« PreviousContinue »
self alter her inimitable nature, to serve the varying purposes of temporary ambition. Those doctrines of Christianity, which were true under the first Charles, will be considered, notwithstanding the subtle attempts of politicians, equally true under the abandoned proflígacy of a second; or in subsequent reigns, when it was discovered by the court divines, that Christianity was as old as the creation, and the religion of grace, a mere republication of the religion of nature*. The substance of Christianity can survive the wreck of empires, and demolition of temples made with hands, and the dismis
* This, though the pious Sherlock's doctrine, is nearly the same with the infidel Voltaire's, though not quite so honourable to Christianity,
« Notre religion revelee n'est meme, et ne pouvoit etre, que cette « loi naturelle perfectionee ?”
Discours sur le Theisme, par M. de Voltaire. Of preaching natural religion for Christianity, let us hear the - opinion of two other celebrated divines, and pious men.
" Scarce any thing," says Dr. Trapp, “has of late years been “ more prejudicial to religion, than the neglect of the THEOLOGI“ CAL part of it, properly so called: and it is very greatly to be “ lamented, that some writers, even of our own church, out of " an undue terror, in opposing some undue doctrines of Calvin, “ have run into the other extreme, and have too little regarded " the necessary doctrines of religion.”
They have dwelt upon the agenda, and totally neglected the credenda.
- To preach practical sermons, as they are called, that is, ser. "Lions upon VIRTUES and VICEŞ, without inculcating those “great scripture truths of redemption, GRACE, and the like, “ which alone can incite and enable us to forsake sin, and follow “after righteousness-what is it but to put together the wheels, “ and set the hands of a watch, forgetting the SPRING which is " to make them all go?"!
Bishop HORNE and Dr. TRAPP, in bis Preface
to “ Preservative." What Quintilian said, may be applied to moral preaching, when unaccompanied with evangelical.
sion of a superstitious or a time-serving priesthood. The living temple of the heart, where the Holy Spirit fixes his shrine, will stand unimpaired, amidst the fallen columns of marble. The kingdom of Heaven will remain unshaken, amidst all the convulsions of this changeable globe. We are told, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and, though it should happen, in any country of Christendom, that the rulers should be infidels, and the visible church abolished; yet while there are human creatures left alive in it, the CHURCH of Christ may still flourish. The doctrine, of grace is the only doctrine which tends to preserve Christianity in the world, independent of the caprice, and pride of statesmen* and philosophers, or the wickedness of the people. Who shall be impious enough to maintain that God cannot preserve, by his own methods, his own dispensation?
Civil and ecclesiastical power in union, together with the assistance of early education, may, indeed, retain, in a nation, the forms and the name of Christianity; but “ the proper force of religion, that force which subdues " the mind, which awes the conscience, and influences “ the private conduct, as well as the public," will only. be preserved by a vital experimental sense of the divine
“ Nunc vero quæ velut propria philosophiæ asserunter passim tac“ tamus omnes: quis enim modo de justo, æquo, ac bono, non et vir “ pessimus loquitur.”
QUINT. Proæmium. * " With great worldly wisdom, there is always great pride, “ the greatest adversary to true and sanctified Christian know«cledge. All the skill that men so minded can attain to in heaven. “ ly matters, is but like lessons got by rote. It must be quite " forgotten, or, at least, utterly renounced and laid aside, before “ we can be admitted into the school of Christ.”
. Dr. Jackson, Vol. 1. B. 2. C. 14. t“ Let it be considered that man, besides the benefit of reason “ to direct him, is blessed with the advantage of something, if not
energy of the Holy Ghost, whom we declare, with one, voice, in our churches, whenever we repeat the 'Nicene creed, to be the LORD AND GIVER OF LIFE.”
I have endeavoured to diffuse this vital, experimental sense, from a conviction that it is peculiarly desirable at a time when infidelity is said to increase, beyond the example of any former age. But I know that I oppose prejudices deeply rooted, and far extended. These doctrines are frowned upon by men in high stations". I know that our Saviour has predicted, what experience has abundantly verified, that the preaching and teaching of the TRUE gospel, will ever create enemies in the worldt. The modes of persecution differ in different periods; but, in all times, the defenders of evangelical truth are exposed to some mode or some degree of it. I knowit well; yet, “Woe is me," may I and every preacher say,“ if I preach not the gospel t;" the true gospel; such, at least, as, after the most careful search and long consideration, it appears to my imperfect understanding, and such as I believe it to be in my soul. I only desire the adversary, if any such should arise, to allow the possibility that he, as well as I and the many great men who
?" always equivalent, certainly not inferior to the highest refine“ ments of INSTINCT in lower animals: and from the same foun. “ tain, I mean GRACE, the grace of God; which, if any one be “ hardy, and UNPHILOSOPHICAL, and unchristian enough to deny, “ I shall not attempt to confute him; only desire him to consider “ calmly, whether it be more incongruous to suppose God aiding “ and directing reasonable, but fallible beings, with his GRACE, " than brutes with INSTINCTS.”
DELANY. *“ These doctrines serve no end of popular learning, they help " no people to figure and preferment in the world, and are useless “ to scholastic, controversial writers."
LAW. + But I must remember that, “ the FEAR OF MAN bringeth a “ snare ;---but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.'
PROVERBS, xxix. 25. | 1 Cor. ix. 16.
support me in my sentiments, may be mistaken! and to ask his own heart, whether he has hitherto studied the subject as a truly humble* Christian, a fallen, depraved, ignorant, and weak creature; merely as a scholar, critic, philosopher, logician, metaphysician, controversialist, or politician, contending for the glory of victorious disputation, or the rewards of a profession established and encouraged by the state.
If any clergymant of the church of England should be disposed utterly to deny the doctrine of immediate
* ANTONINUS taught, that the very first requisite to form a philosopher, was daobonely oinoiy, to throw away all CONCEIT of knowledge.
† The Rev. Thomas Edwards, Fellow of Clare Hall, Cam. bridge, after writing a learned and elaborate book against the doctrine of grace, is compelled, by the force of truth, at the conclusion of it, to make the following concessions:
“There are undoubtedly several passages which sufficiently " shew, that the operations of the Holy Spirit are not to be entire" ly limited and confined to the extraordinary and miraculous gifts " and endowments peculiar to the apostolic age; but, on the con“ trary, that it will, in all succeeding ages, be communicated, in « a peculiar manner, to all those who may stand in need of it, in “ order to the discharge of their duty.
“ I can therefore by no means give into their opinion, who, “ with the witty French Jesuit, look upon these supernatural “ workings of the Spirit upon the minds of man, as entirely • visionary or chimerical: or, as he expressed himself, a mere “ NESCIO QUID, (je ne scai quoi ). A tempore Augustini, vix ulla “ vox frequentior fruit voce, GRATIA, ubi sermo est de bominis ad « saniorem mentem reditu et vi, cui is reditus debetur. Eâ tamen “ doce quid significetur, cum ab iis quæritur, qui eâ utuntur, abil “ responsi perspicui ferre licet. Hinc factum ut in Gallia, Jesuita “ festivi ingenii, non inficetè dixit, .Gratiam illam divinam, qua “ tantum strepitum, excitavit in scholis, et tam mirabiles effectus in “ bominum animis edit, gratiam illam adeo efficacem, et suauem “ simul, quæ de duritie cordis, illesa arbitrij libertate, triumphat, “ nibil esse tandemn, præter NESCIO QUID.'
Clerici, Ars Crit. p. 2. . 1. c. 8.
grace, divine energy, and supernatural impulse, I would beg leave humbly and affectionately to remind-him of the question proposed to him when he was ordained a minister of Christ, and the answer he then made, with every circumstance of religious solemnity, receiving the sacrament upon it, and thus evidently resting all his hopes of God's blessing on his sincerity.*
The question is, “Do you trust that you are inwardly « moved by the Holy Ghost, to take upon you this office « and ministry, to serve God, for the promoting of his “ glory, and the edifying of his people?” “I TRUST 30," replies the person to be ordained.' . .
As the topic is rather invidious, and certainly concerns myself as well as any of them whom I have the honour to call my brethren in the profession, I will refer it to Bishop Burnet, to make remarks on the response to the interrogatory. “ Certainly,” says the truly able prelate, “the answer that is made to this, « ought to be well considered; for if any one says, “I “ trust so,' that yet knows nothing of any such motion, “ and can give no account of it, he lies to the Holy u Ghost, and makes his first approach to the altar with 6 a lie in his mouth; and that not to man, but to God, « Shall not God reckon with those who run without his sí mission, PRETENDING that they trust they have it, “ when perhaps they understand not the importance of
« The general manner in which the Spirit operates upon men, " we may, I humbly conceive, suppose to be, by raising such par“ ticular ideas, or making such particular impressions upon their “ minds, as may influence them,” &c.
*" All sacerdotal power is derived from the Holy Ghost; and " they who do not acknowledge themselves under the Holy * Ghost's influence, acknowledge that they have no sacerdotal " power. Our Saviour himself took not the ministry upon him, “ till he had this consecration."
We think too lowly of the priest's office in our age. Very great it is, under the energy of the Holy Ghost.