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a trinity'of divine persons, which are not right and just: if tranfubftantiation is not a reasonable and scriptural doctrine : if the worship of angels, and departed saints, and of their images, is not required and commanded, but condemned and forbidden in the Old and New Testament: it must be allowed, that corruptions have been brought into the christian church. For such things there are among those who are called christians.

What is to be done in this case? Are they, who discern such corruptions, obliged to acquiesce ? Would it be fin to shew how unreasonable and unfcriptural such things are ? I do not see how this can be said, provided it be done with meekness and gentleness.

Plato, in his Timæus, says, “ That [40] it is very

difficult to find out the author and parent of the universe; and when found, it is imposible to declare him to all.” Cicero, who translated that work of Plato into Latin, renders the last clause, as as if. Plato had faid: “ When [41] you have found him, it is unlawful to declare him to the vulgar." Perhaps that was Cicero's own sentiment. Being a statesman and politician, as well as a philosopher,

he [40] Τον μεν εν σοιήθην και σαθερα 78 SE TY VAN

Τε εργον, και ευρoνια, εις σανίας αδυνατον λεγειν. Platon.
Linceits, p. 28. T. iii. Serran, et ap. Fabr. p. 335.

·[41] et cum jam inveneris, in licare in vaigus, nefas.


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he might be more concerned for peace than truth. A multitude of deities being the prevailing belief, he was afraid to oppose the prejudices of the people, who might be offended at the doctrine of the Divine unity, with its consequences. But so it should not be among christians, who, beside the light of nature, have also the light of revelation. 1. Says the Pfalmist: In Judah is God known. His

name is great in Israel. Pf. lxxvi. 1. It was their great privilege and happiness, that God was known among them, and worshipped, and served by them; when heathen people were ignorant of the true God, and worshipped senseless idols. That distinction was owing to the revelation which God had made of himself to Abraham and his descendants. Which benefit we also now enjoy, together with the clearer and fuller revelation of God and his will, which has been made by our blessed Saviour, the promised Messiah. See John i. 18. iv. 23. 24. xvii. 25. 26.

Says that most excellent teacher of men, in an address to the Father : And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John xvii. 3.

The right knowlege of God and Christ, therefore, must be the greatest of blessings, and should be sought after in the first place, and be prized above all things. And wherever the benefit of it is obftructed by wrong notions, it may be the duty of some to give, and of others to receive instruction :



that God may be glorified, and men may be edified and saved.

The scriptures are acknowleged to be the fountain of religious knowlege. Accordingly fome there have been among us, and in our own times, who have endeavoured to give a clear account of the scripturedoctrine concerning God and Christ: men of unquestioned piety, and eminent for natural and acquired abilities. And though their schemes have not been exactly the same, and they have not all had equal success and acceptance, it must be acknowleged, that their writings have been very useful. They have kept up, and cherished a spirit of inquiry and thoughtfulness in things of religion. And they have promoted knowlege, moderation, candour, and equity, among christians. And


such excellent dispositions prevail among us yet more and more!

Saith the venerable Dr. Sherlock, bishop of London, in the fourth volume [42] of his Discourses, lately published, p. 321. 322.

“ From these things laid together, it is evident, that the Apostles were witnesses and teachers of the faith, and had no authority to add any thing to the doctrine of Christ, or to declare new articles of faith.”

« Now if the Apostles, commissioned directly by Christ himself, and supported by miraculous gifts of

the [42] It is the 12th discourse in that volume. The text is the epistle of St. Jude, ver. 3. latter part.

the spirit, had not this power, can any of their successors in the government of the church, without great impiety, pretend to it? Did the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries know the articles of the faith better than the apostles did ? Or were they more powerfully assisted by the holy spirit? No christian can think it, or say it. Whence is it then, that the church of Rome has received the power they pretend to, of making new articles of faith, and dooming all to eternal destruction who receive them not? Can any sober, serious christian trust himself to such guides, and not tremble, when he reads the woe denounced by St. Paul: Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel... let him be accursed! Gal. i. 8.”

Certainly that is a noble declaration, and well deserving the regard of all christians.

His lordship here allows, or even asserts the rights of private judgment. He supposes, that common christians, who have no share in the government of the church, are able to understand the doctrine delivered by the Apostles, and the determinations of bishops, and to compare them together, and to discern wherein they differ. And he allows us to reject new articless not delivered and taught by Christ's Apostles. And strongly represents to us the great hazard of trusting to such affuming guides, as make and impose new articles of faith.


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If we may judge of articles taught by the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries, we may for the fame reason judge concerning those decreed by the bishops and clergy of the fourth and fifth centuries . . For neither were they Apostles, but at the utmost no more than fucceffors of the Apostles. And if it should appear, that they taught and recommended any articles, which are no part of the faith, once delivered to the saints by Christ's Apostles, fuch articles may be rejected by us.

And since it is allowed, that the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries have assumed an authority to decide new articles, to which they had no right: should not this put christians upon their guard, and induce them to examine the doctrines proposed to them, and consider, whether it is the faith once delivered to the saints, or fomen hat added to it? For what has been done, or attempted, in fome ages, may have been attempted in others.

His lordship blames the church of Rome for making new articles of faith, and dooming all to eternal destruciion, who receive them not.

We should be impartial. If any others do the like, are they not blameable also! It is well known, that there is a creed, in great authority with many, beside the church of Rome, containing an abstruse doctrine, very hard to be believed. And it would be a very difficult undertaking to thew, that it adds not any thing to the doctrine of Christ, as taught and


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