Page images
PDF
EPUB

come.

lified, at once, the power of God to save the world, I to Him; at the same time predicting other things, and his willingness to do it, and to raise up to the which, being from day to day fulfilled, in the eyes woman the seed which He had promised. This of the world, established the truth of their mission, miracle, then, sufficed to confirm the hopes of man- and consequently, of their unfulfilled promises conkind: and while the memory of it was still fresh cerning the Messiah. They unanimously declared in their minds, God renewed his promises to Abra- that the law which had been given, was but prepaham, who dwelt in the midst of idolaters, and open- ratory to that of the Messiah; that, iill then, it must ed to him the mystery of the Messiah that was to continue; but that the law of Messiah should en

In the days of Isaac and Jacob, the idola- dure for ever: so that, either the law of Moses, or trous abomination was spread over the whole earth; that of the Messiah, which it prophetically prefiyet these holy men lived in faith, and when Jacob, gured, should always continue upon earth. And, on his death-bed, blest his children, he exclaimed in fact, there has been that perpetuity. Jesus Christ with an extatic joy, that interrupted his prophetic came agreeably to all the circumstances of their discourse, “I have waited for thy salvation, o predictions. He wrought miracles; so did his aposLord."

iles, by whom he converted the Gentile world. And The Egyptians were a people infected with idol- the prophecies being thus fulfilled, the proof of the atry and magic; and even the people of God were Messiah's mission is for ever established. drawn aside by their example. Yet Moses and others 8. I see many opposing religions. Necessarily, were permitted to see him who was to them invisi- these are all false but one. Each seeks to be reble, and they adored him, and had respect unto the ceived on its own authority, and threatens the ineternal blessings which he was preparing for them. credulous. I do not believe them on that account,

The Greeks and Romans have bowed down to for any one can say this. Any one may call himfictitious deities. The poets have invented different self a prophet. But in the Christian religion, I see systems of theology. Philosophers have split into many accomplished prophecies, and many miracles a thousand different sects; yet were there always in attested beyond all reasonable doubt; I find this in one small spot, and that the land of Judea, some no other religion in the world. chosen men who foretold the coming of that Mes- 9. That religion only which is contrary to our siah, whom no one else regarded.

nature, in its present estate, which resists our pleaAi length, in the fulness of time, that Messiah surable inclinations, and which seems, at first, concame; and ever since, in the midst of heresies and trary to the general opinion of mankind, that only schisms, the revolution of empires, and the perpe- has perpetually subsisled. tual change to which all other things are subject, 10. The whole course of things should bear upon the same church which adores him, who has never the establishment and the exaltation of religion; the been without his chosen worshippers, still subsists opinions and feelings of men should be found conwithout interruption or decay. And, what must be formable to what religion enjoins; and, in a word, owned to be unparalleled, wonderful, and altogether religion should be so manifestly the great object and Divine, this religion, which has ever continued, has centre towards which all things tend, that whoever subsisted in the face of perpetual opposition. A understands its principles, should be enabled to acthousand times has it been on the very verge of 10- count by it for the nature of man in particular, and tal ruin; and as often as it has been so reduced, for the government of the world at large. God has relieved it, by some extraordinary inter- Now, it is upon this very ground that wicked and position of his power. This is a most wonderful profane men blasphemously revile the Christian feature of its history, that it should have been so religion, because they misunderstand it. They immaintained, and that too, even without any uncon- agine that it consists simply in the adoration of God scientious submission or compromise to the will of as great, powerful, and eternal; which is, in fact, tyrannical men.

merely Deism, and is almost as far removed from 6. Civil states would infallibly perish, if their laws Christianity as Atheism, which is direetly opposed did not yield sometimes to the control of necessity. to it. And then from hence they would infer the But religion has never submitted to this: yet one falsehood of our religion; because, say they, were step or the other is necessary, either compliances or it true, God would have manifested himself by miracles. It is no wonder that the kingdoms of this proofs so palpable, that no man could remain ignoworld should try to save themselves by yielding to rant of him. circumstances; but, in point of fact, this is not pre- But let them conclude what they will in this way, servation. It is change. And yet with all these against Deism; this is no conclusive objection variations, still they utterly perish. There is not against Christianity; for our religion distinctly one state that has lasted for 1500 years. If, then, states, that, since the fall, God does not manifest this religion has always continued somewhere in himself to us with all the evidence that is possible. existence, and continued firm and inflexible, is it | It consists properly in the mystery of a Redeemer, not divine ?

who, by uniting in himself the Divine and human 7. There would be too much obscurity over this natures, has delivered men out of the corruption of question, if the truth had not some unequivocal sin, and reconciled them to God in his own Divine marks. This is a valuable one, that it has always person. been preserved in a visible church. The proof It inculcates on men these two truths; that there would be too bright, if there were but one opinion is a God whom they are capable of knowing and in the Christian church. This, then, has not been enjoying; and that there is a corruption in their the case; but in order to discover that which is nature, which renders them unworthy of the blesstruth, we have only to ascertain that which has al- ing. These truths are equally importanı; and it is ways existed, for that which really is the truth, equally dangerous for man, to seek God without the must have been there always, but that which is knowledge of his own misery, and to know his own false, cannot.*

misery without the knowledge of a Redeemer as Now, the belief in the Messiah has been ever his remedy. To apprehend the one without the maintained in the world. The tradition from Adam other, begets either that philosophic pride which was yet recent in the days of Noah, and even of some men have had, who knew God, but not their Moses. Subsequently the prophets bore testimony own misery; or that despair which we find in

Atheists, who know their own misery, but not their * How completely this simple rule condemns all the Saviour. Romish superstitions.

And as the knowledge of these two, truths is

equally necessary to man, so it is of the mercy of cumstances, the life, death, and resurrection of JeGod to afford the means of knowing both. Now, sus Christ; the mission of‘his apostles, the preachthe Christian religion does this, and that is its ing of the gospel, the conversion of the Gentiles, avowed and specific object.

and many other matters which regarded the estaLook into the order of things in this world, and blishment of the Christian religion, and the abolisee if all things do not directly tend to the establish- tion of Judaism. ment of these two fundamental principles of our Consider the wonderful fulfilment of these pro. religion.

phecies, which have their accomplishment so ac11. If a man does not know himself to be full of curately in the person of Jesus Christ, that none but pride, ambition, lust, weakness, misery, and un- he who is determined wilfully to blind hiinself, can righteousness, he is sadly blind. But, if with the fail to admit the fact. knowledge of the evil, he has no wish to be deli- Consider the state of the Jewish people, both prevered from it, what shall we say of such folly? viously and subsequently to the coming of Christ; Ought we not then to esteem highly a religion how flourishing before his coming; how full of miwhich so thoroughly understands our defects; and sery since they rejected him! Even at this day, ardently to hope for the truth of a religion which they are without any of the peculiar marks of their promises so desirable a remedy?

religion, without a temple, without sacrifices, scat12. It is impossible to meet all the proofs of the tered over the whole world, the contempl and the Christian religion, combined in one synoptical re- scoffing of all men. view, without feeling that they have a force which Consider the perpetuity of the Christian religion, no reasonable man can resist.

which has even subsisted from the beginning of the Consider its first establishment. That a religion world, either in the Old Testament saints, who lived 80 contrary to our nature, should have established in the expectation of Christ before his coming, or itself so quietly, without any force or constraint; in those who have received and believed on him and yet so effectually, that no torments could pre- since. No other religion has been perpetual, and vent the martyrs from confessing it; and that this this is the chief characteristic of the true religion. was done, not only without the assistance of any Finally, consider the holiness of this religion. earthly potentate whatever, but in direct opposition Consider iis doctrine, which gives a satisfactory to all the kings of earth combined against it. reason for all things; even for the contrarieties

Consider the holiness, the elevation, and the hu- which are found in man. And consider all those mility of a Christian spirit. Some of the pagan singular, supernatural, and divine peculiarities philosophers have been elevated above the rest of which shine forth in it on every side, and then mankind by a better regulated mode of life, and by judge from all this evidence, if it is possible fairly the influence of sentiments in a measure conformed to doubt that Christianity is the only true religion; to those of Christianity; but they have never re- and if any other religion ever possessed any thing cognized as a virtue that which Christians call hu- which could bear a moment's comparison with it. mility; and they would even have believed it incompatible with the other virtues which they pro

CHAPTER IX. posed to cherish. None but the Christian religion has known how to unite things which previously PROOFS OF THE TRUE RELIGION, DRAWN FROM THE CONappeared so much al variance; and has taight man- TRARIETIES IN MAN, AND FROM THE DOCTRINE OF kind, that instead of humility being inconsistent with the other virtues, all other virtues without it The greatness and the misery of man are both are vices and defects.

so manifest, that it is essential to the true religion, Consider the boundless wonders of the Holy to recognize the existence in man, of a certain prinScripture; the grandeur, and the super-human sub- ciple of extraordinary greatness, and also a princilimity of its statements, and the admirable simpli- ple of profound misery. For that religion which city of its style, which has nothing affected, nothing is true, must thoroughly know our nature in all its labored or recondite, and which bears upon the face grandeur, and in all its misery, and must compreof it, the irresistible stamp of truth.

hend the source of both. It should give also a saConsider especially the person of Jesus Christ. tisfactory explanation of those astonishing contraWhatever may be thought of him in other respects, rieties which we find within us. If also there be it is impossible not to discern that he had a truly one essence, the beginning and the end of all things, noble and highly elevated spirit, of which he gave the true religion should teach us to worship and to proof, even in his infancy before the doctors of the love him exclusively. But since we find ourselves law. And yet, instead of applying himself to the unable to worship him whom we know not, and to cultivation of his talents by study, and ty the so- love any thing beyond ourselves, it is essential that ciety of the learned, he passed thirty years of his the religion which requires of us these duties, should life in manual labor, and in an entire separation warn us of our weakness, and guide us to its cure. from the world: and during the three years of his Again, religion, to make man happy, should ministry, he called and delegated as his apostles, teach him that there is a God; that we ought to men without knowledge, without study, without re- love him; that it is our happiness to be his, and our pute; and he excited as his enemies, all those who only real'evil to be separated from him. It should were accounted the wisest and the most learned of show us that we are full of gross darkness, which his day. This was certainly an extraordinary line hinders us from knowing and loving him; and that of conduct, for one whose purpose it was to esta- our duty, thus requiring us to love God, and our blish a new religion.

evil affections alienating us from him, we are maConsider also those chosen apostles of Jesus nifestly in a sinful state. It ought to discover to us Christ: men unlettered and without study; yet who also the cause of this opposition to God, and to our found themselves all at once sufficiently learned to real welfare. It should point out to us the remedy contound the most practised philosophers, and suffi- and the means of obtaining it. Examine, then, all ciently firm to resist the kings and tyrants who op- the religious systems in the world on these several posed that gospel which they preached.

points, and see if any other than Christianity will Consider that extraordinary series of prophets, satisfy you respecting them. who have followed each other during a period of Shall it be ihe religion taught by those philosotwo thousand years; and who, in so many different phers, who offer to us as the chief good, our own ways, have predicted, even to the most minute cir- | moral excellence? Is this, then, the supreme good ?

ORIGINAL SIN..

Have these men discovered the remedy of our Behold then the present state and condition of evils? Have they found a cure for the presump- men. On the one hand they retain a powerful in tion of man, who thus make him equal with his stinctive impression of the happiness of their primi God? And they who have levelled us with the tive nature; on the other hand, they are plunged in brutes, and held up as the chief good the sensual de- the miseries of their own blindness and lust; and lights of earth; have they found a cure for our cor- this is now become their second nature. rupt affections? These say to us, “Lift up your 2. In the principles which I have here stated, you eyes to God, behold him whom you resemble, and may discern the spring of those wonderful contrawho has made you for his worship. You may rieties which have confounded, while they have make yourselves altogether like him; and, if you distracted and divided all mankind. Watch attenfollow the dictates of wisdom, you will become his tively all the emotions of greatness and glory, which equals.". Those say, “Look to the dust, vile rep- the sense of so many miseries has not been able to tiles, and consider the beasts with whom you are as- extinguish, and see if they must not have their sociated.” What then is to be the lot of man? Is source in another nature. he to be equal with God, or with the beasts that pe- 3. See, then, proud man, what a paradox thou sish? How awful the scope of this alternative.- art to thyself. Let impotent reason be humbled; What shall be our destiny? Where is the religion let frail nature be silent. Know that man infinitethat shall instruct us, at once to correct both our ly surpasseth man; and learn from thy Maker, thy pride and our concupiscence? Where is the reli- real condition. gion that shall teach us, at the same time, our hap- For, in fact, had man never been corrupted, he piness and our duty; the weaknesses which cause would have ever enjoyed truth and happiness, with us to err, the specific for their removal, and the an assured delight. And had man never been any way to obtain it? Hear what the wisdom of God other than corrupted, he would never have had any declares on this subject, when it speaks to us in the idea of truth and blessedness. But wretched as we Christian religion.

are, (more wretched than if we had never felt the It is in vain, O men! that you seek in yourselves consciousness of greatness) we do now retain a nothe remedy of your miseries. All the light you tion of felicity, though we cannot attain it. We have can only show you that you cannot find with have some faint impression of truth, while all we in yourselves either truth or happiness. The phi- grasp is falsehood. We are alike incapable of tolosophers have promised you both; but they could tal ignorance and of sure and definite knowledge. give you neither. They know not your real happi- So manifest is it, that we were once in a state of ness, nor even your real state. How could they perfection, from which we have unhappily fallen. cur those ills, who did not even know them. Your What then do this sense of want, and this impotenchief mischiefs are, that pride which alienates you cy to obtain, declare to us, but that man originally from God, and that concupiscence which fetters possessed a real bliss, of which no traces now reyou to earth; and they have invariably fostered, at main, except that cheerless void within, which he least, one or other of these evils. If they set God vainly endeavors to fill from the things around him; before you, it was but to excite your pride, by ma- by seeking from those which are absent, a joy which king you believe that your nature was similar to present things will not yield—a joy which neither his. And they who saw the folly of such preten-ihe present nor the absent can bestow.om him; besions, have but led you to an equally dangerous cause this illimitable chasm, this boundless void, precipice. They have taught you that your na- can never be filled by any but an infinite and imiure was on a level with the beasts, and that happi- mutable object. ness was only to be found in those lusts which you 4. It is an astonishing thought that of all mystehave in common with them. This was not the ries, that which seems to be farthest removed way to convince you of your errors. Seek not then from our apprehension, I mean the transmission of from men, either truth or consolation. I made you original sin, is a fact without the knowledge of at the first, and I only can teach you what you are. which we can never satisfactorily know ourselves. You are not now in the state in which you were For, undoubtedly, nothing appears so revolting to created by me. I made man holy, innocent, and our reason as to say that the transgression of the perfect. I filled him with light and understanding. first man should impart guilt to those, who, from I made known to him my glory, and the wonders their extreme distance from the source of the evil, of my hand. Then it was that the eye of man be- seem incapable of such a participation. This transheld the majesty of God. He was not then in the mission seems to us not only impossible but unjust. darkness which now blinds him. He knew not then For what can be more repugnant to the rules of our mortality or misery. But he did not long enjoy despicable justice, than to condemn eternally an in-. that glory, without declining to presumption. He fani, yet irresponsible, for an offence, in which he wished to make himself the centre of his own bap- appears to have had so little share, that it was compiness, and to live independently of my aid. He mítted six thousand years before he came into exwithdrew from beneath my authority. And when, istence. Certainly nothing wounds us more cruelby the desire to find happiness in himself, he aimed ly than this doctrine. And yet without this mysteto put himself on a level with me; I abandoned ry, to us of all others the most incomprehensible, him to his own guidance; and causing all the crea- we are utterly incomprehensible to ourselves. The tures that I had subjected to him, to revolt from him, complicated knot of our condition, has its mysteriI made them his enemies: so that now man himself our folds in this abyss; so that man is more incomhas actually become similar to the beasts, and he prehensible without this mystery, than is this mysis so far removed from me, that he scarcely retains tery itself to man. even a confused notion of the Author of his being: The notion of original sin, is foolishness to men. so much have his original impressions been oblite- But then we should not condemn the want of rearated and obscured. His senses uncontrolled by sonableness in this doctrine, for in fact it is not asreasou, and often overruling it, hurry him onward sumed to be within the province of reason. At the to pleasure and to indulgence. All the creatures same time, this very foolishness is wiser than all round him, now minister only sorrow or tempta- the wisdom of men : (The foolishness of God, is wition. They have the dominion over him, either ser than men. I Cor. ì. 25.) For without this, what subduing him by their strength, or seducing him by explanation can we give of man! His whole contheir fascinations; a tyrannical control, which is, dition hangs upon this one imperceptible point. of all others, the most cruel and imperious. Yet how could he have discovered this by his rea

tue.

son; seeing it is a matter above his reason; and of Adam, nor of the nature of his sin, nor of the that reason, far from discovering the fact, revolts transmission of it to ourselves. These things ocfrom it, when it is revealed.

curred under circumstances widely different from 5. These two states of original innocence and our own; and they exceed the present limits of our subsequent corruption, being once presented to our comprehension. The comprehension of them would view, it is impossible' not to recognize them, and be of no avail for our deliverance from evil. All admit their truth. Let us trace our own emotions, that we need to know is, that through Adam we are and observe ourselves; and let us see whether we become miserable, corrupt, and alienated from God; do not detect within, the living characters of both but that by Jesus Christ we are redeemed. And of these different natures. Could such contrarieties this, even in this world we have ample proof. exist in the subject of one simple nature ?

7. Christianity has its wonders. It requires man This two-fold tendency of man is so visible, that to acknowledge bimself vile and abominable; it some have conceived him to possess two souls: one requires him also to emulate the likeness of 'his soul appearing to them incapable of such great and Maker. Unless these things had been accurately sudden changes, from an immeasurable presump- balanced, such an exaltation would have rendered tion, to the most debasing and abject depravity. him extravagantly vain; such a debasement, la

Thus we see that the several contrarieties which mentably abject. seem most calculated to alienate men from the Misery leads to despair; aggrandisement to preknowledge of any religion whatever, are the very sumption. things which should most effectually avail to guide 8. The mystery of the incarnation shows to man them to the true.

the depth of his degradation, in the greatness of the For my own part, I avow, that as soon as the necessary remedy. Christian religion discloses this one principle-that 9. The Christian religion does not recognize in human nature is depraved and fallen from God, us such a state of abasement, as renders us incapamy eyes open at once to discover the characters of ble of good; nor such a purity as is perfectly safe this truth, inscribed on every thing around me. All from evil. No doctrine is so well adapted io hunature, both within and without us, most manifest- man nature as this, which declares man's capability ly declares the withdrawing of God.

of receiving and of forfeiting grace; because of Without this divine communication, what could the danger to which, on either hand, he is ever exmen do, but either feed their pride on the inward posed, of despair and of presumption. impression yet remaining of their former great- 10. Philosophers have never furnished men with ness; or abjectly sink under the consciousness of sentiments suited to these two features of their contheir present infirmity ? For as they do not discern dition. They either infused notions of unalloyed all the truth, they can never attain to perfect vir- greatness, which is certainly not man's real state;

Some regarding their nature as hitherto un- or they encouraged the idea of man's total depracorrupted; others, as irrecoverably lost; they could vity, which is equally an error. We want an actual not escape one of the two great sources of all vice- abasement of soul, not by the indulgence of our either pride or recklessness. They must either own base nature; but by a real penitence: not that abandon themselves to vice, through negligence; we may abide there, but that we may attain thereby or emerge from it by the strength of their pride. If to exaltation. We want the stirrings of greatness; they were alive to the excellency of man, they not those which originate in human merit, but would be ignorant of his corruption : and though, those which spring from grace, and follow humiby this means, they would avoid the guilt of reck-liation. less indifference, they would split upon the rock of 11. No man is really happy, rational, virtuous, pride; and if they recognize the weakness of hu- amiable, but the true Christian. How free from man nature, they would be strangers to its dignity: pride is his consciousness of union with the Deity! and thus they would shun the dangers of a proud How free from meanness, the humility which levels presumption, only to plunge themselves into the him with the worms of the earth! vortex of despair.

Who, then, can with hold from this celestial light, From this very source sprung all the various his confidence and veneration? For is it not clearer sects of the Stoics and Epicureans; of the Dog-than the day, that we discover in ourselves the inmatists, and the Academics, &c. The Christian delible traces of our excellence? And is it not religion only has been able thoroughly to cure these equally clear, that we experience every moment the opposite vices; not by using the wisdom of this sad realities of our deplorable condition ? And world to make one expel the other; but by expel- does not, then, this internal chaos, this moral conling them both, through the means of the simple fusion, proclaim with a voice mighty and irresistitruth of the gospel. For while it exalts its votaries ble, the truth of those two states, to which revela10 be partakers of the divine nature, it teaches that tion bears testimony? even in this exalted state, they carry with them the 12. That which hinders men from believing that source of all corruption, which renders them, during they may be united to God, is the conviction of their whole life, liable to error and misery, to death their depraved state. But if they are sincere in and sin. At the same time, it assures the most im- this conviction, let them follow out the fact to its pious, that even they might yet experience the grace bearings as I have; and let them acknowledge that of the Redeemer. Thus administering salutary the effect of this degradation is, to render us incadread to those whom it justifies, and needful encou- pable of judging rightly, whether God can make ragement to those whom it condemns; it so wisely us fit to enjoy him or not. For I would like to tempers hope and fear, by means of this two-fold know where this avowedly weak and degraded capability of sin and of grace, which is common to creature acquired the power of guaging the Divine all mankind, that it humbles man far below what compassions, and limiting them according to his unassisted reason could do, without driving him to own fancy. Man knows so little of what God is, despair; and it exalts man far beyond the loftiest that he does not know what he is himself: and yet, height of natural pride, without making him pre- while unable to judge of his own real state, he presumptuous. And hereby it is shown of the Chris- sumes to affirm, that God cannot fit him for comtian religion, that inasmuch as it only is free from munion with him. But I would ask, Is not the very defect or error,

it alone belongs the task of in- thing which God requires of him this, that he structing and correcting mankind.

should know and love him? And why, then, since 6. We have no conception of the glorious state l he is naturally capable of knowing and loving,

THE DUE SUBORDINATION AND USE OF REASON.

should he doubt the power of God to make himself that, without a Mediator, there can be no comthe object of this knowledge and love. For it is munion between us. unquestionable that he knows, at least, that he is, 6. Do not wonder to see some unsophisticated and that he loves something. Then, if in the dark- people believe without reasoning. God gives them ness in which he is, he yet discerns something, and the love of his righteousness, and the abhorrence of if he finds amidst earthly things some object of themselves. He inclines their hear: o believe. We love; why if God should impart sume rays of his should never believe with a living or influential own essence, should he not be capable of knowing faith, if God did not incline the heart; but we do him and of loving him, as he is discovered in that so as soon as he inclines it. This David felt, when mode in which he has been pleased to reveal him- he said, Incline my heart, O Lord, unto thy vestiself.

monies. There is, then, an unjustifiable presumption in 7. If any believe truly, without having examined these reasonings. Though they appear to be founded the evidence of religion, it is, that they have rein humility, yet that humility is neither sincere nor ceived within, a holy disposition, and that they find reasonable ; but, as it leads us to acknowledge, that the averments of our religion conformed to it. as we do not thoroughly know what we are our. They feel that God has made them. They wish selves, we can only learn it from God.

but to love him, and to hate only themselves. They feel that they are without strength; that they are

unable to go to God, and that unless he comes to CHAPTER X.

them, they can have no communication with him. And then they learn from our religion, that they

should love only God, and hate only themselves, but The highest attainment of reason, is to know that being utterly corrupt, and alienau from God, that there is an infinity of knowledge beyond its God became man, that he might unite himself to limits. It must be sadly weak if it has not disco- us. Nothing more is wanting to conrince men, vered this. We ought to know where we should who have this principle of piety in their hearts, doubt, where we should be confident, and where and who know also both their duty and their weakwe should submit. He who knows not this, does ness. not comprehend the true power of reasoning.- 8. Those whom we see to be Christians, without There are men who fail severally on each of these the inspection of the prophecies and other evi points. Some from ignorance of what is demon- dences, are found equally good judges of the reli stration, assume every thing to be demonstrable; gion itself

, as others who have i is knowledge. others, not knowing where it becomes them to sub-They judge by the heart, as others do by the undermit silently, doubt of every thing; and others again, standing. God himself has inci ved their hearts unconscious of the right field for the exercise of to believe, and hence they are effectively persuaded. judgment, submit blindly to all.

I grant that a Christian who thus believes with2. If we subject every thing to reason, our reli- out examining evidence, would probably not have gion would have nothing in it mysterious and su- the means of convincing an infidel, who could put pernatural. If we violate the principles of reason, his own case strongly. But those who know well our religion would be absurd and contemptible. the evidence for Christianity, can prove, without

Reason, says St. Augustine, would never submit, difficulty, that this belief is truly inspired of God, if it were not in its nature to judge, that there are though the man is not able to prove it himself. occasions when it ought to submit. It is right, then, that reason should yield when it is conscious that it ought, and that it should not yield when it

CHAPTER XI. judges deliberately, that it ought not. But we must guard here against self-deceit.

THE CHARACTER OF A MAN WHO IS WEARIED WITH 3. Piely differs from superstition. Superstition

SEEKING GOD BY REASON ONLY, AND WHO BEGINS is the death of piety. The heretics reproach us with this superstitious submission of the under- WHEN I look at the blindness and misery of man, standing. We should deserve their reproach, if we and at those appalling contrarieties which are aprequired this surrender in things which do not re- parent in his nature; and when I survey the uniquire it rightly. Nothing is more consistent with verse all silent, and 'man without instruction, left reason, than the repression of reasoning in matters alone, and, as it were, a lost wanderer in this corof faith. Nothing more contrary to reason, than ner of creation, without knowing who placed him the repression of reasoning in matters which are here, what he came to do, or what becomes of him not of faith. To exclude reasoning altogether, or at death, I am alarmed as a man is, who has been to take no other guide, are equally dangerous ex- carried during his sleep to a desolate and gloomy tremes.

island, and who has awaked, and discovered that 4. Faith affirms many things, respecting which he knows not where he is, and that he has no the senses are silent; but nothing that they deny. means of escape. I wonder how any one can avoid It is always superior, but never opposed to their despair, at the consideration of this wretched state. testimony.

I see others round me having the same nature: I 5. Some men say, If I had seen a miracle, I ask them if they know more on this subject than 1; should bave been converted. But they would not and they answer, no. And I see that these wretched so speak if they really understood conversion.- wanderers, like myself, having looked around them, They imagine that conversion consists in the re- and discovered certain pleasurable objects, have cognition of a God; and that to adore him, is but given themselves up to them without reserve. For to offer him certain addresses, much resembling myself, I cannot rest contented with such pleasures; those which the pagans made to their idols. True I cannot find repose in this society of similar beings, conversion is, to feel our nothingness before that wretched and powerless as I am myself. I see thai Sovereign Being whom we have so often offended; they cannot help me to die. I must die alone. It and who might, at any moment, justly destroy us. becomes me then to act as if I were alone. Now, It is to acknowledge, that without Him we can do if I were alone here, I should not build mansions. nothing, and that we have deserved nothing but his I should not entangle myself with tumultuous cares. wrath. It consists in the conviction, that between I should not court the favor of any, but I should God and us, there is an invincible enmity; and strive to the utmost to discover what is truth. With

TO READ THE SCRIPTURES.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »