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« nances either lightly esteemed, or imputed to " the devil; good works either undervalued or « trodden under foot; wild-fire dangerously toffed « about, instead of that light which came down “ from heaven; puffing pretensions to extraordi“ nary revelations, inspirations, ufurping the name “ of the Holy One ; with personal conferences “ with God, face to face ; enthusiastic ranters, “ comparing themselves with prophets and apos« tles, if not with Christ himself; the most wild « and extravagant behaviour, the phrenzies of a « disturbed brain or deluded imagination, the « effects of fits, of a weak head, or DISEASED “ BODY, all turned into so many tests and marks “ of saintship; the SPIRIT OF PRIDE AND VANITY
possessing the LEADERS ; a spirit of ENVY, RAN
COUR, broils, and implacable animosities, dash. “ ing each other in pieces; a spirit of bitterness « and uncharitableness towards the REST OF MAN“ KIND; a progress through immorality, scepticism,
infidelity, atheism, through spiritual desertions, “ DESPAIR, and MADNESS, made the gate “ fection; an IMAGINARY new-birth to be brought « to pass by means of REAL TORTURES, of some « of the most exquisite pangs and sufferings that
can affect human nature :- I fay, where these « are found, and many more equally horrible, one
may easily discern a wide difference between « such a dispensation and GENUINE RELIGION ; as “ well as the bungling hands that are substituting " the former in the place of the other. « easily fee what strangers such inconsistent ram" blers must be to the true devotion, as well as “ the COMFORTS of a fedate, composed piety; to
a firm belief of our Maker and Redeemer, and “ a constant reliance upon Providence; to a steady « course of sincere, habitual, and unaffected reli“gion ; to the cherishing of a warm love of God
« in the heart, and well-tempered zeal for the " truths of his inspired word ; and all this PROVED « by the love of our neighbour ; to a general ob 66 servance and attendance on the MEANS OF
GRACE, and a well-grounded hope of glory."
From the wretched follies of fanatics, the mind turns with complacency to the gentle, benignant Spirit which guided a Bishop Wilson, a Watts, a Doddridge, a Nelson, and a Horne. Such men do honour to the doctrine of grace, and rescue it from the contempt under which it has fallen on the one hand, through the extravagance of weak devotees, and, on the other, from the unhappy ingenuity * of scholastic theologists, explaining away, to thew their skill, or to answer the political purposes of the passing hour, the strongest expressions of holy scripture.
Pride the great Obstacle to the general Reception of
the Gospel of Grace.
terly incompatible with the spirit of Christianity; but a proud, turbulent, and vindictive spirit constitutes what is called, in the world, a man of honour; and who can aspire at the diftinctions and rewards which the world has to beftow, without afpiring at the character of a man of honour-without zealously maintaining it, in defiance of all which the scriptures have taught us to consider as the WILL OF GOD? No wonder, then,
that the genuine gospel, the doctrine of the SpiRIT, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, should be utterly neglected by those who are more solicitous about the opinion of a few weak and wicked mortals like themselves, than about all that Christianity promises or threatens; who regard neither God nor man, when their own self-estimation is in the smallest degree depreciated *. SUBMISSION of the temper and underftanding, which is necessary for the reception of that EVIDENCE of Christianity which the Holy Ghost affords, is considered as contemptible meanness, by those who are full of themselves, and live only to flatter, for the sake of being re-flattered, in the fashionable circles of self-idolizing vanity,
The doctrine of a participation with the divine nature, conceded by Heaven to the faithful and pious of low degree, is highly mortifying to those who think the perfection of human nature consists in civil nobility, in blood, or in titles conferred by an earthly monarch, however weak, wicked, and mischievous he may be. He who shares the divine nature, who is favoured with an emanation of Deity, is truly ennobled; for his very nature is exalted above the ordinary rank of humanity; and according to the gospel, he is become the living temple of the Holy Ghost. That a poor man, such as were the apostles, and such as are many true Christians in the present day, should pofsess a nature raised above whatever earthly honours can bestow, is a doctrine OFFENSIVE to all who have been taught to consider, as the chief good of man, the gratification of the pride of life.
* “ Such doctrines (the doctrines peculiar to Chriftianity) must 6 be received with scorn and derision, as an insolent claim to superiority “ of understanding, over those whom the WORLD pronounces wise and « discerning."
Scholars * alfo, deep mathematicians, metaphysicians, and logicians, feel a sentiment of scori, when they are told that a plain, fimple, humble peasant, whose mind is rightly disposed, may receive a portion of divine illumination, which shall contribute more to found wisdom, and confequently to happiness, than all their minute and laborious disquisitions. Philosophy, towering, like Icarus, on wings made by the art of man, to the clouds, looks down with contempt on Religion, who associates with ignorant perfons, diftinguished by humility of rank as much as by humility of difpofition. Philofophy leaves the company of a perfonage so mean, and frequently paffes from a contempt of her, to downright hatred and enmity to
* I have mentioned an instance or two in my introductory chapter of the HAUTEUR with which SCHOLARS are apt to speak of the Carpenter's Son and the Fishermen. I wil insert here another intance which just now occurs to me.
The celebrated Dr. WHICHCOTE, one of the champions of reason and natural religion, though at the same time a great defender of the Christian faith, in times when it was the fashion and the road to preferment to decry all the high mysterious doctrines of Christianity, has the following passage in the fourth discourse of his third volume :
“ Our Saviour, that bore us high good will, and did, TO THE " BEST OF HIS UNDERSTANDING, make the best of our cause, " hath nothing to say against the right of God to make a law." Here Dr. Whichcote (of superior understanding no doubt himself) talks of the best of our SAVIOUR'S UNDERSTANDING!
† The gentile or genteel philofopher too often hears with paia such sentiments of Christianity, as those of Erasmus in the following pallage:
“ Existimo puram illam Christi PHILOSOPHIAM non aliundè fæli. " cius bauriri quam ex evangelicis libris, quàm ex apoftolicis literis ; in “ quibus, fi quis Pie philosophetur, ORANS magis quàm ARGU. “ MENTANS, nibil eje, quod ad hominis felicitatem, nibil quod ad s ullam bujus vitæ functionem pertineat, quod in his non fit traditum, “ difcuffum, et abfolutum.”-I am of opinion that the genuine Philosophy of Christ cannot
be derived from any fource fo fuccessfully, as from the books of the Gospel and the Epistles of the Apostles, in which, if a man philosophises with a pious Spirit, PRAYING rather
Thus pride is a chief obstacle to the reception of the doctrine of evangelical grace. Pride blinds the eyes of the understanding against the evidence of the Holy Ghost. Pride causes hardness of heart, a quality the most odious to the divine, and most injurious to the human nature. It teaches us to behold our inferiors, not only as not of the same flesh and blood with ourselves *; not only as little entitled to the comforts and advantages of this life; but as unworthy of partaking with us in the divine favour, and the happiness of a glorified ftate. The doctrine of grace is considered by the men of the world, and the rulers of it, intoxicated with power, as too great a leveller, to be freely admitted constently with their own ideas of exclusive privileges, or of worldly policy t. It must therefore be cried down, wherever their authority can prevail 1
than ARGUING, he will find that there is nothing conducive to the happiness of man and the performance of any duty of human life, which is not,
in some of these writings, laid down, discussed, and determined in a complete and satisfactory manner.
What! cries her grace are then the swinish herd
I would not keep such company in Heaven. This spirit of pride is apt to conceive the multitude, the canaille, that is, the poor, to whom the Gospel was preached, as only FOOD
+ Yet they should remember, that death is a greater leveller, and one whom no policy or power can escape.
| How can ye BELIEVE, which receive bor:our one of another? John, v. 44.
Men lean on reeds, when they rely solely on each other for happi. ness and honour. Indeed, what real honour can one poor lost crea. ture receive from anot who is exa in the same lott condition with himself, if both be without GRACE? Whatsoever ye do, do all to the GLORY of God. 1 Cor. 10.