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But what religion? There is no religion but the Christian, which, in the present state of society, can make any claim to general reception. There is none but the Christian, which can afford the smallest consolation. Explode Christianity, as some pretenders to benevolence seem to wish, and you rob the blind of their surest guide, and the wretched of their best friend and protector. You take away the staff of age, the chart and compass of youth, the pillow of pain, the grand column and ornament of human life. Man degenerates, without it, to a brute of superior sagacity to do mischief, and superior sensibility to suffer pain.
But there are many, and those able and distinguished men in the business of the world, who appear to reject Christianity entirely. Many give it no attention ;' but contented with the decencies of life, and coldly complying with outward fornis,
“ Shall I tell you that I bear this melancholy situation with that meritorious constancy and resignation which most people boast of! No; for I really cannot help it. I bear it, because I must bear it, whether I will or no !-I think of nothing but killing time the best way I can, now that he is become my enemy. It is my resolution to sleep in the carriage during the remainder of the journey.”
“ You see," says bishop Horne, remarking on this passage, “in how poor, abject, and unpitied a condition, at a time when he most wanted help and comfort, the world left him and he left the world."
Compare these words with those of another person, who took his leave of the world in a very different manner.
“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course ; I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day," St. Paul.
'They know nothing about it, and therefore cannot desire or study it. Ignoti nulla cupido.- The people perish through lack of knowledge.' Hosea, iv. 6. The Indians prefer any bauble, which rattles and looks fine, to their mines of gold.
claim a merit in submitting quietly to its ordinances, and making no open opposition to it. Others profess to believe all religion equally true, equally false, and equally useful to the politician. Most of these are probably driven, at last, by their distress, in the evil days, and in the anguish of their hearts, to seek the aid of her, whom they despised or neglected in prosperity, and to take refuge, during the storm, in the shelter of the temple. But is it not desirable, in every stage of life, to be under the protection of one who is found so faithful a friend in the last stage? And is it not the part of every truly benevolent man, if opportunities offer, and, more particularly, if his professional duty not only justifies, but demands, an active interference in promoting the solid happiness of others, to endeavour to persuade his fellow-creatures to seek, in the most effectual manner, the light and consolation of Christianity ? He can in no possible mode contribute so much to the melioration of society, and the improvement of the human race. Look at a neighbouring country, and see the misery consequent on renouncing Christianity. Mercy and justice seem to have fled from the land, together with the gospel. God hath avenged his cause in a most awful manner.
To stop the progress of infidelity, to resuscitate the dormant spirit of vital religion, the true nature of Christianity must be plainly pointed out to the mass of the people, the great as well as the vulgar; the great, I say, to whom, from thoughtlessness and immersion in sensuality, it is often little known,' however it may be professed. Chris
" What is the gospel ? "The record that God hath given to us eternal life, and that life is in his Son.' 1 John, v.2. It is
tianity, indeed, it may be suspected, is too imperfectly understood, even by scholars, philosophers, and statesmen of the first rank, and the greatest celebrity.'
a question of prime importance. Yet there are able men of singular address and dexterity in all political and commercial business, who perhaps never asked the question with seriousness; and who seem to be merely novices, or downright igno. ramuses, in the school of Christ.
Let such persons consider the economy of grace, as thus briefly displayed by bishop Warburton, who, nevertheless, was a great opposer of the true doctrine of divine energy; and who, on that account, may have the more weight with many.
« The blessed Jesus came into the world to declare the good. will of our heavenly Father to the forfeited posterity of Adam. He testified the truth of his mission by amazing miracles ; and sealed the redemption of mankind, by the more amazing devotion of himself to an ignominious death.
“But as the redemption, so generally procured, could only operate on particulars, under certain circumstances of faith and obedience, very repugnant to our corrupted nature, the blessed Jesus, on his leaving the world, promised his followers his in. tercession with the Father, to send another divine person-the Holy Ghost, called the Spirit of Truth,' and the Comforter' -who, agreeably to the import of those names, should cooperate with us in establishing faith, and in perfecting obedi. ence; or, in other words, should sanctify us to redemption.
“ This is a succinct account of the economy of grace; entirely consonant to our best conceptions of the nature of God, and the condition of man. For if man was to be reinstated in a free gift, justly forfeited, we cannot but suppose that as, on the one hand, it might be restored on what conditions best pleased the giver ; so, on the other, God would graciously provide, that it should not be bestowed in vain.
6 An atonement, therefore, was to be made for the offended majesty of the Father, and this was the work of the Son; and a remedy was to be provided for the miserable condition of man, which hindered the atonement from producing its effect; and this was the office of the Holy Ghost; so that both were joint workers in the great business of reconciling God to man..
" The office of the Holy Ghost is to enlighten the understanding, and to rectify the will."— Bishop Warburton.
This is the testimony of an adversary.
To call the attention of men to Christianity, and to render its true genius and nature better known,' is the scope of this little book; a book by no means intended to promote the interest, or gratify the pride of any particular division or subdivision of Christians, but to serve the common cause of all human beings, hy maintaining the divine origin, describing the real essence and energy, and diffusing the powerful efficacy of that sublime philosophy, which, under the immediate operation of an all-wise and benign Deity, promises to tranquillize life, and conduct man, through paths of peace, to realms of eternal felicity.
What then is the principle of this philosophy, which gives it a decided superiority over all that has been taught in the groves of Academus, the Portico, and the Lyceum ? It is (as I hope has been evinced in the preceding pages) a beam of light from the Father of lights; a lumen de lumine, " light of light;" the breath of the power of God, restoring degenerate human nature to that image which it lost at the fall, and re-establishing it in primeval dignity. The Holy Ghost, it appears, is the divine Being, now and for ever engaged in
- The Christian that rejects, reproaches, and writes against the necessity of immediate divine inspiration, (as Warburton did, pleads the whole cause of infidelity.”_Law.
In many countries called Christian, neither Christianity nor its evidence are fairly laid before men ; and in places where both are, there appear to be some, who have very little attended to either; and who reject Christianity with a scorn proportionate to their inattention ; and yet are by no means without under. standing in other matters.”-Bishop Butler.
“ I have been so long conversant with the classics,” said Dr. Conyers Middleton, " that I grow squeamish when I come to the Scriptures.”
effecting this happy renovation; in producing a change which no human wisdom could ever accomplish, without supernatural assistance; without that gift which our Lord gave to men after his ascension.
The elegant refinements of human philosophy may furnish a pleasing amusement for those who possess the advantages of a classical education, and of literary leisure. The Christian philosophy alone is calculated for all mankind; this alone can bring peace at the last;? peace, during the continuance of life, as well as its close; a transcendant peace, called in Scripture, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding;' and which certainly constitutes that supreme good of man, in selecting which, human philosophy could never yet finally agree. Happily, it is a kind of philosophy to which every human being, consistently with God's equity, may attain; requiring not cultured intellects, nor a life of academical seclusion, but faithful, fervent prayer, accompanied with sincere, though imperfect obedience. “If ye, being evil,' says our Saviour, “know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?' Nothing is to be desired by mortal man, in comparison with this gift—the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”? The end, it appears,
1 “I would,” said the great Grotius, whose book, “On the Truth of the Christian Religion,' is recommended to all young students, though, I believe, it never convinced any man living ; 6 I would,” said he, a little before he died, “ give all my learning and honour, for the plain integrity and innocence of Jean Urick ;" a poor illiterate neighbour of his, who spent much of his time in prayer, and was an honest plain man, and industrious in his calling.-John Edwards.
2 Phil. i. 19.