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TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
A FEW THOUGHTS ON
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.
" THE WORDS OF THE WISE ARE AS GOADS, AND AS NAILS FASTENED
BY THE MASTER OF ASSEMBLIES.”—ECCL. XII.
100. V. g.
“Is there,” says the wise man, “any thing whereof it may be said,-See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.” And we may ask the same question in this day, and receive the same answer. There is nothing new under the sun. There are no new discoveries to be made in truths, “ solar walk or milky way;" no new zodiac, or constellation, or planet, remains to be discovered there. Nil dictum, quod non dictum prius. Truth, like its Author, is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. But though men may think alike, and enunciate the same truths, yet, as liquefied gold comes from the mould into which it has been poured in the shape which the mould has impressed upon it, so truth comes forth from different minds, moulded into various shapes and forms, according to the intellectual and spiritual capacity of him by whom it is enunciated; and as the gold in the one case, so the truth in the other is the same. Hence it is both profitable and interesting to observe the manner in which Divine truth has been dealt with by holy men of all ages, to some of whom, by the Spirit, was given the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others a diversity of gifts. Probably, in no age of the Church was Divine truth more powerfully exhibited and illustrated than during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when a larger effusion of the Spirit seems to have been vouchsafed to the Church, than at any previous period of her history after that of the Pentecost. Not only in England, Scotland, and America was this so, but, judging from the deep spirituality which pervades the writings of some of the divines of the Romish Church during the same period, large droppings of those showers of the Spirit seem to have fallen also on them.
For many years the writings of these highly-gifted and enlightened men, especially those of them who are commonly designated the Puritan divines, engaged my leisure hours; and having, in the course of my reading, met with many experimental truths, striking elucidations of Scripture, and instructive lessons, locked up in ponderous folios and worm-eaten volumes, accessible to few only, I extracted them for my own profit; thus reaping where I had not sown, and gathering where I had not strawed. *
But no man liveth to himself, and therefore, whether we
* “ Ceux,” says de Sales, “qui se sont promenés en un beau jardin n'en sortent pas volontiers sans prendre en leur main quatre ou cinq fleurs pour les odorer et tenir le long de la journée ; ainsi notre esprit ayant discouru sur quelque mystère par la méditation, nous devons choisir un ou deux ou trois points que nous aurons trouvés plus à notre goût et plus propres à notre avancement pour nous en ressouvenir le reste de la journée et les odorer spirituellement.”
read or hear, we desire that others may be profited by what we have learnt. Our edification of others by what we have ourselves been taught is thus beautifully urged by Chrysostom upon his hearers,—“When you return home,” he . says, “ talk of these things with those who dwell with you; and, as they who go into the garden or orchard upon their return bring with them a rose or some other flower, or carry away branches of fruit for the delight or refreshment of those whom they have left at home, so do thou, departing hence, take the exhortation home to thy wife, thy children, thy household; for the admonitions and instructions thou hast heard here are more profitable than the things of the garden or the orchard. These roses never wither; these fruits never decay. The former yield but a transient delight, but these an enduring benefit.”—Hom. vi., 7.
Influenced by these considerations, I present to others some of the fruits and pleasant things I have gathered from Canaan's "mountains of spices” and “hills of frankincense.” It may be said, “We have books enough ;” but though the fundamentals of religion cannot be increased in number, nor any new truth necessary to salvation be revealed, yet what is known may be more firmly and practically believed, and this constitutes the value of books whose tendency is to sanctify the minds of those who read them, and to lead them to holy meditation. Moreover, I am of the same mind with him who said, “Qui bonos libros conscribit retia salutis pandit” (he that writes good books sets nets of salvation); and it is my desire by this book-good only because of the truths it contains—to set one of these nets in the world's highway, in the hope of catching some souls that might