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I do not wish, however, to dismiss the subject without stating my views of it, and the grounds on which they rest. To me it appears that the scriptures trace a change of heart to an origin beyond either belief or perception, even to that divine influence which is the cause of both; an influence which, with great propriety, is compared to the power which at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness.*
That there is a divine influence upon the soul, which is necessary to spiritual perception and belief, as being the cause of them, those with whom I am now reasoning will admit. The only question is, In what order these things are caused? Whether the holy Spirit causes the mind, while carnal, to discern and believe spiritual things, and thereby renders it spiritual ; or whether he imparts a holy susceptibility, and relish for the truth, in consequence of which we discern its glory, and embrace it? The latter appears to me to be the truth. The following are the principal grounds on which I embrace it :
First, The scriptures represent the dominion of sin in the heart as utterly inconsistent with a spiritual perception, and belief of the gospel ; and so long as it continues, as rendering both the one and the other impossible.-Spiritual blindness is ascribed to aversion of heart—Their eyes have they
2 Cor. iv, 4.
closed They say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy waysThe ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness, obduracy, or callousness of the heart.* This obstinacy and aversion of heart is the film to the mental eye, prevent. ing all spiritual glory entering into it. The natural man, therefore, receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. From hence it will follow, that unless the holy Spirit effect that which he has declared to be impossible, his influence must consist, not in causing the mind to see notwithstanding the obstruction, but in removing the obstruction itself out of the way. If it be said, though it be impossible with men, yet it may be possible with God, I answer, those things which are impossible with men but possible with God, are not such as are impossible in their own nature.
Where this is the case, the power of God is never introduced as complishing them, any more than the power of
We should not, for instance, think of af. firming that the heart while carnal, and in a state of enmity against God, can, by his almighty power, be made to love him, and be subject to his law: for this is in itself impossible. But the impossibility of the natural man receiving the things of the spirit of God, while they appear foolishness to him, is manifestly of the same nature as this, and is described in the same language.t God doth not cause
* Acts xxviii. 27, Job xxi. 14. Eph. iv. 8.
the mind while carnal to be subject to his law; but imparts that which removes the obstruction, taking away the stony heart out of our flesh, and giving us a heart of flesh. And thus it is supposed to be in respect of spiritual discernment: God does not cause the natural man to receive spiritual things, and thereby render him spiritual; but removes the obstructing film by imparting a spiritual relish for those things. Thus it is that spiritual things are SPIRITUALLY discerned.
Secondly, Though holiness is frequently ascribed in the scriptures to a spiritual perception of the truth, yet that spiritual perception itself, in the first instance, is ascribed to the influence of the Holy Spirit upon the heart.-The Lord OPENED THE HEART of Lydia, and she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul-God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, HATH SHINED IN OUR HEARTS, TO GIVE the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ- The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in
ye need not that any man teach you : but as the same ANOINTING TEACHETH you of all things -Ye have an unction from the HOLY ONE, and
ye know all things.*
Finally, Every thing which proves spiritual blind. ness and unbelief to have their origin in the depravity of the heart, proves that whatever may be
Acts xvi. 4. 2 Cor. iv. 6. 1 John üi. 20—27.
said of particular volitions being caused by ideas received into the mind, original biases are not so;! and every thing which proves spiritual perception and faith to be holy exercises, proves that a change of heart must of necessity precede them, as no holy exercise can have place while the heart is under the dominion of carnality. And whether these principles have not been sufficiently proved in the foregoing pages, the reader must determine.
President Edwards, (than whom no man will be allowed to have possessed a clearer insight into the difficult subjects) speaks with great caution on the will being determined by the understanding. He denies that it is so, if by the understanding he meant what is called reason or judgment; and only allows it “in a large sense, as including the whole faculties of perception or apprehension.” And even when taken in this large sense, he rather chuses to say, that “ The will always is as the greatest ap“ parent good, or as what appears most agreeable, is, than to say " that the will is determined by the greatest apparent good, or by “ what seems most agreeable ; because an appearing most agree. “ able, or pleasing to the mind, and the mind's preferring and “ chusing, seems hardly to be properly and perfectly distinct." + Thus also he writes in his Treatise on the Affections. Spiritual “ understanding consists primarily in a sense of heart of spiritual “beauty. I say in a sense of heart, for it is not speculation merely " that is concerned in this kind of understanding : nor can there “ be a clear distinction made between the two faculties of under. “ standing and will, as acting distinctly and separately, in this " matter. When the mind is sensible of the sweet beauty and “ amiableness of a thing, that implies a sensibleness of sweet“ness and delight in the presence of the idea of it: and this o sensibleness of the amiableness or delightfulness of beauty, “ carries in the very nature of it, the sense of the heart; or an ef
† Inquiry on the Will, pp. 11-17. London Edition.
It is thus, I apprehend, that God reveals the truth to us by his Spirit, in order to our discerning and believing it. Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: Alesh and blood hath not REVEALED these things unta thee, but my Father who is in heaven-Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and REVEALED them unto babes-Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, (that is, into the heart of the wordly man) the things which God hath prepared for them that love him: but God hath REVEALED them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. Now we have received not the
« fect and impression of the soul is the subject of, as a substance “ possessed of taste, inclination and will."
« There is a distinction to be made between a mere notional “ understanding, wherein the mind only beholds things in the “ exercise of a speculative faculty; and the sense of the heart, “ wherein the mind does not only speculate and behold, but relishes " and feels. That sort of knowledge, by which a man has a sen. “sible perception of amiableness and loathsomeness, or of sweet« ness and nauseousness, is not just the same sort of knowledge “ with that, by which he knows what a triangle is, and what a “ square is. The one is mere speculative knowledge ; the other s sensible knowledge, in which more than the mere intellect is “ concerned, the heart is the proper subject of it, or the soul as “ a being that not only beholds, but has inclination, and is pleased “ or displeased. And yet there is the nature of instruction in it; " as he that hath perceived the sweet taste of honey, knows “ much more about it, than he who has only looked upon and « felt it.”*
Inquiry on the Will, pp. 227, 228. Fourth Edition.