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the name of Jesus, a very good man, did live on earth, and that he preached and taught, under the direction of God or divine providence, an excellent system of morality; such, as, if duly observed, would contribute to their happiness, and recommend them to divine favour. But this kind of faith is not the right faíth; it believes not enough, it is not given by the Holy Ghost; for he, in whom God dwelleth, confesseth that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world*; but they who acknowledge Jesus only as a good man teaching morality, know him not as a SAVIOUR. Socrates taught fine morality; and so did Seneca, Epictetus, and many more; but they had not and could not teach the knowledge which leadeth to salvation.
“ Illuminating grace,” says Dr. Gloucester Ridley, « consists not in the assent we give to the HISTORY OF « the gospel, as a narration of matters of fact, suffi« ciently supported by HUMAN EVIDENCE; for this may “ be purely the effect of our study and learning. The “ collating of copies, the consulting of history, the com“ paring the assertions of friends and the concessions of “ enemies, may NECESSITATEť such a belief, a faith “ which the devils may have, and doubtless have it. “ This sort of faith is an acquisition of our own, and not
a GIFT." But FAITH IS THE GIFT OF GOD.
“ There may be a faith,” continues Dr. Ridley, “ which is not the work of the Spirit in our hearts, but
entirely the effect of human means, our natural facul“ ties assisted by languages, antiquities, manuscripts,
* 1 John, iv. 13, 14, 15.
+ Πισις ουκ η γεωμετρικαις αναγκαις, αλλ' η ταις του πνευμalos svegyalais esyovoulen. Basil in Psal. 195.—The right faith is not that which is FORCED by mathematical demonstration, whether we will or not; but that which grows in the mind from the operation or energies of the SPIRIT.
“ criticism, and the like, without any
divine aid, except “ the bare letter of the revelation; and as this faith may “ rise out of human abilities, so may it be attended with “ pride in our supposed accomplishments, envy of others “superior skill, and bitter strife against those who mis“ take or oppose such truths; and is therefore no mani“ festation of that Spirit which resisteth the proud, and “ dispenses its graces only to the humble. This wis
DOM DESCENDETH NOT FROM ABOVE. But the true
saving faith, at the same time that it informs the un“ derstanding, influences the WILL AND AFFECTIONS; “ it enlightens the eyes of the heart*, says the apostle: “ it is there, in the HEART, that the Christian man be“ lieveth; and if thou believest with thine HEART, thou « shalt be savedt; while infidelity proceedeth from an “averseness of our affections-from an evil heart of un« belief t."
It is not therefore strange, that learned apologists, well acquainted with scripture, should, after reading these strong declarations, that the HEART must be impressed before faith can be fixed in it, should studiously avoid every topic which addresses itself to the affections, and coldly apply themselves to the understanding, in a language and manner which might become a mathematical lecturer solving a problem of Euclid.
Infidelity is increasing, and will continue to increase, so long as divines decline the means of conversion and Persuasion which the scriptures of the New Testament declare to be the only effectual means; so long as they
* Πεφωτισμενους τους οφθαλμους τη καρδιας. Ερδeriane, . 18.Enlightening the eyes of the HEART. Almost all the old MSS. read sagdsces, and not dievobas, as it stands in our printed copies. See Mill's Lectiones Variantes.
RIDLEY † Rom. x. 9.
# Heb. ii. 12.
have recourse to human reason and human learning ONLY, in which they will always find opponents very powerful. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia *, and then she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul. The Lord opens the HEARTS of all men at some period of their lives; but the vanity of the world, the cares of gain, the pride of life, shut them again, and reject the Holy Ghost. It is the business of divines to dispose those who are thus unfortunate and unwise, to be ready to receive the divine guest, should he again knock at the door of their hearts; but in doing this, they must preach the true gospel, which is not a system of mere human morality or philosophy, but the doctrine
The true and only convincing Evidence of the Religion of
Christ, or the Illumination of the Holy Ghost is offered
FROM the eternal Fountain of light, both natural and spiritual, there streams a light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world. Whoever loves that which is good and just and true, and desires to act a virtuous part in his place allotted to him in this world, whether high or low, may be assured of the blessing of: of heaven, displaying itself not perhaps in worldly riches or honours, but in something infinitely more valuable, á SECRET INFLUENCE upon his heart and understanding, to direct his conduct, to improve his nature, and to
• Acts, xvi. 14.
+ It must be taught medialè per verbum, IMMEDIATÈ per Spr
lead him, though in the lowly vale, yet along the path of peace.
The nature of all men was depraved by the fall of Adam. The assistance of God's Holy Spirit was withdrawn. Christ came to restore that nature, and to bring down that assistance, and leave it as a GIFT, a legacy to all mankind after his departure.
In Adam All die, says St. Paul, but in Christ shall all be made alive. That is in Adam all die a spiritual death, or lose the Paraclete, the particle of the divine nature, which was bestowed on man on his creation; and in Christ all are made alive, spiritually alive, or rendered capable, if they do not yoluntarily choose darkness rather than light, of the divine illumination of the Holy Ghost. The film is taken from the eyes of all, but the eye-lids remain, which may be GLOSED by voluntary connivance, or by wicked presumption. “ I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh*.”
grace which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto All men."- This is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”_" It is his “ will, that all men should be saved, and come to the “ knowledge of the truth."-" Christ came to save sin
ners; and we have before proved, both Jews and Gen« tiles, that they are all under sin." Come unto me
ALL ye that labour and are heavy laden."-" He has " propitiated for the sins of the whole world. His
grace has been openly offered to ALL men in the gosspelt."
These passages, which no sophistry can elude, are a sufficient to prove that the internal EVIDENCE of the gospel has a great advantage over the external, in the
Joel, ü. 28. † 1 Tim. ii. 4. 1 Tim. i. 15. Rom. iii. 9. Matth. ü. 28. 1 John, ü. 2 Tit. ii. 2.
circumstance of its universality. All may be convinced by it who are willing *. But can this be said of dry, logical, systematic testimonies, which require learning, sagacity, and time, to be comprehended ? Such testimonies are fit for few, and appear unlikely to produce vital religion in any. They serve men to talk about, they furnish matter for logomachy; but they leave the heart unaffected. Neither Jesus Christ nor his apostles thought proper to address men systematically. And are critics, linguists, and logicians wiser than the Author of their religion, and better informed than his apostles?
The word of God is like a two-edged sword, invincible where it is properly used; but the word of man is comparatively a feeble weapon, without point or edge. The word of man alone, though adorned with all eloquence, learning, and logical subtilty, will never stop the progress of unbelief. The word of God rightly explained, so as to administer grace to the hearers and readers, will still preserve and extend Christianity, as it has hitherto done, notwithstanding all the opposition of the world, and those unfeeling children of it, whose hearts are hardened and understandings darkened by the pride of life. If, therefore, as St. James advises, any of
you lack WISDOM, let him ask of God, that giveth TO ALL men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. The wisdom here meant is that which maketh wise unto salvation; and certainly is not to be found in the cold didactic writings of those who rely entirely on their own reason, and deny or explain away the doctrine of grace.
Grace is the living gospel. Perishable paper, pens, ink, and printer's types, can never supersede the daily,
* Η μεν γαρ χαρις εις ΠΑΝΤΑΣ εκκεχυθαι. CHRYSosToM in Foan. · Hom.- For grace indeed is poured out upon ALL,