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those inconsistencies in his life, which prove a great man still but a man. I am sorry that this saying should be recorded of him ; for Dr. Johnson professed himself a zealous Christian, and Christ taught us to love even an enemy. According to the Christian rule, an enemy, instead of being hated, is to be melted to love and kindness by good usage.
The odium theologicum, displayed in controversy, is, in my opinion, the greatest opprobrium theologicum. Warburtonian insolence and ill-nature have done more injury to the church, and to the cause of Christianity, than any of the writers whom they were intended to gall and mortify.
Of the inadequate idea entertained by many respect
able persons concerning Christianity; with a suggestion on the expediency of their considering the true nature of Christian Philosophy.
To abstain from gross, enormous, open, and scandalous vices, to comply with the outward ceremonies of the Church, and to reciprocate the usual and formal civilities of life, constitutes, in the opinion of multitudes, not only a very respectable member of society, but a very good Christian. Concerning the doctrines of Christianity, such
persons give themselves little concern, but plume themselves on decently practising the duties; by which they understand nothing more than a very imperfect kind of heathen morality, and the avoidance of such conduct as might expose them to the animadversion of law, or the loss of reputation. The duties of Christianity thus limited, they think easily discernible, without study or reading, by common observation and common sense. Doing as others do, as far as the decorum of established manners allows and prescribes, is the grand rule. Such persons pass through life with great credit, paying their way, and making themselves agreeable in company, and are seldom mentioned but with the praise of very good sort of people.
Exactly such sort of people they might have been if Christianity had never existed. They hold no opinion, they adopt no practice peculiar to Christianity. The gospel, which they profess to embrace, is a leaden rule, an accommodating guide, an humble companion, that must obsequiously stand on one side, whenever it is in the way of a fashionable practice. Gaming, duelling, and many modes of gratification inconsistent both with the letter and spirit of the gospel, seem to receive no check from this convenient species of Christianity.
Any thoughts which may occasionally intrude of a very serious kind, are laughed away by the surrounding circle, as vapours, fancies, the effects of morbid melancholy, or of nervous indisposition. Company, public places, public diversions, are immediately proposed as a sovereign remedy; and indeed they certainly are so far a remedy, that they banish serious thoughts, but they also banish
that happy disposition (for happiness is serious) which might have caused the visitation from on high, and obtained for the weary, sick heart, the sweetlyrefreshing cordial of divine grace.
Attendance at polite places of public worship seems to constitute the piety of such persons ; and public subscription to fashionable or political contributions shows their charity. It seems fair to infer, that their piety and charity are thus circumscribed, because their actions, on other occasions and at other places, seem inconsistent with piety or charity. Sunday is often employed by them in a manner forbidden both by divine and human laws; and the poor at the next door to their mansions, in some retired village, are often unrelieved, while strangers at a watering-place, (where the benefactors names are handed about,) and advertised objects, receive a very ample share of their public bounty.
All this while they consider themselves as good Christians. God only knows the heart; but if they are mistaken, as is probable, their mistake is a very unhappy one. They are depriving themselves of the benefit of Christianity.
But their mistake probably arises from ignorance. They are indeed very far from ignorant of many things. Their ignorance is chiefly religious ignorance; and it is caused by habitual inattention to the doctrines of Christianity. It is indeed rather difficult to avoid such ignorance, since their time is occupied in what religion calls vanity, and the few hours devoted to reading are chiefly employed in novels, where a truly Christian character would be deemed a perfect solecism.
I humbly hope that the contemplation of Christian Philosophy, thus imperfectly represented in this little volume, may lead them to study it in the great authors whom I have cited; and I trust they will thence find a great increase in their comforts, and that their happiness will be less exposed to concussion, when founded on the solid basis of divine favour.
On Indifference and Insensibility to Religion, arising
from hardness of heart. No progress can be made in Christian philosophy in such a state, as it is a state incompatible with the Divine Influence.
The fine feelings with which nature formed the heart of man in his primeval state, and with which perhaps every infant is born, are too often rendered obtuse by indiscriminate commerce with the world; and the heart of flesh, once tremblingly alive to the softest touch of sympathy, is metamorphosed to a heart of stone. Deplorable change! for what is man when he ceases to feel ? a reasoning vegetable, with this painful pre-eminence over the nettles and briars, that he has the power of being actively mischievous in the present state, and capable, when the sensibility shall be restored in another, of final and unsufferable woe. To lapse into this condition, to become past feeling, to have a seared conscience, is, without doubt, the heaviest
calamity of which human nature is susceptible. Perhaps he who is reduced to it is not conscious of it at the time; a circumstance which, contrary to what might be expected, ultimately aggravates his misfortune. It is characteristic of this state, that while it is alive to the vanities and miseries of the world, it is dead to God and all the delicate sensations of unaffected virtue.
This condition of religious insensibility is not to be accounted for by causes merely physical or philosophical. The middle-aged fall into it as well as the old, the healthy as well as the diseased, men of the brightest talents no less than the dull and the stupid. But Christian philosophy traces its origin, and pronounces it the consequence of an unregenerate state, or the total defect of divine grace. He who lives in it has forsaken bis God, the guide of his youth ; and his God has forsaken him, and given him up to a reprobate mind, a heart of stone, at once cold and impenetrable. · Whom he will, he hardeneth.”
Happily he, who in his displeasure inflicted the misfortune, can remove it. A new heart (says God) will I give you, a new spirit will I put into you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh; and I will give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.'?
From this declaration mankind may conclude, (as many ever have been and still are experimentally convinced,) that God influences the human bosom by his actual interposition, and the supernatural energy of his Holy Spirit. Christ himself Rom. ix. 18.
? Ezekiel, xxxvi. 26, 27.