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One Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. Eph. iv. 5.
Finding an engagement on my mind, to commit to writing some considerations respecting the one true God, especially the true and saving knowledge of him, the one true and only saving faith, and the one only christian baptism, my breathings have been frequent and fervent to the Lord, for his help and direction; certainly and sensibly knowing, by multiplied experience, that of myself, without his aid, I can do nothing that will please him, or further my own or others’ salvation. Thus looking to him, who I trust fastened this concern on my mind, and has opened some gospel truths relative to these important subjects with clearness on my understanding, and humbly imploring bis almighty aid, that through the influence of his Holy Spirit, what I write may be agreeable to his divine will; and that not a word may be suffered to escape my pen that would hurt the souls of any,-1 proceed first to some brief Remarks ироп
the Knowledge of the One Lord, the Only True God.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE ONE LORD,
ONLY TRUE GOD.
MAN is very fond of being thought knowing. Perhaps few in Christendom would be willing to allow they know not God. Yet many, who treat with ridicule the notions of the ancients respecting their divers false gods, are, nevertheless, ignorant of the one true and living God.
We find in scripture the possibility of swearing falsely, even in declaring that the Lord liveth; and that none can truly and savingly call Jesus Lord, but by the holy ghost. What then is the real, substantial, and soul-saving knowledge of God ? How is it obtained, and wherein does it consist?
Is that simple conviction that attends every rational mind, that, since something is; since matter exists under various forms and modifications; since many masses of it are revolved, in wonderful order and harmony, without jar or confusion, from age to age, around other masses of it; since in the vegetable world are displayed such wonderful marks of intelligence and wisdom; since in the animal, are evidently seen such indisputable tokens and proofs of an infinite knowledge and ability existent; since in the rational, such multiplied and indubitable demonstrations of the being of an all-wise almighty and omnipresent productive cause, ruler, and upholder of men and all things appears, therefore there is, there must be, and it is irrational to suppose there is not, an eternal God. Is this rational conviction the saving knowledge of God? Nay, verily; thousands have this conviction, arising from the foregoing, and from innumerable considerations, and yet live without God in the world, as to the saving
knowledge of him, and are aliens to the commonwealth of Israel.
“ The world by wisdom knew not God:” 1 Cor. i. 21. and it knows him no more now, by any natural abilities or creaturely wisdom, unassisted by divine internal light, than ever it did. Worldly wisdom is as inadequate to this knowledge in one age as in another. In every age God has confounded, and will ever confound the wise; he will “ destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent," 1 Cor. i. 19. that so no flesh, no creaturely faculties, no natural sagacity, shall glory in his presence.
God, and the things of God, knoweth no man, but by the spirit of God that is in him. 1 Cor. ii, 11. The natural man cannot know them; they are foolishness unto him; they are only spiritually discerned. 2 Cor. ii. 14. God has hid them from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Matt. xi. 25. “ Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ?" 1 Cor. i. 20.
Can man, by searching, even to the utmost extension of human comprehension, find out God? Can he, by all the investigations of finite ability, find out the Almighty to perfection ? Nay: “it is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know ??” Job xi. 7, 8.
The saving knowledge of God is not learned, either by reading, reasoning, or searching ever so anxiously after it, in the mere strength and wisdom of man. It will forever elude his utmost penetration, till he comes to submit all his boasted abilities to the rectification and illumination of a superior principle. Men may search the scriptures, and think to have eternal life in them, and yet, not coming unto“ Christ, the light of the world," miss of that real knowledge, which alone is, or can give eternal life to their souls !
The scriptures truly testify of him; but without his own illuminations, cannot possibly reveal him. No man can truly call him Lord but by the holy ghost. The letter, without the life and light, ever will kill, ever will tend to stifle that immortal birth, that babe, to which the Father revealeth the mysteries of
his own heavenly kingdom. It was not in one age only that it might truly be said, “ the letter killeth,” 2 Cor. iii. 6. but it does, and will do it, in all ages and nations. It has slain the babe of life in tens of thousands, by building up, substituting, and establishing notions and opinions in the stead of the one true faith, which is the gift of God, and is only of his own pro. duction, and immediate operation in the soul. He alone begets it. He alone is the author and finisher of it.
A zealous altachment to the letter, without the openings of pure life, tends also powerfully to kill and suppress the small budding and beginning of the new life, the second birth, by bol. stering up the creature in a round of liseless performances, in his own time and ability. Thus because he reads, that the saints, who acted in and by the openings and influence of the life, did so and 50 practise; and because he finds here and there an exhortation or injunction to this and the other duty, the natural man falls to doing as they did; and though he that believeth shall not make baste, yet so great is the haste which this searcher of the letter, in his own unenlightened understanding, is making, that he is frequently calling upon God, and talking a great deal about him, before he has ever rightly known him; as if the scriptures would give him to know what a God requires of him, with whom he is unacquainted, or inform him when and how to worship a Being of whom he is ignorant !
O man! thou knowest not what to pray for as thou ought, nor how to pray, but as the spirit helpeth thy infirmities. This the spirit often does, for those who really know God, with groanings that cannot be uttered or expressed. How widely then do they err from the line of their duty and of divine appointment, who at their own set times, importune the Almighty in vocal supplications and prayers, when all that the spirit does for them amounts only to the begetting of inward groanings, which cannot be uttered! As sure as we attempt the vocal expression of such inward and spiritual groanings, we lose the lively sense, and dry up the little springs of life, which accompany them, and nothing is then left but words without life, and sounds devoid of substance. Thus eminently " the leller killeth." Whereas the spirit, if singly attended to, even in these unspeak
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