Page images
PDF
EPUB

SECTION VI.

Opinions of Bishop Taylor respecting the Evidence of the

Holy Spirit; shewing,(as he expresses it) how the Scholars of the University shall become most LEARNED and most useful."

« W E have examined all ways, in our inqui“ ries after religious truth, but one; all but God's way*. “ Let us, having missed in all the other, try this. Let “ us go to God for truth; for truth comes from God “ only. If we miss the truth, it is because we will not “ find it; for certain it is, that all the truth which God “ hath made NECESSARY, he hath also made legible and " plain; and if we will open our eyes we shall see the « sun, and if we will walk in the light we shall rejoice in " the light. Only let us withdraw the curtains, let us " remove the impediments, and the sin that doth so “ easily beset us. That is God's way. Every man “ must, in his station, do that portion of duty which God « requires of him; and then he shall BE TAUGHT OF « God all that is fit for him to learn ; there is no other way for him but this. The fear of the Lord is the begin“ ning of wisdom; and a good understanding have all « they that do thereafter. And so said David of him

self: I have more understanding than my teachers; be66 cause I keep thy commandments. And this is the only “ way which Christ has taught us. If you ask, what is “ truth? you must not do as Pilate did, ask the question, “ and then go away from him that only can give you an “ answer; for as God is the Author of truth, so he is “ the TEACHER of it, and the way to learn is this; for

[merged small][ocr errors]

« so saith our blessed Lord; If any man will do his will, “ he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or no.

“ This text is simple as truth itself, but greatly com“prehensive, and contains a truth that alone will enable “ you to understand all mysteries, and to expound all “ prophecies, and to interpret all scriptures, and to “ search into all secrets, all, I mean, which concern our " happiness and our duty. It is plainly to be resolved « into this proposition:

« THE WAY TO JUDGE OF RELIGION IS BY DOING « OUR DUTY; AND THEOLOGY IS RATHER A DIVINE “ LIFE THAN A DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.

: " In heaven indeed we shall first see and then love; « but here on earth we must first love, and love will

open our eyes as well as our hearts, and we shall then “ see and perceive and understand.

“Every man understands more of religion by his 6 affections than by his reason. It is not the wit of the “ man, but the spirit of the man; not so much his head 66 as his heart that learns the DIVINE PHILOSOPHY.

There is in every righteous man a NEW VITAL PRIN« CIPLE. The spirit of grace is the spirit of wisdom, « and teaches us by secret inspirations, by proper argu“ ments, hy actual persuasions, by personal applications, « by effects and energies; and as the soul of man is the « cause of all his vital operations, so is the Spirit of God “ the life of that life, and the cause of all actions and “ productions spiritual; and the consequence of this is “ what St. John tells us of; Ye have received the unc« TION from above, and that anointing teacheth you all things—all things of some one kind; that is, certain“ ly all things that pertain to life and godliness; all that « by which a man is wise and happy. Unless the soul “ have a new life put into it, unless there be a vital prir.“ ciple within, unless the Spirit of life be the informer of « the spirit of the man, the word of God will be as DEAD

• D 2

“ in the operation as the body in its powers and possi

« bilities.

.“ God's Spirit does not destroy reason, but heightens « it. God opens the heart and creates a new one, and “ without this creation, this new principle of life, we may “ hear the word of God, but we can never understand it; “ we hear the sound, but are never the better. Unless “ there be in our hearts a secret conviction by the Spirit “ of God, the GOSPEL ITSELF IS A DEAD LETTER.

“ Do we not see this by daily experience? Even those “ things which a good man and an evil man know, they “ do not know both alike. An evil man knows that God 6 is lovely, and that sin is of an evil and destructive “ nature, and when he is reproved he is convinced; and « when he is observed, he is ashamed; and when he has “ done, he is unsatisfied; and when he pursues his sin, “ he does it in the dark. Tell him he shall die, and he “ sighs deeply, but he knows it as well as you. Proceed, « and say that after death comes judgment, and the poor “ man believes and trembles; and yet, after all this, he “ runs to commit his sin with as certain an event and “ resolution as if he knew no argument against it.

“ Now since, at the same time, we see other persons, “ not so LEARNED, it may be, not so much versed in the “ scriptures, yet they say a thing is good and lay hold of “ it. They believe glorious things of heaven, and “ they live accordingly, as inen that believe themselves. “ What is the reason of this difference? They both read “ the scriptures; they read and hear the same sermons; « they have capable understandings; they both believe “ what they hear and what they read; and yet the event " is vastly different. The reason is that which I am now “ speaking of: the one understands by one principle, the “other by another; the one understands by NATURE, the “ other by GRACE; the one by human learning, the other « by DIVINE; the one reads the scriptures without, and

“ the other within; the one understands as a son of man, « the other as a son of God; the one perceives by the « proportions of the world, the other by the measures 6 of the Spirit; the one understands by reason, the « other by LOVE; and therefore he does not only under

stand the sermons of the Spirit, and perceive their " MEANING, but he pierces deeper, and knows the mean« ing of that meaning; that is, the SECRET OF THE SPI

RIT, that which is spiritually discerned, that which “ gives life to the proposition and activity to the soul. .“ And the reason is, that he hath a divine principle “ within him, and a new understanding; that is plainly, « he hath Love, and that is more than KNOWLEDGE, as « was rarely well observed by St. Paul. Knowledge “ puffeth up; but charity* edifieth; that is, charity “ maketh the best scholars. No sermons can build you “ up a holy building to God, unless the love of God be in “ your hearts, and purify your souls from all filthiness « of the flesh and spirit.

“A good life is the best way to understand wisdom « and religion, because, by the experiences and relishes “ of religion, there is conveyed to them a sweetness to " which all wicked men are strangers. There is in the 6 things of God, to those who practise them, a delicious« ness that makes us love them, and that love admits us « into God's cabinet, and strangely clarifies the understanding by the purification of the heart. For when “ our reason is raised up by the Spirit of Christ, it is “ turned quickly into EXPERIENCE; when our faith re“ lies upon the principles of Christ, it is changed into « vision; and so long as we know God only in the ways “ of men, by contentious learning, by ARGUING and dis« pute, we see nothing but the shadow of him, and in “ that shadow we meet with many dark appearances,

.. • Ageny Love of God.

“ little certainty, and much conjecture; but when we “ know him noves &TODAYTIMW, yaanir vosgą, with the eyes ~ of holiness and the instruction of gracious experiences, “ with a quiet spirit and the peace of enjoyment, then 6 we shall hear what we never heard, and see what our “ eyes never saw; then the mysteries of Godliness shall “ be open unto us, and clear as the windows of the “ morning; and this is rarely well expressed by the « apostle. “ If we stand up from the dead and awake « from sleep, then Christ shall give us LIGHT.”

“ For though the scriptures themselves are written “ by the Spirit of God, yet they are written within and “ without; and besides the light that shines upon the “ face of them, unless there be a light shining within our hearts, unfolding the leaves, and interpreting the mys“ terious sense of the Spirit, convincing our consciences « and preaching to our hearts; to look for Christ in the 6 leaves of the gospel, is to look for the living among 6 the dead. There is a life in them; but that life is, “ according to St. Paul's expression, hid with Christ in “ God, and unless the spirit of God draw it forth, we “ shall not be able.

“ Human learning brings excellent ministeries to“ wards this: it is admirably useful for the reproof of “ heresies, for the detection of fallacies, for the letter 6 of the scriptures, for collateral testimonies, for exterior « advantages; but there is something beyond this, that « human learning without the addition of divine can “ never reach.

“A good man, though unlearned in secular know“ ledge, is like the windows of the temple, narrow withus out and broad within; he sees not so much of what “ profits not abroad, but whatsoever, is within, and con“ cerns religion and the glorifications of God, that he “ sees with a broad inspection; but all human learning “ without God is but blindness and folly. One man

« PreviousContinue »