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detached sentiments, the subject should be viewed on all sides, in all its relations and connections, its antecedents and consequences, its causes and effects. As one part of a religious system should not oppose another, so no part should oppose the sacred oracles. A theological theory which depends in a great measure on mere verbal criticisms for support, deservedly excites our suspicion. It is better to abide by the facts, the histories, the doctrines, and duties of religion, as plainly revealed, without attempting a reconciliation of difficulties, or stating a systematic view of the whole, than to adopt for this purpose vague hypotheses incapable of proof, or uncertain conjectures, the pabulum of scepticism. Men may be good and useful Christians though not versed in systems of divinity, and thouglı destitute of a deep and critical knowledge of many particulars; but in order to correct the systems of others, these ought to be thoroughly known on the points of difference;---and when an unfair statement of them is made, it follows as a plain inference, that this must be owing either to the want of information, or of candoui. Before we blame, let us be well informed.
15. In the fourth place, enquire after truth and growing knowledge with a devotional temper. An undevout enquirer is almost sure
of being disappointed, because he neglects the source of wisdom. True devotion calms the passions, and improves our love of truth. Connecting every object and event with God, as either appointing or permitting it, it is more likely to lead the mind to view every part of truth or of error in its proper cause. The devout mind has unfeigned pleasure in the divine will, and prevailing desires to know it more fully; and therefore (cæteris paribus) there is greater probability of success.
. And it is worthy of observation, that the most useful men in the church of Christ have been eminent for piety and a devotional spirit. But real devotion is not confined to set times and forms; the subject of it prays without ceasing, and everinore gives thanks to the Father of mercies. In every place and at all seasons, he lifts up his heart to heaven, without wrath or doubting. The word of God is the treasury from whence he draws instruction; but he looks up for the Spirit of Wisdom, that he may have an accurate conception of every part, not neglecting the subordinate helps which are placed within his reach. This method, pursued with diligence, will" give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion;" and will prepare him “ to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark
sayings." Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire, arc not to be compared unto her. Length of days are in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her.” “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” “ Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
§ 16. In having thus ventured to submit the foregoing observations to his
younger brethren, (a considerable number of whom, he has had the honour and the pleasure of instructing for the Christian ministry, in the course of thirty years,) the writer hopes it is needless for him to disclaim the imputation of considering himself as “ having attained,” or being already perfect.” Conscious of
Conscious of many deficiencies, and sensible that he has much to learn, he unaffectedly admits, that if in any part of this work he has failed in exemplifying the particulars recommended, he ought to be included in the number
of those to whom the exhortations and directions are peculiarly applicable. Thus much, however, he must be permitted to declare, that as in the controversial part he has opposed no doctrine, advanced no sentiment, and adduced no argument, which he had not deliberately weighed; so he has not ventured to suggest any advice which he is not conscientiously disposed to follow, or to recommend any temper of mind which he does not sincerely desire to cultivate.
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