« AnteriorContinuar »
sions, custom, prejudice, temperament, &c. &c. draw to the right or left, if his eye be steadily fixed on this Almighty source, and he has no confidence in himself; if this divine wisdom be sought after and trusted to, he will ever be kept in the right way. Those who thus willingly bend every faculty of their souls towards this divine influence, and acknowledge Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, placing all their dependence on him, and him alone, will find that the termination of all their exercises will be love, peace, and assurance for ever. The term usually applied to this exalted belief in revelation is enthusiasm; but as enthusiasın does not belong to those who enjoy this belief more than to any other denomination of persons who maintain their particular opinions with a proper and necessary energy, I shall pass it by, only obserying with a learned author who treated on this subject, “ that a spice of enthusiasm is no unreputable thing; seeing that a man seated on this bench finds himself in very good company; some of the greatest philosophers, prophets, legislators, doctors, fathers, and saints in all ages, being confessedly his assessors * :" and I would observe also, that the misapplication of any
thing that is good in itself does not render such thing not good.
Those who believe in the effectual powers of Divine revelation and grace, are sensible that it is never at their command; that it is the gift of God; and that he by his own power, when himself has prepared the heart to receive it, communicates this his blessed will : then it is that reason is truly perfected and expanded in the obedient mind; self is of no estimation, the revealed will of God being all it is desirous of knowing.
Dryden observes, “ that the principles of natural worship are only the faint remnants or dying flames of revealel religion in the posterity of Noah; and our modern philosophers, nay, and some of our philosophizing divines, have too much exalted the faculties of our souls, when they have maintained that by their force mankind have been able to find out that there is one Supreme Agent or intellectual Being, which we call God; that prayer and praise are his due worship ;, and the rest of those deductions, which I am confident are the remote effects of revelation, and unattainable by our natural discernment; I mean, as simply considered, and without the benefit of divine illumination. And indeed it is very improbable that we, who by the strength of our faculties cannot enter into
the knowledge of any being, not so much as of our own, should be able to find out by them that supreme nature which we cannot otherwise define, than by saying it is infinite; as if infinite were definable, or infinity a subject for our narrow understanding. Reason is always striving, always at a loss; and of necessity it must so come to pass, while it is exercised about that which is not its proper object.” (Preface to Religio Laici.)
One reason why great caution is necessary in the investigation of truth is, that self-will in this attempt often makes its appearance; and repeated experience has shown, as above observed, that it is not when the mind is most elated the properest time to determine thereon. Calmness, and cool reflection on what passes within our own hearts, are perhaps the most effectual means whereby we may expect to succeed in our researches. Considerations of this kind will then frequently produce the following language: 66 Remember, O my soul, the quietude of those whom Christ governs, and in all thy proceedings feel after it: doth he condescend to bless thee with his presence; to move and influence thee to action; to dwell in thee, and walk in thee? remember then thy station as a being sacred to God.” (Woolman.)
The hunible man is instructed from a pure source whilst he is favoured to be thus abased; and as long as he shuts out all creaturely wisdom, the Prince of Peace will dwell in his habitation; will be an eternal strength to him, covering his head in the day of battle, and will abundantly give him of that wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James iii. 17.)
Can man then, as man, thus keep himself? Alas ! it is impossible.
The time when the mind may be most capable of just reflection, is for the most part in those moments of adversity when it has no outward prop to lean on, no subterfuge to lay hold of; when all nature seems to have forsaken it, and when all the powers of reason are proved to be “ but as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal.” Then it is that many of those who may have contemned the salvation of the Gospel of Christ are made sensible that there is a communication between God and their own souls; and thus they experience, “ Blessed are ye that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for ye shall be filled.” Here the creature is humbled, as in the dust; the scales fall from his eyes, and he discovers that the enchanting voice of human rea
Bon, which once had afforded a degree of apparent satisfaction, was a delusion that had nearly plunged its wretched victim into despair. Adorable goodness !-How many have been thus snatched as brands from the burning ; and, by thus feeling the efficacy of God's redeeming love, have been made to rejoice with a joy unspeakable !
The final changes which passed in the lives of Buckingham, Rochester, &c. &c. who carried their ideas of reason to its utmost limits, are so many proofs, among many others that could be named, of the vanity and fully of their own absurd system. Their closing period evinced how they had been deluded, and how they had deluded others.--Ah! the horror they must have · felt when the curtain was unfolded, and the light permitted to shine, which fully discovered the depravity of ihe human heart, when they had thus been fighting against their Maker.
The above instances show the power, the excellence, and the truth of the Christian dispen. sation. Nothing short of a complete and full acknowledgement that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was their all in all, seemed to afford, to those who were thus favoured, a glimpse of hope under the awful situation into which they were plunged.--Here could be no equivocation : man here sees himself in the unflattering mirror,