Page images
PDF
EPUB

(taxvon,) because they have taken a side in the polemics of Theology, against the doctrine of Divine Grace.

But what have we to do with Faustus, Wolzogenius, Slichtingius, and the rest, when we have before us the words of JESUS CHRIST? By them it appears that there is an ATTRACTIon in the spiritual world, as well as the natural; and that the Spirit of God, a benign philanthropic Spirit, unites itself to the soul of man, and communicates to it comfort, sanctity, and illumination. .

Men do not controvert the received systems of natural philosophy. They believe in the attraction of gravitation, cohesion, magnetism, and electricity. But in this there is no visible agency, no sensible efflux, influx, or impulse. Yet they believe it, and certainly with reason; but why should they think that God acts thus on matter, comparatively vile, and leaves MIND uninfluenced? Mind, that pure, etherial essence, which must be said to approach in its nature to Divinity, (if man can conceive any thing of Divine,) and which has an inborn tendency to assimilate with its like...,

God, we are told in scripture, is love. But love always attaches itself to its object. It is not compatible with love to be selfish and solitary. It delights in assimilation. The spirit of that God who is love; still unites itself with man, for whom it has already shęwn so much affectionate regard, in the creation and redemption. It could not be consistent with the love and mercy of God to man, to leave him entirely, for ages, without any intercourse, any light, any communication, but a written WORD, in a language unknown, unread by many, and which, without Divine interposition, might be corrupted by the wickedness of man, or lost by his negligence. God's Spirit, acting upon the soul of man, at this hour and forever, is a LIVING, ENERGETIC AND EVERLASTING GOSPEL. The promise of God's assistance by his Spirit, (as St. Peter assured the first con

verts to Christianity,) was unto them, and unto their children, and to all that WERE AFAR OFF*, their successors to the remotest ages, even to as many as the Lord their God should call.

Man must be ATTRACTED to God by the spirit of love in the Divine nature, or else he ceases to be in the Christian system; and what may be the consequence to the soul in its aberration, is known only to him who knoweth all things. But surely every thinking mortal will gladly follow the Divine attraction, since it gradually draws him from this low vale, where sin and sorrow abound, up to the realms of bliss eternal; and affords him, during his earthly pilgrimage, the sweetest solace.

The human soul assimilating with the Divine, is the drop of water gravitating to the ocean, from which it was originally separated; and cohering with it as soon as it comes within the sphere of its attraction; it is the child clinging to the bosom of its parent; it is the want dering weary exile hastening with joy to his native home. Letus endeavourto cherish an inclination for re-union; let AE us follow all the known means of accomplishing it, and it will be finally and completely effected by the Holy 1 Ghost, the spirit of lovet.

• Acts, ii. 39.

+ Let us hear a Heathen philosopher speak on the union be tween God and good men.

Inter bonos viros ac Deum, amicitia est, conciliante virtute; amicitiam dico? etiam necessitudo et similitudo ... SENECA,

SECTION XXVII.

On the Difficulties of the Scripture.

In his solis literis et quod non assequor, tamen adoro.

ERASMUS.

If there is any thing in human affairs to be approached with awe, and viewed with veneration, it is the WRITTEN WORD of revelation. · Acknowledged sanctity and long duration combine to throw an air of divinity around it. It is worthy to be kept in the holy of holies. But I cannot agree with those zealous votaries who pretend either that there are no difficulties in it, or that they are all removable by the light of learning. I confess that criticism has removed many difficulties; but I am convinced that many still remain, which, I fear, will never give way to human sagacity. There they must remain, with all the majesty of clouds and darkness around them, till the sun of righteousness shall appear in his full glory.

But shall difficulties cause disbelief? Are there then no difficulties in nature, as well as in the words of grace? I cannot step into the garden or the meadow; I cannot cast my eyes to the horizon, without encountering difficulties. Yet I believe the existence of the things I see there, and I am led from the observation of general good, mixed with partial evil, to conclude, that vėrily there is a God. I conclude in the same manner, from what I do understand and know to be good in the gospel, that verily Jesus is the Christ; and that tlie parts of the gospel which I do not comprehend, are good, because those which I am able to understand are so beyond all doubt and comparison.

All that is necessary to my happiness in the gospel is sufficiently clear. I learn there that the Holy GHOST is vouchsafed to me and to all men, now and till time shall be no more. This I consider as the LIVING GOSPEL. This supplies all defects, if any there should be, in the written word; and the dark and unintelligible parts of the gospel, surrounded by celestial radiance, become like spots in the sun, which neither deform its beauty, nor diminish its lustre. I am not therefore offended by them; I bow to them with reverence, as to sacred things upon the altar, covered with a veil from the eyes of mortal or profane intrusion. It is enough that I have learned, in the gospel, many moral truths; and this one great truth, that God Almighty, at this moment, pours an EMANATION of himself into the souls of all who seek the glorious gift by fervent prayer, and endeavour to retain it by obedience to his will. It is enough: why need I perplex my understanding with searching into those secret things which belong unto the Lord; or acquire a minute, cavilling habit, which never can discover any thing of more importance than that which I already know; but which, if indulged presumptuously, may lead me to scepticism, and terminate in infidelity? Some parts of the holy volume are sealed: I will not attempt to burst it open; or vainly conjecture what these parts: conceal. I will wait with patience and humility for God's good time In the mean time I will rejoice; and my flesh shall rest in hope; because I have been admitted to inspect the book, and have learned that the Spirit still attends the written word, ministering at this hour, and illuminating, with the lamp of Heaven, whatever darkness overshadows the path of life.

This persuasion adds new glory to the written gospel. It throws a heavenly lustre over the page. It is not left alone to effect the great purpose of men's recovery; so that whatever difficulties or defects it may be allowed

to retain, by the wise providence of God, the difficulties will be removed, and the defects supplied, so far as to accomplish the great end, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, which accompanies it in its progress down the stream of time, like the pillar of fire, attending the children of Israel*.

SECTION XXVIII.

The OMNIPRESENce of God a Doctrine universally alloro

ed; but how is God every where present but by his Spirit, which is the Hour Ghost,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

T IHEY who maintain, if there be any such, that God having, about eighteen hundred years ago, signified his will to mankind, has ever since that time withdrawn his agency from the human mind, do, in effect, deny the omnipresence, and with it the omniscience, providence,

* Οσοι υιοι εισι του φωτος και της διακονιας της καινης διαθηκης εν τω πνευματι αγίω, ΘΕΟΔΙΔΑΚΤΟΙ ΕΙΣΙΝ· αυτη γαρ η χαρις επιγραφει εν ταις καρδιαις αυτων τους νομους του πνευμαλος" ουκ οφειλουσιν ουν εις τας γραφας μονον τας δια μιλανος γεγραμμενες πληροφορειθαι, αλλα και εις τας πλακας της καρδιας η χαρις του Θεου εγγρα φοιτους νομους του πνευμαίος και τα STOUgarte plusingickoAs many as are the sons of tre light, and of the ministration of the New Testament in the holy Spirit, are taught of God; for grace itself inscribes upon their hearts the laws of the Spirit. They are not therefore indebted to the SCRIPTURES ONLY, the word written with INK, for their Christian perfection; i but the grace of God writes upon the tablet of their hearts the laws of the Spirit, and the mysteries of Heaven.

MACARIUS in Homil. 15.

« PreviousContinue »