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accomplished solely by the power of truth. The plain inference, th fore, from the testimony of experience, is, that the new creation mus a moral change, a transfer of the affections from the world to God, duced in entire consistency with the laws of moral agency.' 139–141.
* But it is objected that the word of truth tends only to increase enmity of the carnal mind the more clearly it is exhibited, and there can never be made capable of producing the new creation. The fa admitted that the hatred of the sinner is inflamed against God by conviction of his guilt and ruin, while he cleaves to his iniquity, and an erroneous view of the divine character. But may not the wl truth,—his own ill desert, the justice of God in his condemnation, love of Christ, and his offers of free salvation, soften and transform heart of stone ? Joseph's brethren hated him, and could not sp peaceably to him; and yet the whole truth in relation to his charac and their own, changed that cruelty into weeping, and confession, brotherly love. God saith, Is not my word like as a fire ? and lik hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ? (Jer. xxiii. 29.) Now this be true of the word,—if it is quick and powerful, sharper th any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of sı and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of t thoughts and intents of the heart, (Heb. iv. 12.) may not the Om potent Spirit make it effectual to the renewing of the soul ? nothing less than presumption to deny this. pp. 144, 145.
Mr. Mitchell next considers the duty of the sinner in respect this change.
“ The doctrine has long prevailed that we are passive in the ne creation, and that therefore it cannot be our duty, in the proper sens of the word, to renew our own hearts. But God has declared that th sinner is under obligations to do this,--that it is literally and truly hi duty. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions ; so in iquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgres sions whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel? (Ezek. xvii. 30,31.) Is not this command immediate and direct? and must not the language be literally interpreted ? Much pains has been taken to evade the force of this positive injunction; but it is unavailing. Is repentance unto life a duty? Does God mean what he says when he commands all men every where to repent, on penalty of eternal perdition for noncompliance ? But repentance necessarily involves regeneration ; for, if no man can see the kingdom of God till he is born again, and if godly sorrow for sin is unto salvation, it must include the new birth. In the passages just quoted from Ezekiel, repenting and casting away transgressions are synonymous with making the new heart. If the duty of regeneration, therefore, is denied, the duty of repentance must also be denied.' pp. 148, 149,
This reasoning is entirely conclusive as to the obligation of sio
bers to turn to God. We think it unfortunate language, however, to speak of the duty of regeneration. This term is a complex azeand denotes not merely a change of heart, but the exercise of diride power by which that change is secured. It is not then, we apprehend, a correct use of the term, to drop the latter idea, and speak of regeneration as “merely giving God the affections." In the language of the scriptures, as well as theology, regeneration denotes a change of heart produced by divine influence; it is being - born of the Spirit.” The change itself,—the result produced in regeneration, is the sinner's duty, as it is his act. But the exercise of divine power in the production of this change, is plainly so part of his duty. God is not bound to give, nor he of course in possess, the renewing influences of the Spirit. His duty is to zepent in the exercise of his own powers as a moral agent. The scriptures, accordingly, no where make it the duty of men to regenerate themselves, or to be “ born of the Spirit,” which would be a solecism in terms; but command them simply," Make you a new beart and a new spirit.” “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die ?” We should not have thought these remarks necessary, had we not observed, that this use of the term is becoming too common of late, among those who are anxious, like Mr. Mitchell, to awaken the impeaitent to a sense of their guilt, by setting before them the full extent of their ability and duty. In this design we wish them all success; and we would, therefore, guard against the use of language which may possibly misrepresent their meaning, and confuse the minds of their bearers.
In the sixth chapter, Mr. Mitchell gives some excellent directions to the inquirer. We have not room to dwell upon them at length, but can only mention that he pointedly exposes the error of " waiting God's time,” of “ seeking for deeper convictions” as essential to a change of heart; "of imagining that conversion requires a considerable length of time,” and “of despairing of salration."
In his chapter on the Assurance of Hope, Mr. Mitchell has the following judicious remarks:
In thus directing the attention to practical duties, as a means of obtaining the evidence and assurance of hope, I would by no means discourage frequent self-examination, and the most cautious inquiries respecting the state of the affections. With great solicitude, and earnest prayer for divine light, we ought to examine the heart,—the fountain beace issue the streams of life. But it is a great and common error by sit painfully watching the nature of our affections and feelings, to the Deglect of practical duties. We cannot in this way decide the question of christian character. It is only in the exercise of spiritual graces that Fe can be sensible of their existence; and the field for their exercise is practical obedience. True it is, that the heart should be right in the sight of God: this is an immediate requirement. But we are not wait for the proof of regeneration, before we venture on the performa of practical duties." John does not say to those whom he calls a g eration of vipers, First repent, then ascertain that you have repent and then reform; but he tells them at once to bring forth fruits meet for pentance. Our Lord does not say to the young man, First learn that have a new heart, and then obey; but, If thou wilt enter into life, keep commandments.—How is a man to know that his heart, his affections, right, if they excite to no holy purposes ? And how can be know tl his purposes are holy, if they all relate to the future, and have no ference to the present performance of duty ? He that doeth righteo ness is righteous; not he who merely intends to do his duty at some ture period."' pp. 177, 178.
The chapter on Divine Sovereignty contains an interesting d cussion of this long disputed topic. Mr. Mitchell's object is present the scriptural view of this doctrine in such a light, as to aside the objections which have been commonly urged against These objections, it is well known, relate chiefly to the fr agency and accountability of man, as affected by the doctrine decrees. He begins, therefore, by making a distinction betwet the fore-knowledge of God as it respects his own acts, and those other voluntary agents. As to the former he states, that since ever rational being who acts wisely must act in accordance with previous purpose, “the pre-determination of God seems necessai to the fore-knowledge of his own conduct.” Not so, howere in respect to other voluntary agents. An omniscient being, in M Mitchell's view, can foresee all the future acts of a universe of fre minds, by direct intuition, without a correspondent fore-ordinatio of their actions. One thing, however, is necessary to such for knowledge, viz. the certainty of coming events.
• Knowledge, whether it relate to the present, past, or future, neither peradventure nor conjecture. Whatever is known must eith already be or take place hereafter. If an event is doubtful it cannot foreseen, because it may or may not exist. There can be no truth prophecy unless the events predicted are sure of accomplishment. O this ground, God calleth things that be not as though they were. And is very evident that knowledge and the certainty of things foreknowi must stand or fall together. If, then, God foresees all events, they wi infallibly be fulfilled. How, then, is this truth, so far as we are con cerned, reconciled with free agency and accountability? This ha been already explained. It is our choice to do the things which Go has foreseen. And our conduct is free, as I have shown, whether it foreknown, or known, or unknown.' pp. 191, 192.
We now advance one step farther. In respect to the heirs ( salvation, does God merely thus foresee who will repent and be lieve, or does he induce the ransomed by a peculiar agency of hi
own, to accept of mercy? If the latter,—then on the principle before stated, this, being his own act, must have been predetermined from eternity, as to the individuals on whom it is exerted. This brings us at once to the scriptural doctrine of election. Mr. Mitchell examines the leading passages on this subject with care, and arrives at the conclusion which no candid mind can escape, that “God does make men differ from each other by the special infuences of his Spirit.”
If, then, it is true that God calls some out of darkness into his marFelous light, and leaves others to despise his entreaties, and grieve the strisings of his Spirit, and eat of the fruit of their own way, he purposed so to do. You will not say that God had no previous intentions respecting this important matter. If you never act yourself rationally without a previous purpose, you cannot suppose that He does.What difference, then, can it make whether God purposed from everLasting to save us, or “elected us in time?” Some maintain that " chosen from the beginning(2 Thess. ii. 13.) means when we begin to believe. This absurdity is manifest from scripture and facts ; besides, Paul uses this word as synonymous with the expression, “ before the world began.” But suppose it were true that we are chosen when we begin to believe; this would avail nothing, if we never commence the work of salvation till we are constrained by the grace of God. There is, however, a more summary method of avoiding the embarrassment arising from an eternal purpose. Does the Judge of all the earth do right? If so, it cannot be objected that there is any thing wrong in his purposing to do right, even if the purpose eternally precedes the nighteous act. A child
determine, when he becomes a man, to do some noble deed. The time arrives, and he executes his purpose. Would you approve of his deed, but tell him that it was wrong to resolce so long beforehand to do what is praiseworthy ? Now, it is very plain that if all the acts of God are just and holy, the purposes preceding and producing these acts must be equally just and holy. And predestination, fore-ordination, election, decree, purpose, mean simply that God always intended to do whatever he does. pp. 196, 197.
Having thus proved the electing purpose of God as to those who are saved, Mr. Mitchell turns to consider the case of those who are lost.
•Much prejudice has been excited against predestination from a misapprehension of what is called reprobation. Many consider this as the counterpart of election, and affirm that if God has decreed the salvation of the elect, he must necessarily have decreed also the perdition of the non-elect. But this is not a correct inference from the doctrine of predestination. If all are so opposed to holiness that they will never accept of salvation till awakened by the Spirit and brought to repentance, no decree is necessary to shut out sinners from the kingdom of heaven. Left to themselves and their idols, like Ephraim, it is clear that they will coluntarily live and die in their sins. A decree, therefore, on this Vol. VI.
subject would be wholly superfluous. According to the scriptures, ele tion brings into the kingdom of grace all who are saved; the rest G leaves to their own chosen way, and has ordained their punishment a cording to their works. He does not hinder them from complying wit the offers of mercy. He entreats and commands them to be savet His Spirit strives with them. His Son died for them, and says, “ Ho often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood unde her wings, and ye would not.) God expressly declares that he “ha no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,” and would rather that h should turn and live. But after having warned and entreated the sio ner, and hedged up his way to death by judgments and mercies, if h will force his passage down to the pit, God leaves him, saying “ Wha more could I do for my vineyard ?" This is scripture reprobation, ex cept that the word means something vile, rejected, as “ reprobate sil ver.”' (See Prov. i. 24–31; Jer. vi. 30.) pp. 199, 200.
Our author's object in these remarks is to guard against two er rors, viz.: First, That God exerts a direct agency in the production of sin. Second, That he prefers its existence to that of holiness in its stead. These positions have been maintained by some who teach the doctrine of decrees; but they are equally abhorrent to God's sincerity as a lawgiver, and his rectitude as a Judge. No thing, probably, has done so much to bring odium on this doctrine as these unfortunate assumptions. They are plainly opposed to the whole tenor of the scriptures. God, as Mr. Mitchell states, "expressly declares that he has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, and would rather that he should turn and live.” And as to any direct efficiency of our Maker in the production of sin, there is not a syllable in the bible which authorizes so monstrous a supposition. On the contrary, a marked distinction is made throughout the whole sacred volume, between the agency of God in the production of holiness and of sin. It is the office-work of the Spirit to produce and cherish the former in the hearts of God's people; but where do we find the slightest intimation, that it is the office-work of either person of the adorable Trinity, to awaken rebellion in the bosoms of those who are lost ? If there is any
truth taught in the bible it is this, that the entire agency of God, as moral governor of this universe, is directed against sin and in favor of holiness.
Mr. Mitchell, then, is correct, we think, in stating the doctrine of reprobation to be this, that while God by a direct agency secures the existence of holiness in the elect, he simply permits the existence of sin in the non-elect; and permits it as a thing which he would desire to be otherwise. But, we think, he has no reason to sbrink from saying that God as really purposes or decrees the existence of sin, and its consequent perdition, as of holiness. A being is truly said to fore-ordain or purpose the existence of a thing, if, knowing it to be the certain result of a given system of measures on his part, he de