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النشر الإلكتروني

I should think more highly of myself than I ought to think, were I to suppose my reason is authorized to reject all propositions which appear to be contained in a divine revelation, if they do not seem self-evident at their first statement. This is to confound right reason with the preconceived opinion of the individual; and to assume what cannot be

proved, that men are free from every corrupt bias; and to forget that a revelation truly from God, may require diligent examination, and a right spirit, in order to our discerning its meaning and glory.

I should think more highly of myself than I ought to think, were I to consider myself as authorized to reject doctrines which seem to be taught in revelation, because I find them incomprehensible. A fact may be revealed for one important end, when the mode of existence or operation cannot be comprehended. Our senses require us to admit many such facts. He who will not believe what he cannot comprehend, must believe little indeed of natural or philosophical truth. Difficulties and incomprehensible mysteries, are to be expected in a declaration from God, of the precise truth as he knows it, respecting matters of a spiritual nature. Instead of wondering that there are some mysteries in the Bible, we might rather wonder that there are no more, and take it as an instance of God's condescension, that he has not overburdened us, with a greater number of discoveries, which we are not at present prepared to understand. To suppose reason is authorized to reject a revelation, containing things incomprehensible, is to say, that the nature of God is even inferior to the nature of created things, and more easy to be comprehended; and to suppose, that moral truth is unspeakably more simple than natural.

I should think more highly of myself than I ought to think, were I to presume to reject all doctrine apparently contained in revelation, that did not appear in some degree evident before I examined that revelation.

From the whole, we learn,

The propriety and consistency of the inspired writers, in exhorting us to seek after understanding, and yet not to lean to our own understanding; exhorting us to get wisdom,

and yet charging us to cease from our own wisdom. So. Paul charges us, “ In understanding be ye men;" and yet says, " If any man will be wise, he must become a fool.” We see from hence, that there is no real opposition between reason and revelation. Reason does not supercede revelation, nor does revelation exclude reason. But reason could do

very little for a man, even in the affairs of this life, without suitable mediums of information. And in things that relate to morals, whatever means of information we may possess, reason is often found insufficient to counterwork the selfish passions. Therefore, not only is revelation necessary to be a means of information to reason, as to the path of duty, and the way of escape and salvation; but divine influence is also necessary, to induce us to a right use of reason respecting revealed truth. It has been said, “ The Bible is a plain book; it only needs common sense to understand it.” If you add " a right spirit,we grant the position; but common sense is not sufficient to conquer common depravity.

There may be, therefore, absolute need for the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit, notwithstanding the perfection of revelation and the possession of reason; and that influence is as much needed by the greatest scholars, as by the most illiterate. Nor is it merely needful to our being first induced to admit the humbling, mortifying, sanctifying truths of divine revelation; but we need pray for it daily, that we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

As to the degree of investigation of religious truth, in its connexion, extent, and harmony, there is no drawing the same line for every one : let each endeavor to form a due estimate of his talents, and proceed according to the direction in the text, with sobriety, modesty, dependance, prayer, and concern to comply with the great practical purposes for which every truth was revealed, in a secret walk with God, and a consistent demeanor. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you ? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”

XCI.

ON DEVOTEDNESS TO CHRIST.

Rom. xiv. 8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.

Who can use this language? Can we all adopt it? Dare you say it? Let each ask conscience. Should you not be able to make this solemn avowal ? Do not you own those truths which will render you self-condemned, if you cannot make it? Try then. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord. Can you say this truly, without knowing the Lord ? without thinking of the Lord ? without being concerned to know the will of the Lord ? without feeling delight in God? If you have no anxious concern about enjoying his favor ? no regard for his honor in the world? no zeal for his cause ? no great concern for others to be brought to know him, love him, and serve him? Or, whether we die, unto the Lord. Can you say this, if you never think of death ? if you know of nothing that could reconcile you to death? If you have no distinct idea of any state of happiness after death, that appears to you more desirable than this life? Whether therefore we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord's. That is true in some

But in what sense ? In any particular ? Are you more his than others ? More his than you once were ? Have you ever given yourself to him ? really ? unreservedly? And does the thought of being the Lord's, influence you, both as to life, and as to death? Does it make you live differently from what you otherwise would live, and cause you to feel differently about dying ? But, to be more particular :

First: Ought you not to be able to adopt this profession ?

No one of you would avow atheism ; nor directly deny your dependance, obligations, and responsibility. If God has given you existence, and bestowed on you numberless mercies, surely he deserves some return, and that not merely verbal

sense,

thanks, but of cordial gratitude, manifested by practical evidence. You will also allow that you have enjoyed moral and religious advantages; you were not brought up among heathens, but among enlightened Christians. You admit the truth of the Bible, which gives such just ideas of the unity, dignity, and glory of God; his natural and moral perfections ; his universal inspection of his creatures, and moral government. You have at least some general idea of your duty; you will not deny that the chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever. Do you really pursue that end with sincerity and ardor? Does it engross more of your thoughts than any thing else ? than dress ? than amusement ? than gain? If business engrosses the greater number of your hours, yet has God your first thoughts, your last thoughts ? Are your most pleasing thoughts about him? “ How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them !” You know this life is transitory; you allow the existence of a future state, far longer, far more important. And have you no anxiety concerning it? Or, can you hope for future happiness, if you do not live to the Lord ? Can you expect to die happily, if you do not die to the Lord ? Probably you would not deny the truth of still more evangelical ideas; that the Lord Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, who came to seek and save the lost, having put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Are you then interested in him ? united to him ? so joined unto the Lord, as to be one spirit ? Does he dwell in your hearts by faith? Is he in you the hope of glory? Many have publicly professed this to be the case.

Do all of you professors live indeed to the Lord ? You say, that Christ has redeemed you with his precious blood ; that he loved you, and gave himself for you ; that you are not your own, but bought with a price; that Christ is your life, and when he shall appear, you expect to appear with him in glory; without fault, spot, , or wrinkle. You say, you have been called out of darkness into light, quickened with Christ, raised up with him; that you abide in him; that his Spirit dwells in you, and seals you to the day of redemption. You consider this as an evidence of his special love, which freely chose you in Christ Jesus, before

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the world began. You look for a better country; this is not your rest; you are waiting for "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” And now, surely you ought to say this, and to be able to verify the profession.

SECONDLY: How can you prove the truth of this assertion? What do you, more than others ?

Surely, this assertion should at least mean as much as this: We do habitually aim at glorifying God, and do endeavor to make every other object subordinate to this grand and beloved design. Our wills are truly subject to the authority of our Lord. We regard all he says as law; and wish fully to know his will in every thing, that we may do it. We cheerfully resign ourselves to his disposal, and would have no will of our own, contrary to the will of God. What God loves, we love; what he condemns, we would forsake and mortify. We long to be absolutely free from all that he dislikes, to be holy as he is holy, and perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. We would prefer the honor of God to our own honor, and the interest of Christ to every other interest. The enlargement of his church, and its elevation to a higher degree of purity and perfection, would gratify us above every thing else in the world. It is our highest consolation, in life and in death, that we are not our own property ; but belong, both body and soul, to our most faithful Lord : and the expectation of perfect conformity to him, often makes us long to be with him, and is the essence of the bliss we hope to enjoy. How do you attain this object in any degree? and how do you hope still to pursue it? I set the Lord ever before me, as though I could see him that is invisible. I often think of my obligations to the Redeemer, remembering what he did and suffered for me. The life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I often renew the consecration of myself to God, and the direct purpose of glorifying him. I am ever coming to the throne of grace in the name of Jesus. I live on the fulness of Christ, and receive from thence grace

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