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says, 'Lo! I am with you, even unto the end of the world. But how is he with us but by the Holy Ghost, whose ordinary operations are now as energetic as ever on the bosom of the true believer. Except a man be born again of this Spirit, we read in express language, he cannot see the kingdom of God. No words can be more explicit. They mean regeneration by grace, or what else do they mean? They support, as on a rock, the doctrine of divine agency; and without this doctrine, all teaching and preaching is “ as salt that has lost its savour. This doctrine forms the solid basis of Christian philosophy. All morality, every precept and principle which leads to happiness present or future, stand upon it immovably. Other buildings are of hay and stubble; this is of gold and marble.
And with respect to the charge of blamable enthusiasm, which is constantly brought, and cannot be too frequently repelled, let us hear bishop Lavington, so great an enemy to Methodism, that he wrote the severest book which ever appeared in opposition to it. But thus he speaks to his clergy, on a solemn occasion, when he was instructing them how to execute their pastoral office.
“My brethren,” (says he,) “ I beg you will rise up with me against moral preaching. We have long been attempting the reformation of the nation by discourses of this kind. With what success ? None at all. On the contrary, we have dexterously preached the people into downright infidelity. We must change our voice. We must preach Christ and him crucified. Nothing but the gospel is, nothing will be found to be the power of God unto salvation, besides. Let me, therefore, again
and again request, may I not add, let me charge you, to preach Jesus, and salvation through his name. Preach the Lord who bought us; preach redemption through his blood; preach the saying of the great High Priest; he who believeth shall be saved ; spreach repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thus bishop Lavington ; a man who abhorred fanaticism. Who could ever suspect archbishop Secker,' bishop Hurd, bishop Horne, bishop Horsley, of irrational enthusiasm ? Yet, in their discourses and charges, they all urge their clergy, not to preach nere moral doctrines, the philosophy of the heathens, but the gospel; that is, the great doctrines of redemption, atonement, satisfaction by Christ, and the necessity and importance of divine grace. If, by the coming of Christ, God recommended only a moral system, merely republished the religion of nature, this would in fact have been no Revelation. Indeed, a merely moral Christianity is deism.
When Christianity is the national religion, and great revenues are allotted to its professional teachers, many may choose to join the crowd of Christians for the loaves and fishes; many may call themselves Christians who have nothing of Christianity but the name, and in their hearts despise
1 " The truth, I fear, is,” (says archbishop Secker,) “ that many, if not most of us, have dwelt too little on these doctrines” (the doctrines of grace and other peculiar doctrines of Christianity) “in our sermons-by no means, in general, from disbelieving or slighting them.”
Again, says the same discerning primate, “ We have, in fact, lost many of our people to sectaries, by not preaching in a man. ner sufficiently evangelical.'—Secker's Charge.
There never was a more discreet, rational, or judicious archbishop than Secker. He could not favour fanaticism.
even the name; but let all serious and sensible men remember, that if the gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost, whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded;' let them in time beware, lest that come upon them which is spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no wise understand, though a man declare it unto you.''
A Self-Examination, recommended respecting
Let every reader take a view of the present state of his heart. Let us all look inwardly, and consider our real state, without self-flattery and deceit, uninterrupted either by business or pleasure.
Does my heart require renovation ? Is it piously inclined to God, and kindly to my fellow-creature ? Am I convinced of my own ignorance, weakness, and unworthiness? Have I inquired into the health of my soul, the state of my temper and disposition, with half the solicitude with which I take care to feed, to cure, to adorn my body? If not, I may call myself a Christian, and join the congre
Acts, xiii. 40, 41.
gation of Christians, but I am probably still a heathen, still unregenerate. I may be in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity. My heart may be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and as I value my happiness in this short state of existence, or my immortal soul, I must seek the divine grace, to give me a feeling sense of my wants and wretchedness, and of God's power to illuminate and comfort me by his Holy Spirit.
But supposing that I am feelingly convinced of sin and misery, and sincerely wish to be delivered from it, do I seek deliverance by the gospel means, that is, through Jesus Christ; or do I depend upon my own reason, a few moral acts and habits observed for the sake of decency, for my own health, wealth, and that reputation in the world which is necessary to the advancement of my interest ? If so, my morality is worldly wisdom, and my religion has no claim to Christianity. I am unregenerate, unconverted, unrenewed, notwithstanding my baptism and my professions; and continuing as I do by choice a heathen, in the midst of the light of Christianity, which at the same time I solemnly profess, I must finally perish, after an unsatisfactory life.
Is my Christianity a cold, philosophical assent to a few propositions in the gospel, evident before the gospel was divulged, and such as I select from others of the same authority in the same book, which I do not so well approve ? Then is my religion nominal only. I profess to believe, as others appear to do, what I never in my life fully considered. I am content to live without God in the world, so long as my corn and my wine increase, and I can say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much
goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.' For the sake of living at peace, and for the sake of credit, which is intimately connected with my interest, I conform to all outward ceremonies and all moral decencies; but my heart has not yet been truly turned to God. I know no other God than my own gain and pleasure; and as to heaven, this earth, so long as I secure to myself a large share of it and its good things, is my paradise. I say to myself, “ It is good for me to be here; here will I build my tabernacle; for it is a pleasant place, and I have a delight therein. But what shall I say, when this world is receding from me, when my senses decay, and death evidently approaches ? Then shall I have no comfort, unless God should soften my heart by the effusion of his Spirit. But lest my obduracy should grow impenetrable by time, I will immediately implore the divine favour, in co-operation with my own endeavours, to restore my religious sensibility. I will henceforth cultivate the love of God.”
But to love God only, is not enough. Do I love my fellow-creature ? or, as it is expressed in Scripture, .my neighbour ?' The apostle says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; he that loveth not, knoweth not God, and therefore cannot be born of him, for God is love.’? How, then, is my heart affected towards my fellow-creatures ? Are my friendships merely combinations for the sake of interest and pleasure ? Is there any human being in the world whom I