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which is the reason of its yielding obedience; and the difference is simply, that on the former, his agency is regarded as employed in giving existence merely to those apprehensions which constitute its conscious reasons for obeying ; and on the latter, in giving birth to a relish for holiness, which becomes the cause that its apprehensions prove such reasons for obedience. The one effect is regarded as wrought by a direct and sovereign interposition, as truly as the other is supposed to be ; and the agency by which it is produced, is as superior as it is exhibited on the one theory, as on the other, to that limited measure of which the unrenewed are the subjects.
This view moreover alone coincides with that exhibited in the scriptures, which abound with examples of supplication by the renewed, both for continued aid for their own protection from temptation and advancement to a more perfect holiness, and for the sanctification of others, through the truth ;-and which must, of course, therefore, be regarded as supplications for special, or distinguishing and efficacious grace. The Psalmist doubtless asked for that grace, when overwhelmed with the memory of the great transgressions into which he had fallen, and sense of his weakness and danger, he prayed, “ create in me a clean heart, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me." Paul doubtless asked for it, when he prayed for the Collossian believers" that they might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all well pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father who had
inade them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; and had delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of his dear Son." And Christ, likewise, doubtless asked for special grace, when praying—not for the world but for those who were given to him out of the world, he asked, " sanctify them through thy truth—thy word is truth.” The supposition, therefore, that no influences that were to renew and sanctify through the instrumentality of truth, could amount 10 special grace, is as inconsistent with the representations of the scriptures, as it is with the reasons for which that designation is given to the Spirit's efficacious agency, to distinguish it from those of his influences on the impenitent, which never give birth to obedience. That supposition is as inconsistent also with reason, as it is with the scriptures. There is no more ground for the assumption that a supernatural communication or suggestion of such apprehensions of divine things, as to prompt a hitherto rebellious mind to obedience, would not be an act of special grace,—that is superior in regard to the degree of the influence exerted, and distinguishing in respect to the favor by which it was bestowed :than there is for the assumption, that a communication of truth by inspiration, as to a prophet or an apostle, would not be a miraculous act. The supposition, moreover, that no grace can be special, unless it dispenses with every instrumentality, and by a mere physical agency, produces a change in the mental constitution, is obnoxious to all the objections that perplex the doctrine of physical depravity.
Those views, therefore, of the Spirit's influences, which I have presented, are in fact not only compatible with the
doctrine of special grace, but are the only views that fully meet the representations of the scriptures on that subject.
Should the truth of these views, however, be admitted, it will still perhaps be asked—what benefit can arise from such discussions of the subject, and especially from its introduction into the pulpit, in place of the more practical doctrines of the gospel ?
To this I reply: the object of this discussion is, to prevent a continuance of those representations on the subject that are erroneous and fraught with a hurtful influence, and to induce a substitution in their place, of just and scriptural views-an object surely not only legitimate, but highly important.
The frequent introduction of minute and controversial disquisitions respecting it, into the pulpit, I should neither recommend nor approve. It should be limited at most to cases where erroneous views are found not only to present important obstacles to the persuasions of the gospel, but to be incapable of counteraction by the simple statement of the truth respecting the subject. In general, however, it will probably prove sufficient, if the teachers of religion, without the formality of a controversial discussion, relinquish the erroneous representations to which I have objected, and confine themselves to the doctrine and language of the scriptures—that the Spirit renews and sanctifies the mind through the truth; and teach in conformity with it, that his influences are alike compatible with and adapted to our nature as voluntary agents, and consistent with all the doctrines of the sacred word respecting our sinfulness and dependence, with the divine requirements and our obligations, and with the electing and distinguishing grace of God toward the heirs of salvation.
THE DOCTRINES OF
PHYSICAL AND VOLUNTARY DEPRAVITY.
To one who has attempted to influence the faith of his fellow-men on the great themes of revelation ; and especially by the exhibition of views that differ from those that are generally entertained ; it is a useful and interesting task, when the impressions made by his labors have had opportunity to become developed, to pause and inquire after their nature :—what the reception is with which his sentiments have met—whether the grounds on which they were made to depend for their support, have proved substantial under the test of inquiry and opposition-whether his views, when transfused into the minds of others, have proved fruitful of the tendencies with which they seemed to himself to be fraught-whether, as they have been intermixed with the ignorance and weakness, or knowledge and wisdom of other minds, they have continued to retain their distinguishing character, and exert their appropriate influence, and whether their failure to achieve the effects that were anticipated from them, if they have failed in any instance, has arisen from themselves, or rather from causes by which they were counteracted, or for which they were not responsible.
I am prompted to inquiries like these at the present time,
respecting the views which it has been a principal object of this work to disseminate; partly by the objections that have been offered against them in several recent publications; and partly by the differing speculations and peculiar practical measures that have in some instances been associated with them by those by whom they are to some extent entertained.
The principal object of this work has been to point out what is thought to be an essential error in the current representations respecting the nature of depravity, and to exhibit a juster theory on that and the topics with which it is intimately associated. The objection alleged against the common doctrine on that subject is, that it exhibits depravity as a physical attribute ; and the considerations offered in support of that allegation are, that it represents it as an affection of nature in distinction from actions; as existing in all individuals since the fall, antecedently to the commencément of moral agency; as transmitted from one series of the race to another, like other constitutional properties, by generation ; as the sole cause that men put forth the disobedient actions which they exert; and finally, as removed in regeneration, by a purely physical influence, in distinction from a moral instrumentality. These representations and methods of reasoning respecting it which characterize the common doctrine, and which obviously treat it as a mere constitutional affection, are regarded as sufficiently verifying the charge of exhibiting it as a physical attribute.
No intimation, however, is, or has been offered, nor suspicion entertained, that they who employ these representations and modes of reasoning, allow themselves to be carried by them to all the exceptionable conclusions, to which their language and principles are, in my judgment, adpated to