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wisdom and holy love, served but to excite the more determined resistance from their ambition, avarice, envy, and resentment: and, when they were completely baffled, and "could say nothing "against" either the miracles or the doctrine, they were enraged even to madness.
When a partial view of divine truth gains the assent of the understanding, without a disposition of heart congenial to the grand scope of Christianity; such professors are formed, as our Lord describes under the similitude of the " stony ground:" and their fallacious confidence, selfish joy, and temporary faith, while "they have no root in them"selves, but in time of temptation fall away," are exemplified by facts on every side.-The seed too sown on " thorny ground" represents another very common way, in which a carnal heart "holds the "truth in unrighteousness," by a dead faith, an unwarrantable confidence, and an awful mistake as to the tendency and design of revealed truth: but "an honest and good heart" is the only "good ground," in which " the word of the kingdom" will so" take root, and spring up, as to bring forth fruit " with patience."
It is really surprising, that, with such scriptures before them, serious and reflecting persons should speak of faith in Christ, as 'a mere act of the un'derstanding, produced by a common illumination, 'totally distinct from regeneration!' I would ask those who use such language, whether this be not precisely the definition of a dead faith? and whether any man be capable of giving a better? For is it not an assent of the understanding, to the doc
trines of the gospel as true, without any consent of the heart to them as good and holy? It is by no means intended, that all, who inadvertently seem to favour this sentiment, really countenance a dead faith; for many parts of their writings have a contrary tendency: but it shews how readily even good men, when contending for a system, may be seduced to sanction opinions which entirely suit of very purposes of bad men.
In forming our judgment on this subject, let us next consider the following words of our blessed Saviour: "No man can come to me, except the "Father which hath sent me draw him. It is "written in the prophets, And they shall all be "taught of God. Every man therefore that hath 66 heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh "unto me.-Therefore said I unto you, that no man "can come unto me except it were given unto him "of my Father."* Coming to Christ is the same
as believing in him, at least as far as the present argument is concerned: and has this gift of the Father, this drawing, teaching, hearing, and learning, nothing holy in its nature? Surely, upon second thoughts, every serious mind will adopt the apostle's words," Do not err, my beloved brethren;
every good gift, and every perfect gift is from "above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, "with whom is no variableness neither shadow "of turning :" especially as the same apostle afterwards carefully distinguishes "the wisdom which is from above," by its holy and sanctifying nature,
* John vi. 44, 45, 65.
from that wisdom which is "earthly, sensual, and "devilish;" as well as a living from a dead faith, by the holy obedience that accompanies it.*
But our divine Instructor has not left us to form our own conclusions from this general language; for he has shewn us in what manner the Father teaches and draws the sinner to come to him.` "When the Comforter is come, he will convince "the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of "judgment." "He will guide you into all truth." "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, " and shall shew it unto you." Under the illuminating and convincing influences of the Holy Spirit, sinners become acquainted with their own true character and real situation: and thus the discovery of their guilt, pollution, danger, and helpless misery in themselves, prepares them for perceiving the nature and value of the salvation of Christ. Then he becomes glorious in their eyes, and precious to their hearts: they consider him as "the pearl of great price," yea of inestimable value. "What things were gain to them, they now count "but loss for Christ." The fear of being rejected by him overpowers all other fears, and is frequently the source of permanent anxiety. The desire of his salvation, and of the felicity which they conceive his people to enjoy, overcomes their love of worldly objects. They are thus prepared to forsake all for Christ and no important secular interest, no beloved relative, no, not even life itself, is so precious in their deliberate practical judgment, as the
* James i. 16, 17. ii. 14-26. iii. 13-18.
↑ John xvi. 8, 15.
loving Saviour of lost sinners. In proportion as the Holy Spirit presents the things which pertain to him and his salvation, before one who is thus "taught of God," and "drawn by the Father," all these affections are uniformly excited and invigorated: yet the very same things, when plainly set before the proud and carnal minds of unregenerate sinners, awaken contempt, enmity, and blasphemous rage. And is not that influence, which pro duces so entire a revolution in the judgment and affections of those who experience it, of a holy nature? No doubt, while the truth is made to shine before the sinner's understanding, his heart also is prepared to love and welcome it.
This was exemplified on the day of Pentecost; when the Spirit was "poured from on high," not only on the apostles, but likewise on the multitude. The very persons, whom Peter most justly charged with having wickedly crucified the promised Messiah, being "pricked in their heart, said, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And, being instructed and exhorted by the apostle, " they gladly "received the word, and were baptised in the "name of Jesus." They were convinced of their exceedingly aggravated guilt in crucifying the Lord of glory; and not merely alarmed by the dread of punishment; they "repented and did "works meet for repentance." Christ was glorified in their hearts, and they believed in him as their Lord and Saviour. But there were others who were "cut to the heart" by similar addresses of the apostles; yet, not being humbly sensible of their guilt and danger, they were only the more enraged by their convictions.-When Stephen dis
puted with the Jews, not being able to resist the spirit and wisdom with which he spake, they had recourse to persecution: nay, when his persecutors could neither answer his arguments, nor endure his expostulations, they " gnashed upon him with their "teeth, stopped their ears," and stoned him without delay. Now who can doubt that they, who gladly received the word," had experienced a gracious change of heart by the power of the Holy Spirit while the others, though surrounded with light and tormented with convictions, were left to the natural enmity of their proud and carnal minds? *
Let us consider another example of the effects produced by these influences. The gaoler at Philippi had cruelly abused Paul and Silas, and had exceeded his commission by " thrusting them "into the inner prison, and making their feet fast "in the stocks;" (for he might have "kept them "safely" without all this severity:) and he had afterwards attempted to murder himself. But he was at length convinced, by means of what he heard and saw, that "these were the servants of "the most High God, who shewed to men the way "of salvation." Under this conviction," he called "for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, " and fell down before Paul and Silas :" and in the first instance, before he proposed to them his interesting inquiry," he brought them out" of the stocks and the inner prison, into some convenient place. The event proved, that his convictions
*Acts ii. 37, 38, iii. 12-26. iv. 1-4. v. 33. vi. 10, 11. vii. 54-59.