Page images
PDF
EPUB

requisite to attain the latter. Under his Lordship’s hand, while this connection is overlooked, the wholesome doctrine which is full of sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comforts to godly persons,” is rendered to the last degree noxious and unlovely. vIn brief, he who professes that all our good and all our happiness must be ultimately referred to the divine beneficence and purpose, cannot renounce the predestination we hold, but at the expense of consistency with his own profession.

CHAP. VII.

CONCLUDING REMARKS ON THE EXCELLENCY OF

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE, AND ON THE BEST WAY
OF OBTAINING IT.

1. The particular design of this chapter. § 2. The Excellency of

Religious Knowledge. § 3. Advancement in this knowledge strongly enjoined in the holy scriptures. 4. Proficiency in it beneficial to ourselves and others, even in private life. 5. Especially to public instructors; and § 6. To disputants. 7. The

importance of it further appears from its influence on practice. $ 8. We should seek it, first, by the performance of known duty.

$ 9. The folly of neglecting this rule. $ 10. This method recommended by the holy scriptures ; and į 11. Justified on rational principles. $ 12, 13. We should seek it, secondly, by the exercise of Christian Candour. $ 14. Thirdly, by forbearing to systematize without extensive information; and especially $ 15. Fourthly, by cultivating a devotional temper.

§ 1. Having completed the proposed Examination of the Bishop of Lincoln's “ Refutation of Calvinism,”---and ventured to suggest some explanation of the numerous mistakes and inconsistencies which occur in that perform ance,-I now request the reader's attention to a few CONCLUDING REMARKS of a more practical nature. My design is to point out the excellency of religious knowledge, and the best way of obtaining it. In connexion with which, I would fain bear the best testimony in my power against the principle and the operations

of bigotry in polemical discussions; and encourage a liberal and enlarged way of thinking. This is far more worthy of the gospel of Christ, and of the talents with which we are entrusted, than contending for the interest of any external denomination.

V Ý 2. Of all objects contemplated by mortals,

none is of equal excellency and importance with religion: it embraces the sublimest topics that the universe affords, relates to the purest enjoyments, involves our highest interest, and stands immediately connected with endless consequences. Without religious knowledge no man, however distinguished in other respects, can be truly happy, or truly wise. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Life is the well-being of any person or thing; and here it denotes that which is peculiar to the immortal soul. The right knowledge of God and of his Christ, therefore, stands immediately related to our cternal well-being.

✓ $ 3. This knowledge being excellent in its nature, and glorious in its effects, it is no wonder that the sacred oracles so warmly recommend a progressive improvement in it. “My son, if thou

* Joho xyii. 3.

wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee, so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her, as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord ; and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom; .out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. A similar promise we have in the prophets, in a more concise form : “ Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord.† An attainment of inconsiderable value would not be represented in this manner by an inspired scribe. The devout Psalmist observes, “What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the

way that he shall choose.—The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant,” or, his covenant to make them know it. The same sentiment is inculcated in the New Testament as a matter of apostolic exhortation. Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”|| Therefore leaving the principles (the mere rudiments) of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto

66

* Prov. ii. 1-6.
1 Psa. xxv. 12. 14.

+ Hos. vi. 3.
| 1 Cor. xiv. 20.
2 M

perfection."* "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” † “ Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away by the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness; but grow

in and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” I

grace,

V$ 4. Proficiency in religious knowledge, as appears from the divine records, must be highly beneficial. When Solomon asserts, “ that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good,” || he evidently includes the counterpart, that the acquisition of knowledge is good. " Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.” Religious knowledge is welcome to the mental eye, and divine truth, as a light shining in a dreary solitude, illuminates the path of duty, and invigorates the moral traveller in the ways of wisdom. Before its benign power the clouds of ignorance dissolve and vanish: and, while it enlarges the understanding, it refines the passions, and purifies the heart. If, however, it is thus peculiarly advan

* Heb. vi. 1.

1 2 Pet. iii. 17, 18.

+ 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2.
$ Eccles, ii, 13.

| Prov. xix. 2.

« PreviousContinue »