Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

and fits it for universality: while the unceasing modifications in human sciences, notwithstanding their gradual augmentation, at once prove their imperfection, and suggest the strong probability that such imperfection will never be completely removed in the present state of existence.

But, without pursuing farther this train of reflection, permit me now to lay before you the opinions of philosophic heathens relative to the subject of Divine influences. That they thought the Deity the Inspirer of pure thoughts and holy conduct, as well as the Author of animal life, will, I conceive, be sufficiently obvious from the few quotations I shall here select. XENOPHON represents Cyrus, with his dying breath, " as humbly ascribing it to a Divine influence on his “ mind, that he had been taught to acknowledge the “ care of Providence, and to bear his prosperity with a 6 becoming moderation." (v) Plato describes Socrates as declaring that " wheresoever virtue comes, “ it is apparently the fruit of a Divine dispensa« tion.” (w) And Plato, XENOPHON, ANTISTHENES, and PLUTARCH testify, that Socrates publicly declared before his judges, that he was accompanied by an invisible conductor, or attendant spirit, whose frequent interposition stopped him in the commission of evil. Plato also himself observes that " virtue is not to be * taught but by Divine assistance.” («) And in his

preserved in their full, entire, primitive perfection.” Commonitory, cap. 29.

(v) Xen. Cyropæd. lib. viii. cap. 7. & i. (7) Plat. Men. ad. fin. p. 428.

(x) Epinom. p. 1014.

sixth book, De Republica, he affirms that, “ if any 6 man escape the temptations of life, and behave him6 self as becomes a worthy member of society, he has “ reason to own that it is God who saves him.(y) SIMPLICIUS has a prayer “ to God, as the Father and “ Guide of reason, so to co-operate with us, as to purge o us from all carnal and brutish affections, that we 6 may be enabled to act according to the dictates of “ reason, and to attain to the true knowledge of him“ self.” (z) MAXIMUS TYRIUS argues “ that if skill in 66 the professions and sciences is insinuated into men's 66 minds by a Divine influence, we can much less

imagine that a thing so much more excellent as “ virtue is, can be the work of any mortal art; for the “ notion must be very strange to think that God is “ liberal and free in matters of less moment, and 6 sparing in the greatest.” And in the same discourse he remarks that “ even the best disposed minds, as " they are seated in the midst between the highest “ virtue and extreme wickedness, need the assistance o of God to incline and lead them to the better side.(a) Tolly, in a passage quoted in the third letter of this series, declares that “ No man was ever “ truly great without some divine influence.(6) And SENECA, when he is speaking of a resemblance to the Deity in character, ascribes it to his influence upon the mind: “ Are you surprised (says he) that man should

(y) De Repub. lib. vi. p. 677. Ed. Francof. 1602.
(2) Simplic. in Epictet. ad fin.
(a) Max. Tyr. Dissert. xxii.
(6) See vol. i. p. 50.

“ approach to the Gods? It is God that comes to

men; nay, which is yet more, he enters into them : “ for no mind becomes virtuous, but by his assistance.” (c)

Numerous passages might easily be extracted from the Christian apologists and other writers in the first four centuries, to elucidate and confirm the same great truth. (d) But, as I wish to reduce this branch of our

(c) Senec. Epistol. lxxii.-Among modern nations destitute of the light of Christianity, the doctrine that wisdom of various kinds is im. parted by spiritual teaching, is frequently avowed. Thus one of the answers of a Chicasaw to Wesley indicates clearly that the tradition of Divine influence had reached that people :-“ There are but a few (says “he) whom the Beloved one chooses from a child, and is in them, and “ takes care of them, and teaches them. They know these things (reli. 6 gious matters), and our old men practise, therefore they know ; but I “ do not practise, therefore I know but little.”

So again, the following translation of a letter 6 sent with a present 66 from the Chief of the five Indian Nations to Dr. Jenner,” furnishes pleasing evidence to the same effect :

“ Our Father has delivered unto us the book you sent us how to use “ the discovery which the Great Spirit made to you, whereby the small“ pox, that fatal enemy of our tribes, may be driven from the earth. We “ have deposited your book in the hands of the man of skill, whom our “ Great Father employs to attend us when sick or wounded.

" We shall not fail to teach our children to speak the name of Jenner, " and to thank the Great Spirit for bestowing upon him so much wisdom " and so much benevolence.

“ We send with this a belt and string of Wampum, in token of our " acceptance of your precious gift ; and we beseech the Great Spirit to “ take care of you in this world and in the land of spirits.

“ Signed by the Chiefs of the Mohawk, Onandaga, Senega, Oneida, 6 and Cayauga nations."

(d) For a brief but judicious summary of the sentiments of those indi. viduals in every age from the Fathers down to the Reformation, who were either famous for piety, or instruments of the several minuter changes which led to the Reformation itself, see the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, vol. v. pp. 325–328.

inquiry into as narrow compass as possible, you will prefer my laying before you the sentiments of the venerable English Reformers, as they are represented in the Homilies; that their notions on this point were sufficiently clear and decisive will appear from a quotation or two. “ The charity wherewith we love our 66 brethren (say they) is verily God's work in us. If 66 after our fall we repent, it is by him that we repent, 56 which reached forth his merciful hand to raise us' 66 up. If we have any will to rise, it is he that “ preventeth our will, and disposeth us thereto. If " after contrition we feel our consciences at peace 66 with God through remission of our sin, and so be 6 reconciled again to his favour, and hope to be 6 his children and inheritors of everlasting life; who 66 worketh these great miracles in us ? Our worthiness, “ our deservings, our wits, our virtue ? Ņay, verily, 66 St. Paul will not suffer flesh and clay to presume to “ such arrogancy, and therefore saith, All is of God.“ Without his lively and secret inspiration can we not “ once so much as speak the name of our Mediator, as - St. Paul plainly testifieth ; no man can once name our Lord Jesus Christ, but in the Holy Ghost. 66 Much less should we be able to believe and know 6 those great mysteries that be opened to us by 66 Christ.” “ Very liberal and gentle is the Spirit of 6 Wisdom. In his power shall we have sufficient 66 ability to know our duty to God, in him shall we be 66 comforted and encouraged to walk in our duty, in “ him shall we be meet vessels to receive the grace of “ Almighty God; for it is he that purgeth and puri

“ fieth the mind by his secret working. He lighteneth 6 the heart to conceive worthy thoughts of Almighty 6 God, he sitteth in the tongue of man to stir him to 66 speak his honour: no language is hid from him, for 66 he hath the knowledge of all speech, he only minis« tereth spiritual strength to the powers of our soul 56 and body. To hold the way which God hath pre“ pared for us to walk rightly in our journey, we must “ acknowledge that it is the power of his Spirit which -66 helpeth our infirmity. That we may boldly come in “ prayer, and call upon Almighty God as our Father, 66 it is by this Holy Spirit, which maketh intercession 66 for us with continual sighs. If any gift we have .66 wherewith we may work to the glory of God, and “ profit of our neighbour, all is wrought by his own and .66 self-same Spirit, which maketh his distributions .“ peculiarly to every man as he will.” (e) : Fix your thoughts for a moment upon the mass of opposition and aversion which must be removed before Christian principles get possession of the heart, and you will soon perceive that nothing short of Divine energy can effectually subdue it. Within us, there are the opposition of darkness, and blindness, and ignorance, only to be dispelled by heavenly light; the aversion of error and prejudice, and of overweening self-esteem; a love of sin, to be transformed into hatred; a prevailing sensuality, to be mortified and subdued : all these engrafted upon the trunk of custom, a baneful tree, so deeply rooted in the corruptions

(e) Homily for Rogation Week, 3d part, pp. 412—414. Oxf. ed. 1810.

VOL. II.

« EdellinenJatka »