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“ and such as may give abundant satisfaction to an “ honest inquirer, and full satisfaction that it is the 6 word of God; yet this is THE CHIEF EVIDENCE that “ the greatest part of Christians can ever attain of the 6 divine original of the holy scripture itself, as well as “ the truth of the doctrines contained in it, namely, " That they have found a holy and heavenly change pass“ ed upon them, by reading and hearing the proposi« tions, the histories, the precepts, the promises, and 6 the threatenings of this book; and thence they are 66 wont to infer, that the God of truth would not attend “ a book, which was not agreeable to his mind, with “ such glorious instances of his own POWER and GRACE.
“ I have dwelt the longer on shewing that the inward 66 witness is such a witness to the truth of the Christian “ religion as does not depend on the exact truth of let“ ters and syllables, nor on the critical knowledge of the 66 copies of the Bible, nor on this old manuscript or the “ other new translation, because every manuscript and " every translation has enough of the gospel to save “ souls by it, and make a man a Christian; and because “ I think this point of great importance in our age, “ which has taken so many steps to heathenism and “ infidelity; for this argument or EVIDENCE will defend 6 a Christian in the profession of the true religion, “ though he may not have skill enough to defend his “ Bible.
“ Why do you believe in Jesus?” asks the unbeliev“ er. If you have this answer ready at hand, 'I HAVE “ FOUND THE EFFICACY AND POWER OF THE GOSPEL “ IN MY HEART;' this will be sufficient to answer every " cavil.
“ The words of St. Paul to the Corinthians have a “ reference to our present subject. Ye are manifestly “ declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us ; < written not with Ink but with the SPIRIT OF THE LIV16 ING, GOD; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of " the heart*.”
Thus far Dr. Watts, in his sermons on the inward Witness to Christianity, where the reader will find a great deal of truly evangelical instruction. For my own part, I cannot but think this good man approached as nearly to Christian perfection as any mortal ever did in this sublunary state; and therefore I consider him as a better interpreter of the Christian doctrines than the most learned critics, who proud of their reason and their learning, despise or neglect the very life and soul of Christianity, the living everlasting gospel, the supernatural operation of DIVINE GRACE. And be it ever remembered, that Dr. WATTS was a man who cultivated his reason with particular care, who studied the abstrusest sciences, and was as well qualified to become a verbal critic, or a logical disputant on the scriptures, as the most learned among the doctors of the Sorbonne, or the greatest proficients in polemical divinity. .
The Opinion of Dr. Lucas, the celebrated Author of a
Treatise on HAPPINESS, concerning the Evidence of
« THERE is,” says Dr. Lucas, “no great 56 need of acquired learning in order to true illumina« tion. Our Saviour did not exact of his disciples, as " a necessary preparation for his doctrine, the know“ ledge of tongues, the history of times or of nature; “ logic, metaphysics, or the like. These indeed may o be serviceable to many excellent ends: they may be
* 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3.
“ great accomplishments of the mind, great ornaments, 6 and very engaging entertainments of life. They may « be, finally, very excellent and necessary instruments “ of, or introductions to several professions and employ“ ments; but as to religious perfection and happiness, to " these they can never be indispensably necessary. .
“ A man may be excellently, habitually good, with“ out more languages than one; he may be fully per“ suaded of those great truths, that will render him “ master of his passions and independent of the world; " that will render him easy and useful in this life, and “ glorious in another, though he be no logician nor me« taphysician.
“ The qualifications previously necessary to illumina« tion are two or three MORAL ONES, implied in that “ INFANT temper which our Saviour required in those “ who would be his disciples,-humility, impartiality, u and a thirst and love of truth.”
“ There is a knowledge, which, like the summit of “ Pisgah where Moses stood, shews us the land of Ca. “ naan, but does not bring us to it.
“ How does the power of darkness, at this moment, “ prevail amidst the light of the gospel? Are men ignoo rant? No: but their knowledge is not such as it ought " to be; it is not the light of life.
“ The understanding does not always determine the 66 will.
“ Though every honest man be not able to discover “ all the arguments on which his creed stands, he yet
may discover ENOUGH; and what is more, he may “ have an INWARD, VITAL, SENSIBLE proof of them; “ he may FEEL the power, the charms of holiness, ex“perience its congruity and loveliness to the human “ soul, so as that he shall have no doubts or scruples. “ But besides this, there is a voice within, a divine “ Teacher and Instructora
“ Extraordinary natural parts are not necessary to “ illumination. The gospel takes no notice of them. “ Such is the beauty of holiness, that it requires rather " a fine SENSIBILITY arising from purity of heart, than « quickness of intellectual apprehension, to render us « ENAMOURED of it.”
A truth which involves the present and eternal hap. . piness of human beings, cannot be placed in too great a variety of lights, or too repeatedly enforced. “ He " that soweth to the Spirit,” says St. Paul, “ shall of " the Spirit reap life everlasting*.” When such is the harvest, every benevolent mind must wish to urge mankind, in this their seed-time, to sow to the Spirit. What is so important cannot be inculcated by too frequent repetition. I therefore quote authors which occur to me in the course of my reflections on the subject, whose. opinions, though similar, may add weight to doctrines already advanced. Such is the above from Dr. Lucas, a most excellent divine, never charged with the least tendency to blameable enthusiasm.
I wish my reader to pay particular attention to what he suggests on the INFANT TEMPER, required by our Lord in his followers. " Except,” says Jesus Christ, “ ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall “ not enter into the kingdom of Godt."-" Verily I say « unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom 66 of God as a LITTLE CHILD, he shall not enter there“ in t.”
The amiable dispositions of infants must therefore be produced in the heart, before the religion of Christ can be received into it. But are such dispositions best produced, or can they be produced at all, by subtle disputations, by cold argumentation, by bringing forward objections in order to display ingenuity in answers, ;
• Galatians, vi. 8.
† Mat. xviii: 3.
Mark, x. 14.
laboured indeed and sagacious, but, after all, unsatis. factory to many, and unintelligible to more?
Yet this mode of recommending Christianity is the only one approved by some persons of high authority; and there are those who would not venture to preach the doctrine of grace, the teaching of God and a spiritual understanding, lest they should be numbered with enthusiasts, and lose all chance of promotion and worldly esteem. This danger must be voluntarily incurred by all who would succeed in repelling the rapid advances of modern infidelity. Christianity flourished wonderfully while its genuine doctrines, the glad tidings of grace, were preached; and it has been gradually declining, ever since it has become fashionable, in order to discountenance fanaticism, to recommend mere heathen morality as the essence of Christianity, and to make use of no other arguments to prove the truth of it, but such as an ingenious man, without the smallest particle of religion in his heart, might produce. Professional advocates, furnished with human arguments only and external evidence, appear to the true Christian, as well as to the unbeliever, like lawyers pleading for a fee, on that side of the question which they know to be wrong, or at least are not convinced is right. It is indeed certain that a dull and plodding scholar may make a wonderful display of erudition in defence of Christianity, without feeling a lively sense of it himself, or communicating it to his readers. His materials supply the adversaries with arms for fresh attacks, and at the same time fail in building an impregnable rampart round the citadel which he undertakes to defend. There is usually some weak place at which the enemy enters; and, having once ‘entered, he takes possession of the fortress, and uses the stores and ammunition against the very persons who collected them with so much labour.