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and the cellars of the great would become equally accessible to the insatiable priesthood. Every Christian must admire Isaiah's prophecy on the demolition of the sacerdotal reign and order. The prophet had just been celebrating (chapter liii.) the death and resurrection of the Redeemer, and the glorious things consequent on it, when the subversion of the Aaronic economy came full in his view, chap. Ivi. "All ye beasts of the field, come to devour; yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs; they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way; every one for his gain from his quarter," &c., and all this was to take place immediately on the promulgation of the new institution spoken of in the 55th chapter, when money would not be asked of the worshippers for what they wanted, it being only required of them to incline their ear to hear, and their souls should live.
If we turn to the heathen we shall see that their priests were equally ignorant and vile; and that the pomp and pageantry of the religious shows and mediation were equally extravagant and expensive. Superstition opened all her stores; ostentation heaped the altar, adorned the temple, and enriched the priest. Now God has vouchsafed us a tremendous experience with respect to man mediation -of its inefficacy, and of the nullity of priests in making us wise unto salvation. From the flood to the Redeemer, and again from his time to the present, the nations have laid rotting under the hands of heathen and Roman priests successively. Shall we never learn that it is the same thing to have no Bible and to have it and not read it? One of our Gospel ministers here announced the other day from his wooden box, that if a man would not pay for the gospel he should not hear it. This was a profitable turn to give the Scripture; for you remember that it reads, that he that does not work should not eat; but this would have been tearing his own flesh. But the popular clergy will tell us that they have not so erred; they are neither heathen, Jewish, nor Roman priests. True, but may they not be a commixture of the whole three? They will ask, Where are the tripods, the censers, and the gold? Where is the
pomp, the pageantry, the paraphernalia of heathen or Roman parade? Where are the altar, the victim, and the priest? Where are all the gods and the lords? who hath torn from their brows their many crowns? who hath driven them from their lofty abodes? who hath laid their temples in smoking ruins along the ground? True, these symbols of idolatry have disappeared, or are broken. The Lord Jesus has rent the veil of ignorance in twain; in a thousand instances he hath cut the eyeballs of the blind, and poured in upon them celestial light; he hath flung wide open to the view and access of mortals the gates of righteousness; he hath inspired hearts with hope that never hoped before; he hath washed many from their sins in his own blood, and will ultimately present them spotless before the presence of his glory. But look at the nations as they exist under the instruction of men, impudently calling themselves the ministers of Christ. Listen to the blasphemy of the Most High every where around-see the drunkenness -mark the superstition and excessive ignorance of the popular assemblies; and then say if any thing but heathen darkness prevails-say if the nations under clergy are in a better condition, with respect to morals, than when they were under priests. But, according to the Scripture, the nations in this dispensation were not to be under either priests or clergymen, but under Christ. "There shall be
one shepherd." A Christian bishop has no authority over the brethren but what arises out of his own superior humility. But this much by the way. After all, why should it be supposed that clergymen are better able to teach us (laics) the Bible, than we to teach one another. They are, in nineteen instances out of twenty, very ignorant of the Bible, and impudent in their approaches toward good men. Who has not observed their pomposity and their ill breeding? But they are generally from the meanest families in society, and their education is mostly obtained by charity.
Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, and Venus, the Egyptian Apis, the Crocodiles, the Garlic, are imperishable memorials of priestly stupidity—and while we have crosses, relics, beads, baubles, with all the trumpery of monachism and the pulpit, and the sprinkle basin, and the consecrated water, we are in the possession of indestructible monuments of clerical excellency.
When the knowledge of the one God was lost among the heathen, did the priests restore it? and when it pleased God to reveal himself by Moses, who was no priest, who perverted his holy institutions, and sullied and obscured his peerless and benevolent character? The priests. But when the Son, who alone reveals the Father, made a further display of the divine character, who belied that character? Who, with matchless effrontery, stole the Bible from the people, and substituted pranks, abstinence, and gloom, for virtue and the love of God? The ministers of the Gospel, as they call themselves. But it may be truly said, that, from Aaron, who cheated the Israelites of their ear-rings, and caused the people to commit idolatry, down to that hierarchical conclave which imbrued its hands in the blood of the Lord of Life, and from that time again down to the present, all ignorance, mystery, trick, and religious gloom, have originated with the clergy. But the thief steals not in the day, but in the dark. If the lamp of divine revelation would expose their cupidity and avarice, they do wisely to put it out or abuse it. If miners would have a horse to descend the shaft and become useful below in the dark, they first put out his eyes. The Philistines did this with Sampson before they dared to sport with him. So it is the policy of clergymen to shut, and obscure, and pervert the divine word, in order to carry on their gainful speculations. But I must stop. I thank you for your kind letter. Will you please to mind me when you come before the King. I am yours, &c.
Amidst the indiscriminate usage and application of the term bigotry, it is not uncommon to find it very unwarrantably applied. It is used to excite public odium, where the thing which it is used to represent is no way disgusting. Hence some are called bigots, and accused of bigotry, for rejecting all written creeds except the Bible; for being strict in worshipping God according to his commandments; for requiring the members of a Christian community to obey God rather than men. And I have known infidels accuse a Christian Church of bigotry, because they would not retain in their fellowship immoral persons, or persons who denied the Lord that bought them; and those who, in the Apostle's estimation, denied the faith and were worse than an infidel. Those who dislike the institutions of the Messiah are often found reproaching those with bigotry who love and obey them. Indeed, there is no term, whether received in a good or bad sense, that may not be most egregiously misapplied.
ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE SALVATION OF MEN.
[From the Christian Baptist, Vol. V.]
In my Essay, No. I., I endeavoured to lay before the reader a plain, concise, and scriptural view of this important subject, so far as it regards the fact, or reality of a divine influence on the souls of men in effecting the work of salvation. Deeply impressed with the persuasion that this is a matter of vital consequence, and earnestly hoping that my efforts may be acceptable to those who desire to form "correct views of the office of the Holy Spirit," I cheerfully resume the subject, and proceed to finish the task which I have assigned myself on this occasion.
Two points remain to be noticed; viz., "Some of the principal effects produced by this divine operation”—and "the high practical import of this truth."
The effects of divine influence are manifold-according to the manifold need of the sinful subjects of this blessed operation. Man, considered in a moral point of view, is dark in his understanding-perverse in his will-unholy in his affections-impotent in all his spiritual faculties-and ignorant, withal, as to the extent of his own wretchedness. This, it must be acknowledged, is not a comely picture; but a serious view of the state of man, as delineated in the Holy Scriptures, will convince us that the colouring is not too gloomy for a correct portrait. It would be easy to refer to those parts of the sacred volume which justify this representation; and easy to exemplify the representation to every enlightened mind by an appeal to facts. But this is not the leading object of our present attention; and this matter has been brought to view, by the way, for the purpose of introducing, in an appropriate manner, a notice of those operations and effects which are adapted to meet the case of fallen man. The evidence, however, of this representation will appear, at least indirectly, and by implication, from the effects which are ascribed to the influence of the "spirit of grace." These effects I state as being of the following nature; viz., quickening and awakening-enlightening and convincing-converting-sanctifying, and strengthening. Let us proceed to notice them accordingly.
The sinner is ignorant of the extent of his own wretchedness, and inattentive to his condition. The Spirit of grace, then, is a quickening, awakening spirit. Paul testifies that the quickening influence of God had been experienced by the Ephesian converts, who were once" dead in sins,” Eph. ii. 1—5, and so of the Co
lossians, ch. ii. 13. It is surely to this divine operation, attending the truth revealed, that we are to ascribe the awakening of a sinner to a sense of his condemned state; while, " pierced to the heart," he anxiously iuquires," What must I do to be saved ?”
We next remark, that the unconverted sinner is dark in his understanding; and (suitable to such a condition) the Spirit of grace is a spirit of illumination. Conscious of this, David prays, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;"-and Paul, for the Ephesians," that God might give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of their understanding being enlightened," &c. By virtue of this illuminating influence the mind is given to discover, through the word of truth, the insufficiency of man, and of man's righteousness" the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," as "the way, the truth, and the life"-the necessity and beauty of that religion which is held out in the sacred volume.
The perverseness of the will is another unhappy trait in the character of the unregenerate; and the Spirit of grace is a spirit of conversion, to give a new turn to the inclination and choice of the subject. Paul was sent to the Gentiles" to turn them from the power of Satan to God." The Gentiles, then, needed to be turned, and so do all; for all have gone out of the way, and there is none that doeth good, no, not one." But we have before seen that Paul was not the efficient cause of their conversion; for "who is Paul, or who is Apollos?"-'twas God that gaye the increase the desired success to their ministrations. Hence, then, the changing of the perverse will, and turning it to God, is the effect of divine operation on the soul. And this comports with the prayer and the declaration of Ephraim, Jer. xxxi., 18,
"Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely, after that I was turned, I repented," &c. May we not say, with propriety, it comports not only with Ephraim's case, but with that of every converted sinner?
Again we remark, that the unrenewed man is unholy in his passions or affections. His love and hatred-his joy and griefhis hopes and fears, are often excited by improper objects; never, as they should be, by those which have the highest claim to their exercise. Now, the Spirit of grace is a sanctifying spirit—a spirit of holiness, to inspire his heart with new principles. Thus, Christians are said to have "an unction (or anointing) from the Holy One;"-the Holy Spirit is promised to them that ask it of God;"-the earnest of the Spirit is "given in our hearts," and the "fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth."-1 John ii. 20. Luke xi. 18. 2 Cor. i. 22. Eph. v. 9. The affections are now excited and exercised in a new manner.