself? Is it not evident, that from that time he possessed a right mind ; and are not all his expressions those of sorrow and humiliation for sin, and of deep self-abasement ?" (p. 72.)
Mr. B. suggests that the publican, in the parable, far from considering himself as possessing any holy disposítion, appears as a criminal deserving of damnation ; and who dare not lift up his eyes to Heaven, even when he cried for mercy. Mr. S. replies, The question is not in what light the publican viewed himself, but whether there was nothing in his spirit intrinsically better than in that of the boasting Pharisee ; and whether his self-abasing cry for mercy was not an exercise of true holmess? That it sprang from humility and contrition, and was not extorted by mere terror, our Lord himself testifies, “I tell you that this man went down to his house, justified rather than the other, for every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted." This testimony ought to be decisive. (p. 69.)
Finally, Mr. B. suggests, that if there be any holiness previous to justification, those characters in whom it is found may be justified, if not wholly, yet in part, by their own righteousness. Mr.S. replies, by alledging a principle in which we supposed all Calvinistic divines were agreed, that No degree of good whaterer in creatures, who have once broken the divine lute, can in the least avail torwards their justification : and that a renunciation of our own righteousness, imaginary or real, is of the essence of faith in Christ. (p. 37.)
We have felt much interested in this serious discussion. The parties have appeared to us in some few instances to have mistaken each others meaning, as is commonly the case more or less in controversial writings. On the one hand, the question is not whether a carnal heart will, of its own accord, believe in Christ, but whether it does so under a divine influence, and without any pre-disposition of the’ will? On the other hand, the question in dispute is not concerning a war: rant, but a willingness to believe ; nor in what light it is necessary for a sinner to view himself in his applicat tion for mercy, but of what manner of spirit it is neces: sary for him to be ere he will rightly apply? Neitlier do we perceive how regeneration
by, or without the word; can affect the question at issue between these writers; which is, whether regeneration precede faith? If faith were understood as a belief of the word, and the mind were allowed to be passive in it, it possibly might; but if the belief of the word be not faith, but, as Mr. B. considers it, something “ pre-supposed,” the influrence of the word upon the soul, whatever it is, and in whatever way, one should think must be the same. The mind is certainly active in its reliance on Christ for salvation, and such activity we think Mr. B. will not assert to be the effort of an unregenerate neart.
We earnestly wish those who may have read one of these treatises to read the other; and any thinking, serious mind, will find himself amply repaid for the perusal.