Page images
PDF
EPUB

* holiness; that prevents his steps from sliding; or if " his foot hath slipped, raises him again; that keeps himi is steady in the right way; or, if at any time he hath < wandered out of it, recalls him to it; that strengthens “ him to resist temptations, or endure toils, and so con«tinue patiently in well doing; that, as he advances,

opens to his faith a still brightening view of the hea- . * venly Jérusalem, through the gloom which our earthly “ state hangs upon death and futurity; and animates him 6 to live and walk by this faith?

“ If these are exertions beyond the sphere of mere “human activity, the question, whence such improve«ment of soul and spirit and life proceeds, will admit of “ an easy and clear answer. It is God who blessés our

earnest petitions that we may do his will, and our sin“ cere endeavours to do it, with the GRACE OF HIS HOLY “ SPIRIT; who worketh in us both to will and to do of his “ good pleasure, and thus verifies and fulfils the promises, “made by Christ to those who ask in his name, of succour " and strength from on high. Christ therefore is his “ beloved Son, by whom we are redeemed, and in whom “ we are accepted. The religion which he hath taught “ us, so worthy of God in the theory, and so favoured by " him in the practice of its laws, proves its heavenly is origin by the fruit it produces; and brings its divinity “ home to the breast of the devout professor by EXPE“RIENCE of its power unto salvation." · “ It is natural to conclude, that he who has this con“ viction of its certainty will be desirous of persuading “others to the belief and practice of it; and will be of " an apt and fit disposition to instruct them in it.” • There are scarcely any recent divines, whose opinions ought to have more weight than those of Dr. Townsou). He lived, as he wrote, according to the true gospel. He is universally esteemed by the most learned and judicious theologists of the present day; and his opinions

alone carry with them sufficient authority to justify me fully in recommending that evidence of the gospel truth which arises from divine influence, consequent on obedience to its precepts. An orthodox life, I am convinced, is the best preparative to the entertainment of orthodox opinions; and I rejoice to find such men as Townson enforcing the doctrine, " that if any man will “ do the will of Christ, he shall know of the doctrine " whether it be of God.” He does not refer us to systematical or philosophical works, but to the teaching of the Holy Ghost, for the attainment of this knowledge; a knowledge, compared to which all other is to man, condemned as he is shortly to die, but puerile amusement, a house of cards, a bubble blown up into the air, and displaying deceitful colours in a momentary sunshine.

SECTION XVII.

Das Doddridge on the Doctrine of Divine Influence.

in « ANY degree of divine influence on the mind,
“ inclining it to believe in Christ and to practise virtuez
“ is called GRACE. All those who do indeed believe in
*“ Christ, and in the main practise virtue, are to ascribe
« it not merely or chiefly to their own wisdom and
“ goodness, but to the special operation of divine grace
« upon their souls, as the original cause of it. None

« can deny, that God has such an access to the minds of i.“ men that he can work upon them in what manner he. :“ pleases: and there is great reason to believe, that his

“ secret influence on the mind gives a turn to many of “ the most important events relating to particular per.

« sons and societies*, as it is evident many of the public “revolutions, mentioned in the Old Testament, are “ ascribed to this cause f. Though the mind of man :6 bé not invincibly determined by motiyes, yet in mat« ters of great importance it is not determined without “them: and it is reasonable to believe, that where a * person goes through those difficulties which attend “ faith and obedience, he must have a very lively view " of the great engagements to them, and probably, upon " the whole, a more lively view than another, who, in

the same circumstances, in all other respects acts. in “ a different manner. Whatever instruments are made “use of as the means of making such powerful impres“sions on the mind, the efficacy of them is to be ascribed “ to the continual agency of the first cause. The preva“ lence of virtue and piety in the church is to be ascribed s to God, as the great original Author, even upon the « principles of natural religion. Good men in scripture, “ who appear best to have understood the nature of God, " and his conduct towards men, and who wrote under “ the influence and inspiration of his Spirit, frequently 6 offer up such petitions to God, as shew that they be“ lieved the reality and importance of his gracious agen“ cy upon the heart to promote piety and virtue to God “ promises to produce such a change in the hearts of " those to whom the other valuable blessings of his word.' « are promised, as plainly implies that the alteration “ made in their temper and character is to be looked “ upon as his work ||

.Prov. xxi. 1.

t. Ezra, i. 1. Religion of Nature delineated, p. 105–107.

| Psal. li. 10–12. xxxix. 4. xc. 12. cxix. 12. 18. 27. 33–37. 73. 80. 133. 1 Chron. xxix. 18. 19. Eph. i. 16, &c. ' Col. i. 911, &c. sim.

Deut. xxx. 6. Psal. cx. 3. Jer. xxxi. 33. xxxi. 39, 40. £zek. xi. 19, 20. xxxvi. 26, 27. Compare Heb. viii. 8–13.

“ The scripture expressly declares, in many placeš, " that the work of faith in the soul is to be ascribed to « God, and describes the change made in a man's heart, v6 when it becomes truly religious, in such language as 56 must lead the mind to some strength superior to our « own by which it is effected*. The increase of Chris“ tians in faith and piety, is spoken of as the work of « God; which must more strongly imply that the first “ beginnings of it are to be ascribed to himt. The « scripture does expressly assert the absolute necessity “ of such divine influences on the mind, in order to faith « and holiness, and speaks of God's giving them to one « while he with-holds them from another, as the great “ reason of the difference to be found in the characters :-“ of different men in this important respect t.

“ It appears probable from the light of nature, and a certain from the word of God, that Faith and repen« tance are ultimately to be ascribed to the work of spe“ cial grace upon the hearts of men. As to the man

* John, i. 13. iii. 3. 5, 6. Acts, xi. 18. xvi. 14. 2 Cor. iï. 3. Eph. i. 19, 20. ii. 1. 10. iv. 24. Phil. i. 29. Col. i. 11 12. ï. 12, 13. Vid. James, i. 18. 2 Tim. ii. 25. To this catalogue we scruplé not to add Eph. ii. 8. though some have objected that oslo cannot refer to ticEws; since the like change of genders is often to be found in the New Testament; compare Acts, xxiv. 16. xxvi. 17. Phil. i. 28. 1 John, ii. 8. Gal. iii. 16. iv. 19. Matth. vi. ult. xxviii. 19. Rom. ï. 14. Elsner's Obsery. vol. i. p. 128. Raphel. Observ, ex Herod. in Matth. xxviii. 19. Glassii Op. 1. iii. Tract. ii. de pr. Can. xvi. p. 524-526.

+ Psal. cxix. 32. Phil. i. 6. ii. 13. 1 Cor. vii. 25. jïi, 7. iv. 7. xv. 10. 2 Cor. y. 5. Heb. xiii. 20, 21. 1 Pet. v. 10. Jude, ver. 24, 25.

| Deut. xxix. 4. Matth. xi. 25, 26. John, vi. 44, 45, 46. xii. 39, 40. Rom. ix. 18.-23.

H Lime-street Lect. vol. ii. p. 242-245. Tillotson's Works, vol. ii. p. 80, 81. Limb. Theol. I. iv. c. 14. $ 4, 21. Brandt's Hist. of the Ref. vol. ii. p. 75. Doddridge on Regen. Serm. vi. a ner in which divine grace operates upon the mind, * considering how little it is we know of the nature and " and constitution of our own souls, and of the frame of “ nature around us, it is no wonder that it should be uns “ accountable to us *. Perhaps it may often be, by im“ pelling the animal spirits or nerves, in such a manner

as is proper to excite certain ideas in the mind with a " degree of vivacity, which they would not otherwise “ have had: by this means various passions are excited; " but the great motives addressed to gratitude and love “ seem generally, if not always, to operate upon the will “ more powerfully than any other, which many divines “ have therefore chosen to express by the phrase of de. " lectatio victrixt."

SECTION XVIII.
The Opinions of Mr. Locke and Mr. Addison,

T will be difficult to prove that any of the modern worshippers of their own reason possess understandings better illuminated than those of the great ornaments of our country, Locke and Addison; and they have left on record their opinion on the reality and

p. 221–233. Jortin's Six Dissertations, No. 1. Warburton's Doctrine of Grace. Fost, Sermons, vol. ii. No, 5. præs. p. 104, 105. * John, iii. 8.

+ Compare Deut, xxx. 6. Psal, cxix. 16. 20, 32, 47, 48.97, 103." Psal. xix. 10, 11. Rom. vii. 22. 1 John, iv. 18, 19. Rom. v. 5. Le Blanc's Thes, p. 527, 553. Burn. Life of Roch. p. 43–51. Barclay's Apol. p. 148. Burnet on Art, p. 120. Whitby Ccmment. vol. ii. p. 289, 290. Scougal's Works, p. 6-10. Seed's Serm. vol. i. p. 291. Ridley on the Spirit, p. 210. King's Origin of Evil, p. 71, 376-380, fourth edition.,

« PreviousContinue »