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forced. He that soweth to the Spirit,' says St. Paul, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.'' When such is the harvest, every benevolent mind must wish to urge mankind, in this their seed-time, to sow to the Spirit. What is so important cannot be inculcated by too frequent repetition. I therefore quote authors which occur to me in the course of my reflections on the subject, whose opinions though similar, may add weight to doctrines already advanced. Such is the above from Dr. Lucas, a most excellent divine, never charged with the least tendency to blameable enthusiasm.
I wish my reader to pay particular attention to what he suggests on the infant temper, required by our Lord in his followers. “Except,' says Jesus Christ, “ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God." · Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.'3
The amiable dispositions of infants must therefore be produced in the heart, before the religion of Christ can be received into it. But are such dispositions best produced, or can they be produced at all, by subtle disputations, by cold argumentation, by bringing forward objections in order to display ingenuity in answers, laboured indeed and sagacious, but, after all, unsatisfactory to many, and unintelligible to more ?
Yet this mode of recommending Christianity is the only one approved by some persons of high authority; and there are those who would not venture to preach the doctrine of grace, the teaching of God and a spiritual understanding, lest they should be numbered with enthusiasts, and lose all chance of promotion and worldly esteem. This danger must be voluntarily incurred by all who would succeed in repelling the rapid advances of modern infidelity. Christianity flourished wonderfully while its genuine doctrines, the glad tidings of grace, were preached; and it has been gradually declining, ever since it has become fashionable, in order to discountenance fanaticism, to recommend mere heathen morality as the essence of Christianity, and to make use of no other arguments to prove the truth of it, but such as an ingenious man, without the smallest particle of religion in his heart, might produce. Professional advocates, furnished with human arguments only and external evidence, appear to the true Christian, as well as to the unbeliever, like lawyers pleading for a fee, on that side of the question which they know to be wrong, or at least are not convinced is right. It is indeed certain that a dull and plodding scholar may make a wonderful display of erudition in defence of Christianity, without feeling a lively sense of it himself, or communicating it to his readers. His materials supply the adversaries with arms for fresh attacks, and at the same time fail in building an impregnable rampart round the citadel which he undertakes to defend. There is usually some weak place at which the enemy enters; and, having once entered, he takes possession of the fortress, and uses the stores and ammunition against the very persons who collected them with so much labour.
'Gal. vi. 8.
? Matt. xviii, 3.
3 Mark, x. 14.
is had to the teaching of the Spirit. It overcomes the heart; it brings it to the lovely state of infantine innocence and simplicity; and renders him who, like St. Paul, was a persecutor of it, a warm friend and advocate.
It is certain that the argumentative mode of addressing unbelievers, and a reliance on external evidence, has hitherto failed. Many of the most learned and able men of modern times, who were capable of understanding the historical, logical, and metaphysical defences of Christianity, have read them without conviction, and laughed at their laborious imbecility.
It is time to try another mode : and all who are sincere Christians will favour the experiment; for they would rather see men converted to the true religion, though they should become fervent, and zealous even to a degree of harmless enthusiasm, than totally alienated from it, and enlisted under the partizans of infidelity.
If men of the world and men of learning' will not interpose to prevent the divine energy, we shall see it produce its genuine effects in all their vigour and maturity, as well in the world of grace as of nature. A secret operation gives life and growth to the tree, and so will it to the human soul. “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” says our Saviour: the branches will soon wither and decay, if the sap flows not to them from the vine.
Nec philosophos se ostentent : sed satagant fieri theodidacti. Greg. ix. Ep. ad Univ. Paris.-“ Neither let them os tentatiously put themselves off as philosophers; but labour to become men taught of God.”
Passages from a well-known Book of an anonymous
Author, entitled Inward Testimony.
“REAL Christians find, that as soon as they apply themselves to know what is comprehensible in the sacred Scriptures, and to a sincere endeavour to do what is practicable, so soon a faith in its incomprehensible doctrines is produced, and then is fulfilled, that he that doeth the will of God shall know of the doctrines whether they be of God.'
“ The divine Spirit concurs with the outward revelation in changing a man's sceptical disposition, and then he is fixed : otherwise he would be as ready as ever to embrace the first plausible argument against the gospel.
“We have some, who, by their mere notional knowledge of revelation, the outward testimony to Christianity, disbelieve the reality or necessity of any acquaintance with the inward testimony, by which the divine Spirit produces a serious spiritual frame, fitting the soul to receive the sanctifying impressions of an outward revelation. They think that reading of sacred Scripture, and forming from thence right notions of Christianity, in order to talk of it, with a going the round of common duties, and a not being guilty of common sins, is the whole of the Christian religion, and all the meetness that is necessary for heaven. A serious heavenly frame suitable to the true notion of revelation, has no place in them; they ridicule it in others, and name it affectation, rather than any real part of Christianity.
“ An ingenious mind may argue for God against the atheist ; for Christ against the Socinian ; and for the outward testimony of the Spirit of Christ against the deist; and he himself be no real Christian : but no person can well display this inward testimony of Christ in the soul, without the experience of it."
Dr. Townson's opinion on the Evidence which is in
this Book recommended as superior to all other.
“ If the word was enforced by miracles in the times only of its early publication, it has the standing support and evidence of another power, which is still as operative, where we will allow it, as ever. This is declared and promised in the following passage : ‘Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.'
'Jam hic videte magnum sacramentum, Fratres. Magisteri forinsecùs adjutoria quædum sunt et admonitiones ; cathedram in cælo habet qui corda docet. - August. 'Tr. 3 in 1 Joan.