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God vouchfases to teach by the instrumentality of men: and that the clergy have much to do, under the teaching of God, as ministers of his grace. An order of men set apart for the study of facred things, and" of eloquence requisite to display their beauty and value to the thoughtless and unseeling, cannot but be highly useful and indeed necessary. God's spirit will assist, but not supersede their endeavours in the ministry.
If men are to be taught of God, it has been asked again, whether our own efforts will not become superfluous? I answer, by no means. I set out in this treatise with endeavouring to fix in the mind as a maxim: " He that will know whether "the doctrine of Christ be true, must do his "will." Moral arid intellectual improvement must be as earnestly sought as if there were no promise of supernatural assistance; just as the husbandman must plough and sow diligently, though he knows that the fun and the showers are absolutely necessary to give the due increase.
Cavils, objections, and calumnious reproach will usually arise from some quarter or other, whenever religious opinions are freely and artlessly discussed, without any attempt to court the favour of sects and parties.
The path of literary lise that leads along the vale of obscurity is the path of peace. Whoever ventures to bring forward the result of studies in Theology is peculiarly exposed to the shafts of angry pamphleteers. All indeed are interested in the subject, and they, whose opinion is opposed, seel displeasure and express contempt. The Silent Divine, who takes things as he finds them, chooses the smoothest and readiest road to
favour. favour. It was this view of things which induced the celebrated Bishop Hare to write his treatise on the difficulties and Discouragements which attend the study of the scriptures in the way of private judgment. He has the following remarkable passage in that treatise: "Every mean per"son," fays he, " who has nothing to recommend ". him but his orthodoxy, and owes that perhaps "wholly to his ignorance, will think (if you ven"ture to publish an unfashionable opinion) he has "a right to trample upon you with contempt, to "asperse your character with virulent reflections, "to run down your writings as mean and pitisul "performances, and give Hard Names to opinions "which he does not understand."
Such being the case, if a man had not learned a little Christian Philosophy, he would choose to spend his time in inglorious ease, and enjoying plenty, make, according to the advice of Chestersield, the world his bubble. But though exertion for the benefit of mankind, and distinction in consequence of it, bring many pains and penalties, often create enemies instead of friends, and injure worldly interest, yet knowledge is delightsul, beneficence a duty, and every inconvenience which may arise from the diligent pursuit or diffusion of the one, and the faithsul performance of the other, should be borne with alacrity.
With respect to myself, the proud and censorious spirit of the self-honoured Philosopher, and self-named rational Christian, shall never disturb my complacency, so long as I find that the opinions which displease them are founded on holy writ, and maintained by the ornaments of this country and of human nature.
As one of my chief objects is to promote among mankind the gentler affections, to the exclusion or mitigation of all malice and revenge, I shall not risk the loss of my own good humour, by entering into the bitterness of controversy, however folly may misunderstand, or malevolence misrepresent me. They do no despite to me; let them beware lest they do despite to the Spirit of grace *.