no farther an exercise of duty, nor ignorance of sin, than as the means of divine instruction are voluntarily used or neglected. The same may be said of judgment. If I decide, though it be in favour of truth, yet if it arise not from a candour of mind that is willing to receive it as the will of God, whatever be its bearings, there is no more obedience in it than in the just notions of the discreet scribe. Mark xii. 28. If on the contrary, I judge erroneously, it is no farther an exercise of disobedience than as I am warped by an evil bias of heart, which inclines me to reject or neglect the truth. Error, which proceeds not from these causes, is mere mistake, for which none is criminated, either by God or man. If David had been a conspirator against Saul, lying in wait for his life, as the latter suggested, and Ahimelech had erred in treating him as he did; yet knowing nothing of all this, less or more,' he ought to have been acquitted.

The same remarks apply to faith and unbelief. As to the latter, I suppose it will be allowed to be just so far a sin, and no farther than, as it arises from aversion to the truth, which leads men to reject or neglect it. Yet it may be said of this, as well as of faith, "Does Mr. F. hold the dissent of the understanding to be any part of unbelief? If so, surely unbelief in all its parts is a sin." But unbelief is not a sin, considered simply as an exercise of the intellectual faculty; or rather, that which is such, is not the unbelief of the scriptures, which is attributed to a corrupt state of the will, and from whence alone arises its sinfulness. 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8. And why should not the same be allowed of faith? If a mere dissent of the understanding be not the unbelief of the scriptures, a mere assent of the understanding cannot be the faith of the scriptures. So far as any thing is an exercise of pure intellect, uninfluenced by the disposition of the soul, it is merely natural; and duty is no more predicable of it than of the sight of the eye, or any other natural exercise. Nothing is duty any farther than as it is voluntary, or arise from the moral state of the mind. No duty

therefore can be performed by a depraved creature, but in consequence of regenerating grace.

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This is a truth so clearly taught in the scriptures, that I wonder your correspondent should call it in question. Does he not know that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;' and that therefore, they that are in the flesh cannot please God?' If this passage, as well as many others, do not teach us that no obedience is or can be yielded, while the sinner is 'in the flesh,' that is, in a state of unregeneracy-what does it teach? But if this be allowed, and faith admitted, as it is, to be an act of obedience to God, it must of necessity be preseded by regeneration otherwise they that are in the flesh may please God.

If I have not strangely mistaken your correspondent, he admits of as much as this in his last paper. He admits the necessity of candour of heart, or of the mind being purged from prejudices by divine influence, in order to believing; and very properly places the duty of men in such an unprejudiced attention to divine truth. "The gospel, says he, proves its author, as the sun its creator; and we need only to attend, and to have the mind purged from prejudices, that we may possess complete conviction concerning both. This is the indispensible duty of all, though no man will perform it, but through divine influence." Again: "Though the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, but accounts them folly; yet a person under the influence of the Spirit of God, delivered from the blinding prejudices common to men, and attentive to the divine testimony, judges it to be true."

If these be really the fixed principles of your correspondent, and not merely a slip of the pen, we are agreed; and there needs no farther discussion on the subject.

As to the SECOND QUESTION, I do not know of any thing worth disputing between us. Whether believing

Christ, and believing in or on Christ, convey precisely the same idea or not, we are agreed that both are characteristic of real christianity, and have the promise of salvation.

Whether I be able to maintain what I suggested, that the former of these phrases ordinarily respects Christ as a witness of the truth, and the latter as being himself the sum and substance of truth, or not; I am not aware of any doctrine of the gospel, or any sentiment which either of us embraces, being affected by it. From a brief review of the passages referred to, I have but very little doubt of the phrase, believing in or on Christ, being ordinarily expressive of his being the Messiah, and the only way of salvation, that is, the sum and substance of truth, rather than a witness of the truth. It is true, he sustained both these characters; and accepting or rejecting him in either, involved a reception or rejection of him in both. But I wish to examine this matter more closely than I have hitherto been able to do, for want of leisure; not because I apprehend any consequences to hang upon it, but merely to come at the true meaning of scripture language.


THE practice of reviewing the publications of the age as they appear, is a species of writing much adapted to a periodical work. It is acceptable to the generality of readers to see in a small compass what is going on in the literary and religious world; and even in works which are not wholly devoted to this object, it is agreeable to trace the leading principles of now and then a particular piece which attracts the public attention. But in these, as in all other Reviews, there is need of a much greater portion

of judgment and candour than many writers possess. If the editor, or principal managers of a work of this kind, indulge either a partial fondness for some men, or a censorious dislike of others, their review will become a mere vehicle of flattery or abuse.

These reflections have been occasioned by a friend putting into my hands the fourth volume of the New Theological Repository.* On looking it over, it appeared to me not a little tinctured with these faults; the latter more especially. A writer in the Biblical Magazine has already noticed one instance of their petulance, and brought home the charge to the confusion of the writer; and if you judge the following remarks upon the conduct of these gentlemen towards your friend Mr. Fuller,† admissible, they are much at your service.

On looking over the Index of the Theological Repository. I observed under the name of this writer, a long list of supposed errors laid to his charge. Now, thought I, surely Mr. Fuller has published some good things since this Magazine has made its appearance! But if the other volumes of the work resemble this, and this contains a fair account of him, he must be a very erroneous and dangerous writer: all he publishes is naught, and deserving of reprobation. It is true, they praise his former productions, written twelve or thirteen years ago; but even this seems rather from a design to give an edge to their present censures, than from any thing like a regard to what is good in them. Surely, said I, this is not the simple fruit of a regard to truth? Is it owing to some personal antipathy, which they may have conceived against him; or is a disposition to censure, the element in which they live?

* A periodical work published at Liverpool in 1802, by Mr. William Jones.

+ Though for the purposes of concealment, the above piece was written throughout in the third person, the Editor has judged it expedient to retain the original form of the composition.

I observe there is a great deal of apparent coolness and self-possession in all their animadversions, but this is not always at the greatest remove from unchristian bitterness. Mr. Sandeman was very calm; yet he has been accused, and perhaps not without reason, of "gross misrepresentation, illiberal censure, and sarcastical contempt: "* and whether in this case the disciple be not as his master, they who are acquainted with the productions of both will easily determine.

As to the controversy with Mr. M'Lean, I cannot approve of the conduct of these by-standers, who, as if they doubted whether what their leader has advanced were sufficient, must need obtrude themselves as his coadjutors, and attempt to worry his opponent.

The lengthened list of errors imputed to Mr. Fuller by these gentlemen is little else than an index to Mr. M'Lean's pamphlet; a review, or rather an echo, of which is given in three succeeding numbers of the volume alluded to. It is marvellous what a bone of contention these writers make of that which the scriptures exhibit as the food of the faithful. They affect to consider faith as a very simple thing, needing no explanation; yet scarcely any writers have said so much to explain it, or made so much of their explanation. A mere review of a pamphlet on this subject, shall contain more matter than the original piece which gave occasion for it.

The writers in this work, I observe, have accused Mr. Fuller of error on three leading subjects; namely, Regeneration, Justification, and Particular Redemption. Permit me therefore to make a few remarks upon each of them.

1. Mr. F. is criminated for having pleaded for regeneration being necessary to believing. He contends, it seems, for "holy dispositions of heart previous to faith." Does he hold with any self-wrought goodness in the heart of a sinner? This will not be pretended. Does he plead that

* Booth's "Glad Tidings." Preface p. vii.

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