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who have done violence to their nature and lived entirely without religion, so there have been hermits who have done violence to their nature and lived without human society; so there have been drones who have done violence to their nature and lived without bodily exertion.
But neither of these classes could be followed by the rest of mankind. Each in its way is a kind of monstrosity, on whose abuse of natural powers and impulses men necessarily look with disapprobation.
The one would be just as worthily employed as the other in endeavors to introduce a universal imitation of its example ; and one would be just as likely to succeed as another. Not until God changes man's nature, physical or social, or moral, can the physical energies of the race be suppressed, or the social habits of mánkind be abolished, or religion be driven from the face of the earth.
2. We know how to account for the many different religions that are found among men.
The fact that there are many religions in the world---Pagan, Mobammedan, and Christian--has professedly been a great stumbling block in the way of some, and is urged as a reason for discarding religion altogether. But nothing could be weaker than such reasoning, and nothing more wicked than to employ it on such a subject. No one ever dreamed, except in respect to religion, that the existence of counterfeits was a proof of the non-existence of any thing genuine to be counterfeited; or that several bad things, or beings of a certain class, afforded sufficient reason for believing that there could be no good think or being of that same class. Men act thus foolishly only on that particu. lar point where it is the most dangerous for themselves.
But (to return) it is easy to account for the prevalence of these false systems of religion: Mankind must have a religion of some kind, just as they must have society, or food, or exercise. And when the true system is rejected; when the moralities required by the true and living God are abjured ; when the fear of the Most High, and, eventually, the knowledge of Him are cast off ; then conscience takes a speedy revenge ; then their abused moral nature drives them to believe in fictitious gods ; to worship the powers of nature; to fear a deity or demon in almost every place and thing; to observe the most degrading superstitions; to prac. tise the most cruel, obscene and revolting rites; in the expressive language of Holy Writ, to “ change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." As a consequence, they become the slaves of evil desires and the victims of the most disgusting vices.
This is the explanation of the prevalence of various systems of fulse religions on the earth. A religion, men must have. And
the same inexorable law of their nature that forced the heathen nations, when they had rejected God and his truth, into the worship of imaginary deities, and the belief of the most absurd religious fictions, drove the atlieists of France to adore the goddess of Reason, and drives the rejectors of Revelation of our own day to swallow some of the most ridiculous superstitions, even down to the "spiritual communications” of the “knocking " demons, and the pantological revelations of the Poughkeepsie Seer!
3. We learn why the doctrine of total depravity is frequently denied.
Many there are who experience this stir of the emotions, this awakening of the religious sensibilities, of which we have been speaking, who mistake these feelings for the possession of true religious affections. And when they compare this, their experience, with what they suppose to be taught, or implied, in the doctrine of total depravity, they think they perceive its incorrectness beyond a doubt.
Now, it is not to be denied that a mistake has been made ou the part of some who have given such a representation of the depravity of man's religious nature as to affirm its complete eradi. cation or annihilation. They have thus left the impression on the minds of those whom they have sought to instruct, that there could be no religious action till there should be a creation of new faculties.
Such a doctrine is, we think, disproved by facts that lie spread all over the history of the race. Mon do have religious sensibility, and do put forth religious activities, when, at the same time, they have not experienced the renewing of the Holy Ghost. And there is no wonder that when they compare these facts with such a representation of the doctrine of depravity, they are led to ignore it.
The true doctrine of depravity, we suppose, may be stated somewhat as follows: The faculties of mau's religious nature are perverted from a right state and use to a wrong state and use, so that mankind in their unregenerate condition are entirely destitute of holiness and true religious goodness. Regeneration, instead of being an act of literal creation, is one of rencuing, in which ficulties already existent are brought into a right state and use. This is only accomplished by the Holy Ghost. Till it takes place there are no religious affections, and all the intense religious feelings which agitate the bosom of the unconverted, whether in Christian or in heathen lands, whether in Christian or in heathen worship, is a “goodness " of which the Almighty cannot approve. “It is like the morning cloud, and like the early dew it goeth away."
4. We learn why there are so many self-cleceived professors. That there are many in the Church whose lives are entirely
fruitless, who give no indications of piety except what are displayed in feelings possessed while engagel in worship, especially public worship, and in their profession, is not doubted, and cannot be disputed. Yet perhaps they honestly suppose themselves Christians. What is the explanation ?
We suppose it may be found in our subject. They have had their religious sensibilities awakened and supposed themselves converted, perhaps from the fact that the keerness of these sensibilities after awhile became blunted. Yet they are frequently moved under the sound of the preacher's voice, or amid the ceremonies of worship ; and this stir of the em tions is mistaken for the true experience of the Chri-tason, although they themselves are quite aware that their lives do not exhibit i he fair and full fruits of genuine piety, and do not afford satisfactory evidence of genuine Christian discipleship.
Nevertheless, as they cannot explain the devotional phenomena, of which they are subjects, in any other manner, they conclude themselves Christians, though professedly faulty ones.
In this way multitudes are deceiving themselves by mistaking the devotional feelings of the soul, when its religious sensibili. ties are temporarily awakened by natural causes, for the genuine exercises of the Christian soul.
Now it must be admitted that these persons are in imminent danger. For the very means of grace which are blessed to the salvation of others are very likely to produce a contrary effect on themselves. For example, when others draw near to God in the sanctuary, they are reminded of their sinfulness, and caused to feel their exceeding vileness in view of his infinite holiness. But these fail to perceive their own true character, and absolute need, of spiritual renewin, and of pardon, in their contemplations, in their enjoyment of the forms and accessories of worship, and in the devotional feelings awakened by them. When the Law utters its thunders in the ears of others, it awakens them from their security, and when the salvation of Christ is offered they are ready to flee to it as a refuge. But these are troubled with no apprehensions. They could even advance and touch the very mountain that trembled at the presence of Jehovah; since, while they know too little of themselves to feel their sinfulness, the scene would be adapted to increase those religious feelings on which their reliance is placed, and which they make the occasion of their self-deception.
5. We learn why so many religious impressions, received under the presentation of the gospel, pass away without permanent and Baving effect. We have reason to believe that the gospel is never properly presented from the sacred desk without producing much feeling in many hearers. They are made serious and thoughtful. They are deeply impressed with a sense of personal demerits, and their need of a Saviour.
But instead of complying with the gospel call forthwith. instead of seeking the pardon of sin by repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, there are multitudes, who, on finding themselves the subjects of these religious feelings, are disposed on this account to take some credit to themselves. They think that all religious emotions must bave in them something good and praiseworthy, and persuade themselves that, if they are not already accepted of God, they have but to continue in the same direction and these feelings will ripen into genuine piety.
Thus the true effect of the gospel is evaded. There is no closing in with the offers of mercy. There is no yielding to the influence of the Holy spirit. There is no renewing of the heart. The mind, though thoughtful, is still full of worldliness and vanity. The eyes, though tearful, are still gazing on the pride of life. The heart, though overwhelmed with emotion, is still in the bond of iniquity. The soul, though complaisant, is still in bondage of fear. Its religious impressions are but ripples on the surface of the stream. The imaginary "goodness" that is nourished by them is like the morning cloud. While its possessor is flattering himself as to his prospects for eternity, his of: fended Maker is exclaiming, "What shall I do unto thee?" and the arm of his justice is ready to fall. But methinks one of this class of hearers inquires, What shall I do ?”
I reply, you must break away from the habits of remaining passive under religious impressions. You must also cease to think of any “goodness” of your own. You must admit your lost condition as a sinner. You must repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You must beware of grieving the Holy Ghost.
Arise, then, my hearer, call upon thy God. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
No. 12, Vol. XXV.}. DECEMBER, 1851.
[WHOLE No. 300.
BY REV. A. J. FENNEL, PASTOR OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, GLENN'S FALLS, NEW JERSEY.
THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
The subject assigned me for discourse on the present occasion is “ The Scriptural doctrine of the perseverance of the saints."
It is hardly fit, therefore, to take any single passage as a text. My work is prescribed. It is simply to gather up from the open
Bible the doctrine in question, and to offer it to you, as near as I can, just as it comes from God.
I am not to cast the doctrine in the moulds of any denominational creed, nor to take it out of any of those moulds already run to my hand.
I shall not, therefore, at this place, even attempt to define the doctrine. If I can succeed in grasping it, and in holding it up before you, a sight of it will afford the best knowledge of what it is.
It will be admitted that there have been, and that there now are in the world, the righteous and the wicked, the regenerated and the unregenerated, the justified by faith in Jesus Christ and those whose iniquity remaineth. To one of these two great classes every man belongs.
One of the questions which we naturally raise as we read the Bible, one of deep interest, and one which we now raise, is, "Can the truly righteous, the regenerated man utterly fall away from his righteousness, become again unregenerate, and be lost ?”
1. Is there any thing in the nature of holiness which renders this fall impossible ? Clearly not; for the Scriptures teach us
* Preached in Troy, N. Y., Oct. 15th, 1851,-before the Synod of Albany, and published by its request.