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The same scripture which teaches us that “the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God,” * requires us to“ prove all things,” to “ judge what is right,” “ to choose the good part,” and “ abounding yet more and more in knowledge, and all judgment, approve the things which are more excellent.”
Our Saviour frequently chides his hearers with this just reproof :" How is it that ye do not understand?". ..“ Strong meat,” says the apostle to the Hebrews, or, the more perfect knowledge of Christianity, “ belongs to them that are of full age, and have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” +
Let not reason be disparaged I then, much less opposed to the illumination of the spirit; each is the gift of God; a gift of transcendant worth; and each may be improved to our salvation, or neglected to our condemnation. But our great danger is, lest “ professing ourselves wise, we become fools.” S
* 1 Cor. ii. 11.
† Chap. v. 14. i See Law's Theory of Religion, p. 20, et seq. where this subject is well discussed.
The Methodists would persuade us, that the foolish things of the world, are still chosen to confound the wise, no less than they were in the apostolic age; which is contrary to experience and truth.
şi « Concerning a preacher who despised head knowledge, Charles Wesley said, “ such a preacher never have I heard before, and hope I never shall again : it was beyond description. I cannot say he preached false doctrine or true, or any doctrine
Diligently to exercise our reasoning power, and modestly to confine its efforts within their proper scope, is the duty of an intellectual, but imperfect being. It is the province of this faculty to compare and judge; to try all things, and hold fast that which is good; and, in a word, to observe the necessary connection of cause and effect. This rule may be universally applied.
Reason, for instance, may affix the value on every divine gift, which its superior worth and the Almighty Being from whom it proceeds, absolutely claim. Reason may also apprehend that the spirit of God acts upon the human mind, infusing holy thoughts and good desires, by his preventing and assisting grace, although the manner and time of his doing this be a secret to man inscrutable. But feeling and experiences, however they may be boasted of, are 'a very fallible criterion of spiritual interposition ; a very insufficient substitute for those fruits of a good life, by which alone its presence can be ascertained.
There may, indeed, be special favour and assistance yielded by the divine comforter, to those who need and ask his heavenly succour. The humble and contrite heart may be cheered in its most desponding moments, and supported in its several trials, by his consolations. · But let this
at all; but pure unmixed nonsense.”-Nightingale's Portraiture of Methodism, p. 359.
be between the sinner and his God. Let him not vaunt of transports and illuminations, * attested by no evidence. Let him not argue from feelings, which are so frequently the effect of constitutional temperament, or a disordered mind, that his soul is purified by the influx of the holy spirit, and his lot among the saints. Let him not mistake even passionate sorrow for repentance, nor pervert hope into assurance. The comforts flowing from communion with the paraclete, God forbid we should deny, God grant we may possess! But we must caution our fellow Christians to avoid delusions, whether of the head or of the heart. We must warn them, that there is one only ground of confidence towards God, “ faith which worketh by love.” The “ answer of a good conscience” is not to be confounded therefore with visionary raptures. It is worse than absurd to persuade an agitated and over-heated mind,“ that religion without feeling is but a painted sun;" † and to intimate, that “ they must conclude equally against the being and operations of the Holy Ghost, who are not
* It is affirmed of the Rev. Mr. Cadogan, “ doubtless he could have said, that he delivered to his hearers that which he · received of the Lord Jesus."* The language of St. Paul, who was favoured with special revelations, is thus applied to a gentleman who certainly never appeared to possess any supernatural endowments.
† Willat's Apology, p. 144.
* Willat's Apology, p. 77.
“ decided by any experience of light or teaching, by him communicated to them.”*
Such ideas we think ought not to be encouraged, because they are apt to mislead unwary Christians from the plain rule of God's revealed will. They tend to the neglect of that patient continuance in well-doing, which is the best proof of our sincerity, and of the divine blessing upon it. L epo
In fine, our conclusion is that if our lives be conformable to the precepts of our blessed master; “ and whatsoever we do, in word or deed, we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the father by him ;"I we then may be assured that his spirit abideth in us : we then may have peace with him, and with ourselves: a peace which the world cannot give, but which God only can bestow. Inspired by these religious motives, confirmed in these pious sentiments, and blessed with a consciousness of
* The whole sentence from which this passage is taken, stands thus:-“ Though it must be owned with grief, that in every church professing Christianity, too many are to be found, who have scarcely considered, “if there be any Holy Ghost;' and if they are to be decided by any experience of light or teaching by him communicated to them, they must conclude equally against his being and operations."
It is given at length, lest we should appear to have garbled or changed the author's argument, which we have endeavoured to understand: but if we have failed in this difficult point, the reader will interpret it for himself. + Willat's Apology, p. 140.
Col. iii. 17.
sincere faith, stedfast hope, and fervent charity, the most humble Christian may believe that he is influenced by that being from whom “all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.” And this is our answer to the inquiry: “How could you have been inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, without feeling something like a supernatural impulse;"* or, to use Dr. Tottie's words, by which this writer endeavours to support his own tenets :' “ we feel, and confess the enlivening presence of the holy spirit, in the peace of conscience; in having a delight in virtue; in the possession of all those Christian graces that purify and refine the soul; in the assurance of God's favour; and in hope full of immortality. These effects, the pious Christian, who is led by the spirit, does most undoubtedly feel.” [.
This testimony of the heart, is the only ground of confidence, the only perception of spiritual operation we can admit. And since that holy influence is necessary to produce such a heavenly frame of mind, those who possess it, may be therefore said “ to feel in themselves the workings of the spirit of Christ." I $ . ;
* Willat's Apology, p. 71.
Article XVII. § His motions are not discernible by us, from the natural operations of our minds. We feel them no otherwise than we do our thoughts and meditations; we cannot distinguish them