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superseded the infallible standard of religious truth: and the effect in both cases has not failed to correspond with the cause.
On spiritual subjects nothing can be discovered by the light of unassisted rea
What is to be known on those subjects, man must be contented to learn in the way and degree in which God has thought fit to teach him. To consider, therefore, any spiritual subject by the light of Nature and Reason, whilst we neglect that Revelation whose professed object it is to furnish all necessary information upon it; is to reject day-light and an open
road to travel in, that we may shew our genius or our self-sufficiency, by taking an adventurous walk among pits in the dark, at the risk of falling headlong into the first that lies open in our way. In this case there is doubtless too much at stake. Consequently to every wise man, opinions, however plausible and ingenious, will afford but a poor compensation for any deviation from the standard of Divine Truth.
Rational Criticism, it must at the same time be admitted, can seldom, if ever, be misemployed. But to be entitled to the
honourable distinction of rational criticism, it must proceed on this acknowledged prineiple; that what has been revealed must be true; and consequently that no defect of comprehension on our parts can justify an argument against the clear letter of Scripture. Under the sanction of this distinction it will be readily allowed, that the science of Divinity owes much of its present improved state to that talent for close reasoning and critical investigation, which distinguishes the writings of some modern divines; and renders them hardly less serviceable to the cause of Christianity, than the pious, learned, and unwearied labours of its more early professors.
Soundness in the faith, and an hearty zeal for its promotion, were the excellencies which particularly marked the character of the primitive Fathers of the Church. Their writings, for the most part, had neither elegance of language, nor ingenuity of thought to recommend them. It sufficed that they were plain, simple, and convincing. Philosophical researches, metaphy, sical subtleties, and vain reasonings, accompanied the introduction of human
Rom. VI. 23.
of God is eternal Life, through Jesus
HEB. XII. 1. 2. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed
about with so great a Cloud of Witnesses, let us lay aside every Weight, and the Sin that doth so easily beset us; and let us run with Patience the Race that is set before us : looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith