Imatges de pÓgina
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argument ? no; I had seen them both repeatedly used, with little or no effect on the mass of the people, among whom the effect was, on all accounts, chiefly to be desired; because they are most exposed to the misery resulting from the want of a guide, and the delusions of a fallacious

The grand attack on Christianity having been made in a popular mode, a popular mode of repelling it appeared to me likely to be most effečtual. To learn this popular mode, should I repair to the dreary schools of metaphysics? should I unfold the rolls of history so often presented in vain to the eye of the unbeliever ? Should I not rather go to the churches of the great city, where thronging multitudes crowd for admission, and stand on tiptoe to listen to the preacher as to a living oracle? there, amid much impropriety of accent, vulgarity of language, and extraneous matter, (a species of oratory little to be approved, by a mind versed in the study of classical models,) I discovered the charm which won the hearts, and through them convinced the understandings of the multitude. The charm was no other than a display of the spirit's evidence, and the doctrine of grace. I wanted an effectual principle to proceed upon, and I sought it not only on the shelves of deserted libraries, but also in the living world, under the guidance of experience. I sought and found a principle, which might, I thought, make

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producing belief in their readers or hearers. Rousseau says, “ Boyle's

Lectures might have been written by a society of unbelievers." It may be doubted wh:ther the Warburtonian, Bamptonian, and other lectures of a similar kind have produced much advantage to the cause of piety and true religion, notwithstanding the benevolence of the insticutors and the ingenuity of the lecturers. They keep alive bjections, (brought forward to furnish subject matter,) which left alone would die and be forgotten.

its way, like the books of Paine, and the example of France ; not among the learned few only, but also among the mixed multitude that constitute the people, or, if you please, the populace. The poison was epidemically diffused, and required an epidemical antidote. Something was wanted to touch and meliorate the HEART of the whole people. The understanding of the multitude usually obeys the impulse of the heart; and when the main spring, the heart, is in its proper place and ftate, the whole machine performs its office with few and short deviations from rectitude.

Addreffes to the heart, founded on the doctrine of divine influence, I had observed, in the crowded congregations of the metropolis, to be productive of pure morals, warm devotion, diffufive charity, and the strongest attachment to the Christian religion. I had feen, if the human eye can presume to judge, the most unshaken faith among the poor, to whom the Gofpel was preached by men, poor themselves, and fcarcely better furnished with human learning, than the fishermen of Galilee. The Holy Spirit's energy was their favourite doctrine, a doctrine no less sublime and confolatory, than sound and true. The good which I found in their matter I adopted, while I endeavoured to avoid the apparent evil of their manner. It is their manner which gives offence; and prevents among the higher ranks, whose welfare is as dear to the benevolent preacher as that of the lowest, the diffusion of the most falutary doctrine of the Gospel. I reprobated all irregularity in their proceedings, wishing all things to be done in order. I exploded all ranting in the pulpit, all theatrical tricks, all hypocritical extravagance, all ignorant effrontery; but, separating the wheat from the chaff, I retained the found doctrine of the Spirit's energy, founded as it is in scripture, enforced in the plainest terms by the church, and recommended by the eloquence and arguments of the most regular, moft learned, and exalted divines of this and all other countries of Christendom *.

founded * From Erasmus to Secker, Townson, Horsley, and many more, besides those cited in this volume.

I have intimated in the following pages, that I purposely chose this topic, for reviving Christian faith and practice, and dwelt upon it the rather, because I had observed, that it had been neglected by recent and respectable divines, and even exploded with marks of contumely. Since the prevalence of methodism, it had been branded with the epithets, myftic, fanatic, enthufiaftic.

It would be tedious to introduce the numberless passages from late authors, who have joined in discountenancing the doctrine of the Spirit's agency, in accomplishing what the Gospels call REGENERATION. It shall suffice to quote one pas{age from a living writer, a divine still more respectable for his talents and virtues, than his ex. alted rank in the Church of England, though, as a man, liable to error. The following are the words of Archdeacon Paley:

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Even PELAGIUS, (whose real name was MORGAN, ( Marigena,) whence the latinized name PELAGIUS,) even Pelagius himself be. lieved in the agency of the Divine Spirit, though he has given rife to the famous sect of Pelagians, who deny it. Pelagius was grossly misrepresented. We have his own words confessing his belief in this article. The reader may find them in WALL on Infant Baptism. This passage of a native of our island, Morgan or Pelagius, a Weish.

a man, is two hundred years older than any writing whatever extant by a Briton. MORGAN was a very able man and, for learning, at that age, an bonour to our country. Controversialists must

fix on somehody to write against, or they would want a subject. But Pelagius (or Morgan) appears to have been a believer in the doctrine of grace.

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“ If any one asks—what the expressions in « scripture, REGENERATE-BORN OF THE SPIRIT « NEW CREATURES, mean ?-- WE answer, that

THEY MEAN NOTHING! NOTHING TO US!
NOTHING TO BE FOUND, OR SOUGHT FOR, IN

THE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES OF CHRIST66 IANITY * !”

Such words uttered in the most peremptory manner, by high authority; the authority of genius, learning, and eminent station in the church, are counterbalanced, as they ought, by authority of, at least, equal weight; in passages quoted in the following pages. Add to this, the decision of the Church, displayed in her articles and liturgy, and the weight of authority will preponderate in favour of the Spirit's agency, in producing the change called regeneration. In producing this change, it unavoidably produces the highest evidence in the mind of the believer, and leaves him fully convinced of the truth, as well as excellence of Christianity. Faith is the gift of God" and - he to whom God has given faith, wants no “ proofs; while he who is deftitute of faith 66 will not be convinced by any demonstra« tion t."

* See Paley's Sermon preached at the visitation of Edmund Lord Bishop of Carline, July 15, 1777 ; printed for Faulder.

t « Cui fidem largitus eft Deus, probationes non requirit ; qui fide ss caret, nulía illi suficiet demonftratio."

Huetii Præfat. ad Demonft. Evang. page 7. Huet wrote his “ Demonstration" to bring the reasoners to listen ;but acknowledges that grace must produce true saving faith. He says, “ Probari poteft Religionis Christianæ veritas eo genere dem.00:

Strationis, quod non minus certum est quum demonftrationes ipfæ gro' metricæ."-" The truth of the Chiiftian religion may be proved by

a kind of demonstration, not less certain than the geometrical."Yet till he acknowledges, that after all Faith must be given by God, and that saving faith arises not from demonstrations.

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The sanctifying power of the Spirit, on the heart and life, is the highest of all evidence to the truth of the Christian religion ; and it is not necessary to a saving faith, that a plain man should know any thing of demonstrations.

But let not the superior value and importance of the internal evidence entirely supersede the external, or render it suspected of wanting a firm foundation,

The external evidence is to those who are to teach the people, and to answer gainsayers, of great importance; and it is of importance to all, so far as it is within the reach of all, which some of it certainly is; but the internal evidence is the SEAL; and till that is applied and fixed, faith will be found to fluctuate, and the mind be led to waver, by the first ingenious objector, who may have recourse to specious learning, to plausible fophistry, or even to burlesque and ridicule.

Nothing could be farther from my intentions, than to set at nought the external evidence of Christianity. All forts of evidence are to be defired, which can by any means influence human beings, in fixing their choice, and directing their conduct, respecting matters which involve their happiness, present and future. The external evi. dence may lead to the internal; as the light of a taper may serve to guide a wanderer out of a dark cavern, till he comes to the open day light, when the living lustre of the Heavens will render the taper useless, and even extinguish its dim light by overpowering radiance.

But if men are to be taught of God, it has been asked, will not the ministry be rendered useless ? what is left for the clergy to do? I answer, that

God

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