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sion. To make a merely excited or ecstatic frame of mind an en of itself, is greatly to pervert the divine design, in endowing u with the capacity of religious emotions. And yet many bearin the name of christians, and others doubtless most sincerely pious have too often considered the great object of the religious lifet be attained only, or in the best manner, by working themselves u into a highly excited and prolonged state of devotional feeling an enjoyment. If their physical constitution admitted it, they woul live days together in a sort of religious ecstasy or rapture. Not this mistake in the spiritual life, we apprehend, numbers fall into whose intention or characters are too pure to be questioned, an whose very object is, by this means, to perfect themselves in chris tian graces. It nevertheless must be pronounced a serious evil as well from the fact that it is apt to partake of animal fervor, a from its near affinity to the serious errors of enthusiasm and fa naticism. We need rather the religion of principle based on severe intellectual thought, than the religion of excitement or pas sion. We need as christians to cultivate a state of mind in which we can commune with God every day and every hour, withou seeking to rise so much as the enthusiast does to some undefina ble and super-human raptures of feeling. Let communion with God be rather a habit of the soul, the easy, graceful, unstudied constant exercise of the heart. We need a religion rather of heavenly tempers, and holy motives, and laborious services for Christ, than that of those cheap emotions which commonly serve no better purpose than to inflate our spiritual pride, or to promote our self-complacency. Ours should be a religion which will lead us continually to adore God, to magnify the Savior, to trust in him for every thing, and in every thing to submit to his will. In fine neither enthusiastic nor fanatical feeling, neither high-wrought passions nor degrading penances, should characterize the piety which we profess; but both the proof and the effect of our religion should lie in the even, spontaneous, ever increasing devotions of our souls, and in the consistent every-day conduct of life.
ART. VII.-MITCHELL'S YOUNG CHRISTIAN'S GUIDE.
A Doctrinal Guide for the Young Christian. By William Mitchell, Pastor
of the Congregational Church, Rutland, Vt. Second edition. New-York: John P. Haven. 1833.
It has been said that the present age is eminently practical that it discards theory and speculation, and estimates every thing according to its utility. This doubtless is a characteristic of the age, and is one of a desirable nature. But as it regards religion, may there not be reason to fear, that we are becoming so practical
as to be losing sight of the importance of what is doctrinal,—that
our excited attention to schemes, and measures, and results, we are becoming diminutive in our knowledge of "the faithful word?” The religion of Christ is, indeed, and ought to be made, a practical thing; and all christians ought to be practical men. But if we consider things as practical according to their power to produce effects, what is so practical, what has ever exerted such influence on the human mind, or effected such changes and movemnents in the moral world, as “the doctrines of grace?” These doctrines are the secret of all the energy of the christian faith. They cannot be dispensed with ; they cannot be neglected or obscured; they cannot be made to occupy a secondary place in the minds of men, without detriment and ultimate extinction to every religious interest. They must be the light of all our measures, the soul of all our preaching, the stimulus and guide of all our zeal, the antidote to all confusion and wild disorder, the stability and growth of all piety. But, as the author of this treatise justly observes :
"There is a peculiar prejudice against treatises on the essential doctrines of christianity. This must be ascribed partially to the errors of a former age,--the unskillful, confused, and often erroneous exhibitida of these doctrines.* But there is another reason. The scieNCE of theology is regarded as the almost exclusive province of divINES. Hence it is that professional men confine their attention too much to their appropriate departments. The jurist, the physician, the literary professor, and the political economist, have, it is admitted, a sufficient field for the employment of their whole time; but it is no less true that men of every rank and occupation have a common interest in the edonomy of redemption. In a practical view, every other science should have reference to this as its ultimate end. But it is a deplorable fact that theological science, designed to impart the most sublime and important of all knowledge, is too circumscribed, and too much detached from its direct and momentous bearings on all the concerns of time and eternity. This is one prominent reason that many, eminent in the acquisition of other sciences, need to be taught “ the first principles of the orades of God.” And it must be obvious that this high example of theological ignorance, flowing down in its influence upon the unlearned, leads many of them to conclude that the things which describe their duty and belong to their peace, are either above their comprehension or unworthy of their regard.' pp. 13, 14.
It may be possible to discuss the doctrinal truths of the gospel too erclusively, or too abstractly, but it is not possible to over-estimate their practical importance. The efficiency of the
See Introduction, on the importance of doctrinal knowledge.
pulpit must ever depend on its faithful exhibition of these tru Those pulpits which disown, obscure, or long disuse them, always witness an unsound and declining state of religion. may preach the preceptive part of religion ever so abundantl eloquently; the preceptive has no force or significancy apart 6 the doctrinal. The doctrines are the reasons of the precej they are the great facts upon which the precepts are founded. W out the doctrines, the motives of the gospel have no exister Its appeals, its promises, its warnings, have no meaning. Unitarian does away the divinity of Christ, and the fact of atonement. Hence there is in his scheme no ground to trust Christ as a Savior, nor any peculiar reason for exalted love to hi The Universalist denies a future 'retribution for the wick Hence threatenings, invitations, commands, conditions, warnii against a doom which has no existence, promises of a state blessedness of which we are as certain without conditions as wi -all these, as motives, signify nothing. Paul, preaching t great doctrines of retribution and an atonement, derives from the the most weighty motives to holy obedience : “For,” says he, "o must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that eve one may receive the things done in his body, according that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing, therefor the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” And again, “th love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if on died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that the which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unt him which died for them, and rose again.” But how entirely an these motives,—the “terror of the Lord,” our Judge, and the " love of Christ,” our Savior, done away in the systems above alluded to! They have removed the doctrines of the gospel, ang thus destroyed its motives.
These doctrines too, furnish the only foundation for all right affections of heart. What foundation is there for true christian humility, for instance, in the mind of one who is uninstructed as to the fact and the extent of his own sinfulness,—who is not made to know that in him, that is in his flesh, dwelleth no good thing,—that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and the heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked? He never will be a truly penitent and humble man, till he is prepared for it by the doctrine of human depravity ; but will be a pharisee, thanking God that he is not as other men are; or like the young man, asking what he lacks yet. What foundation is there for faith, hope, love, submission, patience, zeal, etc., but in those enlightening, subduing and inspiring truths, which alone can justify or produce such affections? Precepts alone, exhortations alone, “measures” alone, whether new or old, which in these days are
so much the subject of contention, will be destitute of power, unless we give prominence and force to those great truths which constitute the peculiarity of the faith once delivered to the saints,—which respect the sovereignty of God, the unholiness, accountability, and eternal destinies of man, the mediation of Christ, the necessity of regeneration and of faith, and divine forgiveness through a divine Redeemer. These truths are the sword of the Spirit; they are the fire and the hammer which breaketh in pieces the flinty rock; and without them we preach in vain. Without them, the eloquence of a Chalmers, as he himself has impressively told the world, may expend itself for twelve years, or for twelve thousand, and not come down with " the weight of a feather” on the moral habits of the hearers.
lo addition to their saving energy, the doctrines of grace exert the happiest influence on the intellectual powers.
As mere aatters of knowledge, they are the most sublime truths which the human mind has ever received. They furnish matter for deeper thought, than any of the various subjects which ordinarily engage the attention of mankind. Hence, where these doctrines are discussed, there is a peculiar intellectual as well as moral character impressed upon the people. The reader's mind may furnish him with illustrations of this, in the intellectual character of some periods of the church as compared with other periods, or in the effect which some men have produced on mind, and especially on common minds, by means of these doctrines, -as Calvin, Baxter, Edwards, Fuller; compared with that of men of equal celebrity o other departments of knowledge. The remark has abundant illustration in the contemporary history of Arminian and Calvinstic pulpits. It is an observation often made, and is what we have heard acknowledged even by those who might be interested to deny it, that the audiences of the former are, as a body, not as intellectual as those of the latter. You perceive this in their conversation, their reading, and their manners. If it be said that the different schemes attract, but do not form the different classes, (which is doubtless true to some extent,) it shows the same thing in effect,the natural affinity between the doctrines of grace and the mental mprovement. The two opposing schemes do certainly favor and perpetuate, whether they form, or find, the respective characterisics ascribed to them.
But to return to the volume before us. We designed to recompend it to our readers on its first appearance ; but circumstances beyond our control have prevented us from doing so, until it has already reached a second editon. The public having thus forestalled us in the opinion which we intended to express, we shall now give only a slight sketch of the author's plan, with a few selections which
enable those who have not met with th little volume to judge of its merits.
The “Doctrinal Guide” is designed more particularly for thos who have recently entered on the christian course. To this cla: it may be eminently useful. A knowledge of doctrinal truth commonly one of the first objects of desire to the young christian It is at least one of the earliest and most essential requisites to th convert, who needs, in order to meet the duties and trials upo which he is entering, not merely to have been converted, but i be rooted and grounded in the faith once delivered to the saints.
In aiding to accomplish this object, Mr. Mitchell dwells in su cessive chapters on the following subjects: Human Depravity Atonement, Repentance, Faith, Regeneration, Directions to th Inquirer, Assurance of Hope, Divine Sovereignty, Perseveranc of the Saints, Nature of Inability, Christian Perfection, Mode Baptismn, Subjects of Baptism, Worth of the Soul. His style ( discussion is clear and argumentative ; designed to correct erro neous impressions of the truths in question, to expose the misrep resentations of their adversaries, and to urge them home on th conscience and heart of the reader. We shall proceed to exhibi his leading views of theology, with extracts which will enable th reader to judge of his style and manner.
In the chapter on human depravity, Mr. Mitchell is very ex plicit in his statement, that sin is not some mysterious principl lying back of the will, some essential property of our existence but simply and wholly a state of the will itself, a voluntary exer cise of a moral agent. He represents it as consisting in an inor dinate love of self, or in other words, selfishness. In this con nection, however, he is careful to guard against an error into whic some bave fallen, of considering self-love as sinful in its own na ture, and as wholly inconsistent with true benevolence.
• This subject has been misapprehended, and it is important therefor to describe more particularly the nature of that benevolence in whic holiness consists. The phrase disinterested benevolence" is com monly used to denote the opposite of inordinate self-love, or holiness If by this it be intended that we ought to divest ourselves of all regar to our own interests, I cannot subscribe to the doctrine. We are re quired to love our fellow men only as ourselves, (Mat. xix. 19.) an to do to men only all things whatsoever we would that they should d to us. (Mat. vij. 12.) And again: If any provide not for his own, an especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and i worse than an infidel. (1 Tim. v. 8.) These passages justify a certain degree of self-love. And since it is impossible in the nature of things that we should seek the glory of God and the happiness of men without promoting at the same time our own happiness, why is it no lawful to make our own interest an object of pursuit so far as it neces