Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to prove, that it is needless for us to use our own Endeavours; since this divine Assistance is not intended to exclude, but rather to encourage the Use of proper Means and Endeavours on our parts. Nor doth it in any wife follow from it, that Religion is not in it self a reasonable thing. For all the Arguments and Motives of Religion are still maintained in their full Force. And the gracious Provision God hath in his great Goodness made for assisting our present Weakness and Infirmity by the Aids of his Holy Spirit, should make us more diligent to use our best Endeavours to understand Religion and to practise it; in which cafe this divine Assistance will be an inestimable Advantage to us. But if by our Pride and Obstinacy, and bad Dispositions, we reject the Evidences of Religion, and resist the Methods of his Grace towards us, this must greatly heighten our Guilt, and expose us to a more aggravated Condemnation. This Gentleman himself seems in Words to acknowledge this. How he can do it in consistency with his Scheme, I do not fee. But supposing the Account now given of the Nature and Design of this Influence to be true, what he faith on this head is just and reasonable. That 4' the Tender of this Conviction, "however potent in its Influence, must yet de"pend greatly upon the proper Disposition of <l our Minds to give it reception for its ErH"cacy, and so far will afford ample Matter for « Trial and Probation." That "a rebellious Opposition of the gracious Influence of the * "diviti* 4* divine Spirit deserves a severe Resentment and that *4 with all Justice we may in that case "be call'd to a strict Account for our Obsti"nacy, Impiety, and Perversenefs." p. 63, 64. And again he talks of "a severe Reprehension "justly due to a rebellious Refusal and Disclaim "of proffered Grace;" p. 66. and of "God's ** withholding Light from such as chuse to sit tc in Darkness, and by - their Ingratitude and "Neglect have rendered themselves unworthy f of all farther Sollicitations." These Expressions, tho' nbt in the Sense intended by this Writer, contain awful Truths, which I heartily .wish he would seriously consider, tho' it is very likely he will not thank me for any Concern I can be under on his account.

Thus I have considered the Account this Gentleman gives of the Influence of the Holy Ghost, which proves nothing but his own Unfairness, and the great Liberties he allows himself in misrepresenting the Scriptures, and ridiculing the most Sacred Things. For no two things can be more opposite to one another than the true Scriptural Account of this Matter, and that which this Writer would put upon us as such. The Influence of the Spirit, according to his Representation of it, supersedes the Exercise of our own Reason, and the Use of our own Endeavours; but it is evident, not merely from one or two Passages separately considered, but from the general Course and Tenour of the "Ne\# New Testament, that the divine Assistances there promised are consistent with the Exercise of our own Reason and Understanding, and are designed to take in the Use of all proper Means and Endeavours. The Spirit, as he represents it, renders the Scriptures entirely useless, and leads to a Neglect or Contempt of them *; but it is not the good Spirit of Christ that inspires a Contempt of the Scriptures, which are every where referred to by Chri/l and his Apostles, as of great Authority and Use, and are represented as able to make us wife unto Salvation, and to make the Man of God perfefft &c. According to his Account of the Spirit, it has no regard to the Miracles and other extraordinary Facts and Attestations recorded in the Gospel, as of any Use or Significance but it is undeniably evident, that in the New Testament a great stress is laid upon these things, as illustrious Proofs and Evidences of Christianity, and that the Accounts of them were written for this end and purpose, to engage us to believe. The Spirit communicated to all Christians, if we may believe him, excludes all outward Teaching; so that we are not to receive the least part of our Knowledge or Instruction from one another j whereas, according to the Gospel, the Influence

* He calls the Scriptures by way of Contempt, Maratscript Authorities and Paper Revelations; as if a Revelation lost its Authority and Use by being committed to Writing. He may, if he pleases, call our Laws and publick Records, Paper-LavLS and Authorities; but I question, whether this would be thought sufficient to destroy their Authority.

fluence of the Spirit does not render outward Teaching needless, which is all along there supposed to be of great use and necessity j and there is Provision made for its standing Continuance in the Church for the Instruction and Edification of Christians in all Ages. The Spirit, according to his Representation, engages Persons to believe at once, by a strong and irresistible Impulse, without Reason or Evidence, so that Faith is completed in an instant. But in the New Testament, the Faith of Christians is not supposed to be ordinarily begun and completed at once, or to be produced without any Reason that could lay a just Foundation for believing; but to be founded on sufficient Evidence, and capable of continual Growth and Improvement. He represents the Holy Ghost as abiding with all Christians as their infallible Guide, so as to preserve them from all Possibility of Error and Imposition; and to cause them to think all alike *.

According

* To shew that the Influence and infallible Guidance of. the Spirit is universal, our Author produces that Text, This is the Light which lighteth every Man that cometh into the World, which has no relation to any such infallible Guidance of the Spirit at all. The Evangelist is there speaking of our Lord "Jesus Christ, that he is the true Light, which coming into the World enlightneth every Man, as the Words might be very properly rendered ; which signifies no more than our Saviour himself intends, when he faith, I am the Light of the World. The Design of such Expressions is to signify, in opposition to the narrow Notions of the Jews, who were for confining the Benefit of the Messiah to their own Nation, that he was design'd to be an universal Blessing; that he came to instruct and

enlighten According to which Scheme, it is impossible there should be any Errors or Differences of Opinion among Christians., Whereas in the Gospel it is all along supposed, that Persons may be weak in the Faith, tho' sincere; that they may differ from one another, that they are liable to Errors and Mistakes; and it is expressly foretold, that there shall be Heresies among them.

. I need not take any particular Notice of the Insinuations he makes, p. 61. that the sacred Writings are corrupted; a Charge which has so often been refuted and exposed with great Strength and Clearness. And as to what he talks of, p. 62, 63. as if no Man could understand the Scriptures without a great deal of Learning and Criticism, and being well read in profane History, it will be readily own'd that these are good Helps for a better understanding many Passages of Scripture; and it is our great Advantage that we have many such Helps in our own Language, which the Unlearned may

enlighten Gcnlilcs as well as Jews. He was to be a Light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as the Glory of his People Israel. This also is the Intention of that other Passage he produces, the Grace of God which br'tngttb Salvation (iy which we are there evidently to understand the Gospel of Jesus) hath appered unto all Men; in which sense St. Paul elsewhere declares, that the Gospel was gone into all the World, and that it was preached to every Creature which is under Heaven. These are strong Expressions to signify, that the Gospel is designed for the Benefit of all Mankind, that the Offers of it are universal, and that it actually made a wonderful Progress in a flioit time thro' a great Part of the then known World.

Lett. II. L have

« AnteriorContinuar »