Page images
PDF
EPUB

topic, to prove thạt the doctrine is not likely to be very UNREASONABLE, since it was maintained by men who are acknowledged to have been singularly endowed with thë rational faculty.

The omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God were strenuously maintained, not only by the wisest of the heathens, but the most learned and rational of christian divines; among whom was Dr. Samuel Clarke, a man by constitution and studies as far removed from enthusiasm, as it is possible to conceive. But the omnipresence of God being allowed as a true doctrine, it will not be difficult to believe his agency on the human mind by supernatural impression. The difficulty would be to believe that the divine Spirit could be PRESENT always

S. 'Αναγκαίον έν έσι περιμένειν έως άν τις μάθη ως δει προς θεες και προς άνθρωπες διακεισθαι. Α. Πότε αν παρέςαι ο χρόνο & ©h, ả ; ; 9 Ts s Taicuc bay;–22KP. isy & μέλει περί σε. άλλα δοκέι μοι, ώσσερ τω Λιομήδει φησί την 'Alqvão "Opeing áo tão óbbe apeão PEREA TN 'AKAY'N,

Οφρ εν γιγνώσκοι ημεν θεόν ήδε και άνδρα, έτω και σε δεϊν από της ψυχής πρώτον αφελόνια την 'ΑΚΛΥΝ, ή νύν παράσα τυγχάνει, τηληνικαύτ' ήδη προσφέρειν δι ως μέλλεις guacerous ipe en 66 xaròy ndè sej to odòyo” yūv peły gde su EY PLCE doxñs duend sivce. Platonis Alcibiades II. prope Finem.-(Socrates and Alcibiades discaurse.) S. It is necessary then to wait till one is informed how one ought to behave, both in religious and social duties, to God and to men.-A. O Socrates, when will that time come, and who shall teach me?-S, EVEN HE WHO CARETH FOR YOU; but it appears to me, as Homer represents Minerva remoy. ing a dark cloud from the eyes of Diomed, that he might distinguish gods from men in the battle, so he who CARETH FOR YOU must first remove the dark cloud from your mind, which now hangs over it, and then you will use those means by which you may know “ the good from ill,which, in your present state, you seem to me unable to distinguish.

The philosopher seems to have seen the necessity of divine revelation, and to have predicted the illumination of the Spirit of God. and every where with us, and yet never act upon us, but leave the moral world, after the writing of the New Testament, to depend on the fidelity of translations, the interpretations of fallible men, the preaching and teaching of scholars, deriving all they know from dictionaries, and differing continually even on such doctrines as constitute the very corner-stones of the whole fabric.

The doctrine of God's total inaction, in the moral and intellectual world, is irreligious and unphilosophical. The wisest heathens exploded it. Fortunately it is refuted in the strongest language of scripture. For after our Saviour's ascension, the Holy Spirit was expressly promised, and the MINISTRATION of the Spirit, co-operating on the heart of man with the written word, is to: continue its energy, as it does at this hour, to the end of time.

The spirit of God is every where present, like the air which we inhale. It is no less necessary to intellectual life, than the air to animal. There is a remarkable passage, apposite to the present subject, in the meditations of Antoninus, which I shall give in the translation of Collier, and as it is quoted by Delany.

6 Let your soul,” says the philosopher, “ receive the « Deity, as your blood does the air; for the influences “ of the one are no less vital than the other. This cor“ respondence is very practicable; for there is an am« bient OMNIPRESENT spirit, which lies as open and per66 vious to your mind, as the air you breathe does to your “ lungs. But then you must remember to be disposed « to draw it.

“ If,” continues Dr. Delany, “ this gracious gift of Heaven should be denied, because it is not found to “ dwell with the wicked, I answer, that men may as 6 well deny the existence of the dew, because it is not “ often found upon clods and filth, nor even upon grass, « trampled with polluted feet.

“ Let the grace of God be considered as having some “ analogy, some resemblance to the DEW OF HEAVEN; “ the dew of Heaven, which falls alike upon all objects be“ low it, as the grace of God doth upon all mankind, but “ resteth nọt upon things defiled. Purity abideth not « with pollution.”

There is an elemental fire, the electrical fluid, diffused through all nature. Though unseen, its energy is mighty. So also the Divine Spirit actuates the intellectual world, omnipresent, irresistible, invisible.

SECTION XXIX.

The Want of Faith could not be criminal, if it depended

only on the Understanding; but Faith is a Virtue, because it originates from virtuous dispositions favoured by the Holy Spirit.

FAITH is always required and represented in the gospel as a moral virtue. This alone establishes the doctrine of this book, that faith, or the evidence of the Christian religion, arises from obedience to its laws. There could be no virtue in faith, if it were produced in the mind by demonstrative proofs, such as many apologists for Christianity have endeavoured to display. But there is great virtue in OBEDIENCE to the moral precepts of the gospel. The heart must be well inclined that endeavours to learn and perform its duty from the dice tates of the gospel, notwithstanding the doubts or disbelief which may occasionally arise in the understanding concerning the divine original of so excellent a rule of morality. Such an inclination draws down upon it the favour of God, and consequently the illumination of the Holy Ghost. The doubts and disbelief are gradually removed. A life of piety and good morals is the never

failing result. And thus faith both begins and ends in virtue.

“ The reason,” says Dr. Clarke, “ why faith (which “ is generally looked upon as an act of understanding, « and so not in our power) in the New Testament is “ always insisted upon as a moral virtue, is, because « faith, in the scripture sense, is not barely an act of the “ understanding, but a mixed act of the will also, con“ sisting very much in that simplicity and unprejudiced“ness of mind, which our Saviour calls receiving the 6 kingdom of God, as a little child, in that freedom from “ guile and deceit, which was the character of Nathaniel, 66'an Israelite indeed; and in that teachable disposition, “ and desire to know the will of God, for which the Be“ ræans were so highly commended, who searched the « scriptures daily, whether these things were true."

This simple, teachable, unprejudiced state of mind is in itself amiable. It is pleasing both to God and good men. It is esteemed even by the wicked. It is precisely the state in which the Holy Spirit delights, and with which he will make his abode, bringing with him comfort and illumination. To use the poet's words;

“ He must delight'in virtue; '.
“ And that which he delights in must be happy."

If indeed it were a moral virtue merely to believe a narrative on the credibility of the narrators, or the probability of the circumstances, then would it be a moral virtue to believe a well-authenticated news-paper. But to believe the gospel requires purity and piety of heart, those lovely qualities which the imagination conceives characteristic of the angelic nature. It implies a disposition which delights in devotion to God, and beneficence to man; a disposition cheerful, tranquil, and which enjoys every innocent satisfaction of this life, sweetened with the hope, that when the sun sets, it will rise in new and additional splendor. Faith, accompanied with hope and charity, constitutes the true Christian; a living image of virtue, and forming that beautiful model which the philosopher, wished, but despaired to see; 'TRUTH'EMBODIED, VIRTUE PERSONIFIED, walking forth among the sons of men, and exciting, by its conspicuous loveliness, an universal desire of imitation.

SECTION XXX.

Of the scriptural word Unction;" its high mysterious

Meaning

THE very title of our Saviour (7905 and XPIÉTOE) is the ANOINTED; and the operation of the Holy Ghost is called in the sacred scriptures (XPIEMA) UNGTION. This idea of the CHRISMA pervades the whole doctrine of grace.

“ The anointing with oil,” says Hammond, “ de“ noted, among the Jews, the preferring one before « another, (and the Targum generally renders it by a “ word which signifies preferring or advancing,) and so « became the ceremony of CONSECRATING to any spe« cial office, and was used in the installing men to places " of any eminence."

The word Chrisma, or unction, was hence assumed to signify the act of the Holy Ghost, in CONSECRATING those who are favoured by divine grace. The consequence of this UNCTION is illumination; for St. John says, “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, (the “ Holy Ghost,) and. ye (in consequence) KNOW ALL " THINGS*;" that is, all things that concern the nature

* 1 John ü. 20.

« PreviousContinue »