« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
merit of another, and in the er, will say that he learnt from .way of believing only; that them to despise the doctrines of man, in order to become holy, justification and regeneration. and fit for the society of his “ Now a certain divine power is God, must be made a new crea- spoken of in the word, as conture, and be wrought upon by Dected with the true preaching the Divine Spirit, not only with- of It is said to be “ quick out, but even against all his nat- and powerful, and sharper than ural propensities; and that the any two-edged sword,” Heb. ive dispositions which constitute the 12. Mr. Howard found it so ; character of an holy person, in the day of God's power, a sinshould be faith, hope, and love, gle text overcame his stubborn and these too not of human, but heart, and awed him into subof supernatural origin ; and that mission to the Most High. And the whole happiness of his life when the effect is observed all must be sustained by a mys- along to have been perfectly cor, terious union with an invisible respondent to the descriptions Mediator ; these are certainly given in the Scriptures, and he such principles of religion as are became abidingly holy, comperfectly unlike any thing that fortable, and heavenly minded, ever was invented by mere man. emancipated from the dominion And they are things which lie so of every sin, and truly and fertotally out of our reach, tend so vently filled with the love of purely to the honour of God, God, and of his neighbour, what and are so calculated to stain the shall we say? Have we not here pride of human merit and glory, a demonstration of the truth of that we may safely pronounce Scripture? Does not the coinci. them purely divine ; no man dence of what is written, with ever would or could have invent- what is wrought, prove that both ed and propagated such ideas; are equally from God? It may and we all know, or may know, be said, “it seems far more that mankind are naturally too rational, that other kind of docmuch at enmity against them trine should be preached to ever, of themselves, to receive men.” Bat if matter of fact them. Now these are the prin: shews indeed, that no other sort ciples of the New Testament, of doctrine does burst the bonds though it is very common for of sin, and make men truly holy, persons professing to believe the should we not say with St. Paul, New Testament to despise and “ The foolishness of God is abhor them. But surely they wiser than men, and the weakhave received their religious ness of God is stronger than principles from a source very men ?” What you think imdifferent from the sacred oracles; probable, absurd, and foolish, is and all the use they make of the real wisdom of God; it is these is, by some subtle perver- your own taste that needs to be sion to adapt some few detached rectified, and you ought to think texts to support a preconceived more modestly of your own unsystem. No man, who ever derstanding. I see not how the studied the Scriptures them, conclusion can be avoided, that .selves with reverence and pray- the work of Mr. Howard's con,
version was from God, and that But still in all such cases the the scripture doctrines of regen- radical character remains the eration and justification are di same. To gratify self, in some vine.
form or other, was the very hea“ And here one sees at first ven of Socrates, of Polemo, and sight, how easy it is to answer of Wharton. To humble themthe question, which with some selves before the Most High, to confidence has been asked, give glory to their Maker, to “Granting that men may be in- love him sincerely and supremefluenced by the Divine Spirit, ly, and to be renewed in the spir, how can men ever distinguish it of their minds, of this they his influences from the emotions knew nothing ; but this is the of their own minds?” Every in- change which my friend expestance of conversion sufficiently rienced. Self lost in him all its answers this question. The props and supports ; ' he was a subject of it knows experimen: 'new creature throughout; he tally, that such holy views and who had always lived for self, tempers could never be the pro now lived for God. These men duct of his sinful nature ; and I have mentioned, and all who their own native power and glo- walked in their steps, whether ry shew they are from God. He Pagan, Philosopher, or Christian
who has once seen the sun in his by name, are essentially distinct ! majesty, needs no other argu- from this in their whole charac
ment to convince him, that it is ter. They may exchange one not a light of his creating. vice for another ; what they part
“ Till, then, some other ade- with in sensuality, is sure to be quate cause can be assigned for amply compensated in pride. these religious phænomena, of It belongs to God's revealed reli, which no age has ever been whole gion alone, and to the power by ly destitute, it is reasonable to which he applies it to the heart, 'conclude, that “the hand of the to destroy the dominion of vice Lord hath done this, and the universally, and to make a man Holy One of Israel hath created truly humble, wise, and happy. it.”
“ II. The truth of this real in“I
am aware, that a partial re- fluence of the Holy Spirit in formation of conduct is attaina
producing the conversion of sin, ble by other methods. Socrates ners, and the simple nature of might justly boast, that by his Christianity, abstracted from philosophy he had corrected those circumstances of contro, some vices of his nature. And versy and of policy, that so ofthe libidinous Polemo, by hear- ten cloud and embarrass it, would ing Xenocrates' lectures oli appear in a very strong light to temperance, might from a disso- any one who should trace the lute rake, be metamorphosed in- historic progress of the gospel to a proud philosopher. Just as from age to age. It would take the Duke of Wharton, “whose up a volume of some length to ruling passion was the lust of illustrate this, and the employ: praise," might undergo various ment would well recompense alterations of external character, the pains of any who should have "now a punk, and now a friar,” leisure and ability sufficient for
the task. Infidel, malice has justification and regeneration. been gratified, even to satiety, The gates of hell never prevailed with tedious and circumstantial against this church, though aldetails of ecclesiastical history, ways opposed. Here alone the constructed on a very differenttrue nature and beauty of Chrisplan. The intrigues and po- tianity are seen. With these litics of Churchmen, the ambi- dwell the virtues and graces of tion of Popes, the superstition the gospel, faith, hope, charity, of Monks, the subtility of Jesuits, patience, ineekness, self-denial, the external history too of the and the love of heavenly things. Reformation, and the factions of The history of these, as they apvarious sectaries, have been peared in different places and largely exposed. And though circumstances, is, properly speakfew think it worth their while to ing, the history of the church. wade through the voluminous “ But in Mosheim they are narratives of Fleury and Du Pin, scarce at all to be found. Public yet in Mosheim's history their and noisy transactions engage materials have been compressed his attention throughout. "Is into a narrower compass, and this Christianity ? (says the infiyou see in him all that can tend del)-Are these its fruits ? What to disgrace Christianity, reduced good has it done in the world ?” as it were to a point ; and this How much more useful had it is the effect with those who know been to have been more sparing not, and who care not what the in these seenes, and to have laid gospel is, to render them in- open, in an impartial and in. different with respect to Chris- genuous manner, the real church tianity itself, and to extol above of Christ! This would have been all things the sceptical fastidious- properly the history of the pess which, under the decent church; the scenes which chiefnames of moderation and charity, ly fill his book having no more now pervade the polite world. to do with real Christianity, than The excellence, indeed, of Mo- robberies and assassinations have sheim's history is in most things to do with good government. very great, and perhaps unequal. Yet his pains in laying open the led. But as he seems himself evils and abuses is by no means not to have understood the na- to be condemned; it has its solture of Christianity, all, or near id uses, wbich would appear ally all, his narrative
spent on so to great advantage, had the external things.
history of real Christianity been “ But there was in every cen. given also at the same time. tury, from the apostles' days to For there have ever been ours, a real church, that which some, who, though not many of deserved the name in the best them converted, perhaps, with. sense, men who fearer God, and the same remarkable circumstanwrought righteousness, living by ces that attended Mr. Iloward's faith in the Son of God, and change of mind, have yet been practically applying to their own converted by the same Spirit of hearts the peculiarities of Chris- God, and brought to the same tianity, which, I must still say, principles and sensations; men on Scripture evidence, consist in who felt and owned themselves
rational creatures, than to raise is all the doctrine in the world disputes among themselves on abstracted from its use? mere terms, when their ideas “Granting, however, that there are the same!
are many things in which good “ But this is far from being the men may safely differ, and ought case in the present instance; to shew a spirit of mutual forand every candid observer, who bearance and moderation, cerhas thought with any clearness tainly the doctrine of justificaor precision on these subjects, tion is not one of those subjects. must see that the difference is If any question can be conceived in ideas, not in words, and is ex- to be even of infinite importance, tremely momentous, even more it is this How shall man be acso than language can describe. cepted with his Maker? We tri
“ That the religion briefly de- fe only with God and our souls, scribed in the last article, and while we content ourselves with peculiarly distinguished by hold- a loose and general idea of ing out the doctrines of Justifi- Christ's atonement, and bring it cation and Regeneration, is es- to no one determinate point of sentially distinct from that of utility whatever. For the questhose who deny the Godhead tion is this :-Ought I to trust and atonement of Jesus Christ, entirely in Jesus Christ, and to and the personality and influence renounce my own righteousness of the Holy Ghost, will be at entirely, in order for salvation, once lowed.
or is it unsafe and dangerous so “ Many, however, do yet hold to do; and ought my hope of the doctrines of the Trinity and heaven to be founded partly or the atonement of Jesus Christ in the merit of Christ, and partly a general manner, though they on my own !--This is the clear seem to make little use of them state of the question as it lies bein practice, and do evidently lay tween the two parties before the great stress for their hope of us on the subject of justificaheaven on the performance of tion. And is this a nominal moral duties, and yet at the same distinction? Is it of no consetime treat with perfect contempt quence whether man be thoroughall ideas of conversion or regen- ly humbled, or allowed to glory eration; not perhaps denying in something of his own? wheththe thing itself, yet ridiculing all er God and the Lamb are to pretensions of any person to the have all the honour of his salvaexperience of them in our days. tion, or not? There is an esIf this be a true account of the sential difference of opinion here, state of many of the Clergy and and the difference produces a Laity in this kingdom, one sees most material distinction in the at first sight why they object to whole of practical religion. The the manner of setting forth these very ends and motives of duty things. They have no idea of which each party propose to any personal use and application themselves are widely opposite. of them to the heart and con- The love of God is the grand science. And how then do they motive of the one system, selfdiffer essentially from those who righteousness of the other. But deny them altogether? For what surely to every real Christian,
whatever doubts he may have, deed their doctrine was the same, (and he has many on religious no instances of any conversion subjects) it is no matter of doubt shouldever happeu among them? at all whether he bę a fallen Is it not still more incredible, that creature, dead altogether in sin they should deride the very idea by nature. It is no matter of of conversion itself? Why are hesitation whether he is to seek they so fearful of the cr of acceptance with God by the Christ? why so conformable to blood of Jesus Christ, or by the the taste and spirit.of the world? works of the law. It is not a How happens it, that the people problematical subject with him, in general who attend their minWhether he must be born again, istry, are so ignorant of the first if ever he enter into the king- principles of Christianity? I redom of God; whether this new member Mr. Howard told me, birth, with all its fruits and con- that he never, in all his life, heard sequences, be wrought by the will of the new birth from any pulpit, of man, or by the Spirit of God till he heard it at Ferriby; and I alone; whether his good works apprehend that many might justought of necessity to be prin- ly make a similar remark. It cipled by the love of God or not. were much to be wished, that the
“ But enough has been said to truth was clearly seen in this shew that there is a real differ- point; because while inen fanrence of opinion here ; and those cy the common, beaten, broad, who content themselves with fashionable road, which exposes the forms of orthodoxy above them to no inconveniences, will described, may be convinced of lead to the same end as the narit by the opposition which they row and difficult road, they will feel in their own breasts to that never leaye the one for the sake view of things which I have been of the other. espousing: Let them search, “IV. If the doctrines of justihowever, the Scriptures with fication and regeneration be then honest minds, and at least cease real scripture doctrines, and enfrom saying that they mean the ter into the principles of a work same things as those which they of divine grace on the heart ;oppose. For if indeed this be if they prove their divine origin the case, why do they shew such by their own light and native enaversion to these principles ? ergy; if they have never failed, why dislike to have them set in every age of the church, to be forth in the plainest manner? attended with undeniable seals why are they more cordial, and of their divinity, in the conver, feel their own spirits to be morę sion and holy lives of some ; if in unison with Socinians, scep these alone constitute the church, tics, and with any sort of per- and if every other sort of prinsons, than those whom they çiples be diametrically opposite, deem enthusiasts? why such what remains but nat we betake ridicule and contempt of the new Qurselves to the study of the sabirth? why is the preaching of cred oracles, and see what is the their system, if it be a system religion there enforced ? On a at all, of no weight, no influence ? fair examination we shall find, Is it not incredible that, if in- that the principles which in this