תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

“ laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep.” Cheerfulness, contentment, thankfulness, hope and joy in the Lord, are our duty and privilege; and melancholy and despondency are effects of seriousness of mind, which may not be altogether avoidable, but which should never be indulged, but always watched against with persevering prayer ; not only as the bane of our comfort, but as tending greatly to prejudice those around us against our holy religion itself.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The obnoxious and unfounded doctrine of human merit, held by the church of Rome, fosters 'pride and presumption. The equally erroneous ' and baneful doctrine of moral incapacity, in the 'extent unhappily adopted by Calvin, tends to produce hopeless melancholy, or hardened profligacy. The former exalts too high, the latter depresses too low, the powers of man.'1

Are then the supposed errors of Calvin, as to the degree of human depravity, “equally' obnoxious with the doctrine of human merit held by the church of Rome? Is this the deliberate judgment of any among the pastors and rulers in our protestant Church ? If this be the case, what is become of our reformation from popery, and our protestations against it?

i Ref. 78.

SECTION XV.

Sudden Conversions.

· The real orthodox divine-rejects all pretensions to instantaneous and forcible conversion.'i

İt is here implied, that these pretensions to ' instantaneous conversion' arise especially from the tenets of Calvinists. Yet if they, who call themselves - The Arminians,' and entitle their Magazine, “The Arminian Magazine,' be not Calvinists, narrations of sudden conversions will not be found even chiefly among either the modern Calvinists or their predecessors. But, however that may be, some remarks on the subject may not be improper.

'The new proselytes amounted to three thousand souls 2 whom St. Luke represents, as by degrees converted before they received the Holy « Ghost. The astonishment of these men was at ' first excited, and their attention fixed, by observing that the apostles were instantaneously "enabled to speak a great variety of languages :

and their belief was more fully established by lis'tening to the discourse of Peter, in which he ' called to their recollection the mighty works of Jesus, and appealed, in a strain of persuasive ' reasoning, to those very scriptures which they ' acknowledged to be divinely inspired. This miracle, and these arguments, by their united

2

' Ref. 73.

Acts ii. 37-41.

6

'force, gradually removed all prejudice and hesi'tation, and at length convinced them that the

same Jesus, whom their countrymen' had cru‘cified, was “both Lord and Christ,” that is the ex'pected Messiah. The faith therefore of these

men was not suddenly communicated, by the supernatural operation of the Holy Ghost, but ‘was the natural and progressive effect of what they saw and heard, upon their understandings.' 2

The subject of supernatural operation of the ' Holy Ghost' has been considered : but, if this was 'the natural effect of what they saw and ' heard, it does not appear that the Holy Spirit did any thing towards their conversion, either in convincing them of sin, or in glorifying Christ, in their minds and hearts3

It is not requisite to enlarge on this point: but, if the above be a proper description of a gradual and progressive conversion; the whole of which was completed in a few hours, and at one season of assembling ; I have scarcely read, in modern journals, of any conversions which can be called 'sudden.' The conversion of these Jews was indeed effected in a manner suited to awaken, alarm, convince, and instruct rational creatures; and, though the several steps in the process may seldom be so distinctly discernible, yet the same may be said of many 'sudden' conversions in later ages. Sudden conversions, however, if no rational account can be given of the way in which the

Peter said, “ Ye have taken and with wicked hands have “crucified and slain.” Acts ii. 23. * Ref. 22, 23.

3 John xvi. 8. 15. VOL. VII.

R

change of mind, judgment, and heart, has been produced, should always be suspected : for the Holy Spirit, by whose preventing and adjuvant influences we suppose the change to be effected, is “the Spirit of wisdom;" his work in the mind, conscience, and heart, always accords to the holy scriptures ; and they who have a well grounded hope are able to give“ a reason of that hope” to those who ask it from them. Let it only be granted that, when conversion appears real and scriptural in all other respects, it shall not be judged enthusiastical or hypocritical, because at first effected even in as short a time as these primitive conversions were; and many of us shall be satisfied.

The history of this event is recorded in the following words. “ When they heard this, they

were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter, “and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, “ what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them,

Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the “ name of the Jesus Christ, for the remission of “ sins ; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy “Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your

children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, say

ing, Save yourselves from this untoward genera“ tion. Then they that gladly received the word “were baptized: and the same day there were added « unto them about three thousand souls.”] Did these converts then “gladly receive the word "

Acts ii. 37-41.

which called them to repentance and faith in Christ; and were they admitted into the church by the apostles, on a profession of repentance and faith, before they were in any sense partakers of the Holy Spirit ? Surely their repentance, and faith, and gladness in receiving the word of God, were things good in the sight of God ;' and there, fore beyond doubt performed by the influence of : the Holy Spirit.''

Their subsequent conduct also is recorded in the strongest terms of approbation ; yet, while much is spoken of that love and peace and jo which are “ the fruits of the Spirit,” nothing is spoken of the Holy Spirit being conferred on them after they had been baptized. It may be supposed, however, that, by “ the laying on of the hands of “ the apostles,” they received also those miraculous powers which Peter more especially meant.

The historian does not say · by degrees,' 'gradually,' 'progressively :' and a Calvinist would justly be censured as biassed by an attachment to his own creed, who should make such additions to any part of the sacred narrative. Averse, however, as our opponents are to sudden conversions, it might have been supposed, that some concession or exception would have been admitted on this extraordinary occasion ; however needful it might be to caution the reader not to consider it as a general rule of conversions in ordinary circumstances. “These new proselytes were by degrees

converted.' At what hour, or moment, did they from proselytes become converts ? Did they

.

Ref 61.

« הקודםהמשך »