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"nances either lightly esteemed, or imputed to "the devil; good works either undervalued or "trodden under foot; wild-fire dangeroufly toffed "about, instead of that light which came down "from heaven; puffing pretenfions to extraordi"nary revelations, infpirations, ufurping the name "of the Holy One; with perfonal conferences "with God, face to face; enthufiaftic ranters, "comparing themselves with prophets and apof"tles, if not with Christ himself; the most wild " and extravagant behaviour, the phrenzies of a "difturbed brain or deluded imagination, the "effects of fits, of a weak head, or DISEASED "BODY, all turned into fo many tefts and marks "of faintship; the SPIRIT OF PRIDE AND VANITY "poffeffing the LEADERS; a spirit of ENVY, RAN"COUR, broils, and implacable animofities, dafh"ing each other in pieces; a fpirit of bitterness "and uncharitablenefs towards the REST OF MAN"KIND; a progrefs through immorality, fcepticism, "infidelity, atheism, through spiritual desertions, "DESPAIR, and MADNESS, made the gate of per"fection; an IMAGINARY new-birth to be brought "to pass by means of REAL TORTURES, of fome "of the moft exquifite pangs and fufferings that "can affect human nature:-I fay, where these "are found, and many more equally horrible, one 66 may easily discern a wide difference between "fuch a difpenfation and GENUINE RELIGION; as "well as the bungling hands that are substituting "the former in the place of the other. One may "eafily fee what ftrangers fuch inconfiftent ram"blers must be to the true devotion, as well as "the COMFORTS of a fedate, compofed piety; to "C a firm belief of our Maker and Redeemer, and "a conftant reliance upon Providence; to a fteady "courfe of fincere, 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 infpired word; and all this PROVED "by the love of our neighbour; to a general ob"fervance 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 Wilfon, a Watts, a Doddridge, a Nelfon, 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 fcholaftic theologifts, explaining away, to fhew their fkill, or to answer the political purposes of the paffing hour, the ftrongest expreffions of holy fcripture.
Pride the great Obftacle to the general Reception of the Gospel of Grace.
APROUD, turbulent, and vindictive spirit is ut
terly incompatible with the fpirit of Chriftianity; but a proud, turbulent, and vindictive fpirit conftitutes what is called, in the world, a man of honour; and who can afpire at the diftinctions and rewards which the world has to beftow, without aspiring at the character of a man of honour-without zealoufly maintaining it, in defiance of all which the fcriptures have taught us to confider as the WILL OF GOD? No wonder, then,
that the genuine gofpel, the doctrine of the SPIRIT, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and eafy to be entreated, fhould be utterly neglected by those who are more folicitous 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 felf-eftimation is in the smallest degree depreciated. SUBMISSION of the temper and underftanding, which is neceffary for the reception of that EVIDENCE of Christianity which the Holy Ghost affords, is confidered as contemptible meannefs, by those who are full of themselves, and live only to flatter, for the fake of being re-flattered, in the fashionable circles of felf-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 confifts in civil nobility, in blood, or in titles conferred by an earthly monarch, however weak, wicked, and mischievous he may be. He who fhares 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 gofpel, he is become the living temple of the Holy Ghoft. That a poor man, fuch as were the apostles, and fuch as are many true Christians in the prefent day, fhould poffefs a nature raised above whatever earthly honours can bestow, is a doctrine OFFENSIVE to all who have been taught to confider, as the chief good of man, the gratification of the pride of life.
*Such doctrines (the doctrines peculiar to Christianity) muft "be received with fcorn and derifion, as an infolent claim to fuperiority "of underflanding, over those whom the WORLD pronounces wife and ❝ difcerning."
Scholars alfo, deep mathematicians, metaphyficians, and logicians, feel a fentiment of fcorn, when they are told that a plain, fimple, humble peasant, whofe mind is rightly difpofed, may receive a portion of divine illumination, which shall contribute more to found wisdom, and confequently to happiness, than all their minute and laborious difquifitions. Philofophy, towering, like Icarus, on wings made by the art of man, to the clouds, looks down with contempt on Religion, who affociates with ignorant perfons, diftinguifhed by humility of rank as much as by humility of difpofition. Philofophy leaves the company of a perfonage fo mean, and frequently paffes from a contempt of her, to downright hatred and enmity +.
* I have mentioned an inftance 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 will infert here another inftance which just now occurs to me. The celebrated Dr. WHICHCOTE, one of the champions of reafon and natural religion, though at the fame time a great defender of the Chriftian faith, in times when it was the fashion and the road to preferment to decry all the high mysterious doctrines of Chriftianity, has the following paffage in the fourth difcourfe 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 caufe, "hath nothing to fay against the right of God to make a law. Here Dr. Whichcote (of fuperior understanding no doubt himself) talks of the beft of OUR SAVIOUR'S UNDERSTANDING!
The gentile or genteel philofopher too often hears with pain fuch fentiments of Chriftianity, as thofe of Erafmus in the following paffage :
"Exiflimo puram illam Chrifti PHILOSOPHIAM non aliundè fœli"cius bauriri quam ex evangelicis libris, quàm ex apoftolicis literis; in " quibus, fi quis PIE philofophetur, ORANS magis quàm ARGU "MENTANS, nihil effe, quod ad hominis felicitatem, nihil quod ad "ullam hujus vitæ functionem pertineat, quod in his non fit traditum,
difcuffum, et abfolutum."I am of opinion that the genuine Philofophy of Chrift cannot be derived from any fource fo fuccefsfully, as from the books of the Gofpel and the Epistles of the Apoftles, in which, if a man philofophifes with a pious fpirit, 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 Ghoft. Pride caufes 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 fame 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 confidered by the men of the world, and the rulers of it, intoxicated with power, as too great a leveller, to be freely admitted confiftently with their own ideas of exclufive privileges, or of worldly policy +. It must therefore be cried down, wherever their authority can prevail.
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 fome of these writings, laid down, difcuffed, and determined in a complete and fatisfactory manner. ERASMUS. Non animos et corpora noftrâ "Materiâ conftare putat, paribufque Elementis," What! cries her grace-are then the swinish herd Made of fuch flesh and blood as we ?-abfurd! Are fouls like ours to vulgar wretches given? I would not keep fuch company in Heaven. This spirit of pride is apt to conceive the multitude, the canaille, that is, the poor, to whom the Gofpel 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 bonour one of another? John, v. 44.
Men lean on reeds, when they rely folely on each other for happinefs and honour. Indeed, what real honour can one poor loft creature receive from another, who is exactly in the fame loft condition with himself, if both be without GRACE?
Whatsoever ye do, do all to the GLORY of God. 1 Cor. 10.