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who preaches the pure and the whole gospel. I tell you, as plain as I can speak, where and when I found this. I found it in the Oracles of God, in the Old and New Testament, when I read them with no other view or desire but to save my own soul. But whosesoever this doctrine is, I pray you, what harm is there in it? Look at it again : survey
it on every side, and that with the closest attention. In one view, it is purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God. It is the giving God all our heart; it is one desire and design ruling all our tempers. It is the devoting not a part, but all our soul, body, and substance to God. In another view, it is all the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked. It is the circumcision of the heart from all filthiness; all inward as well as outward pollution. It is a renewal of the heart in the whole image of God, the full likeness of him that created it. Yet in another, it is the loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. Now take in which of these views you please, (for there is no material difference,) and this is the whole and sole perfection, as a train of writings prove to a demonstration, which I have believed and taught for these forty years, from the year 1725, to the year 1765.
28. Now let this perfection appear in its native form, and who cau speak one word against it? Will any dare to speak against loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves ? Against a renewal of heart, not only in part, but in the whole image of God? Who is he that will open his mouth against being cleansed from all pollution both of flesh and spirit ? Or against having all the mind that was in Christ, and walking in all things as Christ walked ? What man who calls himself a Christian has the hardiness to object to the devoting, not a part, but all our soul, body, and substance to God: What serious man would oppose the giving God all our heart, and the having one design ruling all our tempers? I say again, let this perfection appear in its own shape, and who will fight against it? It must be disguised before it can be opposed. It must be covered with a bear-skin first, or even the wild beasts of the people will scarce be induced to worry it.
But whatever these do, let not the children of God any longer fight against the image of God. Let not the members of Christ say any thing against having the whole mind that was in Christ. Let not those who are alive to God oppose the dedicating all our life to him. Why should you, who have his love shed abroad in your heart, withstand the giving him all your heart ? Does not all that is within you cry out, “ who that loves, can love enough?” What pity that those who desire or design to please him, should have any other design or desire ? much more that they should dread, as a fatal delusion, yea, abhor, as an abomination to God, the having this one desire and design, ruling every temper? Why should devout men
men be afraid of devoting all their soul, body, and substance to God? Why should those who love Christ, count it a damnable error, to think we may have all the mind that was in him? We allow, we contend, that we are justified freely, through the righteousness and blood of Christ. And why are you so hot against us, because we expect to be sanctified wholly through his Spirit ? We look for no favour either from the open servants of sin, or from those who have only the form of Teligion. But how long will you, who worship God in spirit, who are circumcised with the circumcision not made with hands, set your battle in array against those who seek an entire circumcision of heart, who thirst to be cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God? Are we your enemies, because we look for a full deliverance from the carnal mind, which is enmity against God? Nay, we are your brethren, your fellow-labourers in the vineyard of our Lord, your companions in the kingdom and patience of Jesus. Although this we confess, (if we are fools therein, yet as fools bear with us,) we do expect to love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. Yea, we do believe, that he will in this world so “cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, that we shall perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy name.”
AN ADDRESS TO THE CLERGY.
Brethren and Fathers,
LET it not be imputed to forwardness, vanity, or presumption, that one who is of little esteem in the church, takes upon him thus to address a body of people, to many of whom he owes the highest reverence. I owe a still higher regard to him who I believe requires this at my hands ; to the great Bishop of our souls; before whom both you and I must shortly give an account of our stewardship. It is a debt I owe to love, to real, disinterested affection, to declare what has long been the burden of my soul. And may the God of Love enable you to read these lines in the same spirit wherewith they were written! It will easily appear to an unprejudiced reader, that I do not speak from a spirit of anger or resentment. I know well, “ the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Much less would I utter one word out of contempt ; a spirit justly abhorred by God and man. Neither of these can consist with that earnest, tender love, which is the motive of my present undertaking. In this spirit I desire to cast my bread upon the waters ; it is enough, if I find it again after many days.
Meantime you are sensible, love does not forbid, but rather requires plainness of speech. Has it not often constrained you as well as me to lay aside, not only disguise, but reserve also ? And “by manifestation of the truth to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God?" And while I endeavour to do this, let me earnestly entreat you for the love of God, for the love
of your own soul, for the love of the souls committed to your charge, yea, and of the whole church of Christ, do not bias your mind, by thinking who it is that speaks ; but impartially consider, urhat is spoken. And if it be false or foolish, reject it: but do not reject the words of truth and soberness.
My first design was, to offer a few plain thoughts to the Clergy of our own church only. But upon farther reflection, I see no cause for being so straitened in my own bowels. I am a debtor to all : and, therefore, though I primarily speak to them with whom I am more immediately connected, yet I would not be understood to exclude any, of whatsoever denomination, whom God has called to watch over the souls of others, as they that must give account.
In order to our giving this account with joy, are there not two things which it highly imports us to consider, First, What manner of men ought we to be ? Secondly, Are we such, or are we not?
I. And, First, If we are verseers over the ch of God, which he hath bought with his own blood,” what manner of men ought we to be, in Gifts as well as in Grace?
To begin with Gifts, and, 1. with those that are from nature. Ought not a minister to have, Ist, A good understanding ? A clear apprehension, a sound judgment, and a capacity of reasoning with some closeness? Is not this necessary in a high degree for the work of the ministry? Otherwise how will he be able to understand the various states of those under his care? Or to steer them through a thousand difficulties and dangers, to the haven where they would be? Is it not necessary, with respect to the numerous enemies whom he has to encounter? Can a fool cope with all the men that know not God? And with all the spirits of darkness? Nay, he will neither be aware of the devices of Satan, nor the craftiness of his children.
2dly, Is it not highly expedient that a guide of souls should have likewise some liveliness and readiness of thought? Or how will he be able, when need requires, to “answer a fool according to his folly ?" How frequent is this need? Seeing we almost every where meet with those empty, yet petulant creatures, who are far “wiser in their own eyes, than seven men that can render a reason." Reasoning therefore is not the weapon to be used with them. You cannot deal with them thus. They scorn being convinced : nor can they be silenced, but in their own way.
3dly, To a sound understanding, and a lively turn of thought, should be joined a good memory; if it may be, ready, that you may make whatever occurs in reading or conversation, your own; but however, retentive, lest we be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” On the contrary, “every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven," every teacher fitted for his work, is “ like a householder, who bringeth out of his treasures things new and old.”
2. And as to acquired endowments, can he take one step aright, without, first, a competent share of knowledge ? A knowledge, 1st,
of his own office; of the high trust in which he stands, the important work to which he is called? Is there any hope that a man should discharge his office well, if he knows not what it is ? That, he should acquit himself faithfully of a trust, the very nature whereof he does not understand ? Nay: if he knows not the work God has given him to do, he cannot finish it.
2dly, No less necessary is a knowledge of the Scriptures, which teach us how to teach others: yea, a knowledge of all the Scriptures; seeing Scripture interprets Scripture; one part fixing the sense of another. So that whether it be true or not, that every good textuary is a good divine, it is certain none can be a good divine who is not a good textuary. None else can be “mighty in the Scriptures ;” able both to instruct, and to stop the mouths of gainsayers.
In order to do this accurately, ought he not to know the literal meaning of every word, verse, and chapter, without which there can be no firm foundation on which the spiritual meaning can be built ? Should he not likewise be able to deduce the proper corollaries, speculative and practical, from each text; to solve the difficulties which arise, and answer the objections which are or may be raised against it; and to make a suitable application of all, to the consciences of his hearers?
Sdly, But can he do this, in the most effectual manner, without a knowledge of the original tongues? Without this, will he not frequently be at a stand, even as to texts which regard practice only? But he will be under still greater difficulties, with respect to controverted Scriptures. He will be ill able to rescue these out of the hands of any man of learning that would pervert them : for whenever an appeal is made to the original, his mouth is stopped at once.
4thly, Is not a knowledge of profane history likewise, of ancient customs, of chronology and geography, though not absolutely necessary, yet highly expedient for him that would thoroughly understand the Scriptures? Since the want even of this knowledge is but poorly supplied by reading the comments of other men.
5thly, Some knowledge of the sciences also, is, (to say the least,) equally expedient. Nay, may we not say, that the knowledge of one, (whether art or science,) although now quite unfashionable, is even necessary, next, and in order to the knowledge of the Scripture itself! I mean, logic. For what is this, if rightly understood, but the art of good sense? Of apprehending things clearly, judging truly, and reasoning conclusively? What is it, viewed in another light, but the art of learning and teaching? Whether by convincing or persuading? What is there then, in the whole compass of science, to be desired in comparison of it?
Is not some acquaintance with what has been termed the second part of logic, metaphysics, if not so necessary as this, yet highly expedient, 1. In order to clear our apprehension, (without which it is impossible either to judge correctly, or to reason closely or conclusively,) by ranging our ideas under general heads: and, 2. In order to
understand many useful writers, who can very hardly be understood without it?
Should not a minister be acquainted too with, at least, the general grounds of natural philosophy? Is not this a great help to the accurate understanding several passages of Scripture? Assisted by this, he may himself comprehend, and on proper occasions explain to others, how “ the invisible things of God are seen from the creation of the world ?" “How the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work :" till they cry out, “ O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all.”
But how far can he go in this, without some knowledge of geometry? which is likewise useful, not barely on this account, but to give clearness of apprehension, and a habit of thinking closely and connectedly
It must be allowed indeed, that some of these branches of knowledge are not so indispensably necessary as the rest ; and therefore no thinking man will condemn the Fathers of the Church, for having in all ages and nations, appointed some to the ministry, who suppose they had the capacity, yet had not the opportunity of attaining them. But what excuse is this, for one who has the opportunity, and makes no use of it? What can be urged for a person who has had an university education, if he does not understand them all ? Certainly, supposing him to have any capacity, to have common understanding, he is inexcusable before God and man.
6thly, Can any who spend several years in those seats of learning, be excused, if they do not add to that of the languages and sciences, the knowledge of the Fathers ? The most authentic commentators on Scripture, as being both nearest the fountain, and eminently endued with that Spirit by whom “all Scripture was given ?" It will be casily perceived, I speak chiefly of those who wrote before the Council of Nice. But who would not likewise desire to have some acquaintance with those that followed them? With St. Chrysostom, Basil, Jerome, Austin ; and above all, that man of a broken heart, Ephraim Syrus?
7thly, There is yet another branch of knowledge highly necessary for a clergyman, and that is, knowledge of the world; a knowledge of men and their maxims, tempers, and manners, such as they occur in real life. Without this he would be liable to receive much hurt, and capable of doing little good; as he will not know, either how to deal with men, according to the vast variety of their characters : or to preserve himself from those, who almost in every place lie in wait to deceive.
How nearly allied to this, is, “the discernment of spirits ? so far as it may be acquired by diligent observation.” And can a guide of souls be without it? If he is, is he not liable to stumble at every step?
8thly, Can he be without an eminent share of prudence? that most uncommon thing which is usually called common sense? But how