Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

lasting rest; and such geographers as shall find out the new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness... Blessed be that philosopher that has found the pearl of great price; and for ever blessed be that anatomist that has crucified and dissected the old man, with his affections and lusts. And is not that man the best prognosticator, who, from the testimony of a good conscience, can sayo with the Psalmist," he shall guide me with his counsel, and receive me into glory?" If so, then I take it for granted that he also will be found to be the best builder at last, who has heard the gospel and obeyed it; and, like a wise master-builder, has dug deep and founded his faith and hope on the rock of Israel; when the rains descend; and the winds blow, and the floods come and beat violently upon that house, it could not be moved, because :“.it was founded upon a rock," Luke vi. 48. All arts and sciences besides these will be of little use in the day of judgment; and, as they havera tendency to lift graceless men up with pride, and to set them above the pure and simple word of God, they are not worthy of the name of wisdom, às speaketh the prophet: “ The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is there in them?"; Jer. viii. 9. -f;? God, as the God of nature, hath given many excellent gifts and parts' to men, though fallen. Beauty, wit, skill, and wonderful ingenuity; as may be seen in the writings of Atheists, Deists,' and other heathens: butzt unless preventing, grace be given, they are sure to be exercised to the dishonour of the bountiful giver. The greatest part of our university education

consists in plundering the natural abilities of heathens. I have observed men of acquired learning, who have discoursed with the sublimity of a Homer, yet at the same time seemed as destitute of natural and spiritual abilities as Peter the wild boy, who was found in the woods of Hanover. Such only shine in the natural abilities of others; and their borrowed language, from the native idiot, is as distinguishable as the parrot's plumb from the person's voice which it mimics; for, as the wise man saith, “ excellent speech becometh not a fool,” Prov. xvii. 7. : Ahimaaz. To be sure there are no acquirements like the pure gifts which flow from God, who is the giver of every good and of every perfect gift; and when God gives grace to sanctify a natural gift, then it is of great use: “ A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men,” Prov. xviii. 16. And certainly it is a great blessing to the church of God, while Christ, the stone of help, is the substance of the gift, and used in the awakening of sin- . ners and establishing of saints: “A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it; whithersoever it turneth it prospereth,” Prov. xvii. 8. And, for my part, I have read many volumes of learned and gracious men's nervous reasonings against error and erroneous men; such as volumes of sermons to prove the being of a God, the authenticity of the scriptures, the reasonableness of the Christian religion, &c. from which I could never get either establishment or comfort..

Cushi. The volumes of sermons, and other treaitises, that have been written to prove the being of a

God, have brought many to doubt of such a being,

where no doubt ever rose before about it. And, as for proving the authenticity of scripture by scholastic reasoning, it is like lighting of a taper to find out the sun when he shines in his meridian. All systems of error that have ever been published are like Ahab's harness—there are always joints enough left open for the arrow of vengeance: the word of God is sufficient • to mar every false system, however compiled, and that God will let them know when he sweeps away the refuges of lies.

The natural propensity of a man to sin against the light of nature,—the guilt that he is perpetually stung with,—the fear of death and judgment that he is always in bondage to,- the checks that he feels before the.commission of sin,—the violence that he is obliged to offer to his conscience afterwards the reflections that he often makes,--and the judgments that appear abroad in the earth, &c. &c. are quite sufficient, not only to prove the existence of God, but the cognizance that he daily takes both of them and their actions. And this is sufficient also to prove the authenticity of his word; for there is not a corruption that stirs in man's heart--not a lascivious thought that roves on his mind, not a crime that he commits,—not a cogitation that he feels,-nor a judgement that he fears,—but what are discovered by a divine ray in the secret oracles, and flash many awful convictions on the conscience of every transgressor. This shews the law. written in their heart; and, if an appeal to God, to scripture, to conscience, to creation, and to the accomplishment of the prophesies, are not sufficient to convince them, scholastic reasoning will hardly do it. The man that will daringly deny the

hourly verdict of his thoughts, and the perpetual de cision of his own conscience, is more hardened than the devil himself; for Satan never denied, the con viction that he felt; nor the vengeance he feared, in all the outcry that he made in the days of our Lord's ministry. There is not an erroneous man in all the world that does not fulfil some part or other of the scriptures. God has promised to send strong delusions, that men may believe a lie, and be damned for rejecting the truth and taking pleasure in unrighteousness, 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12; therefore I think such desperate sinners are not worth the notice of a divine; they are subverted, and sin, being condemned of their own conscience, Tit. iii. 11; and to reprove such scorners is to get one's self a blot, Prov. ix. 7.'

The Almighty, as the God of salvation, can never be discovered in his gracious purposes but in his own rays; as saith our blessed apostle, for“ God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Cor. iv.6. · "Ahimaaz. My dear brother, I never felt my soul so sweetly entertained and established in my life as I have by your conversation. I have often wished to know the mind and will of God in many of these par, ticulars which you have mentioned; you are as. Elihu was to Job, * according to my wish in God's stead;" Job-xxxiii. 6; for I am like the two disconsolate disciples, when the Saviour overtook them, and opened up, explained, and applied the scriptures, till their “ hearts, burned within them.” '. And, indeed, if you had not spoken against the sufficiency of human learning, I should have thought you a professor of the

[ocr errors]

languages, a doctor of divinity, a master of arts, a critical reviewer, an antiquarian, and a fellow of the Royal Society.

Cushi. You may consider me as you please. I profess something of the language of Canaan; and I think he is the best doctor that is the most useful to souls: a sound divine is a professor of the best art; the man that knows truth from error is à valuable critic; he that has made his calling and election sure is a good antiquarian; and he that is sound in the faith is a fellow of that society which is divinely and eternally royal, 1 Pet. ii.9; Rev. v. 10.

Ahimaaz. I perceive thou art a man of humour, as well as a man of grace, and certainly have a competent measure of natural abilities, as well as a profound experience; this I think appears plain to any observer; and, as God has been pleased to send both into a ministerial channel, I believe they will appear much to his own honour, the good of his people, and to the confusion of the enemies of his cause.

. Cushi. What I am I am by creation and grace; you may discover me better than I can discover myself. But be assured of this, that I never had five pounds laid out upon me for human polishing since I have been in the world; nor is my deficiency in human learning any impediment in the way of usefulness. If God the Holy Ghost prepares a man's heart, and takes possession of it, he will create the fruit of the lip also, and give that man" a mouth and wisdom that all his adversaries shall never be able to gainsay nor resist.” And, for 'my part, I have often thought that human learning has robbed God' of one half of the

« AnteriorContinuar »