« FöregåendeFortsätt »
invisible things of the spirit of God are LECT. admitted and approved.
It is a doctrine which may occasion some mortification to human pride, and it seldom fails to do so ; but no doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ is more decided than this, that all men have not faith ; that it is the gift of God wherever it is found; and that the natural man, or man with no powers but those of our common nature, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: so far from it, that they seem foolish, extravagant, and incredible, and are rejected with mockery and contempt by men who can write a pleasant style, and who seem to be in other respects (within the sphere of their affections) very sensible and ingenious persons. On what other ground but that of the scriptural distinction between faith and natural reason, is it possible to account for a fact which fo frequently occurred at the first publication of the gospel ; when the same speech, the same reasoning, yea and the same miracle, had a totally dif
C i ferent
LECT. ferent effect on the minds of different
hearers, all present on the same occasion ? When Peter and John healed the lame man at the gate of the temple, and all the people were spectators of the fact, the apostles addressed themselves in a powerful difcourse to those who were present; the lame man still cleaving to them, and standing by them as a witness: and thus they made some thousands of converts to the word of the gospel. But behold, the Sadducees were grieved at the doctrine of the resurrection, though preached with all the force of truth from their own scriptures, and attended with the credential of an indisputable miracle; which only vexed and distressed them the more. At Athens, the philosophers of the place, proud of their Grecian talent for oratory and disputation, considered the matter of Paul's preaching merely as a new thing, which gave them an opportunity of questioning and wrangling. Some called him a babbler ; fome said they would hear him again ; some mocked at the resurrection of the dead; while Dionysius, one of their senators,
Damaris, and some others, clave unto LECT. them and believed: in other words, they received the gospel with that faculty of the spirit, which alone is susceptible of it. Till there is in man the senfe which receiveth these things, the book which treats of them will not be understood. If they are rejected, we must conclude this sense to be wanting: and when that is the case, the evidence of a miracle will not force its way through the hardness of the human heart. Some speculative writers have treated of credibility and probability, and the nature, and force, and degrees, of evidence, as if we had rules for weighing all truth to a single grain with mechanical certainty : whereas in fact, man, with all his boasted balancings of reason, can resist a proof that would confound a devil. Compare the following examples : The Jews said, " as for this fellow we know not whence he is.” The devils said, “ I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God.” The Jews said, that Christ cast out devils through Belzebub their prince: but the deyils never faid fo themselves. The sun
LECT. of the noon-day shines without effect upon w the blind, because the proper sense is want.
ing: fo faith the Evangelist, the light
nothing in the soil to give it nourish. LECT. ment and growth.
The distinction which the scripture hath made between natural and spiritual men ; that is, between men that have faith and men that have none, is agreeable to what hath been observed from the beginning of the world; that there have been two classes of people, all sprung from the fame original, but totally different in their views, principles and manners. Before the flood, they were distinguished as the children of Cain, and the children of Seth ; the latter of whom inherited the faith of Abel. After the flood we find them again under the denominations of Hebrews and Heathens. In the gospel they appear to us as the children of this world, and the children of light: the former cunning and active in their generation for the interests of this life, the other wise towards God and the things of eternity. These two run on together, like two parallel lines, through the history of this world; always near to one another, but never meeting. Whoever considers C3