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without which no man can see the Lord.”-In submitting to this total inversion of nature, this moral and spiritual change which the Scriptures denominate regeneration or the new birth, it
be inferred, not only that the understanding must take a very different bias from that of natural reason, but as an evidence that those superior faculties will be employed in rectifying the will and affections, and in a conviction of the vanity and insufficiency of all sublunary enjoyments, to fix them on things above; assured by a full personal experience that where a man's treasure is, there will be his heart also. Should it be asked in what these renewed qualities consist? it is answered, they are no less than the soul's affinity and immortality, its moral responsibility as a free agent, its utter inability in its own strength, in a separation from divine aids; and its continual obligation to piety, and final acceptance with God.
How evident will it from hence appear, that there must be a spiritual appetency in the soul, with a corresponding adaptation of its exalted faculties, for securing to itself the directing influence of the eternal Spirit of truth; there must be, in fact, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness; for in reference to these bodily sensations, as hunger and thirst are designed to give notice of its natural wants, so a spiritual hunger and thirst must be felt to render us sensible that we need spiritual support against our many infirmities, and spiritual food to maintain the life of religion. He who feels conscious of self derived strength and rests on its sufficiency, does not ask for assistance, for as our Lord observes, “he that is whole needs not a physician, but he that is sick;" but the man in the exercise of true rationality, being made sensible of his wants and his weaknesses, is continually offering up his secret prayer to the never failing source of help; and by living a life of prayer, a constant vital intercourse is kept up between the great Father of mercies and his regenerate obedient child ; and he experiences to his consolation, that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost;" "and blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Having thus briefly attempted to prove, that a truly rational and spiritual being is alone capable of receiving, savingly, and of cherishing the indwelling Spirit of the Most High; and having illustrated the quality of the heavenly fruits resulting from its secret but efficacious energy; before I conclude it may be required to. notice some few of the means by which this divine principle may be cultivated and cherished. First, then, it is self evident, that, these exercises with their fruits, do not (as very many vainly suppose,) belong to the head, but to the heart; and as such, cannot be the offspring of the reasoning faculty. For example, submissive obediencc to the divine precepts, prostration of soul through repentance, resignation and confidence in the dispensing powers of a wise and good Providence; these clearly appertain to the will, rather than the understanding ; for a godly sorrow for sin has no necessary connexion with reason, but is in close alliance with love. So is it in like manner, as it respects prayer and communion with God; daily experience evinces that those who would control moral events by their own wisdom and counsels, disdain to make any application for assistance to any power which it cannot command. Wise therefore in their own eyes, and prudent in their own conceit, the disciples of reason arrogantly laugh at the simple hearted who look up to heaven in their extremity, and despise him as an enthusiast, who places an implicit reliance on that Providence which presides over the most minute as well as the most splendid undertakings of life. Such is and must be the natural result; for whilst reason, being subjected as a higher principle, is the basis of the tabernacle of the Most High, yet in being permitted to govern this higher principle, it subverts the whole economy of man; proposes the lesser interests as of more importance than the greater ; and with a seeming specious consistency introduces anarchy, confusion and disorder.
Human reliance on divine aids, a constant dependance on a wise and benevolent Providence, with a diligent and sanctified use of the natural faculties, these on the contrary, bring down the mind from its lofty seat, and as a self-sufficient agent into a total surrender of its own power, and an acknowledgment of the dominion of the one supreme God of all; for the Christian virtues which really dignify the human mind, in the sight of God, are virtues of humility, tending to reduce it in its own estimation and increase its strength as the natural powers of intellect are brought into obedience to the dictates of divine truth.
Such are some few of the means by which alone the mind can grow in grace, or by which its spiritual faculties become enlarged, and the spiritual senses quickened, as it were with a new life; and it may be perceived that they essentially differ from the means by which the natural faculties are expanded; and it is a lesson which cannot be too frequently inculcated, that it is not by any intense application and labour of intellect, as in the study of science, nor by adhering to any proposition in theology, however excellent, that spiritual growth is attained; but it is by mental engagements of a total opposite kind, though by no means confined to a state of abstract and indolent meditation, they are not passive virtues, but are intended to be brought into active use and application, in our intercourse with our fellow creatures. Christian reader, these, be assured, are the exercises-the wings of the soul, on which it rises to the source of divine wisdom, the state of spiritual hunger, in which it is fitted to receive the supply of heavenly manna, or of daily bread-the pure unclouded Eden of the heart, in which the light of truth finds a ready entrance to illuminate with divine counsels, and to warm and animate its immortal nature with the influence of divine love.
In conclusion, it may be fairly assumed, that the measure of the divine Spirit in the soul, is not like a faculty or instrument of the mind, to be played with as fancy or caprice may dictate, any more than it is attainable by the use of any exertions, which at his own will and pleasure, man has the power of exercising; these are the phantasies of unsanctified reason. But the truly rational and spi. ritual man, enlightened from above, will take the conclusion for granted, that divine assistance is as necessary to man as his Providence is to the outward creation; and that this assistance can never be afforded, but through the medium of his divine and holy Spirit. Whilst then we are occupied in framing distinctions between the limits of instinct and reason, of how great consequence is it, that we are qualified to discriminate between mere natural reason, and that true rationality which connects itself with a pure spiritual principle in the soul, and opens to his view, appealing at the same time to his affections, the blessed realties of an invisible and eternal state. Would we seriously desire to be led from death unto life, by the all sufficient energies of God's most holy Spirit, we must continually strive to cultivate its growth by humility of heart and a life of holiness ; for notwithstanding our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, so long as we follow its leadings and submit to its guidance; yet how necessary is it, that we resist not nor grieve that Spirit, which if left to its uncontroled operation, will conduct us into all heavenly truth and good, and seal us as the devout disciples of the holy Jesus—even unto the day (or state) of redemption.
T. F. CHURCHILL.
EXPLANATION OF JEREMIAH vii. 17, 18..
Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
From an attentive examination of the above words, it may be seen that a system of corrupt and idolatrous worship is here described. Every kind of worship is corrupt and idolatrous, that is not offered to the true and living God; and such worship continued in must of necessity bring on mental desolation and wretchedness.
In order that we may see this subject clearly, it is necessary for us to be a little conversant with the Jewish customs and ceremonies, and to know in what their religion consisted. The religion of the Jews chiefly consisted in ceremonies and ritual observances; for burnt offerings and sacrifices of various descriptions and orders formed the whole of their religion. These burnt offerings and sacrifices, according to the law of Moses, were always to be made, and solemnly dedicated, to Jehovah as the true and eternal God of heaven! and any offering or sacrifice made to any imaginary being, was idolatrous and wicked. There was to be no bowing down to any graven image, nor to any likeness of any think in heaven or in earth. In these verses it is said that cakes were made to the queen of heaven, and that drink offerings were poured out to other gods, which manifestly implies a celebration of idolatrous worship-a worship dedicated to some being or thing, other than the true and eternal God.
Before we can possibly from any just idea of the nature of this idolatrous worship, we must endeavour to ascertain what is here to be understood by the queen of heaven.
The Jews were a long time in Egypt, and although a distinct race of people from the Egyptians, they of course partook of the idolatrous spirit of their fellow-inhabitants. Indeed the Jews themselves were idolators at heart, and even under the guidance of Moses, frequently turned from the worship of Jehovah, to that idolatrous worship unto which they were prone, many instances of which are on record in the books of Moses. By searching a little into the antiquities of Egypt, we not only obtain a slight knowledge of the customs and peculiarities of the Egyptians; but we also learn that their worship was extremely idolatrous, and that their GODS were not few. From these antiquities we learn that the Egyptians were unbounded in their veneration for the Moon; which, from the highest antiquity, they honoured as the queen of heaven. They first adored her under her proper name of Ioh. Inachus, the first king of Argos, brought this worship into Greece, 120 years
before the time of Moses.* “ The cow is there,” says Eustathiust “the symbol of Io, or the Moon; for in the Argive tongue the moon is called Io.”—The Greeks now call the moon Io, in a hidden and mystical sense. After the Grecian language had prevailed over the Egyptian, this forgotten name appeared mystical, and was only used within the temples, where they preserved the origin of ancient religions, therefore Malala calls it mystical.
The Egyptians having named the Moon Isis, or the cause of abundance, bestowed the same epithet on the earth, as the mother of fruits. Macrobius says, it is known that Osiris is the sun, and Isis the earth. “Isis, in the Egyptian tongue, denotes the earth ?" || Plutarch, however, perfectly instructed in these matters, tells us, that the priests bestowed the name of Isis only on that part of Egypt which the Nile waters, alluding to its fecundity; and adds that in sacred language, the inundation of the Nile was called the marriage of Osiris with Isis.
From these observations we may perceive, that taking the subject of our motto, in its most literal and obvious meaning, the act of making cakes to the queen of heaven, alludes to that corrupt system of idolatry, which was practised both by the Egyptians and the Jews; the latter deriving it from the former : the particular kind of idolatry here described, is the paying divine worship and adoration to the moon, which in the Egyptian language was called Io and Isis, and the Egyptians to express the great dignity of their idol, and the veneration they had for her, named her the Queen of Heaven! It is then in allusion to this corrupt system of idolatry, that the prophet in these verses brings the charge against the Jews of making cakes to the queen of heaven; and not only the idolatry of worshipping the moon, as the giver of all blessings; but the further folly and idolatry of pouring out drink offerings to other GODS ! So much were the people attached to this worship that they were all, from the least to the greatest, both male and female, engaged in the work of folly: thus the prophet says—"the children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven," and according to the manners, customs, and modes of speech of the people, to whom the prophet was addressing himself, language more bold, striking and expressive could not have been used to describe their entire corrupt state, and their proneness to idolatry.
• See Iablonski ubi supra, + Comment in Dionys. Perieget. i Chronolog. Johannis Malalæ. Saturnalia, lib, I. | Servius in Æneid lib. 8.