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in grace or heavenly wisdom, from stature to stature, is to be effected by the addition of proposition to proposition, however excellent in themselves, laid up in the understanding, like dead and formal rules. For truth in Religion, living and substantial, and Heavenly Wisdom, or Divine Light, cannot surely be said to enter the mind in the form of propositions for the natural judgment to examine and admit or reject as it sees meet. The intimations of heavenly truth, often small and gentle, comparable to the gradual appearance of light at the dawning of day, cannot be expected to be attended with formal and tangible evidence. Yet according to the system I am opposing, so rigid are these human rules, unless the evidence of a Divine revelation be almost overpowering and accompanied with incontrovertible testimonials, it must be rejected. Consequently, the still small voice must pass unheeded, the meek counsellor be dismissed, the gentle reprover be silenced, and the gate of human wisdom closed against all humble applications; and it must only be opened to the loud knocking of specious demonstrations and unanswerable propositions.
It is a principle in philosophy, that nothing can rise higher than its source. If we apply it to this argument, we may infer, that as the proper business of Reason is to be conversant with natural things, and to ascertain their laws and relations, it cannot sit in judgment upon supernatural,—at least without betraying its weakness, and running the risk of mis
apprehending them more frequently than the con trary. For the things of a man, or natural things, are naturally discerned; but the things of the spirit are spiritually discerned.
It follows therefore that the rational faculty distinguished from the spiritual, in its source and objects, as well as in its modes of operation, of cultivation, and of enlargement: and the conclusion seems to follow that the Argumentative Faculty is not the source and discoverer, by any process, synthetic or analytic, of Divine Truth in the soul.
For if it were supposed that analytic research might discover a Divine Truth; where should we look for the facts or materials out of which it should be formed? Analysis presupposes a mass of observations to be sifted and digested. But all the materials from which such a Truth could in this way be extracted, must be derived from outward observation: and outward observation cannot look into Heaven or any of its mysteries. Now unassisted Reason, however cultivated and enlarged, can only be conversant with earthly material things, and their abstract relations which constitute their laws. Whatever it may pretend to know of things above, in the world of spirits-as of the counsels of Divine wisdom, and the true nature of man, as a probationer on the earth-can never amount to any thing more than vague conjecture. Even the outward or speculative knowledge of these things can only be acquired by Revelation, mediate or immediate; much more, the inward, spiritual, or experi
mental knowledge which brings man into the likeness of God, and into holy communion with Him, must be acquired by the immediate operation, diffusion, and influence of his Divine Power, through the medium of his Holy Spirit in the heart.
Surely then, man can have no natural power to form a Divine Truth from earthly conceptions; or to extract, as it were, heavenly sweets from gross material substances.
If any should suppose that the synthetic method is applicable to the acquisition of Divine Truth, it may likewise be urged, that the mind has no natural power capable of combining the simplest elements of Divine instruction together, so as to form a single Divine Truth. Because, as the elements themselves are from Inspiration, nothing short of Inspiration can add to the materials, and compact the spiritual growth.
For as it is improbable that any natural instrument should be able to join heavenly things to heavenly, by that true assimilating process, which makes them one in nature and essence: so no natural instrument can join earthly things to heavenly, because they are wholly incompatible. It is with Divine operative Truth in the spiritual part of man, as it is with natural food in the natural body, or with natural truth in the natural understanding: no substance can be assimilated to another, which it does not agree with in its nature; and no true union can be effected between them, but by the medium of the same principle which operates in each; as the natural energy in the
living body, the natural faculties in the mind, and the spiritual principle in the immortal spirit.
Now Truth added to Truth, spiritually and substantially, is like particle added to living particle in a seed, or fibre to organized fibre in a living body :—It is a true vital union. It does not mean the mechanical introduction of one element of knowledge to another, whether Divine or natural: this may be done, though not mechanically, by outward labour; as, it is possible for memory to lay up such a store in the mind. But it means, when applied to the spiritual faculties, a Divine communication of truth from the Spirit of Truth to the humble and obedient mind; constituting a perfect union between the recipient and that portion of Divine wisdom which is received.
I have been struck with the testimony of Milton as to the effect of loading the mind outwardly with knowledge, though it is not applied spiritually. But there is much wisdom in the remark, and I think it may be applied instructively in the present argument:
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A Spirit and Judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings, what need he elsewhere seek?)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains;
Deep versed in books, and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge,
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.*
This interesting passage is associated in the mind of a late Au
This Divine Spirit is the Spirit of Christ himself, in all ages the same; and its manifestations are true revelations from above, perceived not by Sense nor by Reason, but by the inward eye of Faith.
The latter part of this Proposition has been already under our notice: the former part, therefore, comes now more immediately to be considered. The truth contained in it, is, indeed, of the last importance; and the proof of it is the sum and substance at which I have all along aimed in this argument. This proof I shall attempt by Scripture.
In the commencement of this volume, I have spoken largely of the Divine Power, operating in the ma◄
thor,* with a saying of Sir Isaac Newton, which he is reported to have uttered a little before he died; and which shows his modest opinion of himself and his discoveries in Natural Philosophy.
"I dont know what I may seem to the world, but, as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of Truth lay all undiscovered before me."
See Spence's Anecdotes, by S. W. Singer, page 54.