Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ criticism, and the like, without any divine aid, except “ the bare letter of the revelation; and as this faith may “ rise out of human abilities, so may it be attended with “pride in our supposed accomplishments, envy of others “superior skill, and bitter strife against those who mis"take or oppose such truths; and is therefore no mani“ festation of that Spirit which resisteth the proud, and “ dispenses its graces only to the humble. THIS WIS« DOM DESCENDETH NOT FROM ABOVE. But the true saving faith, at the same time that it informs the un. « derstanding, influences the WILL AND AFFECTIONS; “ it enlightens the eyes of the heart*, says the apostle: “ it is there, in the HEART, that the Christian man be“ lieveth; and if thou believest with thine HEART, thou shalt be saved t; while infidelity proceedeth from an “averseness of our affections, from an evil heart of unbelief t."

It is not therefore strange, that learned apologists, well acquainted with scripture, should, after reading these strong declarations, that the HEART must be impressed before faith can be fixed in it, should studiously avoid every topic which addresses itself to the affections, and coldly apply themselves to the understanding, in a language and manner which might become a mathematical lecturer solving a problem of Euclid.

Infidelity is increasing, and will continue to increase, so long as divines decline the means of conversion and persuasion which the scriptures of the New Testament declare to be the only effectual means; so long as they

* IsQwloouesvous TOUS Opoca plous on sagdras. Ephesians, i. 18.—Enlightening the eyes of the heart. Almost all the old MSS. read xaedices, and not dicerobas, as it stands in our printed copies. See Mill's Lectiones Variantes.:

RIDLEY. f Rom. x. 9. | Heb. ii. 12.

have recourse to human reason and human learning ONLY, in which they will always find opponents very powerful. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia *, and then she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul. The Lord opens the HEARTS of all men at some period of their lives; but the vanity of the world, the . cares of gain, the pride of life, shut them again, and reject the Holy Ghost. It is the business of divines to dispose those who are thus unfortunate and unwise, to be ready to receive the divine guest, should he again. knock at the door of their hearts; but in doing this, they must preach the true gospel, which is not a system of mere human morality or philosophy, but the doctrine of gracet.

SECTION V.

The true and only convincing Evidence of the Religion of

Christ, or the Illumination of the Holy Ghost is offered to ALL.

F ROM the eternal Fountain of light, both na. tural and spiritual, there streams a light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world. Whoever loves that which is good and just and true, and desires to act a virtuous part in his place allotted to him in this world, whether high or low, may be assured of the blessing of: of heaven, displaying itself not perhaps in worldly riches or honours, but in something infinitely more valuable, a SECRET INFLUENGE upon his heart and understanding, to direct his conduct, to improve his nature, and to

• Acts, xvi. 14. + It must be taught mediatè per verbum, IMMEDIATE per SPI.

RITUN.

lead him, though in the lowly vale, yet along the path of peace,

The nature of all men was depraved by the fall of Adam. The assistance of God's Holy Spirit was withdrawn. Christ came to restore that nature, and to bring down that assistance, and leave it as a GIFT, a legacy to all mankind after his departure.

In Adam All die, says St. Paul, but in Christ shall all be made alive. That is in Adam all die a spiritual death, or lose the Paraclete, the particle of the divine nature, which was bestowed on man on his creation; and in Christ all are made alive, spiritually alive, or rendered capable, if they do not voluntarily choose darkness rather than light, of the divine illumination of the Holy Ghost. The film is taken from the eyes of all, but the eye-lids remain, which may be CLOSED by voluntary con-' nivance, or by wicked presumption.

“ I will pour out my SPIRIT upon all flesh*.”

“ The grace which bringeth salvation hath appeared « unto All men.”—“ This is the light which lighteth to every man that cometh into the world."-" It is his “ will, that all men should be saved, and come to the “ knowledge of the truth."— Christ came to save sin“ ners; and we have before proved, both Jews and GenAs tiles, that they are all under sin.” Come unto me 6 All ye that labour and are heavy laden.”-“ He has “ propitiated for the sins of the WHOLE world. His :“ grace has been openly offered to all men in the gos“ pelt."

These passages, which no sophistry can elude, are sufficient to prove that the internal EVIDENCE of the gospel has a great advantage over the external, in the

Joel, ii. 28. + 1 Tim. ii. 4. 1 Tim. i. 15. Rom. iii. 9. Matth. i. 28. 1 John, ii. 2 Tit. ii. 2.

circumstance of its universality. All may be convinced by it who are willing *. But can this be said of dry, logical, systematic testimonies, which require learning, sagacity, and time, to be comprehended? Such testimonies are fit for few, and appear unlikely to produce vital religion in any. They serve men to talk about, they furnish matter for logomachy; but they leave the heart unaffected. Neither Jesus Christ nor his apostles thought proper to address men systematically. And are critics, linguists, and logicians wiser than the Author of their religion, and better informed than his apostles?

The word of God is like a two-edged sword, invincible where it is properly used; but the word of man is comparatively a feeble weapon, without point or edge. The word of man alone, though adorned with all eloquence, learning, and logical subtilty, will never stop the progress of unbelief. The word of God rightly explained, so as to administer grace to the hearers and readers, will still preserve and extend Christianity, as it has hitherto done, notwithstanding all the opposition of the world, and those unfeeling children of it, whose hearts are hardened and understandings darkened by the pride of life. If, therefore, as St. James advises, any of you lack WISDOM, let him ask of God, that giveth TO ALL men libérally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. The wisdom here meant is that which maketh wise unto salvation; and certainly is not to be found in the cold didactic writings of those who rely entirely on their own reason, and deny or explain away the doctrine of grace.

Grace is the living gospel. Perishable paper, pens, ink, and printer's types, can never supersede the daily,

* H Mey yeep xalas EIS NANTAL sxxsxulai. CHRYSOSTOM in Foan. Hom.For grace indeed is poured out upon ALL.

hourly operation of the omniscient and omnipotent Creator and Preserver of the universe.

Let us remember, “ that to EVERY MAN is given the “ manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal.” I Cor. xii. 7.

Mr. Paine, in his attack on Christianity, sums up all his objections at the close. The first and greatest is this, and I give it in his own words, though it is contrary to my practice, and opinion of propriety, often to cite the cavils of unbelievers : « The idea or belief of a “ word of God existing in PRINT, or in WRITING, or in “ SPEECH, is inconsistent with itself, for reasons already “ assigned. These reasons, among many others, are 6 the wani of an universal language; the mutability of “ language; the errors to which translations are subject; " the possibility of totally suppressing such a word; the “ probability of altering it, or of fabricating the whole, 6 and imposing it upon the world."

Now these objections cannot possibly be made to the evidence of the Spirit of God, the manifestation of the Shirit given to every man; because the Spirit speaks an universal language, addressing itself to the feelings of the heart, which are the same, whatever sounds are uttered by the tongue; because its language is not subject to the mutability of human dialects; because it is far removed from the possibility of misrepresentation by translators; because it cannot be totally suppressed; because it cannot be altered; because it cannot be fabricated or imposed on the world; because it is an EMANATION from the God of truth, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. This evidence sheds its light all over the Christian world, and is seen, like the sun in the heavens, by all who use their visual powers, unobstructed by self-raised clouds of passion, prejudice, vice, and false philosophy.

« PreviousContinue »