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of the mind, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, walking after their own lusts, while their mouths speak great swelling words, and, like genuine descendants of Ishmael, their hands are against every man who will not bow down to their assumed infallibility. But one maxim will be found certain, and worthy of constant remembrancethat whatever tends to exalt self, or to encourage sin, is opposite to genuine Christianity.
REMARKS ON THE QUARTERLY REVIEW, FOR APRIL
1824, RELATIVE TO THE MEMOIRS OF SCOTT AND NEWTON.
In the Quarterly Review for April 1824, there is a paper on the Memoirs of Scott and Newton, pp. 26—52, which can by no means be considered as a Review of those publications ; since it takes very little notice of the life of either. Indeed the only thing to which the writer refers in Mr. Scott's Life, is the account he gave of a child whom he lost when she was very young; on which the Reviewer animadverts, as he suspects it would have weight with those who consider regeneration as distinct from baptism, whom he charges on that account with heterodoxy. He is unwilling to admit this child to have experienced any change, but what may be ascribed to the effects of very early education ; and he seems to consider Mr. Newton's later conversion, after years of profligacy, as attributable to the same cause. He does not profess to ascribe them to their infant baptism ; and, indeed, it is probable, that Mr. Newton's was as irregularly administered, as that of the Archbishops Tillotson and Secker!
The case of Mr. Cowper is introduced early in this paper, p. 26, and again adverted to in p. 48. But, surely, it ought to be remembered, that this amiable man was first afflicted with insanity, before he had the least acquaintance with evangelical religion; while to it he afterwards owed all the happiness of the most comfortable period of his life. And when his malady returned, his distress was owing, not to any sentiment of Calvinism, but to the violent impression on his mind, of an idea as uncalvinistic, as it was “unreasonable and unscriptural.” Yes, it was directly opposed to one dis
tinguishing article of his creed, as an acknowledged Calvinist. He still admitted the doctrine of perseverance, as to all other persons in the world who ever had believed in Christ; but he considered his own as an exempt case, such as never had a parallel ; for, in the midst of his despair, he continued to believe that he once loved God, and that God once loved him; but conceived himself to be the only one that God ever cast off. With what shadow of justice can this impression, which was an outrage on Calvinism, be charged upon that system?
As to Mr. Newton, this Reviewer says, with reference to his mother's instructions, We own that we should not be inclined to expect effects so negative, from such positive discipline, or to ascribe so much to the prayers, and so little to the instructions of a parent.
Yet he adds, “ We are much mistaken if her lessons had not fostered in him an indolent, dreamy imagination, little suited to the real duties of life.”
Now, I was intimately acquainted with both these men, for many years, and aver that I never knew men more laboriously eagaged in all the duties of a Christian life. Mr. Newton first invited me to visit him at Olney, in 1768; and from thence to his death, I always esteemed him, and Mr. Hall of Arnsby, (father to Mr. Hall of Leicester, *) as my wisest and most faithful counsellors, in all difficulties. Mr. Newton introduced Mr. Scott, very soon after his embracing evangelical sentiments, to my father, old Mr. Hall, Mr. Fuller, and myself ; describing him, I well remember, as "the man who, he hoped, would prove the Jonathan Edwards of Old England.” My intimacy with him also lasted till his death. And verily, as these men were attentive to all the real duties of life themselves, so were they most earnestly concerned, in the whole course of their ministry, to inculcate practical religion, in all its branches, upon their hearers. Though a dissenter myself, yet I heard them both, often enough to ascertain this : and their publications prove it, to those who had not the blessing of their personal acquaintance.
The Reviewer introduces a far longer account of Madam
Now of Bristol.
Guion, than he has given of Mr. Scott, with what end he best knows. Certainly, the Established Church was never blessed with a man, who more zealously and judiciously opposed Antinomianism, than Mr. Scott. Nor could any one be more unjustly charged, with respect either to his ministry, or his numerous publications, that they had a “ tendency to divert the Christian's attention from right conduct, founded on pure faith, to a religion of feelings which will not need the evidence of good works.” p. 48.
Another piece in this volume, p. 242, contains a similar shameless innuendo against the Calvinistic dissenters, as fostering “ that pride, which may trust to the imagination to furnish evidence of personal election, and thus inflate the soul into a presumptuous Calvinism." True Calvinists, whether in the Establishment or out of it, are careful not to encourage any one to believe his election, on the ground of impressions on the imagination. We maintain, that no one can ascertain his election any other way than by proving that he has actually obeyed the call of the gospel ; nor can he prove that he has done this, or that he is a true believer in Christ, but by his following after holiness.
This Reviewer says, p. 27, “Much error in belief and practice has arisen from not attending to the distinction which sounder divines have observed, between the extraordinary and the ordinary operations of the Spirit.” But surely, our ablest Calvinistic divines have insisted on this distinction, as carefully as himself. We consider all pretensions to the extraordinary influence of the Holy Spirit, in modern times, as arrogant, and tending to real enthusiasm. We warn our hearers against giving heed to impressions on the imagination, and making them the ground of their hope of safety; and against all new discoveries or directions, not already contained in the written word. We wish all the most zealous Arminians in the kingdom were equally guarded, against the idea of an immediate witness to their justification, or sanctification, or even their being made perfect in love.
I humbly conceive, that the assurance of faith, properly so called, respects the testimony of God concerning his Son, and the excellence, glory, and all-sufficiency of the plan of
salvation by him : for this, every one has ample ground, in the express declarations of the gospel. He may well believe that Christ is able to save unto the uttermost; and he may be equally assured that he will in nowise cast out any one who comes unto him for salvation. But the assurance of hope, (which respects the personal interest of an individual, in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,) is not to be attained without Christian diligence : since it must be founded on a careful comparison of the character of true believers, as delineated in the word of God, with our own exercises of the heart, and their practical influence on the life. When grace, indeed, is in lively exercise, a formal induction of evidences may not be needful to the enjoyment of this inestimable blessing; but when this lively hope is not obtained by regular self-examination, yet it would bear the closest trial. As a person with an ear for music, may judge of the goodness of a composition without a formal process; but still his taste would be justified by exact rules : and even if he could not explain its particular beauties himself, a more scientific person could easily do it for him. Or, as a mother may know, by internal consciousness, that she has a strong affection for her child, without an enumeration of proofs; but she could produce them easily enough, if it were requisite, Is it enthusiasm to suppose sincere love to God may be as sensibly felt? We think not: though if a man pretended to love God, and was not concerned to keep his commandments, we should set him down for a liar, who had not the truth in him.
We think, however, that the ordinary influences of the blessed Spirit are infinitely more valuable, especially to the subject of them, than his extraordinary influences. It is a far happier thing to be a true saint, than to prophesy like Balaam, or to work miracles like Judas Iscariot. But though the ordinary influences of the Spirit can be known only by their effects, in drawing the soul to Christ, and conforming it to his blessed image; yet, by this effect they may be satisfactorily known.
Man is far off from God by nature; he is very far gone from original righteousness. And he that has returned to God