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the existence of this influence, we are obliged to doubt the reality of any such influence.
II. But we have only begun our objections to this doctrine. Another is this. There are frequent instances of good and pious men, who give as full evidence as any persons can, whatever their speculative belief may be, that they are moved by the influences of God's spirit; who exhibit, in their daily life, those Christian graces, which are expressly declared by St. Paul to be the fruits of the Spirit, namely, “ goodness, righteousness, and truth ;" * but who nevertheless assert that they are wholly unconscious of any such supernatural influences. Examples of this description are by no means rare. Our readers must be particularly unfortunate in their social relations not to know many such. And when we take this fact in connection with another, and one which we would state without invidiousness, that those who declare themselves to be the subjects of a supernatural influence, are not always superior to those just mentioned in those moral and religious qualities which are declared to be the scriptural evidences of the spirit of God, but on the contrary, are sometimes grossly wanting in them, the fair inference from these united facts seems to be, that the argument from experience, so far as it depends on testimony, labors for want of proof. For which is more rational, to believe that they who give the only scriptural proof, namely, that of “fruits," of their being moved by a divine influence, are in an error; or that those who give far less or no such proof of the supernatural presence of the Spirit, are in an error?
III. And this naturally leads us to a third objection with which the doctrine under remark is fatally encumbered. Those who assert themselves to be thus supernaturally enlightened by the spirit of God, and who have equal claims to be believed, often take irreconcilably different views of the same subjects, and of those also, which are of the highest import: such for example, as the character of God; of Christ; of human nature; of the terms of pardon and acceptance of sinners. This is a notorious fact. But can we believe that the true spirit of God speaks a double language ? that it inspires one man with one set of truths, and another man with a different one? Since, then, these alleged supernatural influences of the Spirit lead to conclusions opposed to each other, and this is obviously the fact; and since the evidence in one mind is as strong as the evidence in another, and none has a right to claim a preference with respect to his peculiar light; and since, yet further, there is no common criterion by which the claims of both are to be tested, must it not be that endless and inextricable confusion must follow from the reception of this doctrine ? Is, then, the spirit of God a spirit of discord ?
* Eph. v. 9. See also Gal. v. 22, 23.
IV. We are constrained to reject this system of supernatural influences, because, in the fourth place, it is opposed to all that we know of God's moral government. Every thing that takes place in His providence, is produced through the agency of means or second causes. “ Not seldom, a long and circuitous train of them, the connections and combinations of which it is not in our power to trace, conceals from our view the spirit that guides, and the power that effects the whole. Nor is it only great events, and the accomplishment of great purposes, that we are to trace to the agency of the spirit of God. It extends not less to the common provisions and constant occurrences of life; to the food by which our life is supported, and every provision by which it is made comfortable. These are the gift of God; not directly, not independently of our exertions, nor without the exertions of others, but by employing them both. God is also the preserver of our lives, and is to be acknowledged in all the common as well as the uncommon exigencies of our being. Not, however, by immediate acts of power and a direct agency is this done, but by the instrumentality of an infinite variety and complicated system of means. Of these means, our own exertions, and the assistance of others, constitute an essential and a principal part. If they are neglected or withheld, the protecting care of heaven is withheld. We perish. A miracle is not wrought to save him who takes no care to save hirnself.” * But if God, in imparting his spiritual influence to the mind of man, acts directly, without any such agency of means, in some indiscribable, incomprehensible, and miraculous way, then it is an act of omnipotence, which is without a parallel in His whole universe besides; it is without those characteristics of His agency, which mark his doings in all things else; it is opposed to all those analogies which run through all His moral superintendence of man. And all this, moreover, is done, as we shall soon show, without any adequate call or cause, unnecessarily and gratuitously. Now we cannot but think that this view of the subject presents a valid objection to the doctrine under discussion. We must conclude that a system which involves such a departure from the usual course of God's providence, and this for no adequate, and even for no necessary and important cause, should be received with much hesitation and doubt.
* This quotation will be recognised as an extract from Dr. Ware's “ Letters to Trinitarians and Calvinists.” Letter VI. pp. 111, 112. Cambridge, 1820. We would take this opportunity of observing, that these Letters of Dr. Ware exhibit a model of the temper and spirit with which religious controversy should be conducted. The Letter above quoted may be cited as a specimen of the whole. The conscious yet quiet power, with which the argunsent of his opponent is examined, what is irrelevant in it laid aside, its just strength and point allowed, and then fairly met and answered, are truly admirable.
V. We cannot receive the doctrine of the supernatural influences of the Spirit, because, in the fifth place, it supposes a miracle to be wrought in the minds of men, when no miracle is needed. It implies an altogether gratuitous use of divine power. In the very constitution of our minds, God has made provision, as we have already observed,* by which he can lead them to any result, by those influences, to which, in their natural operation, they are or may be subjected. The provision, it will be remembered, is this. The order in which ideas and emotions arise within us, and the circumstances which may give them vividness and intensity, are often wholly unknown to us. This order and these circumstances, therefore, may be altered or interrupted by the ordinary influence of God upon the mind, without our being conscious of the peculiar operation of this influence, and without our being able to discern it as working separately from the natural operations of the intellect, though, at the same time, we profit by its agency. If this be so, and to deny it, is to deny one of the most obvious facts in the philosophy of the human mind, a fact of which any man may be assured by one moment's reflection; if this be so, then is it not gratuitous to suppose that the miraculous influence of the Spirit of God is necessary in the conversion of men from sin to holiness ? — that he takes us, without any necessity for it, out of a moral dispensation of government, and puts us into a miraculous one?
* See Christian Examiner for January, 1835, p. 315.
VI. We object to this doctrine of supernatural illumination, in the sixth place, because it renders unimportant or useless the ordinary means of improvement, which God, in his goodness, has put into our hands. What is the object of all the instruction of nature, providence, and of the Jewish and Gospel dispensations ? What is the use of all the moral machinery which God established at first, which has been continued in operation, through all ages, and is, at this moment, producing its appointed results in every thing around us, and in us. Is it, or can it be any other than the improvement of man's moral and religious nature ; the advancement, of that spiritual part of his being which shall bring him into a nearer likeness to God, and prepare him for the holiness and happiness of the eternal world ? If this be not the design of these means, what are they designed for ? But if this be their design, by the appointment of God, shall we venture to say, that they are not adequate to accomplish their end? — that their most successful operation is yet a failure ? Yet it is to this extent that the system under consideration reaches; since the change to be wrought in us, is not one which can be effected by the use of these means, but is expressly said to be one “ totally different, not only from every thing that natural men experience, in degree and circumstances, but also in kind, and is of a nature vastly more excellent.” What a piece of solemn trifling, then, it is to offer motives and means of Christian improvement to men, when they are so utterly ineffectual in accomplishing their object ? What works of supererogation, how vain, how worthless, are our sabbaths and sanctuaries, our religious meetings, our instructions and prayers, and all the ordinary means of religious improvement ? It is not enough, then, that God has given us hearts to feel, and minds to know; manifestations of Himself in His wondrous frame of nature; the lessons of His providence every day and every hour; and, more than all this, His blessed Gospel; the instructions and example of His Son; the aids of His good Spirit to coöperate with all our good efforts ! - All
this is unavailing to lead us to Him in humble faith and childlike trust, until some strange and unaccountable and absolutely miraculous influence is communicated to the mind, in some equally strange, unaccountable, and miraculous way!
VII. Our next objection to the doctrine under remark seems to us to be decisive, even though it stood alone. It is, that the effects, which are relied upon as proof of the supernatural illumination of the human mind, by the Spirit of God, may all be accounted for on principles strictly natural. It will here be seen that we meet the argument in favor of this doctrine on the ground where its advocates are most willing to place it. They confidently, and doubtless with entire honesty and selfconviction, appeal to the alleged effects of the Divine Influence, as being decisive evidence of its supernatural character. Now, if we can show, or make it appear probable, that these effects have no just claim to this distinction, then this part of their argument will be found to be untenable.
We regret that our limits will not permit us to go into much detail on this part of the subject, since it is one of great practical importance in itself, and comprises the true explanation of all those mental phenomena which are thought to be miraculous.
Among those influences, whose effects, combined in various modes and degrees, exhibit the results which are considered to be supernatural are the following:- That peculiar constitution of body called temperament, by which persons are predisposed to be gloomy, timid, mystical, austere, ascetic, liable to great excitement and great depressions of feeling, without any adequate cause ;- Education, in its broadest sense, including the education of circumstances, the unsuspected influence of parents, relatives, friends, and associates, and the moral and religious atmosphere which is habitually breathed ; and Education also, in its stricter sense of direct instruction, including the lessons at a mother's knee, at the school, at the college, the tasks that are studied, the books that are read, and all the specific means of moral suasion ; — the power of strong belief, to create, so far as almost any mere state of mind is concerned, the thing believed ; — imagination, with all its transforming power, especially when it is excited, for the first time, by religion apprehended as a reality, and associated with sensible images of the future destiny of the undying soul; — the countless influences of association, by which, we know not why or how, certain places, persons, times, and events appear to be fraught with a mysterious interest and an inexplicable connexion ; — the strange and unexpected concurrence of circumstances, which, by an agency not our own, lead to some deeply affecting result;
peculiarities of the individual, which make him, or seem to make him, an exception to all known laws; — the unsuspected influence of an impatience of being thought less susceptible