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times, the rest were too generally involved in it. They were unwilling to give up their darling habit of gazing up into heaven: that is, of framing, or adopting theories, which had neither solidity, nor use; and of explaining mysteries, which they could not understand3.

Nor was the effect of this folly, merely to disgrace themselves. Christianity was too frequently seen in the false light, in which these rash adventurers had placed it: And men of shallow minds, and libertine principles, were ready enough to take advantage of all their indiscretions. For on this ground only, or chiefly, the various structures of modern infidelity stand. The presumptuous positions of particular men, or churches, are forwardly taken for the genuine doctrines of Christianity : And those positions, being not unfrequently either wholly unintelligible, or even contrary to the plainest reason, the charge of nonsense, or of falshood, is, thus, dexterously transferred on

i" It hath been the common disease of Christians from the beginning, not to content themselves with that measure of faith, which God and the Scriptures have expressly. afforded us but out of a vain desire to know more than is revealed, they have attempted to discuss things, of which we can have no light, neither from reason nor revelation." J. HALE'S Works, Vol. I. p. 125. Glasg. 1765.

the Gospel itself. And, though the abuse be gross and palpable, yet, when dressed out with a shew of argument, or varnished over with a little popular eloquence, it shall easily pass on ill-inclined, or unwary men.

It is surely time for us to benefit by this sad experience. We, the teachers of religion, should learn, not to be wise above what is written: And you, who would profit in this school, should not think much to restrain your curiosity within these bounds, which, not the Scriptures only, but, right reason prescribes.

For let it not be surmized, that, in deducing this account of the mischiefs, which have sprung from ill-directed inquiries into religion, my purpose is in any degree to discountenance the use of reason in such matters. Christianity, if it be indeed divine, will bear the strictest examination; and it is the prerogative of our protestant profession to support itself on the footing of free inquiry. The way of argument is so far from being hurtful to the cause of revelation, that it is, in truth, the basis and foundation of it. We dishonour, we affront our holy faith, if we believe it hath, or can have any other. Only let us take heed, that Reason do her proper work; and that we do

not dream, or fancy, or presume, when we think we reason.

In the instances, before given, the fault was in concluding without premises, and in arguing without ideas. When men call this reasoning, they forget the meaning of the term, as well as mistake the extent of their own faculties. We cannot reason on all subjects, because there are many subjects which we cannot understand: And by the term, reasoning, is only meant an act of the mind, which draws right conclusions from intelligible propositions. The nature of the infinite Being, the mode of his existence, the economy of his providence, are inscrutable to us, and probably to the highest angels. Why then intrude into such things, Aas no-man hath seen, or can see? All that remains is, to admit no proposition, which is not clearly revealed; and, for the rest, to admit, on the authority of the revealer, what must be true, though we cannot, in the way of reason, perceive that it is so.

The inutility of all researches into divine things, without a strict adherence to this wellgrounded principle, is apparent; the presumption of them, is ridiculous; but, above all, the mischiefs of them, are deplorable.

Men bewilder themselves, in inextricable difficulties: they disbelieve, on incompetent grounds: they give up the Gospel, and, with it, their best hopes, for the gratification of the idlest vanity: or they mis-spend their time in exploring articles of faith, instead of attending, to the obvious end and use of them.

To return to the text, which led us into these reflexions. The disciples were looking up into heaven, when they should have been considering how to follow him thither. Is not our folly the same, or rather is it not more inexcusable, when gazing, with our weak reason, on celestial things, we neglect the ends, for which a glympse of them is afforded to us? For there is not an article of our creed, which may not make us better, if not wiser: And obedience, that is, faith working by love, whatever some may think, is of another value in the sight of God, and of higher concern to man, than all knowledge.

SERMON XLV.

PREACHED JUNE 23, 1776.

St. MATTH. xiii. 55, 50.

Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James and Joses and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are not they all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him.

WE have, in these words, a striking picture of ENVY; which makes us unwilling to see, or to acknowledge, any pre-eminence in those, whom we have familiarly known and conversed with, and whom we have been long used to regard as our inferiors, or, at most, but on a level with ourselves. Our Lord's

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