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he depend on the promises of divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation.” “ There can be no faith, without the illumination of divine grace. "And thus the human intellect, irradiated by the light of the Holy Spirit, then begins to relish those things which pertain to the kingdom of God, for which before it had not the smallest taste. Wherefore Christ's two disciples receive no benefit from his excellent discourse to them on the mysteries of his kingdom, (Luke xxiv. 45.) till he opens their understanding that they may understand the Scriptures. Thus though the apostles were taught by his divine mouth, yet the Spirit of Truth must be sent to them, to instil into their minds the doctrine which they had heard with their ears."
So far as this we agree with Calvin, that every act of the mind in believing any proposition to be true, excludes from the mind, during the performance of that mental operation, all doubt whether the proposition be true or not; and hence we say, that every act of faith includes at least a present assurance of the truth of the proposition which is the object of faith. Were Jehovah to state such a proposition as this,J. E. thou shalt be saved,' and were J. E. to believe it to be true, he would of necessity in such a case, have an assurance of salvation included in the very act of faith in the statement. But no such affirmation, including an individual's name, has been made of God to, or concerning, any man now living. Jehovah testifies, that he who believeth and is baptized shall be saved. In believing this, we have an assurance; but of what?-Not of our own salvation; but of the truth of the testimony of God, that every one, whoever he may be, that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. We have not the least doubt on this subject, so long as we believe the affirmation of God to correspond with what shall be the future fact, in relation to every believer. We may at the same time doubt whether we believe and have been baptized. We may also be conscious of a mental act of faith, and yet doubt whether it be such an act of faith of which we are conscious, as that by which a sinner receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation. Neither Calvin nor J. E. seem to have duly considered this; for
both of them evidently think, and truly too, that a man must be conscious of believing and repenting; while they are inattentive to the fact, that every one does not reflect on his own consciouness; nor does every one candidly and sufficiently compare the mental emotions which he knows himself to experience, with the inspired descriptions of the Christian graces, so as to judge, that the faith, of which he is conscious, is saving faith; and to conclude, that since God has promised salvation to be. lievers, and he is a believer, therefore he shall be saved.
Every child is conscious of every one of its mental actions; but few children reflect upon that consciousness and reason about it. Thus it is with many of the children of God, who are babes in Christ. A more full discussion of this subject may be found in “Ten Sermons on Faith,” by the conductor of the present work, to which those who are disposed to pursue the subject are respectfully referred.
On the 15th page of the Essay, the Bishop informs us, that approved writers of the churches which have adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith have generally abandoned the doctrine which he opposes. He cites Bax. ter, and then says, “the late Dr. Witherspoon, in his Discourse on Regeneration, in the 1st volume of his works (p. 175 and 176) gives us the point as an essential of a state of grace.” This, said we, to ourselves, is a strange sort of an abandonment of the obnoxious position! Dr. Witherspoon then is against the Bishop! We examined the pages referred to, and found that the Doctor gives us no intimation that a direct and positive assurance of salvation is given to an individual by the Spirit. We next turned to the Bishop's errata, but finding no solution of the difficulty, were determined to dispute his assertion, till we reflected on the slovenly execution of the typographical part of the work, especially of the notes, and the weariness of authors in correcting their own writings, when we ventured on a correction to please ourselves. We will read thus, Dr. Witherspoon, &c. gives up the point, as an essential of a state of grace;' and doubt not that we should find it thus printed in the
first edition of the Essay, or J. E. would have taken conspicuous notice of the subject.
With J. E. we should have no objection, to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, with Christian temper, and Christian weapons; we close the review therefore with a few considerations addressed to him.
You have undertaken, Rev. Sir, the 'vindication of the Methodists as a body,' in your Reply to W. W., and you have contended for the assurance of pardon, if not of salvation, as a privilege of the children of God. Now Sir, if you will vindicate the doctrines of the Methodists in general, (and you are esteemed a conscientious Armi. nian,) if you will affirm, that a believer who is assured of pardon may become an unbeliever, what good will his assurance do him? Suppose that you are to day assured, that all your past sins are pardoned, and that tomorrow you should utterly fall away from grace, which you allow to be possible, so as never to be again renewed to repentance. According to the doctrines of your church you must then infallibly be damned; yes, damned, even after all the sins of the portion of your life previous to your conversion have been completely pardoned. Pray Sir, would you expect in such a case to be punished at all for the sins which were once blotted out by the hand of mercy? If a believer, assured of pardon on good grounds, should utterly fall away, and perish, and all his sins, even the pardoned ones, not be punished, how could it be said that God will render unto every one according to his deeds? and if he should be punished for the sins which were believed to be pardoned at the time of his conversion, how could the assurance of pardon be any thing but the assurance of a falsehood? Is it not incon.. sistent with the idea of the pardoning of certain sins, that the transgressor should ever be punished for them?
Again, one of your members has a direct assurance. from the Holy Spirit, you admit, that he shall be saved; for he is a believer. Is this an assurance of a fact or not? If of a fact, he shall certainly be saved. How, then, can he so resist and grieve the Holy Spirit, as to fall into a state of condemnation, and become a subject of the dam.
nation of hell? If he can fall away so as to perish in sin, his assurance of salvation, was an assurance of a lie; and yet this assurance that he shall be saved, when he shall not infallibly be saved, came, according to your admission, from the Spirit of God himself!
Perhaps you will reply, that the Holy Ghost gives no man an assurance of his salvation, but only that all lais past sins are pardoned. Let us ask then, wherein consists the privilege, which you seem to consider an emiment one, of knowing that our past sins, at any given period of life, are pardoned, if we have no assurance, that we shall not, after receiving this pardon, fall from grace, and sink into hell? What is the pardon of sin worth to a sinner, if it does not rescue him from everlasting burnings?
You speak of the assurance of justification. Does God condemn at the day of judgment any who were at any time justified by him? If not, can any persons assured of justification, fall from a state of acceptance with God, through the imputed righteousness of Christ?
What comfort can it afford any one to be assured that he is already justified, if he is not at the same time as. sured, that he shall not at any future time, be condemned?
It is astonishing Sir, to witness your zeal for assurance, when a man of your intellect must know, that according to the Arminian scheme of the Methodists, it is a very unsubstantial and trivial good.
While we thus write, we have no unkind feelings towards the denomination of Christians which you vindicate; and are happy in persuading ourselves, that multitudes of them shall meet us in heaven, to celebrate the riches of divine grace, which, in the counsels of eternity, rendered their as well as our election, effectual calling, preservation, and ultimate salvation, sure.
ARTICLE II.--The Fathers, the Reformers, and the Public
Formularies of the Church of England, in harmony with Calvin, and against the Bishop of Lincoln; to which is prefixed a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the subject of this controversy; by a Layman: with a Preface, Notes, and an Appendix, by an American Clergyman. Philadelphia: published by Philip H. Nicklin and A. Small. 1817. pp. 203, 12mo.
The worst part of this book is its long title, which we fear will, in some measure, prevent the circulation of it; for one who is not uncommonly blessed with memory would hardly know how to ask for it at a book-store. Another circumstance may prevent its being generally read: it is thought to be serviceable only for Episcopalians; and in our country they are said, as a body, not to be fond of much reading on religious subjects; and to be wholly averse to controversy, unless it be on the subject of episcopacy. Without pretending to enquire whether this allegation, which is frequently made by booksellers, is true or not, we beg leave to say, if any think and preach as Dr. Tomline, the Bishop of Lincoln, must, we are glad to have them occasionally publish their sentiments; for their exertions keep awake the champions of truth. Dr. Tomline's • Refutation of Calvinism," as he is pleased to call it, has induced the Rev. Thomas Scott to write two large octavo volumes, and excited many others to defend the cause of orthodoxy. Now we have no fear that the truth will suffer by being agitated and opposed, if her friends perform their duty. Indeed, men are so generally inclined to a lethargy in religion, to a criminal indifference to truth and error, that in our present imperfect state some controversy seems to be as needful, for a stimulus to investigation, as collision to 'elicit fire from flints. The church of Christ on earth cannot be in a worse state than that in which every man, unmolested, shall teach whatever damnable errors seem good in his own eyes, and no body shall care to exhibit the doctrines of God in opposition to them. We regret, truly, that Dr. Tomline should be unfriendly to what we verily believe to be the