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other EVIDENCE; and he who tastes the fruits of the Spirit, will desire no other display of the EXCELLENCE of Christianity. Thus will the purpose of my book be accomplished. The EVIDENCE and EXCELLENCE of Christianity will be FELT* and acknowledged by every man, who becomes a convert to the doctrine of grace. He will acquire a SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING;t his rational faculty, as to spiritual matters, will be sublimed
« If mankind are corrupted and depraved in their moral cha. "racter, and so are unfit for that state which Christ is gone to “ prepare for his disciples; and if the assistance of God's Spirit “ be necessary to renew their nature, in the degree requisite to " their being qualified for that state, all which is implied in the " express, though figurative declaration, Except a man be Born “ of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God:' sup“ posing this, is it possible any serious person can think it a slight “ matter, whether or no he makes use of the means, expressly "" commanded by God, for obtaining this Divine Assistance; espe
cially since the whole analogy of nature shews that we are not “ to expect any benefits, without making use of the appointed " means of obtained or enjoying them? Now Reason shews us " nothing of the particular immediate means of obtaining spiritual so benefits. This, therefore, we must learn from Revelation.” And Revelation says, Ask and it sball be given.
BUTLER'S Anal. Part 2. c. 1. " We not only believe it, but we feel it too; we feel the si comfortable influences, the sacred emanations of the Holy Spirit “ upon us; more particularly at those offices of Devotion, wherein si he descends upon us also, as he did once upon our blessed “ Saviour, like a dove, and sheds his grace upon us, in some “ measure, with those excellencies which become the sons of God.
“ Or rather, he descends upon us, as he did once before, upon at the face of the waters, when he brought beauty and order upon " that which before was nothing but deformity and confusion.”
Bp. Hickman." † Col. i. 9. “We pray for you that ye may be filled with the s knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understand- ing."--Again, “Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee ** Understanding in all things."
2 TIM. Ü. 7.
and refined in in such a manner, as to supersede the the necessity of those voluminous, far-fetched, and elaborate proofs and defences of Christianity which have been enumerated, in a long catalogue, by Fabricius ; and which, one after another, like abortive productions, have dropped into the gulph of oblivion, and left Christianity just where they found it. Indeed, as defences of this kind, have encreased, Christians appear to have decreased. The cavils introduced for refutation have. lived, and the refutations died and been forgotten. .
But doctrines which cannot be refuted by scripture, are sometimes exploded by the illiberal means of stigmatizing them with an offensive or unpopular NAME. . This practice has always been highly detrimental to the
diffusion of genuine Christianity. It causes opinions to be condemned in the gross. - It induces the mind of the careless, contemptuously to reject the mass, with out selecting the wheat from the chaff, and, indeed, without the trouble of examination. There is a vicissitude or fashion in religious doctrines, as well as in the modes of dress and external behaviour. Such a book, says the leader of the day, is Arminian, or calvinistical, or METHODISTICAL,* and it must be cried down by every
* Bishop HURD is as far removed from a methodist as possible. He is a divine, a philosopher, a scholar of the first rank; yet hear him (and let his words have weight) on the evidence of the Spirit of God on the heart of man.
“To the Spirit, enlightening our understandings, purifying our « wills, and confirming our faith, we must impute all that is “good in us, All that proficiency in true holiness, which “ qualifies us for the enjoyment of Heaven; and through this “ discipline it is, that they who sow to the Spirit, are in the end, " enabled of the Spirit to reap LIFE EVERLASTING."
" All the revelations of God's will, even to our Lord himself as • the man Christ Fesus, and all the secret illuminations of the “ faithful, in all times, are to be regarded as so many emanations *** from the Spirit of God, the Enligbtener : all the gradual ini
pamphleteer or controversialist, who is aspiring at favour mld preferment. But away with names, and the petty distinctions of religious party. Are you a Christian, or wish to be one, indeed, not įn word only; for the sake of spiritual, not temporal purposes? Then drop your prejudices, and seek the SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY; not in systems, but in the written gospel, assisted by prayer, and the pious illustrations of sincere, good men, however they may have been reviled or neglected, through prejudice, political artifice, or mistaken zeal.
“provements of our virtue, all the graces which first descend “ upon our hearts, and then manifested themselves in every good
word and work, are the production of the same Spirit, in his « office of Sanctifier: and lastly, all the firmness and resolution we " possess, under every trial in the world, all the foretaste we have
of future favour and acceptance, all our joy and peace in believ««« ing, are the signs and proofs of the Comforter speaking to us, .and, according to our Saviour's promise, abiding in us."
" If a ray of light break in upon us; if a new degree of know“ ledge be imparted to us ; if we see the truth of the gospel more «« clearly, in any respect, than before we had done; we cannot " mistake in ascribing this additional information or conviction, to “ the illuminating Spirit within us."
“ If we perceive our devotions to be quickened, our hopes en.« livened, our faith fortified, we shall not mistake (having the ex. .“ press promise of our Lord and Master) in ascribing these con“ solations of peace and joy to the Comforter; we may regard them * as the earnest and pledge of the Spirit in our bearts. Eph. i. 14.
" I know," continues he, “that this will appear strange to 1. natural reason. But so the scripture has prepared us to expect “ they would do. For the natural man (says the Apostle) receive “ eth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foclish. ^ness unto him. (1 Cor. ïi. 14.) And to the same purpose, our “ Master hiniself, speaking of the spirit of truth;-—“whom “ (says he) the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, " neither knoweth him; bụt ye (addressing himself to his dis"" ciples, that is, to men who walk by faith, and not by sight,) ti ye know him; for he dwelleth in you, and shall be in you."
Bp. HURD, Serm. 18. vol. ii.
When you have thus found the truth, shew its influence by your charity. Be united to all Christians, as well ze to Christ; and beware of making distinctions, by nicknames, and thus exciting envy, wrath, malice, which are of a nature opposite to the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, and peace. Good men should join in a firm phalanx, that the evil may not triumph on their divisions. Let all who are united under the banners of Christ, hail one another as brother Christians, though they may differ on the subject of church discipline, rites, ceremonies, or even non-essential doctrine.*
“ If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort “ in love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels 66 and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded,
“* Setting aside many circumstances, in which men may safely “ err, there are but few truths of scripture of an essential nature; “ or, to speak more properly, there is but one, concerning which “ all believers (I mean those who deserve the name) are firmly “ agreed. This truth is the testimony of the word of God con“ cerning Jesus Christ, that he came into the world to save sin“ ners fully, freely, and eternally. So little room then, in reality, “ does the scripture give for the diversity of opinions, that it calls “ for perfect unity of sentiment; the diversity itself being owing “ to the corruption and blindness of human nature in the worst, “ as well as the remains of that corruption and blindness in the « best. The evidence of this truth, whence arises so full an “ agreement among believers, and such complete satisfaction in “ their own minds, is far greater than what can arise from any “ argumentation, in which mankind are apt to deceive both them"selves and others. It is the evidence of internal experience. I “ feel myself lost and miserable. I experience such an healthful “ change in my whole moral system: so that, upon the whole, “ Christianity is the true cure of scepticism; and to the seriously “ disposed, who submit to the teaching of the Spirit, it gives the “ bigbest internal evidence of its own trutb. A man finds himself *“ naturally averse to all good, ignorant of God, and without “ either love or gratitude towards him, selfish and bard-bearted “ with respect to his fellow-creatures. By putting his trust in « Christ, he has attained peace of conscience, love, and new
& having the same love, being of one accord, and of one « mind."* · Let us consider how the hard-hearted, unconverted, depraved, and worthless part of mankind exult, while Christians, agreeing in essentials, quarrel and revile each other, not on the substance of religion, but on the mere shades of difference in opinion in matters of indifference. Let not the Philistians triumph. Let tho olive-bearing army of peace-makers be combined under - the banners of benevolence. Theirs is an unbloodyt cru
sade; theirs is the contest of love. The victories in their warfare are over sin, misery, and death; and their crown, immortality. Let them match on to the soft harmony of Hosannas and Hallelujahs, uninterrupted by
“ views of the glory of God. He has experienced a real change o in his affections and tempers. Surely he must be allowed to be " a competent judge of what he has felt; he may preach too, by « his life, the truth and the power of the gospel to others; and as « he will find his evidences increase more and more, he may be " more and more happy, from the consciousness of God within « him now, (Col. i. 27. 2 Cor. xiii. 5.) and the prospect of bliss * hereafter.
“ If it be asked, where are such persons to be found ? It is " confessed their number is but rare. We may thank for this, “ the contempt of the operations of the Holy Ghost, which prevails “ in our days. A serious desire of knowing the real truth, and a “ spirit of submission to this divine teaching, are things which " the truth requires of all who seek it: if you refuse this, you “ unreasonably refuse to Christianity her own mode and order of “ things; you strip her of her arms, and then complain of her «« feebleness and impotency. But if you submit to be the scholar a of Jesus indeed, you will find, by experience, whether he will “ not give you to know the truth, and whether the truth will not “ make you free."
MILNER. ' * Phil. i. 1, 2. .t « The pope would have done well to have thrown away his “ keys (as they say one of them once did,) before he took the sword " into his hands."