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be entertained. We inculcate sinless perfection, not only on saints, but also on sinners. Of this our author must have been convinced, by reading the 6th sermon in that volume, which drew forth his animadversions.
Do the members of our churches obtain the idea from their ministers, that it is matter of small consequence how they live? And are there none of those who believe in our doctrine, whose lives are exemplary, even equally exemplary with those, who not only hold the doctrine of sinless perfection, but who profess to have attained to that state? It will doubtless be acknowledged, that professors can be found of our sentiments, who are men of great integrity in their dealings, whose word can be relied upon, who are chargeable with no unchaste conduct, and who are temperate in their habits; whose conduct at home and abroad, is such as becometh the gospel; who are also apparently much engaged in the cause of religion, being often in their closets, and constant in their attention to family worship, and who bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; who keep holy the sabbath day, and seem greatly to delight in the habitation of the Lord's house and the place where his honor dwelleth. They pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and appear greatly to rejoice in the building up of Zion. No discourse is so pleasing to them as that which is of a religious nature, and they seem to prefer that religi ous discourse which pertains to the very vitals of true godliness. They appear most in their element, when their tongues and their hands are engaged in the things which relate to the kingdom of the Redeemer. They not only talk about religion, but they seem to have liberal souls, to devise liberal things. They give to the poor, and they continue to give. They cast not only mites; but some of them cast much into the Lord's treasury; and speak of it as a privilege, that they have opportunity to devote their carnal things, to advance
us see if St. James pleads for Baal in the heart, any more than for Baal in the life of perfect believers." What does this imply less than a charge against Mr. Hill and other Calvinists; that they recommend christian imperfection; and that they plead for Baal in the heart and life of believers !
the spiritual interests of their fellow men. this, they seem to have a deep acquaintance with expe rimental religion. They do not appear to be unacquainted with contrition for sin; nor with faith in the Rcdeemer. They speak of seasons when his glory appears very attractive to their souls. They talk of hidden joys in religion, of which they were once wholly ignorant. But in connexion with all this, they tell of a great warfare in their own breasts. They see not only some, but very much corruption in their hearts. The more they are enlarged with love to divine things, the greater discovery they seem to have of indwelling sin, of its evil nature, and deep rootedness in their hearts. They often have such an overwhelming sense, not only of their past follies, but of the remaining corruptions of their hearts, that they feel ashamed and confounded before a holy God. It is among us manifestly the case, that those who give evidence of the greatest degrees of sanctification, and devotedness to the cause of religion, appear to be the most affected, not only with past, but with present depravity.*
I have thought it would not be uninteresting to the reader, in this connexion, to see a few extracts from the Lives of some eminent christians of the Calvinistic school; which may serve as a specimen of their experiences on the subject of sin. ful imperfection. The extracts which I propose to put into this Note, will be taken from such Lives as I have in my possession. The first will be taken from the Life of Mr. David Brainerd, who was a missionary among the Indians. The Life of Mr. Brainerd, as published by President Edwards, consists chiefly in extracts from his Diary, in which he noted down the daily exercises of his heart. If he actually had such exercises as he relates, it would seem, that no one could doubt of the genuiness of his religion; or forbear to acknowledge, that he feared God above many. And not only his heart, but also his life, appeared to be devoted to God. Mr. Brainerd was born 1718, and his new birth he dates from some time in the year 1739. Nearly three years after this, being April 1st, 1742, he thus writes: "I seem to be declining with respect to my life and warmth in divine things: Had not so free access to God in prayer as usual of late. O that God would humble me deeply in the dust before him. I deserve hell every day for not loving my Lord more, who has (I trust) loved me and given himself for me."
Lord's day, April 4th." In the evening God gave me faith in prayer, and made my soul melt in some measure, and gave
What shall we say to these things? Shall we say, that these professors are really as much more sinful than others, as they appear to themselves to be? But these same persons will tell you, that when they lived
me to taste a divine sweetness, O my blessed God! Let me climb up near to him, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle, and reach, and stretch after him, and for deliverance from the body of sin and death." Two days after, he writes ;"Was suddenly struck with a damp, from the sense I had of my own vileness. Then I cried to God to wash my soul and cleanse me from my exceeding filthiness, to give me repentance and pardon; and it began to be something sweet to pray." Lord's day, April 18th." At night, saw myself infinitely indebted to God, and had a view of my short comings: It seemed to me that I had done as it were nothing for God, . and that I never had lived to him but a few hours of my life." Lord's day, Oct. 17th." This evening, in secret prayer, I felt exceeding solemn, and such longing desires of deliverance from sin, and after conformity to God, as melted my heart. O, I longed to be delivered from this body of death! I felt inward pleasing pain that I could not be conformed to God entirely, fully and forever." Thus, Nov. 4th.-" O it is sweet lying in the dust! but it is distressing, to feel in my soul that heli of corruption, which still remains in me."
Friday, April 8th, 1743,-" Was exceedingly pressed under a sense of my pride, selfishness, bitterness, and party spirit in times past, while I attempted to promote the cause of God.Of late I have thought much of having the kingdom of Christ advanced in the world; but now I saw I had enough to do within myself. The Lord be merciful to me a sinner, and wash my soul." Friday, April 22d." Had a sense of barrenness. O, my leanness testifies against me! My very soul abhors itself for its unlikeness to God, its inactivity and sluggishness." Tuesday, May 10th,-"Was in the same state, as to my mind, that I have been in for some time, extremely pressed with a sense of guilt, pollution, blindness-O! the pride, selfishness, hypocrisy, ignorance, bitterness, party zeal, and want of love, candor, meekness and gentleness that have attended my attempts to promote religion and virtue ; and this when I have reason to hope I had real assistance from above, and some sweet intercourse with heaven! But alas, what corrupt mixtures attend my best duties!" July 2d.-" Sometimes my soul has been in distress on feeling some particular corruptions rise and swell like a mighty torrent, with present violence; having at the same time ten thousand former sins and follies presented to view, in all their blackness and aggravations.
Lord's day, Jan, 1st. 1744.—" Saw myself so vile and unworthy, that I could not look my people in the face, when I came to preach. O my meanness, folly, ignorance, and inward
in sin, without any inward knowledge of religion, they had not this conviction of their depravity; and that since they have entertained a hope, they have not at all times had this striking conviction of indwelling sin;
pollution!" Friday, Jan. 6th.-" Feeling and considering my extreme weakness, and want of grace, the pollution of my soul and danger of temptations on every side, I set apart this day for fasting and prayer, neither eating nor drinking from evening to evening, beseeching God to have mercy on me." Thursday, Dec. 6th." Moreover, considering my extreme barrenness, spiritual deadness, and dejection, of late; as also the power of some particular corruptions; I set apart this day for secret prayer and fasting, to implore the blessing of God on myself, on my poor people, on my friends, and on the church of God."
Wednesday, Jan. 1st. 1746." But alas, alas! tho' I have done the labors, and endured the trials, with what spirit have I done the one, and borne the other? How cold has been the frame of my heart oftentimes! And how little have I sensibly eyed the glory of God, in all my doings and sufferings !". Tuesday, April 15th. "My soul longed for more spirituality; and it was my burden that I could do no more for God. O, my barrenness is my daily affliction and heavy load. O, how precious is time; and how it pains me to see it slide away, while I do so little to any good purpose! O that God would make me more fruitful and spiritual."
Lord's day, April 5th, 1747.-" It grieved me to find myself so inconceivably barren. My soul thirsted for grace: But alas, how far was I from obtaining what I saw to be so exceeding excellent! I was ready to despair of ever being a holy creature; and yet my soul was desirous of following hard after God: but never did I see myself so far from having apprehended, or being already perfect, as at this time. The Lord's supper being this day administered, I attended the ordinance: And tho I saw in myself a dreadful emptiness, and want of grace, and saw myself as it were at an infinite distance from that purity, which is becoming the gospel; yet in the season of communion, especially in the time of the distribution of the bread, I enjoyed some warmth of affection, and felt a tender love to the brethren, and, I think, to the glorious Redeemer, the first-born among them." Thursday, April 16th." Was in bitter anguish of soul, in the morning, such as I have scarce ever felt, with a sense of sin and guilt." Lord's day, May 17th,-"At this time God gave me some affecting sense of my own vileness, and the exceeding sinfulness of my heart; that there seemed to be nothing but sin and corruption in me. Innumerable evils compassed me about; my want of spirituality and holy living, my neglect of God, and living to myself; all the abominations
and they will say, that when they have had the least conviction of this, it has been when all their religious feelings were the most blunted.
This difference most obviously exists between us,
of my heart and life seemed to open to my view? and I had nothing to say, but God be merciful to me a sinner.”
This last extract from Mr. Brainerd's Diary brings us down to a date less than five months previous to his death. During this time, through extreme bodily weakness, he wrote but little in his Diary. From this part I shall make one more extract, which was written probably nearly as late as July 19th. It seems to be his own review of his past experiences: “ And although I could discover much corruption attending my best duties, many selfish views and carnal ends, much spiritual pride and self exaltation, and innumerable other evils which compassed me about; I say, although I now discerned the sins of my holy things, as well as other actions, yet God was pleased, as I was reviewing, quickly to put this question out of doubt, by showing me, that I had, from time to time, acted above the utmost influence of mere self love; that I had longed to please and glorify him as my highest happiness," &c. These extracts have exhibited but one part of the experiences of Mr. Brainerd. The whole of his Life is strongly recommended to the reader's perusal.
Let us now just look at the Life of President Edwards. It appears that while he was pastor of the church at Northampton, he wrote a summary of his religious experiences from his youth up. From this summary I shall make an extract, which will serve to give us his views of indwelling sin, espe cially in his own heart. He thus writes: "I have often, since I have lived in this town, had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness, very frequently so as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together, so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart since my conversion than ever I had before. It has often appeared to me, that if God should mark iniquity against me, I should appear the very worst of all mankind; of all that have been since the beginning of the world to this time, and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell. When others, that have come to talk with me about. their soul-concerns, have expressed the sense they have had of their own wickedness, by saying that it seemed to them that they were as bad as the devil himself, I thought their expres sions seemed exceeding faint and feeble to represent my wick. edness. I thought I should wonder that they should content themselves with such expressions as these, if I had any reason to imagine that their sin bore any proportion to mine.