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thought of becoming better qualified upon scriptural grounds to defend my determination, than of being led to any change of sentiments.
However, I set about the first passage, as I remember, suspect that I might be wrong, was James i. 5, " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of "God, who giveth to all men liberally, and up"braideth not, and it shall be given him." On considering these words with some attention, I became conscious that, though I had thought myself wise, yet assuredly I had obtained none of my wisdom in this manner; for I had never offered one prayer to that effect during the whole course of my life. I also perceived that this text contained a suitable direction, and an encouraging promise, in my present enquiry: and from this time, in my poor manner, I began to ask God to give me this promised wisdom.
Shortly after I meditated on, and preached from John vii. 16, 17. (s My doctrine is not mine, "but his that sent me; if any man will do his " will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it "be of God or whether I speak of myself." I was surprised that I had not before attended to such remarkable words. I discovered that they contained a direction and a promise, calculated to serve as a clue, in extricating the sincere enquirer after truth from that labyrinth of controversy in which, at his first setting out, he is likely to be
enquiry: and the which made me
bewildered. And, though my mind was too much leavened with the pride of reasoning, to reap that benefit from this precious text, which it is capable of affording to the soul that is humbly willing to be taught of God: yet, being conscious that I was disposed to risk every thing in doing what I thought his will, I was encouraged with the assurance that, if I were under a mistake, I should some time discover it.
I was further led to suspect that I might possi bly be wrong, because I had not hitherto sought the truth in the proper manner, by attending to Proverbs iii. 5, 6: "Trust in the Lord with all "thine heart, and lean not to thine own under
standing: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and "he shall direct thy paths." I could not but know, that I had not hitherto trusted in the Lord with all my heart, nor acknowledged him in all my ways, nor depended on his directions in all my paths; but that in my religious speculations I had leaned wholly to mine own understanding.
But, though these and some other passages made for the present a great impression upon me, and influenced me to make it a part of my daily prayers, that I might be directed to a right understanding of the word of God: yet my pride and dispo◄ sition to controversy had, as some desperate disease, infected my whole soul, and was not to be cured all at once.-1 was very far indeed from being a little child, sitting humbly and simply at
the Lord's feet, to learn from him the very first rudiments of divine knowledge. I had yet no abiding suspicion that all which I had heretofore accounted wisdom was foolishness, and must be unlearned and counted loss, before I could attain to the excellency of the true knowledge of Jesus Christ for, though I began to allow it probable that in some few matters I might have been in an error, yet I still was confident that in the main my scheme of doctrine was true. When I was pressed with objections and arguments against any of my sentiments, and when doubts began to arise in my mind; to put off the uneasiness occasioned by them, my constant practice was to recollect, as far as I could, all the reasonings and interpretations of Scripture, on the other side of the question: and when this failed of affording satisfaction, I had recourse to controversial writings. This drew me aside from the pure word of God, rendered me more remiss and formal in prayer, and furnished me with defensive armour against my convictions, with fuel for my passions, and food for my pride and self-sufficiency.
At this time Locke's 'Reasonableness of Christianity,' with his Vindications' of it, became my favourite pieces of divinity. I studied this, and many other of Mr. Locke's works, with great attention, and a sort of bigotted fondness; taking him almost implicitly for my master, adopting his conclusions, borrowing many of his argu
ments, and imbibing a dislike to such persons as would not agree with me in partiality for him. This was of great disservice to me; as, instead of getting forward in my enquiry after truth, I thence collected more ingenious and specious arguments with which to defend my mistakes.*
But, one book which I read at this time, because mentioned with approbation by Mr. Locke, was of singular use to me: this was Bishop Burnet's 'Pastoral Care.' I found little in it that offended my prejudices, and many things which came home to my conscience respecting my ministerial obligations. I shall lay before the reader a few short extracts, which were most affecting to my own mind. Having mentioned the question proposed to those who are about to be ordained Dea
cons, Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and ministry, to serve God for the promoting of his glory, and the edifying of his people?' he adds, (page 111) Certainly the answer that is
* After having spoken so freely of Mr. Locke's divinity, which I once so highly esteemed, it seems but just to acknowledge the vast obligation, which the whole religious world is under to that great man, for his Letters concerning Toleration,' and his answers to those who wrote against them. The grounds of religious liberty, and the reasons why every one should be left to his own choice, to worship God according to his conscience, were, perhaps, never generally understood since the foundation of the world; till by these publications Mr. Locke unanswerably made them manifest.
'made to this ought to be well considered: for if
any one says, "I trust so," that yet knows nothing of any such motion, and can give no account of it, he lies to the Holy Ghost, and 'makes his first approach to the altar with a lie in his mouth, and that not to men, but to God. And again, (page 112) 'Shall not he [God] ' reckon with those who dare to run without his mission, pretending that they trust they have it, 'when perhaps they understand not the importance ' of it; nay, and perhaps some laugh at it, as an ' enthusiastical question, who yet will go through 'with the office! They come to Christ for the loaves; they hope to live by the altar and the gos
pel, how little soever they serve at the one, or
preach the other; therefore they will say any
thing that is necessary for qualifying them to this, whether true or false.'
Again, (page 122) having interwoven a great part of the excellent office of the ordination of Priests, into his argument concerning the importance and weight of the work of the ministry; he adds, Upon the whole matter, either this is all
a piece of gross and impudent pageantry, dressed up in grave and lofty expressions, to strike upon
the weaker part of mankind, and to furnish the
rest with matter to their profane and impious
scorn; or it must be confessed that Priests come ' under the most formal and express engagements 'to constant and diligent labour, that can be pos