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therein." The law of the Lord is declared to be perfect and right, making wise the simple," and "enlightening the eyes.??? It is true, that it discloses to our view a variety of facts, which are altogether mysterious and inexplicable, and which never could have been conceived of by the human mind, if they had not been made known to us. But the doctrines, i.e. the propositions founded on these facis, :!e just as intelligible, as are any advanced in elementary 1rcatises in the sciences. Nay, in this respect, the Bible claims superiority to all the writings of men.
Ils mysteries are not more inexplicable, than are some of the facts, on which mathematical reasoning is based, or, ihan the innumerable phenomena on which the doctrines of chemistry and natural philosophy rest. He that can comprehend the axioms of the former, is capable of apprehending the doctrines of Revelation. We do not say the fuct; and hence we find many, who, with but little mental cultivation, have been able to understand and discuss all the doctrines generally comprised in a system of thevlogy, and who could never perhaps be made to comprehend a single proposition of Euclid. We now speak of mere scientific, or intellectual acquaintance with the truths of Scripture, by those that are confessedly unrenewed. The fact is not to be disputed, that multitudes, who give no evidence whatever of a saving illumination, understand the doctrines of revelation-which fact fornishes strong and incontestible proof, that there is nothing in them which transcends the natural capacities of the human mind; and consequently, that, in whatever spiritual illumination may consist, it is not, in any peculiar modes of intellectual perception of truth,
Yet there is no denying the fact, that human corruption impedes the pereeptions of the understanding. We have
1. Isai, xrir.8.
a striking example of this sort proposed in the case of Christ's hearers. They seemed to labour under some great and pressing difficulty,—something, which, as it were, blinded their minds, and rendered it impossible for them to understand Ilim. “Why do ye not understand my speech, eren because ye cannot hear my words.' But alas! they are not the only example! How many sit under the preaching of the Gospel for years, and remain utterly ignorant of its grand and peculiar truths! They have eyes, but see not---minds, but they perceive not,and sccm to be illustrations of the dreadful scntence of Heaven,--" It is a people of no understanding, therefore, He that made them, will not have mercy upon them, and He that formed them, will show them no favour." ? But these facts no more prove that men are destitute of intellectual capacities to perceive the truth, than does the stupidity of one and another with regard to the process of mathematical analysis, prove the human mind to be destin tute of a capacity for the apprehension of such truth. It is not only in respect of sc:iptural truth, that the perceptions of the mind, are impaired by the corruption of the heart. Passion, and prejudice, and various sinful affections, have an injurious influence on it, even in respect of those subjects which are properly intellectual and scientific.
Thc Sariour has Himself anticipated and answered the inquiry, whence arises the difficulty in apprehending the truth by the unrenewed mind. When He said of those whom He addressed, that they could not hear His words, and assigned that as the reason of their not understanding his speech, he certainly did not mean to say, that they could not perceive the sound of His voice through the external sense of hearing. They were pot ucaf.
Brhcaring, He undoubtedly meant, giving that attention to what He said, which was necessary, in order to understand it. No man ever yet understood a proposition or discourse to which he did not attend. Attending is the very mode through which, the mind's energies, requisite to the perception of truth, are roused into action. Now why cannot the carnally, minded sinner give his attention to divine things? Why can he not think as intensely, and with as deep interest, about them as about the things of this world? Is any new faculty wanting? If so, then is he freed from all obligation to do so; for God will not require human beings to perform actions, for which they have not the requisite natural capacity. Will He, does lle, require the deaf mute to hear, or the blind to see? By no means. Why then did not Christ's hearers give their interested attention to what He said? Because their passions and prejudices were such, and so powerful, as to render them unwilling to do so. They actually hated Him, and were actuated with murderous designs in relation to Him. The grand difficulty in understanding the words of Christ, arises from the natural aversion of the heart to what lie spcaks. There is no relish for it, but on the contrary, a disrelish.
1. Jo!!!, riñ. 43.
2. Isai xxviii. Il
When we look into the context, from which we have just quoted, where Christ describes the character of His hearers, we find thai he declares them to be assimilated to Satan, in two of their leading and essential features. They had a desire to kill Him, and a disrelish for the truth He spoke, thus proving themselves to be the offspring of the god of this world, who " was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him."1 Their love of falsehood, and dislike of the truth, He assigns, as the reason why they could not hear, and did not believe Him, who spake the truth. The same thing, as we have seen, is done by the Apostle, who assigns the difficulty or impossibility in the way of the unrenewed sinner's obedience, to the enmis ty of his mind.
1. John viii. 44
The Saviour has, as we think, most conclusively decided this matter. “This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light." Now it is as impossible for a man, to hate what he does not perceive, as it is, to love what he does not in some measure know. There is therefore, according to the plain and obvious import of the Saviour's terms, no differing mode of intellectual percep. tion of the truth. The cause of spiritual blindness, is the prevalent influence of a hatred of the truth.
God also assigns the same, as the reason of the contín. uous and confirmed rebellion, of the ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem. “Why is this people of Jerusalem, slidden back with a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return." The Apostle represents that the Gentile tvorld, the unrenewed, whose case was hopeless, had so far abandoned themselves to their corrupt inclina.. tions and desires, as to be actually destitute of any sensitiveness, with respect to holy things. It was because of the blindness of their heart," and their “being past feeling” that they were “ alienated from the life of God," held in ignorance "having the onderstanding darkened.”3 Whereas the Ephesian converts had "put off concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt, ac cording to the deeeitful lusts, and had been renewed in the spirit of their minds."'These passages may suffice. The difficulty, which the unrenewed sinner finds, in yo1. John ii. 19, 20.
2. Jer. v. $. 3. Eph. ir. 1919.
4 Eph iv. 22; 23.
derstanding the truth, arises, not from any defective organization of the mind; nor from the want of any constitutional capacity; nor from any particular imbecility of natural intellect; nor from any peculiarity in the truth itself, which renders it unadapted to the natural faculties of the human soul; but from the powerful and prevalent influence of those feelings, which oppose themselves to the truth, and prevent them from giving that simple, sincere, undivided and interested attention to it, which it deserves.
And this conclusion may be illustrated and confirmed by an exhibition of facts. The Bible, being the sphere of observation and of spiritual vision, may properly claim a brief notice from us of its structure, and the correspondent actings of the human mind in the apprehension of its truths. There are various kinds of composition, or rather, divine truth is presented, in the sacred Scriptures, in various forms, which render it perfectly intelligible to the unrenewed mind. There are some parts, which are purely intellectual, i. e. divine truth in them is presented to us in a form perfectly abstract and logical. Every mind capable of such an intellectual process as must be had in conducting a mathematical demonstration, or in pursuing a philosophical investigation, or in framing an argument, can comprehend them. There are others which are presented in the simple dress of historical narrative, and these, even children understand without difficulty. Others yet, are exhibited in a poetical garb; and these delight the imaginations of many, who disregard the Bible as a Revelation from God. An illustrious modern poet awarded the palm to the 'poetical writings of Moses in the book of Job, and says that he once had thoughts himself of writing a Job, but despaired of success. Now in such parts of the word of God, the unrenewed mind, finds no peculiar difficulty in apprehending' its truths. In proof of this,