« ForrigeFortsett »
13. It is easy to observe, that all the sorts of faith which we can conceive, are reducible to one or other of the preceding. But let us covet the best gifts, and follow the most excellent way. There is no reason why you should be satisfied with the faith of a Materialist, a Heathen, or a Deist; nor indeed with that of a servant: I do not know that God requires it at your hands; indeed if you have received this, you ought not to cast it away. You ought not in any wise to undervalue it, but to be truly thankful for it. Yet in the mean time, beware how you rest here: press on till you receive the Spirit of Adoption. Rest not, till that Spirit clearly witnesses with your spirit, that you are a child of God.
II. I proceed in the Second place, to draw a few Inferences from the preceding Observations.
1. And I would first infer, in how dreadful a state, if there be a God, is a Materialist! One who denies not only the "Lord that bought him," but also the Lord that made him !" Without faith it is impossible to please God:" but it is impossible he should have any faith at all; any conviction of any invisible world, for he believes there is no such thing: any conviction of the being of a God; for a material God is no God at all. For you cannot possibly suppose the sun or skies to be God, any more than you can suppose a god of wood or stone. And farther, whosoever believes all things to be mere matter, must of course believe, that all things are governed by dire necessity? Necessity that is as inexorable as the winds, as ruthless as the rocks, as merciless as the waves that dash upon them, or the poor shipwrecked mariners! Who then shall help thee, thou poor desolate wretch, when thou art most in need of help? Winds, and seas, and rocks, and storms! Such are the best helpers, which the Materialists can hope for!
2. Almost equally desperate is the case of the poor Deist, how learned, yea how moral so ever he be. For you likewise, though you may not advert to it, are really "without God in the world." See your religion, the Religion of Nature Delineated by the ingenious Mr. Wollaston : (whom I remember to have seen when I was at school, attending the public service at the Charterhouse Chapel.) Does he found his religion upon God? Nothing less. He founds it upon truth. Abstract truth. But does he not by that expression mean God.? No; he sets him out of the question; and builds a beautiful castle in the air, without being beholden either to him or his word. See your smooth-tongued Orator of Glasgow, one of the most pleasing Writers of the age. Has he any more to do with God on his system than Mr. Wollaston? Does he deduce his "Idea of Virtue," from him? As the Father of Lights, the Source of all Good? Just the contrary. He not only plans his whole theory without taking the least notice of God, but toward the close of it proposes that question, "Does the having an eye to God in an action, inhance the virtue of it?" He answers, No: it is so far from this, that if in doing a virtuous, that is a benevolent action, a man mingles with it a desire to please God, the more there is of this desire, the less virtue there is in that action. Never before did I meet with either Jew, Turk, or Heathen, who so flatly renounced God as this Christian Professor!
3. But with Heathens, Mahometans, and Jews, we have at present nothing to do: only we may wish that their lives did not shame many of us that are called Christians. We have not much more to do, with the members of the Church of Rome. But we cannot doubt that many of them, like. the excellent Archbishop of Cambray, still retain, (notwithstanding many mistakes,) that faith that worketh by love. And how many of the Protestants enjoy this, whether members of the Church, or of other congregations? We have reason to believe a considerable number, both of the one and the other (and, blessed be God, an increasing number) in every part of the land.
4. Once more. I exhort you that fear God and work righteousness, you that are servants of God, first, to flee from all sin, as from the face of a serpent, being, "Quick as the apple of an eye, The slightest touch of sin to feel;" and to work righteousness, to the utmost of the power you now have; to abound in works both of piety and mercy: and, secondly, continually to cry to God, that he would reveal his Son in your hearts, to the intent you may be no more servants but sons; having his love shed abroad in your hearts, and walking in " the glorious liberty of the children of God."
5. I exhort you, lastly, who already feel the Spirit of God witnessing with your spirit, that you are the children of God, follow the advice of the Apostle, "Walk in all the good works whereunto ye are created in Christ Jesus." And then "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God," go on to perfection. Yea, and when ye have attained a measure of perfect love, when God has circumcised your hearts, and enabled you to love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, think not of resting there. That is impossible. You cannot stand still: you must either rise or fall; rise higher or fall lower. Therefore the voice of God to the Children of Israel, to the children of God is, "Go forward." "Forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forward unto those that are before, press on to the mark, for the prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus!"
“What could have been done more to my Vineyard, than I
have done in it 2 Wherefore when I looked that it should
bring forth Grapes, brought it forth wild Grapes "
- o * * * *-*
"THE Vineyard of the Lord, taking the word in its widest sense, may include the whole world. All the inhabitants of the earth, may, in some sense be called, “the Vineyard of the Lord,” “who hath made all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth, that they might seek the Lord, if haply they may feel after him, and find him.” But in a narrower sense the Wineyard of the Lord may mean the Christian world : that is, all that name the name of Christ, and profess to obey his word. In a still narrower sense, it may be understood of what is termed, The Reformed part of the Christian Church. In the narrowest of all, one may, by that phrase, “The Vineyard of the Lord,” mean, the body of people commonly called Methodists. In this sense I understand it now, meaning thereby that Society only, which began at Oxford, in the year 1729, and remains united at this day. Understanding the word in this sense, I repeat the question which God proposes to the Prophet, “What could have been done more to my vineyard than I have not done in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes!"
What could God have done more in this his vineyard, (suppose he had designed it should put forth great branches and spread over the earth,) which he hath not done in it?
I. With regard to Doctrine:
III. With regard to Discipline: And,
IV. With regard to Outward Protection.
These things being considered, I would then briefly inquire, "Wherefore, when he looked it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes!"
1. 1. First, What could have been done in this his vineyard, which God hath not done in it? What could have been done more, with regard to Doctrine? From the very beginning, from the time that four young men united together, each of them was homo unius libri, a man of one book: God taught them all, to make his "word a lantern unto their feet, and a light in all their paths." They had one, and only one rule of judgment, with regard to all their tempers, words, and actions, namely, the Oracles of God. They were one and all determined to be Bible-Christians. They were continually reproached for this very thing: some terming them in derision, Bible-bigots; others, Bible-moths: feeding, they said, upon the Bible, as moths do upon cloth. And indeed unto this day, it is their constant endeavour to think and speak as the Oracles of God.
2. It is true, a learned man, Dr. Trap, soon after their setting out, gave a very different account of them. "When I saw, said the Doctor, these two books, The Treatise on Christian Perfection, and The Serious Call to a Holy Life, I thought these books will certainly do mischief. And so it proved; for presently after up sprung the Methodists. So he (Mr. Law) was their parent." Although this was not entirely true, yet there was some truth in it. All the Methodists carefully read these books, and were greatly profited thereby. Yet they did by no means spring from