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of God*. Then should the high and mighty of this world be confounded and brought low; the humble should be exalted, the meek encouraged, the crooked ways of men rectified, their wild and rugged tempers softened and civilized.
The bible has farther difficulties arising from another principle. For it pleased God, for wise ends, to exercise the faith and devotion of his people with a system of forms and ceremonies, which had no value but from their signification. I mention no particulars here, because they will occur to us abundantly hereafter ; but the fact is undoubted from that general assertion of St. Paul, that the law had a shadow of good things to come ť: and again, that the instituted meats and drinks, the holy days, new moons and sabbaths, of the law, are a shadow of things to come, having their substance in the doctrines and mysteries of christianity; or, as the apostle speaks, whose body is of Christ 1. And therefore in the gospel things are still described to us in the terms of the law; the substance itself taking the language of the shadow, that the design of both may be understood : as where the apostle saith, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, &c. from the application of which term
* Luke jii. 6.
+ Heb x, 1.
I Col. ii. 17.
to the person of Christ, we are taught under this one word of the passover, that he is to us a lamb in meekness and innocence of manners; pure and spotless from every stain of sin; slain (and that without the breaking of his bones) for the redemption of his people from the wrath of the destroyer ; and feeding with his body those who put away all leaven from their hearts.
But now, beside this first difficulty, which we are under, of comprehending the matter of the scripture from the peculiar manner in which it is delivered, we are under a second difficulty as to the receiving of it; without which our understanding of it will be very imperfect, if any at all. For the force of men's minds is generally found to be according to their affections; for which reason the disaffection of the Jew is attended with a very conspicuous weakness of the understanding. We may lay it down as a certain truth, confirmed by the experience of all men, that when any object is admitted into the mind, it must find a faculty. there which corresponds with its own peculiar nature. When there is no appetite, the sweetest meat is of no value, and even the sight and savour of it may be disagreeable. When there is neither ear nor skill in music, heavenly sounds give no delight; and with the blind the beams of the sun give
no beauty to the richest prospect. It is thus in every other case of the kind. The matheniatician and logician apply to the intuitive faculty of reason ; the poet to the imagination or mirror of the mind; the orator to the sensibility of the affections; the musician to the musical ear. The mathematician demonstrates nothing but to patient and attentive reason ; to the imagination which is dull the poet is a trifler; on the hard and unfeeling heart the orator makes no impression; and the sweetest music is referred to the class of noises, where there is no sense of harmony. Thus when God speaks of things which are above nature, his meaning must be received by a faculty which is not the gift of nature, but superadded to nature by the gift of God himself. For spiritual truth there must be a spiritual sense; and the scripture calls this sense by the name of faith: which word sometimes signifies the act of believing ; sometimes the matter which is believed ; but in many passages it is used for that sense or capacity in the intellect, by which the invisible things of the spirit of God are admitted and approved.
It is a doctrine which may occasion some mortification to human pride, and it seldom fails to do so; but no doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ is more decided than this, that all men
have not faith; that it is the gift of God whereever it is found ; and that the natural man, or man with no powers but those of our common nature, receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: so far from it, that they seem foolish, extravagant, and incredible, and are rejected with mockery and contempt by men who can write a pleasant style, and who seem to be in other respects (within the sphere of their affections) very sensible and ingenious persons. On what other ground but that of the scriptural distinction between faith and natural reason, is it possible to account for a fact which so frequently occurred at the first publication of the gospel; when the same speech, the same reasoning, yea and the same miracle, had a totally different effect on the minds of different hearers, all present on the same occasion ? When Peter and John healed the lame man at the gate of the temple, and all the people were spectators of the fact, the apostles addressed themselves in a powerful discourse to those who were present; the lame man still cleaving to them, and standing by them as a witness: and thus they made some thousands of converts to the word of the gospel. But behold, the Sadducees were grieved at the doctrine of the resurrection, though preached with all the force of truth from their own scriptures, and attended with the credential of an indisputable miracle ; which only vexed and distressed them the more. At Athens, the philosophers of the place, proud of their Grecian talent for oratory and disputation, considered the matter of Paul's preaching merely as a new thing, which gave them an opportunity of questioning and wrangling. Some called him a babbler; some said they would hear him again; some mocked at the resurrection of the dead; while Dionysius, one of their senators, Damaris, and some others, clave unto them and believed: in other words, they received the gospel with that faculty of the spirit, which alone is susceptible of it. Till there is in man the sense which receiveth these things, the book which treats of them will not be understood.--If they are rejected, we must conclude this sense to be wanting: and when that is the case, the evidence of a miracle will not force its
way through the hardness of the human heart. Some speculative writers have treated of credibility and probability, and the nature, and force, and degrees, of evidence, as if we had rules for weighing all truth to a single grain with mechanical certainty : whereas in fact, man, with all his boasted balancings of reason, can resist a proof that would confound a devil. Compare