Page images
PDF
EPUB

laboured indeed and sagacious, but, after all, unsatisfactory to many, and unintelligible to more?

Yet this mode of recommending Christianity is the only one approved by some persons of high authority; and there are those who would not venture to preach the doctrine of grace, the teaching of God and a spiritual understanding, lest they should be numbered with enthusiasts, and lose all chance of promotion and worldly esteem. This danger must be voluntarily incurred by all who would succeed in repelling the rapid advances of modern infidelity. Christianity flourished wonderfully while its genuine doctrines, the glad tidings of grace, were preached; and it has been gradually declining, ever since it has become fashionable, in order to discountenance fanaticism, to recommend mere heathen morality as the essence of Christianity, and to make use of no other arguments to prove the truth of it, but such as an ingenious man, without the smallest particle of religion in his heart, might produce. Professional advocates, furnished with human arguments only and ex: ternal evidence, appear to the true Christian, as well as to the unbeliever, like lawyers pleading for a fee, on that side of the question which they know to be wrong, or at

least are not convinced is right. It is indeed certain is that a dull and plodding scholar may make a wonderful

display of erudition in defence of Christianity, without feeling a lively sense of it himself, or communicating it to his readers. His materials supply the adversaries with arms for fresh attacks, and at the same time fail in building an impregnable rampart round the citadel which he undertakes to defend. There is usually some weak place at which the enemy enters; and, having once entered, he takes possession of the fortress, and uses the stores and ammunition against the very persons who collected them with so much labour,

Nothing of this kind can happen when recourse is had to the teaching of the Spirit. It overcomes the heart; it brings it to the lovely state of infantine innocence and simplicity; and renders him who, like St. Paul was a persecutor of it, a warm friend and advocate.

It is certain that the argumentative mode of addressig‘unbelievers, and a reliance on external evidence, has hitherto failed. Many of the most learned and able men of modern times, who were capable of understande ing the historical, logical, and metaphysical defences of Christianity, have read them without conviction, and laughed at their laborious imbecillity.

It is time to try another mode: And all who are sin cere Christians will favour the experiment; for they would rather see men converted to the true religion, though they should become fervent, and zealous even to a degree of harmless enthusiasm, than totally alienated from it, and enlisted under the partizans of infidelity.

. . . . . . . .,' If men of the world and men of learning* will not interpose to prevent the divine energy, we shall see it

produce its genuine effects in all their vigour and mai- turity, as well in the world of grace as of nature. A • secret operation gives life and growth to the tree, and

so will it to the human soul. “I am the vine, ye are « the branches,” says our Saviour: the branches will soon wither and decay, if the sap flows not to them from the vine..

, Nec Philosophos se ostentent: sed satagant fieri THEODIDACTI. Greg. ix. Ep. ad Univ. Paris.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

SECTION XV.

Passages from a well-known Book of an anonymous Author,

intitled Inward Testimony. « REAL Christians find, that as soon as they « apply themselves to know what is comprehensible in the « sacred scriptures, and to a sincere endeavour to Do “ what is practicable, so soon a Faith in its INCOMPRE6 HENSIBLE doctrines is produced, and then is fulfilled, " that he that doth the will of God shall know of the doc6 trines whether they be of God.

66 The DIVINE SPIRIT concurs with the outward reve« lation in changing a man's sceptical disposition, and 6 then he is fixed: otherwise he would be as ready as 6 ever to embrace the first plausible argument against “ the gospel.

“We have some, who, by their mere notional know, 6 ledge of revelation, the outward testimony to Christi« anity, disbelieve the reality or necessity of any ac" quaintance with the inward testimony, by which the 6 DIVINE SPIRIT produces a serious spiritual frame, “ fitting the soul to receive the sanctifying impressions “ of an outward revelation. They think that reading “ of sacred scripture, and forming from thence right " notions of Christianity, in order to Talk of it, with a ► going the round of common duties, and a not being “ guilty of common sins, is the whole of the Christian

religion, and all the meetness that is necessary for 6 heaven. A serious HEAVENLY FRAME, suitable to “ the true notion of revelation, has no place in them; “ they ridicule it in others, and name it affectation, “ rather than any real part of CHRISTIANITY.

4 An ingenious mind may argue for God against the. atheist; for CHRIST against the Socinian; and for the

« outward testimony of the Spirit of Christ against “the Deist; and he himself be no real Christian: but no “person can well display this inward testimony of Christ " in the soul, without the EXPERIENCE of it*.”

SECTION XVI.

Dr. Townson's Opinions on the Evidence which is in this

- Book recommended as superior to all other.

- “ IF the word was enforced by miracles in the “ times only of its early publication, it has the standing “ support and EVIDENCE of another power, which is “ still as operative, where we will allow it, as ever. This “is declared and promised in the following passage: “ Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall * know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I " speak of myself.

« The person who enters on the study of a science, 1 of which he has only a general idea, must receive “ many things at first on the authority of his instructors. “ And surely there is no one, wlio, by his life and works, « has such claim to trust and confidence in his words as " the Author and Finisher of our faith. If then we “ really desire to know the certainty of his doctrine; if " we have the courage to sacrifice meaner pursuits to “the wisdom that is from above, and the felicity of at“ taining it; we shall study the truth of his religion as he “ directs, by the PRACTICE OF ITS LAWS. “And this

* Jam hic videte magnum sacramentum, Fratres. Magisteria forinsecus adjutoria quædam sunt et admonitiones; CATHEDRADI IN COELO HABET QUI CORDA DOCET.

August. Tr. 3. in 1 Joan.

[ocr errors]

“ method, he assures us, will yield us the repose and 6 coinfort of firm persuasion. Continuing stedfasť in “ such a course of discipline, we shall not seek after “ signs from heaven, nor ask to behold the blind receive « their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, or the dead “ raised up. The healing efficacy and blessed influ“ence of the gospel will sufficiently vouch for its truth « and excellence. “

" The EVIDENCE which thus possesses the soul is not “ liable to be impaired by time, as might an impression “ once made on the senses; but will shine more and « more unto a perfect day. For the practice of reli“ gion, by purifying the heart, will raise and improve “ the understanding to conceive more clearly and judge “ more rightly of heavenly things and divine truths: " the view and contemplation of which will return upon “ the heart the warmth of livelier hopes and more vigo( rous incitements to obedience; and effectual obedience “ will feel and testify that it is the finger of God. - “ For is nature able, by its own efficiency, to clear the “ eyes of the mind; to rectify the will; to regulate the 6 affections; to raise the soul to its noblest object, in * love and adoration of God; to employ it steadily in “ its best and happiest exercise, justice and charity to « man; to detach its desires from the pleasures, profits, “ and honours of the world; to exalt its views to hea6 venly things; to render the whole life godly, just, and “ sober? He, who impartially examines his own moral “ abilities by the pure and searching light of the gospel,

must discern their defects and weakness in every part;

and when he well considers the tenor and spirit of this 6. gospel, must acknowledge that he is not of himself s sufficient for the attainments to which it calls, and “ conducts its faithful votary.'

“ What then is it that hath taken him by the hand, 6 and, leads him on in this rising path of virtue and

« PreviousContinue »