[merged small][ocr errors]

hensions, be the evidence never so plain. moved before men are apt to receive that And I have perceived that nothing so much evidence. And, therefore, that church is hinders the reception of the truth as urging happy where order is kept up, and the abiliit on men with too harsh importunity, and ties of the ministers command a reverend falling too heavily on their errors; for here- submission from the hearers, and where all by you engage their honour in the business, are in Christ's school, in the distinct ranks and they defend their errors as themselves, of teachers and learners; for in a learning and stir up all their wit and ability to oppose way men are ready to receive the truth, but you. In controversies, it is fierce opposition in a disputing way, they come armed against which is the bellows to kindle a resisting it with prejudice and animosity. zeal; when, if they be neglected, and their Reliquice Baxterianæ. opinions lie awhile despised, they usually cool, and come again to themselves. Men

THE CREDIT DUE TO HISTORY. are so loath to be drenched with the truth, that I am no more for going that way to I am much more cautelous in my belief work; and, to confess the truth, I am lately of history than heretofore ; not that I run much prone to the contrary extreme, to be into their extreme that will believe nothing too indifferent what men hold, and to keep because they cannot believe all things. But my judgment to myself, and never to men- I am abundantly satisfied by the experience tion anything wherein I differ from another of this age that there is no believing two on anything which I think I know more sorts of men,-ungodly men and partial than he; or, at least, if he receive it not men; though an honest heathen, of no relipresently, to silence it, and leave him to his gion, may be believed, where enmity against own opinion; and I find this effect is mixed religion hiasseth him not; yet a debauched according to its causes, which are some good Christian, besides his enmity to the power and some bad. The bad causes are, 1. An and practice of his own religion, is seldom impatience of men's weakness, and mistak-without some further bias of interest or facing forwardness, and self-conceitedness. 2. tion : especially when these concur, and a An abatement of my sensible esteem of man is both ungodly and ambitious, espoustruths, through the long abode of them on ing an interest contrary to a holy, heavenly my mind. Though my judgment value them, life, and also factious, embodying himself yet it is hard to be equally affected with old with a sect or party suited to his spirit and and common things as with new and rare designs, there is no believing his word or ones. The better causes are, 1. That I am oath. If you read any man partially bitter much more sensible than ever of the neces against others, as differing from him in opinsity of living upon the principles of religion ion, or as cross to his greatness, interest, or which we are all agreed in, and uniting in designs, take heed how you believe any these; and how much mischief men that more than the historical evidence, distinct overvalue their own opinions have done by from his word, com pelleth you to believe. their controversies in the church; how some The prodigious lies which have been pubhave destroyed charity, and some caused | lished in this age in matters of fact, with schisms by them, and most have hindered unblushing confidence, even where thougodliness in themselves and others, and used sands or multitudes of eye and ear witnesses them to divert men from the serious prose-knew all to be false, doth call men to take cuting of a holy life; and, as Sir Francis | heed what history they believe, especially Bacon saith in his Essay of Peace," that it where power and violence affordeth that is one great benefit of church peace and con- privilege to the reporter that no man dare cord, that writing controversies is turned answer him, or detect his fraud; or if they into books of practical devotion for increase do, their writings are all supprest. As long of piety and virtue." 2. And I find that it as men have liberty to examine and contrais much more for most men's good and edifi-dict one another one may partly conjeccation to converse with them only in that ture, by comparing their words, on which way of godliness which all are agreed in, side the truth is like to lie. But when and not by touching upon differences to stir | great men write history, or flatterers by up their corruptions, and to tell them of their appointment, which no man dare conlittle more of your knowledge than what tradict, believe it but as you are constrained. you find them willing to receive from you Yet, in these cases I can freely believe hisas mere learners; and therefore to stay till tory: 1. If the person show that he is acthey crave information of you. We mistake quainted with what he saith. 2. And if he znen's diseases when we think there needeth show the evidences of honesty and connothing to cure their errors, but only to science, and the fear of God (which may be bring them the evidence of truth. Alas! much perceived in the spirit of a writing). there are many distempers of mind to be re- 3. If he appear to be impartial and chari


table, and a lover of goodness and of man- | The MYSTERY OF THE INCARNATION. kind, and not possessed of malignity, or personal ill-will and malice, nor carried away! Let all vain imaginations cease: there is by faction or personal interest. Conscionable nothing left unto the sons of men but either men dare not lie: but faction and interest to reject the divine person of Christ-as abate men's tenderness of conscience. And many do unto their own destruction or a charitable, impartial heathen may speak humbly to adore the mystery of infinite truth in a love to truth, and hatred of a lie; wisdom and grace therein. And it will rebut ambitious malice and false religion will quire a condescending charity to judge that not stick to serve themselves on anything. those do really believe the incarnation of ... Sure I am, that as the lies of the Pa- the Son of God who live not in the admirapists, of Luther, Zwinglius, Calvin, and tion of it, as the most adorable effect of diBeza, are visibly' malicious and impudent, vine wisdom. by the common plenary contradicting evi- ' The glory of the same mystery is elsedence, and yet the multitude of their se where testified unto, Heb. i. 13: "God hath duced ones believe them all, in despite of spoken unto us by his Son, by whom also truth and charity; so in this age there have he made the worlds; who, being the brightbeen such things written against parties and ness of his glory, and the express image of persons, whom the writers design to make his person, upholding all things by the word odious, so notoriously false, as you would of his power, by himself purged our sins." think that the sense of their honour, at least, That he purged our sins by his death, and should have made it impossible for such men the oblation of himself therein unto God, is to write. My own eyes have read such acknowledged. That this should be done words and actions asserted with most vehe- by him by whom the worlds were made, ment, iterated, unblushing confidence; which who is the essential brightness of the divine abundance of ear-witnesses, even of their glory, and the express image of the person own parties, must needs know to have of the Father therein, who upholds, rules, been altogether false: and therefore having sustains all things by the word of his power, myself now written this history of myself, whereby God purchased his church with notwithstanding my protestations that I his own blood (Acts xx. 28), is that wherein have not in anything wilfully gone against he will be admired unto eternity. See Phil. the truth, I expect no more credit froin the | ii. 6–9. reader than the self-evidencing light of the

In Isaiah (chap. vi.) there is a represenmatter, with concurrent rational advantages tation made of him as on a throne, filling from persons, and things, and other wit the temple with the train of his glory. The nesses, shall constrain him to, if he be a Son of God it was who was so represented, person that is unacquainted with the author and that as he was to fill the temple of his himself, and the other evidences of his ve human nature with divine glory, when the racity and credibility.

fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily. Reliquiæ Baxteriano.

And herein the seraphim, which administered unto him, had six wings, with two whereof they covered their faces, as not

being able to behold or look into the glo JOHN OWEN, D.D., | rious mystery of his incarnation : verse 2.

3; John xii. 39-41, ji. 19; Col. ii. 9. But a famous Puritan divine, born 1616, died when the same ministering spirits, under 1683, was the author of many learned theo- the name of cherubim, attended the throne logical works, of which the Exposition of of God, in the administration of his provithe Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, with dence as unto the disposal and government Preliminary Exercitations, Lond., 1668–84, of the world, they had four wings only, and 4 vols. fol., is perhaps the best known. covered not their faces, but steadily beheld

the glory of it: Ezek. i. 6, x. 2, 3. " Let me again recommend your studious and

This is the glory of the Christian religion, sustained attention," remarks Dr. Chalmers to his students, " to the Epistle to the Hebrews....I

-the basis and foundation that bears the promise you a hundred-fold more advantage from whole superstructure, the root whereon it the perusal of this greatest work of John Owen grows. This is its life and soul, that wherein than from the perusal of all that bas been written it differs from, and inconceivably excels, on the subject of the heathen sacrifices. It is a whatever was in true religion before, or work of gigantic strength as well as gigantic size; / whatever any false religion pretended unto. and he who hath mastered it is very little short, both in respect to the doctrinal and practical of

Religion, in its first constitution, in the Christianity, of being an erudite and accomplished

state of pure, uncorrupted nature, was or theologian."-Prelections on Hill's Lects. ; Chal derly, beautiful, and glorious. Man being mera': Posth. Works, ix. 282.

made in the image of God, was fit and able


to glorify him as God. But whereas, what so well acquainted with, because they can ever perfection God had communicated unto feel it with their fingers, and which is the our nature, he had not united it unto him- only substance that they acknowledge either self in a personal union, the fabric of it in themselves or in the universe, hath such quickly fell unto the ground. Want of this puzzling difficulties and entanglements in foundation made it obnoxious unto ruin. the speculation of it, that they can never

God manifested herein, that no gracious be able to extricate themselves from. We relation between him and our nature could might instance, also, in some accidental be stable and permanent, unless our nature things, as time and motion. Truth is bigger was assumed into personal union and sub- than our minds, and we are not the same sistence with himself. This is the only with it, but have a lower participation only rock and assured foundation of the relation of the intellectual nature, and are rather of the church unto God, which now can apprehenders than comprehenders thereof. never utterly fail. Our nature is eternally This is indeed one badge of our creaturely secured in that union, and we ourselves (as state, that we have not a perfectly comprewe shall see) thereby. “In him all things hensible knowledge, or such as is adequate consist" (Col. i. 17, 18); wherefore, what- and commensurate to the essences of things; ever beauty and glory there was in the re- from whence we ought to be led to this lation that was between God and man, and acknowledgment, that there is another Perthe relation of all things unto God by man, fect Mind or Understanding Being above us in the preservation whereof natural religion in the universe, from which our imperfect did consist,-it had no beauty nor glory in minds were derived, and upon which they comparison of this which doth excel, or the do depend. Wherefore, if we can have no manifestation of God in the flesh,--the ap- idea or conception of anything whereof we pearance and subsistence of the divine and have not a full and perfect comprehension, human natures in the same single individual | then can we not have an idea or conception person.

of the nature of any substance. But though The Person and Glory of Christ. we do not comprehend all truth, as if one

mind were above it, or master of it, and

cannot penetrate into, and look quite through RALPH CUDWORTH,

the nature of everything, yet may rational born 1617, died 1688. published in 1678. The souls frame certain ideas and conceptions of True Intellectual System of the Universe,

whatsoever is in the orb of being proportionfol. , new editions, Lond., 1743, 2 vols. 4to,

ate to their own nature, and sufficient for 1820, 4 vols. 8vo.

their purpose. And though we cannot fully

comprehend the Deity, nor exhaust the in“It contains the greatest mass of learning and finiteness of its perfection, yet may we have argument that ever was brought to bear on athe.

| an idea of a Being absolutely perfect; such ism. A thousand folio pages, full of learned quotations, and references to all heathen and sacred

| a one as is nostro modulo conformis, agreeantiquity, demonstrate the fertility and laborious able and proportionate to our measure and diligence of the author. And whoever wishes to scantling ; as we may approach near to a know all that can be said respecting liberty and mountain, and touch it with our hands, Decessity, fate and free-will, eternal reason and

though we cannot encompass it all round, justice, and arbitrary omnipotence, has only to

and enclasp it within our arms. Whatsodigest the Intellectual System."-ORIE: Bibliotheca Biblica.

ever is in its own nature absolutely uncon

ceivable, is nothing; but not whatsoever is GOD, THOUGH INCOMPREHENSIBLE NOT IN

| not fully comprehensible by our imperfect CONCEIVABLE.

understandings. It doth not at all follow because God is It is true, indeed, that the Deity is more incomprehensible to our finite and narrow incomprehensible to us than anything else understandings, that he is utterly inconceiv. whatsoever, which proceeds from the fulness able by them, so that they cannot frame any of its being and perfection, and from the idea of hiin at all, and he may therefore be transcendency of its brightness ; but for the concluded to be a non-entity. For it is certain very same reason may it be said also in some that we cannot comprehend ourselves, and sense, that it is more knowable and conceivthat we have not such an adequate and com- able than anything. As the sun, though by prehensive knowledge of the essence of any reason of its excessive splendour it dazzle substantial thing as that we can perfectly our weak sight, yet is it, notwithstanding, master and conquer it. It was a truth, far more visible also than any of the nebu though abused by the sceptics, akatalepton losce stella, -the small misty stars. Where ti, something incomprehensible in the essence there is more of light there is more visibility; of the lowest substances. For even body so, where there is more of entity, reality, itself, which the atheists think themselves and perfection, there is more of concepti


bility and cognoscibility ; such a thing fill- of his time. Iis essays are dissertations on ing up the mind more, and acting more ; Liberty, Solitude, Obscurity, Agriculture, strongly upon it. Nevertheless, because our | The Garden, Greatness, Avarice, The Danweak and imperfect minds are lost in the gers of an Honest Man in Much Company, vast immensity and redundancy of the Deity, The Shortness of Life and Cncertainty of and overcome with its transcendent light and ; Riches, The Danger of Procrastination, Of dazzling brightness, therefore hath it to us Myself. First edition of his Works, Lond., an appearance of darkness and incompre- | 1656, fol. Prose Works, including his Eshensibility: as the unbounded expansion of says in Prose and Verse, Lond., 1826, cr. light, in the clear transparent ether, hath to 8vo, large paper 8vo. us the apparition of an azure obscurity;

“The Essays must not be forgotten. Whit is which yet is not an absolute thing in itself, said by Sprat of his conversation, that no man but only relative to our sense, and a mere could draw from it any suspicion of his excellence fancy in us.

in poetry, may be applied to these compositions. The incomprehensibility of the Deity is so No author ever kept his verse and his prose at a far from being an argument against the reality

greater distance from each other. His thoughts of its existence, as that it is most certain, on

are natural, and his style has a smooth and placid

equability, which has never yet obtained its due the contrary, that were there nothing incom

commendation. Nothing is far-sought, or hardprehensible to us, who are but contemptible laboured; but all is easy without feebleness, and pieces, and small atoms of the universe; familiar without grossness."-Dr. Jounsox: Lires were there no other being in the world but of the English Poets. what our finite understandings could span or fathom, and encompass round about, look

OF OBSCURITY. through and through, have a commanding What a brave privilege it is to be free view of, and perfectly conquer and subdue from all contentions, from all envying or under them, then could there be nothing being envied, from receiving and from payabsolutely and infinitely perfect, that is, no ing all kinds of ceremonies! It is, in my God. ...

mind, a very delightful pastime for two good And nature itself plainly intimates to us and agreeable friends to travel up and down that there is some such absolutely perfect

together, in places where they are by nobody Being, which, though not inconceivable, yet known, nor know anybody. It was the case is incomprehensible to our finite understand of Æneas and his Achates, when they walked ings, by certain passions, which it hath im- invisibly about the fields and streets of Carplanted in us, that otherwise would want an thage. 'Venus herself object to display themselves upon; namely, those of devout veneration, adoration, and

na | A veil of thickened air around them cast, admiration, togetber with a kind of ecstasy

That none might know, or see them, as they

pass'd. and pleasing horror; which, in the silent language of nature, seem to speak thus

The common story of Demosthenes' conmuch to us, that there is some object in the fession, that he had taken great pleasure in world so much bigger and vaster than our hearing of a tanker-woman say, as he passed, inind and thoughts, that it is the very same | “ This is that Demosthenes," is wonderfully to them that the ocean is to narrow vessels ; ridiculous from so solid an orator. I my80 that, when they have taken into them self have often met with that temptation to selves as much as they can thereof by con vanity (if it were any); but am so far from templation, and filled up all their capacity, finding it any pleasure that it only makes there is still an immensity of it left without, me run faster from the place, till I get, as it which cannot enter in for want of room to were, out of sight-shot. "Democritus relates, receive it, and therefore must be apprehended and in such a manner as if he gloried in after some other strange and inore mysteri the good fortune and commodity of it, that, ous manner, namely, by their being plunged when he came to Athens, nobody there did into it, and swallowed up or lost in it. To so much as take notice of him; and Epiconclude, the Deity is indeed incomprehen-curus lived there very well, that is, lay hid sible to our finite and imperfect understand many years in his gardens, so famous since ings, but not inconceivable; and therefore that time, with his friend, Metrodorus; after there is no ground at all for this atheistic whose death, making, in one of his letters, pretence to make it a non-entity.

a kind commemoration of the happiness True Intellectual System of the Universe. | which they two had enjoyed together, he

adds at last, that he thought it no dispar

agement to those great felicities of their ABRAHAM COWLEY, M.D., life, that in the midst of the most talked-of born 1618, died 1667, once famous as a poet, and talking country in the world, they had was esteemed one of the best prose writers lived so long, not only without fame, but al


most without being heard of; and yet, within tumult and business of the world, and cona very few years afterward, there were no secrating the little rest of my time to those two names of men more known or more studies to which nature had so motherly ingenerally celebrated. If we engage into a clined me, and from which fortune, like a large acquaintance and various familiarities, stepmother, has so long detained me. But we set open our gates to the invaders of most nevertheless (you say, which is but cerugo of our time; we expose our life to a quo-mera, a rust which spoils the good metal it tidian ague of frigid impertinences, which grows upon. But you say) you would adwould make a wise man tremble to think of. vise me not to precipitate that resolution, Now, as for being known much by sight, but to stay a while longer with patience and and pointed at, I cannot comprehend the complaisance, till I had gotten such an estate honour that lies in that; whatsoever it be, as might afford me (according to the saying every mountebank has it more than the best of that person whom you and I love very doctor, and the hangman more than the lord- much, and would believe as soon as another chief-justice of a city. Every creature has man) cum dignitate otium. This were excelit, both of nature and art, if it be anyways lent advice to Joshua, who could bid the sun extraordinary. It was as often said, " This stay too. But there is no fooling with life is that Bucephalus," or " This is that Inci- when it is once turned beyond forty: the tatus," when they were led prancing through seeking for a fortune then is but a desperate the streets, as "This is that Alexander," or after-game; it is a hundred to one if à man “This is that Domitian;" and truly, for the fling two sixes, and recover all; especially latter, I take Incitatus to have been a much if his hand be no luckier than mine. more honourable beast than his master, and There is some help for all the defects of more deserving the consulship than he the fortune; for if a man cannot attain to the empire.

length of his wishes, he may have his remedy I love and commend a true good fame, be- by cutting of them shorter. Epicurus writes cause it is the shadow of virtue: not that it a letter to Idomeneus (who was then a very doth any good to the body which it accom- powerful, wealthy, and, it seems, bountiful panies, but it is an efficacious shadow, and person), to recommend to him, who had like that of St. Peter, cures the diseases of inade so many men rich, one Pythocles, a others. The best kind of glory, no doubt, friend of his, whom he desired might be is that which is reflected from honesty, such made a rich man too: "but I intreat you that as was the glory of Cato and Aristides; but you would not do it just the same way as it was harmful to them both, and is seldom you have done to many less deserving perbeneficial to any man whilst he lives; what sons; but in the most gentlemanly manner it is after his death I cannot say, because of obliging him, which is, not to add anyI love not philosophy merely notional and thing to his estate, but to take something conjectural, and no man who has made the from his desires." experiment has been so kind as to come back The sum of this is, that for the uncertain to inform us. Upon the whole matter, I hopes of some conveniences, we ought not account a person who has a moderate mind to defer the execution of a work that is and fortune, and lives in the conversation of necessary; especially when the use of those two or three agreeable friends, with little things which we would stay for may othercommerce in the world besides, who is es-wise be supplied, but the loss of time never teemed well enough by his few neighbours recovered ; nay, farther yet, though we were that know him, and is truly irreproachable sure to obtain all that we had a mind to, by anybody; and so, after a healthful quiet though we were sure of getting never so life, before the great inconveniences of old much by continuing the game, yet, when age, goes more silently out of it than he the light of life is so near going out, and came in (for I would not have him so much ought to be so precious, "le jeu ne vaut pas as cry in the exit): this innocent deceiver la chandelle;' after having been long tossed of the world, as Horace calls him, this muta in a tempest, if our masts be standing, and persona, I take him to have been more we have still sail and tackling enough to happy in his part than the greatest actors carry us to our port, it is no matter for the that fill the stage with show and noise ; nay, want of steamers and top-gallants : even than Augustus himself, who asked, with

“— utere velis, his last breath, whether he had not played

Totos pande sinus." his part very well.

A gentleman, in our late civil wars, when OF PROCRASTINATION.

his quarters were beaten up by the enemy,

was taken prisoner, and lost his life afterI am glad that you approve and applaud wards only by staying to put on a band and my design of withdrawing myself from all adjust his periwig: he would escape like a


« ForrigeFortsett »