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of such men in favour of this sublime doctrine, no man. can justly call it heterodox or improperly enthusiastical. I could indeed cite many other most respectable authorities; but I have already exceeded the just limits of quo- . tation. It now remains to point out the means of obtaining this evidence.
Faith IS THE GIFT OF God*. To the Giver only it belongs to prescribe the means of obtaining his bounty. He has prescribed the WRITTEN WORD and PRAYER. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the WORD OF Godt. But the whole tenor of the Gospel proves, that the WRITTEN WORD has not efficacy of itself to convince our understandings, nor reform our hearts; to produce either faith in God or repentance from dead works, without the aid of the Holy Ghost.
* Now the aid of the Holy Ghost is promised to PRAYER : “ If ye,” says our Saviour,“ being evil, know 6 how to give good gifts unto your children, how much a more shall God give the Holy SPIRIT to them that $6 ask him?"
The Holy Spirit, it appears from this passage, is the s best gift, which the best, wisest and most powerful of Beings, can bestow, and he has promised it those who ask it with faith and humility. An easy condition of obtaining the greatest comfort of which the heart of man is capable, together with full evidence of the truth of Christianity.
But do the inquirers into the truth of Christianity seek its evidence in this manner? Do they fall on their knees, and lift up their hearts in supplication? It appears rather that they trust to their own power, than to the power of God. They take down their folios, they have recourse to their logic, their metaphysics, nay even their mathe
* Eph: ü. 8*. '
† Rom. x. 7. ?
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 sangTITY 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 Psalmistt, “ 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 particlell, 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 dif-: ferent 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. · + Psal. cxix. 131.
Zach. xii. 10.. | 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 me the world, a great lawyer, and therefore may contribute
to prove, that they who value themselves on their world. ly 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 el 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, er 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 et "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.
I HE Apostle says, Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the SPIRIT*. The word contra 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
* Eph. v. 18. .
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 innoa · “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 lustret.
That great master of reasoning, Aristotle, maintained that pleasures are corruptive of principles (Plagtirai TW ang%wv); 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 philosophiæ 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 λημωντί, και ου κεκαθαρμεν», τα σφοδρα φωτεινα ιδειν ουκ ουοντε ουτω και τη ψυχη μη την αρετην κεκτημαsun, To Tng a MO125 EYOTTRONatale Xerdos. 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 Præf. 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 56 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 6 divine firet of the soul by intemperance and luxury; is all these are very great enemies to all manner of know56 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 t, 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 preceptor, homo, gravatur homini disciplinam bumanam committere, puta dialecticen aut arithmeticen, somnolento, oscitanti, aut crapula gravato; quanto magis SAPIENTIA CÆLESTIS dedigrabitur loqui voluptatum hujus mundi amore temulentis, cælestium rerum neglectu, nauseantibus?
ERASMUS .** Verum bæc impransus.