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them alone were capable of giving eternal salvation. One writer, possessed of superior talents, has taken much pains to bring forward evidences of Christianity, and also to prove the existence of the Divine Being; and, as far as outward evidence can go, he has done it in a clear and comprehensive manner.
It is notwithstanding extraordinary, that the learned author alluded to should, without any hesitation, on another occasion endeavour to do away the ground-work of that pure evidence of a Divine Being and of divine knowledge, without which, our Saviour has plainly told us, “ we cannot see the kingdom of God.” It is to be regretted that any one filling an exalted station in the Church should advance a sentiment that in the smallest degree has a tendency to invalidate the full intention of the coming of our blessed Lord. Any assertion of such persons which would weaken the cause of vital Christianity, would also in a bundredfold degree be more likely to promote infidelity than any thing that could be advanced by the professed adversaries of truth.
The following passage will show what is meant: “ If any one asks,” says Archdeacon Paley, “what the expressions in Scripture, regenerate, born of the spirit, new creatures, mean;
we answer, that they mean nothing ; nothing to us; nothing to be found or sought for in the present circumstances of Christianity.” (See Sermon at Visitation of Bishop of Carlisle, July 15, 1777.) But to this the true Christian even in this day may reply, “ My only hope is in this spiritual birth and regeneration;" and it is only when we are favoured with this experience that we can fully know the Supreme Being, and the true advantages of vital religion, and its immediate comforts in time of need. In adversity, if we have nothing to look to but our own self-righteousness and self-complacence on account of our supposed freedom from some sins, we lose the greatest of all advantages in the communion of our spirits with the God of all spirits. It is only through our spiritual senses that we know any thing of the presence of God; and that not in our own carnal wills, “ because he is a spirit.” But to attain to this divine knowledge, and to experience its full efficacy, the mind must be stripped of self-knowledge, and totally given up to the influence of divine grace, which will never lead into delusion, but to the pure eternal truth. This divine influence is most sensibly felt in awful and reverend, inward silence, when all nature is stilled, and the mind so brought into the depths of humility and self
abasement, as to be willing that the Lord alorie
Divine! which sure, howe’er mankind may change,
It is certainly a great drawback on Christianity, if little more is taught us than to admire and adore the Author of nature through his out. ward works; or to show us no other advantages from the coming of Christ, than from his outward or moral laws. Some indeed are hardy
enough to say, “ As well might we pay respect to the morality of Socrates, Plato, and Epictetus, who were each advocates for sublime virtue, as to Jesus Christ, if nothing more is to be obtained from him than his morality.” But we find that the doctrines of the philosophers bear no comparison with his, neither have they power or weight sufficient to bring even their own precepts into universal action : but the experience of ages has shown, that those who have a living faith in Jesus Christ, live under his influence, and unreservedly obey his dictates; the purity of their lives is a sufficient evidence of the power by which they are governed.
Although those who have never considered this subject may reason after this manner, “ How doth God manifest himself to his creatures ? Divine revelation has certainly ceased in these days.” Yet we would have such to reflect, that where there is no revelation, there can be no true knowledge of God. For what saith the Scripture?-« None knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”
“ Men have sought out many inventions, and devised many ways and means of coming to the knowledge of the Alınighty. Moral, and even mathematical, demonstrations of his existence kave been attempted, but all in vain: as such in- . ventions and devices have increased, sorrow and perplexity have increased also; and even if they have succeeded so far as to satisfy the natural understanding, what is it at best but a kind of historical knowledge, a strong conceit or imagination of something concerning God, without any thing like a sensibility of his presence, or an intuitive self-evident conviction of his nature and attributes! .“ We are told that the celebrated John Selden on his death-bed sent for Archbishop Usher; and in the course of a most serious and affecting conversation assured him, that he had accurately surveyed almost every part of literature and science that was held in the highest esteem by the sons of men, that he had possessed himself of a great number of the most valuable books and manuscripts upon all ancient subjects, and yet at that time he could not recollect one single passage out of any volume in this large collection, upon which he could rest his soul, or from which he could derive one ray of consolation, except some that he had met with in the Holy Scriptures; and that the most remarkable pas. sage which had then made the deepest impression upon his mind was this: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath apppeared unto all men; teaching us that denying ungodlinese