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there were few among them who knew more than barely how to read and write. Were they all eloquent orators ? No; except St. Paul, there were none of them, for a long time, who understood more of elocution, than the plainest tradesman who heard them. Were they all profound politicians ? No; of all men they were the simplest, the most artless, the most destitute of address and skill in managing worldly affairs. What then? Did they proselyte the world, like Mahomet, by the sword, by power, and by the expectation of spoil and plunder? No; they were among the very lowest and weakest of the people. The sword was so far from being with them, that, for three hundred years, it was almost continually employed against them; while they opposed it with nothing but patience and resignation. The empire found itself Christian, almost as soon as it ceased to persecute Christianity.'—Skelton, vol. i. pp. 212, 213.
(8) Page 131.] See some just and sensible observations, by Archbishop Secker, Sermon xxiii. vol. i. pp. 321–323. edit. Dublin.
(9) Page 132.] Ex hæreticis asserta est doctrina Catholica ; et ex his qui male sentiunt, probati sunt qui bene sentiunt. Multa enim latebant in Scripturis; et cum præcisi essent hæretici, quæstionibus agitaverunt ecclesiam Dei : aperta sunt quæ latebant, et intellecta est voluntas Dei.
Multi qui optime possent Scripturas dignoscere et pertractare, latebant in populo Dei ; nec asserebant solutionem quæstionum difficilium cum calumniator nullus instaret. Numquid enim perfecte de Trinitate tractatum est, antequam oblatrarent Ariani ? Numquid perfecte de pænitentia tractatum est, antequam obsisterent Novatiani ? Sic non perfecte de baptismate tractatum est, antequam contradicerent foris positi rebaptizatores ; nec de ipsa unitate Christi enucleate dicta erant, quæ dicta sunt, nisi postea quam separatio illa urgere cæpit patres infimos, ut jam illi qui noverant hæc tractare et dissolvere, ne perirent infirmi sollicitati quæstionibus impiorum, sermonibus et disputationibus suis obscura legis in publicum deducerent.-S. August. in Psalm. liv. 22. col. 513. ed. Bened.
Multa quippe ad fidem Catholicam pertinentia, dum hæreticorum callida inquietudine exagitantur, ut adversus eos defendi possint, et considerantur diligentius, et intelliguntur clarius, et instantius prædicantur. - S. August. de Civit. Dei, xvi. 2.
Hæreses adversus nomen Christi, sub velamento tamen nominis Christi, ad exercendam doctrinam sanctæ religionis, sicut prænuntiatæ sunt pullulant. — Id. ad Volusian. ep. cxxxvii. op. tom. ii. col. 409. ed. Ben.
(10) Page 136.] Milton. Speech for the Liberty of unlicensed Printing. — Works, vol. i. p. 290. ed. 8vo. Lond. 1806.
(11) Page 141.) · Some things, in their own quality, are more easy, and near to us, and more within the reach of sense; and therefore, as corporeal things, because of their sensibility and nearness, do possess the minds of carnal men, instead of things spiritual and unseen; even so, Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, this good preacher, and that good book, and this opinion, and that church-society, and this or that ordinance, do possess the minds of the more carnal, narrow sort of Christians ; instead of the harmony of Christian truth, and holy duty.'--Baxter's Life of Faith, Works, vol. iii. p. 622.
DISCOURSE VIII. *
SAINT LUKE xv. 10.
THERE IS JOY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS OF GOD,
OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH.
It has been often observed, that our most important study, is the knowledge of ourselves ; and we admit it, with the exception of one only, but that an infinitely important study, the knowledge of our God. To exist is little, except we exist happily; and it is impossible to exist happily, without knowing and loving Him, in whom “we live, and move, and have our being." He has given us mental and spiritual capacities, which He alone can occupy, and fill. He has made us for himself; and has so constituted our souls, that, out of Him, they cannot find their rest. Is it possible, then, to conceive
* Preached for the Lock Penitentiary, in Saint Peter's Church, Dublin, April 12, 1809.
a question, that more deeply involves our hopes, and fears, and highest interests, than the grand question, What is God? This inquiry, the wisest heathens owned themselves unable to pursue. But we, my brethren, are furnished, by divine revelation, with an answer, which proves its own heavenly origin. We are told, by that disciple whom Jesus loved, who had the nearest access to the heart of his Lord, who most deeply imbibed the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth, that “ God is love.”
Love is ever active, ever communicative, ever bountiful; when, therefore, we are instructed that “ God is love,” we are assured, that it is his very essence, to diffuse and heighten happiness; and that, for this purpose, He is continually pouring fresh influences of holiness and truth, through the boundless sphere of his creation; that it is the inherent tendency of his nature, to multiply living images of his own perfections; to advance the different orders of his creatures, in wisdom, purity, and love; to subdue, by stronger energies of meroy, those who are unhappily averted from the gentle influences, which “ distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb;" so far as may consist with the freedom of intellectual agency, to produce
light from darkness, order from confusion, good from evil; and, in every instance, finally to effect the greatest possible triumph of righteousness, and peace, and joy.
This is the central truth of religion : given us, like the sun in the firmament, to enlighten our path, and cheer our hearts. But its brightness is too dazzling, to be long contemplated by human eyes; we cannot, for any continuance, thus “ see God and live.” Therefore, in condescension to the weakness of our present state, it has pleased the gracious Father of our spirits, to shine by reflection, in all his works; and to guide us, by his revealed word, to those objects, which most happily exhibit the glories of his invisible perfections. Of this nature precisely, is the instruction conveyed in our text. He who “knew what was in man,” felt, that, in this stage of our being, we are incapable of directly viewing the fulness of divine benignity. And therefore, to aid us in the exercise of contemplation, he discloses the transports which are felt, even at the least extended exercises of God's love, by the glorious beings who surround his throne; by those“ angels of his, that excel in strength, that fulfil his commandment, and hearken unto the voice of his words.”—“ There