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matics, and examine the mere historical and external evidence with the eyes of criticism and heathen philosophy. The unbelievers, on the other hand, do the same; and, as far as wit and subtle reasoning goes, there are many who think that a Tindal and a Collins were more than equal to a Clarke and a Coneybeare. There is no doubt but that infidelity is diffused by theological controversy, whenever the illumination of the Spirit, the SANC TITY of the Gospel, is entirely laid aside, and the whole cause left to the decision of human wit and invention.
He that would be a Christian indeed, and not merely a disputant or talker about Christianity, must seek better evidence than man, short-sighted as he is with the most improved sagacity, ignorant as he is with the deepest learning, can by any means afford. He must, in the words of the Psalmist†, "open his mouth and draw "in the Spirit." The Holy Ghost will give him the SPIRIT OF SUPPLICATION, which will breathe out in prayer, and inhale from him who first inspired the divine particle, fresh supplies of grace. He must continue instant in prayer. This will preserve his mind in a state fit to receive the Holy Visitant from on high, who brings with him balsam for the heart, and light for the understanding. The result will be full evidence of Christianity, full confidence in Jesus Christ, joy and peace on earth, and a lively hope of salvation. What a sunshine must a mind in such a state enjoy: how different from the gloominess of the sceptic or unbeliever; how superior to the coldness of the mere disputant in scholastic or sophistical divinity!
With respect to the efficacy of PRAYER in bringing down the assistance, the illumination of the Holy Ghost,
* See Ditton, Baxter, Huet, and many others who undertake to demonstrate, almost geometrically, the truth of the gospel. + Zach. xii. 10.
† Psal. cxix. 131.
Divinæ particulam auræ.
not merely in teaching doctrinal notions, but in the actual conduct of life, let us hear the declaration of LORD CHIEF JUSTICE HALE, whose example I select, because he was a layman, a man deeply conversant in the business of the world, a great lawyer, and therefore may contribute to prove, that they who value themselves on their worldly sagacity, and frequently consider the affairs of religion as trifles, compared with the contests for property and the concerns of jurisprudence, need not, in the most active life and most exalted stations, be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
"I can call," says he, "my own EXPERIENCE to wit' ness, that even in the external actions, occurrences ❝ and incidents of my whole life, I was never disappoint❝ed of the best guidance and direction, when in humility, "and a sense of deficiency, and diffidence of my own "ability to direct myself, or to grappel with the difficul"ties of my life, I have implored the secret guidance of "the divine Wisdom and Providence."
Temperance necessary to the Reception and Continuance of the Holy Spirit in the Heart, and consequently to the Evidence of Christianity afforded by Divine Illumination.
THE Apostle says, Be not drunk with wine,
wherein is excess; but be filled with the SPIRIT*. The word aσaria in the original, here rendered excess, corresponds with the Latin prodigalitas, which, in the Roman law, characterised the spendthrift and debauchee, incapable, from his vices, of managing his own affairs, and
therefore placed by the prætor under the guardianship of trustees, without whose concurrence he could perform no legal act*. He was considered as an infant and an idiot. The words of the Apostle may then be thus paraphrased. "Be not intemperate in wine, because intem"perance will destroy your reason, and degrade you to “a state of infantine imbecility, without infantine inno“cence; but be filled with the SPIRIT; that is, let your “reason be exalted, purified, clarified to the highest "state by the co-operation of the divine reason, which "cannot be, if you destroy the natural faculties which "God has given you, by drunkenness and gluttony."
I think it evident, from this passage, as well as from the conclusion of reason, that all excess tends to exclude the radiance of grace. The mental eye is weakened by it, and cannot bear the celestial lustre †.
That great master of reasoning, Aristotle, maintained that pleasures are corruptive of principles (plugrinas Twy αgxwv); and many of the antients were of opinion, that vice disqualified for philosophical pursuits, where the object was merely terrestrial and human, by raising a thick cloud round the understanding, which the rays of truth could not penetrate. It was for this reason that one of them maintained that "juvenis non est idoneus "moralis philosophie auditor;" that though youth is most in want of moral instruction, yet, from the violence of its passions, and its usual immersion in sensuality, it was the least qualified to comprehend, he does not say to
* See Dr. Powel's Sermon on the text.
† Ωσπερ οφθαλμω λημωντι, και ου κεκαθαρμένω, τα σφόδρα φωτεινα ιδειν ουκ όιοντε· οὕτω καὶ τη ψυχη μη την αρετην κεκτηρές ενή, το της αληθειας ενοπτρισασθαι καλλος. As it is impossible for an eye, labouring under a malady which causes a defluction, to see clearly any very bright and brilliant object, till the impurity is removed; so it is for the mind, unpossessed of virtue, to reflect the beautiful image of truth. Hierocles, in Pref. ad Pythag
adopt or follow, but even to understand, the doctrines of moral philosophy.
One of our own philosophers*, who in many respects equalled the antients, justly observes, "That anger, im"patience, admiration of persons, or a pusillanimous " over-estimation of them, desire of victory more than "of truth, too close an attention to the things of this "world, as riches, power, dignities, IMMERSION OF THE "MIND INTO THE BODY, and the slaking of that noble and "divine firet of the soul by intemperance and luxury; "all these are very great enemies to all manner of know"ledge, as well natural as divine."
I therefore earnestly recommend it to every serious man, who wishes to be convinced of Christianity, to consider it in the morning ‡, before either the cares of the world, or the fumes of that intemperance which conviviality sometimes occasions, blunt the feelings of the heart, and spreads a film over the visual nerve of the mental eye**.
* Dr. Henry More.
† Igneus ille vigor.
Those that seek me early (mane) shall find me. Prov. viii. Si præceptor, HOMO, gravatur homini disciplinam bumanam committere, puta dialecticen aut arithmeticen, somnolento, oscitanti, aut crapula gravato; quanto magis SAPIENTIA COLESTIS dedignabitur loqui voluptatum bujus mundi amore temulentis, cælestium rerum neglectu, nauseantibus? ERASMUS. HOR.
** Verum bæc impransus.
On improving AFFLICTIONS duly as a Means of Grace and Belief in the Gospel.
A CELEBRATED divine*, on his recovery
from a severe fit of sickness, is reported to have said, “I have learned, under this sickness, to KNOW SIN AND "GOD." He had studied divinity, during many years, with great attention; he had prayed and preached with great ardour; yet he acknowledges, that till the afflic tion of sickness visited him, he was unacquainted with those important subjects, SIN AND GOD; subjects which he had so frequently considered in private, and discoursed upon before an admiring audience.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted, said one, who had sinned egregiously in his prosperous days, and who was rendered wise by affliction.
Afflictions, if suffered to have their perfect work, will certainly become the means of grace, cause belief in the consolatory gospel, and ultimately lead to salvation. The wandering mind returns, like the prodigal son, when under the pressure of distress, to the bosom of its -father. The kind father goes forth to meet it on its return, and the interview happily terminates in perfect love and reconciliation.
More have been convinced of the truth of Christianity by a severe illness, a great loss, a disappointment†, or
↑ Le moment de la GRACE, c'est une humiliation qui Dieu vous envoie, et qui vous eloigne du monde, parceque vous n'y pouvez plus paroitre avec honneur. C'est la disgrace d'un maitre a qui une lache complaisance vous faisoit en mille rencontres sacrifier les interets de votre conscience; le changement d'un ami dont le commerce trop frequent vous entrainoit dans le vice & vous y entretenoit. C'est une perte