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cal. I could indeed cite many other most respectable authorities; but I have already exceeded the just limits of quotation. It now remains to point out the means of obtaining this evidence.
Faith is the gift of God. To the Giver only it belongs to prescribe the means of obtaining his bounty. He has prescribed the written word and prayer. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.? But the whole tenour of the gospel proves, that the written word has not efficacy of itself to convince our understandings, nor reform our hearts; to produce either faith in God or repentance from dead works, without the aid of the Holy Ghost.
Now the aid of the Holy Ghost is promised to prayer : “If ye,” says our Saviour,“ being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall God give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?”.
The Holy Spirit, it appears from this passage, is the best gift which the best, wisest, and most powerful of beings can bestow, and he has promised it those who ask it with faith and humility. An easy condition of obtaining the greatest comfort of which the heart of man is capable, together with full evidence of the truth of Christianity.
But do the inquirers into the truth of Christianity seek its evidence in this manner? Do they fall on their knees, and lift up their hearts in supplication ? It appears rather that they trust to their own power, than to the power of God. They take down their folios, they have recourse to their
logic, their metaphysics, nay even their mathematics,' and examine the mere historical and external evidence with the eyes of criticism and heathen philosophy. The unbelievers, on the other hand, do the same; and, as far as wit and subtle reasoning goes, there are many who think that a Tindal and a Collins were more than equal to a Clarke and a Coneybeare. There is no doubt but that infidelity is diffused by theological controversy, whenever the illumination of the Spirit, the sanctity of the gospel, is entirely laid aside, and the whole cause left to the decision of human wit and invention.
He that would be a Christian indeed, and not merely a disputant or talker about Christianity, must seek better evidence than man, short-sighted as he is with the most improved sagacity, ignorant as he is with the deepest learning, can by any means afford. He must, in the words of the Psalmist open his mouth and draw in the Spirit.” The Holy Ghost will give him the Spirit of supplication, which will breathe out in prayer, and inhale from him who first inspired the divine particle,* fresh supplies of grace. He must continue instant in prayer. This will preserve his mind in a state fit to receive the holy visitant from on high, who brings with him balsam for the heart, and light for the understanding. The result will be full evidence of Christianity, full confidence in Jesus Christ, joy and peace on earth, and a lively hope of salvation. What a sunshine must a mind
See Ditton, Baxter, Huet, and many others, who undertake to demonstrate, almost geometrically, the truth of the gospel. 2 Psalm cxix. 131.
3 Zach. xii. 10. · Divinæ particulam auræ. Hor.
in such a state enjoy: how different from the gloominess of the sceptic or unbeliever ; how superior to the coldness of the mere disputant in scholastic or sophistical divinity!
With respect to the efficacy of prayer in bringing down the assistance, the illumination of the Holy Ghost, not merely in teaching doctrinal notions, but in the actual conduct of life, let us hear the declaration of lord chief justice Hale, whose example I select, because he was a layman, a man deeply conversant in the business of the world, a great lawyer, and therefore may contribute to prove, that they who value themselves on their worldly sagacity, and frequently consider the affairs of religion as trifles, compared with the contests for property and the concerns of jurisprudence, need not, in the most active life and most exalted stations, be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
“I can call,” says he, “my own experience to witness, that even in the external actions, occurrences, and incidents of my whole life, I was never disappointed of the best guidance and direction, when in humility, and a sense of deficiency, and diffidence of my own ability to direct myself, or to grapple with the difficulties of my own life, I have implored the secret guidance of the divine Wisdom and Providence.”
Temperance necessary to the reception and conti
nuance of the Holy Spirit in the heart; and consequently to the Evidence of Christianity afforded by Divine Illumination.
The apostle says, 'Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The word aowtia in the original, here rendered excess, corresponds with the Latin prodigalitas, which, in the Roman law, characterized the spendthrift and debauchee, incapable, from his vices, of managing his own affairs, and therefore placed by the prætor under the guardianship of trustees, without whose concurrence he could perform no legal act. He was considered as an infant and an idiot. The words of the apostle may then be thus paraphrased. “ Be not intemperate in wine, because intemperance will destroy your reason, and degrade you to a state of infantine imbecility, without infantine innocence; but be filled witht be Spirit;" that is, “ let your reason be exalted, purified, clarified to the highest state, by the co-operation of the divine reason, which cannot be, if you destroy the natural faculties which God has given you, by drunkenness and gluttony.”
I think it evident, from this passage, as well as from the conclusions of reason, that all excess tends to exclude the radiance of grace. The mental eye
is weakened by it, and cannot bear the celestial lustre.?
That great master of reasoning, Aristotle, maintained that pleasures are corruptive of principles; (@Japtikai twv apxwv ;) and many of the ancients were of opinion, that vice disqualified for philosophical pursuits, where the object was merely terrestrial and human, by raising a thick cloud round the understanding, which the rays of truth could not penetrate. It was for this reason that one of them maintained that juvenis non est idoneus moralis philosophiæ auditor ; that though youth is most in want of moral instruction, yet, from the violence of its passions, and its usual immersion in sensuality, it was the least qualified to comprehend, he does not say to adopt or follow, but even to understand, the doctrines of moral philosophy.
One of our own philosophers,' who in many respects equalled the ancients, justly observes, “ That anger, impatience, admiration of persons, or a pusillanimous over-estimation of them, desire of victory more than of truth, too close an attention to the things of this world, as riches, power, dignities, immersion of the mind into the body, and the slaking of that noble and divine fire of the soul by intemperance and luxury; all these are very great