« AnteriorContinuar »
"A man may be dying for some time, yet he does not, properly speaking, die till the instant the soul is separated from the body; and in that instant he lives the full life of eternity. In like manner he may be dying to sin for some time, yet he is not dead to sin until sin is separated from his soul; and in that instant he lives the full life of love. And as the change undergone when the body dies is of a different kind, and infinitely greater than any we had known before, yea, such as till then it is impossible to conceive, so the change wrought when the soul dies to sin is of a different kind and infinitely greater than any before, and than any can conceive till he experiences it; yet he still grows in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ, in the love and image of God; and will do so not only till death, but probably to all eternity."- Plain Account.
The length of time requisite for the extirpation of these evil elements from the soul and the maturing of the Christian life is quite indeterminate. Under the same degree of faithfulness there would be a wide difference corresponding to different constitutional peculiarities. But we are assured that the experience may be looked for at almost any time between a period briefly subsequent to regeneration and the end of life.
This progressive work, with Wesley, is not merely a strengthening of the habit of holiness, by a persistent repression of evil appetites, affections, and impulses, till by disuse they practically cease to exist; it is the effect of the influence of the Holy Spirit in the heart, bestowed in answer to the prayer of faith. It must, however, be observed, that faith, in Wesley's meaning, is no mystic, or quietistic, or Antinomian operation. It implies all the work that pertains to the Christian life, a putting forth all the powers of the soul to fulfil the Divine command, relying upon superhuman power only where human ability fails; —"a faith that works by love and purifies the heart." So that really his life of faith is one of self-denial, cross-bearing, earnest prayer, deep thoughtfulness, and constant application of all the principles of the Gospel. It embraces all that is implied in spiritual culture. In response to the faith which is the root and mainspring of all good human character, God is believed to bring in those spiritual influences which give the soul peculiar strength in the resist
ance of temptation, clearer views of God, intenser love of the Divine character, deeper desire for holiness, and more thorough hatred of sin.
But though this maturing of Christian graces and this annihilation of evil desires in the normal Christian life is for the most part gradual, yet it is claimed by many, and admitted by Wesley, that there are numerous instances of what may be called a second conversion, or, as it is frequently termed in conversation and the narratives of experience, "the second blessing." It is asserted that God can, and often does, in answer to the prayer of faith, "cut short the work in righteousness," thus completing in a few hours what in many another instance is the process of months or years. On this point there has been some difference of opinion among the followers of Wesley, and much discussion. Still the denominational standards in the main, and a very large proportion of the testimony from experience, so far as given, go to favor the idea of an immediate and distinct second experience. Wesley is not entirely harmonious with himself on this particular question. As before stated, he says that the work is both instantaneous and gradual, averring that even in the gradual experience there comes an instant when the work is complete, and that instant is one of a wonderful change in the views and feelings of the subject of it. In certain passages of his writings, he gives the impression that this is the natural and regular method of sanctification. Yet elsewhere he seems to contend just as strenuously for an "immediate work." He represents that a believer at any stage of his experience may seek the great blessing, with the assurance that he will certainly find it if seeking aright. God is able and willing for any "to do it Now. And why not? Is not a moment to him the same as a thousand years? He cannot want more time to accomplish whatever is his will. We may therefore boldly say at any point of time, Now is the day of salvation! Behold all things are now ready! Come to the marriage!"" The following we find in the "Plain Account" :
"God usually gives a considerable time for men to receive light, to grow in grace, to do and suffer his will, before they are either justified or sanctified. But he does not invariably adhere to this. Sometimes
he cuts short his work.' He does the work of many years in a few weeks; perhaps in a week, a day, an hour. He justifies or sanctifies both those who have done or suffered nothing, and who have not had time for a gradual growth either in light or grace. .... Generally speaking, it is a long time, even many years, before sin is destroyed. All this we know. But we know, likewise, that God may with man's good leave 'cut short his work' in whatever degree he pleases, and do the usual work of many years in a moment. He does so in a great many instances. And yet there is a gradual work both before and after that moment. So that one may affirm, the work is gradual; another, it is instantaneous, - without any manner of contradiction."
Fletcher illustrates it by the narrative of the disciples who went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while Jesus remained behind. They toiled very hard and made little headway. But after they had "rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He said to them, It is I, be not afraid: then they willingly received him into the ship, and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." "Just so," says he, "we toil till our faith discovers Christ in the promise, and welcomes him into our hearts; and such is the effect of his presence, that immediately we arrive at the land of perfection."
"Hence it follows that the most Evangelical method of following after this perfection to which we are immediately called is that of seeking it now, by endeavoring fully to lay hold on the promise of that perfection, through faith, just as if our repeated acts of obedience could never help us forward. But in the mean time we should do the works of faith, and repeat our internal and external acts of obedience with as much earnestness and faithfulness, according to our present power, as if we were sure to enter into rest merely by a diligent use of our talents, and a faithful exertion of the powers which Divine grace has bestowed upon us. If we do not attend to the first of these directions, we shall seek to be sanctified by works, like the Pharisees; and if we disregard the second, we shall fall into Solifidian sloth with the Antinomians." Last Check, p. 639.
We have now given the principal features of this doctrine, and briefly indicated some of the arguments by which it is maintained. We have not presented all the objections to it, nor all the arguments by which they are met by its defenders,
as it was our purpose only to furnish a fair, honest statement of a subject of considerable importance, yet sometimes much misapprehended. We will close by briefly recapitulating the elements and limitations of the theory.
Christian perfection is synonymous with entire sanctification, and is attainable by every true believer. It is subsequent to justification. It precedes death. It is not absolute perfection; for this is confessed to belong alone to God. Nor does it imply absolutely perfect human powers. It is perfect love. "This is the essence of it; its properties, or inseparable fruits, are rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in everything giving thanks." It is improvable. "It is so far from lying in an indivisible point, from being incapable of increase, that one perfected in love may grow in grace far swifter than before." It is amissible, or capable of being lost. It is constantly both preceded and followed by a gradual work.
ART. III. CAN WE HAVE AN ART-GALLERY?
1. Description des Objets d'Art de l'Académie des Beaux-Arts de Florence. 1857. Quinzième Edition.
2. Notice des Tableaux du Musée Impérial du Louvre. 9 Edition. Paris. 1854.
3. Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of the Pictures of the National Gallery. By R. N. WORNUM. Revised by SIR CHARLES L. EASTLAKE, P. R. A. Thirtieth Edition. London. 1860.
4. Companion to the Bryan Gallery of Christian Art. By RICHARD GRANT WHITE. New York. 1853.
5. Descriptive Catalogue of "Old Masters" collected by JAMES J. JARVES to illustrate the History of Painting from A. D. 1200 to the Best Periods of Italian Art. Cambridge: Riverside Press. 1860. 6. Il Mondo Illustrato. Turin. 24 Agosto, 1861. Galleria de Pit
ture Italiane a Boston.
TALK of Art during a civil war? Why not? War is fleeting, Art permanent. The former has its root in the tempo
rary disorder of humanity, while the latter is the solid growth of the unquenchable love in the human heart of Heaven's first and greatest law, Order, whose fairest fruit is Beauty. Therefore we may even now talk of Art, and with a practical end in view.
The error of American civilization is its one-sidedness. It concentrates its energies on a few points. It wants intellectual breadth. Great progress is attained in certain directions, but mainly in that of material prosperity, the greatest stimulus of which is not so much the sordid love of riches, as satisfaction in the pursuit of them. We are by no means an avaricious people. It is not the glitter of the dollar that attracts. Indeed, prodigality is exalted wellnigh to a virtue. But whether we gain or spend money, we derive from it, in comparison with other nations, very little true æsthetic enjoyment. Chevreul tells us that two variously-colored lights taken in a certain proportion produce white light. Thus far there has been no white light in our civilization, from want of harmony between those fundamental principles of human growth which underlie all national progress. Our intellectual, moral, and æsthetic faculties have not established an uniformity of development. One-sided races, like one-sided persons, although producing striking effects in one direction, are ever liable to shipwreck by collision with counter forces, of equal or greater velocity and intensity, coming from another direction. America is now illustrating this law. We are justly suffering for preferring commercial gain to justice, the meaner to the nobler motive, as the foundation of our prosperity. We deliberately built on sand, while stone was ready to our use. What wonder, then, that the storm shakes the edifice, and the very corner-stone is undermined by the flood! We bargained for this. England, also, so far as she establishes her grandeur upon material interests, discarding in her dealings all other considerations except those which would make all countries tributary to her merchants, is likewise drawn towards the vortex of offended law, from which if she hasten not to escape by adjusting the defective balances of her moral constitution, obeying, though late, even as we are trying to do, the higher impulses, must undergo the purification of a great sorrow.
VOL. LXXII. - 5TH S. VOL. X. NO. II.