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can supply the defect? but suffer mankind to
nothing which the most
he deprive us of Christianity, can supply Will he not strive to supply it, but suffer" lapse into ignorance, barbarism, and brutality' "** give us a laboured system. But nothing which ingenious and learned can invent, however excellent its rules and precepts, can gain the advantage which Christianity already possesses by its AUTHORITY alone.
Time, and the concurrence of whole nations, have combined with its own excellence to render it impressive beyond any human system. It is adapted to the poor and unlearned*, of which the majority of mankind, in all ages and countries, consist. It speaks to them as a voice from Heaven, and it will be heard.
But its AUTHORITY must be infinitely increased, when men shall be convinced that the written gospel is accompanied at the present hour, and will be to the end of time, with the MINISTRATION OF THE SPIult, the actual operation of the Holy Ghost, vivifying and illuminating the divine principle within us. Christian philosophy is a sun; while all other, to use the poet's lauguage, is, comparatively, but “ darkness visible.”
Christ taught as one having AUTHORITY. Christ wprake as never man spake; and they who hear him with faith, will, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, possess a wisdom and a happiness man never knew how to bestow, and can never take away.
.. But under the management of some persons, as Erasmus observes, EST INGENIOSA RES ESSE CHRISTIAXUM; it requires a great deal of INGENUITY to be a Christian; as the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE was once preferred to the TREE OF LIFE, SO learning is preferred to picty; and as Grotius expresses it-ex RELIGIONL ARS FACTA EST, RELIGION 18 MADE AN ART by many, as it has by some, a trade,
Morality, or Obedience to the Commandments of God in
social Intercourse and Personal Conduct, remarkably insisted upon in the Gospel.
I HAT most injurious calumny, which asserts that the doctrine of grace is unfavourable to the purest virtue* and the most beneficent behaviour in civil society, must be refuted in the mind of every reasonable and impartial man, who attends to the following passages of Scripture:
6 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth " them, HE IT IS THAT LOVETH ME. If ye love me, “ keep my commandments. If a man love me, he will « keep my words. He that loveth me not, keepeth not “ my sayings. Every branch in me that beareth not “ fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth “ fruit, he purgeth it. Ye are my friends, if ye do what« soever I command you. If ye continue in my word, « then are ye my disciples indeed. Hereby do we know « that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 6 Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of
*«They (the rationalists and moral philosophers) charge their " opposers for not pressing moral duties: if they mean thereby “ práctical Christianity, there are none in the world press it more. “ But we are not for a Pagan, but a Christian morality: and think « it not adviseable to press external acts alone, without minding “ the principle and root from whence all that is truly Christian s must spring. We count it absurd and preposterous to look for « fruits where there is no root: for gracious acts where grace is not « planted in the heart. They may deck a may-pole with as many “ garlands as they please, and set off a mast with flags and stream« ers; but they will never thereby make them FRUIT TREES.”
CLARKSON on Saving Grace.
“ God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
It were easy to cite a great many more passages of the same moral importance; but the written Gospel is in the hands of all, and there no one can search, with a fair and candid mind, without finding the purest virtue enforced on the strongest motives that can possibly actuate a human creature.
The truth is, that the very same care and caution, the same virtuous exertions, are necessary to Christians, as if there were no supernatural and auxiliary interposition. Our endeavours must not be relaxed in the smallest degree. The difference and advantage lies in the result and effect of our endeavours. Under the divine influence, they will certainly be attended with success. They will promote our happiness infallibly. The CHOICE of our conduct must be voluntary, and the perseverance and labour must be directed by the purest motives, and the most steady, regular, and careful diligence, just as if we depended upon ourselves; while, at the same time, they are animated and supported by humble confidence in heavenly favour. No remissness is allowed on our
• John, xiv. 15. 1 John, ii. 3. 5, &c. Jam. i. 27. 1 Cor. vir 9. 10. Eph. v. 5, 6.
part in consequence of God's favour. We are to work out our salvation with the utmost solicitude, knowing that he who gives us his grace, may, upon failure of our best endeavours, withdraw it, and leave us in a state of woeful desertion. Libertinism can avail itself of no such doctrines as these, which, in the very first instance, most emphatically recommend purity of heart, the fountain of all external action.
It is remarkable of the gospel, that it teaches obedience to human law, and every moral virtue, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Unbelievers not to be addressed merely with subtle Rea.
soning, which they always oppose, in its own way, not to be ridiculed, not to be treated with severity, but to be tenderly and affectionately exhorted to prepare their Hearts for the reception of the INWARD WITNESS, and to relume the LIGHT OF LIFE, which they have extin. guished, or rendered faint, through Pride, Vice, or total Neglect.
ACTS have evinced, that mere human disputation has little effect in converting the infidel. The infidel has often been remarkable for sagacity, and richly furnished with all human learning, though little acquainted with divine knowledge. I never knew any of them retract their errors, after the publication of the most ingenious and laborious books which claimed the honour of completely refuting them. It is time to try another method, since none can be more unsuccessful than that which has hitherto been used. It is time to trust less in human means, and rely on the power of
God, which will manifest itself in the hearts of all men who persevere with earnestness in seeking diviné illumination.
I deem it extremely imprudent and indecent to ridicule the unbeliever. It is setting him an example, which he may follow to the great injury of all that is serious and truly valuable both in morals and religion. It argues a levity and disregard for his happiness, very unbecoming any man who knows the value of a human soul, or who professes a solicitude to save it alive. Tho' it cause no conversion, it will produce retaliation.
Still more unchristian is it to treat him with severity. I have read books professing to recommend the benign · religion of Christ, and to refute all objections to it, yet written in the very GALL OF BITTERNESS, displaying a pride and malignity of heart which may justly prompt the unbeliever to say, “ If your religion, of which you 6 profess to be a believer, and which you describe as « teaching charity or benevolence in its fullest extent, “ can produce no better a specimen than your own tem“ per and disposition, let me preserve my GOOD-NATURE, « and you may keep your Christianity, with all the ad« vantages you boast that it contains, in your own exclu6 sive possession.
The late Bishop Warburton treated infidels with a haughty asperity scarcely proper to be shewn to thieves and murderers, or any, the most abandoned, members of society. Many have doubted, from the tenour of his writings, whether he was a believer; or whether he only thought it sufficient, for the sake of rising in the church, to support religion by argument as a state engine. Certain it is, that the spirit which he shews towards his opponents * is not the Spirit of Grace; that Spirit which
* The following is a specimen of the TEMPER with which Bishop Warburton wrote his book on the doctrine of Grace. In