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udaciend," ather they be the
REPLY. The Editor is happy to acknowledge his obligation to his “Friend” for the above cominunication, and assure him of a most cheerful compliance with his very candid and upassuming request. One favor, however, he solicits of “Friend," and that is, that he would ask those tenacious people, whether they presume we deny the importance of conviction, &c. because those words are not found in our numbers, or because we have not made these points the subjects for illustration. The former we are sure it could not be, if they had read with suitable candor; for we have used those words, ten, yea, an hundred times oftener, than they are in the New Testament. Those who are not possessed of sufficient biblical information to be already convinced of this, may easily satisfy themselves, by reading both, and collating the words, conviction, conversion and reformation. If they think we have not contended for a genuine reformation, let them but candidly peruse the “ Short Sermon” in the last number. We fear the subject is treated too evangelically, and points with too much truth at the heart, to be read, without shutting “ the mind's eye.”
CONVICTION, CONVERSION, REFORMATION. : Professing to belive in the necessity of Conviction, Conversion and Reformation, to constitute an experimental Christian, we shall pursue a course in exhibiting our views, to which the sincere and enlightened will not object. Instead of appealing to the opinions and imaginations of professors, to be stunned with the vociferations of each sect, claiming to themselves the apostolic doctrine and experience, we shall come directly to the Bible ; willing to be tried by that standard, and, if found wanting, bear the inscription, “MENE, TEKEL." Those who are unwilling to abide this trial, must, like empty vessels, be considered more noisy than ponderous. ,
Will the reader believe, when we inform him that the word, conviction, is not found in our translation of the Bible ? As much as is said and written, about “ being under conviction," " ever since conviction,” “ how long did his
erous der believe, in our transbut “ being in his
conviction last,” “a convicting sermon,” &c. we find no such words in Scripture. Neither convict, convicting nor conviction are so much as mentioned in the volume of inspiration. Why have we not as good reason to presume, that neither the inspired writer or the translator embraced these doctrines, as that Christians of the present day, do not, because half their writings are not composed of those words ? Should these remarks “ provoke each other” to a more careful perusa) of the inspired writings, our reward will be certain.
The word, CONVICTED, is once used, and as follows : “ And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last.” John, viii. 9. Look at the connection, inquirer ; and as this is the only place where the word is found, you can dwell upon it for a moment. What did the preacher say which had such an operation? What was that convicting discourse about ? Was it a declaration of endless torments ? What did it say about electing grace ? How much difference did it make between “us” and “ them ?” 0, that we could have more such preaching and prevent people from throwing stones. They were convicted by their conscience or common sense, by, or in which, all conviction is wrought that is of any essential service.
To convict is to convince ; therefore, every man is convicted of sin when convinced he has committed it. If a neighbor defraud another, and is convinced of its malignity, he will always be under conviction when he reflects on the same. Idiots have no conviction, because they have no conscience or common sense, and are not accountable. To convict people of sins they never committed, and have them repent of crimes by the gross, and have one conviction and conversion, answer for life, is doubtless an invention of priestcraft, and favorable in the end to the greatest dissimulation. Conviction is necessary as long as men commit sins. There are different degrees to the poignancy of conviction, corresponding to the nature of the crime, or the views we have of it. It is by no means certain that men are not convicted of iniquities, because they do not forsake them. Could we see with the eye of Heaven, what a bleeding, writhing and groaning of spirits we should behold, even under a mask of mirth and the sanctimonious grimaces of religion. It is efficacious only when it reaches the understanding, giving virtue a rational preference to iniquity.
CONVERSION. The word CONVERSION is used but once in the Scriptures, and denotes the prevalence of Christianity among the Gentiles, “ Declaring the conversion of the Gentiles.” Acts, xv. 3.
The word, CONVERT and its derivatives, is mentioned about twelve times, and is sometimes to be understood of a turning from one doctrine to another, and sometimes of a change of · moral character. To Peter it was said, “ When thou art
converted strengthen thy brethren;" Luke, XXII. 32, which related to the doctrinal change with which he met, by the “ great sheet" thrice let down from heaven. Acts, X. Again; “ if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert bim,” &c. James, v. 19. This conversion is produced by the persuasion of a brother. · When we read, “ Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of God,” and " repent ye, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out,” we are to understand a change of disposition or moral character. Matthew, xviii. 3, and Acts, 111. 19. The alteration should be reant to correspond with this definition of conversion. When we behold a child-like teachable disposition and a voluntary return from iniquity, we may consider the conversion from above. It is synonymous with turning from wickedness to learn of him who is meek and lowly of heart, by which iniquities are “ blotted out.” Whenever men transgress, they need a conversion. When the Church departs from the Lord, may “ Zion be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.” Isaiah, 1. 27.
REFORMATION. Reformation is once mentioned in the Bible, and imports the abolition of the forms and ceremonies of the Mosaic law, by the introduction of pure Christianity. " Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and
carnal ordinances, imposed on them till the time of reformation." Hebrews, ix. 10..
The return of the Israelites from idolatry and sin, is, in Leviticus, xxvi. 23, expressed by the word, “ reformed.” Hence we see the obvious meaning of a reformation, is, to be made better in principle or practice, or both. Because we are assured two men have reformed, we are not to infer a similar change ; one may reform in his conduct, the other in his principles.
Doubtless this biblical account of conviction, conversion and reformation will greatly disappoint many readers. Disappointed that the words are so unfrequently found in the Bible, and that the doctrines partake no more of the marvellous! These points, we learn, are by no means pe, culiar to christianity; they are held in different modifications, in all religions. All have their requisition and prohibition, transgression and conviction, conversion and reformation, according to their views of right and wrong. Christians use these words in various senses. When a nation, Jew or Heathen, embraces Christianity, they are said to be converted, though they will then need an individual change of moral feeling. The reformation in the sixteenth century, respected doctrines, altogether. Even the reformers themselves stood in need of a reformation. The conversion of Constantine the Great, related to his faith ; for who believes he was converted from his sins, who dared not be baptized till the hour of his death ? How many have i pretended to see visions, or the cross in the cloud, or some other wonder, to be honored with conviction, conversion and reformation, wbile their hearts were in the gall of bit. . terness, and their hands dyed in blood. “Believest thou this ?”
IS HE A UNIVERSALIST ?
FOR THE CHRISTIAN INTELLIGENCER. Mr: EDITOR_Having understood you intended occasionally to expose to the world the conduct of those, who, with “ heart and voice” have opposed the doctrine of
« Universal Salvation ;" I take the liberty to communicate what fell under my personal observation, and what is now generally known, in the vicinity where it happened.
Four years ago, a young gentleman (of Calvinistic sentiments) was employed as an instructor of youth in the second parish in Plymouth ; in which capacity, he acquitted himself with honor; and at the expiration of his engagement, the committee, in behalf of the district, presented him with a certificate of having given “ general satisfaction" to the people of said district. Among his applauders was a deacon, a dissenter from the church in that place, because their Pastor had changed his views respecting the Trinity. Two years after this, the young gentleman first mentioned visited the second parish in Plymouth, which was then in great confusion about religion ; there being what is usually termed a “ reformation” among them. The scenes disclosed at their meetings I shall not attempt to portray; although tales might be told, which would make decency blush. However, a few, not “ totally depraved," waited on Mr. - , and expressed a wish that he would instruct their school the then ensuing winter : He replied, that if requested by the committee, he would : The committee were accordingly informed ; two of whom (the committee consisted of three) expressed their approbation of the man; but the third, was the pious deacon,” who had heard that the young man, under consideration, had become a believer in the “ common salvation" of all men. On this ground he opposed him, and on this only. He had no other possible objection; as the gentleman's character was irreproachably good, and his literary acquirements more than competent, and had previously been highly applauded in that place. But the deacon, notwithstanding, by influence and intrigue, accomplished his object, and the young gentleman was rejected. Yes, reader, because he was an “ Universalist," he was excluded from his rights in the community. Is not this holding in subordination " one sect or denomination to another ?" Had this instructor been a believer in the doctrine of " unconditional election and reprobation," no doubt this “ pious deacon," would have employed him with pleasure. But because he believed God would be merciful 40 all, instead of a few, and that in “ due time Christ died