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the Author of their religion, and better informed than his apostles ?
The word of God is like a two-edged sword, invincible where it is properly used; but the word of man is comparatively a feeble weapon, without point or edge. The word of man alone, though adorned with all eloquence, learning, and logical subtlety, will never stop the progress of unbelief. The word of God, rightly explained, so as to administer grace to the hearers and readers, will still preserve and extend Christianity, as it has hitherto done, notwithstanding all the opposition of the world, and those unfeeling children of it, whose hearts are hardened and understandings darkened by the pride of life. If, therefore, as St. James advises, any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. The wisdom here meant, is that which maketh wise unto salvation; and certainly is not to be found in the cold didactic writings of those who rely entirely on their own reason, and deny or explain away the doctrine of grace.
Grace is the living gospel. Perishable paper, pens, ink, and printer's types, can never supersede the daily, hourly operation of the omniscient and omnipotent Creator and Preserver of the universe.
Let us remember, that to every man is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal."
Mr. Paine, in his attack on Christianity, sums up all his objections at the close. The first and greatest is this and I give it in his own words,
though it is contrary to my practice, and opinion of propriety, often to cite the cavils of unbelievers : “ The idea or belief of a word of God existing in print, or in writing, or in speech, is inconsistent with itself, for reasons already assigned. These reasons, among many others, are the want of an universal language; the mutability of language; the errors to which translations are subject; the possibility of totally suppressing such a word; the probability of altering it, or of fabricating the whole, and imposing it upon the world.”
Now these objections cannot possibly be made to the evidence of the Spirit of God, the manifestation of the Spirit given to every man; because the Spirit speaks an universal language, addressing itself to the feelings of the heart, which are the same, whatever sounds are uttered by the tongue; because its language is not subject to the mutability of human dialects; because it is far removed from the possibility of misrepresentation by translators; because it cannot be totally suppressed; because it cannot be altered; because it cannot be frabricated or imposed on the world; because it is an emanation from the God of truth, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. This evidence sheds its light all over the Christian world, and is seen, like the sun in the heavens, by all who use their visual powers, unobstructed by self-raised clouds of passion, prejudice, vice, and false philosophy.
Opinions of Bishop Taylor respecting the Evidence
of the Holy Spirit ; “ showing,” as he expresses it,“ how the Scholars of the University shall become most learned and most useful.”
“We have examined all ways, in our inquiries after religious truth, but one; all but God's way.' Let us, having missed in all the other, try this. Let us go to God for truth; for truth comes from God only. If we miss the truth, it is because we will not find it; for certain it is, that all the truth which God hath made necessary, he hath also made legible and plain; and if we will open our eyes we shall see the sun, and if we will walk in the light, we shall rejoice in the light. Only let us withdraw the curtains, let us remove the impediments, and the sin that doth so easily beset us. That is God's way. Every man must, in his station, do that portion of duty which God requires of him; and then he shall be taught of God all that is fit for him to learn ; there is no other way for him but this. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and a good understanding have all they that do thereafter. And so said David of himself: I have more understanding than my teachers; because I keep thy commandments. And this is the only way which Christ has taught us. If you ask, what is truth ? you
See Bishop Taylor's Via Intelligentiæ.
must not do as Pilate did, ask the question, and then go away from him that only can give you an answer; for as God is the Author of truth, so he is the Teacher of it, and the way to learn is this; for so saith our blessed Lord; “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or no.'
“ This text is simple as truth itself, but greatly comprehensive, and contains a truth that alone will enable you to understand all mysteries, and to expound all prophecies, and to interpret all Scriptures, and to search into all secrets, all, I mean, which concern our happiness and our duty. It is plainly to be resolved into this proposition :
“The way to judge of religion is by doing our duty; and theology is rather a divine life than a divine knowledge.
“In heaven indeed we shall first see and then love; but here on earth we must first love, and love will open our eyes as well as our hearts, and we shall then see and perceive and understand.
“Every man understands more of religion by his affections than by his reason. It is not the wit of the man, but the spirit of the man; not so much his head as his heart that learns the divine philosophy.
« There is in every righteous man a new vital principle. The spirit of grace is the spirit of wisdom, and teaches us by secret inspirations, by proper arguments, by actual persuasions, by personal applications, by effects and energies; and as the soul of man is the cause of all his vital operations, so is the Spirit of God the life of that life, and the cause of all actions and productions spiritual; and the consequence of this is what St. John tells us of: "Ye have received the unction from above, and that anointing teacheth you all things, all things of some one kind; that is, certainly all things that pertain to life and godliness; all that by which a man is wise and happy. Unless the soul have a new life put into it, unless there be a vital principle within, unless the Spirit of life be the informer of the spirit of the man, the word of God will be as dead in the operation as the body in its powers and possibilities.
“God's Spirit does not destroy reason, but heightens it. God opens the heart and creates a new one, and without this creation, this new principle of life, we may hear the word of God, but we can never understand it; we hear the sound, but are never the better. Unless there be in our hearts a secret conviction by the Spirit of God, the gospel itself is a dead letter.
“Do we not see this by daily experience ? Even those things which a good man and an evil man know, they do not know both alike. An evil man knows that God is lovely, and that sin is of an evil and destructive nature, and when he is reproved, he is convinced; and when he is observed, he is ashamed ; and when he has done, he is unsatisfied; and when he pursues his sin, he does it in the dark. Tell him he shall die, and he sighs deeply, but he knows it as well as you. Proceed, and say that after death comes judgment, and the poor man believes and trembles ; and yet, after all this, he runs to commit his sin with as certain an event and resolution as if he knew no argument against it.
“Now since, at the same time, we see other persons, not so learned, it may be, not so much versed