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testify it to some; and they ground it on Rom. viii. 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. They think the Spirit reveals it, by giving an inward testimony to it, and some godly men think they have experience of it; but they may easily mistake. When the Spirit of God doth eminently stir up a spirit of faith, it is easy to mistake it as a testimony. And that is not the meaning of Paul's words. The Spirit reveals things to us, by opening our eyes to see what is revealed in the word. The Spirit discovers the grace of God in Christ, and thereby draws forth special actings of faith and love, which are evidential; but it doth not work in way of testimony. If God does but help us to receive the revelations in the word, we shall have comfort enough without new revelations."
Let it not be forgotten that the testimony of which Stoddard here speaks, is an inward testimony given to an individual person.
What the Spirit has caused to be written, in the Holy Scriptures, is testimony of a general nature, designed for us and our children; but other testimony no man has any reason to expect, on the subject of a sinner's salvation. Now the Spirit has already testified, that he who believeth shall be saved; and if our spirits, or minds, are conscious that they do believe, then the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God.
In another place, the Holy Ghost has given the Christian world this testimony, every one that loveth is born of God. The nature of this love is also described by the same blessed person. Let us, then, compare the love which we are conscious that we feel, with the love described in the Bible; and if we correctly judge, that we have Christian love, then again, the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, or our spirits and the Holy Ghost co-operate in evincing, that we are the children of God. In this way, it is the duty of every genuine Christian to assure his heart before God; and the person who does not wish to believe on the Son of God, and to know that he has a title to eternal life, is unworthy of the Christian name. Will it be credited that any should be indifferent about knowing what their state is, that have immortal souls to be saved or lost? So long as one knows not that he belongs to the Redeemer's ránsomed and justified people, Vol. I.
he cannot know that he does not belong to the devil's dominions; and surely, it cannot be thought a question of little moment, or one that lightly affects our peace, whether we are heirs of heaven or heirs of hell! These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, saith the apostle John; that ye may Know that ye have eternal life. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.
Other assurance than that which consists in knowing that we are in Christ, and that we shall certainly be sav. ed, we neither desire nor commend. In this we are persuaded the Bishop will agree with us, notwithstanding J. E. thinks him the enemy of every kind of assurance; and we agree too in our opinion of the mode, by which any attain to this happy knowledge; that it is by a right apprehension of scriptural piety, a judgment that we are the subjects of it, and a legitimate inference from the promises of God, that such as possess the Christian character shall certainly be saved. In short, sanctification furnishes evidence of our actual justification; and all persuasions, which men have from any other source, that they are accepted of God, that their sins are pardoned, and and that they shall enter heaven, are delusive, and shall perish.
“ But," it will be demanded, “if W. W. and J. E., the authors of the pamphlets before us, agree in the sentiments of Usher which have been cited, about what do they dispute?”
This is the secret; J. E. suspects that W. W. really opposes the doctrine, that a believer may have, and ought to have, an assurance, which is satisfactory to himself, that his sins are pardoned. He also shrewdly guesses, that the Bishop intended to deny the necessity of all divine agency
in the conversion of a sinner from the error of his ways. Hence J. E. observes, “ it may be supposed from his title, that W. W. is not opposed to the doctrine of ' a personal assurance of the pardon of sin,' but only to a personal assurance of it by a direct communication of the Holy Spirit.' If so—if he really does believe that it is still the privilege of the Christian to be personally assured of the pardon of his sins, whether by a direct communication of the Holy Spirit, or otherwise, it is a matter of joy.” P. 4. But why, Mr. J. E. so much skepticism on this subject? Is it because of some previous judgment, that the whole tenor' of any thing which W. W. writes must 'be in direct hostility to evangelical truth?' Or does it result, from an unavoidable 'misapprehension of the author's meaning? P. 3. Surely it requires nothing but common candour in one so discerning as J. E. to understand W. W. when he puts in “a caution (Essay, p. 19.) against his being understood to deny the possibility of a Christian's knowing that he is within the terms of the gospel covenant.' It requires not even the spiritual discemment, which he rather indecorously intimates Christians must begin to suspect the Bishop deficient in, (Reply, p. 22.) to apprehend the meaning of the assertion, faith and repentance are exercises of the mind, and subjects of consciousness.' Essay, p. 19. To us, it is also sufficiently plain, that while W.W. denies assurance of salvation to be of the essence of saving faith; and denies a direct personal assurance to be highly desirable and to be laboured after, he nevertheless teaches, that an indirect personal assurance, obtained by inference from our own consciousness, and the records of divine truth, is both attainable and desirable. He says of such an assurance, it is not denied to be a fruit of the Spirit, in like manner with the other fruits associated with it in Gal. V. 22.'-—such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Be it known and remembered, therefore, that Bishop White does teach the necessity of the agency of the Holy Ghost in producing the Christian graces in sinners, and that he admits a scriptural assurance of pardon to be one of them, which is not given to all, but enjoyed by some. It is falsely, therefore, that he is accused of representing sinners to be able to convert themselves, and practise holiness without the blessed influences of the Spirit. If the Essay left any reasonable ground for a suspicion on this subject, the notes which accompany this edition of it, put
the subject beyond controversy; for in them we find the following assurances: that, it never occurred to the author, to deny the regenerating grace of baptism [by the Holy Ghost] nor the renovating which can proceed only from the Holy Spirit of God, nor his being shed in re. ligious graces.' Essay, p. 43. 'In the Essay there is no denial of the agency of the Holy Spirit on the human mind. The question relates to a communication specially defined, and the alleged manner of its being made. What we know of the things of God, should be known both notionally and experimentally.' Essay, p. 53. On the 64th page of his work, the Bishop solemnly, and explicitly, disavows the doctrines which have been imputed to him, that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation without the influence of the Holy Spirit; that it is not necessary to know the things of God experimentally; and that baptism is a sufficiently satisfactory evidence of grace. He denies too, that they are contained in his Essay; and that he makes light of the conversion of the heart. On the 63d page he boldly affirms, moreover, that it is impossible, under a right knowledge of' the articles of our faith, 'to exercise faith and repentance; and not entertain a sure trust, in the mercy of God through Christ. He had before observed in the Essay, p. 9. that 'there is no degree of satisfaction from this source,' from the operation of the Holy Spirit through our own consciousness, the medium of gracious habits of believing and repenting, and the written testimony of God, to which the devout mind may not attain, by the dint of holy endeavour and desire.' These expressions must afford all the friends of evangelical religion, who are not prejudiced against Dr. White, unfeigned pleasure: and should induce many who have called him a teacher of mere morality and good nature, (which naturally good things he certainly exemplifies in a remarkable manner), to retract their uncharitable judgments.
But J. E. is not satisfied; and since we have no reason to doubt his piety and integrity, his tartness to the contrary notwithstanding, a few of his objections to the Bishop's Essay shall be more specifically considered. The Essay asserts, p. 7, that the revelation made to the
world by Jesus Christ is the only ground, when it is considered independently on personal application, of a scriptural assurance of pardon; and surely, if no revelation of the nature and terms of pardon, and of the characters to whom this blessing is promised, had been made, no man could know that he is a pardoned sinner. The revelation of God then, made in the gospel, is certainly the foondation on which every scriptural assurance must be founded, and the only ground without the mind of man, on which it can be established.
“ The knowledge of this gospel,” continues W. W. “is brought to us, in the same way with that of any other subject: for—' faith cometh by hearing."" This rouses the lion in J. E. and he concludes, since the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, then, to make it the power of God unto the salvation of the people, nothing more 'is necessary than to teach it to them in their youth, in schools, academies, and colleges, in the same manner as they are taught languages, and the arts and sciences.' Reply, p. 5. This inference he would palm upon the Bishop's assertion: yet fer aught we can discover, the knowledge of the gospel may be brought to our minds through reading, hearing, and public teaching, either with or without the renovating and sanctifying in. fluences of the Spirit. The Bishop does not intimate that the saving knowledge of the gospel, or even that which is the ground of scriptural assurance, is brought to our minds through our eyes, ears, apprehension and reflection, without the saving agency of the Spirit of all grace. One of the Methodist Episcopal Church should not be quite so captious in his dealings with a son of her Protestant Episcopal Mother.
The Bishop has used a very common, but unphilosophical expression, concerning the state of an individual's mind, when he says, that it is a subject of consciousness. Now in modern mental philosophy, at least, consciousness can have no other object than a present mental operation. We are conscious of what our minds are at present doing, just as we remember what they have before done. How we stand in relation to God and all re. ligious concerns, that is, what our religious state is, we