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with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever.” The bishop then laying his hand upon every one severally, says, “ Defend, O Lord, this thy child, with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom.” He proceeds thus: “ Almighty and everlasting God, who makest us both to will and to do those things that be good and acceptable unto thy divine Majesty, let thy Holy Spirit ever be with them; and so lead them in the knowledge and obedience of thy holy word, that in the end they may obtain everlasting life. Vouchsafe to direct, sanctify, and govern both our hearts and bodies,” &c.
Can any bishop who reads these words, or any parish priest who sends the young ones of his flock to hear them, consistently deny the doctrine of divine energy, or immediate grace ?
Exclusively of this sublime doctrine, the Gospel, considered merely as a book of morality, has not so great an advantage over the Koran, as every Christian must wish and believe it to possess. Mahomet requires, in the Koran, “ the belief of one God, trust in him, frequent prayer and fasting, alms-giving even to strangers, keeping of covenants, justice in dealings, patience in adversity; to honour father and mother, and to maintain them if they are old and poor. He forbids usury, bearing false witness, profane swearing, and the murdering of infants, which had formerly been common in Arabia.” The Mahometan also allows
| Bishop Beveridge says, “A man may as soon read the letter of the Scripture without eyes, as understand the mysteries of the gospel without grace.”
Jesus to be a prophet sent from God, and commissioned to be a great instructor, reformer, and Saviour. I say, divest Christianity of the gift which our Lord gave to men, after his ascension, and the infidel will place Christ far below Socrates, Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and rank him with Mahomet, or even in a lower class; since there are many who deem the Koran a very fine composition, far superior to the narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to the epistles of Paul, the chief of the apostles.
Divest Christianity of the Spirit's energy, and you rob it of its appropriate, distinguishing, and exclusive excellence and glory. You place it among the modes of superstition which, at various times, have been encouraged by states, in order to facilitate the movements of the political engine, in almost every country on the face of the globe. You make it the invention of man; and, as the invention of man, it will often be despised, in comparison with the philosophy which prevailed in the elegant schools of Athens and Rome, and which clothed its fine morality in all the seducing embellishments of a polished diction. The writings of Plato and Cicero will be preferred to those of the evangelists and apostles, if the pearl which enriches the plain compositions of the latter, above all that human ingenuity can contrive, be torn from its place. That pearl is figuratively emblematic of the Holy Spirit's influence, the unction from above.
The ray of divinity, the anointing of the Spirit, sheds a heavenly effulgence on the page of the written gospel, which all human lights but faintly emulate. These are merely moons or satellites : Christianity is the sun of the system. 'I am the light of the world,' says Christ himself. Let us remember, that it is the inspiration that makes the oracle; not the priest or the shrine. Take away the spring from the time-keeper, and though the wheels are curiously contrived, and the gold in which it is cased, and the jewels with which it is adorned, may still be valuable, yet it will no longer be esteemed but as a costly toy, or looked at, by those who want information, with confidence. Thus, the gospel will have no vital, converting effect, when considered only as an historical narrative, with moral precepts occasionally interspersed, but unaccompanied with the ministration of the Holy Spirit.'
1 The successful propagation of the gospel could not be effected by the causes assigned by Mr. Gibbon, but must have been effected by the Holy Ghost. Is it not reasonable to believe that it may now be propagated and continued by the same means as at first—the powerful agency of heaven? Let us hear a sensible writer on the subject.
“ The sole adequate cause of the successful propagation of the gospel is, according to the Scriptures, the Holy Ghost. It will be well if his agency, in these polite and rational days, be thought to deserve a moment's attention. Yet it is evident, that there must be some cause for this wonderful phenomenon. I shall not disgust the rational world, by supposing the agency of any supernatural being in the affair, but that of the great Author of Nature. Any Spirit inimical to him could not, and any Spirit obedient to his authority would not, produce a character of such goodness, but under his authority, and by a power derived from himself. Even miracles cannot change the heart, whatever effect they may have on the judgment; and the ruling providence of God, implying only an external government, does not influence the will ; as facts abundantly testify. All that is rational and human is totally unequal to the task; nay, perhaps the most sensible of mankind, should they deign to honour these sheets with their inspection, can scarce bear the idea of a real Christian with patience. There is an energy more than human which produces this character; and it remains that this must be the influence of the Holy Ghost.
For political and interested purposes, it may be talked of in churches and universities ; it may be scholastically defended, and generally professed, and yet totally misunderstood and misrepresented. It will have no influence on the hearts of men : no, not on the hearts of the very persons who thus talk of it, profess it, defend it; nor of those who read or listen to the most elaborate apologies, de
“ The reader who will allow himself seriously to weigh this subject, may see that nothing short of this could constitute one real Christian, in this or any other age of the church. Let him consider, whether it is even possible for mere man to invent such doctrines; much less to propagate them with any success, in a world like this. A number of men, possessed of a sixth sense, of which we had not the least idea, would find but few brought over to their opinion that they were possessed of such a sensation. Their pretensions would be construed into pride or folly ; but those whom the Most High should endow with the same sensation, would easily believe. The application is obvious.
“ Thus we have a simple and obvious proof of the truth of Christianity (the propagation of it by the influence of the Holy Ghost). I fear, indeed, it will weigh but little with those who love not the real gospel. The generality will say, “At this rate, the majority of those who call themselves Christians, do not even know their own religion. It is devoutly to be wished that this were not the case; that even many that have written ably in defence of Christianity, had themselves known its nature. Much of the advantage which deism has gained had then been prevented; we should have had more of the experimental proof; and that Scripture had been better known, 'He that believeth in the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.” (1 John, v. 10.) Sceptical doubts will vanish before stubborn facts. Were the gospel itself understood, little time need be spent on its evidences. One sight of the sun is sufficient to point out its glorious Author. In all things else, experience is allowed to be the best schoolmaster; in religion only it is called enthusiasm.” -Milner.
1 “Judas Iscariot knew Jesus Christ-all that he did-just in the same manner (though much better) as a mere historical believer of the gospel; a mere learned theologist. All knowledge of Christ, but that which is by divine inspiration, or the
fences, and demonstrations.' Christ must be formed in the soul, before the soul can recognize the truth and efficacy of Christianity.
Nearly two thousand years have elapsed since the written gospel was promulgated ; and it has appeared to stand in need of defences and apologies to this very hour. Nor have defences or apologies been deficient in number, or in sagacity and erudition. Fabricius reckons up several hun
new birth, is but as poor and profitless as the knowledge of Judas Iscariot.”—Law.
« The empty, letter-learned knowledge, which the natural man can as easily have of the sacred Scriptures and religious matters, as any other books or human affairs, being taken for divine knowledge, has spread such darkness and delusion all over Christendom, as may be reckoned no less than a general apostacy from the gospel state of divine illumination.”—Ibid.
« The best ability of the natural man can go no further than talk, and notions, and opinions about Scripture words and facts; on these he may be a great critic, an acute logician, a powerful orator, and know every thing of the Scripture, except the Spirit and the truth.”—Ibid.
1 “ He who goes about to speak of the mystery of the Trinity, and does it by words and names of man's invention, talking of essences and existences, hypostases and personalities, priority in co-equalities, and unity in pluralities, may amuse himself, and build a tabernacle in his head, and talk something, he knows not what; but the good man, that feels the power of the Father, and to whom the Son is become wisdom, sanctification, and redemption, in whose heart the love of the Spirit of God is shed abroad, this man, though he understands nothing of what is unintelligible, yet he alone truly understands the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.”—Bp. Taylor, on John, vii. 17.
Miserable and disgraceful have been the rancorous disputes on the Trinity; a subject, one would think, which, if worldly sentiments did not interpose, might be discussed with perfect composure of temper. The enemy has triumphed, while Christians have been tearing each other in pieces on an opinion.
“ But rise; let us no more contend, nor blame