Page images

power in the will, and which has, under that name, been so successfully ridiculed by Edwards; and therefore I have no sympathy with his triumph, especially as I see that the use which he puts it to, is, to make out, that man being still under the whole consequences of the fall, is absolutely destitute of the power of resisting evil, and must necessarily go on in it, unless hist progress is arrested, and his course changed, by a special electing power coming upon him from without,-thus teaching that conversion is a process in which man is entirely passive, being a special interposition of God in every case in which it occurs.

Arminians have generally been understood to regard the voice in conscience as a merely human faculty, a relique of the original state of man, which has survived the fall, and passed to us through it, instead of considering it to be the Spirit of the Word, which came into the nature after the fall, as a seed of regeneration, and as an anticipated fruit of the sacrifice of Christ, and which is thus a real and substantial pledge and bond, connecting every child of Adam with the blessings of the New Covenant, being in fact the very presence in him of the light and

life of Jesus,* "the ingrafted word which is able to save the soul;"-which view alone, however, seems to meet the language of John i., or the meaning of Paul, when in his Epistle to the Colossians he describes the gospel as the preaching of "the mystery, Christ in you, the hope of glory;”—and I believe that in consequence of their low way of considering this subject, Edwards was probably led at once to condemn their doctrine of a self-determining power in the will, as an assertion of man's sufficiency for himself, that is, as Pelagianism, without allowing himself candidly to enquire whether they might not mean something by it, which is vouched by the consciousness of every human heart.

Theoretical truth lies between two errors, and thus it is difficult to oppose one error, without verging into its opposite. If Edwards had not been opposing Whitby and Chubb, but had been simply desiring to set forth the truth of God, he would, in all probability, have written a very different work. I believe that he was himself a good and

*According to Cave, in his life of Justin Martyr, all the primitive fathers of the Church regarded conscience as the Spirit of Jesus.

holy man, but assuredly he has left a dark legacy to the world, in that book on the Freedom of the Will. It is a book which in its principle denies the love of God to man, so forbiding man to trust in God; and in its mode of argument, appeals from man's conscience to his logical faculty, so putting him out of the way of knowing God,—and thus both in principle and in argument, it is directly opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came preaching peace, by declaring his Father to be the common Father of men, prodigals and all ;-Edwards's book has not preached peace; it has preached perplexity and doubt, by declaring that the Father of Jesus Christ is not the Father of all men-and that though He created all men, He only loves a few of them.

Jesus came preaching to the common conscience and common sense of men; he came saying, "If I speak the truth, why do ye not believe me?" Edwards's book sets at naught the conscience and common sense, and preaches to a faculty which few possess to any extent, and fewer still have opportunities of cultivating. He thus really addresses the vanity of men, because he speaks to a faculty in which one man differs from ano

ther, and on account of which, one thinks himself superior to another. And after all, he does not address that faculty on true grounds, as I have shown to be the case in his definition of liberty.

I am sensible that there are many faults in this book of mine; but yet I feel thankful to think, that there is not a sentence nor a sentiment in it, which does not invite and encourage every man to trust with perfect confidence in the love of the living God,— and also, that there is a continual testimony borne throughout it to the righteous nature of God's love, and to the truth that all trust in Him must be a delusion, which is not according to righteousness, and which does not crucify the life of self, and foster the life of the Spirit.


IN two former publications of mine, the one entitled, a Tract on the gifts of the Spirit,-the other, the Brazen Serpent, I have expressed my conviction, that the remarkable manifestations which I witnessed in certain individuals in the West of Scotland, about eight years ago, were the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, of the same character as those of which we read in the New Testament. Since then, however, I have come to think differently, and I do not now believe that they were so.

But I still continue to think, that to any one whose expectations are formed by, and founded on, the declarations of the New Testament, the disappearance of those gifts from the church must be a greater difficulty than their re-appearance could possibly be.

I think it but just to add, that though I no longer believe that those manifestations were the gifts of the Spirit, my doubts as to their nature have not at all arisen from any discovery, or even suspicion, of imposture in the individuals in whom they have appeared. On the contrary, I can bear testimony that I have not often in the course of my life, met with men more marked by native simplicity and truth of character, as well as by godliness, than James and George M'Donald, the two first in whom I witnessed those manifestations.

Both these men are now dead, and they continued, I know, to their dying hour, in the confident belief, that

« PreviousContinue »