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human nature, and the violence of temptation, he may decline a little to the right or to the left; but the attraction to Heaven and virtue still acts upon and prevents his total aberration. Touched by heaven, he acquires a kind of polarity, which causes him to point thither without any inclination to deviate. .
Hence he is above the schools of the heathen moralists. He displays that superiority which Jesus Christ most justly claims over Socrates. Yet he may enjoy the beautiful compositions of the antients, if his education 'has enabled him to understand them. He may be pleased and instructed with their fine observations on life and manners, and the great advances they made in ethics, by the light of nature. But though he may derive great benefit from them, though he may be both informed and advised by them, yet he sees them defective, and finds that they are not absolutely necessary to accomplish the Christian, who, by the written word of scripture, accompanied by the Spirit's ministration, becomes sufficiently enlightened for the practice of the purest morality, and wise unto salvation. By Christian philosophy, he experiences not only illumination, but assistance: he is taught the way that he should go, and led by the hand in his journey. • I conclude, then, from this tender sensibility to right and wrong, and this propensity to kindness, which the supernatural agency of the Spirit causes in the heart, that true Christianity, such as is founded on the vital influence of the Spirit, makes the best moralists, the most useful and worthiest members of society. And as Christian philosophy is attainable by all, and not confined to the rich or the learned, it appears to me, that even politicians, who consider only the prosperity and peace of nations, would evince the highest wisdom, in first cultivating it themselves, and then encouraging it, by all prudent modes, among the people.
When a whole community shall become, by the preaching of evangelical doctrines, and the example of the great, subject to the power of conscience, warmed with the love of God, and all mankind, " just and good, “ true and sincere, meek, humble, tepder-hearted, and “ compassionate, content, temperate, pure, and hea6 venly-minded, then will men become each a law to “ himself,” and all civil government will be greatly facilitated, while the general happiness is secured without wars and fightings, without tumult and discord, without capital punishments, without any of that severe coerción, which creates partial evil for the sake of the general security.
Such a state, it will be said, is chimerical and Utopian. I fear, in the present corruptions of Christianity, it may be visionary. But every approach to it is desirable, as it is an approach to the happiness and perfection to which man is formed to aspire; and therefore, it will behove all those who possess power, not for sordid purposes, but the general good, to hasten and extend the reign of grace. They should say with heart as well as voice, THY KIXGDOM COME.
The great advantage of Christian Philseophy being taught
by a commanding Authority.
HEN mere men teach, they submit their lessons to the judgment of their hearers, who usually assume the office of critics, while they appear in the character of disciples. They will learn only what pleases their taste, or is approved by their judgment. But Jesus Christ being filled with the Spirit of God, taught with
commanding authority. “I and the Father are one" (says he). “ I speak not of myself, but of him that « sent me. WHOSO KEEPETH MY SAYINGS, SHALL NOT « TASTE OF DEATH."
What heathen philosopher ever dared to come forward, as a teacher of mankind, with such weighty words as these? But it will be found, that however a few among mankind may be disposed to listen to calm reasonings, the great mass is most effectually taught what is fair and what is base, what is useful and what destructive*, by the voice of well-founded authority.
The scriptures, especially those of the New Testa ment, have long obtained this authority. We read them, not as we read any other book of the wisest of mortals; not as judges, empowered to condemn or approve; but as pupils or dependents listen to the commands of an acknowledged master, whom they, at the same time, love and fear: and whose commands, they are sensible, are for their good, however disagreeable the duty which they prescribe. We consult them as an oracle. But we do not so consult the dialogues of Plato, or the Manual of Epictetus.
“ There are,” (says the author of the Light of Nature pursued,)“ many excellent sentiments of God and mo“ rality interspersed in the writings of the antients: but " those writings are studied by few, and read chiefly “ for curiosity and amusement, regarded as ingenious 6 compositions, shewing a sagacity and justness of " thought in the authors. They may make some im“ pression in the reading, which quickly dies away “ again, upon laying the book aside; as Tully tells us was « his case, with respect to Plato upon the immortality « of the soul. Whereas the Testament is the first book
Quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non."
« we are taught to read, to receive as the oracle of God, "containing the way to salvation, which, at our almost *66 PERIL, we must not disregard, and the truth whereof 6 it is a sin to doubt: therefore, whatever is drawn " thence, comes accompanied with a reverence, and “ idea of high importance, which give a force to the "impression. Let a man take for his thesis the stoical 66 maxim, Things out of our power are nothing to us, and *« descant upon the imprudence of solicitude and anxiety “ for future events, which we can no ways prevent or « provide against, it will not work the effects which the + very same discourse might do, pronounced from the 6 PULPIT, upon the text, “ Sufficient unto the day is the “ evil thereof."
Where is the uninspired philosopher, who can address mankind with the authority of St. Paul ? “ My speech 6 and my preaching" (says he to the Corinthians), “ is 6 not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but with
demonstration of the SPIRIT AND POWER, that your
faith might not be in the WISDOM OF MEN, but in the " power of God (accompanying and enforcing my words.) “ We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even * the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this a world knew, but which God hath revealed unto us by “ his Spirit, the tu Beon tou osov, the depths of God. “ We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the “ Spirit which is of God; that we might Know the things " that are freelý given to us of God; which things also * we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom “ teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, explain« ing the * things of the Spirit, (the instructions of the “ Spirit,) in the language of the Spiritt.” Again, to the Ephesians he says, “ The mystery of Christ, which in
* See Wolf. Cur. Critic. in Loc. and Chapman's Eusebius. | 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5.7, 8. 10. 12, 13.
.66 other ages was not made known to the sons of men, " is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets, " by the Spirit*.” “ For this cause” (he adds in another place) “ thank we God without ceasing, because, when “ ye received the WORD OF GOD, which ye heard of us, “ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in .“ truth, the word of Godt.” He gives also a menacing admonition to those who should despise his directions, as despising not man, but God. “HE THAT “ DESPISETH, DESPISETH NOT MAN, BUT GOD, WHO ( HATH GIVEN UNTO US HIS HOLY SPIRITT.”
Such is the commanding authority with which Chris-1 tianity addresses itself to men, including, in its peculiar doctrines and sublime mysteries, the finest ETHICS, though not systematically delivered, which the world ever saw. Let it be considered what an advantage it is to have even the best heathen morality inculcated with the sanction of COMMANDMENTS from the all-wise and all-powerful Creator. Such is now the case where Christianity prevails. And would it be wise, even in a political sense, though policy is a very inferior consideration, to suffer a mode of teaching men to be just and good, thus efficacious, thus firmly and extensively established, to fall into neglect? When will the politicians of the world again obtain so powerful an engine? What have they to substitute, if they break or take away the main spring of this most efficacious, long-tried machine? I beg leave to apologize for using so degrading a term. I am speaking, in their own language, to the worldly, wise, who despise the gospel.
Some universal, authoritative code of moral law is wanted to instruct the MILLION, high and low, rich and poor, with great and certain effect. What teacher, from the schools of philosophy, antient or modern, if
* Ephes, iji. 5.
+ 1 Thess. ii. 13.
11 Thess. iv, 8,