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of critical theology exist, and would certainly never become Christians, or have a just idea of what is meant by Christianity, if they were not addressed in a manner more authoritative, and more divinely influential.*
*“ It is worth our observing, that when the apostle calls upon “ his brethren not to be carried about with strange doctrines, he « offers this as a preservative: It is a good thing that the heart “ be ESTABLISHED with GRACe. Heb. xiii. 9, This will guard “ us from errors, and this will directly lead us to truth; for by “ the effectual influence of God's grace and good Spirit on our « minds, we shall find in ourselves a peculiar eviction, which will “ prevail more than all demonstrations; will be more apodictical “ than all arguments and reasonings. I may call this a divine w kind of logic, which thoroughly confutes and convinces us, “ which answers all our scruples and cavils, and wholly capti. “ vates our understandings; insomuch, that we are fully persuad" ed of the truth and reality of what is delivered to us.
“ This, which I am now speaking of, is the very deprb of “ CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY. You are brought, by what I here • propound unto you, into the most INWARD RECESSES OF “ DIVINITY. If you come to the true understanding of this, you “ are arrived at the greatest proficiency in the Christian religion. It " cannot be so well described as it can be experienced. The ato “ tainment of this excellency, and the discovery, go together. • There is no better way to apprehend it than to possess it. Re
ligion is better felt and relished by practice, than it can be " comprehended in the way of speculation; as the sweetness of ,“ honey is better known by the raste, than by the description of it.
“ The real and experienced Christian differs from the specu“ lative one, as the merchant does from the chemist. The former “ hath no skill in furnaces, cannot talk of the nature of gold, or “ the ordering of it, according to art, yet he is rich, and hath “gold enough. The latter hath rare notions of gold, and can dis. »6« course with great skill and quaintness about the managing of "it; but yet the man is poor, and wants what he talks of. In like “ manner a true practical Christian may be rich in grace, though “ he cannot learnedly discourse of it; and a speculative Christian “ may be truly poor, though he can talk of the spiritual riches. ac Aristotle wrote of the world, but his scholar conquered it."
Dr. JOHN EDWARDS. Different methods of recommending Christianity,. : when they all tend to the same beneficial end, ought to be adopted and encouraged, because they are likelier to be generally successful. One and the same method . might convince only one description of persons among the infinite variety of which the mass of mankind is composed. So long as Christian faith, Christian practice, and human happiness are more and more promoted, whosoever are the men, and whatever the books that promote them, let the benevolent man rejoice. Abstruce scholars, mathematicians, metaphysicians, and logicians, have often little relish for Christianity, till it is formed into a system, methodical, subtle, and erudite. Their religion must too often be such, and such only, as furnishes matter for ingenious disquisi. tion. They are apt, in the pride of scientific improvement, to despise the simplicity of the Gospel. A religion, however, merely INTELLECTUAL, if there be any which may be so denominated, is essentially different from, and inferior to, what I have in this book inculcated, under the name of cordial religion. The one qualifies for degrees in an university school; the other is calculated to influence the conduct of all men, in the walks of common life; in the court; in the city, in the camp, and in the market place. High, low, rich, and poor, learned and unlearned, meet together in the school of Christ, and are there equally, favoured with grace, and instructed in the knowledge which leadeth to salvation. Il would it fare with mankind, if they must be linguists and historians, before they can be duly informed of the nature of that religion, which was intended for the happiness of all; and on the neglect and ignorance of which, they are obnoxious to divine displeasure.
Systematical or intellectual religion may employ the pen of a ready writer, or the tongue of a voluable dispu.
tant in the academical or ecclesiastical chair; but cordial religion, effectually, though silently; certainly, though unostentatiously; sweetens, softens, and spiritualizes, the human disposition. It may not gratify the pride or serve the worldly interest of individuals, but it elevates and refines the general nature of man. : How is this religion to be learned?* Not from systems, not from critics or metaphysicians, not from heathen historians and moralists, but by the TEACHING of God, or the divine energy of gospel grace. Such is the principal of what I have ventured to term Christian Philosophy,t in contradistinction to the philosophy of
• Not by the letter, but by the Spirit, was MARY MAGDALEN tearned. And how are your family, your mother and sister, your servants, your poor neighbour made Christians--by Dr. Clarke by academical professors ? or by the gospel accompanied with im. mediate grace?
“ But whom say ye that I am? Simon Peter answered and " said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. Ane Jesus “ answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar " Jona; MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN HATH REVEAL" ED IT UNTO THEE.”
MATT. xyi. 15, &e. Our Saviour does not say that Peter had done well to form that conclusion, from reasoning on what he saw and heard; or deriying the conviction from any human means; bøt he says “FLESB “ AND BLOOD hath not revealed it unto theę, but my father “ which is in Heaven.”
† That experience is the best guide to Christian knowledge is. Dr. Soath's opinion:
“ The truths of Christ crucified are the CHRISTIAN'Philo. SOPHY; and a good life is the Christian's logic; that great
instrumental, introductive art, that must guide the mind into " the former; and where a long course of pięty, and close com" munion with God, has purged the heart, and rectified the will, " and made all things ready for the reception of God's Spirit, -“ knowledge will break in upon such a soul, like the sun shining “ in his full might, with such a victorious ray, that nothing shall
be able to resist it.
heathenism, and modern infidelity. It is CLEAR amidst some obscurity,* from the whole tenor of the gospel and epistles, that since our Lord's ascension, the bene. ficial purposes of Christianity are accomplished by the continual agency and never-failing superintendance of the Holy Spirit. I would by no means proceed so far as a writer some hundred years ago, who, observing the great and constant power attributed, by the written gospel, to the Holy Ghost, published a book, which he entitled, EVANGELIUM SPIRITUS SANCTI, or, the Gospel of the Holy Ghost; but at the same time, it appears to me evident, from the declarations of Jesus Christ, that the gospel is chiefly efficacious, as it has been ever since the ascension, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; the wakeful, tutelary guardian of every human creature,
" It is experience that must give knowledge in the Christian 16 profession, as well as all others; and the knowledge drawn is from experience is quite of another kind from that which flows « from speculation and discourse. It is not the opinion, but the • path of the just, that, the wisest of men tells us, shines more " and more unto a perfect day. The obedient, and the men of " practice, are those sons of light, that still outgrow all their “ doubts and ignorances; that still ride upon these clouds, and " triumph over their present imperfection; till persuasion passo « into knowledge, and knowledge advance into assurance; and os all come, at length, to be completed in the beatific vision, and si a full fruition of those joys, which God has in réserve for them " whom, by his grace, he shall prepare for glory." Dr. South.
Dr. South, a man of wit and most vigorous intellect, was particularly active in decrying the doctrine of immediate grace, because the COURT discountenanced those who maintained it: and therefore what he has here said must be allowed to be extorted from him, by the force of truth opposing royal influence and polia tical religion, which varies as the wind blows.
*" The obscurity and difficulty of the scriptures serves," says Bishop Wilson, “to subdue the pride of man; to convince us, " that to understand them, we have need of a ligbt superior to
reason, and that we must apply to God for help."
He may be resisted; his holy fire may be quenched; his temple may be polluted; and he may, in consequence, depart in displeasure. Happy would it be, if appearances did not justify the apprehension, that he is actually resisted, his holy fire quenched, his temple polluted, and both his displeasure and departure little regarded. It is the scope of Christian Philosophy to prevent this dreadful calamity.
To enquire how* the Spirit operates, is fruitless, if not presumptuous. It is enough for man to know, that it does operate; that, unless the words of scripture are violently tortured out of their meaning, out of that plain sense which every reader of competent judgment and of integrity, unwarped by prejudice, must allow them to bear, the Spirit of God is at this moment effecting, in the bosoms of all who are duly prepared for its energy, the grand purpose of our Saviour's incarnation. Great indeed is the mystery: but equally mysterious are the processes of nature.t All around us is mystery.. Our very existence, our nutrition, the motion of a muscle in our bodies, is a wonderful arcanum, too difficult to be accounted for by reason. Yet, I believe, I know, that I live, and move, and have my being, though I cannot explain the union of soul and body, the mode of alimentary supply, or the cause of muscular motion. So also the spiritual life and motion are inexplicable. But this is certain: he who believes the scriptures, must believe its reality. And he who is once truly and experimentallyt convinced of the Spirit's operation, will want no
* « Vocula illa quomodo," Luther used to say, “est detestabilis"That little word How is detestable.
p“ Is the doctrine of grace more stupendous than the velocity “ of motion given to light?"
Bp. WARBURTON. « Η της ΠΕΙΡΑΣ ακριβεια κατισχυει την των λογων πιθ" avornta."
Diod. Sic. Hist. lib. 1. PRAYER is the means of producing this experience in religion.