« AnteriorContinuar »
by it, and what was not. In a let. convictions respecting the essential, ter on Christian Perfection,” ad. abiding nature of religion, he speaks dressed to the “Rev. Mr. Dodd,” of the nature and extent of that in 1756, he
says, “When I began change in his own opinions which to make the Scriptures my chief he had experienced many years prestudy, (about seven-and-twenty years viously :
· Such has been my judg. ago,) I began to see that Christians ment for these threescore years, are called to love God with all their (since, therefore, about 1730,)"withheart, and to serve him with all their out any material alteration. Only, strength ; which is precisely what I about fifty years ago,” (referring to apprehend to be meant by the scrip- the events of 1738,) “I had a clearer tural term' perfection. After weigh- view than before of justification by ing this for some years, I openly faith ; and in this, from that very declared my sentiments before the hour, I never varied, no, not an University, in the sermon on the hair's breadth.” Circumcision of the Heart.' About The truth is, he was enabled at six years after, in consequence of once to perceive, not only that the an advice I received from Bishop two doctrines were not incompatible Gibson,- Tell all the world what with each other, but that, together, you mean by perfection,'-1 puhthey formed a beautifully-consistent lished my coolest and latest thoughts whole. Still was his untiring gaze in the sermon on that subject.” fixed on holiness; but he now saw This, of course, (about six years that holiness came by faith. Not after 1733,) would be soon after the less did he desire sanctification ; memorable meeting in Aldersgate, but he perceived that in order to street. Fifty years afterwards (March, sanctification there must be justifi. 1790) he wrote his sermon on cation. That religion consisted in Wedding-Garment.” In this the
In this the love to God, he was as much perlast year of his life he thus speaks : suaded as ever ; but, after striving “What, then, is that holiness which vainly to bring himself into this is the true wedding-garment, the state, he learned that fire from heaonly qualification for glory? 'In ven was necessary to kindle, as on Christ Jesus neither circumcision the altar of his heart, this flame of availeth any thing, nor uncircumci. sacred love. And often, with chasion, but a new creation,'--the re. racteristic brevity, does he put the newal of the soul ‘in the image of simple, but wonderful, process in God wherein it was created. In the clearest light. Some months Christ Jesus neither circumcision subsequently to his own conversion, availeth any thing, nor uncircumci- (that is, in February, 1739,) publishsion; but faith which worketh by ing the “Life of the Rev. Thomas love.' It first, through the energy Haliburton,” a Scotch Clergyman, of God, worketh love to God and -a work which contains a striking all mankind; and, by this love, description of the work of grace in every holy and heavenly temper,– the soul of man,-he wrote thus : in particular, lowliness, meekness, “ • The kingdom of God,' saith our temperance, gentleness, and long. blessed Lord, is within you.' It suffering. It is neither circumci is no outward, no distant thing ; sion,'-the attending on all the but ' a well of living water' in the Christian ordinances,—nor uncir- soul, ‘springing up into everlasting cumcision,'--the fulfilling of all life.' It is righteousness, and heathen morality,—but the keeping peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' the commandments of God;' parti. It is holiness and happiness. The cularly those,- Thou shalt love the general manner in which it pleases Lord thy God with all thy heart, God to set it up in the heart is this: and thy neighbour as thyself.' In A sinner, being drawn by the love a word, holiness is the having the of the Father, enlightened by the mind that was in Christ,' and the Son, ('the true light, which lighteth ' walking as Christ walked.'” After
every man that cometh into the thus giving his long-established world,') and convinced of sin by the
Holy Ghost; through the prevent- Account of Christian Perfection,” ing grace that is given to him freely, the last revision of which was pubcometh weary and heavy-laden, and lished in 1777. After describing casteth all his sins upon Him that the doctrine, and showing how he is 'mighty to save.' 'He receiveth was led to receive it, he says, “I from Him true, living faith. Being would now ask any impartial perjustified by faith,' he hath 'peace son, What is there so frightful with God;' he rejoices'in hope of therein ? Whence is all this outcry, the glory of God,' and knows that which for these twenty years and sin hath no more dominion over upwards has been made throughout him. And the love of God is shed the kingdom ; as if all Christianity abroad in his heart, producing all were destroyed, and all religion holiness of heart and of conversa torn up by the roots ? Those are tion." And in 1746 he says, the words of Jesus Christ, not mine : “From May 24th, 1738, wherever ‘Ye shall therefore be perfect, as I was desired to preach, salvation your father who is in heaven is by faith was my only theme; that perfect.' And who says, ye shall is, such a love of God and man as not; or, at least, not till your soul produces all inward and outward separated from the body? It is holiness, and springs from a convic- the doctrine of St. Paul, the doction, wrought in us by the Holy trine of St. Peter, St. James, and Ghost, of the pardoning love of St. John; and no otherwise Mr. God.” So also, remarking on “Mr. Wesley's, than as it is the doctrine Hill's Review,” in 1772, he says, of every one who preaches the pure “ From the year 1725, I saw more and the whole Gospel. I tell you, and more of the nature of inward as plain as I can speak, where and religion, chiefly by reading the writ. when I found this. I found it in ings of Mr. Law, and a few other the oracles of God, in the Old and mystic writers ; although I did not New Testament; when I read them clearly see that we are saved by with no other view or desire but to faith till 1738.” And in his “Ap save my own soul. But whosesopeals” he writes : “Without faith ever this doctrine is, I pray you, we cannot be thus saved ;” (he had what harm is there in it? Look at just before described salvation as it again ; survey it on every side, "a present salvation from sin ;') and that with the closest attention. “ for we cannot rightly serve God In one view, it is purity of intenunless we love him. And we can tion, dedicating all the life to God. not love him except we know him; It is the giving God all our heart, neither can we know God unless by it is one desire and design ruling all faith. Therefore salvation by faith our tempers. It is the devoting, is only, in other words, the love of not a part, but all, our soul, and God by the knowledge of God; or, body, and substance to God. In the recovery of the image of God by another view, it is all the mind a true, spiritual acquaintance with which was in Christ, enabling us to him."
walk as Christ walked. It is the And thus was he naturally led to circumcision of the heart from all that doctrine which, unhappily, drew filthiness, all inward as well as all upon him more reproach-reproach outward pollution. It is a renewal the more painful to him, that it pro of the heart in the whole image of ceeded from those from whom he God, the full likeness of Him that rather expected encouragement, and created it. In yet another, it is the support, and full co-operation--than loving God with all our heart, and any other doctrine preached by him, our neighbour as ourselves. Now, that of Christian perfection. What take it in which of these views you he meant by the expression, as well please, (for there is no material difas its natural procession from the ference,) and this is the whole and views of salvation which he had sole perfection, as a train of writbeen led to embrace, will appearings prove to a demonstration, from what he says in his “Plain which I have believed and taught
for these forty years, from the year conciliate the Papists by speaking 1725, to the year 1765."
as far as they could in the language They who believe that Mr. Wes- they had been accustomed to em. ley was providentially raised up to ploy, and confused by the notions be an instrument of one of the respecting that peculiar efficacy of greatest revivals of the work of God the sacraments in the persuasion of ever witnessed in the church, since which they had been educated. the days of the Apostles, will admire And then, as the human mind is the way by which he was so led, as prone to extremes, and as one great to be prepared to declare the whole point of the controversy between the counsel of God, and to go forth to Romanists and the Reformers rewar his good warfare, having the lated to the doctrine of human mearmour of righteousness on the right rit,--the former laying great stress hand and on the left. There had on the dignity of man, and the exbeen a host of writers, in his own cellence of the works he was capaChurch, who had laid great stress ble of performing, -so the Reformon the necessity of inward and out ers, in the warmth of their zeal, ward holiness. Dr. Henry More, occasionally used expressions which, Jeremy Taylor, Whichcot, Dr. John though capable of being so explained Smith, John Norris, Archbishop as to be made consistent with truth, Tillotson, had exposed the Antino were, to say the least, extremely mian heresy, pointed out the sancti. bazardous as to those whose minds fying influence of divine truth on were not thoroughly under the inthe mind, and the obligations to fluence of the truth and grace of obedience which the Gospel im. God, and who were not, with all poses; but they had not only omit their attachment to Protestantism in ted the consideration of the doctrine its human and external aspects, con. of justification regarded practically, scientiously set upon doing the will but had written against it, or ex of God, as solemnly made known to plained it away. Among the Re them in his holy word. If men formers, while justification by faith need to be guarded against the was clearly stated, yet the power of delusions of self-righteousness, they the statement was greatly weakened likewise need to be guarded against by other coincident statements. those of self-will, and of a rebellious Wishful to appear to go no farther heart. Men not truly in earnest than they were compelled from their for their own personal salvation former associates, they used expres- easily gather, from strong expressions concerning regeneration in sions on any subject, reasons to supbaptism which could not but con port their own favourite delusion, fuse the sincere inquirer, and would whatever it may be ; and most nelead the unawakened Protestant to cessary is it, therefore, that the enrest satisfied without seeking that tire truth, and the entire truth in justification on which, as a doctrine, the due connexion of its different much stress was laid, but which parts, should be set before the mind, they were not earnestly exhorted to and applied earnestly to the conseek as a blessing proffered to per science. A man like Melancthon sonal acceptance, for personal recep- might safely hear Luther suggest, at tion and enjoyment. They were one period, his doubts as to the catold, not only that faith was not a nonical authority of the Epistle of St. mere acknowledgment of Christian James; but men-and there were verity, but a sure trust and con too many such-who went with the fidence in Christ for the pardon of Reformers only from secular mosin; but also that this faith was the tives, would be glad of such a me. gift of God: but we find not in thod of escaping from the condemna. their discourses those warm-hearted tion which they would feel they exhortations to seek this gift and deserved, if practical obedience were this blessing which we helieve there indeed required from them. And would have been, had they not been in England, in the depth of their both hampered by their desire to genuine humility, clearly seeing the
depravity of man by nature, and the the earnestness of a contrite heart,
to evangelical truth. self for him. And these exhorta. Fear will come before love, terror tions to faith in Christ have no before comfort; the Saviour's feet Antinomian tendency: Faith itself must be kissed in all humility, is shown to suppose that deep sense before he will give the kiss of reof guilt and sinfulness which leads conciliation. He that hungers and the soul to turn with abhorrence thirsts after righteousness must befrom all evil, and to look, with all lieve in Christ, who justifies the
ungodly; and, being justified by beautiful testimony to the simplicity faith alone, he shall have peace and power of divine truth, in the with God.* But this conversion is first instance, almost immediately not so much from sin to) holiness, followed by a strongly-marked deas from the life of an ordinary, to
parture from it. that of a superior, Christian. And In his first chapter he describes for this there must be separation perfection : that is perfect which from the world, and voluntary aban- attains its proper end, by having donments, austerities, and humilia and exercising its proper nature. tions, leading at once to the notion for an animal to be perfect, it must of superior desert, and the fearful have all its members and organs collection of evils produced by the rightly disposed, and rightly acting. doctrines of human merit. +
For ascertaining the perfection of Mr. Wesley, much as he loved the spiritual life, that in which the retirement, and keenly as he could spiritual life mainly consists must have relished academic quiet and be considered ; but this is charity, study, was armed against these plau or love ; for he who is destitute of sible, and to some minds fascinat. this is spiritually nothing. To be ing, delusions. “Solitary religion,” spiritually perfect, is to be perfect he says, “is not to be found in the
in love. S Gospel of Christ.
In the second chapter, quoting knows of no religion but social ; no the two great commands, he shows holiness but social holiness. “Faith that love has respect to God and working by love' is the length, and our neighbour. But of these, that breadth, and depth, and beight, of is to be loved first and principally Christian perfection.”
which is our supreme good, that Perhaps in none of the mystic which makes us blessed ; and that writings is this strange, this hetero. is God. “First, therefore, and pringeneous junction of truth and error cipally, the perfection of the spiritmore strikingly apparent, than in ual life consists in the love of God.|| one of the smaller works of Thomas Wherefore the Lord, speaking to Aquinas, devoted to the considera. Abraham, said, 'I am God Almighty; tion not merely of the spiritual life, walk before me, and be thou perbut of its perfection. I A brief ac- fect. For we walk before God not count of this singular production with steps of the body, but with the will not, we think, be without inter- affections of the mind.” est to the reader, who will see a In the third chapter he argues,
that the perfection of love may be * Quamobrem quisquis pro peccatis compunc considered in regard to the lored, tus, esurit et sitit justitiam, credat in te qui jus- and to the loving; and that that tificas impium, et, solam justificatus per filem,
absolute perfection of lore which pacem habcbit ad Deum.-Bern., Serm. in Cant.
alone is suited to an infinite object, In the Memoires pour servir à l'Histoire de can only be exercised by God himPort-Royal, there is a remarkable statement re self. In God alone can the affection specting the Abbess Angelica Arnauld.
exist which is in full proportion to account of what the writer calls her conversion
its object. (and which took place after she became Abbess, as the post was conferred on her through family
In his fourth chapter he speaks influence) represents her as proposing, after she
of the love of God on the part of had made such regulations as in some measure the creature loving, who is to love restored the convent to its pristine simplicity God with his whole power. So and severity, to withdraw to another, more dis
he is commanded in Scripture : in tant from her friends, and less reformed. Let
Deut. vi. 5, with all his heart, all house where others live not as they should, that his soul, and all his might : in Luke need not prevent me ; and if I will, I may be x. 27 it is added, and with all his poor, obedient, and patient; and wilh so much the more merit, as I shall have more contradic $ Simpliciter crgo in spirituali vità perfectus tions, and fewer examples." (Tome i., p. 28.) est, qui est in caritate perfectus.
† Div. Thom. Aquinat., De Perfectione Vite | In dilectione Dei. spiritualis, Opusc. xvii. Opera, 4to. Venet., Ut scilicet secundum suam totam virtutem, 1775. Tom. xix.
creatura rationalis diligat Deum,
the reason be well observed: “If I am in a