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“ ders they would have to be the effects not of sin but of 6 nature; all our evil inclinations seemed to them capa“ ble of being subdued by our own unassisted reason; .6 and they did not think the succour of any supernatu“ral grace necessary either for the combating of vice, or “ the maintenance of their integrity and virtue. But the “ sober Christian hath learned from the scriptures to “ speak and to think more humbly of himself, and more “ becomingly and magnificently of God; we are there s taught that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think, “ much less to do, any thing as of ourselves, but that our 6 sufficiency is of God; that it is God, which worketh “ within us both to will and to do of his good pleasure; “ that it is by the Spirit we must mortify the deeds of the “ body, if we would live; that it is God, who, by his Spiu rit, makes us perfect in every good work to do his will, * working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight. 6. The humble and devout Christian being thus satisfied
“ of the necessity of God's grace, both from his own .“ experience and from the scriptures, and being assured
“ of the viTAL INFLUENCES of this spirit from the pro« mises made to him in the gospel, will not be over-cu6 rious to inquire into the secret and inconceivable man“ ner of its operation. He will choose rather to FEEL “ these influences, than to understand or explain them, " and will not doubt of that power, which, though he « cannot give an account of as to the manner of its « working, he plainly perceives to be great and marvel“ lous from its mighty and wonderful effects: for when,
in reading the holy scriptures, he finds the veil of darko ness removed from before his UNDERSTANDING; when " those clouds of ignorance that had overcast his mind, are “ presently dispersed; when the doubts under which he 66 had for some time laboured are on a sudden cleared; 66 when such pious thoughts as were wont to pass tran4 siently are long dwelt upon, so as to leave behind them
« deep and lasting impressions; when these are sug“ gested to him without his seeking, and are urged and « pressed upon him so importunately, that he cannot “ choose but listen unto them; when, from a calm and “ serious consideration of the state of his own soul, the “ odiousness and danger of sin, the beauty and necessi“ ty of holiness, he is led to make good and pious resolu« tions of serving God with greater purity for the time « to come; when he finds a sudden impulse upon his spi“ rits, rouzing him up to the performance of some im“ portant duty which he had before neglected; or an « unexpected check, stopping him in the midst of his « course, when he is rushing on blindly and impetu« ously to the commission of some heinous sin; when 6 in his devotions he finds his attention fixed, his affec« tions inflamed, and his heart metted within him; when, « while the voice of God's minister preaching the saving “ truths of the gospel sounds in his ears, he is sensible “ of an INWARD VOICE speaking with greater force and « efficacy to his soul, to his understanding, and to his “ heart: when, under the pressure of any grievous af“ fiction, he feels unexpected joy and comfort; when « .light rises up in the midst of darkness; when there is 6 given unto him beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourne “ ing, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; “ upon all these and the like occasions he is sensible of “ the presence and aid of God's Holy Spirit, whose “ grace alone is sufficient to all these purposes, and 6 whose strength is thus made perfect in his weakness.
“ How the operation of God's Holy Spirit is consistent “ with the freedom of our own wills; how far we are “ passive and how far active in those good thoughts, “ words, and works, which are wrought in us by the “ influence of this Holy Spirit, the practical Christian “ doth not much trouble himself to inquire. Whatso“ ever is good in him, that he devoutly ascribes not unto
« himself, but unto the grace of God which was afforded « him; O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name be the “ glory; or having by his former sins justly merited to « be left destitute and forsaken; in the latter case he is as “ ready to make Daniel's humble acknowledgment; O « Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto me con“ fusion of face. He will leave it to others to dispute « about the nature, extent, and efficacy of this grace, « and will make it his own chief labour to obtain, to « cherish, and to improve it; he strives, according to “the best of his judgment, to form right notions of its c efficacy, but he is still more solicitous that no mis“ takes in his opinions about it may have any dan“ gerous influences upon his practice. He cannot be “ very wrong in his notions, whilst he believes that man's “ will is neither so free, as without God's grace to do “ good, nor so enslaved, as not to be at liberty either to “ concur with or to resist that grace; but whether these « notions about a matter so intricate be exactly right or 6 not, he is fully assured that he cannot be mistaken in « his measures of acting, if he exerts his own endeavours 6 with as much vigour and earnestness, as if by them « alone he were finally to stand or fall; and, at the same 6 time, implores God's grace with as much fervency, as u if that alone could support him: if he neither relies so “ far on his own strength, as not humbly to acknowledge “ that it is God alone who works in him both to will and to “ do, nor so far depends on the grace of God to save “ him, as to forget that he is required to work out his 6 own salvation—if lastly, at his approaches to the holy 56 altar, he doth prepare himself for the reception of the “ blessed sacrament, with as much care, diligence, and “ scrupulosity, as if the benefits he there expects did “ entirely depend upon the disposition he brings along “ with him, and his own fitness to communicate, and “ yet at the same time, not trusting on his own imper
“ fect righteousness, but on God's infinite mercy, he "doth there, with faith, with humility, with reverence, " address himself to that blessed SPIRIT, who is the “ giver of every good and perfect gift, that he may be “ filled with his grace and heavenly benediction."
I cannot but hope that these opinions of a classical scholar, a man adorned with all elegant and polite learn· ing, as well as with philosophy; a man, whose habits of
life and social connections tended to remove him from all contagion of enthusiasm, will have great weight with the elegant and polite part of the world, in recommending the neglected or exploded doctrine of grace. No man needs blush to entertain the religious sentiments of Bishop Smalridge; nor can folly or fanaticism be reasonably imputed to divines like him, whose minds were enriched with all the stores of science, and polished with all the graces of ornamental literature.
Human learning highly useful, and to be pursued with all
Diligence, but cannot, of itself, furnish Evidences of
Heart of the good Christian feels from the divine Influ· ence: with the Opinion of Doctor Isaac Watts.
· LEARNING should be the handmaid of religion. She must not take upon her the office of a judge or arbitress. Her employment is highly honourable and useful, though subordinate. Let learning be cultivated, and continue to flourish and abound. Religion is the sun to the soul; the source of light and the cherisher of life. But because there is a sun, must there be no inferior lights? God has made the moon and the stars also, and pronounced that they are good.
Never let the enemies to Christianity triumph over it, by asserting that it is an enemy to learning, and tends to introduce the ignorance of barbarism. Learnįng, under due regulations, contributes to soften the mind, and prepare it for the divine agency'. A learned, virtuous, and religious man, whose religion is viTAL and truly Christian, is a superior being, even in this mortal state, and may be imagined, by us his fellowcreatures, to be little lower than the angels.
Nobody can hold learning, and the inventions of human ingenuity, in higher esteem than myself; I look up to them with affection, and admiration. But after all, and however perfect and beautiful they may be, they are but human, the product of poor, short-lived, fallible mortals. Whatever comes from the FATHER OF LIGHTS, from him who made that MIND which is capable of learning and science, must deserve more attention and honour than can possibly be due to the most beautiful and stupendous works of human ingenuity. These are not to be slighted, but beloved, pursued, rewarded. But I am a MORTAL. Every moment is bringing me nearer to that period when the curtain shall fall, and all these things be hidden from my eyes. My first attention and warmest affection therefore ought to be fixed on things spiritual and eternal.
All arts, all sciences, must be secondary and instru. mental to the attainment of DIVINE ILLUMINATION. I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, says Jesus Christ. Can any reasonable man rest satisfied without coming to the light after such a declaration? Will he be contented with the radiance of dim lights and false lights, when he is invited to approach the brilliant and the true?
Learning is necessary for the purposes of this life; it is an ornament and a defence. It is highly useful in religious investigation. It furnishes arguments to enforce morality, to persuade to all that is good and great,