« הקודםהמשך »
privateprayer, meditation, and reading the Sacred Volume; there, with these truly valuable men, he usually hath large enjoyment of the consolations of religion, and abounds in peace and hope through the power of the HOLY GHOST. He goes through life, if not smoothly and usefully, at least contentedly and happily: While, in the eyes of those persons, who boast of their superiority of understanding, and freedom from vulgar prejudices, the REDEEMER of the world becomes daily more and more contemptible; and in the eyes of the lukewarm Christian less and less desirable; in the estimation of the devout and lively Believer, who, by waiting upon the Lord, renews his strength, the Son of God, in his per800, offices, and work, appears, with increasing affection, the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Being convinced of sin, and justified by faith, he has peace with God through our LORD JESUS CHRist, and the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him. He is strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in his heart by faith. Being rooted and grounded in love, he comprehends with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and he knows the love of Christ, though indeed it passeth knowledge. He is, moreover, filled with all the communicable fulness of God, and a peace passing understanding keepeth his heart and mind, through Christ Jesus.
This brings to my mind the case of the late Colonel James GARDINER, who was slain at the battle of Preston Pans, A. D. 1745. This brave man used constantly to rise at four in the morning, and to spend his “time till six in the secret exercises of devotion, reading, meditation, and
prayer. And if at any time he was obliged to go out before six " in the morning, he rose proportionably sooner; so that when a journey, or march, has required him to be on horseback by four, he would be at his devotions at farthest by two."
The same hoids true of General Sir WILLIAM WALLER, who was as devout in the closet, as he was valiant in the field.
Let the reader mark well, that none of these religious persons were either Monks or Parsons, but men of great consideration in the world, who were engaged in scenes of life extremely active.
" A Christian dwells, like URIEL, in the sun :
doubt to flight;
The language of his soul is, Whom have I in heaven but thee, O God! and thereis none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee. To do unto others as he would have them do unto him, is the great law of his life, in all his dealings between man and man; and whereinsoever he falls short of a full compliance with this royal statute, he laments and bewails his folly; makes satisfaction according to the nature of the case; flees to the blood of sprinkling for pardon; and returns with renewed vigour to the path, of duty. Giving all diligence, he adds to his faiih, rirtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. With zealous affection he cultivates the holy tempers that were in Christ; bowels of mercy, lowliness, meekness, gentleness, contempt of the world, patience, temperance, long-suffering, a tender love to every human being, bearing, believing, hoping, enduring all things. He submits himself to crery ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the KING, as supreme ; or unto GoVERNORS, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. Ile pays all due respect unto men of every rauk and degree. He loves with peculiar affection the whole brotherhood of Believers in CHRIST JESUS. · He so fears God as to depart from evil, and so honours the King as to be ready, on every proper call, to sacrifice his life for the good of the public. He endeavours to acquit himself with propriety in every station, whether as master, scrrant, parent, child, magistrate, subject, teacher, learner. In short, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whuisocrer things are just, Echai socter things are pure, whutsoerer things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, to these he attende with the utmost diligence and assiduity. This is the Christianity, which the Sox of Gov taught uuto tlic
world*. And he that is of this religion is my brother, any sister, and my mother, by what name soever he is distinguished and called.
I do not say, however, that this is the religion of the great body of persons calling themselves Christians. Much otherwise. Many of our brethren are extremely immoral. Others are guilty of some particular vice only. Some are decent in their general conduct, and pretty attentive to religious observances, but yet total strangers to inward religion. Great sticklers for their B 3
own * Dr. ROBERTSON, our celebrated IIistorian, tells us, that “ Chris. "stianity is rational and sublime in its doctrines, humane and bencficent “ in its precepts, pure and simple in its worship.” And even Mr. Paint is constrained to confess, that« Jesus Christ was a virtuous and an “ amiable man ; that the morality which he preached and practised was or of the most benevolent kind ; that though similar systems of morality ** had been preached by CoNeucius, and by some of the Greek philoso
phers many years before, and by many good men in all ages ; it has not been exceeded by any."--Important concession! Where is the pro. priety then of endeavouring to explode the Gospels?~Thou art condemn. ed out of thine own mouth!
Lord BOLINGBROKE has made similar confessions to this of PAINE : -“ No religion,” says he, “ ever appeared in the world, whose na. os tural tendency was
so inych directed to promote the peace and “happiness of mankind as Christianity. No system can be more “ simple and plain than that of natural religion, as it stands in the “ Gospel. The system of religion which CHRIST published, and his
Evangelists recorded, is a complete system to all the purposes of " religion, natural :nd revealed. Christianity, as it stands in the as Gospel, contains not only a complete, but a very plain system of
religion. The Gospel is in all cases one continued lesson of the s strictest morality, of justice, of benevolence, and of universal cha« rity.”
These are strange concessions from a professed Deist! And yet, strange as they certainly are, much the same have been made by BLOUNT, TINDAL, MORGAN, TOLAND, CHUBB, ROUSSEAU, and most of our other real or pretended Unbelievers, The truth is, all tliese deistical gentlemen
the mo. sality, or some parts of the morality, of the New Testament, but they could neither understand nor approve the grand scheme of redemption therein exbibited. Why? Because the NATURAL man receiveth 110t the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness unto him; neither can be know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. ii. 14.- They were blind to all the glories of the Gospel scheme. They neither saw nor felt their need of such a redemption as is therein exhibited. What wonder then if they spent their lives in opposing its gracious designs ?
own party, be it what it may, they harbour a strong aversion to all who dare to think for themselves, and presume to dissent from them in principle or practice. So remote are they from the character and experience of the above evangelical requirements, that they consider them as delusive and enthusiastic. Something of the form of godliness they have gotten, but they deny, and sometimes even ridicule the power. Be this as it may, true religion is still the same; and the above is a scriptural sketch of it, whether we will hear, or whether we will forbear. So far too are we Christians from being ashamed of this gospel-method of saving a lost world, that we make it our boast and song all the day through in the house of our pilgrimage.
“ I'll praise my MAKER with my breath ;
“ Praise shall employ my nobler pow’rs :
" Or immortality endures."
We experience its effect in raising us from the ruitis of our fall. We lament with sincere contrition the sins and follies of our unregenerate state.
We discover nothing but condemnation, while we remain under the covenant of works. We flee for refuge to the only hope of sinful men: and we consider ourselves as the happiest of God's creatures, in having this plank thrown out, on which we are permitted to escape safe to land, In the mean time, we feel this religion makes us easy, comfortable, happy; and seems adapted with consummate wisdom to our state and circumstances.
“ Soft peace she brings, wherever she arrives,
This is the portion of happiness, which the Gospel yields us while we live, and we have not the smallest tear that it will fail us when we die. On the contrary,
a st zires.
prac: penie her i ething Peny
we know, that our light affliction, in this world, which is, comparatively, but for a moment, worketh for us a far more erceeding and eternal weight of glory; and that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens *.
If then the religion of Jesus CHRIST be a delusion, it is, at least, a happy delusion; and even a wise man would scarcely wish to be undeceived. He would rather be ready to say with the great Roman Orator, when speaking of the immortality of the soul:--" If in " this I err, I willingly err; nor, while I live, shall any
man wrest from me this error, with which I am ex“ tremely delighted t."
If we wished to exemplify these observations, it would be no difficult matter to produce various very striking instances of persons, as well from the Sacred
* “ If there is one condition in this life more happy than another," says a great author, “it is, surely, that of him, who founds all his “ hopes of futurity on the promises of the Gospel; who carefully en“ deavours to conform his actions to its precepts; looking upon the
great GOD ALMIGHTY as his protector here, his rewarder here. " after, and his everlasting preserver. This is a frame of mind so
perfective of our nature, that if Christianity, from a belief of which “ it can only be derived, was as certainly false, as it is certainly true, « one could not help wishing that it might be universally received in " the world.”
Mr. Pope has a declaration to Bishop ATTERBURY to the same purpose, which is worthy of menorial : “ The boy despises the infant, “ the man the boy, the philosopher both, and the Christian A LE.” + « Si in hoc erro, subenter erro; nec mihi hunc errorem, quo
de. “ lector, dum vivo, extorqueri volo."
Mr. Addison also very properly saith, when speaking of the immortality of the soul :- It' it is a dream, let me enjoy it ; since it "makes me both the happier and the better man.”
Spectator, No. 186.