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ral system, under the name of heat, want of temper, fire, fury &c. They add moreover, that articles of faith are things merely Speculative; and that it is of little signification what a man believes, if he is but hearty and fincere in it: that is, in other words, it is a mere trifle whether we feed upon bread * or poison t; the one will prove to be as good nourishment as the other; provided it be eaten with an appetite. Yet some well meaning people are so puzzled and deceived by this sophistry, that they look upon concord among Christians as a thing impracticable and desperate; concluding a point to be difputable because it is disputed; and so they fall into a loose indifferent humour of palliating and thinking charitably, as it is called, of every error in faith and in practice; as if the Church of Christ might very innocently be turned into a Babel of confusion.
Amos VIII. 11.
* See and compare Deut. VIII. 3. XX. 28.
of Jam, III. 8. 1 Tim. IV..
Now that men do maintain opinions strangely different from one another, especially on subjects wherein it most concerns them to be agreed, is readily confessed: we are all witnesses of it: and, allowing them to be equally informed, there are but three possible sources from whence this difference can arise. It must be either from God, or from the scripture, or from themselves. From God it cannot be, for it is a great evil; it is the triumph of Deists and reprobates, and the best handle the enemies of Christianity ever found against it: and God is not the author of evil. Nor can it be from the scripture : to draw it thence, is but another way of imputing it to God. The 'scripture is his word; and he is answerable for the effect of his words when written or reported, as when they are suggested at first hand by the voice of his Holy Spirit. It remains therefore, that the only source of this evil must be the heart of man: and that it really is so, will be evident from the scripture, and
the plainest matters of fact. The account we have of this affair is, in fhort, as follows — Ever since the fall, the nature of man has been blind and corrupt; his understanding darken ed, and his affections polluted: upon the face of the whole earth there is no man, few or Gentile, that understandeth and seeketh after God; the natural man, or man remaining in that state wherein the fall left him, is so far from being able to discover or know any religious truth, that he hates and Aies from it when it is proposed to him; he receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Man is natural and earthly; the things of God are spiritual and heavenly, and these are contrary one to the other : therefore as the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God“, so the wisdom of God is foolishness with the world. In a word, the sense man is now possessed of, where God does not restrain it, is used for evil and not for good : his wisdom is earthly, sensual +, devilish*; it is the fagacity of a brute, animated by the malignity of an evil Spirit. • This being the present state of man, the Scripture does therefore declare it necessary, that he should be transformed by the renewing of his mind, and restored to that sound mind and light of the understanding, that spiritual difcérnment', with which the human nature was endued when it came from the hands of God, but to which it has been dead from the day that evil was brought into the world. And where the grace of God that should open the Eyes, and prepare the heart to receive instruction”, has been obstinately withstood and refifted; this blindness, which at first was only natural, becomes judicial; from being a defect, it is confirmed into a judgment; and men are not only unable to discern the truth, but are set
a Epb. IV.18. d Ibid. III. 19.
b Rom. III.11.
c I Cor. II. 14:
† Yuzern natural.
a Jam. III.15. b Jude 10. c Rom. XII.2. d 2 Tim. 1.7. e Eph. 1. 18. f 1 Cor. II. 14. g Prov. XX, 12. and XVI.1.
tled and riveted in error: which is the case with all those to whom God sends strong delusion that they should believe a lie, and have pleasure in unrighteousnessa. It is then they sit down in the seat of the scornfull, as fools that make a mock at fin', and despisers of those that are good"; hating and railing at their fellow creatures, only because they are endued with the fear of God! This is the last stage of blindness: and it is referred to in those words of the Apostle - If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : as also in that lamentation of our bleffed Lord over the City of Jerusalem If thou hadž known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine Eyes o
The absolute necessity of Gods grace to lighten our darkness, has often been largely and faithfully insisted upon by the writers and preachers of the Church
c 2 Tim. III. 3.
a 2 Thel. II. 11. d 2 Cor. IV. 3.
b Prov. XIV.9. c Luke XIX.42.