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For political and interested purposes, it may be talked of in churches and universities; it may be scholastically defended, and generally professed, and yet totally misunderstood and misrepresented. It will have no influence* on the hearts of men: no, not on the hearts of the
o Thus we have a simple and obvious proof of the truth of Chris
tianity (the propagation of it by the influence of the Holy Ghost). # I fear, indeed, it will weigh but little with those who love not the “ real Gospel. The generality will say, . At this rate the majo# rity of those who call themselves Christians, DO NOT EVEN " KNOW THEIR OWN RELIGION.' It is devoutly to be wished “ that this were not the case; that even MANY THAT HAVE " WRITTEN ABLY IN DEFENCE OF CHRISTIANITY, HAD 1 THEMSELVES KNOWN ITS NATURE. Much of the adyantage « which deism has gained had then been prevented; we should “ have had more of the EXPERIMENTAL PROOF: and that scrip“ ture had been better known, "He that believeth in the Son of «God, hath the witness in himself.” (1 John, N. 10.) Sceptical “ doubts will vanish before stubborn facts. Were the gospel “ itself understood, little time need be spent on its Evidences. " One sight of the sun is sufficient to point out its glorious Au. «.thor. In all things else, EXPERIENCE is allowed to be the best « schoolmaster; in religion only it is called enthusiasm." Milner.
*“ Judas Iscariot knew Jesus Christ-all that he did—just in
the same manner (though much better) as a mere HISTORICAL « believer of the Gospel; a mere learned theologist. All know“ ledge of Christ, but that which is by divine inspiration, or the * new birth, is but as poor and profitless as the knowledge of * Judas Iscariot."
Law. " The empty, letter-learned knowledge, which the natural man “ can as easily have of the sacred scriptures and religious matters, « as of any other books or human affairs, being taken for divine u knowledge, has spread such darkness and delusion all over Chris. « tendom, as may be reckoned no less than a general apostasy from " the gospel state of divine illumination.”
IBID. " The best ability of the natural man can go no farther than 46 talk, and notions, and opinions about scripture words and facts: « on these, he may be a great critic, an acute logician, a powerful “ orator, and know every thing of the scripture, EXCEPT THE SPJ. « RIT AND THE TRUTH."
very persons who thus talk of it, profess it, defend it; nor of those who read or listen to the most elaborate apologies, defences, and demonstrations*. Christ must be formed in the soul, before the soul can recognize the truth and efficacy of Christianity.
Nearly two thousand years have elapsed since the written Gospel was promulged; and it has appeared to stand in need of defences and apologies to this very hour. Nor have defences or apologies been deficient in number or in sagacity and erudition. Fabricius reckons up several hundred books in defence of the Christian religion. 'Diligent as he was, he has omitted many; and since his time, there has been a very considerable addition to the number. Yet the cause is said still to labour; and appearances justify the assertion. Accordingly, we have lately seen ingenious theologists, and excellent writers, called forth, by the exigencies of
*« He who goes about to speak of the mystery of the Trinity, " and does it by words and names of man's invention, talking of is essences and existences, hypostases and personalities, priority « in co-equalities and unity in pluralities, may amuse himself, and o build a tabernacle in his head, and TALK something, he knows “ not what; but the good man, that Feels the POWER OF THE “ FATHER, and to whom the Son is become wisdom, sanctifica. “ tion, and redemption, in whose heart the love of the SPIRIT " QF God is shed abroad, this man, though he understands " nothing of what is unintelligible, yet he alone truly understands “ the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.”,
Bp. TAYLOR, on John, vii. 17. Miserable and disgraceful have been the rancorous disputes on the Trinity; a subject, one would think, which, if worldly sentiments did not interpose, might be discussed with perfect composure of temper. The enemy has triumphed, while Christians have been tearing each other in pieces on an opinion.
" But rise; let us no more contend, nor blame “ Each other, blam'd enough elsewhere; but strive, « In offices of love, how we may lighten “ Each other's burden, in our share of woe." MILTON
the 'times, in our own country, almost two thousand years after the origin of Christianity, and after all the preceding labours of divines, to display its evidences, as if it were the production of yesterday. Such a display is said to be more necessary than ever; and Europe has produced many excellent works of the kind. Such books furnish exercise for the schools. May they be efficacious, as they are learned and ingenious! May they carry conviction to the heart, produce a lively faith, and refute the gainsayers! If they should fail, their failure must not be attributed to any defect of abilities in their authors, but to the omission of the internal evidence of the Holy Spirit. They are, almost without exception, above the reach, and disgusting to the taste, of the multitude; and let it be duly remembered, that to mere human reason and human learning, the infidel is ever ready to oppose weapons from the same armoury. His heart must be pierced with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, before he will surrender to Faith the citadel of his own reason*.
* The celebrated pamphlet, entitled, Christianity not founded on Argument, was certainly nothing more than a piece of irony. Nevertheless, many a truth is told in jest; and riilentem dicere verum quid vetat?
I allow that Christianity is not founded on Argument; and I make the concession willingly, because I know that it has a better foundation. Christianity is not built on sand; but, like the house of the wise, on the rock-even the rock of ages. I will quote the words of the ironical adversary, and let them avail as much as they can.
« No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. “ Here is pointed out to us that great dictator and infallible guide “ we have been seeking for, and, indeed, the only character we “ can possibly think of, any way equal to such a province. It « could be nothing less than omniscience and omnipresence itself;. “ nothing but this inexhaustible fountain of all truth, that could “ be sufficient to such a demand; and he it is, the promised ora.
But however the works now alluded to may succeed in carrying conviction to the hearts of men, it is certain
" cle, who is to attend the charge of believers to the end of the “ world; to keep alive his divine light constantly in their hearts ; “ not to teach them rudiments of logic, but to irradiate their souls “ at once with a thorough conviction; and perform more by one “ secret whisper, than a thousand clamorous harangues from the “ schools. From the satisfaction consequent to the mind from « his performance of this great office, it is, that he is so eminently s styled the Comforter ; as his operations are in another place very “ strongly and significantly termed the power of God unto Salva. “ tion. He that believeth in the Son of God, bath the witness in bin"self. In this sense it is, that we are properly styled the temples “ of the Holy Ghost; the consecrated scenes of this constant resi. “dence, there ever personally present, and dispensing his certain
intelligences to the soul, which the apostle calls the witnessing of « the Spirit with our Spirit.”
“It were endless to recount all the innumerable passages through " out the whole scripture, that concur in ascertaining the same " supernatural and all-sufficient source and origin of our faith, in • opposition to all the feeble aids and uncertain advices that rea. " son might possibly contribute to the purpose. For we may • observe, that in mentioning the principle of faith, we are always “ informed, both what it is, and what it is not. By grace ye are « saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of “ God. No man can come to me, (says Cbrist,) except it be given “ bim of my Fatber.
The motive which induces me to receive the mysterious truths “ of the Gospel, is the peculiar grant and munificence of Heaven, “ over and above the common privileges of our nature. It seems “ by the particular negatives every where so industriously dis“ persed through all the expressions which treat of this subject, " that it was apprehended that there might possibly happen, « amongst the unwary, some mistake on the occasion; and that " therefore, as it was an article of so great concern to have a just « notion of, the greatest imaginable care was taken, by the most "precise and empbatical terms that could be devised, to guard " against any such fatal consequence.
“ But the strongest confirmation of all these positive and re" peated revelations on the point, the plainest declaration and that different persons, in different ranks of life, with various degrees of natural sensibility and intellectual improvement will be struck, respectively, with different arguments, and actuated by diverse modes of persuasion. A learned defence or proof of Christianity, which is extolled by some, shall appear to others dull, lifeless, and totally foreign to the purpose. What is slighted by the few, may convince the many, On reading the book of the world, as a comment on the books of the library, and turning over the pages of experience, as a criterion of written wisdom, I think I have observed that critical and historical evidence, in Christian theology, however it may edify the scholar, has little or no good effect on the multitude. By them it is seldomn attended to at all; very imperfectly understood when attended to; and, when both attended to and understood, more frequently raises doubts and suspicions, than produces firm belief, and that HOLY FRAME of mind which regulates the conduct of life, and supplies a heartfelt satisfaction. The poor, who are the major part of human beings, in all ages and countries, and to whom our Saviour particy. larly addressed his preaching, seldom know that books
" direction what kind of evidence Christians were always to trust "' to and rely on, for the information and assurance of their minds, " we may find summed up, in brief, in their Master's last instruc“ tions at parting. The Spirit of Truth which proceedeth from " the Father, be shall testify of me. As we have both the same o person and commission elsewhere again specified. Tbe Spirit, • wbom I shall send, sball lead you into all truth.
- But, not to stand forever transcribing particulars, I refer # you once more to the GREAT ORIGINAL, which will, I think, " readily save us, both all farther trouble in quotations and com. • ments, and abundantly evince, in opposition to all the evasive " constructions which may be imposed on particular passages, that # HE (the SPIRIT) was in general, to INSPIRE CONVICTion as “ well as boliness; and to ILLUMINATE as well as SANCTIFY #4 our hearts."