Apr 8, 2009

Andrew Fuller on Ordo Salutis

Archibald M'Lean, Scottish pastor, wrote a work titled - "A Reply to Mr. Fuller's Appendix to His Book on The Gospel Worthy of all acceptation." I was happy to find this book on Google's list of old "digitized" books. The description of the book is as follows:

A Reply to Mr. Fuller's Appendix to His Book on The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation: Particularly to His Doctrine of Antecedent Holiness, and the Nature and Object of Justifying Faith
By Archibald M'Lean
Published by Scatcherd and Adams, 1839
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Oct 29, 2007

See here

The following are good citations from this book. It demonstrates a number of important points relative to the views of Andrew Fuller on the "ordo salutis." It is the views of Fuller on the "ordo salutis" that, ironically, make him a cousin to the Hardshells and a Hyperist. The Hardshells despise Fuller, mainly because of his promoting a "general atonement" view in opposition to John Gill. So, the irony is apparent. Of course, I agree with M'Lean.

From the introduction, Pastor M'Lean wrote:

"At my advanced period of life, I could wish to have been excused from entering the field of controversy, and especially with Mr. Fuller, who is much my superior in polemical talents, which he has exercised of late years to good purpose both against Socinians and Deists. But it sometimes happens that men of distinguished abilities do not always know where to stop in their polemical career. Success in some things has urged them on to attempt others, wherein they have done little service to the cause of truth; and such, in my humble opinion, is Mr. Fuller's present attempt.

As he seems to consider the simple belief of the gospel to be nothing more than mere speculation, which has no necessary connection with, nor influence upon true holiness of heart, I can easily see how a concern for the interests of vital religion may have led him to make faith the effect of a previous holy disposition, and to include in its nature the exercise of the will and affections; but I cannot so easily account for his misrepresentations of my sentiments, and the strange conclusions he draws from them. Those who know nothing of my writings but through the medium of his Appendix, must consider them as striking at the root of all true religion, or at best as a mere jumble of inconsistencies. This lays me under the necessity of making some reply, not only to wipe off these misrepresentations, but also, if possible, to throw some further light on the point in debate.

The first thing that presents itself is the question which Mr. Fuller prefixes to his Appendix, and which I shall here make.


This holy disposition he terms a divine principle-the moral state or disposition of the soul—a change of heart—a change of the bias of the heart towards God. He maintains that this principle must exist prior to, or before believing, and in order to it; and he frequently represents faith as arising out of it, influenced by it, and partaking of it. I never considered this previous principle to be any part of the difference betwixt Mr. Fuller and me; nor did I observe that he held any such sentiment, my attention being entirely confined to what he says on the nature of faith itself. I might therefore justly excuse myself from entering upon the question which he prefixes to his Appendix, because, although the affirmative were admitted, it will not prove that faith is any thing else than simple belief; and because the question betwixt us does not respect what is previous to faith, but simply what faith itself is. But as Mr. Fuller has brought forward this previous holy disposition of heart, and laid it as the fundamental principle of his scheme, it will be proper to examine it a little. After a deal of reasoning, he comes at last to state the question thus:

"That there is a divine influence upon the soul which is necessary to spiritual perception and belief, as being the cause of them, those with whom I am now reasoning will admit. The only question is, In what order these things are caused? Whether the Holy Spirit causes the mind, while carnal, to discern and believe spiritual things, and thereby render it spiritual; or whether he imparts a holy susceptibility and relish for the truth, in consequence of which we discern its glory and embrace it. The latter appears to me to be the truth."

But this is a very unfair state of the question, so far as it relates to the opinion of his opponents; for he represents them as maintaining, that the Holy Spirit causes the mind, while carnal, or before it is spiritually illuminated, to discern and believe spiritual things; and then he sets himself to argue against this contradiction of his own framing, as a thing impossible even with God himself, because impossible in its own nature, and that the Holy Spirit declares it to be so, 2. Cor. ii. 14. Were I to state Mr. Fuller's sentiments thus, "The Holy Spirit imparts to the mind, while carnal, a holy susceptibility and relish for the truth," would he not justly complain that I had misrepresented his view, and that he did not mean that the mind could possess any holy susceptibility or relish for the truth while it was in a carnal state; but only, that the Holy Spirit, by the very act of imparting this holy susceptibility and relish for the truth, removed the carnality of the mind? But then this explanation applies equally to the other side of the question; and surely it appears at least as consistent with the nature of things, and as easy to conceive, that the Holy Spirit should in the first instance, communicate the light of truth to a dark carnal mind, and thereby render it spiritual, as that he should, prior to that, impart to it a holy susceptibility and relish for the truth. It would, indeed, be highly presumptuous in me to affirm of this last what Mr. Fuller does of the former, viz : that it is impossible with God: but I must be allowed to say, that to me it is altogether inconceivable how the human mind can have a holy relish for the truth before it has any perception of it. A conviction of sin, and a fear of its awful consequences, may indeed dispose a person to listen to, and relish any thing which may give him hope; but till his mind is in some measure enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, this cannot be termed a holy susceptibility, much less a holy relish for the truth, or a change of heart. In such circumstances, it is only the effect of that natural self-love or desire of happiness which is common to all mankind, and which, though it may subserve his relish for the truth as soon as he perceives it, must, till then, lead him to seek relief or ease to his mind from some other quarter."

"And shall we suppose that, in regeneration, the Holy Spirit acts according to this order, by first performing some physical operation upon the blind will to give it a new bias or inclination, and thus make way for the introduction of light into the understanding?"

"This is evidently Mr. Fuller's opinion; for he says, "God does not cause the natural man to receive spiritual things;" that he considers as impossible, "but he removes the obstructing film, by imparting a spiritual relish for those things." This obstructing film he explains to be "the obstinacy and aversion of the heart," and thinks that the first operation of the Spirit is his "imparting a spiritual relish for those things" which the mind does not as yet perceive. Thus, he says "it is that spiritual things are spiritually discerned." Whether I take these words by themselves, or in connection with the whole paragraph, I can make no other sense of them but this, that spiritual things are spiritually discerned by a spiritual relish for we know not what; for he does not admit that there is any previous communication of spiritual light to the understanding; on the contrary, he denies this to be possible, even with God himself."

"Spiritual perception is without doubt the effect of the Holy Spirit's influence upon the heart; but the reader must observe, that Mr. Fuller here uses the word heart to signify the will and affections, as distinguished from the understanding or perceiving faculty; so that his meaning is, that the Holy Spirit does not, in the first instance, impart a spiritual perception of the truth, and so make persons to relish or love it; but that he makes them first to relish or love it, and then to perceive or understand it. But, on this subject, the word of God never mentions the word heart, in Mr. Fuller's partial sense of it, but always as including the understanding, as well as the will and affections, and the former as the avenue to the latter. It has, indeed, become common with us to confine the metaphorical use of the word heart to the affections and dispositions; but in Scripture the heart is said to know, to understand, to study, to discern, to devise, to meditate, to ponder, to consider, to reason, to indite, to doubt, to believe, to be wise, &c. In short, every exercise which we consider as belonging to the intellectual faculty, is in Scripture ascribed to the heart. See Deut. iv. 39, Psal. xlv. 1. and xlix. 3. Prov. x. 8. chap. xv. 23. chap. xvi. 9. chap. xix. 21. Eccl. viii. 5. Jer. xxiv. 7. Matt. xiii. 15. Mark ii. 6, 8. chap. xi. 23. Luke ii. 19, 35.

The Scripture passages which Mr. Fuller refers to, prove this, and are decidedly against him. The Lord's opening the heart of Lydia, was his opening her mind, in the first instance, to perceive in some measure the sense and excellency of what was spoken, so as to make her attend to it with judgment and relish. It is equivalent to what the Lord did to his disciples, "Then opened he their UnderStanding (vuv mind), that they might understand the Scriptures," Luke xxiv. 45. And if we can believe the disciples themselves, it was by his opening the Scriptures to their understanding (which is the same thing), that their affections were moved: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he Opened To us The Scriptures," ver. 32. To open the understanding or mind, is a clear and common expression, but to open the will or affections, seems not intelligible, and is never used. Again, when the apostle says, "God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Gad in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6, he certainly does not mean that God had first shined in their will and affections; for these are not the perceptive powers of the heart, which are adapted to receive light in the first instance, but the understanding or judgment. Accordingly, this shining of the divine glory in the hearts of these eminent ministers of Christ, is represented as giving them the light (m yvuacut) or The Knowledge of it; and he also shows that it was in beholding this glory of the Lord, that they were changed into the same image, chap, iil. 18. The spiritual light communicated by the Spirit to their understanding, worked effectually upon their will and affections, and changed their souls into the divine image. With respect to the anointing mentioned 1 John ii. 20, 27, I cannot perceive how it favours Mr. Fuller's hypothesis. It is represented as a preservative from the false doctrine of seducers, and cannot be those blind and enthusiastical impressions and emotions which some honour with the name of a divine unction; for, as it taught and made them know all things, it must have been by enlightening their judgment, and seems to have been a portion or degree of that which Christ promised to his disciples, and by which they were to be guided into all truth, John xiv. 26. and xvi. 13, 14."

"But whether original biasses are caused by ideas received into the mind or not, it has no concern with the question under consideration, unless it could be shown that regeneration is an original bias, and that it exists before any spiritual light is communicmed to the mind.

Mr. Fuller asserts that "every thing which proves spiritual perception and faith to be holy exercises, proves that a change of heart must of necessity precede them, as no holy exercise can have place while the heart is under the dominion of carnality." That spiritual perception and belief are holy, is freely admitted; and I have no objection to their being termed exercises, if nothing more is meant than simply perceiving and believing. But how does this "prove that a change of heart must necessarily precede them ?" Why, Mr. Fuller informs us, that "no holy exercise," consequently no spiritual perception or belief, "can have place while the heart is under the dominion of carnality." True; contraries cannot have dominion in the same heart, and at the same instant; but for the same reason, no change of heart can actually have place while it is under the dominion of carnality. Here both sides of the question stand upon equal ground. But, as it will be allowed that God can change the heart, the question is, Whether does this change begin with a removal of the darkness and unbelief of the mind, or whether is the heart actually changed previous to this, and while it is yet in a state of spiritual darkness and unbelief! The former is my sentiment, the latter Mr. Fuller's. "It is thus (he says) I apprehend that God reveals the truth to us by his Spirit, in order to our discerning and believing it." That is, he reveals the truth to us, by changing our hearts before we receive and believe it. In this method he thinks it was revealed unto Peter, Matt. xvi. 17.—unto babes, Matt. xi. 25.—unto the apostles, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, 12, 13, 14.' But all these passages are greatly misapplied, when brought to prove, either that the heart is actually changed while yet in a state of ignorance and unbelief, or that God cannot remove this ignorance and unbelief from the natural man, in the first instance, and so make him spiritually to discern spiritual things."

"The Scriptures expressly declare, that the word of truth, or the incorruptible seed of the word, is the means or instrument of regeneration. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth," James i. 18. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever," 1 Pet. i. 23. One would think that these plain texts should fully determine the point in dispute; for if it is with the word of truth, that God of his own will begets or regenerates men; if the word of God is the very seed of regeneration; and if to be born of God, born of the Spirit (John i. 13. chap. Hi. 5.), and to be born of the incorruptible seed of the word, are expressions of the same import, then this birth must be effected by the Spirit's causing men to understand and believe the word in the first instance; for it is certain that the word can have no saving influence upon the heart previous to this. Mr. Fuller admits that "we are as properly said to be born again by the word of God, as we are said to be born into the world by means of our parents." If so, then we can have no existence as new creatures previous to the instrumentality of the word, any more than we can have an existence as human creatures previous to the instrumentality of our parents.

Yet he does not abide by this, but by means of an imaginary distinction, endeavors to elude the force of the above texts, and introduce regeneration previous to, and altogether abstract from any influence of the word of God. He affirms, "That the term regeneration in the sacred writings is not always used in that strict sense in which we use it in theological discussion. Like every other term, it is sometimes used in a more strict, and sometimes in a more general sense." Granting this were the case (as it really is not), how does it determine in which of these senses it is to be taken when ascribed to the word of God?

"Regeneration (he says) is sometimes expressive of that operation in which the soul is passive; and in this sense stands distinguished from conversion, or actual turning to God by Jesus Christ." This must be his strict sense of that term. But where does he ever find the term regeneration used in this sense? Perhaps in theological, or rather metaphysical discussion; but I am confident it bears no such meaning in all the sacred writings. Regeneration, strictly speaking, is not the operation or agency of the Holy Spirit, but the effect of it. It is not his working, but his workmanship. It is a spiritual change produced on man, as to the sentiments and dispositions of his soul, whereby he is made, in some measure, to perceive divine things as they are, and to be affected towards them as he ought; and therefore cannot, in the nature of things, actually take place while the soul is purely passive, or only physically acted upon, like insensible or unconscious matter. True, indeed, the operation or agency of the Spirit must, in order of nature, precede regeneration, as a cause precedes its immediate effect; but so must also the influence of the word of God, to which it is likwise ascribed; because the Spirit operates upon the mind in and by the word, which is the instrumental cause of regeneration; so that in this matter the influence of the Spirit of truth, and of the word of truth, coalesce in one, and must not be separated. To regenerate men, is to beget them to the faith; and this faith, which is the gift of God, "cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," Rom. x. 17, which is the incorruptible seed whereby they are born again, I Pet. i. 23. Whatever influence of the Spirit, or exercise of mind, may be supposed previous to this, it is nowhere in Scripture called regeneration, nor by any equivalent term. In other words, the Scriptures nowhere declare that any unbeliever, while such, is actually regenerated; and therefore Mr. Fuller's strict sense of the term regeneration, has no foundation in the word of God, nor indeed in the nature of things.

But he produces two texts for this strict sense of it, and observes, that "when the term (regeneration) is introduced as a cause of faith, or as that of which believing in Jesus is a proof (as it is in John i. 12, 13, and 1 John v. 4.) we may be certain it stands distinguished from it." Yet these texts hold forth no such distinction, far less the whole sentiment, viz. that regeneration is without the word, and previous to the perception or belief of it. In John i. 12, 13 we are told that those of the Jewish nation who believed on the name of Jesus, "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;" i. e. of the will of God, as opposed to the will of man, and is the same with what James declares, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth," James i. 18. The word of truth was first published to them, and God, by the sovereign influence of his Spirit concurring with that word, begat them to the faith of it, and so gave them power to become his sons: "For we are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii. 26."

"The Scriptures frequently speak of the mental powers under the metaphors of bodily members, organs, and senses, such as eyes, ears, heart, bowels, reins, &c. even as it ascribes bodily parts to God himself. Hence many, instead of explaining these metaphors in a suitableness to the spirit of man, affix such gross notions to them, as are applicable only to the material part of him; and as when the bodily organ (the eye, for instance,) is wanting or distempered, it must first be supplied or rectified by some physical operation before it can perform its office, so they imagine that some similar operation must be performed on the soul previous to the introduction of spiritual light into the understanding. Thus Mr. Fuller speaks of God's first removing the obstructing film from the mental eye, by imparting a spiritual relish for divine things. But we know that a bodily taste or relish will not remove a film from the natural eye, and it is not easy to conceive how a spiritual relish for we know not what (were it possible that such a relish could exist) will remove the film from the mental eye. He represents this spiritual relish, whereby the heart is changed and turned towards God previous to the knowledge of him, as some new sense or faculty created in the soul, in which the intellect has little or no concern. He compares it to a delicate sense of propriety, in which the mind judges, as it were, instinctively from a feeling of what is proper, and says, "It is by this unction from the Holy One, that we perceive the glory of the divine character, the evil of sin, and the lovely fitness of the Saviour; neither of which can be properly known by mere intellect, any more than the sweetness of honey, or the bitterness of wormwood, can be ascertain."

"But if this spiritual relish precedes the exercise of intellect, or the mind's perception of an object (which is the case supposed), then it is certain it can have no object, consequently cannot be a spiritual relish. We may, indeed, feel and relish objects of sense without seeing them with our eyes, such as the hardness of a stone by the touch, and the sweetness of honey by the taste; but spiritual objects cannot be felt or relished by the soul, while the judgment has no spiritual perception or knowledge of them. Therefore, to affirm that an unction from the Holy One makes one "Perceive the glory of the divine character, the evil of sin, and the lovely fitness of the Saviour," without enlightening the judgment, in the first instance, appears to me altogether unintelligible, and contrary to the plain declarations of the Scriptures, viz: that God of his own will begets men to the faith, with the word of truth, and that they are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word. So much for Mr. Fuller's strict sense of regeneration.

With regard to his large sense of the term, viz: as including faith, he says, "Regeneration, taken in this large sense of the term, is undoubtedly by the word of God. It is by means of this that a sinner is first convinced of sin, and by this, as exhibiting mercy through Jesus Christ, is kept from despair. It is by this only that he can become acquainted with the character of the Being he has offended, the nature and demerit of sin, and the way in which he must be saved from it. These important truths, viewed with the eye of an enlightened conscience, frequently produce gieat effects upon the soul, even previous to its yielding itself up to Christ. And the impartation of spiritual life, or a susceptibility of heart to receive the truth, may generally, if not always, accompany the representation of truth to the mind. It was while Paul was speaking, that the Lord opened the heart of Lydia. It is also allowed, that when the word is received into the soul, and finds place there, it worketh effectually, aud becomes a principle of holy action, a well of water, springing up to everlasting life."

If by an enlightened conscience, and a susceptibility of heart, to receive the truth, he does not mean any thing previous to a representation of truth to the mind, I can most heartily subscribe to this view of regeneration, as being agreeble to the word of God. But then I can by no means reconcile it with his strict sense of regeneration, unless I could suppose that a person is regenerated before his first conviction of sin, and previous to his being acquainted with the character of the Being he has offended, the nature and demerit of sin, and the way in which he must be saved from it; all which, he admits, come by means of the word.

He gives the sum of what he pleads for in these words : "All I contend for is, that it is not by means of a spiritual perception, or belief of the gospel, that the heart is, for the first time, effectually influenced towards God; for spiritual perception and belief are represented as the effects, and not the causes of such influence." If he means that the influence of the Spirit of God is the cause of spiritual perception and belief, we are agreed; but if he means, as I suppose he does, that the heart is effectually influenced towards God previous to any true knowledge of him, or to any spiritual perception and belief of the truth, or to any influencing motive whatever being presented to the view of the mind, such a sentiment appears to me not only unscriptural, but altogether irrational and absurd.

To avoid ambiguity, it must be noticed that the word operation is sometimes used to express the effect, at other times the cause. If he means that spiritual perception is not the first effect produced on the mind, then the effect prior to this must be entirely of a mechanical or physical nature; for it cannot be a moral effect, where no ideas are communicated, nor any object brought to the view of the mind. But if by operation he intends that divine energy or influence, which is the cause of regeneration, it is freely granted that this must, in order of nature (though not of time), precede that spiritual perception which is the immediate effect of it; but so must also the word of God, which is the means of that effect. As to the operation of the Spirit, whereby the truth is introduced into the mind, so as to produce its proper effects, we can no more explain the manner of it, than we can explain that creating operation whereby God commanded the light to, shine out of darkness, or that by which he quickens the dead, to both of which it is compared, 2 Cor. iv. 6. Eph. ii. 1. But we may safely affirm, that there is not any holy susceptibility or relish for the truth subsisting in the human heart previous to the influence of the word. Indeed, there appears to be no occasion for this; for the word of God, through the effectual operation of the Spirit, is quick and powerful, sharper than any two- edged sword, Heb. iv. 12. It finds its way into the most unsusceptible and untoward mind, and breaks the stoutest and most obdurate heart. "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" Jer. xxiii. 29. It storms the heart in its strongest holds, whereby it seeks to fortify itself against the truth. "For the weapons of our warfare (says the apostle) are not carnal, but Mighty Through God, to the pulling down of strong holds: casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself ogainst the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. Such passages do not admit the supposition, that the heart is possessed of any principle of grace previous to the influence of the word by the Spirit."

"If a holy disposition of heart be previous to faith, it must be without it, and so cannot be pleasing to God; for, without faith, it is impossible to please him, Heb. xi. 6. It must be prior to actual union with Christ, and while the mind is without divine illumination, couviction, or any spiritual motive, consequently is no part of that regeneration which is by the incorruptible seed of the word, 1 Pet. i. 23, nor of that sanctification through the truth which Christ prays for, John xvii. 17. This previous holy principle he describes as an "effectual change of the bias of the heart towards God," as if the bias of a person's will and affections could be turned towards an object in whom he does not believe, and of whose true character, as revealed in the gospel, he is supposed as yet to have no just conception. This also makes the doctrine of reconciliation needless, in order to reconcile the heart to God."

"Further, if men are regenerated, and possessed of holy dispositions before they believe, then they must be godly unbelievers,—a character unknown in the word of God; and should they die in that state, they must be saved without faith, for no regenerated holy person shall perish. Mr. Fuller is aware of this plain consequence, and endeavors to elude it. His words are: "If there be a priority (i. e. if regeneration be before faith) in order of time, owing to the want of opportunity of knowing the truth, yet, where a person embraces Christ, so far as he has the means of knowing him, he is in effect a believer." This answer appears to me exceedingly confused and incoherent. The point he strenuously contends for is, That regeneration is before faith; but here he speaks of it hypothetically, as if he were not sure of it, "If there be a priority in order of time;" and he makes this supposed priority to be only in case of the "want of opportunity of knowing the truth," which imports, that none having that opportunity, are regenerated before they believe. Again, such as "want an opportunity of knowing the truth," are yet supposed to embrace Christ so far as they have the means of knowing him;" as if they could both want an opportunity, and yet have the means of knowing him; or as if they might know and embrace Christ, without knowing the truth which reveals him. Such, he says "are in effect believers;" an expression which in this connection I do not understand. "The Bereans (he observes) searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so; therefore it is said, many of them believed. And had they died while in this noble pursuit, they would not have been treated as unbelievers." Yet it is not said that all of them who searched the Scriptures believed, but many of them; and there is not the least foundation to suppose that any of them who searched the Scriptures would have been saved without believing; and to affirm that men will be saved short of believing, appears to me contrary to the uniform declarations of Scripture, and a very unsafe doctrine, however necessary it may be to support Mr. Fuller's hypothesis."

"It is alleged that the honest and good heart, mentioned in the parable of the sower, Luke viii. 15, represents persons as regenerated previous to their hearing the word. But such an interpretation is a striking instance, among many, of the abuse of Scripture metaphors, whereby doctrines are grounded on similitudes and parables altogether foreign to their design. Because it is a well-known truth in husbandry, that if the soil is not good, either by nature or culture, before the seed is sown into it, it will not be productive; therefore it is imagined that it must also be a truth in theology, that the heart of man must be honest and good previous to his hearing the word, otherwise it can have no proper effect upon him. But this is far from being the design of that parable, which is, to set forth the different reception and effects of the word among those who actually hear it. Some consider this parable as respecting the first publication of the gospel to Jews and proselytes, by our Lord and his apostles, when it found many previously possessed of honest and good hearts, who looked for redemption, and waited for the consolation of Israel; such as Nathanael, Joseph of Arimathea, Cornelius, and many others, but this honest and good heart was not begotten in them without the word, but by means of the Old Testament revelation, which they believed, and by the ministry of John the Baptist, whose office it was "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord," Luke i. 16, 17.

But, though this affords a good answer, there is no occasion to confine the parable to the first publication of the gospel; for we may easily trace the order of things, by comparing the three Evangelists, and harmonizing them into one compound text. The first thing in order is, the sowing of the seed, or publishing the word of the kingdom: A sower went forth to sow; for how should men hear without a preacher. Those to whom the word was published heard it. This was common to all the classes; they were all hearers. But then the good effects of hearing the word was confined to one class of them; and these effects are threefold, and in the following order—1. Having heard the word, they understood it, Matt. xiii. 23. and received it, Mark iv. 20. The word of God, accompanied by the influence of the Holy Spirit, enlightened their minds, removed their prejudices, and made them perceive the import, evidence, and excellency of what was declared; so that they under- stood and received it as the word of God, 1 Thess. ii. 13, as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, 1 Tim. i. 15. Thus they are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word, 1 Pet. i. 23, and thus God, of his own sovereign will, begets them to the faith with the word of truth, Jam. i. 18. for faith cotneth by hearing the word of God, Rom. x. 17, and now, and not till now, are they possessed of a principle of grace in their hearts.—2. Having heard, understood, and received the word, they, in an honest and good heart, keep it, Luke viii. 15. i. e. they retain and hold it fast, in opposition to their letting it slip, like the other classes of hearers: The seed of God remaineth in them, 1 John iii. 9. even that which they have heard, chap, ii- 24. They continue in Christ's word, and his words abide in them, John viii. 31. ch. xv. 7. which is to continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which they have heard. Col. i. 23. But that honest and good heart in which they keep or retain the word, did not exist prior to their hearing and understanding it, but was evidently produced by that means, as was shown on the first particular. Paul traces the origin of love, a pure heart, and a good conscience (which constitute the honest and good heart) only back to faith unfeigned, which respects the word, 1 Tim. i. 5. for it is by faith that God purifies the heart, Acts xv. 9.—3. The last thing in order is, they bring forth fruit with patience, and in various degrees, Luke viii. 15. Matt. xiii. 23. The word of God which they have heard, understood, and received, effectually worketh in them, 1 Thess. ii. 13, and bringeth forth fruit in them, since the day they heard and knew the grace of God in truth, Col. i. 6. This, therefore, is the order of things set forth in the explanation of the parable. It is by means of the word that the heart is made honest and good, though the nature of the similitude, which is taken from agriculture, does not permit it to illustrate that particular."

"Mr. Fuller says, "A spiritual perception of the "glory of divine things appears to be the first sensation of which the mind is conscious; but it is not the first operation of God upon it." If not, then this first operation of God makes no impression upon the rational mind of man. It communicates no light to the judgment, no spiritual perception of divine things, nor any sensation respecting them of which a thinking mind is conscious. In his opinion the understanding cannot be spiritually enlightened, but in consequence of some holy disposition previously implanted in the heart by this first operation; and then he admits that spiritual perception will follow as the first sensation of which the mind, already regenerated, is conscious. So that what he says of Mr. Brine's previous principle, I think will with equal justice apply to his own; it is "something different from what God requires of every intelligent creature;" for it is plain that the human intellect has no concern in it, and it is certain that God does not require blind dispositions of his intelligent creatures. He affirms, that the introduction of light into the mind in the first instance, is a thing altogether impossible even with God himself, until, by some other operation, he has regenerated the soul, altered its moral state and disposition, given it a spiritual relish for divine things, and produced a change of heart, whereby it is effectually influenced towards him; and all this previous to, and without any illumination of the mind, or instrumentality of the word of God."

"Mr. Fuller's sentiments on this subject seem to be formed upon the scheme of Messrs. Bellamy and Hopkins, two American divines, who, though they have written many good things, have overstrained others beyond the sober Scripture medium, in their opposition to Arminian and Antinomian speculations."

"...after having asserted, That regeneration consists wholly in a change of the will or heart, and not in the intellect or faculty of understanding; and that in this operation the Spirit of God is the only agent; he proceeds to show, "That this change is wrought by the Spirit of God immediately. That is, it is not effected by any medium or means whatever. I would (says he) particularly observe here, that light and truth, or the word of God, is not in any degree a mean by which this change is effected. It is not wrought by light—Men are first regenerated in order to introduce light into the mind: therefore they are not regenerated by light, or the "truths of God's word." He affirms, That natural men may see every thing in matters of religion but the moral beauty and excellence of divine things: That this moral beauty is not discerned by the understanding, nor can it possibly be made the object of it by any operation on the mind, or any supposed illumination whatever, any more than it is possible by any operation on a stone to bring it to the understanding and discerning of a man without giving it the faculty of understanding and reason. That, therefore, men are not regenerated by the word; but the heart (i. e. the will) must first be renewed by the immediate operation of the Spirit of God, giving it a good taste, in order to prepare it to understand and receive the word. See Hopkins's Sermon on John i. 13. with the Appendix. See also Bellamy's True Religion Delineated, and his Essay on the Nature and Glory of the Gospel of Christ.

"To show that men are born of God, there is certainly no occasion to reason against, or rather flatly to contradict express Scripture, by denying that God begets them with the word of truth, or that they are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word, for both are perfectly consistent. And though it is true that the natural man may speculate on the truths of the gospel without discerning either their true evidence, or their moral beauty and excellence, so as to have a taste or relish for them; yet this will never prove it impossible that a good taste should be formed by a proper view of divine things in a spiritually enlightened judgment. To affirm that no enlightening influence of the Spirit of God upon the understanding can have any more effect in forming a spiritual taste, than if it were exerted upon a stone, is the language of unhallowed reasoning, which serves to exclude the understanding..."

"In regeneration the Spirit of God does not create new powers or faculties, but rectifies those already in existence; gives the lead to the legitimate directing powers, which were blinded and enslaved by corrupt dispositions, affections, and passions; and restores the soul to order and harmony. The leading faculties of the human mind by which, when it acts regularly, all the rest are directed and governed, are the understanding or judgment, reason and conscience. These constitute his mental capacity to receive instruction, to perceive and distinguish truth from its opposite, to discern the fitness or unfitness of things, and the moral qualities of actions and objects. But, notwithstanding these natural powers, such is the blindness and depravity of the human heart, that the natural or animal man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God revealed in the gospel; for, judging of them by the preconceived principles, wisdom and reasoning of a carnal mind, they appear foolishness to him; neither can he know them till he is spiritually enlightened, because they are spiritually discerned. Therefore I conceive that the first operation of the Spirit of God in regeneration is the introduction of spiritual light into the understanding or judgment, which is the same with his opening the understanding to discern the things of the Spirit as revealed in the gospel in their true light; for there is no medium between the introduction of spiritual light into the mind and the mind's spiritual perception of it. This spiritual perception of divine things is attended with a persuasion of their truth and reality, and an impression of their supreme excellence and importance, which gains them immediate access to the will and affections, exciting desire, relish, choice, and esteem. Thus the soul is regenerated agreeably to the regular order of its faculties; but to maintain that the will and affections are changed previous to any discernment of spiritual things in the judgment, is to reverse that order, and is the same as to affirm that the soul relishes, chooses, and loves without an object; that is, its relish, choice, and affection have no relation to any thing, consequently these exercises (could we suppose them to exist) can have nothing of the nature of virtue in them: for it is an undoubted truth, that no motion or exercise of the will and affections can be of a virtuous and holy nature, 'but as influenced by proper objects or motives."

"Let it further be observed, that the word of God is addressed to men's understanding, judgment, reason, and conscience, as the only channel through which its truths can have any influence upon their will and affections; and all its doctrines, precepts, arguments, evidences, and motives proceed upon that principle, as might be shown at large; but I must draw to a conclusion of this part of the subject.

I had said, that the truth is no sooner perceived and believed, than it takes possession of the will and affections; upon which Mr. Fuller observes, "This, I should think, is allowing that perception is distinct from believing, and necessarily precedes it." In order of nature, indeed, we must have a perception of something, real or imaginary, before we can believe, for belief must respect some object in the mind's view; but then we cannot perceive that object to be real or true without believing it, because that very perception is believing it. It belongs, therefore, to Mr. Fuller to show, how a spiritual perception of the glory of divine truth is distinct from believing it; or, in other words, how such a perception of divine truth can exist without including in it a perception of its truth and reality. I am certain he cannot show this without reducing what he terms "a spiritual perception of the glory of divine truth," to a mere empty speculation, in which nothing exists as a reality ill the mind's view."

"In my opinion Mr. Fuller would have been more profitably employed in consulting the Scriptures upon this subject, than in adopting the sentiments and reasonings of these authors."

"...he proceeds upon this distinction, and says, "But if a spiritual perception of the glory of divine truth precede believing, this may be the same in effect as regeneration preceding it." But if he really admits that a spiritual perception of the truth is the same with regeneration, then he, in effect, gives up his argument. He has all along maintained, that regeneration is previous to a spiritual perception of divine things, and that the introduction of light into the mind in the first instance is impossible; that it consists in a spiritual relish for divine things, and a change of heart whereby it is effectually influenced towards God, previous to any illumination of the mind, and without the instrumentality of the word. Therefore, to admit that a spiritual perception of the truth is in effect the same with regeneration, is to yield the point, and grant all that I think worth contending for on this head; for I am certain there can be no spiritual perception of the truth without believing it."

"But he thinks his argument is entire, notwithstanding this concession, if he can only maintain the priority of regeneration to faith ; and this he attempts by separating a spiritual perception of the truth from the belief of it, so far as to make room for a change of heart between them. His words are, "Allowing that the word requires to be perceived ere the will and affections can be changed, it does not follow that it must also be believed for this purpose; for the very perception itself may change us into the same image; and, in virtue of it, we may instantly with our whole heart set to our seal that God is true." This appears to me a very strange statement. There is not a more self-evident axiom than this, That the human will and affections cannot be rationally affected, much less changed by any truth, till it is in some measure believed or realized in the mind; yet Mr. Fuller, instead of fairly yielding the point, or admitting that a belief of the truth is necessary to a change of the will and affections, will rather maintain an absolute absurdity, viz : That a mere perception of the truth without believing it, will produce this change. And by the words in Italic, he seems to ground this on 2 Cor. iii. 15. as if the apostle had said, "We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord," without believing it, "are changed into the same image." This requires no answer, and the matter having come to this issue, I may be excused from pursuing the argument on this head any further, and shall only observe, that Mr. Fuller can take either side of this question as he finds occasion. In answering those who deny the belief of the gospel to be saving faith, and make it to consist in coming to Christ, receiving him, and relying upon him for acceptance, he says, "All this, in the order of things, follows upon believing the truth concerning him; no less so than coming to God follows a believing that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We may, therefore, mark the expression, be REGENERATED BY A PERCEPTION AND BELIEF OF THE Truth, and, as the immediate effect of it, come to Jesus, and rely upon him for salvation." Here he agrees with my sentiments, both as to the nature of faith and its influence on regeneration, which is perfectly inconsistent with all the arguments he uses against me on these particulars. What a pity it is that such distinguished talents as Mr. Fuller possesses, should be employed in this manner!"

"I have now considered his chief arguments for a previous principle of grace in the heart, or regeneration before believing, which he thinks necessary to the holy nature of faith; and have shown, that whether he places this supposed principle before or after a perception of the truth, it is equally without foundation while he holds it to be previous to a belief of the truth. What I maintain, in opposition to this sentiment, is shortly this, That in regeneration, the Holy Spirit, in the first instance, by his inexplicable energy, gives the mind a believing or realizing perception of the truth as revealed in the word, and thereby operates on the will and affections, not only in the beginning of the change, but in all the subsequent progress of sanctification ; for men are not only born again of the incorruptible seed of the word, but are also sanctified through the truth, which is' the word of God, John xvii. 17."

"We shall now take notice of his concluding reflections on the consequences of the principles he opposes with respect to addressing the unconverted. He observes,

"First, If the necessity of repentance in order to forgiveness be given up, we shall not be in the practice of urging it on the unconverted."! I cannot conceive what ground Mr. Fuller has to suppose, that those whom he opposes have given up the necessity of repentance in order to forgiveness. However negligent I may be in urging sinners to repentance, it has always been my firm belief, that not only the unconverted, but even the converted themselves, need often to be called to repentance, and that in order to forgiveness. He has seen as much of my writings as fully refutes this misrepresentation, and therefore it cannot pass for a mere mistake. I am afraid there will be occasion for some more remarks of this kind before we have done.

He assigns the reasons why we must thus give up repentance in order to forgiveness, "We shall imagine it will be leading souls astray to press it before, and in order to believing; and afterwards it will be thought unnecessary, as all that is wanted will come of itself." So that, according to him, we cannot, consistently with our principles, press repentance either on the converted or unconverted. Yet I find it perfectly consistent with my principles to press repentance on all to whom the gospel is preached; for, though I know that none will truly repent but those who believe, yet the gospel doctrine of salvation, with men's need of it, being first declared, a reasonable foundation is laid for calling all who hear it to repentance, and to urge this by every argument and motive which the word of God affords.

But I own that, upon Mr. Fuller's plan, I should be very much embarrassed in pressing true repentance on the unconverted. He had said before, that "It does not come up to the Scripture representation to say, repentance is a fruit of faith;" and here he says, repentance must be pressed upon the unconverted before, and in order to believing. Now, my difficulty lies here, According to this order of things, I am debarred, in urging repentance, from using any arguments or motives drawn from the gospel; for it is certain that such motives cannot possibly have any influence without faith, or till they are first believed, and, according to him, they cannot be believed till men first truly repent; for they must repent before, and in order to believing. So that this scheme renders the principles and motives of the gospel altogether useless as to their influence on repentance, and therefore can with no propriety be used for that purpose. From all this it plainly follows, that the gospel itself should not be preached to men till they repent.

But is it not necessary that some principles should be believed previous to repentance, and as the means of producing it? Yes; he admits "that a conviction of the being and attributes of God must, in the order of nature, precede repentance; because we cannot repent for offending a being of whose existence we doubt, or of whose character we have no just conception: but the faith of the gospel—is represented in the New Testament as implying repentance." There is no dispute about whether the faith or belief of the gospel implies repentance, as its inseparable concomitant or immediate effect: nay, I can admit that when faith first takes place in the mind, it imports repentance, or a change of mind, as the word metanoia signifies. It is a change from darkness to light; from blindness, prejudice, and unbelief, to a spiritual perception and conviction of the truth; and it is by convincing men of the truth concerning Jesus, that the Spirit convinceth them of sin, because they believe not in him. See John xvi. 9. compared with Acts ii. 36, 37. But the point he wishes to establish is this, that true repentance is previous to the belief of the gospel, and is produced by a conviction of the being of God, and a just conception of his character; which last he supposes may be obtained without the gospel."

"I freely admit that men have some natural notices of God and of his law in their conscience, sufficient to constitute them accountable creatures, to render their guilt inexcusable, and to make them susceptible of conviction; and if they have access to the revealed law of God, their knowledge of his character, of their duty, of their guilt, and consequently of their danger, must be greatly enlarged. This may awaken in some strong convictions of sin, and a fear of divine punishment, which, if it does not drive them into utter despair, may produce some outward reformation of life, and even some struggles against heart sins, in hopes of obtaining the favor of God by these things. Yet all this may be without any true love to God and holiness, or any real hatred of sin itself, but only of its punishment. This is by some called legal repentance, because produced only by the law; and if this is that repentance which Mr. Fuller pleads for, I have no objection to his placing it before the belief of the gospel. All I contend for, is, that it is not true repentance, or what the Scripture calls repentance unto life, which, together with a humbling conviction of sin and its desert, necessarily implies an apprehension and belief of the mercy of God, through Christ, as revealed in the gospel."

"I may justly question if ministers of the gospel are warranted to urge repentance on their hearers, as a prerequisite to faith. There is no example of any such thing in the New Testament. All the calls to repentance stand connected with preaching the gospel, which contains the most powerful persuasives to it; and there is no instance of any complying with these calls, but such as believed it. While, therefore, ministers call on sinners to repent, if they wish that this may have effect, they must also at the same time, after the example of the first preachers, call on them to believe the gospel, without which their minds are not principled for true repentance, whatever conviction of guilt and terror may be produced."

"What our Lord directs the young ruler to do, was, to keep the commandments, to sell what he had, and give to the poor, and to take up his cross, and follow him. Now, if his doing these things was naturally impossible (as Mr. Fuller affirms,) then, according to his own reasoning, the young ruler was under no obligation to do them, it was not his duty, and he was perfectly innocent in neglecting them."

"Mr. Fuller here seems sensible that he has gone rather too far, and therefore instantly checks himself; "Far be it from me," he says, "that I should disapprove of an exhibition of the Saviour as the only foundation of hope to a dying sinner, or plead for such directions as fall short of believing in him. In both these particulars I am persuaded Mr. M'Lean is in the right; and that all those counsels to sinners, which are adapted only to turn their attention to the workings of their own hearts, to their prayers, or their tears, and not to the blood of the cross, are delusive and dangerous." But if these are Mr. Fuller's real and fixed sentiments, for what end did he write his Appendix? Is not the most of it adapted to turn the attention of sinners to the workings of their own hearts instead of the blood of the cross? Hereby they are taught that they must be regenerated, and have their hearts turned effectually towards God without the word, and before they are illuminated or have a perception of the truth, and, at any rate, previous to their believing it. That they must truly repent before they believe in Christ, and in order to it. That justifying faith itself is a persuasion influenced by a previous moral state of the heart and partaking of it; a holy exercise of the soul, depending upon choice, implying repentance, and including love and other holy affections. That God does not justify the ungodly, though, however godly they are, he does not impute it to them for righteousness, &c. Now, as all these things respect the holy state, dispositions, affections, and exercises of the heart: and as they are all stated as previous qualifications in the sinner, and placed in a conditional point of view between him and the Saviour; so all the counsels and directions given to sinners concerning them in that view must have an infallible tendency to turn their attention, in the first instance, to the workings of their own hearts, and not to the work finished by Christ on the cross, consequently as Mr. Fuller admits, must be "delusive and dangerous."

"But then he asks, "Does it follow that they are to be exhorted to nothing spiritually good, unless it be for their conviction?" As I have given no occasion for such a question, so it lies not on me to answer it. I may, however, observe, that when the gospel is declared to sinners, a foundation is laid for exhorting them not only to faith and repentance, but to every thing that is spiritually good in its own place and order. Yet I see no ground for exhorting them to any thing short of believing immediately, or which does not suppose it; far less for directing them to seek after certain previous qualifications to fit them for Christ, or to warrant their believing on him."

"He imagines that "Mr. M'Lean, to be consistent, must not seriously exhort a sinner to come off from those refuges of lies, to renounce all dependence on his prayers and tears, and to rely upon Christ alone, as necessary to justification, lest he make him a pharisee." From what has been already said, the reader will perceive that this requires no answer from me. Such exhortations are included in the exhortation to faith itself. But if he means them as exhortations to some holy exercises previous to faith, then he must suppose that a sinner will come off from his false refuges before he knows the true refuge; and that he will renounce all dependence on his prayers and tears before he perceives any better foundation to depend on. If Christ is held forth as a free and immediate Saviour to the guilty, such exhortations are very proper, and likely to be understood; but a preacher may so dwell upon the active exercises of the mind in coming off, renouncing, humbling one's self, &c. as to counteract the very design of such exhortations. How free and gracious is our Lord's invitation, "Come unto me all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" Yet some preachers have discovered such a variety of arduous exercises imported in the word come, as to lay very great obstacles in the sinner's way to Christ, and so to increase the burden of those who are heavy laden, instead of directing them immediately to the Saviour for rest to their souls. This is the tendency of all those exhortations and labored directions how to perform what is called the great work of believing in order to be justified: and this is the natural effect of the doctrine which teaches sinners that they must be true penitents, and possessed of holy dispositions of heart previous to their believing; and that their belief cannot be genuine, unless it arise from this moral state of the heart, and partake of it. Calls and exhortations to believe are both proper and necessary when men are told what to believe, and upon what grounds, without which all the preacher's vociferations are but empty and unmeaning noise: but the gospel is much perverted when faith is represented under the idea of acting or working, and in this view urged upon sinners in order to their justification; for this is the reverse of calling them to believe in the sufficiency of Christ's work to justify them, and so must necessarily draw their attention off from that to seek after justification by some exertions or exercises of their own, of a very different nature from believing the gospel."

"Having considered Mr. Fuller's doctrine respecting a principle of grace in the heart previous to faith, together with his concluding reflections, I proceed now to



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