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other. Now that which we had lost was the love of God and our neighbor. Love is the fulfilling of the law; love, therefore, comprehends the whole of duty; consequently the want, or the opposite, of love comprehends the whole of depravity. No, if it be said, the understanding is darkened: true, but this is owing to the evil temper of the heart, Eph. iv. 18. There is no sin in being ignorant, as observed before, any further than that igno, rance is voluntary, or owing to some evil bias. This we are sure is the case with wicked men with respect to their not understanding the gospel. Why do ye not understand my speech? said our Lord to the Jews; the answer is, Because ye cannot hear my word. His word did not suit the temper of their hearts; therefore they could not understand it. Prejudice blinded their eyes. Here then lies the malady; and if the remedy correspond to it, it must consist in being renewed in the spirit or temper of our minds, and not merely in having the intellectual faculty enlightened.
It may be said, we cannot love that of which we have no idea, and therefore light in the understanding is necessary for the exercise of love in the heart: be it so; it is no otherwise necessary than as it is necessary I should be a man, in order to be a good man. There is no more virtue or holiness in knowledge, any farther than as it arises from some virtuous propensity of the heart, than there is in being possessed of human nat
This, therefore, cannot be the grand object communicated by the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
Should it be farther objected, that those, who plead for a new light in the understanding, mean by it more than mere speculative knowledge; that they mean spir
itual or holy light, such as conforms the heart, and life. To this I should answer, If so, the light or knowledge of which they speak is something more than knowledge literally and properly understood; it must include the temper of the heart, and therefore is very improperly distinguished from it.
To represent men as only wanting light, is indeed acknowledging their weakness, but not their depravity. To say of a man that hates his fellow-man, “He does not know him: If he knew him, he would love him," is to acknowledge that the enmity towards the injured person is owing to mere mistake, and not to any contrariety of temper or character. The best of characters might thus be at variance, though it is a great pity they should, especially for any long continuance. If this be the case between God and man, the latter is not so depraved a creature as we have hitherto conceived of him. The carnal mind is not enmity against God, but merely against an evil being, which in his ignorance he takes God to be. To this may be added, if sin originate in simple ignorance (which is supposed, in that the removal of this ignorance is sufficient to render us holy) then it is no more sin; nor is there any such thing as moral evil in the universe. So far as we can trace our volitions or actions to simple ignorance, or ignorance in which we were utterly involuntary, so far, as we have already seen, we may reckon ourselves innocent, even in those cases wherein, had we not been ignorant, we should have been guilty. These are serious consequences, but such as at present appear to me to be just.
The above is submitted to the consideration of Tar. dus and the reader, as the result of the maturest reflections of the writer.
ANSWER TO HOLMSDALE.
" What is the true meaning of those parts of the New
Testament which declare the Gospel to have a powerful operation in the souls of men, especially in believers; such as Rom. i. 16; 1 Cor. i. 18. 24; 1 Thes. ii. 13? And is the power of the Gospel in any sense to be distinguished from the power and influence of the Holy Ghost; or are they always connected, or do both include one and the same Divine operation?"
That the Gospel of Christ has an influence on the souls of men, cannot be denied: It is a mean naturallý adapted to this end. Even where it is not cordially believed, it is often known to operate powerfully upon the mind and conscience. It is natural to suppose it should do so: The human mind is so formed, as that words, whether spoken or written, should influence it. We cannot read or hear a discourse of any kind, if it be interesting, without being more or less affected by it; and it would be very surprising if the Gospel, which implies our being utterly undone, and relates to our everlasting well-being, should be the only subject in nature which should have no effect upon us. The Gospel also being indited by the Holy Spirit, the influence which it has upon the minds of men is ascribed to him. It was in this way, that is, by the preaching of Noah, that the Spirit of Jehovah strove with the antediluvians. It was in this way that he was resisted by the Israelites, that is, they resisted the messages which the Holy Spirit sent unto them by Moses and the prophets. Hence the expressive language in the confession recorded in Neh. ix. 30, Many years didst thou testify against them BY THY SPIRIT IN THY PROPHETS; and the pointed address of Stephen to those who rejected the gospel of Christ, Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: As your fathers did, 80 do ye, Acts vii. 51. This for aught I can conceive, may with propriety be called the common operation of the Spirit of God.
As the Gospel has an effect upon the minds and consciences even of many who do not cordially believe it, much more does it influence those who do. In them it works effectually, (1 Thes. ii. 13) transforming them into its own likeness. Their hearts are cast into it as into a mould, and all its sacred principles become to them principles of action. The grace, the wisdom, the purity, the justice, in a word, the glory of it powerfully subdues, melts, and attracts their hearts to love and obedience. The power of God had often been exerted by various means and to various ends. Thunder and smoke, blackness, darkness, and tempest, as displayed on mount Sinai, were the power of God unto conviction; overwhelming floods, and devouring flames, in the case of the whole world. Sodom and Gomorrah, were the power of God unto destruction: Nor were these means better adapted to their ends, than is the Gospel to be the power of God unto salvation. It has ever pleased God by this mean, weak and despised as it is in the account of
men, to save them that believe. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
The above is offered as an answer to the former part of the question. But it is inquired, “Is the power of the Gospel (upon believers) in any sense to be distinguished from the power and influence of the Holy
Ghost?” That the power of the Gospel in the hearts of believers is the power of the Holy Spirit, is admit. ted. All that the Gospel effects is to be attributed to the Holy Spirit, who works by it as a mean. It is cal. led the sword of the Spirit (Eph. vi. 17.); its influence, therefore, is as much the influence of the Spirit as that of a sword is of the hand that wields it. That obedi. ence to the truth by which our souls are purified is through the Spirit, 1 Pet. i. 22. Indeed all the means, whether ordinances or providences, or whatever is rendered subservient to the sanctification and salvation of the souls of men, are under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The influence, therefore which they have to these ends, is reckoned his influence. But it does not follow from hence “the power of the Gospel is in no sense to be distinguished from the powers of the Holy Ghost; or that the one is always connected with the other; or that they both necessarily, and in all cases, include one and the same Divine operation." The contrary of each of these positions appears to me to be the truth. All the passages produced by Holmsdale speak of the influence of the word upon those, and those only, who believe; but query, How is it that a sinner is brought to believe? The word of God cannot, in the nature of things, operate effectually till it is believed; and how is this brought about? Here is the difficulty. Belief, it may be said, in other cases is induced by evidence. This is true; and if the hearts of men were not utterly averse to the Gospel, its own evidence without any supernatural interposition of the Holy Spirit, would be sufficient to render every one who heard it a believer. But they are averse; we all know that evin