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cacy of dis
disposition of mind, which our apostle is de- / smooth the difficulties which we encounter in
of one animated by the Spirit of God. In geCertain circumstances peculiar to your neral, the road of discussion is incomparably selves, have constrained your preachers fre- more sure and direct to reach the conscience, quently to inculcate the doctrine of the effi- and to form a right judgment of it, than the
grace, and of the sentiment road of feeli I know that there are certain which it impresses on the heart. This doc- feelings superior to discussion. I know that trine has sometimes been misunderstood. Some the Holy Spirit sometimes diffuses his influence have considered certain rapturous emotions, through the soul, in such abundance, with so excited in the souls of a few highly favoured much fervour, with so much activity, that it is Christians, by the power of the Holy Spirit, not possible the persons thus highly favoured as the essential character of Christianity. It should be ignorant that they are the objects of has been erroneously supposed, that to be his tenderest and most particular care. But in destitute of these was to be abandoned of order to our being warranted to promise our God. Hence have arisen those gloomy and selves such communications, the practice of desponding ideas which weak minds forin re- piety must have been carried farther, beyond specting their own state, especially at those all comparison, than is commonly the case seasons when the Lord's Supper is administer- with most of those who flatter themselves that ed. The books generally read, as a prepara- they have been favoured with singular commution for participating in this solemn service, nications of the Spirit. And, once more, the tell us, that it is at the table of the Lord, in a method of discussion is by much the surer, to particular manner, the communicant experi- arrive at a true judgment of the real disposiences those communications of the fulness of tions of the conscience, than the test of feeljoy, Ps. xvi. 11, “that joy unspeakable and ing; in which the temperament, or the imagifull of glory," 1 Pet. i. 8, that "peace of God nation have frequently a larger share than real which passeth all understanding,” Phil. iv. 7, illumination. that“ white stone, and in the stone a new name Weigh in the balance the proofs on which written, which no man knoweth saving he that the ideas you have formed of yourselves are receiveth it,” Rev. ii. 17, that anticipated re- founded. Compare your thoughts, your words, surrection, that heaven upon earth.
your actions, with the august rules and deciWhat has been written on this subject is lia- sions which God has laid down in his holy ble to misconception on the part of the reader, word. Regulate your hopes and your fears, as it may have been expressed with too much according to the characters which you may precision by the composers of such manuals of have discovered in yourselves, after you have devotion. Hence it comes to pass, that real studied the subject in this manner. So much Christians, who, notwithstanding the imperfec- for the second advice, which I thought it of tion which cleaves to their best services, have importance to suggest. most sincerely devoted the remainder of life to 3. Permit me to subjoin a third. Under God, are haunted with the apprehension of pretence of guarding against the reveries of having communicated unworthily, because the enthusiast, and against the love of the marthey are not conscious of having felt, at the vellous, presume not to call in question certain Lord's table, all those effects of the presence extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit, of the Holy Spirit.
and neglect not the means of obtaining them. To Christians of this description it is, that I Dispute not with saints of a superior order what address my first advice, that they distinguish they know by experience to be real. Presume the degrees of that disposition of mind of not to establish that measure of grace which which our apostle speaks in the text. A man you may have received, as the standard for demay be quickened, may be raised up, may be termining that which God is pleased to grant made to sit together with Christ Jesus in hea- to persons more devoted than you are to his venly places, without having all the joy which service. Form not your judginent from the results from this blessed state. The most in- pleasure which you may at present derive from fallible mark of our being made partakers in religion, of that which you may hereafter enthe exaltation of the Lord Jesus, is our striving joy, when religion shall have acquired a more in good earnest, to fulfil the conditions under powerful influence over your heart. Be not which that participation is promised us. Let discouraged by the dryness and discomfort us fortify ourselves in this disposition of mind, which you may now find in the practice of virand wait patiently till it shall please God to tue; in time you will experience it to be a pe
rennial source of delight. This is my third between mathematical evidence, and moral eviadvice.
dence. A scruple in point of precision, has Having premised these necessary precau- given rise to this distinction. 'We call that tions, let us attempt to justify the idea which mathematical evidence, which is founded on the is here given us of the Christian. Let us place clear idea of a subject. I have a clear idea of in contrast, the condition in which he was, pre- two even numbers. This proposition, from the vious to his being converted to Christianity, addition of two even numbers, there results an and that which he has attained in virtue of his even number, is founded upon an evidence having become a Christian. Before he em- which arises from the clear idea of that numbraced the religion of Jesus Christ, he was ber. That is called moral evidence, which is “dead in trespasses and sins.” This is a figu- founded on testimony worthy of credit. I rative expression, denoting, that sinners are as have, naturally, no idea of the city of Conincapable of themselves, to shake off the do- stantinople. I can decide the question of its minion of sin, and the misery inseparable from existence, only upon testimony of a certain it, as a dead person is to defend himself against kind. This distinction is undoubtedly a real corruption, and to restore his own life. But by one. But it is making a strange abuse of it to becoming a Christian, the believer is, through pretend, that what is founded on the evidence the mercy of God, not only set free from the denominated moral is not so certain as that dominion of sin, but is put in possession of the which is founded on what is denominated mahighest recompense of reward that justice ever thematical evidence. Two reasons persuade me bestowed on the most perfect virtue which ever of this, which I submit to your consideration. existed, namely, that of Jesus Christ.
1. It involves no less contradiction, that a If " never man spake like this man,” John complex concurrence of circumstances should vii. 46, never inan lived and acted like this unite with respect to a false testimony, than man. Accordingly, never was there a man
that there should be falsehood in a consequence exalted to such a height of felicity and glory. deduced immediately from the nature of a subNow to this very height of felicity and glory ject. It involves no less contradiction to affirm, the grace of God exalts the Christian. Ilow? that all the witnesses, who assure me there is a In more ways than we are able to indicate, in city called Constantinople, have agreed to imthe time now left us. I satisfy myself with pose upon me, that it involves a contradiction pointing out three of these. The believer is to allege, that this proposition is illusory, from * quickened, he is raised up, he is made to sit the addition of two even numbers there results together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” an even number.
1. By the proofs which assure him of the ex- 2. The second reason is still more forcible. altation of Jesus Christ.
It is taken from the nature of God himself. II. By the means supplied to satisfy him that we have mathematical evidence for this, that he is fulfilling the conditions under which he God cannot take pleasure in leading men into may promise himself, that he shall become a But God would take pleasure in leadpartaker of that exaltation.
ing men into error, if after having made the III. By the foretaste which he now enjoys truth of their religion to rest on the existence of it on the earth.
of certain facts, which are susceptible only of I. By the proofs which assure him of the ex- proofs of fact, he had bestowed on imaginary altation of Jesus Christ. It is not necessary facts, the same characters of truth which he here to detail them in their full extent. This has impressed on such as are real. The truth has been already done on former occasions.* of our religion is founded on these facts: Jesus We have shown you, that, in support of the Christ is risen, and has ascended into heaven: truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (and but this exaltation is supported by all the evithe same reasonings apply, with nearly the dence of which facts are susceptible. If the same force, to all the particulars of his exalta- exaltation of Jesus Christ is merely imaginary, tion,) we have presumptions, proofs, demon- God has permitted imaginary facts to assume strations. But, as I have just said, it is not all the evidence of real facts. God, therefore, necessary here to make a minute recapitula- betrays him into error. But we have mathetion.
matical evidence that it is impossible for God But I would wish to unfold under this head, to betray men into error. It is clear, therefore, the true causes which prevent those proofs, ir- as I think, that moral evidence, when carried resistible as they are, from producing, on the to a certain degree, ought to be ranked in the mind of the greater part of Christians, that same class with mathematical evidence. The lively impression which would justify the hy- truth of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, perbolical language employed by our apostle, therefore, will not produce the lively impresthat Christians have a conviction as complete sions which we have mentioned, so long as of the truth of the exaltation of Jesus Christ, men abuse, which is the case with certain as if they had been "quickened,” as if they philosophers, the distinction between moral had been raised up," as if they were “made evidence, and mathematical evidence. to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Je- 2. The proofs of the exaltation of Jesus sus.” The following are the principal causes Christ produce not impressions so lively as of this sore evil.
they ought, because the mind is under the inI. The proofs of the exaltation of Jesus fluence of a prejudice, unworthy of a real phiChrist, do not produce impressions so lively as losopher, namely, that moral evidence changes they ougbt, from the abuse of a distinction its nature, according to the nature of the things
to which it is applied. What is demonstration * Consult the Sermon ou Christ's Resurrection, of Mr. of a fact, which is in the sphere of natural Robinson's selection.
things, seems to cease to be such respecting
Christ produce not impressions sufficiently
circumstances of the life of Alexander, or of 3. The proofs of the exaltation of the Lord Darius? Does our ignorance respecting such Jesus produce not impressions sufficiently live and such particulars suggest a doubt whether ly, because the necessary discrimination has not those persons ever existed? Do we know all been employed in the selection of those proofs, the circumstances attending the battle of Canon which some have pretended to establish it. næ, and that of Pharsalia. Does our ignoThis remark has a reference to certain of the rance of these suggest a doubt whether such learned, who imagined that they were render- battles were actually fought? Is it fair to preing essential service to the church, when they scribe to the sacred authors rules which we multiplied proofs, with an indiscreet zeal, and readily dispense with in the case of profane produced every thing which they deemed fa- authors? vourable to the Christian religion. Fraud, fair 5. The proofs of the exaltation of Jesus dealing, all, all appeared equal in their eyes, Christ produce not impressions sufficiently provided it would contribute to this end. lively, because we suffer ourselves to be intiWretched method! Why was it not confined midated more than we ought, by the comparito the propagators of falsehood; and why has son instituted between them and certain popuit been so frequently adopted by the partisans lar rumours, which have no better support of truth! I pretend not to determine whether than the caprice of the persons who propagate there be much solidity in the idea of some who them. Unbelievers tell us that the multitude have alleged, that the reason why Jesus Christ is credulous, that it is ever disposed to be pracso strictly prohibited the demons to publish tised upon by impostures, from the idea of the that he was the Messiah, was an apprehension marvellous. They accumulate all those noted that a testimony borne to his mission by lying instances of credulity which ancient and mospirits, might render the truth of it suspected. dern history abundantly supply, for it costs But I am well assured that if any thing could very little trouble indeed, to make the collechave excited a suspicion in my mind unfa- tion ample. They avail themselves of those. vourable to the exaltation of the Son of God, instances to invalidate the argument which we it would have been that medley of proofs, adduce from the unanimity of that testimony solid and without foundation, which we find in which evinces the truth of the resurrection of the writings of certain ancient doctors of the Jesus Christ. But let them show us, among church on this subject. No one will ever at- what they call“ popular rumours,” let them tain to a complete conviction of the exaltation show us among these any thing of the same
kind with those which we have produced: and you will perceive, that the truth of the exaltathen we shall feel ourselves called upon to de- tion of the Saviour is founded upon proofs, fend, in another way, the doctrine in question. which it is impossible for any reasonable man But under the pretext that mankind is cre- to resist. You will be, in some measure, as dulous, obstinately to resist the force of proofs much convinced that he is raised up from the which have been admitted by judges the most dead, and ascended into heaven, as if you had rigid and acute, is wilfully to shut the eyes seen him with your own eyes bursting asunder against the truth.
the bars of the grave, and assuming his seat at 6. Finally, the proofs of the truth of the ex- the right hand of the Father: you will be in altation of our blessed Lord and Saviour, pro- this first sense, quickened together with duce not impressions sufficiently lively, because Christ, and raised up, and made to sit together they are not sufficiently known. The preced- in heavenly places with him." ing particulars chiefly relate to the learned, and the philosophic part of mankind, of whom the number, undoubtedly, is on comparison
SERMON LXXV. very inconsiderable. This relates to the multitude, of which the far greater part of our
THE CHRISTIAN A PARTAKER IN audiences is composed. I am well aware that those proofs have been carried farther in the THE EXALTATION OF JESUS CHRIST. present age, than ever had been done, perhaps, since the days of the apostles. I have oftener than once, adored the conduct of divine Pro
EPHESIANS ii. 4-6. vidence, in that the objections of unbelievers, of which it may likewise be affirmed, that they God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherehave been carried farther in the present age,
with he loved us, even when we were dead in than they had been since the times of the ear
sins, hath quickened us together with Christ liest antagonists of the Christian religion: I (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up have oftener than once, I say, adored the con- together, and made us sit together in heavenly duct of divine Providence, in that those objec- places in Christ Jesus. tions have furnished occasion to scrutinize the Having given a few preliminary advices proofs of the facts, on which the truth of Chris- relative to my subject, I went on to justify the tianity rests.
accuracy of the apostle's idea, by showing, that In proportion as events are more remote, the the Christian is “quickened, raised up, seated more difficult it becomes to ascertain them. If in heavenly places, together with Christ.” the spirit of superstition and blind credulity I. By the reasons which persuade him of bad continued to be the reigning folly of man- the certainty of the exaltation of Jesus Christ. kind, men would have neglected to study the I now proceed to justify St. Paul's idea by proofs of the facts of which I have been speak- showing, ing, and we should have had in later ages, II. The Christian's participation in the much greater trouble in demonstrating the glory of Jesus Christ, by the means with truth of them. But infidelity is the reigning which he is furnished of knowing himself, and folly of the age in which we live, and has, as of attaining assurance that he is fulfilling the it were, succeeded the spirit of superstition and conditions under which he is enabled to problind credulity, the reigning folly of ages past. mise himself an interest in that exaltation. I Now Providence has so ordered the course of do not mean to insinuate, that this knowledge things, that this very infidelity should prove is of easy attainment. I maintain, on the conthe occasion of placing, in their clearest point trary, that it is one of the most difficult which of light, those illustrious proofs which we have can be proposed to man. And without enterof the facts, whereon the Christian religion is ing here into a detail of the reasons which founded. But though they have been stated evince the difficulty of it, it is sufficient for me with so much clearness and precision, it is un- to adduce a single one; it is the smallness of doubtedly certain that they are not bitherto the number of those who know themselves. sufficiently known by the generality of pro- The judgments which men form of their own fessing Christians.
character, is an inexhaustible source of ridiWould you be thoroughly convinced of the cule. The world is crowded with people toexaltation of the Saviour of mankind, devote tally blind, especially where they themselves to the study, which I am recommending, a are concerned. part, I do not say only of that time which you What illusions do they practise upon themso liberally bestow on the world and its plea- selves, with respect to the body! How many sures, but a part of even that which you have are there whom Nature has sadly degraded in thrown away upon useless controversies, on the point of person: forms which you would say speculative questions, and the bold researches, were only blocked out, and of which, if I may with which most books, on the subject of reli- use the expression, God seems to have erected gion, are filled. Let the mind be deeply im- only the first scaffoldings, conceive of thempressed with that series of presumptions, of selves ideas directly opposite to the truth. arguments, of demonstrations, of which the Talk of the corporeal qualities of such and resurrection, and the other particulars of the such persons, and they will be among the first exaltation of the Son of God are susceptible. to make them an object of derision, and disDo all diligence to discern the whole evidence cover this to be too slim, that to be too gross; of those facts, without which, to use the apos- falling foul of the whole human race, and tle's expression, “your faith is vain, and our showing tenderness to no one but themselves. preaching also is vain," 1 Cor. xv. 14. Then ) If we are thus subject to blindness, where
things sensible, palpable, are concerned, how | possible, by means of an examination so curmuch greater must be the danger, where mat- sory, to attain a knowledge which costs the ters of a very different complexion address most eminent saints so much application? themselves to our self love.
A real Christian studies himself in a very We practise illusion upon ourselves, on the different manner. With the torch of the gosscore of our understanding. How many ig- pel in his hand, he searches into the most sem norant, dull, stupid people betray a conceit cret recesses of conscience. He traces his acthat they are intelligent philosophers, profound tions up to their real principles. When he politicians; that they possess a judgment ac- has performed an act of virtue, he scrupulously curate, enlightened, uncommon; and are so examines whether he had been actuated by powerfully prepossessed with the belief of this, some merely human respect, or whether it prothat the combined universe could not drive ceeded from a sacred regard to the law of God. them out of it. Hence it comes to pass, that when he unhappily is overtaken, and falls into they are for ever taking the lead in society, sin, he carefully examines whether he was beexacting attention, courting admiration, pro- trayed into it by surprise, or whether, by the nouncing, deciding peremptorily, and seeming prevalence of corruption in his heart, and from to say at every turn, am not I a most extraor- the love of the world still exercising dominion dinary personage? But you have never had over him. When he abstains from certain the advantage of a course of education, or of vices, he examines whether it proceeded from regular study. No matter; talents supply every real self-government, or merely from want of deficiency. But no one presents incense to means and opportunity; and he asks himself you, yourself only excepted. Still it signifies this question, what would I have done, had I nothing: it is the wretched taste of the present been placed in such and such circumstances age. But you are actually a laughing-stock Would I have preserved my innocence, with to mankind. No matter still: it has always Joseph, or lost it, as David did? Would I, been the lot of great men to be the object of with Peter, have denied Jesus Christ, or have envy and calumny.
endured inartyrdom in his cause, like Stephen? We practise illusion upon ourselves in fa- 2. The second method which the believer emvour of our heart. Should you chance to be ploys to arrive at the knowledge of his own in a circle of slanderers, and bear your testi heart, is to permit others to unveil it to his mony against slander, the whole company will eyes: this is done particularly, either by the instantly take your side. The most criminal public instructions of the faithful ministers of will endeavour to pass for the most innocent. the gospel, or by the private admonitions of a They will tell you that it is the most odious, judicious and sincere friend: two articles very abominable, execrable of vices. They will much calculated to explain to us the reasons tell you that the severest punishments ought why most men attain such an imperfect knowto be adjudged against the offender, that he ledge of themselves. ought to be excluded from all human society. It is with difficulty we can digest those adAnd the very persons who are themselves ac- dresses from the pulpit, in which the preacher tuated by this detestable passion, who are ventures to go into certain details, without themselves diffusing the baleful poison of their which it is impossible for us to acquire selfmalignity, apprehend not that they are, in the knowledge. We are fond of dwelling on geslightest degree, chargeable with such a vice. nerals. Our own portrait excites disgust, Have you no knowledge, my brethren, of such when the resemblance is too exact. It is a a portrait? Have I been depicting to you circumstance well worthy of being remarked, manners which have no existence in real life that what we admire the most in the sermons If there be any among you incapable of dis- of the dead, is the very thing which gives most covering himself under such similitudes as offence in the sermons of the living. When these, it is a demonstration of what I wished we read, in discourses pronounced several ages to prove, that it is a very difficult thing for a ago, those bold strictures in which the preachman to know himself.
ers unmasked the hypocrites of their times, reBut though this knowledge be extremely proved the vices of the great as freely as those difficult, it is by no means impossible of attain of the little, attacked adultery, extortion, a tyment. The believer employs two methods, rannical spirit, in the very presence of the of principally to arrive at it. 1. He studies his fenders, we are ready to exclaim, What zeal! own heart. 2. He shrinks not from the in- What courage! What firmness! But when a spection of the eyes of another.
preacher of our own days presumes to form 1. First, the believer studies his own heart. himself after such excellent models; when he Let it not appear matter of astonishment that would copy the example of Elijah, who said the generality of mankind are so little ac- to Ahab, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou quainted with themselves. They are almost and thy father's house,” i Kings xviii. 18, always from home; external objects engross all when he would follow the example of Nathan, the powers of their mind; they never dive to who said to David, “Thou art the man,” 2 the bottom of their own conscience. Does it Sam. xii. 7, or that of John Baptist, who said deserve the name of searching the heart, if a to Herod, “It is not lawful for thee to have man employs a rapid and superficial self-ex. thy brother's wife,” Mark vi. 18, then the cry amination, by reading a few books of prepara-is, What audacity! What presumption! It tion, on the eve of a communion solemnity: if would be improper, my brethren, to extend he devote a few moments attention to the any farther my remarks on this subject at maxims of a preacher, much more with a de- present; but I'may be permitted, at least, to sign to apply them to others, than to make borrow the words of Jesus Christ, addressed to them a test of his own conduct How is it his disciples; “I have yet many things to say