Imágenes de página

no whoremonger, no robber, and no blaf- CHAP. phemer; who, with the utmost compla- III. cency, can thank God, that he is not as other men are; may ftill be a prey to the diabolical paffions of envy, hatred, and malice. His outward regularity may fpring, not from a defire of pleafing God, but of obtaining praise from men. He may still be supremely bent upon the pomps, the pleafures, and the vanities of life. He may ftill never have God in his thoughts, except when the stated returns of periodical worship extort an involuntary recollection of his Creator and Benefactor. His good actions, which he views with fuch a proud exultation, will be found, if analyfed, to be rather negative, than pofitive. A fimple abftinence from groffer crimes conftitutes only one half of Christianity. It is not enough to forfake evil; we must learn likewife to do good. It is not enough to do good; we must do it also from proper motives. The oftentatious relief of the diftreffed, or the vain parade of patronizing humble piety, feeks its recompence in human approbation; and “ verily it has its "reward," but not at the hand of the Almighty. Unless the love of God, through the medium of the Redeemer, be the spring

SECT. of all our actions, he who "requireth truth II. "in the inward parts," will view them with difguft, and turn from them with contempt. In the great day of retribution, not the excellence of an action abftractedly confidered, but the goodness of the motive will be regarded; and a worldly, felf-fufficient, interested morality, unfounded upon the facred principle of faith and love, will then be found lighter than duft in the balance 9.

P Matt. x. 42.

The following words of Bp. Hopkins are well worth the attention of those, who build upon mere baptifmal regeneration; nor are they lefs deferving the notice of the modern broachers of the ftrange fancy, that regeneration is fimply the conversion of the heathens to the outward profeffion of Chriftianity, against which laft error the Bp. fpecially guards. Regeneration is not a converfion from an ido"latrous way of worship to the profeffion of the true faith." Sermons, p. 520.

"Very difficult it is to perfuade men againft the preju"dices of their corrupt hearts. This great change, fay they, is more than needs. Regeneration begins now to "be decried by as great mafters in Ifrael as ever Nicode


mus was. Many understand not to what end the fabric of "corrupt nature fhould be demolished, and men as it were "turned out of themselves. They think, if they are but "baptized, whereby, as they fuppofe, the guilt of original "fin is washed away, that a fober religious life, keeping "from grofs actual fins, is fufficient for the obtaining of "heaven, without those hard and inexplicable notions of regeneration. I shall therefore endeavour to convince you

" of.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


Nothing can fhew the folly of the fore- CHAP. going error in a more ftriking light, than a confideration of the character of Satan. Our great enemy is neither an adulterer, nor a drunkard, nor a murderer, in the literal sense of the word; his fin is entirely of a fpiritual nature. Pride, malice, and revenge; falsehood, envy, and ambition; not intemperance, luft, or rapine, occafioned his expulfion from heaven'. An abftinence from external vice is doubtless indifpenfibly neceffary; but if a person rest fatisfied with this excellence alone, he exhibits but a very faint fketch of genuine Christianity. We are informed upon infpired authority, that "the wicked fhall "be turned into hell, and all the people


"of the indifpenfible neceffity that there is of being born
again; that fo, when you are perfuaded of it, you may
give no reft to yourselves, nor unto God, till he cause his
Spirit, which is that wind that bloweth where it lifteth,
"to breathe spiritual life into you, without which it is im-
poffible that you
fhould inherit eternal life."



[ocr errors]

After this exordium, the pious Prelate proceeds to demonstrate, in the most incontrovertible manner, the natural impoffibility of falvation being extended to the unregenerate. Sermons, p. 535. et infra.

'This idea is excellently pursued in a small tract, entitled A Prefervative against Socinianism, addressed by a country Clergyman to bis Parishioners. The Author, I believe, the late Rev. W. Jones.




"that forget God." A manifeft diftinction is here made between the avowed profligate, and the plaufible hypocrite. The one openly violates the commands of heaven; the other paffes decently through life, while his foul is utterly eftranged from his Creator. The groffnefs of corporeal, and the more refined nature of fpiritual wickednefs will equally, though by different roads, conduct a man to the pit of deftruction.

That fuch a Satanical difpofition of mind can never be pleafing to God, requires no proof. A radical and internal change is no lefs neceffary, than an apparent and external one. The contrary fuppofition is the very height of profane mockery. Our Lord did not cenfure, the Pharifees on account of their irregularities, for in this point they were blameless; but because their decent exterior fo wretchedly belied their inward affections. "Ye hypocrites, well did Efaias prophefy of you, faying, This people draweth nigh unto "me with their mouth, and honoureth "me with their lips, but their heart is far "from me."


[ocr errors]


s Matt. xv. 7.

In Scripture, it is usual to represent spi- CHAP. ritual by natural objects; and the whole 111. material world is ufed as a medium, through which we may receive ideas of the world of fpirits. Such appears to be the plain import of the term regeneration. In other words, it is a metaphor or allegory. At the time of his birth, man is


'This peculiar mode of expreffion is not unknown in the Eaft. The author of the Inftitutes of Menu, who flourished 1280 years before Chrift, uses the following remarkable language. "Of him, who gives natural birth, and him, "who gives knowledge of the whole Veda, the giver of fa"cred knowledge is the more venerable father; fince the "fecond or divine birth ensures life to the twice born, both in "this world, and hereafter eternally. Let a man consider "< that, as a mere human birth, which his parents gave "him for their mutual gratification, and which he receives "after lying in the womb; but that birth, which his prin'cipal acharya, who knows the whole Veda, procures for "him by bis divine mother, the gayatri, is a true birth that "birth is exempt from age and from death." Chap. ii. 146. The difference between the goodness of the actions performed by the ordinary man, and by him who has been "twice born," is, in another part of this work, ascribed very justly to the motive. "A religious act, proceeding from "felfish views in this world, as a facrifice for rain, or in "the next, as a pious oblation in hope of a future reward, “is declared to be concrete and interested; but an act per"formed with a knowledge of God, and without self-love, "is called abstract and difinterefted. He, who frequently


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

performs interested rites, attains an equal station with the

regents of the lower heaven: but he, who frequently pei

forms difinterefted acts of religion, becomes for ever ex

« AnteriorContinuar »