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regeneration are sanctified, and thereby made conformable to the will of God, yet obedience and disobedience are formally acts of the will, and according to its qualities, a man is said to be obedient to God or disobedient. If, therefore, we have lost all inclination to obey the great Legislator of heaven and of earth, he has not lost his right to command universal and perpetual obedience.”
That man is totally depraved, entirely helpless, and utterly hopeless in himself, is strongly inculcated by the author of these
valuable letters. See pages 140. 149. 169. Still, however, he seems to lean to the opinion of those divines who place human
depravity in the will alone: yet it is manifest, from the passage
above quoted, that a conviction of the truth has prevented his adopting it. The reader will please to observe, that he does not affirm that all obedience or disobedience is in no part but the will, but qualifies his assertion by saying it is properly, or at least primarily, in no part but the will. That depravity is found in the will is an undeniable truth; but that it is confined to this faculty is what we cannot admit. The language of the standards of the Presbyterian Church is, in our apprehension, perfectly scriptural. They assert that man is both unable and unwilling to obey the law of God. A blinded understanding is sinful as well as a stubborn will. Holiness is, conformity to the divine law; and consequently sin or depravity is a transgression or want of conformity to that law. Now, if the law insists that all the faculties of the soul shall conform to its requisitions, it will follow, that any want of conformity, in whatever faculty it may be found, must be sinful. That the law does in fact make such a demand is perfectly manifest, from the summary given by our Lord of the first table, in answer to a question proposed by a lawyer, who asked him, which was the great commandment in the law : “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Here let it be observed, that our Lord does not confine love to God to the heart, which is usually considered as the seat of the affections, but extends it to the mind, and to all the faculties of the soul. In fact, it is as really our duty to form with the understanding right conceptions of God, as it is to yield to him the homage of our affections; and indeed it is manifest, that right conceptions of his glorious perfections are indispensably necessary to right exercises of the heart toward the ever blessed God. We cannot love him, unless we know him. Hence it follows, that so far as the understanding is deficient in conformity to the divine law, it is sinful; and consequently, that depravity is not confined to the will alone, but infects the understanding too, and indeed all the faculties of the soul. Accordingly, we find that the sacred scriptures condemn ignorance of divine things, as well as opposition to them; and teach us, as the author admits,
that in regeneration other faculties of the soul, as well as the will, are sanctified. But if depravity were confined to the latter, the former would stand in no need of a purifying process.
“.Memoir of the Life and Character of the Reverend Samuel Bacon, J. M. late an Officer of Marines,” &c.
When the public career of an individual has attracted attention or excited applause, nothing is more natural than the desire to become acquainted with his private history; and this desire is proportionably increased, if the incidents of his life partake of an extraordinary character. With a complete portraiture, however, we can seldom be gratified, except through the medium of biography, unless we have enjoyed his particular confidence and friendship; and hence, this department of literature, properly regulated, is deservedly popular. It furnishes the world with a variety of interesting details which would otherwise be lost; presents a faithful delineation of character; preserves the memory of good deeds, and brings under the view all the occurrences of the most eventful life. There are but few of the religious community, we presume, who have heard of the hallowed zeal and unwearied exertions of the Rev. Samuel Bacon, without lamenting his premature fate, and at the same time, feeling anxious to learn the particulars of his history. The opportunity for gratifying this desire is now afforded the public, and we apprehend, they will readily unite with us in expressing the thanks due the Biographer for his interesting volume. The execution of this work, is in general creditable to the author; although the fastidious reader may perhaps complain that the style is too laboured and rhetorical for this species of composition. We must, however, be permitted to advert to one or two features in the narrative, which in our opinion are objectionable. In the first instance, the volume is unnecessarily swelled in size, by the introduction of extraneous matter; with which the reader could have dispensed, or which might have been thrown, with more propriety, into the appendix. Of this nature, are the remarks relative to the public provision for the support of elementary schools and the regular administration of the gospel in New England,-the account of Harvard Institution and the history of Sunday Schools; all which, without any compensating quality, perplex and interrupt the narrative.
But a more serious objection we have to the plan pursued by the Biographer in exhibiting the manuscript papers of Mr. Bacon. He has observed in his advertisement, “Few of the manuscripts were intended for publication at all; and none of them, in the state in which they came into the author's hands; he has therefore used the necessary liberty of correcting the style and phraseology of nearly all the passages introduced into the memoir.” Now it will be acknowledged that verbal emendations may be made, without any unwarrantable infringement upon the sentiments or style of an author; but we would be exceedingly sorry, should the precedent be established, by which the “phraseology of nearly all the passages” of a posthumous writing might undergo revision and alteration. It is remarked, it is true, as an explanation, that few of these manuscripts were intended for publication; but it may be replied, who writes a diary or enters into an epistolary correspondence with an expectation that what he writes will be presented to the public eye? Were this the anticipation of authors generally, we venture to affirm that both these species of writing would be divested of their peculiar attractions. When a man has recorded his religious experience, we wish not only his sentiments, but his style, nay, his very words; it is essential to the interest, that we should have his feelings expressed in his own peculiar phraseology, and then we can readily forgive unimportant inacCuraC16S. With this partial abatement, we express our general approbation of the manner, in which this memoir has been prepared, and our peculiar pleasure at the generous and sympathetic feeling and tone of evangelic piety which prevail throughout. Mr. Bacon, the subject of this memoir, was a native of Massachusetts, and passed the first twenty years of his life in the laborious occupations of his father's farm, uneducated and unenlightened. Unhappy domestic circumstances rendered his seclusion unpleasant and stripped home of its customary endearments.” He was not, however, to be hopelessly depressed; with a naturally enterprising mind, he struggled, amidst discouragements of no ordinary kind, to emerge from the obscurity in which he was involved, and seized with avidity every opportunity for acquiring knowledge. What tended most effectually to his advancement, however, was the then secret determination of Providence to select him for usefulness in the church. He was, indeed, the subject of remarkable providences; but it is not our intention here to enumerate the strange vicissitudes of his life, but to excite the attention of the religious public to the narrative in which they are recorded. The greater part of Mr. B.'s life was spent “without God and without Christ in the world;” but at length, after many wanderings, his active and restless mind was brought to concentrate all its energies upon the important subject of religion. By the transforming grace of God, the soldier, the infidel and duellist, was induced to lay aside his irritable temper, gloomy speculations and false notions of honour, to become an humble and yet intrepid standard-bearer for Christ. The first permanent religious impressions which he experienced and their happy results, are thus well portrayed.
* Perhaps it might be objected, that the Biographer has revealed too much of the ...P. temper of Mr. B.'s father. It was necessary that the fact should be adverted to, but in such painful representations, the feelings of survivors should be consulted.
“The fear of death shortly invaded him again; excited a guilty conscience, to discharge its dreadful office with still better criminations, and more alarming anticipations than before; and after many hours of fruitless supplication, subsided into a tranquil calm of the soul. This visitation of the hand of God he was notable to forget entirely. He gave, from this period, a more constant attendance on preaching; read the Bible, prayed, bought religious books, and without discovering his intention to any one, was disposed to make religion a very serious matter both of inquiry and practice. He still appears to have been a stranger to Jesus Christ, the source and channel, of all efficient spiritual influences. The word sown in his heart was still on ‘the stony ground where it had not much depth of earth;’ and however promising in appearance, was without root, and ‘in the hour of temptation withered away.” He, indeed, was convinced that he had not attained to a state of safety; but, for a short time had too much confidence in the efficacy of his own dead works, “performed without grace,’ to advance him to that desirable state, to relinquish his dependence on them, and trust alone, in the righteousness of Christ. With the root of self. righteousness still vigorous in his heart, was united its inseparable concomitant, great ignorance of the way of salvation, by faith. This, indeed, is a mystery which can be fully learnt only by experience. But Mr. Bacon appears not to have possessed even that theoretical knowledge of the important doctrine which many persons, as destitute of saving faith as himself, have nevertheless, acquired. While he continued to acquit himself, with tolerable regularity, in the duties to which he was now addicted, his conscience slumbered; and a vague hope of finally escaping the wrath of God, and obtaining his favour, held him fast in its delusion. But God again suffered him to fall by a train of temptations, an easy prey to sins, which he could not reconcile with the character even of a sincere and earnest inquirer in religion. He had been invited by his gay associates, to unite with them in a scene of fashionable dissipation; and so utterly destitute of firmness to withstand the solicitation did he find himself, that he yielded an almost unhesitating compliance. While participating in this frivolous amusement, all serious reflection was stifled; and he was conscious of no other restraint on the levity of his feelings, than that which the laws of decency and custom impose. He was at this time in Lancaster. On his return to York, the next day, he had leisure to review his conduct, in the black shade thrown over it by the recollection of violated resolutions and vows, and the consciousness of having offered a direct resistance to the suggestions of the divine Spirit, and of violating his own knowledge and convictions of duty. He perceived that he had not only been overcome by the temptation, but vanquished almost without an opposing struggle. His reflections were distracting; and hurried him into a state of mind but little short of despair. . He dared not even pray for forgive: ness. Either the agitation of his thoughts, or real indisposition, impressed strongly on his imagination the expectation of sudden death. His health again became sensibly affected; and he ventured to pray only for strength to reach home, and permission to die in the midst of his friends. He arrived. But his spirit found no rest: it had received a wound, which every recollection aggravated, and all his attempts to heal were worse than idle. The hand of the Almighty had inflicted it, and the remedy was only with himself. He read the scriptures, prayed, wept, but to no purpose. He was even tempted to drown his anguish in intoxication: but God mercifully overruled the intention. His imagination was still full of the apprehension of a sudden death—and while he repressed the open expression of his feelings, he more than once took a final leave as he supposed, of his child, and his friends. His inward anguish and alarm so far predominated as to overcome, at length, the pride of heart which had hitherto restrained him from availing himself of the counsel and society of his pastor and Christian friends. It cost him even now, a severe struggle to withdraw himself from a number of his customary associates, and go and unbosom himself to the clergyman on whose ministry he attended. In this interview, to employ his own phraseology, “he cried and roared aloud:” and it was not until he }.} freely given vent to the strongest of his feelings, that he could utter his errand in intelligible language.” “The perusal of “Doddridge's Rise and Progress,” which was put into his hands at the time, was an important help; as, by preserving him from absolute despair, it gave him the power of concentrating his thoughts without distraction, on the great doctrines of salvation. His time was as much devoted to inquiry on these subjects, and to public prayer, as his secular avocations would permit. Thenceforward he mingled more freely, than ever before, in the circles of the pious, and found a great advantage in their society. It was by no means the least, that he was at once delivered from many of the temptations and dangers, unavoidably growing out of his former connexions. The spirit of grace continued gradually to enlighten his mind, with a clearer knowledge of the gospel; and in a few weeks, he found himself able to repose his soul with a happy confidence on his Saviour, “At what moment the gift of faith was first imparted, and his heart brought to bow with entire submission to the yoke of Christ, does not plainly appear. But, from the period to which this part of the narrative refers, he seems never, even for a day, to have remitted the pursuit of his salvation; and scarcely to have declined, by a single relapse, from those high attainments in faith and holiness, which he was enabled through an abundant supply of grace, to make with a ra. pidity seldom exceeded by the most favoured Christian. But it will be seen, that the original corruptions of his heart were not at once eradicated, nor the current of habit reversed, by an absolute exertion of divine power. But grace eventually accomplished this work, by engaging all the powers of his mind in a long and arduous course of exertion, vigilance, and self-denial. His conflicts were often sharp and painful; but commonly of momentary continuance. The fervency of his prayers, and the habitual prevalence of a vigorous faith, gave him an easy and rapid conquest of his spiritual foes. Nearly every struggle against sin proved to him the occasion of a new victory over it, till, by a dispensation as merciful to him, as mournful to the world he left, he was early translated to the scene of his everlasting triumph.”
It might naturally be expected, that with a heart so deeply affected by the grace of the Redeemer, he would desire to devote all his talents to the service of the gospel, by freeing himself from secular employments and selecting a station more congenial with his renewed feelings. The practice of the law was accordingly abandoned; the prospects of professional distinction were promptly waved, and the arduous duties and responsibilities of the gospel ministry assumed.
When the experiment of African colonization had been determined upon, Mr. B. was entrusted with a principal agency, as a person peculiarly qualified for the management of the con
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