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to this point. Has there not been a total ignorance of divine things, whenever the light of revelation has been extinguished ? Look into the learned ages of Greece, and you find the several sects of philosophers enquiring what is the chief good of men, and none of them could discover what it was, and disputing about the origin of evil, and never coming near the truth. Look into the times when Rome was raised to its highest glory, and was as famous for its learning as its conquests, and you will not find one learned Roman who can tell you what God is. Tully has written a book
upon the nature of the gods, and it is one of the most valuable of his writings: for therein he gives us the opinions of the philosophers upon this subject, and shows his own and their exceeding great ignorance of it. From these instances, not to mention others, it is evident that a man may have all the knowledge which arts and sciences can give him, and yet be totally ignorant of God, and of the things of God. This has appeared from undoubted matter of fact. We know from the experience of the Greeks and Romans, that arts and sciences never did lead them to the knowledge of any spiritual and divine objects, and we are assured from the testimony of God's word that they never can,
Man in his natural state, blinded by sin, and under the power of it, cannot attain to any such knowledge. The apostle has deci. ded this point for us. Speaking of the politest classical age of Rome, he says of her great philosophers, and celebrated authors, that they were without understanding, that they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. What ! was Tully without understanding, was the imagination of Virgil vain, and the heart of Seneca foolish? Yes, in the things of God: “for the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”—I. Cor. ii. 14. While he remains a natural man, it is absolutely impossible that he should know them, nei.
ther can he know them : because he has no spiritual discernment, by which alone spiritual objects can be discovered ; and therefore he must remain for ever ignorant of them, unless God should open the eyes of his understanding, and bring him out of darkness into his marvellous light.
This is a very humbling, but it is a real view of human nature, and I need not have gone to distant ages and countries for proof. We have it near enough at home, if men's pride would but let them see it; but their pride arises chiefly from their ignorance of it, and helps to keep them ignorant. If they had but a little humility, they would discover how imperfect their knowledge is, even of the things about them, and they would therefore see the necessity of being taught of God in those things which were out of the reach of their senses: such are all spiritual and divine things, and in these they want divine teaching; and the promise is concerning these, "all thy children shall be taught of God." Now God never acts in vain. Unless his children wanted teach. ing, he need not be their teacher; but in what belongs to the spiritual world they are entirely ignorant, and they have no means of discovering, unless they be taught of God, what state they are in by nature, and, if it be a state of guilt and misery, how they are to be delivered from it. God has revealed in his holy word the knowledge of what belongs to these two states ; but sin has so blinded men's understandings, and depraved their judgments, that they will not assent to what is revealed, nor be determined by it, until the Holy Spirit convinces them what they are by nature, and what they may be by grace. Accordingly the scripture declares, that the Holy Spirit is the inspirer of every good thought, and word, and work. He enlightens the children of God with saving truth, and subdues the opposition which was in their wills to it, and that enmity which was in their hearts. From the first moment he awakens them, and opens the eyes of their understanding, until he brings
them safe to glory, he is their teacher. He teaches them to look upon sin as it is in itself, exceeding sinful: he alarms the conscience, and makes it feel the guilt and danger of sin : he leads the humbled and convinced sinner to Christ for pardon: he gives him faith, and hope, and love, and by grafting him like a living branch into the true vive, enables him to bear much fruit to the glory of God. And since every thing good in him comes from divine teaching, is it not absolutely necessary that he should be taught of God?
If you will consider all these authorities together, I hope they will convince you, my brethren, that there is a necessity for your being taught of God: for by nature you are ignorant of all spiritual and divine things; and you cannot by any means in your own power attain to the knowledge of them; the arts and sciences can give you no assistance. It is a matter of fact that they never did, and the scripture declares that they never can, help any man to discern the things of the spirit of God. The natural man, while he remains such, be he ever so learned, cannot know them. And how then can he ever attain any ideas of them but by divine teaching? If this evidence has convinced you, you are prepared to follow me in my second inquiry, which relates to the manner in which God teaches his people.
His established method is by the word, and by the spirit : in all divine teaching these two go together; the word, and the spirit explaining and applying the word, The word is the whole will of God, which he revealed to be the means of bringing sinners from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness, and from the power of Satan unto God, and unto the kingdom of his dear Son, here in grace, and hereafter in glory. These great things are spoken of the written word: for it is able, according to the apostle, to make a man wise unto salvation; but then the quickening Spirit must accompany the hearing, or reading of it, or else you will never find in it this saving wisdom. It is only a dead letter, unless the living Spirit aniinates it: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The word is the means, in the hand of the Spirit, of beginning, carrying on, and perfecting the life of God in the soul. When the Spirit works in it and by it, he makes it effectual, through his mighty operation, to build up and to perfect the man of God. He works in the word; for the Spirit is received in it, as the apostle shows, II. Cor. ii. 8, where he calls the preaching of the gospel “the ministration of the Spirit,” that by which the Spirit was administered and given; and he says to the Galatians, that by this hearing of faith (which hearing was of the word of God) they received the Spirit. Gal. iii. 2. And, being received, he enlightened their minds, and opened their understandings, that they might understand the scriptures, and thereby he wrought that faith in them which cometh by hearing: for faith is his gift. It is called (Gal. v. 22,) “ the fruit of the Spirit," one of the fruits produced in the heart by his grace, upon which account he is called “the Spirit of faith.”-II. Cor. iv. 13. And when he has thus wrought in the word, he then works by it, and helps the believer to act faith upon it. The Holy Spirit puts it into his heart to desire the sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby: And he does grow, and is nourished up, as Timothy was, in the words of faith, when he is enabled by the same Spirit to act faith upon the word : for then the word preached profits him, when he can mix faith with it when faith and the word, like two fluids of the same properties, readily mix together, and closely incorporate. Thus the word nourishes him in the inner man, and he grows thereby. The Spirit applies it, and renders it effectual to the promoting of every gracious purpose for which it was revealed, and by its means he makes the man of God wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Jesus Christ.
This is the usual and common way in which God fulfils the text. He teaches his children spiritual and
divine things by his word, as explained and applied by his Spirit. Which two cannot be put asunder. The word is the eye, and the Holy Spirit is the light shining upon it. Now a man cannot see without eyes, and having eyes he cannot see without light. So, if you have the word without the Spirit, you have eyes without light; and if you have the Spirit without the word, you have light, but no eyes to see it: the word and the Spirit therefore must go together. To expect that the Spirit will teach you without the word, is rank enthusiasm ; as great madness as to hope to see without eyes: and to expect that the word will teach you without the Spirit, is as great an absurdity as to pretend to see without light; and if any man says that the Spirit teaches him to believe, or to do, what is contrary to the written word, he is a mad blasphemer. God has joined the word and the Spirit; and what God has joined together let not man put asunder.
Convinced of these things, have you, my brethren, reduced them to practice? Do you go with humility to the word of God to be taught, and do that instruction from it of which you stand in need ? Perhaps you say, you do read it, but you difficult: it is so hard to be understood, that it is for the most part to you a sealed book. general complaint; but what is the cause of it? Certain it is, that this scripture cannot be broken-"all the children shall be taught of God.” The fault is not in God, nor yet in his word. Surely then it is in yourselves. Either you have not been deeply convinced of your own blindness in spiritual things, and therefore are not practically persuaded of the necessity of the word, or you have not looked up to the Holy Spirit for his divine teaching, praying him, in the prophet's words, “ Lord, open thou mine may see wondrous things out of thy law:” for until. he open your eyes and enlighten them, you cannot see any of the wonders contained in the book of God. Consider these points then, and examine them close
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