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the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spi. ritually discerned.” The doctrine of salvation through a crucified Redeemer is a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek-while to such as are called, or taught of God, it is both the wisdom of God and the power of God unto their salvation. It would be easy to multiply testimonies to the same purport, were it necessary, but what have been adduced may suffice to this end.
And now as respects the nature of this new covenant blessing, namely divine teaching, it may be useful to make one general observation, which is, that it does not supersede the means which God hath appointed for instructing mankind in the knowledge of the truth ; for “ faith cometh by hearing ;” and “it pleases God, by (what men are pleased to call) the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe.” What we contend for is, that divine teaching is above and beyond all human tuition, even of revelation itself; and it is the only thing which can give efficacy to human instruction, and crown with success those outward means which are of divine appointment: for “ Paul may plant,” or sow the seed-he may preach the word or doctrine of the kingdom, “and Apollos may water it, but God alone can give the increase.” Hence we find the Saviour himself owning the sovereignty of God in communicating the knowledge of the saving truth to whomsoever it pleases him : “ I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Matth. xi. 28.
The Apostles were divinely commissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature, and they had their Lord's promise that he would be with them always to give his word effect ; yet we find them soliciting the prayers of their Christian brethren, that they might not labour in vain, nor spend their strength for nought. They were pre-eminently qualified for the arduous undertaking by a full and clear understanding of the subject, for they preached with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven.
They had, moreover, the power of working miracles in confirmation of the truth of their testimony; for God bare them witness with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to his own will. Yet, notwithstanding all these advantages, we hear them saying “ Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God giveth the increase.” “ Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.” “ We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
There are few things of greater importance to Christians in general, and to those who are called to bear office in the Churches more particularly, than to be able to distinguish divine teaching from that which is purely human : but I have thought that the following characteristic properties and effects, if duly attended to, might assist us in discriminating between them. .
1. Divine teaching, in which the Holy Spirit is the agent, and the word of truth the instrument or means, is always effectual : but it is not so with that which is merely human. Men may speak the real truths of God to the outward ear, and even communicate a theory of the system of evangelical doctrines, or a scientific knowledge of them to the judgment, but they cannot give a spiritual discernment to perceive the things of the Spirit of God. He alone can “give an understanding to know Him that is true.” None but God can open the heart-rectify the very perceptive faculty — and speak immediately to our spirits by his word. Naturally, the human mind is like ancient chaos, full of darkness and disorder ; and so the agency of an Almighty hand in bringing a sinner out of darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel, is compared to the creating power whereby Jehovah first called the world into order, commanding the light to shine out of darkness, 2 Cor. iv. 6. Thus he shines into the human heart, giving the knowledge of his glory as it manifests itself in the person of his Son ; and thus he discovers himself by his own light, just as the sun does in the natural world. “In thy light,” says the Psalmist, “we shall see light.” xxxvi. 9. Moreover, men may set forth the evidence of divine truth to one another with great clearness and power, but they cannot produce conviction in the mind of an unbeliever by means of that evidence. But the light which comes from God carries its own evidence along with it: for the God of truth makes himself manifest as the speaker, and so it comes “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.” 1 Thess. i. 5. Men may set forth in words, the beauty and loveliness of divine things, but they cannot communicate a view of their glory and excellency to the mind, so as to cause sinners to perceive and relish and love them supremely ; and hence it is that we often find knowledge and love separated.
Through divine teaching, the blessed God gives such a view of his character and grace in the great salvation, as effectually to attract the believer's supreme affections, and constrain him to love, admire, and glory in the blessed object.
2. Another property of divine teaching is, that it is plain and simple ; conformably to which, the Apostles, in preaching the Gospel to the world, used “ great plainness of speech.” The philosophic wisdom and scholastic reasoning of men always perplex and obscure the simplicity of divine truth; and the more they think to investigate it in this way, the more manifest is their failure-the more do they involve themselves and others in darkness and intricacy. But divine teaching does not leave the mind to laboured and ingenious investigation, or to a painful stretch of the judgment or reasoning faculties to comprehend it. It comes with a self-evidence and simplicity like the very principles of nature : so that everything appears so plain and simple, and at the same time so surprisingly grand and God-like, that the subject of it stands astonished at his former blindness and ignorance. Now, this method of instruction is peculiar to Him that made us who created and has access to our spirits, and who knows how to shine into our hearts. This teaching, indeed, makes the 'simple wise unto salvation; but it also makes the reasoning philosopher a fool, that he may become wise in the simplicity of a little child. Hence the saying of the Apostle Paul, “ If any man amongst you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise, for the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God :--the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain.” 1 Cor. iii. 19, 21. A blind philosopher may reason about the nature and properties of colours; but an illiterate rustic will have a more correct notion of them by a single glance of the eye! Such is the case in reference to divine truth with every one that is taught of God
3. Divine truth is of a humbling tendency, and so also is divine teaching; and this is another of its properties whereby it may be distinguished from mere human tuition. The teaching of theology as a science, which is the great purpose and business of our schools, academies, and colleges, has a manifest tendency to puff up the human heart with the pride of knowledge, and inflate the mind with a conceit of its comparative attainments. Hence, “ the wise man glories in his wisdom.” But divine teaching, as it manifests the glory and majesty of God to the soul, so it empties the creature of all his fancied self-importance, and lays the subject of it low in the dust, as an ignorant and polluted mortal before the eternal and incomprehensible Jehovah. We have in the Scripture many instances of the fact now mentioned. Such, for instance, is the case of Abraham-“ Behold, now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes.” Thus also it was with Job " Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer ; yea twice, but I will proceed no further. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” And was not
the case the same with the holy prophet Isaiah, when in vision he was favoured with a discovery of the glories of the Divine Majesty ? “ Woe is me! for I am undone : because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips ; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Chap. vi. 5.
4. Another property of divine teaching is, that it invariably communicates satisfaction to the soul. Mere human teaching leaves the mind still empty, and unsatisfied as to man's great interest and concern, or that which communicates rest, and peace and happiness to the soul. It still leaves the subject of it under the painful inquiry, “ What lack I yet ?” or, “ What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And even though it should kindle in the mind some transient emotions of comfort, it is in the power of every wind of doctrine or of temptation to blast it. The reason of this is obvious. Mere human teaching cannot of itself beget faith, or communicate to the soul a sense of the divine favour in the remission of sins, or purge the conscience from the guilt of them, and so give the sinner peace with God: it cannot implant the lively hope of eternal life, or bring the soul to peace and rest in reference to its great concern. But divine teaching does all this : and hence the promise to the children of Zion, who are the happy subjects of it, is, “ Great shall be their peace.”
5. Let me add to what I have said on this subject, that divine teaching is of a transforming quality : it never fails to produce sanctifying effects upon the subject of it, and to change him into the divine likeness-it renews the man after the image of his Creator. Hence we find the Apostle Paul thanking God in behalf of the Romans, that though they had been the servants of sin, yet now they were delivered into the mould of the Gospel or Christian doctrine, which had been preached among them, so as to take an impression of it upon their hearts and exhibit in their lives. Rom. vi. 17. The glorious Gospel was engrafted in their hearts, as the Apostle James expresses it, and they had taken the form or impression of it so as to be changed into its likeness ; but all this was the effect of divine teaching; for that doctrine does not grow natively in the human heart; it is brought from elsewhere and implanted, in order that men may bring forth a new kind of fruit, corresponding to the nature of that which is engrafted. And this is the work of regeneration. Faith working by love is the new creature : the former will cast the soul into the mould of the doctrine believed, but it is love that assimilates or produces a conformity to that which is received ; and this explains the difference between true faith and
MILLENNIAL HARBINGER; AND orthodox notions, or merely speculating on the doctrines of the Gospel-a point of theology which some do not seem to understand. But, not to enlarge on this subject, let us hear the Apostle Paul's decision of the whole matter :-“ And we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Cor. iii. 18. Hence we infer that the light of the glory of God, as manifested in the person and work of his beloved Son, shining into the hearts of believers, transforms them into the image of the object contemplated. But as mere human tuition, without the influence of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, cannot present the object to the mind, so it cannot of itself produce this effect; and this may show us the absolute necessity of divine influence to give the Gospel its saving and sanctifying effects upon the minds of men.
I am apprehensive, my dear friend, that you will consider me as having sermonized too much on this subject; and, in truth, I plead guilty to the charge. I have only to request that you will summon up all your candour, and make what excuses you can for me. I feel anxious that there should exist no misunderstanding between us on this fundamental point ; for unless we be agreed here, we cannot be agreed respecting the character of God, in which case our correspondence will be to little purpose. I wish you to know how this doctrine is understood and maintained among the Scotch Baptist Churches in this country, and the stress we lay upon it. You know that Cudworth, the friend and correspondent of Hervey, wholly denied the necessity of this divine teaching, in order to give the word of God its proper or saving effect, contending that the word is the Spirit! and after him Mr. Robert Little, who left this country for the United States about 25 years ago, adopted Cudworth's hypothesis, and propagated it here to the subverting of many from the faith once delivered to the saints. Most of Mr. Little's disciples have, in process of time, verged into Socianism or Deism, among whom were some of the elders of our Churches ; and I mention these things solely for the purpose of accounting to you for my tenaciousness on this point of doctrine. I had a little public controversy with R. L. on these matters before he took his departure, but I fear it did not end in convincing him of the unscriptural nature of his sentiments.
Adieu, my beloved friend ! May Heaven guide, protect, and prosper you in all your ways! I remain yours faithfully,