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They never use language denoting passivity, but the highest effort. The language is such as men use who form purposes,-put forth the most intense exertion, and do the thing required. Thus David says,

I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” The whole process described, denotes activity. It expresses reflection on the past, a comparison of reasons in favor of opposite courses of conduct; an estimate of results; a sense of what commends itself to the conscience and the judgment; and the doing what was required. This is not the language of a man who is merely passive. It describes a complex, though instantaneous act of the soul :—the proper effect, according to all the proper laws of the human mind,--of previous deliberation.

In the scriptures there is no where found language denoting passivity, when applied to this subject. It is always the language of an active being. “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.”

” sought the Lord and he heard me. “I love the Lord for he hath heard the voice of my supplication.” “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him, against that day.” All these are the actings of a moral agent.

3. To the same effect are all the promises of the bible. They are addressed to men as active beings; never as passive. The promise is to effort; not to inactivity. Seek and ye shall find : knock and it shall be opened.” Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth.” “If any man will open the door, I will come in." “ Come unto me, and I will give you rest." Now, in reading these passages—and they have reference to the very point in debate, the commencement of religion in the soul ; -would it ever occur that they regarded man in any other light, than as being active in the entire work of religion? Do they look as if the sacred penman, ever considered their minds as mere passive recipients, in any part of this work? Do they not speak as men do on other subjects, when they express activity? And is it not the natural language of these expressions, that the mind is as far as possible from stagnation, or torpor, or "moral panic?" Let it be remembered also, that they speak of the actings of the mind, in all the changes which it experiences in religion. There is not a single point relating to the application of christianity to the soul; not a single statement recognizing the actual contact of any part of that system with the heart and producing effect, in which they do not employ language denoting activity. There is nothing in the charge of which they speak, anterior to action; no department of the moral man in which christianity obtains a lodgment, that is not expressed by language describing man's own agency. All we know of the existence of a holy principle in the soul; all that the sacred writers ever


tell us of its influence, existence, or power, is when they tell us of its pervading, aud displaying itself in living spirits, which are active through all the process in which that principle exists.

To speak of it otherwise, is to talk of life as an independent principle without any thing that lives; or motion without any thing that moves; or thought without any thing that thinks. In conversion, repentance, faith, hope, fear, love, joy, the sacred writers speak always of an active moral agency. In none of their declarations, is the mind considered an inert mass, as matter was when God organized the world; or as wax when it receives the impression of the seal; or as the dead are, when God speaks and they live. That these figures are used we admit; but they are figures, and not intended to prove that in all respects the sinner is like a mass of earth, or a lifeless corpse. To those who insist that those passages prove the sinner to be passive in regeneration, we would say, Then with equal reason it might be inferred from them, that he was passive before the change. If to be made a new creature in Christ Jesus, proves that the man is passive in the change, then the figure being carried out, proves also that he was before inert and inactive, like a lifeless body. Yet who does not know, that such an inference in regard to the sinner, would be infinitely far from truth? In some respects indeed, the work of conversion is like the creation of the world, and the raising of the dead. In the greatness of the change, the actual exertion of power by God, and the importance of the revolution, it greatly resembles these highest and most stupendous acts of the Deity. But all this is entirely consistent with the fact, that the sinner is active in the change; "thinking on his ways,' forming the decisive choice, and coming to Christ. Let it be remembered, that God acts on mind not as he does on matter. And though from the imperfection of language, the same terms are used to describe his agency in the two cases, the language is to be interpreted according to the nature of the object. When he speaks, therefore, of creating a world, or of raising the dead, he speaks of resistless power acting on the vacancy of space, or on the motionless dwellers in the tomb. When he speaks of renewing a soul dead in sins, and creating it in Christ Jesus, he speaks of operating on that which already possesses active existence; which needs not creation but control, not formation, but change; not new active powers, but active powers newly directed. Language must be interpreted according to the existence of these facts; and in the one case must be understood with reference to the previous non-existence or death of the subject, and in the other with reference to its perverted active powers.

4. The feelings of the soul, as they exist in regeneration, are moreover the subject of reward. “He that believeth shall be sa

ved." “ He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Yet it is perfectly manifest, that if these are the mere gift of God, or their being withheld is his act alone, unaccompanied with any agency on the part of man, they can neither be the subject of reward por punishment. Like any thing else that is the mere bestowment of God, the only proper effect of them is to produce gratitude; but the possession of them can have no proper connection with reward; nor the want of them, with blame. One man is endowed with distinguished talents. It involves him in high responsibility, and should affect his heart with peculiar gratitude. Another is the heir of a princely fortune. It is the gift of God; possessed of no moral quality; unconnected, in the gift

, with any active powers; and therefore neither the object of praise por blame. On the cheek of one the roses of health always bloom. “Grace"

may be

In all her steps, heaven in her eye,

In every gesture, dignity and love." All these are the allotment of God. They have no moral quality. Nor is a reward promised to their possession. So if faith, repentance, etc. or regeneration, which involves them all, is the gift of God, in the same sense, and as unconnected with activity, as talents, beauty, gold, and health, then like them, they can produce only gratitude, but can never be the subject of reward. If they come down like the showers of spring-time, or the beams of noon-day on the passive earth, or if they spring like the bubbling fountain, or the tender grass, only by the creative power of God on passive subjects, then like the shower, the sun-beam, and the grass, they are without moral quality, and can neither be the subject of reward nor punishment. Nor, if this be the case, can man be under any obligation to pos

Who is bound to be a 'father to the rain,' or 'to beget the drops of the dew?' Who is bound to scatter the hoar frost like ashes, or to cast forth the ice as morsels?' Who is bound to possess showers of rain, or the dew of the morning, or the beams of noon? Not one. They are all beyond the compass of human agency, because they are the gift of God, in a passive world. And in like manner, if regeneration and its attendants, are the gift of God in a passive moral world, then are they with suns, and dews, and fountains, and streams, placed beyond obligation, moral character, and reward.

Let us select here, one of the particular points of the Spirit;one of the effects of the application of christianity to the soul, which may be supposed, if any one can be, to be connected with passivity; and which has commonly, we believe, been so regarded by the abettors of the passive scheme, we mean faith. Unless

sess them.

we are greatly mistaken as to its nature, it is nothing more than an act of the mind-secured by the influence of the Holy Ghost. God has made this the key stone of salvation : “He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” This characteristic of the christian, has been exalted to this elevated rank in the divine plan, because it is one of those aggregating virtues, which contain the elements of all others. He that has faith, has repentance, fear, hope, love, confidence, peace, pardon. But is this any evidence that God imparts this christian virtue to inactive beings, or mere passive recipients? Or is its first existence, equally with its full developement, the voluntary act of a moral agent?

Now, when we look at faith, without reference to any theological debate, we see nothing that is particularly mysterious about it as an operation of the mind; nothing which by any inherent properties separates it from the usual actings of moral agency. It is belief in testimony ;—that is, credit given to truth according to evidence, implying action in looking at this evidence, and in coming to the result

. It is simply believing in things as they are ; and suffering them to make their proper impression on the mind, and on the life ;-implying contemplation, thought, purpose, at every stage of the process. It is trust in Jesus Christ;—evidently nothing more than the reliance (a reliance implying purpose and action of a feeble and guilty creature, on an almighty Savior. It is credence in the promises and threatenings of God;—belief that he is; that he reigns; that he rewards. In all this we see only the actings of the mind. Take away that act of mindthe putting forth of confidence, trust, or belief, and what remains? There is nothing tangible or conceivable, but that act of the mind. This man believes. That is the whole of the process. That man disbelieves. That is the whole of the process of infidelity. A child puts confidence in a parent's promise. This is faith. He relies on him in the hour of danger; he fears when he threatens. That is also faith. But besides this act of the mind in the child, there is nothing that can be detected or conceived of in relation to the subject, that deserves praise or blame. So of the christian. All that we know of this crowning christian grace is, that the man believes, hopes, loves, fears, puts trust in God. If this operation of the mind, is not all that is meant by faith, then we ask what secret substratum, or evanescent and invisible existence there is, to which we shall appropriate a part of the name, and the rewards, of faith?

But it is said, that faith is the gift of God. This is true. And so are repentance, love, hope, and peace, the gift of God, and in the same sense, and to the same extent. The passage

of scripture which says, "for by grace are ye saved through faith, and Vol. II.


that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” may perhaps be objected to the view here given. But it should be remembered that while the sentiment which appears to be taught there is true, it is not the truth which that passage contains. In the original, the word “that” refers not to faith, bnt to the salvation by grace. It would be correctly rendered, Ye are saved by grace through faith, and this salvation by grace through faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God:*—a sentiment not asserting any thing peculiar in the gift of faith above other graces; but reiterating one of the universal maxims of christianity, that salvation is by grace, given when, where, and to whoni God pleases.

To this view of faith, we know there is presented a difficulty, in the technicalities of some systems of theology, drawn we believe from erroneous views of the philosophy of the mind. It is, that anterior to the exercise of faith, apart from it, and capable of distinct contemplation, and of course responsibility, there is a principle of faith implanted in regeneration. By this statement is meant, not simply that the result will be secured; not that there is such a divine control, as to make it certain that the man will believe, but something independent of any act or state of the mind; something having real existence when the mind does not act; something which has secured a lodgement in the soul, that makes it certain that the mind will act in a given way; and something that to the full extent of its influence, renders the interposition of the Holy Ghost, in each specific act of the mind, so much the less necessary. This is the counterpart of the doctrine of physical depravity; of a concreated principle of evil; and is what our author calls “a restorative of the dislocated faculties of the soul.” We cannot better reply to this “ dogma” than in his language.

Perhaps it will be said that God creates, or inserts some holy principle in us, which constitutes regeneration, and in which we are entirely passive; but that thereafter we actively do our duty. To this quaint statement, I reply, that it can command the confidence of no well disciplined mind, till we have both a definition of what is meant by holy principle, and a demonstration of its existence, of more importance than the mere terms of the theory. By .holy principle,' I mean love to God, and not any thing antecedent to it; and by love to God I mean loving him; and in that, the subject is active. And the fruit of the spirit,' the most precious fruit that grows in our world, which is luniinously defined and identified in the word of God, most fully establishes this exposition. For the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. "If any man will show me how these can be

* Εph. ii. 8. Τη γάρ χάρισί εστε σεσωσμένοι δια της πίστεως και τουτο ουκ εξ υμών, Θεού το δώρον.

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