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was honoured with his presence; he went on an engagement of ancient love, and having begun a good work on the poor man, he proceeds to perfect it."-Robinson's Claude, vol. ii., p. 137.
As an example of judicious observation, on our Topic, we quote a passage from Bishop Horsley, by which it appears that the bishop thought it right to examine even the erroneous principles of ancient philosophy, and to correct them by stating such as are true, agreeably with the direction given in the last Lecture.
It has been said that Nature does nothing in vain-in one sense it is true, because the whole of nature is conducted by the continual providence of the Being who created the whole. In what are called the operations of nature, God is the first and sovereign agent. The maxim, therefore, that nature never acts in vain, is true; but the truth of it rests upon the wisdom and power of God, who made and governs nature. And it is improperly alleged as itself being a first principle of science, of original and intrinsic evidence, since it is only a consequence of another principle, that God never acts in vain.-Horsley, vol. iii., p. 332, 333.
Secondly Apply the Topic to the first head of a discourse where the following part or parts are to consist of a different character. This particular service of our Topic is to explicate the sense of a text by referring to its principle, assigning cause, or reason; and to this use the Topic may very often be applied. In all such cases it is easy as well as profitable to ask ourselves, How is this expression to be accounted for? We then very properly refer to some previous state of things under which the word or action was spoken. The circumstances then existing between Jehovah the speaker, and man the hearer; of one or both of them. Or we must consider the principle in
* See Claude's remarks in full, at the beginning of this Lecture.
reference to something that is perfect; something that ever was essentially true, and could not be otherwise in the very nature of things; as, that God is righteous, and cannot be otherwise.
This being the case, how would such a perfect and righteous Being (or, in another case, gracious or good Being) act, decide, or speak, when such an occurrence in this world called for such action or speaking? The manner in which such action or dispositions in man would be received by the pure and holy Governor of the world. The principle upon which any rule or regulation proceeded in giving intimations to man suited to human nature. Then, I say, the student, having carefully and for some time reflected on the view he is called to take, will proceed to supply what is wanting according to our present Topic of principles, as to the part of discourse requiring it; for as to a whole discourse we do not here provide for it, but shall do so presently.
Let us take an example from Mr. Howe, on Isa. lxiii. 10: "But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them."
I. The evil done;-Grieving the Holy Spirit.
II. The evil suffered ;-God turning against them, &c. I. The evil done. In its nature, and in its cause or principle.
1. In its nature. The Spirit of God was vexed.
1) It is implied that something is done against his will; his will was really crossed.
2) It is implied that he does apprehend and resent such an offence, Ps. xciv. 7; Deut. xxxii. 34; though not with such perturbations as men feel.
2. Inquire concerning the cause or principle of this vexation. This we shall discover in the titles and attributes of this Spirit; by this we shall see what must necessarily vex him. See Eph. iv. 30.
1) The Spirit of God is called the Spirit of truth, John
xiv. 17; and he must be offended when his truth is lightly esteemed, and loosely adhered to.
2) He is called the Spirit of grace, Heb. x. 29. It must be offensive when the very grace of which he is the author, which he applies or reveals, is rejected by
3) He is called the Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. iv. 13; therefore infidelity must be obnoxious, and when persons continue long under the gospel in obstinate unbelief, &c.
4) He is the Spirit of love, which is the great principle that disposes and inclines the soul towards God. He hath given us the Spirit of love, 2 Tim. i. 7. That principle which influences and is the life and soul of all the communications between the blessed God and believers, which itself therefore is called the communion of the Holy Ghost, 2 Cor. xiii. 14. Surely, then, love despised is a very heinous offence.
5) He is called the Spirit of power and life, John vi. 63; 2 Tim. i. 7; therefore all deadness in divine things (Rev. iii. 14-17) is loathsome.
6) The Spirit of holiness, Rom. i. 4; and in the text, his Holy Spirit. How then can he dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, who walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit?
7) He is the earnest of the blessed inheritance, 2 Cor. v. 5, with 1 Cor. ii. 9—12; therefore, when all the tendencies of professors are earthly, here is a perfect opposition.
8) He is a Spirit of prayer, Zech. xii. 10; but when there is no yielding to his influence; when that reproof is just, "Thou hast not called," &c., Isa. xliii. 22; or when prayer is heartless, cold and dead, formal and irregular, it is loathed of the Spirit.
9) He is the Spirit of union, Ezek. xi. 19; but where there is no union, no Christian love, the Spirit will depart : "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"-Howe, vol. vi., 240.
Now this view of the cause or princple upon which this vexation is stated is very definite and plain, and prepares the way for the second part of the subject; and I am pleased with Howe, in this instance in particular, because he distinguishes between implication and principles, as a review will show you. I hope also that some good will be done by this quotation; nothing is more needful than a due examination of our conduct in regard to the Spirit. A dreadful catalogue of evils may fall upon us if we grieve this Spirit, and that Scripture be fulfilled in us, Hos. ix. 12.
I have said that I feared there were more false principles than true. It will often be needful to examine them. Mr. Walker, vol. iii., on James iv. 13-15, for the first part of his discourse, exposes the false principle of moneygetting men.
The language which the apostle condemns relates altogether to a worldly project. The principal object is gain: not the "true riches," or that "good part" which shall never be taken from those who choose it, but the gain of this world. They say nothing of the measure of gain that would satisfy them, and nothing of the use to which they meant to apply their wealth. For any thing that these expressions imply, their desires might be without bounds, and their sole aim might be " to heap up silver as the dust," &c., to "join house to house," &c.
If this remark be just, we have already discovered one capital error in the governing principle of these men. Το seek gain by honest industry, for necessary supplies, is not only lawful but honourable; but to seek it for its own sake, merely for the sordid pleasure of possessing it, betrays a mean and selfish spirit.
Further: The great Lord of all has no part in this scheme. These little arrogant words, we will,' thrust God out at once, and occupy his place. The persons here described appear to insure their lives against sickness and casualty; they think all will go well even for a year—a
full year! No allowance is made for change of climate or fatigue, for robbery or fraud, or fluctuations in the price of their goods but they will get large profits, &c. ; whereas, when truth is allowed to speak, she says, "Ye know not what shall be on the morrow." "This night your souls
may be required;" for "what is your life? it is even a vapour." This plain proposition," your life is a vapour," undermines the scheme at once, and overwhelms the proud builders with shame.
This is an exposure of a false principle of action, and the folly described is not of rare occurrence. How strikingly is it exhibited by our Lord in the parable of him whom, in derision, we call "the fool in the gospel!"
But I beg leave to remark again, on this quotation from Walker, that it is a fine example of comment—a comment on the principle itself, which will always serve you a good turn either pro or con. Lawyers and senators are very partial to this kind of comment, and frequently employ it with great effect. It is here that they apply the lash of irony and sarcasm, by which they cut through the very sinews of false principles, and expose sophistries or
The following instance of exposure refers to a still more lamentable evil, alas! too common in our age. The text is, "Rejoiceth not in iniquity," 1 Cor. xiii. 6. It is supposed that professing Christians, at least, do not rejoice in the iniquity of any of their own party or sect, but that they feel a secret satisfaction at the slips and falls of the party that is more particularly opposed to them in this they think there is no sin. This is the false principle repre
You have, says our author, much reason to the contrary (viz. of rejoicing in sin) both upon the common account and your own.
1. Upon the common account. That the Christian world should, while it is so barren of serious Christians, be so