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Throwing water upon a flame may be called quenching it, for that is the real tendency of that act, whatever may be the final result. So Christians are warned against destroying a weak brother by uncharitable conduct, for that is the tendency of such conduct,—the very reverse of edification. What we profess, therefore, is, that the operations of the Holy Spirit in the saints, will prove
efficacious and victorious, over “ the world, the flesh, and the devil,” when God purposes that event, whatever momentary resistance may be ungratefully made. In this sense Calvinists have sometimes said, that grace is
irresistible;' though the other terms just mentioned appear more strictly accurate. Whereas the Bishop explains its import by the words
necessarily and solely producing a godly life,' which we disown, except in a qualified sense, a sense perfectly compatible with free-agency and moral obligation. Necessity in the acceptation of certainty, is one thing, but necessity in the acceptation of force or compulsion, is another. And grace (solely’ producing a good principle of action, denotes a very different idea from the same grace producing 'solely' a
§ 6. The Bishop remarks, that the real • orthodox divine maintains that every true --Christian is inspired, enlightened, sanctified,
• and comforted by the Spirit of God. I am happy to learn from his Lordship’s own pen, that the modern Calvinists are orthodox,' thus far. But is there not “a fly in their pot of ointment?" For the real orthodox divine rejects all claim to private revelation, all pretensions to instantaneous and forcible conversion, and to the sensible operation of the 'Spirit; in short, he disclaims what in the lan
guage of modern Calvinists, are called expe• riences ; that is suggestions or perceptions, • known and felt to be communicated by the * immediate inspiration of God.'* Here indeed many “ flies” are brought to buz around the Calvinistic“ pot,” and it is but too apparent that the Bishop of Lincoln has wasted much of his time and ingenuity in labouring to force them in--but with little success. For where has his Lordship learnt that Calvinists lay claim to
private revelations?' We reject' the claim in the sense here insinuated. We profess that divine revelation of truth for the use of the church and all its members is complete in the canon of scripture, and that no Christian ought to expect a private revelation of any new truths which are not there revealed. But if by revelation' be meant a spiritual discovery of the real meaning of religious truth, as the effect
* Refut. p. 73.
of being enlightened' by the Spirit of God; we acknowledge it. But then, does not his Lordship claim the very same for the real orthodox divine?'
§ 7. Much has been said of late about instantaneous and forcible conversion. Now granting that
any Calvinists have used such phrases in regard to some very rare instances of conversion as perhaps in the case of Colonel GARDNER, and a few others is it candid to interpret them capriciously, in a sense never intended by the writers or speakers; nay, in a sense which they explicitly disavow?
One is led to suppose from the Bishop's statement, that Calvinist urge the necessity, or at least the importance, of conversion being instantaneous. But, I appeal to their writings, to their sermons, and to the constant plan of instruction pursued by them in their families, in evidence that they avowedly disclaim any such opinion. That an instanta'neous' change of heart, and a consequent speedy change of niental operations and of conduct, may take place, and in some striking instances actually do take place, we frankly acknowledge, as not incompatible with the real state of man, nor with the gracious power of him “ who commanded the light to shine out of darkness.” The gracious pleasure of the Almighty is not to be limited by the precon
ceived opinions of puny mortals. Far be it from us to prescribe to the Allwise God, when he must influence the minds of his creatures, or how instantaneously or gradually. We regard it as of incomparably greater importance to turn men's attention to their own hearts and lives, “ to examine themselves whether they are in the faith,” and to walk worthy of their “professed subjection to the gospel of Christ." And as to forcible conversion,' in the obnoxious sense intended in the objection, we reject the sentiment; while we plead that conversion, whether slow or sudden, is an effect of divine gracious power influencing the heart.
It is further objected to modern Calvinists, that they pretend to the sensible operation
of the Spirit.' As this is imputed to us a deviation from orthodoxy, we have a right to ask his Lordship, what he means by the word
sensible' in this connexion? Surely he is too candid and just to impute to us the gross absurdity of holding as a religious tenet, that the operations of the Holy Spirit are subjected, or made visible, audible, or tangible, to our corporeal senses. But if he mean only, that we hold the effects of divine operations to be sensible, in the acceptation of “ apprehensible;" or that we may be “ conscious" of effects which can be rationally ascribed to no other cause; we
must stand convicted: Who, indeed, that is conscious of loving God supremely, or of loving the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, can rationally ascribe such effects to any other source than divine operation? “ If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God."
By this we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” « Examine yourselves whether 'ye be in the faith; what, know ye not your own selves?" If Christians may not be sensible'
sensible' or conscious of gracious effects in their own minds, what rational interpretation can be given of these passages of holy writ, and many others of the same import and tendency? In this acceptation of the phrase; the sensible operation of the * Spirit, which is the only one we acknowledge, does not • the real orthodox divine' concur with us?
§ 9. The real orthodox divine, we are again informed, disclaims what in the lan
guage of modern Calvinists, are called' experiences. This expression is certainly to be found in the Calvinistic nomenclature. But what is meant by it? Is it, some enthusiastic
suggestions or perceptions known and felt to 'be communicated by the immediate inspiration of God?' Nothing less.
. This is only his Lordship’s arbitrary interpretation of the term.