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themselves to the direction of plausible and presumptuous innovators, who are often sufficiently artful in beguiling the unwary. One of their most successful devices is, they pretend to teach the youth how to think for themselves. It is remarkable, however, that we very seldom find any of those who have gone to visit the sick lion to return from his den. A self-confident spirit naturally leads the mind into opinions the most daringly subversive of the Gospel, as well as into a course of life the most opposite to its precepts. And when a man has begun to despise the influence of the Holy Spirit, he is awfully left at large to his own dark designs, and to the craft of the prince of darkness. He who thinks highly of himself is easily disposed to think meanly of divine grace. And yet the real principles of divine grace are alone productive of holy practice. And it is no uncommon thing for those who have not seen the evil of sin in their own nature, and the preciousness of the grace of Christ, even while they have boasted of their regard to moral virtue, to play with iniquity, and call evil good, and good evil. Sin deceives and hardens the heart incredibly; even holy David for a season felt its fascinating power, and nothing less than the influence of divine grace could even in him have subdued it.
The greatest wit has often been used in the promotion of infidelity; and it has generally been defended with the most specious language. And while its "words do eat as a canker," and gradually pervert the minds of the unwary, every charitable attempt to counteract the poison is treated as bigotry, illiberality, and fanaticism. The praise of good sense and sound argument is considered as appropriate to the infidel. He, at least, is allowed and encouraged to spread his doctrines with freedom, and to asperse the orthodox with the keenest invective; while all who undertake to defend the plain sense of Scripture are stigmatized as persecutors. Scenes of this nature have, to the disgrace of humanity, been renewed from age to age: and so low and mean are the ideas of charity inculcated by those who call themselves liberal, that the real spiritual benefit of thousands seems to them scarce an object of any magnitude compared with the perso nal reputation of the applauded infidel.
The love of novelty, and a disposition to level all things both in heaven and in earth, have much increased of late; but it has not as yet produced a very plentiful crop of reformation. On the contrary, it is a lamentable fact, that individuals, and even families, who before they indulged these opinions were sober and exemplary
Christians, have been known gradually to degenerate, and become darkened. Such have been, and still must be, the fruits of departing from the simplicity of the Gospel as it is in Jesus. Can it in any sense add to man's humility to. persuade him he is capable, by the powers of nature, to do the will of God without divine assistance? and that the reason with which the Deity has favoured his creature man is sufficient of itself to enable him to work out his own salvation? Does it not at once strike at the root of divine revelation and grace, and tend to make the idea of inspiration appear the effect of weakness and enthusiasm? "We abound," says a Christian author, "with learned and ingenious discourses on the extent and obligations of natural religion, ideal fitnesses, and relations of things, and the beauty of moral rectitude; but. these serve rather to amuse than amend the age; and bring us no nearer to true Christianity than a hypothesis in natural philosophy. Such airy speculations have always proved too weak a foundation for practical piety. They want both solidity and authority. It is almost an unpardonable error in most of these writers, that they consider human nature as standing in the ability of perfect freedom; and therefore, instead of leading the soul to God in a humble acknow
ledgement of its natural impotence and corruption, that he may help and heal it with renewing and sanctifying grace, they address themselves to a sufficiency in man, crying out, 'Do this and live;' though where they may find strength for the doing it they show not. Thus they turn the covenant of grace into a covenant of works, and send us to the Law for justification. They make reason, unenlightened reason, our guide, and free-will our strength; and so lay other foundations than that which is laid in the Gospel of Christ."-Hartley.
"What ground have any of our modern deists to imagine," says Dr. Clark, "that if they themselves had lived without the light of the Gospel they should have been wiser than Socrates, and Plato, and Cicero? How are they certain they should have made such a right use of their reason, as to have discovered the truth exactly, without being in any way led aside by prejudice or neglect? If their lot had been among the vulgar, how are they sure they should have been so happy or so considerate as not to have been involved in that idolatry and superstition which spread over the whole world? If they had joined themselves to the philosophers, which sect would they have chosen to have followed? and what book would they have resolved upon to be
the adequate rule of their lives and conversations? or if they should have set up for themselves, how are they certain they should have been skilful and unprejudiced enough to have deduced the several branches of their duty, and applied them to the several cases of life by argumentation and dint of reason? It is one thing to see that those rules of life, which are before hand plainly and particularly laid before us, are perfectly agreeable to reason; and another thing to find out those rules by the mere light of reason, without their having first been any otherwise made known. We see that even many of those who profess to govern their lives by the plain written rule of an instituted and revealed religion, are yet most miserably ignorant of their duty; and how can any man be sure he should have made so good improvement of his reason, as to have understood it perfectly in all its parts without any such help?" (Evid. of Christianity, p. 212, edit. 5.)
The more the subject is investigated, the more clearly is discovered the need we stand in of a better wisdom than our own. Many wise men have seen this, and in humble reverence have acknowledged it. Those, therefore, who are not favoured with clear vision respecting the truths of Christian revelation, surely act an un