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CONTROVERSY BETWEEN FULLER, AND M'LEAN.
is not light enough in the gospel to enlighten, nor purity enough to sanctify, so that more must be given to it. But to maintain that Divine influence is exerted directly and immediately upon the heart of a sinner, is to suppose that the defect is there, and it goes immediately to relieve it. And certainly the defect is in the sinner himself. There are spiritual objects to be contemplated and loved; they are possessed of unrivalled and infinite excellence; all their excellence is exhibited as clearly and strongly as language can exhibit it, by the gospel. But sinners have no eyes for excellence of this description." There must be an immediate, however inexplicable, operation of the Spirit of God upon the mind, called in Scripture, opening the heart, &c., before there can be a spiritual discernment of the things of the Spirit of God. The interposing glass must be removed, before their excellence, importance, and glory, can appear such to the mind.
The preceding remarks will throw some light upon a controversy, which existed a few years ago, between Mr. Fuller and Mr. M'Lean, in reference to the essential principles involved in which, some diversity of opinion, I believe, prevails amongst Calvinistic divines at the present day. It assumed rather a technical name in the hands of the above-named gentlemen, the question being stated thus, "Is a holy principle necessary to believing?" I imagine there was more of apparent, than of real opposition between the parties in this contest. Still there is an important difference of opinion between the two sentiments into which this particular question may be resolved, and which are the following:-" Does the primary influence of the Spirit of God upon the mind impart just views of spiritual objects, or produce what, for want of a better word, we may call a holy susceptibility or relish for those objects, in consequence of which they appear excellent to the mind; i. e., in other words, just views of them begin to be entertained?" Dwight, whose words I quote partly for the sake of fortifying my own sentiments, and partly also with the view to elucidate them, has given what I regard, upon the whole, as a very admirable statement of the two opinions which have been referred to. I would only premise that he seems
STATEMENTS OF DWIGHT.
to regard the word "relish" as conveying more of a definite signification than I do. "It has been extensively supposed," he says, "that the Spirit of grace regenerates mankind by communicating to them new, clearer, and juster views of spiritual objects. The understanding being thus enlightened and convinced, the heart, it is supposed, yields itself to this conviction; and the man spontaneously becomes, under its influence, a child of God. I shall not attempt, here, to describe the metaphysical nature of the work of regeneration, nor to define, precisely, the manner in which it is accomplished; nor the exact bounds of the Divine and human agency in this great concern. Of these subjects I have not sufficiently distinct and comprehensive views, to undertake this employment with any satisfactory hope of success. Yet it appears to me clear, that the account which I have now given of this subject, is not scriptural nor just. Without a relish for spiritual objects, I cannot see, that any discoveries concerning them, however clear and bright, can render them pleasing to the soul. If they are unpleasing in their very nature, they cannot be made agreeable by having that nature unfolded more clearly. He who disrelishes the taste of wine, will not relish it the more, the more distinctly and perfectly he perceives that taste. Nor will any account of its agreeableness to others, however clearly given, and with whatever evidence supported, render the taste agreeable to him. To enable him to relish it, it seems indispensable that his own taste should be changed, and in this manner fitted to realize the pleasantness of the wine. Light is either evidence, or the perception of it; evidence of the true nature of the object which is contemplated, or the perception of that evidence. But the great difficulty in the present case is this ;-the nature of the object perceived is disrelished. The more, then, it is perceived, the more it must be disrelished of course, so long as the present taste continues. It seems, therefore, indispensable, that in order to the usefulness of such superior light to the mind, its relish with respect to spiritual objects should first be changed. In this case, the clearer and brighter the views of such objects are, the more pleasing they may be expected to become to the mind.
"This, I apprehend, is the true progress of this work in the human soul. A relish for all spiritual objects, never before existing in him, is communicated to every man, who is the subject of regeneration, by the Spirit of God. Before this event, he disrelished all such objects; now, he relishes them all. Before, he was an enemy of God; now, he becomes a friend to God; before, he loved nothing, now, he loves every thing of a spiritual nature. He who has hitherto been an enemy to a good man, disrelishes every thing which pertains to him; his character, conduct, conversation, and opinion; his family, his friends, his very looks, nay, even the spot where he lives; and, in a word, every thing which is his. If you undertake to convince him, while this disrelish continues, that the object of his dislike is undeserving of all this; you may, indeed, present to him arguments, which he cannot answer, and silence his objections by the irresistible force of proof. You may explain to him, in the clearest manner, the excellencies of this object; and set them in such a light, that
may have nothing left to say against it. Should all this have been done, his dislike, in the case supposed, would still continue; his views, though enlarged, would be of exactly the same general nature; and his opposition to the hated object, instead of being diminished, would rather increase. We will now suppose this man to cease from his enmity, and to become a decided and sincere friend. A moment's thought will satisfy any mind, that, with the change of his relish, an universal change of his views, also, will take place. The very same things which formerly disgusted him, will now please him. What was formerly odious, will now become amiable. The evidences of worth and excellence, which before silenced, will now satisfy him. His eye, no longer jaundiced, will see every thing in its proper, native light; in its true character, importance, and desert; and will discern in what was before unpleasing, deformed, or disgusting, a beauty, loveliness, and lustre, wholly new."
The following remarks of Dwight, intended to illustrate that state of mind which he conceives to be necessary to just views of spiritual objects, are worthy of particular remark. His argument, indeed, only rendered it essential for him to
represent it as necessary to holy volitions; but it may be applied to holy, i. e., just perceptions.
"It has been frequently supposed, that the Spirit of God regenerates man by immediately creating in him virtuous volitions. All the volitions of all moral agents are, in my view, (as will, indeed, be pre-supposed by those of my audience who remember the sermons which I delivered on the nature of the human soul,) the acts of the agents themselves. The Spirit of God does not, in my view, when he regenerates mankind, create in them any volitions whatever; but merely communicates to them the relish for spiritual objects, which has been here mentioned."
"When God created Adam, there was a period of his existence, after he began to be, antecedent to that in which he exercised the first volition. Every man, who believes the mind to be something beside ideas and exercises, and who does not admit the doctrine of casualty, will acknowledge, that, in this period, the mind of Adam was in such a state, that he was propense to the exercise of virtuous volitions, rather than of sinful ones. This state of mind has been commonly styled disposition, temper, inclination, heart, &c. In the Scriptures it usually bears the last of these names. I shall take the liberty to call it disposition. This disposition in Adam was the cause whence his virtuous volitions proceeded; the reason why they were virtuous, and not sinful. Of the metaphysical nature of this cause I am ignorant. But its existence is, in my own view, certainly proved by its effects. If the volitions of man are not immediately created, they are either caused by something in man, or they are casual. But they are not casual; for nothing is casual. And, even if some things were casual, these could not be; because they were regularly and uniformly virtuous; and it is impossible, that casualty should be a source of uniformity and regularity. There was, therefore, in the mind of Adam, certainly, a cause which gave birth to the fact, that his volitions were virtuous and not sinful. This cause of necessity preceded these volitions; and therefore certainly existed in that state of mind which was previous to his first volition. This state of mind, then, this disposition
STATEMENTS OF HOPKINS.
of Adam existing antecedently to every volition, was the real cause why his volitions subsequently existing, were virtuous. It ought to be remarked here, that plain men, with truth, as well as with good sense, ascribe all the volitions of mankind to disposition, the very thing here intended, as their true
"In regeneration, the very same thing is done by the Spirit of God for the soul, which was done for Adam by the same Divine Agent at his creation. The soul of Adam was created with a relish for spiritual objects. The soul of every man, who becomes a Christian, is renewed by the communication of the same relish. In Adam this disposition produced virtuous volitions. In every child of Adam, who becomes the subject of virtue, it produces the same effects."
I think Dwight might also have referred to the case of infants, regenerated by the Spirit of grace, for further illustration. The change produced upon their minds does not consist either in just views of Divine things, or holy affections towards them; for they are physically incapable of either. But the germ of holiness is implanted; some effect is produced which would lead, were the life of the child spared, to just apprehensions, and holy affections.
I would, also, refer the reader to the following statements of Dr. Hopkins, not that I altogether approve of their phraseology, as he will readily perceive; but because they powerfully support the general notion, that in regeneration there is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the mind, effecting a change which, in the order of nature, is previously necessary to all just apprehensions of Divine truth.
"The subject of this operation, in which this change and effect is wrought, is the will or the heart; that is, the moral and not the natural powers and faculties of the soul. As depravity is wholly in the will or heart, the source and seat of all moral actions, the Divine operation directly respects the heart, and consists in changing and renewing that.” (Vol. i., p. 454.)
"This point is particularly observed and stated, to expose and rectify a mistake which has been too often made, repre