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for society, if their hearts were renewed by regenerating grace; if they could be persuaded to believe that there really is something more desirable than mammon; something that contributes more to happiness, and the pleasurable enjoyment of life, than show, equipage, living in the eyes of others, and the indulgence of an unfeeling, self-idolizing vanity at the expense of truth, justice, mercy, and every thing that gives solid satisfaction and real dignity. The grace of God would even adorn them, make them more estimable and honourable than the longest series of unmeaning titles, the most brilliant gems in a coronet, the most magnificent houses and parks, and most gaily-painted vehicles. It would do more; it would liberalize and soften their hearts, and make them men, such as the Creator intended them to be, feelingly alive to the charms of goodness, and to the touch of sympathy. The film would be removed from their eyes; and while they consulted the peace and happiness of others, they would see the things that belong unto their own. The horizon of their mental vision, now all sombrous and cloudy, would be beautifully serene. The stream of their lives, now a desolating torrent, abruptly dashing and foaming over its banks, would flow in its proper channel, smooth and clear, blest and blessing in its course.
Surely every thinking and good-natured mortal, who observes what a despicable and detestable, or rather pitiable object, a man may become, however elevated his rank and affluent his fortune, when his heart is hardened, and he feels no sentiment of love to God, or kindness to his fellow-creatures, must wish to promote, and gladly co-operate with others in promoting, the prevalence of the true Spirit of
Christianity.' This alone, operating by grace, can restore the depraved, fallen, wretched creature, become, by his perverseness, earthly, sensual, devilish, to his proper rank, as a rational, immortal being, and to the unspeakable happiness for which he was intended by divine benevolence.
I The true spirit of Christianity can alone preserve the church and sincere religion in society.
" I must profess, that I believe the degeneracy from the truth and power of the Christian religion, the ignorance of the principal doctrines of the gospel, and that scorn which is cast on these, and the like expressions, on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by such as not only profess themselves to be ministers, but of a higher degree than ordinary, will be sadly ominous to the whole state of the reformed church amongst us, if not timely repressed and corrected.”—Dr. Owen.
'The Scriptures themselves attribute the corruption of religion, and even the total loss of divine knowledge, to the reasonings of men upon it; when they regard the outward, and neglect or des. pise the inward testimony.
There is no truth more clearly asserted in Scripture, than that the things of God are not known but by the Spirit of God.
" The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.'-1 Cor. ii. 14.
"He that lacketh these things,' (the graces mentioned in a preceding verse, particularly the partaking of the divine nature) is blind, and cannot see afar off.'-2 Pet. i. 9.
Men wanting these graces, and this participation of the divine nature, we are expressly told, - grew vain in their imaginations;' professing themselves wise, they became fools; worshipping the creature (and among the created things is to be numbered the faculty of reasoning) more than the Creator. They spoiled the religion of Christ, through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and turned the truth of God into a lie. This was in consequence of following the rudiments of the world, kata Ta folyela according to the elements and principles of natural reason and philosophy. Wherefore the apostle would have them dead to the rudiments of the world, for they are only the commandments and doctrines of men, vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind, and science falsely so called, consisting of foolish and unlearned questions, which served only to gender strife. -2 Tim. ii. 23.
The apostle gives Timothy a description of human learning
Mine is an humble attempt to promote the prevalence of the true spirit of Christianity. In recommending the doctrine which this book particularly enforces, I know that I am justified by the holy Scriptures,' by the church, by the tenets of the most learned and virtuous of the dissenters, and the greatest divines of this country, who have displayed their abilities either by the press or the pulpit. I claim no merit, but that of endeavouring to rescue the true and most momentous doctrine of the gospel from the neglect and contempt in which it has been involved, during this century,
unaccompanied with divine grace; and says, that it is proud knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth.' (1 Tim. vi. 4; 2 Tim. ii. 14.) He therefore bids him put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord, not to strive with words to no profit, but to the perverting of the hearer ; for they will increase into more ungodliness, (they will cause infidels to grow more obstinate and disputatious in defence of their unbelief,) and their words will eat as cankers; (they will, by submitting the claims of Christianity to human reason only, eat up and destroy its very essence, which is divine.) Therefore he again dissuades" foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they do gender strifes;' that instead of settling disputes, and confirming men in the faith, they provoke controversy, multiply doubts, and are ultimately a fruitful cause of infidelity. “If you are determined to rely on reasoning,” said the Tindals, Collinses, Mor. gans, Chubbs, and Paines, “ we will accept your challenge, and fight you with the weapons of your own choice.” They fought; and, in the opinions of many deluded persons, were often victorious.
It is a sad instance of imprudence in the leaders of our Christian warfare, when they give up the sword of the Spirit, and rely entirely on the povnua oapkos for protection and defence. The doctrine of grace furnishes a panoply.
1 “He who doubts it, quarrels not with our creed, but our grammar; and instead of going to church to be instructed better, he ought to be sent to school.” Bishop Hickman.
by false policy and partiality, expressing their rancorous hatred to sects, deemed, at various times, injurious to certain worldly interests, and temporary purposes of state. Christianity itself has been wounded by weapons aimed only at men whose political sentiments might perhaps be wrong, though their religious were, for the most part, strictly conformable to Scripture,' and beneficial to every community.
I confess myself, in this attempt, to be only the pupil of those great masters whose opinions I have copiously cited, that they may be both an ornament and defence to my imperfect manual of Christian Philosophy. Some of the greatest deceased divines of the church of England, next to the Scriptures, are my chief authority. Happy am I to sit at the feet of such instructors; men, whose learning and abilities were of the very first magnitude, and whose piety and goodness of heart seem to have vied, for excellence, with their vigorous understandings, and accurate knowledge of Scriptural theology. It is honour enough to be merely instrumental in republishing their salutary doctrines, and giving them the inconsiderable sanction of my public, though single vote. If they were now alive, they would be most anxiously diligent, in the present state of Christianity, in exciting the true spirit of vital and experimental religion. Never was there more occasion for their zeal and activity than now; and it appears to me, that their mode of recommending Christianity
I Many who dislike the discipline and communion of our church, firmly adhere to the articles of it.
was a right mode, because, among other reasons, it has the test of experience in its favour.
The fact is incontrovertible, that in their times it was greatly successful. The true spirit of Christianity, during their ministry of the gospel, mightily grew and prevailed. Infidelity was uncommon and infamous; and the mild, meek, placid temper of the gospel was deemed, even in the highest ranks of society, not only conducive to happiness, but ornamental. Religious grace was valued above all graceful accomplishments. Men gloried in maintaining, openly and consistently, the Christian character; and the force of truth, not weakened by false politics, made it even a
I have laboured to revive the principles of those times; not without a hope that they may have similar success in our day, if duly encouraged by high example. Men are doubtless, now as well as ever, susceptible of religious impressions, if properly enforced on evangelical authority. The limes, it is said, are altered; but let it be remembered, that men make the times, and that men are very much modelled by books and all public instruction.
It is certainly unwise, in the present adverse circumstances of Christendom, to neglect or discountenance any mode of effectually disseminating and confirming the Christian faith, more especially any mode which has in past times been found successful, and is authorized by Scripture.
For myself, I must beg leave to say, what is indeed sufficiently evident, that I have been in search of truth, not of favour or advantage. I have deemed religion lovely enough to be wedded
by mode ning the ode of eltom, to present