Page images

the discordant din of angry contention. Are you a sincere believer? a lover of God and man? I salute you from my heart as my brother in Christ, whether, in consequence of your birth and education, you formed the creed you utter, at Rome, at Geneva, or in your closet at home. The Holy Ghost is the centre of our union; and all who are joined to him, must be associated in love.

Under the illustrious champions of Christianity, who flourished, in England, during the last century, great were the triumphs of grace over human obduracy:

The word of God was mighty, and cast down imaginations*. The sword of the Spirit, a figurative sword, the only one approved by Christianity, wielded by men who, like these, fought the good fight of faith, has been irresistable. But many since their time, have left it rust in its scabbard, and used, as a substitute for it, the wooden batoon of heathen ethics and modern philosophy, in a kind of mock fight, beating the air, to the amusement of the indifferent or unbelieving spectator. The men of the world, who laugh at religion, and the pretended philosophers, who reason against it, observing that the sword of the Spirit was no longer used, come forth with the renewed and increased audacity of those who love to display their prowess, when there is but a feeble opposition. They sang the song of victory, and ventured to suggest that Christianity, conscious of the badness of her cause, had surrendered in fact, tho' she still kept up the appearance of defence, for the sake of decency, LUCRE, and political deception. Infidelity plumed herself on her fancied conquest, and has long been endeaving to sway her sceptre over the most polished countries of Christendom. In France, at last, she flatters herself she has gained a complete victory, and silenced her opponent for ever. .

* 2 Cor. ix. v. diaidoyromous, which we render imaginations, certainly signifies REASONINGS.

Let us mark and deplore the consequence to morals and society. Extreme selfishness, pride, vanity, envy, malice, hardness of heart, fraud, cunning, and the false varnish of external decorum, hiding internal deformity, have remarkably prevailed in recent times, in the most polished regions, rendering man, as an individual, wretched and contemptible, and society comfortless änd insecure. The human race has degenerated, in proportion as faith has diminished. The true spirit of Christianity, which can alone dignify human nature, and soften and liberalize the obdurate, contracted, selfish bosom of the mere natural animal*, man, has not beeni sufficiently diffused, since it has been fashionable to extol natural religion, by depreciating grace; and the result has been, a deplorable profligacy both in principle and practice.

How devoutly then is it to be wished, that this true spirit may revive; that the divine influence of the GENUINE GOSPELť may again prevail, and melt the heart of steel, and bow the stubborn knees of the men of the world, and the wise men whom the world admires ? Behold them pursuing their own petty, selfish, sordid purposes, regardless of all others, but as they serve their own

* Yuxlxos

+ I hope the present time is not that of which the Apostle speaks :

" The time will come, when they will not endure sound doc. « trine.".,

2 Tim. iv. 3. Men who preach against divine grace, may be said to be those whom Christ addresses in these words:

" Ye shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men; for ye “ neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are en-er« ing to go in.”

MATT. xxiii. 13. But while God's eternal truth is its foundation, and God's Holy Spirit its guard, neither violence nor treachery can subvert the kingdom of Heaven.

interest or pleasure; neither loving God nor man, and depraved to a nature almost diabolical, by habits of fashionable voluptuousness, selfishness, and CRUELTY, authorized by the most illustrious examples in High life. Behold this diabolical character transforming itself to an angel of light, by studied embellishments and polished manners, in which truth, honour, and benevolence are assumed as a cloak to cover the basest treache. ry, the vilest arts of dissimulation. Behold this character recommended, with all the charms of language, by one of the first NOBLEMEN, wits, and writers of the times, as the mark of the most solid wisdom; behold it, in consequence of recommendation so powerful, spreading among the youth of the nation, and diffusing a polished, splendid misery, like the shining appearance which is seen on masses of corruption and putrescence. “ Ye are the salt of the earth,” says our Saviour; evidently meaning the salt that is to preserve the world from a corrupt state, by becoming the means of grace to those who hear you preach and teach the true doctrine. How is he then the friend of man, or of his country, who obstructs the prevalence of such doctrine? Yet men, apparently good and learned, have united with the unprincipled, in placing every obstacle in the way of its diffusion among the people.

The grace of God is favourable to the tranquillity and security of the state; to the community, as well as to individuals, by teaching virtue of the most beneficial kind under the strongest sanction. “ The grace of “ God,” says the apostle, “ teaches us to deny all un« godliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righte« ously, and godly in the WORLD.”. Yet against the prevalence of this grace of God, many pens and tongues have been employed during the last fourscore years; the pens and tongues, not of profligate infidels only, but of divines, teaching, for Christianity, a moral system of

philosophy, well known * long before the nativity of Christ; and thus rendering, as far as their efforts could

* Yet the heathens themselves, mere moralists as they are often considered, had an idea of the divine energy. Remarkable are the words of Maximus Tyrius.

“ Do you wonder that God was present with Socrates, friendly, « and prophetic of futurity-AN INMATE OF HIS MIND!--A “ man, he was, pure in his body, good in his soul, exact in the “ conduct of his life, masterly in thinking, eloquent in speaking, “ pious towards God, and holy towards men.”

The doctrine of divine assistance, or of the immediate operation of the heavenly Spirit on the mind of man, is so far from unreae sonable, that it was maintained by some of the greatest masters of reason, before the appearance of Christianity. The heathens did not affirm that the knowledge they possessed of theology was derived to them from reason; for Plato expressly says it is an sis Avoqwtons docis, the gift of the Gods to men,—the effect of divine communication. They deemed it supernatural, that reason should discover the will of God; a gift above nature, (dwesos υπερ φυσιν νικωσαν την φυση,) and overcoming nature in its present state of imbecility. The dead may as easily arise and walk, as the mind of man, fallen, as it is, into watate of spiritual death, raise itself to God and a divine life. Nothing can enable man to do those things which are above his natural powers, but supernatuyal aid, and that must come from the influence of the Deity.

It is, however, worth while to mark the DISCORDANT and in. consistent opinions of celebrated heathens on the subject of divine assistance. « Bonus vir sine Deo nemo est."

SENECA, Epist. 41. “ Deus in humano corpore hospitans."

Epist. 31. Yet this same philosopher says, in another place, « Est aliquid + qun sapiens antecedat Deum. Ille nature beneficio, non suo, sapiens est. In one respect a philosopher excels God. God is “ obliged to nature for his wisdom, and cannot help being so. “ The philosopher thanks himself only."

Epist. 53. 4 Atque hoc quidem omnes mortales sic habent, externas commo. “ ditates, vineta, segetes, Oliveta, ubertatem frugum et fructuum, « omnem denique commoditatem, prosperitatemque vitæ, a Diis se " babere; virtutem autem nemo unquam acceptam Deo retulit. Ni. os mirum rectè. Propter pirtutem enim jure laudamur, et in virtute

prevail, his gospel a superfluous, and even ugly excrescence upon it. There is a kind of wisdom, we are told on the best authority, “ which descendeth not from “ above, but is EARTHLY, SENSUAL, DEVILISh*.” No wonder that men, who are taught, by their instructors, to pursue this wisdom, and, in effect, to reject the gospel at the very moment they are solemnly professing it, should become (like the wisdom which they cultivate, and which the Apostle so strongly reprobates) earthly, sensual, DEVILISH. Much of the profligacy of manders in the present century is to be attributed to the desertion of the religion of our forefathers, and the teaching of a Christianity which has not the SAVOUR OF LIFE, and was unknown in England at the reformation.

" Earthly, sensual, devilish,” are the epithets which the Apostle uses: now let us turn from the written book to the living world. Can any impartial observer deny,

i recte gloriamur. Quod non contingeret, si id donum a Deo, non ^ a nobis haberemus. dero aut honoribus aucti, aut re familiari, aut si aliud quippiam nacti simus fortuiti boni, depulimus mali, cum Diis gratias agimus, tum ribil nostræ laudi assumptum arbi. tramur. Num quis, quod bonus vir esset, gratias Diis egit unquam? "at quod dides, quod bonoratus, quod incolumis. Ad rem autem ut " redeam, judicium boc omnium mortalium est, fortunam a Deo petendam, a seipso sumendam esse sapientiam."

Cicero, de Nat. Deor. lib. 3. c. 36. « Multos et nostra civitas et Grecia tulit singulares viros quorum li neminen, NISI JUVANTE Dco, talem fuisse credendum est."

Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. 2. " Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino usquam fuit."

Cic. Hic est quisquam gentis ullius qui ducem naturam nactus ad vir. « tutem pervenire potest.

Cic. Leg. Both Cicero's and Seneca's sentiments on this subject are contradictory. “ Acortar Guveyavisov I sov tj Guaranzlogos.”

Max. Tyr. Diss. 22 * James, ii. 15.

« PreviousContinue »