Imágenes de páginas

Supper, is that which we desire to promote among the professors of Christianity ; believing with the apostle, that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost : for he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of men."*

Our dissent from the generality of Christians, on the subjects of water baptism and the supper, and our disuse of these and other ceremonies, have, however, brought upon us much censure from some of our fellow Christians ; who have even denied us a right to that name, conceiving that we could not be sincere believers in Christ. But our disuse of these ceremonies, is so far from proceeding from any inferior views of Christianity, that it arises from our very high opinion of it : on which ground we cannot reconcile these external rites to the great objects, and particularly to the spirituality of the Gospel Dispensation. We believe in Christ Jesus the Saviour of men ; we believe that He 6 washed us from our sins in his own blood ;" * that He is our Passover, who is sacrificed for us ;" # and that He has 5 abolished in his flesh, the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances :—for through Him we have access, by one Spirit, unto the Father.” §

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



· Exemption from censure claimed for their non-observance.-The obser. vance of them disapproved by the apostle Paul.--- More injurious than beneficial to religion-especially Festivals.-Setting apart one day in the week approved.-On public fasts, &c.Conclusion from Rom. xiv. 5, &c.

Our disuse of the religious observance of Days and Times, is generally known; and we trust that, both on this and the preceding subject, we may claim that exemption from censure, which the apostle granted to the Church at Colosse : “ Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come ; but the body is of Christ.” *

By the Law of Moses, many days and times were set apart, for the commemoration of various extraordinary circumstances, and for other considerations connected with that Dispensation. Some of these were, for a time, observed by the primitive Christians, especially by the Jewish converts ; whose attachment to their Law, as is already remarked, not only induced them to retain many of its ceremonies, but also to endeavour to impose them on the gentile Christians. This the apostle Paul was particularly concerned to break through, and to assert the freedom of the Gospel Dispensation, from the obligation of these legal observances; and, though he

* Col. ii. 16, &c.

wished the believers not to judge one another, either for observing, or not observing days and times ; yet he could not but consider it an unfavourable symptom in the Galatians, that they should, after having laid them aside, return to the observance of them : “ How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years : I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” *

Unless those who are in this practice, can prove some command or injunction for it in the New Testament, of which I know not any, I conceive but little more need be said on this subject. If any think the observance tends to promote piety and virtue, we would not judge those who are inclined to make this use of it; but I apprehend it is a fact of too much public notoriety not to be acknowledged, that observances of this kind, particularly the festivals, are in general so conducted as to promote dissipation and intemperance, much more than piety and virtue; and, therefore, in every point of view, we think we are well warranted in laying such observances aside.

We however consider the setting apart of one day in seven for cessation from business, and for religious services, no , more than a reasonable duty : and we encourage the obser

vance of it among our members. It has been our practice from the commencement of our religious Society; and, although we do not consider the First, or any day of the week, as possessing a superior degree of holiness ; yet we believe considerable advantages to religion and virtue arise, not only from a proper dedication and employment of it; but even from the imperfect observance, with which it is on the whole regarded.

* Gal. iv. 9, 10, 11.

We are also sensible, that the duties of humiliation and - thanksgiving are frequently incumbent upon us ; yet, from

the conviction that the qualification to perform these duties, should proceed from a higher source than man, we do not consider it right to unite with those who set apart particular times, and adopt set forms, for these purposes. Besides this general reason, the occasion is often such as we can, by no means join with. When war, or the successes or defeats attendant upon it, are the occasion of public thanksgiving or humiliation, our sentiments on the inconsistency of war with the spirit of Christianity, prevent our uniting in prayer or praises for victories, which involve the destruction of our fellow-creatures : and by which, there is too much reason to fear, many souls are sent unprepared into an awful eternity. By joining on these occasions, we conceive that we should act inconsistently with that peaceable spirit, which our blessed Lord has so strongly inculcated; and which will be more particularly treated of in the following chapter.

After giving these reasons for our dissent on this subject, I shall conclude with the words of the apostle Paul : “ One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it to the Lord ; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” * 6 Let us not therefore judge one another any more : but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way." +

* Rom. xiv. 5, 6.

+ Rom, xiv. 13.



Quotations from Matt, V.-Oaths unnecessary. Arguments in favour of them answered. Arguments in favour of War answered.-The Christian Religion the only remedy for this evil.

66 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself ; but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths : but I say unto you, Swear not at all ; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne ; nor by the earth for it is his footstool :-—But let your communication be yea, yea ; nay, nay : for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

66 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth : but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy : but I say unto you, Love your enemies ; bless them that curse you ; do good to them that hate you ; and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ; for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good ; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” *

After reciting these strong and unequivocal injunctions of our Divine Master, I have paused to consider, whether I should say a word more on the subject of them ; their own

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »