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consequence of erroneous views in regard to the necessity of vivid experiences, they have passed through life sorrowing, and have gone to their grave without the cheering support of a Christian hope. Then we have known others, who were rejoicing in their Christian hope, while yet they neglected to maintain Christian characters. They believed themselves to be Christians, not because they were daily and hourly striving to obey Christ and to breathe his spirit, but in consequence of some previous religious experiences. In both of these ways are the views, to which we have alluded, doing injury. Professor Upham, in both the “ Interior Life” and the “ Life of Faith, " strikes at the root of these errors, by assigning to vivid emotions and striking experiences their appropriate place, by confining them to their proper sphere. He speaks upon the subject after this manner.
“We will suppose the case of a person, who is the subject of a divine operation. Under the influence of this inward operation, he experiences, to a considerable extent, new views of his own situation, of his need of a Saviour, and of the restoration of his soul to God in spiritual union. The operation, which has been experienced so far, is purely intellectual. Of the necessity and value of such intellectual influences, there can be no doubt. But I believe it is generally conceded, that, in themselves alone, they do not, and cannot constitute religion. But in addition to this, we will suppose, that an effect, and perhaps a very decided effect, has been experienced in the emotive part, which in its action is subsequent to that of the intellect. The person has very pleasant emotions. The perception of new truth, as we should naturally expect, gives him happiness; and the perception of its relation to his salvation gives him still more happiness. He is very happy. He begins to speak a new language. His mouth is filled with praise. But has such a person religion, as his friends are very desirous to believe, and very apt to declare? He has an experience undoubtedly. We are willing to admit, that he has a valuable experience; an experience, which is naturally preparatory to religion, and is closely connected with it ; and looks very much like it. But if the experience stops
here, in such a manner as to constitute a merely emotional - experience, and without reaching and affecting a still more
inward and important part of the mind, as seems sometimes to be the case, we cannot with good reasons regard it as a truly religious experience, meaning by the terms an experience which meets the expectations and the demands of God, and is saving." *
* Interior Life, pp. 178, 179.
Influence of these Views.
And again he says :
“We may probably discover in these principles,” (those he had been endeavoring to establish,) “the reason, why it is, that, in times of especial religious attention, so many persons, who appeared to be much engaged in religion for a season, subsequently lose their interest, and become, both in practice and feeling, assimilated to the world. Such persons are undoubtedly the subjects of an inward experience; and this experience, in common parlance, is frequently called a religious experience, but it is obviously defective in the essential particular of not having a root.”*
We make a single extract more upon this point, from the “Life of Faith.”
“ The emotions in their various kinds, both joyous and sorrowful, arise on many occasions very different from each other; and oftentimes have nothing to do with religion; and at their best estate may be regarded merely as the attendants and accessories of religion. The true view, therefore, is that emotional states, or mere temporary feelings of joy and sorrow, in distinction from the permanent state of love, may or may not involve the fact of religion. The man, who has them, may possess religion, or he may be destitute of it. In forming a judgment, therefore, of a man's religious character from his joys or sorrows, however excited they may be, it is necessary to be very careful. But no man need be solicitous in respect to the reality and truth of his religion, whether his joys or his sorrows be more or less, who, having entirely renounced himself, has that faith in God, which works by love and purifies the heart.” — p. 90.
We anticipate, we repeat, great good from the publication and circulation in the Christian community of sentiments like these. They will tend to free the public mind from many false notions ; will serve as a check to the extravagances too often witnessed in times of revival, and make religion a more simple and rational matter, commending itself to the better judgment of the head as well as to the warmer affections of the heart. And the Gospel itself will find increased favor with thinking men, when it is seen that the highest degree of spirituality of the affections and of the character is perfectly consistent with the highest degree of intellectual improvement, with the best exercises of the reason and the judgment.
In another respect we have been gratified with the perusal of Professor Upham's volumes. They serve to confirm a belief we have for a long time entertained, that whenever our minds are directed to the spiritual and the practical in
religion - whenever we are engaged in endeavors to – promote the true spiritual life of the soul, or the practical
godliness of the character, either in ourselves or others, — - we make very little use of the language of sectarian theology.
It naturally loses the prominent place it may have before held in our minds. We do not become, perhaps, any the less Trinitarians or Unitarians, than before. But we find less occasion for the use of the terms, expressions and doctrines, peculiar to these two classes of views. We find, when seeking to promote our own spiritual and practical improvement, that we are ourselves more of Christians than we are of sectarians. And we rejoice to find others, sustaining different denominational relations from those which we sustain, speaking and writing very much in the way in which we should upon the same subjects. We rejoice that they too, when treating of topics of this practical and spiritual character, show themselves to be more of Christians than of sectarians. This is a conviction we have long cherished. We repeat that we have been gratified to have it confirmed by the perusal of the
works we have noticed. Professor Upham is a conscien- tious Trinitarian; and there are scattered through these
books peculiar expressions, naturally growing out of a belief in the doctrines of Trinitarianism, or allusions to those doctrines, which flow almost involuntarily from the abundance of the heart that is attached to them. Still, these doctrines are not interwoven into the very texture of the work, as the essential elements, on which the whole depends for its character and influence. As you read the volumes, you may mark out, as enclosed in parentheses, every expression derived from a Trinitarian belief, every allusion to Trinitarian doctrines, and the general tenor of the argument or explanation, in which they occur, will not be marred nor weakened by their omission. But, in addition to this incidental confirmation of views we have delighted to cherish, we find other and more positive support for them. In the “Life of Faith” there is a chapter devoted to the consideration of the “relation of faith to energy of
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action.” In this chapter the writer quotes the Apostle Paul, where he says, “ We believe, and therefore speak," and follows up his quotation with these remarks.
“Faith always has its object. And the inquiry naturally presents itself, what was it, which the Apostle Paul believed, that thus opened his heart of love and his lips of eloquence, and sent him forth a preacher through the world ? He believed in God's moral government; he believed in God's commands; he — believed in the immortality of the soul; he believed in man's fallen and depraved condition ; he believed in the advent of Jesus Christ, in his crucifixion, and in his sacrifice for sin; he believed in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost; he believed in the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the retributions of eternity. Having faith, as he did, in these great truths, truths sublime in themselves and deeply operative and renovating in their application, he found a motive, an impulse to the highest action, which he could find nowhere else. It was religious truth, the truth believed in, and the truth felt, which was the inspiration of his life of labor.” — p. 248.
Here is a Trinitarian, seeking to ascertain and state the items of belief which gave Paul his energy. And yet he has not used the technical phrases of a Trinitarian creed. Norhas he employed the technical terms of the Unitarian belief. He has expressed himself, we suppose, very much as a Unitarian, of the same honesty and fairness, would have done ; for even the Unitarian, in such an analysis of Paul's belief, would have employed terms more general than the narrow limits of any sectarian theology, even his own, would afford. Thus are the views we have held on this point confirmed, and the hope we have rejoiced to entertain, of a final reunion of Christians of all sects on some broad ground held by them in common, strengthened.
We have completed what we wished to say of the “ Life of Faith ;' but, as we have spoken somewhat generally of the class of Christians, with whom, as we have supposed, Mr. Upham sympathizes, we wish to add a few words more in regard to this religious manifestation. We believe, then, that the “ Oberlin Perfectionists” have been, and are, destined to be instruments of great good in the Christian community, — not so much by converting large numbers to the full belief of their peculiar speculations, as by an indirect influence, in awakening even those, who may differ from them in speculation, to higher aims and holier purposes.
The speculation by which they are distinguished, the possibility of the attainment of perfection in holiness in this life, is one to which they seem to have been driven by the peculiar opinions of the Christian sects among whom they first made their appearance. The Presbyterians and Orthodox Congregationalists are represented by President Mahan, as believing that no one can enter upon the happiness of heaven, unless perfectly holy. And consequently they hold the doctrine, that “the Christian is perfectly sanctified at, or a few minutes before, death, and never at an earlier period.” This view seems to regard sanctification, not as an attainment to be secured by God's blessing upon efforts put forth for that purpose, but as a gift bestowed without reference to individual effort. The absurdity of this position is well set forth by President Mahan, by two distinct considerations. " 1st. The grace which sanctifies the believer amid the gloom and wreck and distraction of dissolving nature, would, if applied, have sanctified him at an earlier period. 2d. No other reason can be assigned for this grace being thus withheld, but the supposition that God can be better glorified, and his kingdom better advanced, by saints partially, than wholly consecrated to their sacred calling."* With the tenets held by those among whom President Mahan had received his education, this absurdity has placed him just where we should suppose it would place him, and the arguments, with which he meets those from whom he has ventured to differ in opinion on this point, seem to us unanswerable on their general principles. But the subject does not present the same difficulty to our minds, in consequence of our embracing a different philosophy in regard to the connection between this life and the future. Believing as we do, that at death the soul passes on, from one state of being to a different, without any change in its moral or spiritual condition, the subject of dispute between the Perfectionists and their opponents is stripped of its difficulty and loses its importance. Our Saviour, as it seems to us, has in a great degree broken down the wall of separation between this life and the next, and taught us that there may be a resurrection to immortal life within the soul, even in this world, and that whoever truly liveth, in the spiritual acceptation of the term, in this
* Mahan on Christian Perfection, p. 47.