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tion would become unspeakably more dangerous and deplorable than it ever had been, should she grieve the Spirit to depart from her.
To these observations she listened with eager and anxious attention, and appeared to be affectingly convinced, that these things were really so. On taking leave, she pressed the writer to call upon her again, as soon as might be convenient.
A few days after, he accordingly renewed his visit, and found her comparatively, in a calm and tranquil state of mind'; she expressed, however, no hope that she had experienced a saving change of heart. Her greatest anxiety seemed to arise from an apprehension, that her conviction was wearing off, and that she should be left of God, to relapse into her former state of stupid security; yet she appeared to have a clearer view of the nature of sin; of her own unworthiness, and the awful plague of her heart, than she had ever before manifested.
Being particularly interrogated with respect to her views and exercises, the following is the substance of the answers which she returned: I appear to myself the most vile, abominable and loathesome of the human race. I can think of no person, however profligate and abandoned, who does not appear, in comparison with my own character, amiable and pure. Nothing in the universe appears so deformed and odious as my own sinful heart. I loathe and abhor myself. But, as much as I discover of the deformity and vileness of my heart, I know that God discovers a thousand times more than I do. He knows my heart, altogether. All its lurking wickedness is fully exposed to his omniscient view. I am sensible that I can hide nothing from him; and I think I would not were it in my power. Although God hates sin with a total hatred, yet I would not hide any of my sins, great and numerous as they are, if I could do it.
"Sin is so abominable and loathesome, it is reasonable and fit that God should hold it in the highest degree of abhorrence. It is perfectly right that God should hate and abhor my wicked heart, my wicked character, my wicked self. As a sinner, as the vilest of sinners, I know that God must oppose me, and set his face against me; and nothing can be more reasonable than this. I do not wish it were otherwise. How can I desire that the all holy God should approve and love that which, even to me, a poor miserable sinner, appears so loathesome and hateful! I ought not to be such a creature as I am. God requires me to hate every evil and false way, to love him, at all times, and with all my heart and soul, and even to be perfect, according to my capacity, as he is perfect. This requirement, I know, is reasonable, nor
do I wish it were abated, although I am sensible that I am continually exposing myself to everlasting destruction, by disobedience.
"The divine law condemns, and justly condems me to hell for every transgression. How really then do I deserve that dreadful place of torment, for my sins, hicl are so numerous and so horrible? And, should everlasting destruction be my final doom, I know it would be just. God's throne would be guiltless, and my mouth must be stopped.
"O the dreadful end of the ungodly! I know not but that end will be mine. I am in God's hand, and he can and will do with me as seemeth him good. I know that I can neither flee from him, nor alter his determinations. His counsel will stand, and he will accomplish all his pleasure. It is my duty to say, Amen, and I think I can say so. judge of all the earth will do right; let his will therefore be done. Should it seem good in his sight to visit me with pain, sickness, and grievous afflictions, and even to strip me of my dear children and of all my other worldly comforts, it appears to me that I could willingly submit. I desire to make no terms or conditions with God, but to refer myself and all that I have, without reserve, to his disposal forever.
Such were, apparently, the views and exercises of Mary. The writer has not aimed at confining himself to the exact mode by which she conveyed her ideas; but he has endeavoured to make a just statement of the sentiments which she communicated
It may here be worthy of remark, that although she expressed an ardent desire to be renewed in the spirit of her mind, to be rid of her hard and sinful heart, and to see and realize things of a religious nature, as she supposed good people did, yet she did not appear to apprehend that this was then, in any measure, her case.
It may be important also to add, that previous to this period she had heard but very little conversation on the subject of experimental religion, and had been greatly inattentive to, and ignorant of, religious subjects in general. What she expressed seemed to be eminently the result of divine teaching.
Whether she were, at that time, a subject of true religion, or whether this be now her happy situation, the writer of these memoirs will hazard no peremptory decision. But admitting that she did express her religious views and feelings, with simplicity of heart, he would ask, whether she must not have been, in an eminent degree, under the influence of that religion "which seeketh not her own?" He would also
query whether the temper which she manifested be not necessary in order to see and enjoy God? and, if so, whether there be not much reason to apprehend, that most men are strangers to the true spirit and power of the Christian religion, and even many who are the professors of it?
But if the experiences of Mary were but the wild vagaries of fanaticism, or if they were not the legitimate effects of the operations of that Spirit, whose office it is to "convinee of sin and of righteousness," it is his heart's desire and prayer to God, that he might be led into the knowledge of the truth respecting this subject,
Between a Calvinist and Methodist on the possibility of falling from Grace.
C. GOOD morning, friend. It gives me pleasure to wait on you to-day. For I am at leasure and ready to attend to the interesting subject suggested in your billet.
M. I thank you, Sir, for this friendly reception. I rather feared you would decline the interview on account of the subject.
C. Your fears were groundless: for I love to converse with men of candor and information on any theological topic. To save time let me desire you to state your question? M. Is it not possible for good men to fall from grace?
C. You will perhaps think me a strange Calvinist, for I shall answer in the affirmative. It is possible to fall from grace.
M. Are you, Sir, in earnest ?
C. Surely I am. For if men are free agents both before and after conversion, and not machines, why is it not as naturally possible for a Christian to disbelieve and be lost, as for a sinner to believe and be saved?
M. But you actually surprise me!
C. It is hoped your surprise will not be permanent nor injurious.
M. Let me comprehend you fully. Is it your opinion, while a Calvinist, that it is possible for a real Christian to disbelieve Christ and and reject him?
C. Yes, Sir, it is; and I am a strict, staunch Calvinist too. M. And do you believe the Bible supports the possibility of a Christian's falling from grace?
C. Yes, Sir, decidedly and most conspicuously.
M. I am really thunder struck.
C. I canuot help it; for I relate the simple truth of my heart and theory.
M. Let me, for the sake of ample satisfaction, call your attention to that class of scriptures, which all able Methodists improve to support the possibility of falling from grace.
C. With all my heart. The import of Scripture must deeide the controversy between Methodists and Calvinists. To the law and the testimony forever.
M. What shall we think of this text in the 33d of Ezekiel, "When the righteous turneth from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, he shall die; but if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live ?"
C. We must conclude, according to this obvious contrast, that it is as naturally possible for the righteous to fall from holiness, as for the wicked to rise to it. In other words, if sinners have natural ability to become holy, Christians have natural ability to become unholy, and Christ's final enemies.
M. You then believe, that the prophet supports the possibility of falling from grace.
C. Yes; as really as he supports the possibility of a sinner's conversion or reformation. If we believe one, we cannot disbelieve the other.
M. I am more surprised than ever. But let me, to prevent all misconception, call your attention to the words of Christ in the 15th of John. "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. But if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered." Now, Sir, what is the import except this, that there is a possibility of final separation between the vine and the branches.
C. I grant, without hesitation, that this is the manifest and real import of the passage. For Christ used the similitude to inculcate the necessity of unremitting faithfulness on his disciples, in order to secure salvation. But why, my friend, do you present this as a solitary instance of the nature? For when Christ says, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be trodden under foot," he inculcates a congenial sentiment. To the same purpose he also says in a difserent connection, "If any man put his hand to the plough, and look back, he is not fit for the kingdom of heaven." Surely if there is no possibility of falling from grace, we derive no instruction from these similitudes.
M. I thank you, Sir, for citing these texts which escaped the Methodists, though as much to the purpose as any they have used.
C. You are welcome; for truth and not victory is the object. To prevent your being too fond, however, of claiming texts to invalidate the theory of Calvinists, please to remember, that the claim must be relinquished in case of erroneous calculation. If, on examination, all these texts directly establish a different point, your labor will be more than lost; for it will expose and invalidate your theory.
M. I have nothing to fear from that suggestion; for I need no aid except from volunteers. Let me then ask, whether the apostle does not advocate the possibility of falling from grace, when he says, " But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway
C. He certainly does; and if there is no possibility of falling from grace, we discover no pertinency in his expression. He bridled his lusts and subdued his appetites to save his soul. To suppress the dangerous influence of the flesh he was the more vigilant. How beautiful the connection! If I do not lay aside every weight, if I do not run with all my might, I shall lose the prize; for the race and the prize are connected. Nothing can be plainer, than that he considered personal exertion inviolaby connected with salvation; and consequently that there was a possibility of his falling from grace. He saw his feet on the precipice and trembled.
M. But let me query a little further. What is the design of inspiration in this passage, which Arminians have always urged against the Calvinistic doctrine of final perseverance; "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away to renew them again to repentance?"
C. Sir, I believe the apostle is here addressing real Christians, which is evident from the connexion; and I believe there is no pertinency or consistency in the passage, except on the principle of the possibility of Christians falling from grace. For who, except real Christians, in the appropriate style of Scripture, have been enlightened, have tasted of the heavenly gift, of the good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come? Who except Christians have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, or of the divine nature, and are the subjects of saving repentance? Surely this description of exercises does not correspond with the experience of grace