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enacted, but let a more stringent public sentiment be formed, which shall sustain those laws in all their severe integrity; and most of all, let the foundation of that sentiment be a deep religious abhorrence of this and every vice. “I hate every false way; " such were the ethics of David. Where proper aversion exists to any one sin, on account of its intrinsic demerit, similar aversion will of course be felt toward every sin, so far as discovered. Hence the propriety of the declaration often made, that indulgence in one known sin neutralizes all claims to Christian character. It implies the absence of holy principle; so that whatever alleged piety there be, one allowed sin vitiates the whole.

Of all the follies and inconsistencies of which blind man is guilty, none can equal those that abound in this department of his universal and daily history. One illustration will make the point plain. The freebooters who formerly infested the sea in the region of the West India Islands, were, in their way, quite religious. They never embarked on an expedition, without first publicly invoking the favor of God; nor were they wont to return

1 from a successful and bloody cruise, without formally returning thanks. An educated pirate, speaking of the quarrels between the French and English freebooters, says: “One of the chief causes of our disagreement was the impiety of the English; for they made no scruple when they got into a church, to cut down the arms of a crucifix with their sabres, or to shoot them down with their fusils and pistols; bruising and maiming the saints in the same manner.” Here we have Beelzebub berating his companions. The French Catholic pirates could not endure the English Protestant pirates, on account of their sacrilege! In the most fraternal spirit of butchery, they could see, - aye, could help their English associates coolly to sever the limbs and cut the throats of living victims, but if the wooden images of saints received injury, these religious villains, forsooth, were shocked! Bloodshed and rapine quite a praise worthy occupation ; but the conscientious monsters could not away with an affront to the senseless symbols of their superstition !

Now, in the proposition to conduct our recent war with Mexico, or any needless war, on Christian principles, there is much of the same inconsistency. The same is there in not a little of the boasting about equal rights and the perfection of liberty in our land, where thousands upon thousands are held in unrighteous

bondage ; the same, too, in those wrathful advocates of anti-slavery, who carry on an equally vehement crusade against the Christian church and ministry; the same, also, in every corrupt community

: of Christians, who tolerate superstition, vice and cruelty, but will not tolerate truth and the rights of conscience ; who scrupulously exact the tithe of mint, anise and cummin, but neglect the weightier matters of the law, — judgmer.t, mercy, and faith.

There is at the present time, to a sad extent, a spurious charity, an ultraism of tenderness, which threatens, if not checked, to unman the nation. This religious coxcombry may be seen bustling about in a sickly sympathy for the criminal. It christens itself by the attractive name, “Prisoner's Friend." In one hand the blear-eyed spectre carries a copy of the Anti-hangman, and in the other, a petition for the pardon of the last cold blooded murderer. But we may as well bow to Juggernaut, as to the idol of fanatical charity. At this demoniacal quixotism of morals the hosts of darkness must “ grin horribly a ghastly smile."

Moral or religious consistency need not be sought in a man or body of men where aversion to evil, as such, does not exist. There can be no complete harmony among our moral sentiments, and between our opinions and our conduct, if there be not a sanctified abhorrence of what is wrong, because it is wrong, — wrong intrinsically, and opposed to the will and character of the just and holy God. No genuine love of excellence can exist without it. The two correspond as the impression and the seal.



No truth in the Word of God is more interesting than the statement, that there is an action of the Holy Spirit to “bear witness with our spirits that we are the children of God; Rom. viii. 16; for what fact is so momentous, so affecting to the feelings, or leads to such consequences ?

Yet, perhaps no truth has been more abused to pernicious results. Enthusiasts, of all ages, have claimed the possession of this witness, and by it have been fortified against the dictates of sober reason and experience ; and, in consequence of it, run into VOL. III.


numberless errors and excesses. Others, reacting from this extreme, have fallen into another, and have virtually denied any witness of the Spirit at all.

Yet, not only in the passage just referred to, but in many others, is the doctrine taught, that there is a direct influence of the Spirit on our minds, by which we are assured of our interest in God, and of his favor towards us. “ The Spirit of truth the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” “ At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."

It may then be profitable to consider the erroneous principles from which these extreme views originate, and to illustrate the Scriptural doctrine that lies between them.

The radical principle of the enthusiastic extreme is this : that the Holy Spirit, as a witness, by a direct testimony, communicates to the individual concerned, an immediate and infallible assurance that his sins are forgiven, and that he is an object of divine favor. This obviously implies a direct and special revelation to the soul, of a particular fact not contained in the Word of God; so that the knowledge of the fact is not a matter of inference from something else, but is immediate and direct. Thus, if the fact of the certainty of my salvation were stated to me in an audible voice, known to come from God, then it would be needless for me to examine the character of my mental exercises, and finding them right, to infer that I am therefore a child of God. The direct revelation of God removes all uncertainty, and renders all such processes of reasoning needless. Where we can rest our assurance on the omniscience of God, we may well reject the needless support of a process of reasoning

But, if such a knowledge of our salvation is given, not by a voice, but by some mysterious, inward, direct revelation, the result is the same. There is a direct knowledge of a particular fact given by God, and of course without a process of reasoning.

Or, if there are impulses or emotions which can be lawfully taken as direct signs from God, that we are pardoned and entitled to eternal life, then by these impulses or emotions the question is directly settled, and there is no need of drawing inferences from retrospection, and an examination of the nature and tendencies of our mental exercises.

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The dangerous nature of the principle that we have described, will be sufficiently obvious, if we reflect that it involves an entire subversion of the proper use of the reasoning powers, with respect to the evidences of Christian character, and exposes us to mistake nervous excitements, and the morbid actings of the imagination, or even the impulscs and suggestions of Satan turned into an angel of light, for the witness of the Spirit of God. It tends also to create an unhealthy craving for excitements and impulses, and thus to destroy the symmetry of Christian character, and to render religious enjoyment spasmodic and transient. Instead of the healthy glow of a constant spiritual life, there is the exhausting fire of a periodical fever, with intervening periods of chilliness or of torpor.

In these remarks we are not exposing errors that are imaginary, or that have occurred only in the history of other ages. The false principle now under consideration, is at this time extensively held; it is advocated and defended with great zeal, and it actually produces, in many instances, all the evils which have been specified, in their worst forins.

One leading advocate of it says: “ The testimony of the Spirit of God is an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God.” He also teaches that this witness precedes our love to God, and is the cause of it: “We cannot love God till we know that he loves

We love him because he first loves us; and we cannot know his love to us, till his Spirit witnesses it to our spirit. Till then we cannot believe it.” The possibility of such a witness he argues from the power of God to speak directly to the soul, and to cause the soul to know who it is that speaks. And he tells us : “He does effect it; the soul is absolutely assured this is the voice of God.” The criteria by which such a voice is known, he does not attempt to explain ; nay, he says that it cannot be done, no, not by one that has the deepest knowledge of God.”

Now can any view be better adapted than this, to produce selfish conversions, based on the idea thrown into the mind by voices, or visions, or impulses, or even by texts of holy Scripture suddenly suggesting, that I am a child of God ? Can anything tend more directly to give up the mind to the impulses of nervous excitement, or to the visions of an overwrought imagination? Can anything tend more directly to entangle the soul in the snares of


of Satan, to be led captive by him at his will ? Can anything more entirely shield it against the suggestions of those rational powers through which God designs to guide the mind? “God has spoken to me. I cannot tell how; I can give you no proof that it is his voice; but I know that it is, — I am sure; he has made me so."

Though we have quoted but one author, representing but one denomination, still the dangerous views we are endeavoring to expose are not limited to any one denomination. They have been inculcated and reduced to practice within the bounds of various Christian communions, and in all seasons of religious excitement they naturally make their appearance. Indeed we have been induced to undertake the present discussion, because we have detected their incursions, here and there, among the members of our own churches.

They are the more seductive, because there is nothing in them that tends to produce deep conviction of sin, or to humble pride. On the other hand, nothing can be more acceptable to a proud and conceited man, than the idea of such a special, direct revelation to him of the fact that he is a peculiar and especial favorite of the King of kings. There is still greater danger, if in connexion with such a supposed divine communication, there is also an impression of being called and destined to perform some great work for God. Of nothing are conceited men so easily persuaded, as of this, and no persuasion more directly tends to inflate the mind with augmented pride, and to precipitate it headlong into the snares of the devil.

It deserves particular notice, that this false view of the witness of the Spirit as effectually divorces the mind from the Scriptures as from reason. It does not first find in the Word of God, promises of pardon made to repentance and faith, and then seek in the mind for evidence of repentance and faith ; and having found it,

; infer that the sinner is pardoned on the ground of the divine veracity. Rising above the Scriptures and experience, it seeks for a direct and special revelation of this fact from God himself. In this respect it coincides with the various delusive theories of an inward light which have been held by mystics, ancient and mod.

All of these theories are characterized by one and the same result; under pretence of honoring the direct communications of God, they exalt the interior light above revelation. And the


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