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sort : what shall be done here? And surely there are many, very many such, among the partakers even of a learned education; nor is it unreasonable to believe and hope, that the equal mercy of a good Providence hath so fenced the wants of a less active intellectual power with a stronger principle of faith! Let it be considered how the case stands with such a person. Shall all the watchfulness of parents and instructors, throughout the progress of his early discipline, all that he has been taught, and all his obedience hitherto in the greatest of all concernments, profit him nothing? If it even be admissible, as a sound opinion, that the man's first proceeding may allowedly be, to doubt, or to unlearn, (or even wilfully to provoke the hazard of unlearning,) all that the boy has been “ assured of,"—what advantage is there, or can there be, in a Christian education? It was not so that St. Paul estimated the care of Lois and Eunice for the child Timothy. Wherefore let 2 Tim. i.5. such a one, as we have been describing, not be ashamed of an Apostle's counsel ; but resolve, at all events, in the first instance, to continue in the things which he has learned, knowing from whom he hath learned them; and that from a child he has known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. If but in hypothesis only, out of deference to Lect. iii. $. conflicting human opinions, he be once beguiled to part from this anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast, what shall bring him afterwards, through all the storms wherewith he will find himself encompassed, unto the haven where he should be!
It may probably be objected; that “this looks “ more like a blind and indolent credulity, than “ a reasonable faith."
But the case represented is one, that is either not feelingly enough considered, or else too studiously concealed, and therefore not properly treated. "And it is the sense of its being indeed a real case, of the very highest practical importance, and well deserving express attention, strengthened by persuasion that an humble and impartial
view of it must be recognized with welcome in Zech. viii. many hearts, such as love the truth and peace
for its own sake only, that has led to the present undertaking. Excusable, nay necessary, as it is, to set the mark of praiseworthy attainment at its highest, when we would either develop the true loftiness of human intellect, or exhort to the utmost beneficial use of rare advantages, that never can recur; and impossible as it is, on these and other frequent occasions, not to appeal to the very highest measure of capacity which man possesses ;-there is always danger that such exhortations may too much discourage conscious mediocrity, or inferiority
of talent, by making it feel, to what an immeasurable distance it is thrown behind in the race, as there represented. For it is infinitely painful to be overlooked beforehand, simply on account of a disqualification which we cannot avoid ; nor are there many provocations more likely to render average capacities narrow in spirit, as well as in extent, than that of being compelled to perceive themselves thus neglected. Wherever, therefore, it becomes at once both possible and expedient to take part with them, (and surely such a case occurs, when we come to speak concerning a prize at stake, of universal competition and unspeakable importance too!) these, which have been described, are the very dispositions and capacities to be most respected, encouraged, and comforted.
Before, then, we concede the point, that what we thus encourage is not « faith,” but “credu“ lity," let us see how it appears under the light of an illustration.
Suppose that of a company of men called to the possession of a temporal inheritance, any one becomes disquieted by an imagination, that he cannot live therein, in safety and security, except in a mansion of his own building ; let him set to work, and build. He has the property ; and it is open to him so to do. His own right of inclination justifies the act, where nothing interferes to forbid it. But if there be fit houses
in that heritage already, and more of his less en
terprising brethren finding these ready to their Deut. vi.11. hand, and pleasant places to dwell in; houses
full of all good things which they filled net, and wells digged which they digged not ; shall be willing and desirous to take up their abode
here, and enter into the labours of other men; Cf. John iv. - shall he that builded for himself therefore
justly charge them with sloth, or cowardice, or lukewarm zeal? And if these latter, entering in to such prepared heritage, shall honestly furnish and make clean their dwelling; shall keep the fire alive and blazing on the hearth to heat and to enlighten it; shall dispense around them the contributions of a generous hospitality, every man to the best of his ability :-if, again, re
ceiving their portion thus, like the children of Numb. Reuben and of Gad, they are yet willing to go
forth, to build, or to war, if their captain shall call for them ;-what sball forbid that these be pronounced to act neither an unwise, nor an unreasonable, nor an unsafe part?
To pass, then, from illustration to a plain statement of real life.
If a devout' reception of the Bible, as the word of God, in the first instance, for no other reason than because it was presented as such; if a hearty submission to that word, and to the will, of God, and a fear of offending him; if a confession of, and a reliance upon, the name of
Jesus Christ, and on the help of divine grace; if these, received implicitly in the beginning, and then pursued, because they were found to supply the spirit with satisfaction and consolation in its performance of daily duty ; if these do not, even in their lowest and weakest proportion, make up an intelligible,' and 'real, and saving form of Christian faith; then, where and what is the belief of thousands, and tens of thousands, of our simpler brethren, inheritors, we trust, no less than ourselves of the hope of salvation . Or wherein are they better than the heathen, except in that they live under a happier light of human knowledge, and of civil government? It is a blessing to be enabled to inquire: and God give unto us, as many as enjoy the ability, grace to profit by it! But to insist upon inquiry, (I mean, inquiry more or less sceptical,) indiscriminately; or in any manner, which the Spirit of grace, manifested by its fruits, has not itself suggested to the believer's own heart; this, be the portion of ability vouchsafed what it may, is neither the way to discover truth, nor to promote unity.
Nevertheless, I am well aware how start. ling any proposition is, in these present day's of widely circulated information, which may awaken, though but on its first utterance, the thought of implicit faith; even though it be demanded to no human interpretations, but only