Page images

gical libraries might be cleared of more than half their volumes, if men, seeking the evidence of Christianity, would be satisfied with the declararation of St. Paul, and of the great Author of our religion.

There is a faith very common in the world, which teaches to believe, as an historical fact, that a person of the name of Jesus, a very good man, did live on earth, and that he preached and taught, under the direction of God, or divine Providence, an excellent system of morality; such as, if duly observed, would contribute to their happiness, and recommend them to divine favour. But this kind of faith is not the right faith ; it believes not enough, it is not given by the Holy Ghost; for he, in whom God dwelleth, confesseth that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world;' but they who acknowledge Jesus only as a good man teaching morality, know him not as a Saviour. Socrates taught fine morality, and so did Seneca, Epictetus, and many more; but they had not, and could not teach the knowledge which leadeth to salvation.

“ Illuminating grace,” says Dr. Gloucester Ridley, “ consists not in the assent we give to the history of the gospel, as a narration of matters of fact, sufficiently supported by human evidence; for this may be purely the effect of our study and learning. The collating of copies, the consulting of history, the comparing the assertions of friends, and the concessions of enemies, may necessitate? such a belief, a faith which the devils may have,

'1 John, iv. 13, 14, 15. 2 Πισις ουκ ή γεωμετρικαις αναγκαις αλλ' η ταις του A VEVPATOS {vegyriais ry vouen. BASIL.-" The right

and doubtless have it. This sort of faith is an acquisition of our own, and not a gift. But · faith is the gift of God.'

“ There may be a faith,” continues Dr. Ridley, “ which is not the work of the Spirit in our hearts, but entirely the effect of human means, our natural faculties assisted by languages, antiquities, manuscripts, criticism, and the like, without any divine aid, except the bare letter of the revelation; and as this faith may rise out of human abilities, so may it be attended with pride in our supposed accomplishments, envy of others' superior skill, and bitter strife against those who mistake or oppose such truths; and is therefore no manifestation of that Spirit which resisteth the proud, and dispenses its graces only to the humble. This wisdom descendeth not from above. But the true saving faith, at the same time that it informs the understanding, influences the will and affections; it enlightens the eyes of the heart,' says the apostle: it is there, in the heart, that the Christian man believeth; and if thou believest with thine heart, thou shalt be saved ;'? while infidelity proceedeth from an averseness of our affections,—from an evil heart of unbelief.'3

Is it not therefore strange, that learned apologists, well acquainted with Scripture, should, after reading these strong declarations, that the heart must be impressed before faith can be fixed in it, studiously avoid every topic which addresses itself to the affections, and coldly apply themselves to the understanding, in a language and manner which might become a mathematical lecturer solving a problem of Euclid.

faith is not that which is forced by mathematical demonstration, whether we will or not; but that which grows in the mind from the operation or energies of the Spirit.”

lleow TlouevoUC Tove oglaluove in Kaporaç. Ephesians, i. 18.--" Enlightening the eyes of the heart.” Almost all the old MSS. read kapờiac, and not òravouac, as it stands in our printed copies.--See Mill's Lectiones Variantes. RIDLEY. 2 Rom. x. 9.

3 Heb. iii. 12.

Infidelity is increasing, and will continue to increase, so long as divines decline the means of conversion and persuasion which the Scriptures of the New Testament declare to be the only effectual means; so long as they have recourse to human reason and human learning only, in which they will always find opponents very powerful. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia,' and then she attended to the things that were spoken of Paul. The Lord opens the hearts of all men at some period of their lives; but the vanity of the world, the cares of gain, the pride of life, shut them again, and reject the Holy Ghost. It is the business of divines to dispose those who are thus unfortunate and unwise, to be ready to receive the divine guest, should he again knock at the door of their hearts ; but in doing this, they must preach the true gospel, which is not a system of mere human morality or philosophy, but the doctrine of grace.?

| Acts, xvi. 14.

? It must be taught mediatè per verbum, immediatè per spiritum.-"Mediately by the word ; immediately by the Spirit.”


The true and only convincing Evidence of the Reli

gion of Christ, or the illumination of the Holy Ghost is offered to all.

From the eternal Fountain of light, both natural and spiritual, there streams a light 'which lighteth every one that cometh into the world. Whoever loves that which is good and just and true, and desires to act a virtuous part in his place allotted to him in this world, whether high or low, may be assured of the blessing of heaven, displaying itself not perhaps in worldly riches or honours, but in something infinitely more valuable,-a secret influence upon his heart and understanding, to direct his conduct, to improve his nature, and to lead him, though in the lowly vale, yet along the path of peace.

The nature of all men was depraved by the fall of Adam. The assistance of God's Holy Spirit was withdrawn. Christ came to restore that nature, and to bring down that assistance, and leave it as a gift, a legacy to all mankind after his departure.

'In Adam all die,' says St. Paul, “but in Christ shall all be made alive. That is, in Adam all die a spiritual death, or lose the Paraclete, the particle of the divine nature, which was bestowed on man on his creation; and in Christ all are made alive, spiritually alive, or rendered capable, if they do not voluntarily choose darkness rather than light, of the divine illumination of the Holy Ghost. The film is taken from the eyes of all, but the eyelids remain, which may be closed by voluntary connivance, or by wicked presumption.

I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.'' • The grace which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men. This is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' • It is his will, that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.'. *Christ came to save sinners; and we have before proved, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.' ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden. He has propitiated for the sins of the whole world. His grace has been openly offered to all men in the gospel”

These passages, which no sophistry can elude, are sufficient to prove that the internal evidence of the gospel has a great advantage over the external, in the circumstance of its universality. All may be convinced by it who are willing. But can this be said of dry, logical, systematic testimonies, which require learning, sagacity, and time to be comprehended ? Such testimonies are fit for few, and appear unlikely to produce vital religion in any. They serve men to talk about, they furnish matter for logomachy; but they leave the heart unaffected. Neither Jesus Christ nor his apostles thought proper to address men systematically. And are critics, linguists, and logicians wiser than

| Joel, ii. 28.

2 1 Tim. ii. 4; i. 15; Rom. iii. 9; Matt. ii. 28; 1 John, ii. 2; Tit. ii. 2.

3 Huev yap yapıç alg II ANTAS EKKE XUTDi. Chrysostom in Joan. Hom.-“For grace indeed is poured out upon all.”

« PreviousContinue »