« AnteriorContinuar »
morality and true love, so uniformly inculcated, and the
duties of every station in life taught with so much simplicity · and energy, as to render the reading of them pleasing and
instructive ; and at the same time gaining the assent of our judgment, however remote from them our practice may frequently be. The following extract from the Epistle to the Romans is brought forward, not because it contains matter superior to many other parts of the epistles ; but because of the conciseness, the simplicity, and the energy with which the important precepts are conveyed : “ Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love ; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business ; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord ; rejoicing in hope ; patient in tribulation ; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints ; given to hospitality. Bless them that persecute you : bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice : and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”*_ Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." +
It may not be necessary to enter much into those arguments, which the miracles performed by Christ and his apostles afford for the truth of the Christian religion. If what is advanced in favour of the truth and credibility of the Holy Scriptures, be admitted, these arguments must unavoidably strike every considerate and impartial mind, with irresistible force.' It may, however, be proper to observe, that the credibility of these accounts, so far at least as they relate to our blessed Saviour, receives great additional force, from being confirmed, in many parts, by four different testimonies; whose distinct concurring evidence affords no small confirmation of the truth of their relations. This confirmation is rather increased than lessened, by the slight variations which sometimes appear; for, with these variations, no suspicion can reasonably be fixed of a preconcerted design to impose upon the world. Two of the evangelists, at least, were witnesses of what they wrote ; a third tells us, that he was one of those who received information from such as, from the beginning, were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word ; and the fourth is supposed to have written when in company with the apostle Peter, and to have received his information and instruction from him. To these relations of the evangelists, the following declaration and testimony of Peter, afford additional confirmation : 6 We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ; but were eye-witnesses of his Majesty ; for He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice from the Excellent Glory : This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." *
* Rom. xii. 9--18.
+ Rom. xii. 21.
In whatever point of view, therefore, we consider the Christian Religion, it exhibits to us a plan and design worthy of our great and gracious Creator ; and so well adapted to the state of the human heart, that nothing appears to be wanting, but the acceptance of the terms on which it is offered. Yet, as the condition on which only we can be true Christians, requires us to deny ourselves, and take up a daily cross to our evil propensities, this doctrine and that Foundation on which it is built, are now, as formerely, to some a stumbling block, and to others, foolishness. It is indeed to be feared, that many who adopt the Christian religion in theory, are but little acquainted with it in practice. True Christianity is more adapted to the heart, than to the head : it is not so much a system of doctrines, as it is the power of God unto salvation. Nevertheless, it necessarily includes doctrines ; but then it requires a union of the spirit with the letter ; of faith and of works ; of the power and of the form of godliness. To unite these in our hearts, and in our actions, is what appears to me to constitute the true and perfect Christian.
* 2 Peter i. 16, 17.
ON THE INFLUENCES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The Gift of the Spirit an essential of Christianity.--Different names of the Spirit.--Necessity af its assistance.-Universally afforded and in all ages—but most plentifully in the Gospel.—Unconditional election and reprobation disowned and disproved.
In the preceding chapter, the gift of the Holy Spirit has been considered as an essential part of true Christianity; but as it is a doctrine on which me insist, * more than other professors of the Christian name, I have apprehended it proper to appropriate a chapter to this subject; and for that reason, have said less upon it th an I should otherwise have done, when treating of the general doctrines of Christianity.
There are different names in the Scriptures, by which this Spirit is denominated. It is not only called the Holy
* The word “insist” is here used, because it is not a doctrine peculiar to us, but only one on which we lay more stress than most other Christians. The Church of England holds the doctrine much as we do, as may be seen in the liturgy, from which are extracted the two following collects, and to which others of a similar tendency might be added : “ The fifth Sunday after Easter."-" O Lord, from whom all good things do come! grant to us thy humble servants, that, by thy holy Inspiration, we may think those things that be good ; and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.” “The 19th. Sunday after Trinity.”—“O God l forasmuch as without Thee we are unable to please Thee; mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may, in all things, direct and rule our hearts, through,” &c.--See also Knox's Christian Philosophy.
Spirit, or the Spirit of God, and of Christ ; but it is also distinguished, with great propriety, by the appellation of 6 the Grace of God ;" * as being a mark of his peculiar favour to mankind. Another appropriate denomination is “ Light;" by which are evinced its effects, in manifesting what is good and what is evil : “ For whatsoever doth make manifest is Light.” + Other names might be enumerated by which the same thing is distinguished ; but these may be' sufficient to convey a clear idea of what I have in view.
The Holy Scriptures so frequently make mention of this Divine Influence, and enforce it with so much energy, that there is no doctrine derived from these writings, on which they appear to be more clear and explicit, and to afford less room for objection and controversy.
In considering this subject, it may be proper to advance and support the following positions.
1.- The necessity of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for understanding the things, and for working the works of God.
2.-—That such a portion of this Spirit, as is necessary for working out the soul's salvation, is afforded to mankind universally.
With regard to the first position, the apostle Paul argues the case so forcibly, and with such logical clearness, that I shall quote his words, both as the best arguments and the best authority, that can be adduced on the occasion : 6 What
* In some instances, the word grace in Scripture simply means favour ; but in others it evidently implies an inward operative principle, and is synonymous with the Holy Spirit.-See Cruden's and Taylor's Concordances, under Grace.
+ Ephes. v. 13.