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“ it? nay, and perhaps some laugh at it, as an enthusi“ astical question, who yet will go through the office. “ They come to Christ for the loaves; they hope to live “ by the altar and the gospel, how little soever they u serve at one, or preach the other: therefore they will “ say any thing that is necessary for qualifying them to “ (receive the loaves and fishes), whether true or false.” The Bishop's animadversion is severe; and every man's own conscience must whisper to him, in his own case, whether it be just and true.
One thing, however, is certain, and sufficient for my purpose. It is plain that persons who enter on the ministry, thus declare themselves to believe that they are under a supernatural motion or impulse, cannot consistently deny, or explain away, the main principle of my book, which is the reality of such a supernatural motion or impulse. They confess that, in their own persons, they believe they have experienced that divine energy of the Holy Ghost, which, I maintain, moves the mind to believe in Christ, and inclines the heart to all moral virtue.
If the sublime and comfortable doctrine of immediate grace were generally preached, the churches would be better frequented, and infidelity rare.* The common people, unspoiled by vain philosophy, hunger and thirst
* “We must carry this yet further than the bare believing that “ these things (the doctrines of Christianity) are TRUE; such a “« faith devils have. We must make our people understand, that “ this faith purifies the beart and works by love ; and it only be“ comes a SAVING and justifying faith, when upon our entering “ upon the practice of those rules that this religion prescribes, we “ FEEL A REAL VIRTUE derived into us, that makes us NEW “ CREATURES, and gives us such a viTAL PERCEPTION of the « truth of the promises made us in it, that we receive these, as “ earnests of our inheritance, and so taste and see that God is “ gracious to us. This makes us LIVING STONES in the SPIRI“ TUAL BUILDING."
Bishop BURNET's Charge.
for the spiritual food which comes down from Heaven. Ought not their shepherds to feed them with such as is convenient for them, and to lead them from broken cisterns and barren lands, to the green pasture, and streams of living water? Who shall judge what is most convenient for them? a few individuals, or the million, directed, in their choice, by the concurrent guidance of the church, the liturgy, and the scriptures? It has been justly suggested, by a wit of antiquity, that the GUESTS, and not the cooks, are to judge of the taste and salubrity of the viands prepared for the table. Now the guests invited to the spiritual feast, appear, by their numerous attendance, to prefer the food which comes from above, the truly evangelical doctrine of grace. However unskilfully dispensed, the places of worship, where it is, or appears to be, dispensed at all, are thronged with multitudes, while other places are almost deserted. How are the churches crowded by young and poor persons, at confirmations; the whole of which office is founded, most evidently, on the doctrine of grace, and the Holy Spirit's actual interposition.
The following is the bishops prayer, in the office of confirmation: “ Almighty and everlasting God, who " hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants, by " by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto " them forgiveness of all their sins; strengthen them, 6 we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the “Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold “ GIFTS OF GRACE, the spirit of wisdom and understand“ ing; the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength; the “ spirit of KNOWLEDGE and true godliness; and fill them, “ () Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for “ ever.” The bishop then laying his hands upon every one severally, says, “Defend, O Lord, this thy child, " with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine “ for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more. “ and more, until he come unto thy everlasting king. “ dom.” He proceeds thus: “ Almighty and everlasting “ God, who makcet us both to will and do those things “ that be good and acceptable unto thy divine Majesty, “ let thy Holy Spirit ever be with them; and so lead “ them in the KNOWLEDGE and obedience of thy holy “ word, that in the end they may obtain everlasting life. “ Vouchsafe to direct, sanctify, and govern both our “ hearts and bodies,” &c.
Can any bishop who reads these words, or any parish priest who sends the young ones of his flock to hear them, consistently deny the doctrine of divine energy, or immediate grace?*
Exclusively of this sublime doctrine, the Gospel, considered merely as a book of morality, has not so great an advantage over the KORAN, as every Christian must wish and believe it to possess. Mahomet requires, in the KORAN, “ the belief of one God, trust in him, “ frequent prayer and fasting, almsgiving even to STRAN“ GERS, keeping of covenants, justice in dealings, pa6 tience in adversity; to honour father and mother, “ and to maintain them if they are old and poor. He “ forbids usury, bearing false witness, profane swearing, « and the murdering of infants, which had formerly been “ common in Arabia.” The MAHOMETAN also allows JESUS to be a prophet sent from God, and commissioned to be a great instructor, reformer, and SAVIOUR. I say, divest Christianity of the gift which our LORD gave to men, after his ascension, and the infidel will place Christ far below Socrates, Plato, Epictetus, Senaca, and rank him with Mahomet, or even in a lower class; since there are many who deem the Koran a very fine composition, far superior to the narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to the epistle of Paul, the chief of the apostles. f the apostles. .
* Bishop Beveridge says, “ A man may as soon read the letter “ of the scripture without eyes, as understand the mysteries of “ the gospel without GRACE.”
. Divest Christianity of the Spirit's energy, and you rob it of its appropriate, distinguishing, and exclusive excellence and glory. You place it among the modes of superstition which, at various times, have been encouraged by states, in order to facilitate the movements of thè the political engine, in almost every country on the face of the globe. You make it the invention of man; - and, as the invention of man, it will often be despised,
in comparison with the philosophy which prevailed in the elegant schools of Athens and Rome, and which clothed its finè morality in all the seducing embellishments of a polished diction. The writings of Plato and Cicero will be preferred to those of the evangelists and and apostles, if the PEARL which enriches the plain compositions of the latter, above all that human ingenuity can contrive, be torn from its place. That PEARL is figuratively emblematic of the Holy Spirit's influence, the UNCTION from above.
The ray of divinity, the anointing of the Spirit, shed a heavenly effulgence on the page of the written gospel, which all human lights but faintly emulate. These are merely moons or satellites. Christianity is the sun of the system. I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, says Christ himself. Let us remember, that it is the inspiration that makes the oracle; not the priest or the shrine. Take away the spring from the time-keeper, and though the wheels are curiously contrived, and the gold in which it is cased, and the jewels with which it is adorned, may still be valuable, yet it will not longer be esteemed but as a costly toy, or looked at, by those who want information, with confidence. Thus the gospel will have no vital, converting effect, when considered only as an historical narrative, with moral precepts
occasionally interspersed, but unaccompanied with the MINISTRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT*.
* The successful propagation of the gospel could not be effected by the causes assigned by Mr. Gibbon, but must have been effected by the Holy Ghost. Is it not reasonable to believe that it may now be propagated and continued by the same means as at firstthe powerful agency of Heaven? Let us hear a sensible writer on the subject.
The sole adequate cause of the successful propagation of the “ gospel is, according to the scriptures, the Holy GHOST. It “ will be well if his agency, in these polite and rational days, be " thought to deserve a moment's attention, Yet it is evident, “ that there must be some cause for this wonderful phenomenon. u I shall not disgust the rational world, by supposing the agency “ of any supernatural being in the affair, but that of the great “ Author of Nature. Any Spirit inimical to him could not, pro• duce a character of such GOODNESS, but under his authority, U and by a power derived from himself. Even miracles cannot “ change the beart, whatever effect they may have on the judg. s ment; and the ruling providence of God, implying only an ex" ternal government, does not influence the will; as facts abun“ dantly testify. AU that is rational and human is totally unequal “ to the task; nay, perhaps the most sensible of mankind, should " they deign to honour these sheets with their inspection, can “ scarce bear the idea of a real Christian with patience. There 6 is an ENERGY more than human which producesthis character; " and it remains that this must be the INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY “ Ghost.
" The reader who will allow himself seriously to weigh this “ subject, may see that nothing short of this could constitute one
REAL CHRISTIAN, in this or any other age of the church. Let « him consider, whether it is even possible for mere man to invent " such doctrines; much less to propagate them with any success, « in a world like this. A number of men, possessed of a sixth " sense, of which we had not the least idea, would find but few “ brought over to their opinion that they were possessed of such “ a sensation. Their pretensions would be construed into pride “ or folly; but those whom the Most High should endow with “ the same sensation, would easily believe. The application is “ obvious.