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We are hence conducted to the second enquiry, Jo what manner does the Father draw men? He draws them in a manner suited to their nature, as rational and free agents. His drawing is not compulsion ; it is not irresistible impulse; it is not mechanical force; it does not coustrain them to come. It places them in a situation to come. He draws them by the use of various means; by instructions, admonitions, invitations, promises, threatenings, and events of his providence. It may also be admitted, that he draws them by a positive or direct influence on their mind, exerted in a way, consistent with their free agency, and given in connexion with their own efforts, and in answer to their prayers. “If ye, being evil,' said our Lord, 'know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to them that ask bim?' Those, who live in a state of pagan darkness, are not drawn to Christ; and therefore cannot come, Nor are they required to come. Persons in a state of infancy are not drawn to Christ, and therefore cannot come ; nor are they comınanded to come. In the former case, there is a want of means; in the latter, a want of capacity. Coming to Christ implies the exercise of the understanding, as well as of the will and affections ; and the drawing or influence of the Father is through the medium of the rational and moral powers. He draws them by imparting to them, in his word, instructions respecting the cha. racter, the offices, and the works of Christ, and respecting their own duties, obligations, and interests. In these instructions, are included the various motives of the gospel. He admonishes them of the danger and ruin, which attend a rejection of Christ. He shows them the happy consequences of coming to him; that it is attended with peace here, and followed by everlasting life hereafter. In this way be addresses their hope and fear, their love of happiness, and their dread of misery, those powerful principles of action. But all this influence may be resisted; and on this account Christians are exhorted not to receive the grace of God in vain. There are also many calls of providence; events, which are fitted to awaken our gratitude and love, to inspire us with a religious awe, and to awaken in us a salutary fear. But this influence, as well as the other, may be resisted; it is not necessarily effectual. Hence God said, " I have called, but ye refused : I have stretched out my hand, but no man regarded.' The same remark is applicable to the direct influence of the spirit on the heart. For it is said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man; and, Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: As did your fathers, so do ye.' When, therefore, we see men, who do not come to Christ, we are not to infer, that
the Father does not draw them, but merely that they resist bis drawing. We are not to infer that this drawing, or influence is limited to a few, or to a select number, “for it is written in the Prophets, that they all shall be taught of God. If they receive and obey these instructions and hear and learn of the Father, they will come to Christ. If they do not thus hear and learn, let them charge their neglect, not to any deficiency in the instruction, or in the grace given by God, but solely to the sinful indifference or opposition of their own hearts. The supposed distinction between common grace and special finds no support in the scriptures, but originates in buman authority and error. If common grace or influence be adequate to the salvation of men, special grace is needless. If common grace be not adequate to this end, it is no longer grace, it is no favour; it leaves men in a worse state than they would be without it; for it aggravates their guilt without rendering their salvation either probable or possible.
THOUGHTS ON CONTROVERSY,
UNDER the general title assumed above, it is proposed to offer some reflections on the duties and dangers which belong to a state of controversy. They may be considered as a sequel to the remarks on this general subject in the first number of the
1 look upon controversy, as one of the great dispensations of God. It results from the very constitution of our minds, and must have been expected to result. The sensitiveness, therefore, which shrinks from a fair and full consideration of the obligations and exposures of this state of things, is misplaced.
As little is indifference to be countenanced in such a case. Indeed the profession of it, is very much to be suspected. For every bad passion, as well as every good affection, is likely to be interested. Every bad passion, it is too obvious; and as to the good—the spectacle of schism and separation in the church, must be, to every Christian mind, I am sure, a very serious one, and if it were not for the uses they may serve, would be very sorrowful. In connection with this subject one can hardly fail to be very much impressed with many of the early sayings and actions of our Saviour. When we read some of the discourses of our Lord, and mark the affection and tenderness they breathe; when we hear him praying for bis followers of every succeeding age, that they all might be one; that his church might be one fold having one shepherd; when we perceive how,-immaculate as he was, how he bore with his mistaken and worldly followers, and thus set them an example of mutual forbearance ; above all, when we witness the gentleness and condescension with which be washed the very feet of these erring and faulty disciples, and that too for the express purpose of promoting mutual charity and kindness, we may well think that the state of his divided and af. ficted church calls for something besides our indifference; calls, indeed, for our deepest and most solemn consideration.
Besides ; this consideration, I trust, may be made to appear of great use. In fact, it is one part, and not the least important and difficult part of our appointed duties, to stand approved in these trials. It is entitled, therefore, to a share in our religious discussions. It is very striking to observe, that while men are disputing with vehemence about doctrines, there is an interior moral process of far greater consequence, which nevertheJess is generally overlooked, is seldom discussed, is scarcely thought of as a matter of duty and conscience, and moral responsibility. Indeed, this subject will be found in many ways, I think, to be very practical. Of this, however, it shall be left to my readers to judge, in the progress of the remarks 1 bave now to offer. I must premise that they will be considerably miscellaneous. The compass of the subject will be my apology ; and, I might add, its irksomeness, for it is too unwelcome to invite frequent discussion, and therefore, inclines us to make the most of a given opportunity.
1. My first remark shall be to this effect: Let us not make too much of being in a state of controversy. Let us not be too much agitated nor distressed by it; first, because it is what falls out in the natural course of things, and secondly, because it may be, and is productive of many advantages.
First, it is a matler of course, that there should be controver. sies. There must be heresies among you' says an apostle. lle does not mean by heresies, in this placc, errors, but what the word originally and usually signifies, schisms, divisions. I desire any one to read this 11th Chap. of the 1st Cor. that he may be perfectly satisfied. The apostle is not speaking of doctrines, at all, but of a difference of opinion, or of practice about forms; of a dissension in the celebration of the Lord's supper. And what he says, is that there must be dissensions ;' differences of opinion. If any one does not see that this must result from the very imperfection of the human mind, let him look at the state of facts. When has there not been controversy? It broke forth even in the apostolic times. The early fathers, too, had their controversies. And when the hierarchy waxed strong, and
swayed a sceptre over every thing else, it could not control the mind, and there were controversies still. One considerable portion of the history of the Papacy is a bistory of councils, convened to settle controversies. And how it has been among Protestants, it is needless to say. They originally took their name from their protesting against the Catholics, and they have acquired a hundred-fold stronger title to it, by having been, ever since, protesting against one another. Such have been the results of human infirmity, and such, it is probable, they ever will be. The millenial period when men could learn to love one another, when they thus fiel alike, may be looked for, but a millenium wben men will think alike can scarcely be.
Let us not think it strange then, concerning the fiery trial which tries us, as if some strange thing bad happened to us. It is the most common and natural of all things. It has happened to all Christians that have been, and it probably will happen to all that are yet to have their lot in this state of ignorance and imperfection. Let us not, then, make an ado about schisms. Let us not con- , jure up gratuitous and fictitious difficulties and troubles, in the paths of religion. Let us not acquire a habit of fearing, or complaining, or lamenting about the evils of our condition. It is of great importance that we should take just views of this sub. ject. Controversy, when it is angry dissension ;-schism, when I it is not of the mind, only, but of the heart, cannot be too much deprecated. We can scarcely be too sensitive about it. We can scarcely make too much of it. But mere difference of opinion is quite another thing. It belongs to our condition ; I had almost said, it is a part of our nature. We hear men lament controversy, as if it were a most unnatural and unprecedented phenomenon ; as if a difference of opinion were a deplorable thing; as if it were a blot on the Christian name; as if it destroyed the unity of God's church, which it does not, or need not, at all, for that is a unity in love and good works; the only union that erring men are capable of, and all they need desire. And not only so, but they actually love one another more, or at least in a more elevated manner, for their differences. When they can lay aside their prejudice, their pride, their little peculiarities of opinion, for the greater and bolier claims of mutual worth, they both exalt and more highly enjoy the pleasures of mutual esteem aud friendship.
Controversy does in this and other ways nurture some of the noblest and purest virtues, and it also promotes the most useful investigations. This in general is another of the reasons assigned for not indulging too great a sensitiveness about the evils of the present state of things. There is not only necessity, but
use, to plead for it. Contending opinions may answer a good purpose, as well as the contending elements. They purify the moral atmosphere. They clear up the field of vision. They dissipate the shadows of error and superstition. And the minds of men need some such excitement. The worst period of the church has been that of the greatest uniformity of opinions ; not the most ignorant only, but the most immoral period. And though it be true, that the moral character, the piety of some good men is sadly disfigured by their disputes, and though the passions of the bad are unhappily exasperated, yet what noble examples have we of Christian mildness too, and forbearance and affection ! Some of the most illustrious friendships in the world have been those of religious opponents. And there are such instances still. We thank God that they are increasing! And in the private walks of Christian piety too, there are many to be found, I trust, who are guarding themselves against the great temptation ; whose thoughts and words are habitually subdued to Christian gentleness and charity; who are walking in the seven times heated furnace unhurt; who shine the brighter and shall come forth purer, for the flames that are around them. God speed you, ye messengers of Christian forbearance and reconciliation ! The spirit of the lowly and benevolent Jesus is upon you; and his blessing sball be upon you too. For he has said, blessed are the peacemakers !! and surely he will pronounce those eminently so, who make peace among his sincere but mistaken and divided followers. These, are the crown of our conflicts—these virtues, and the men who possess them. Let us not think them too dearly purchased, nor thoughtlessly murmur at the discipline of heaven that forms them.
I give all respect, nay, and sympatby, to him, who feels that religion ought to be the bond of kindness, and kind fellowship; who is weary of disputes, whose mind sickens at the thought of dissension, whose heart is touched with the goodness of God to him, and would fain be at peace with all his creatures and chilren, who is so happy in the privilege of being a Christian that he cannot indulge an unkind or bitter thought; who, in one word, has found in religion the rest and joy of all his affections, and desires only that he may cherish it, and carry it with bim, to bis grave in peace. Would to God, I was ready to say, that this might be the lot of us all! But it is not appointed to us. There must be divisions, says the apostle. And he assures us for our consolation and peace of mind, that they have an impor. tant use ; that by them, those who are approved are made manifest ; that the faithful and self-denying, the meek and humble will shine more brightly in the fiery trial; will give a more