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the heart of man with the written word, is to continue its energy, as it does at this hour, to the end of time.
The Spirit of God is every where present, like the air which we inhale. It is no less necessary to intellectual life, than the air to animal. There is a remarkable passage, apposite to the present subject, in the meditations of Antoninus, which I shall give in the translation of Collier, and as it is quoted by Delany.
“Let your soul,” says the philosopher," receive the Deity as your blood does the air; for the influences of the one are no less vital than the other. This correspondence is very practicable; for there is an ambient omnipresent Spirit, which lies as open and pervious to your mind, as the air you breathe does to your lungs. But then you must remember to be disposed to draw it.”
“If,” continues Dr. Delany, “this gracious gift of Heaven should be denied, because it is not found to dwell with the wicked, I answer, that men may as well deny the existence of the dew, because it is not often found upon clods and filth, nor even upon grass, trampled with polluted feet.
“Let the grace of God be considered as having some analogy, some resemblance, to the dew of Heaven; the dew of Heaven, which falls alike upon all objects below it, as the grace of God doth upon all mankind, but resteth not upon things defiled. Purity abideth not with pollution.”
There is an elemental fire, the electrical fluid, diffused through all nature. Though unseen its energy is mighty. So also the Divine Spirit actuates the intellectual world, omnipresent, irresistible, invisible.
The Want of Faith could not be criminal, if it de
pended only on the understanding; but Faith is a Virtue, because it originates from virtuous Dispositions favoured by the Holy Spirit.
Faith is always required and represented in the gospel as a moral virtue. This alone establishes the doctrine of this book, that faith, or the evidence of the Christian religion, arises from obedience to its laws. There could be no virtue in faith, if it were produced in the mind by demonstrative proofs, such as many apologists for Christianity have endeavoured to display. But there is great virtue in obedience to the moral precepts of the gospel. The heart must be well inclined that endeavours to learn and perform its duty from the dictates of the gospel, notwithstanding the doubts or disbelief which may occasionally arise in the understanding concerning the divine original of so excellent a rule of morality. Such an inclination draws down upon it the favour of God, and consequently the illumination of the Holy Ghost. The doubts and disbelief are gradually removed. A life of piety and good morals is the never-failing result. And thus faith both begins and ends in virtue.
" The reason," says Dr. Clarke, “why faith (which is generally looked upon as an act of understanding, and so not in our power) in the New Testament is always insisted upon as a moral virtue, is, because faith, in the Scripture sense, is not barely an act of the understanding, but a mixed act of the will also, consisting very much in that simplicity and unprejudicedness of mind, which our Saviour calls receiving the kingdom of God as a little child, in that freedom from guile and deceit, which was the character of Nathanael, an Israelite indeed; and in that teachable disposition, and desire to know the will of God, for which the Beræans were so highly commended, “who searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were true.'
This simple, teachable, unprejudiced state of mind is in itself amiable. It is pleasing both to God and good men. It is esteemed even by the wicked. It is precisely the state in which the Holy Spirit delights, and with which he will make his abode, bringing with him comfort and illumination. To use the poet's words;
- He must delight in virtue; And that which he delights in must be happy.” If indeed it were a moral virtue merely to believe a narrative on the credibility of the narrators, or the probability of the circumstances, then would it be a moral virtue to believe a well-authenticated newspaper. But to believe the gospel requires purity and piety of heart, those lovely qualities which the imagination conceives characteristic of the angelic nature. It implies a disposition which delights in devotion to God, and beneficence to man; a disposition cheerful, tranquil, and which enjoys every innocent satisfaction of this life, sweetened with the hope, that when the sun sets, it will rise in new and additional splendour. Faith, accompanied with hope and charity, constitutes the true Christian; a living image of virtue, and forming that beautiful model which the philosopher wished, but despaired to see; truth embodied, virtue personified, walking forth among the sons of men, and exciting, by its conspicuous loveliness, an universal desire of imitation.
Of the Scriptural word, · Unction;' its high myste
The very title of our Saviour (i'wn and XPISTOE) is the anointed; and the operation of the Holy Ghost is called in the sacred Scriptures (XPIXMA) unction. This idea of the chrisma pervades the whole doctrine of grace.
“ The anointing with oil,” says Hammond, denoted, among the Jews, the preferring one before another, (and the Targum generally renders it by a word which signifies preferring or advancing,) and so became the ceremony of consecrating to any special office, and was used in the installing men to places of any eminence.”
The word chrisma, or unction, was hence assumed to signify the act of the Holy Ghost, in consecrating those who are favoured by divine grace. The consequence of this unction is illumination; for St. John says, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, (the Holy Ghost,) and ye (in consequence) know all things;'' that is, all things that concern the nature and evidence of Christ's religion. Again he says, “ The anointing which ye have received of him (the Holy Ghost) abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie; even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."?
The idea of the chrisma, I repeat, or unction, pervades the whole doctrine of divine grace. It gives a name to him who brought down the great gift of the Spirit, and who himself had the hallowed unction without measure ;4 for what is signified by Christ, but the Anointed ?"
I have introduced these observations on the name of Christ, partly with a view to expose the false learning of a French philosopher, who has attacked Christianity with singular artifice. The celebrated M. Volney affirms, that Christianity is but the allegorical worship of the sun-a mere mode of oriental superstition, under the cabalistical names of chrisen or Christ, the etymology of which, according to him, has no reference to the chrisma, unction, but to chris, an astrological name among the Indians for the sun, and signifying conservator ; " whence,” says he, “the Hin
11 John, ii. 20. 2 Ib. ii. 27.
3 Dieu fait couler dans l'âme je ne scais quelle onction, qui la remplit. Bretonneau.“ God causes to flow into the soul an unction which I cannot describe, but which fills, or satis. fies, it completely.” 4 John, iii. 34.
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