« السابقةمتابعة »
own wicked wishes, has allowed them, in just judgment, to go on in the way which they desired, till it issued in their everlasting ruin. They blind their minds now with the sophistry, let Christian's agree on their religion, and then I will attend to it.' The sophistry will all be dispelled at the day of judgment, and the neglect of plain things, because of differences about more obscure things will only disclose and evidence the real cause of this neglect-an inward hatred of God and his ways. How many things are perfectly clear and undisputed, among all having any pretence to the name of Christians ! Attend to those. There is a glorious God--there is a complete Saviour--there is a Guide, and Sanctifier, and Comforter-there is pardon for sin, meetness for heaven, resurrection from the dead, judgment to come, and immortal bliss for the righteous. You cannot doubt these they are clear they are without controversy. Use them daily and improve them, and intermeddle not with things doubtful and mysterious, till you lose all religious principles and all hope.
But if called to maintain and defend scriptural truth, remember, that without the experience of the power of that truth, you are little qualified to be its advocate, and can do little good. Dr. Owen strongly urges the importance of having abiding in our hearts the power of the truth contended for.
He justly says--- When not the sense of the words, but of the things is in our hearts ; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for, then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults
Without this, all our contending is of no value to ourselves. What am I the better if I can dispute that Christ is God; but have no sense that he is a God in covenant with my soul. What will it avail me to evince, by testimonies and arguments, that he has made satisfaction for sin, if, through my unbelief, the wrath of God abides on me : Will it be any advantage to me in the issue to profess and dispute that God works the conversion of a sinner, by the irresistible grace of his Spirit, if I was never acquainted, experimentally, with that opposition to the law of God, which is in my own soul by nature, and with the efficacy of the exceeding greatness of the power of God, in quickening, enlightening, and bringing forth the fruits of obedience in me? It is the power of the truth in the heart alone, that will make us cleave to it indeed in an hour of temptation. Let us not then think that we are any thing the better for our conviction of the great doctrines of the gospel, unless we have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God, and our communion with him.''
When shall we rise to those higher regions of Christianity, that purer and better air of Christian faith, and hopë, and love ; in which some of God's favoured servants have lived-like Enoch walking with God or like Paul saying, I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved ?
The confliet with a man's own corruptions is one step towards this. When daily struggling with the spower of inward sin, and humbled to the dust under the continual rebuffs of Satan, when sensible that there is an inward scene of abominations which man
1991T Bulev 1951 Os See his Works, Vol. viii. pp. 79, 80... iw grises
beholds not, but God beholds; who can i be severe against his neighbound' 1 - Leighton well speaks of one useful controversy or dispute, one sort of war, most noble in its nature, and most worthy of a Christian, and this not to be carried on against enemies at a great distance, but such as are bred within our own breasts”; against these it is most reasonable to wage an endless war, and them it is our duty to persecute to death. •-* A view of the glory of the Saviour is another step towards that holy and heavenly spirit. The Church cannot be united till, like the inhabitants above, we behold his glory, as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth , and thence, filled with love and admiration, aim at this one object, the advancement of His honour, and the exaltation of His name.
100 101 , B+ tus:1:"3,109 bis die 90911
Hihna' 10 bis CHAPTER VIII. Isha maw ? 1»THE DANGERS CONNECTED WITH STUDIES
>JUBV". Tuovet THERE may be some ready at first to think that there is little need to dwell on this point, and that we should rather urge the indolent to active study, than warn men of the dangers of study. But the address made by the prophet Isaiah to Babylon of old, is still too applicable in our day-Thy wisdom and thy knowledge at hath perverted thee, and thou hast said in thine heart I am, and there is none besides med And it must be admitted that wicked men, the more learning they have, are the more dangerous to the truth. Their abuse of knowledge has led pious men to undervalue
learning, as if it was the cause of this evil, and the acquired knowledge was to blame for the moral depravity ; but it may effectually guard against such errors to look at the extensive usefulness of a Hooker, an Usher, a Hall, or a Beveridge, in the Church of England ; an Owen, a Charnock, a Howe, and an Edwards, among those of another communion.
Yet are there real dangers encompassing and surrounding every human attainment, and our corruption breaks forth amidst all that which should restrain it. We see learning without piety extensively injurious. We see immense learning, and we hope real piety, in many Romanists, such as Bellarmine and others, and all their talents and learning perverted to the maintenance of fundamental errors. We see learning without piety puffing up its possessor with intolerable pride, and leading him to the haughty and disdainful contempt of all who have not similar learned acquirements.
But let us notice more distinctly some of the dangers of study.
The first that may be mentioned is FORMING OUR RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS FROM OUR OWN REASONING POWERS, rather than from the divine record. Truths, we are tempted to think, are to be made out by argument, by intellect, by the powers of the mind, and by human literature. Like our first parents, we are seeking divine wisdom independently of God. Let these controlling thoughts reign over and regulate our studies: God only can teach the things of God; He teaches in His word, and under the guidance of His Holy Spirit; every thing must be subject to that word, and every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Nothing whatever that is human will stand against His word ; nor will our own notions in the least
help us when we appear before Him, and have to give account how far we have believed and acted according to that word. The love of our own sentiments, because they are our own, seeking to display our skill rather than to exercise holy feelings, and the desire to main tain sentiments which have been once, and perhaps without due premeditation, avowed, have led to much mischief. Beware of your own particular views, and especially of an early declaration of them. There is also another view in which we may regard this danger : when we receive things only as we can comprehend them by reason. We may see to what an awful extent this has been carried among the Neologians on the continent, who aiming to subject every part of revelation to their own vain conceptions of what is right and wrong, enter into the very regions of infidelity. But there is a serious degree of the same evil among professing Christians. Every thing is with some to be so made out by reason, that no room is left for faith and the promises. They will go as far as their reason will carry them, but they hesitate where something above reason is to be received. Now though God's service is in the highest degree a reasonable service, yet the very peculiarity of Christianity is faith in the promise. This inade the whole army of believers (Heb. xi.) so triumphant; this carried the Apostles and the Reformers through difficulties insurmountable to
and only as we live by faith, and above the scanty reach of this world's wisdom, are we genuine Christians, glorifying God, and advancing the gospel. See 1 Cor. i. 11.
2. A similar danger to the one last mentioned is TAKING OUR SENTIMENTS MERELY FROM HUMAN AUTHORS : we say merely, for there is a just respect