« AnteriorContinuar »
The following extraordinary account of regeneration will evince the truth of this asseveration. "Where once, says Dr. Hawker, a spirit of grace, hath quickened, animated, and renewed the soul, which was before dead in trespasses and sins, and united it to the person of the Lord Jesus, the life of grace which originates in the Almighty Head, is diffused through all the members of his mystical body, and preserves them in an union with him and with each other. Hence, that sympathy and affection which takes place between them, by which, both in sorrow and joy they feel alike, and weep or rejoice together." The Almighty Head feel sorrow and weep!!" And this certainly forms, as well it may, every believer's own personal experience, when, from the spirit's teaching, he is enabled to discover his being gathered out of nature's corruption, and can trace his affinity and connection with the Lord Jesus, from the uniformity of heart and mind between the head and its members." *
This rhapsody is founded on St. Paul's just and beautiful description of a truly christian community: "In which, whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
* Hawker's Union with Christ, p. 14.
This sympathy of christians with each other, * the Doctor converts into an entire sympathy "between the Almighty Head and the members of his body." He brings down the impassible nature of the Godhead to suffer the sorrows of repentance and of shame: to partake in the rapturous extasies, or return the sighs and groans of his infatuated creatures. He asserts an uniformity of heart and mind between them; that is, between Christ and the new evangelists; for they alone can be esteemed worthy of so great a privilege, or capable of attaining it: "They feel alike, and weep or rejoice together; and this certainly forms, as well it may, every believer's own personal experience!"
On the same subject he enlarges afterwards; and though the reader must be wearied by the quotations that have been already taken from this writer's works, yet it is so necessary to prove his opinions by his own words, that another passage or two must be brought forward to place them beyond all doubt: " They whom the Lord Jesus," he says, "hath united to himself, by the Holy Spirit's work on the heart, are as sensible of this spiritual union from the unity of sentiment and affection, as the natural affections in common life, testify the degree of attachment. When once a truly regenerate soul can echo to the language of the church, and say, "I am my
* 1 Cor. xii. 26, 27.
beloved, and my beloved is mine, when the interest of one becomes the interest of the other; and so intimately blended are their desires, their affections, their pursuits, that while Jesus is present the soul rejoices; when he is absent the soul mourns. As these are never the effects of natural causes, and these sweet flowers of grace grow not in nature's garden, the possession of them affords so charming a testimony of grace, wrought in the heart, that there can be no possibility of mistake or delusion."* This strain of tender and impassioned language, to which a much harsher name might justly be applied, is exceeded, if possible, by the following marvellous account of a doctrinal point alluded to before. "Neither are these all the effects of this soul-refreshing doctrine: it is a sweet addition to it to consider, that the Lord's people, in consequence of this union with the person of the Redeemer, not only partake in his merits, but he graciously participates in their sufferings. The foot indeed cannot be supposed to be crushed, but what the head must feel."
That Christ" entered not into his glory before he had suffered pain," is a truth we all acknowledge; but that he suffers after his exaltation into the kingdom of heaven, is an article of faith peculiar to the new evangelists: his
Union with Christ, p. 17.
office there is to succour all those who suffer for him, but not to suffer with them.
Yet it seems, according to Dr. Hawker, that such an union with Christ as he has above described," can be the only possible means of enjoying communion with God. All preparations short of this are, in fact, no preparations at all; you may have in them the form, but not the power of godliness and were they multiplied by thousands, and followed up with ten thousand sacraments, ordinances, prayers, and the like, yet void of this sweet life-giving, soulenriching principle, they tend only to carry the heart from God, instead of bringing it to him."*
Thus are the ideas of this writer on the subject of regeneration, and the communication of the Divine Spirit, too explicit to need any comment; and too extravagant to admit of any palliation. Had he intended to make the gospel a laughing-stock for infidels, or to expose its most sacred and mysterious truths to mockery and insult, he could not have circulated effusions more likely to produce that deplorable effect. If they should appear to have been cited more copiously than the case required, let it be considered, that unless the wild fancies of enthusiasm are brought home to the conviction of Metho
*Union with Christ, p. 31.
dism, as they stand attested by the confession of its advocates, we shall be charged with a misrepresentation of their opinions, or a misapprehension of their meaning. Let it be considered also, that these are not merely speculative points, but are embodied with the practical tenets of their professors, and the moral conduct of their numerous disciples: that they are authoritatively laid down as the indisputable positions of a true Christian's creed; and that a denial of their validity, and their exclusive claim to an implicit assent is reproved as a sin approaching to blasphemy-a sin neither to be forgiven in this world, nor in the next. Were they the sentiments of Dr. Hawker alone, or cherished only by his select friends-were they the secret companions of his closet, or the solace of his literary hours, the public would not be much concerned with his favourite lucubrations: but since he is the established minister of an extensive parish, and is listened to by a congregation of admiring auditors, who adopt his notions, as if they were the substance of holy writ, and the dictates of the Divine Spirit-since his occasional visits to the metropolis are announced as the harbingers of glad tidings, and thousands who press into the fold of such a pastor, surrender their souls entirely to his guidance or controul: the spiritual influence arising hence is so widely diffused, that his merits should be duly appreciated,