Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

is God that worketh in you." When oppressed by a sense of sin, and by the strength of sinful inclinations, and surrounded by difficulties on every side, this doctrine is our only support; and when properly embraced, it is an unfailing support, because it sends us io One, who is able to succor. We can then understand the apostle, when he says: “When I am weak, then am I strong; “I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me;" “most gladly, therefore, will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is an influence, then, in this reliance on divine aid, which is of the most encouraging and cheering kind. When the doctrine is not held in such a manner, as to dispense with our own activity ; when it is viewed as ever involving the necessity of such activity on our part, and yet the reliance is on God, to give us success; can there be any thing better adapted to encourage to untiring effort ? Nothing, then, in the path of duty, seems too great for us to undertake. Nothing, then, which ought to be done, in the business of our own spiritual improvement, or in sacrifices and self-denials for Christ's sake, is regarded as an impracticable matter. We can take up any cross; we can face any danger. So, too, in our efforts for the benefit of others. We feel, on the one hand, that the work is God's; and, on the other, that well-directed human instrumentality is indispensable, and may avail much. The humble pastor, as he weeps and prays over his beloved flock,-what an encouragement is it to him, to know, that there is a Being, who can subdue men's corruptions, and triumph over every difficulty which obstructs the success of the gospel. When he has presented to his people, again and again, the truths of the Bible, to no purpose, and perceives their hearts to be growing more and more hardened, perhaps, under these truths ; how sustaining, how encouraging to his sinking mind, is the assurance, that the grace of God can yet give efficacy to his hitherto fruitless ministrations among them; and that, if he is faithful and persevering in his efforts to do them good, and in his prayers in their behalf

, there is much reason to believe, that he will not be suffered to labor in vain, and spend his strength for nought! The christian parent, too, as he watches, and prays, and longs for, the conversion of his children, what an encouragement is it to him, that he can recur to the doctrine under consideration, and look up to God, and feel, that the hearts of the loved ones are in His hands, and that he can turn them, as the rivers of water are turned! What an encouragement is this, for him to use means with them, and try unceasingly to do them good, and never to give over, while life lasts! The same may be said of the sabbath-school teacher and

every good man, in all the various instrumentalities which we are called to use, in building up the kingdom of Christ on earth. Pre-eminently is this true of the missionary, when he goes forth


to distant heathen lands, “ to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God.” In all these cases, a just view of the doctrine of dependence, is the sole ground of encouragement to go forward in our work. For it is indubitably certain, that, without the influence of God's Spirit, such is man's perverseness of heart, not a soul will listen to the gospel, and be saved. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, in vain. How delightful, then, is it, in looking over this world, this wide waste of sin,-this vast scene of corruption, guilt, and misery,—to know, that God has given us encouragement to look to him, that he would perform the mighty work, and bring the reign of sin on earth to a close, through our instrumentality! What other and higher encouragement to action than this, can we need or have?

4. A right view of dependence on divine grace, cherishes a proper spirit, in prayer for the conversion of the world. This is the great object on which the hearts of christians ought to be fixed, -to carry into effect the dying injunction of the Redeemer, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Until the church has a very different spirit, on this subject, from what has been felt hitherto by christians generally, the people of God must bear the reproach of standing in the way of the progress of the gospel, and of holding back from mankind, the universal reign of truth and holiness. God himself has said, that he does not desire the death of the wicked ; and has spoken of a period, when he will descend upon the nations, by the influence of his Spirit, like " the rain that watereth the earth." But how much of the prayer which is offered for the introduction of the millenial day, is utterly ineffectual, because founded in false views of the doctrine of dependence! Multitudes seem to feel, as though the millenium was to be brought about by some miraculous exertion of physical power, on the part of God. Let just views of this doctrine prevail ; let men feel, that human activity is inseparably connected with the influences of divine grace; and they will either cease to pray for the millenium, or begin to act efficiently, in preparing the way for its coming. If the whole church, at this moment, had just views of this subject; if they united, as they ought, the doctrines of activity and dependence, with God's yearning compassion over this lost world, and bis desires for its salvation; have we not reason to believe, that the work of converting the world, would be consummated within the compass of a single generation ? Is there room for any serious doubt on this subject? If not, how can christians excuse themselves, to their own consciences, for their negligence? If it be true, or may be true, that this world's conversion to God is delayed, through their criminal indifference and inactivity, what a tremendous amount of responsibility are they taking upon themselves! But we do not see how

this inference can be avoided. Christians who are inactive, and living without the proper spirit of prayer for the conversion of the world, are standing in the way of the progress of Christ's kingdom. To them it is owing, that millions upon millions, in every generation, go down to death, without the knowledge of a Savior. We trenble, and are amazed, at such a responsibility. Now, would these things be so, if the view taken by many, of man's dependence, were the right view, and the spirit of the church, in prayer for the world's conversion, were the proper spirit?

5. A right view of dependence, would cherish an habitual spirit of cheerfulness and joy in the heart of the christian. He needs such a spirit, to carry him through his trials, and animate bim in his work. The influence of christian joy and confidence in God, as a stimulus to successful action, in such a world as this, must be apparent. A calm, steadfast, joyous reliance on Almighty aid, - how it would help us to go forward in trying circumstances, and to surmount difficulties, which, in any other state of mind, it would be impossible for us to overcome! An obligation, too, is resting upon us, to exhibit religion to others, in an interesting and attractive light. We cannot be faithful to our divine Master, in


way. We cannot be true to his cause, except as we hold forth, in our deportment before the world, and in the very spirit which animates us to run the race set before us, the delightful influence, the peace, the hope, the temporal satisfaction and joy, which may, and should, spring from a firm reliance on God for success. Others, in the world around us, have a right to claim the benefit of such an example at our hands, and we are bound to furnish it. bound to let them see what christianity is, in its practical, everyday influence upon our life and temper, that they may obtain a right impression of it; and then, if they turn away from it, as thus exhibited, the fault will not be ours. Now, what is the natural effect, upon the temper and the life, of just views of dependence on a God of love, and purity, and power, for progress in holiness? What feelings does this sentiment tend to awaken within us? Does it not tend eminently to encourage and animate to effort? Is not its whole influence, to fix the heart immovably on its proper center,—God; and thus to inspire the cheerfulness of living hope, and ceaseless confidence and joy? What calm delight; what tempered satisfaction, in prosperous circumstances; what strength, and fixedness of heart, under trials; what superiority to the power of temptation; what sweet assurance of our acceptance with God; what anticipations and foretastes of heavenly blessedness; what humility; what prevalence in prayer; in a word, what a beautiful specimen of happy piety, would be presented to the world, if the full influence of the doctrine under consideration, were exemplified in the lives of all christians! But, to see the full

We are me !""

influence of this doctrine,—to learn all its tendencies to make those happy who truly embrace it,-we must look beyond this world; we must trace its effects, in the feelings and in the songs of the redeemed on high. What, then, is the chief ingredient in the blessedness of the saints above, as they cast their crowns before the throne,

-what is it, but the blessedness of ascribing their salvation, not only to the atonement of Christ, but to the distinguishing, efficacious grace of the Holy Spirit ? Such, too, when they have a right view of it, is the influence of the same doctrine upon God's children on earth. It prompts them to exclaim, “Why

Why me!" “ Infinite grace !" “ Infinite grace !" In concluding this interesting theme, two remarks seem specially necessary. The first is, that we should be careful to distinguish, clearly, between a true and a false reliance on God, for holiness, and for salvation. A true reliance, while it makes God all in all, as the efficient agent in our progress heavenward, includes, also, and at every step of our advance in holiness, our own personal activity. God does not make us holy, and fit us for heaven, as mere passive recipients of divine influence; but he does it by leading us, in the exercise of our active powers, to do his will; by exciting us to use in a right manner, the capacities which he has given us ; by inclining us to act, as he would have us act, with the powers which we already possess. This is the sum and substance of such a doctrine. A dependence, then, on the grace of God for holiness, which leaves us inactive, and still sunk in sloth and apathy, is indeed far from being the true doctrine upon this subject. It is wholly a different thing, although it is often, very often, we fear, mistaken for the other.

Our second remark relates to the importance of cultivating the actual and ever-present feeling of dependence on the grace of God. It is one thing, to believe this doctrine, as an abstract truth, and another thing, to feel and realize it, as a matter of fact. It is in this latter view of it, that its practical utility wholly consists. And it is in this view of it, especially, that we would urge the importance of making use of every possible means to acquire such a realizing sense of it. It can be acquired. A sense of dependence on divine grace can be, and should be felt

, and felt deeply and habitually, by every christian ; it is the best safeguard of our virtue here; it is our only ground of rest and confidence, that we shall not fall away, and be lost forever. Let us therefore cultivate, with all our power, the actual feeling of dependence on God, for sanctification, as well as for justification, for the fruits of the Spirit on earth, as well as for their blissful reward in heaven. And as means to this end, let us often ponder upon our depravity and guilt; let us take deep and thorough views of the corruption of our hearts; let us dwell much on the infinite

excellence and glory of God, on the offices of Christ, and the work of the Spirit

, in our redemption. Let us often think of the worth of the soul, and of the value of the prize at stake,--the prize for which the christian runs,—“the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As we are careful to guard against a false view of our dependence, so, too, let us not be satisfied with a slight and feeble sense of our dependence. Let us bave the sentiment firmly established within us, so that we can carry it with us, practically, into all the employments of life. Let it be present with us in our trials and sorrows. Let it not be laid aside, nor forgotten, in our brighter and more prosperous days. Let it guide, and let it animate us, through all our pilgrimage on earth. Let it support us in death. Let it be the theme of our everlasting songs. But, we reiterate the caution already given, let it not be mistaken for something else, nor perverted to any other use, than its true and legitimate one. Let it be, only and always, a stimulus to effort and diligence, in promoting holiness and happiness, as far as we can, and as long as we live.

ART. V.- Cousin's PsyCHOLOGY.

Elements of Psychology: included in a critical exumination of Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding. By Victor Cousin, Professor of Philosophy of the Faculty of Literature, at Paris ; Peer of France; and member of the Royal Council of Public Instruction. Translated from the French, with an introduction, notes, and additions, by C. S. Henry. Hartford : Cooke, & Co. 1234.

We entered on the reading of this volume with unusual interest. The Edinburgh reviewer, and others, had spoken of the work in terms of adıniration. We had a curiosity to see, what fashion would be given to mental philosophy, by habits of thinking, so peculiar as those of the French people. We were anxious to know, how the principles of Locke would fare, in the hands of a a tetaphysician so distinguished as Cousin. The Essay on the Human Understanding has so long been read as a text-book, in our schools and colleges, that our philosophical speculations derive much of their support, from the foundation which that work has laid. If this should prove to be unsound, we may be under the necessity of looking around for other means of giving stability to many of our favorite metaphysical structures. On the other hand, if the ground-work of Locke is found to stand the trial of a thorough examination, by the philosophers of Paris, and to receive their sanction, our confidence in the correctness of his

principles will naturally be strengthened. For, as Voltaire says, “When a Frenchman and an Englishman think alike, there must be some very good reason for it."


Vol. VII.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »