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points were fundamental. No church would renounce its peculiarities and infallibility. Indeed such a method was never likely to succeed What is fundamental doctrine to one man, or to a number of men, and such as they cannot give up, may not be so to others, and yet all be equally sincere and upright before God, and the true disciples of Christ.*
That is a fine declaration of Calvin's, if he had but kept to it:t “ Since the mind of man is totally blind of itself when it contemplates the Divine Majesty, I trust I shall have the approbation of all good men, if I seek God no where but
It was upon this principle of not laying down fundamental doctrines for others, that the excellent Grotius withstood the cries of Heresy and Socinianism raised against him from all quarters, and refused to the last to disfigure his noble work of the Truth of the Christian Religion with making mention of the Trinity in it. Not that he would be understood by such an omission to condemn that doctrine, much less those who held it; but he persisted in maintaining, that it was sufficient to convince men of the Divine authority of the Scriptures, and leave them to themselves to find out the peculiar doctrines therein revealed.—“Omnes ad sacras literas duceudi sunt, ut inde talià hauriant, quæ, nisi Deo semet patefaciente, coguosci nequeunt." Grotii Epist. pp. 493,701.
+ Cum in Dei majestate consideranda mens humana per se omnino cæcutiat-si juxta captus sui tenuitatem Deum imaginari conetur: istud bonorum omnium pace ac venia facturos confidimus, si Deum nusquam quæramus nisi in ejus verbo, nihil de ipso cogitemus nisi cum ejus verbo, de ipso nihil loquamur nisi per ejus verbum." Calvini Epistol. p. 643.
in his word, think nothing of him but according to his word, nor speak of him but by his word.” If this sober reserve and reverence for the word of God be necessary in the private confession of a man's faith, such as Calvin was then making, much more ought it to be observed in the solemn public worship of Almighty God. Nothing of private opinion or fancy should be there admitted, nor any phrases or modes of address used, which have not the express warrant of holy scripture.*
“ We ought to use no other prayers than those which are contained in the Holy Scripture, (say those ancient Christians, the Vaudois, in their Confession of Faith, presented to Francis I. 1541,) or such other as are conformable to them for substance."'+
“ He [the ever memorable J. Hales] exceedingly detested the tyranny of the church of Rome; more for their imposing uncharitably upon the consciences of other men, than for the errors in their own opinions : and he would often say, he would renounce the religion of the church of England tomorrow, if it obliged him to believe that any other Christian should be damned; and, that nobody would conclude another damned, that did not wish him so. He thought that pride and passion, more than conscience, were the causes of all separation from each other's communion ; and he frequently said, that that only kept the world from agreeing upon such a Liturgy, as might bring them into one com. munion; all doctrinal points, upon which men differed in their opinions, being to have no place in any Liturgy."--Lord Clarendon's History of His Own Life, p. 54.
† There is such an admirable simplicity and conformity to
A standing Apostolic Rule concerning Prayer.
Archbishop Tillotson, speaking of the gross idolatry of the Virgin Mary, our Lord's mother, among the Papists, remarks, " That the greater part of their religion, both public and private, is made
up of that which was no part at all of the religion of the apostles and primitive Christians ; nay, which plainly contradicts it: for that expressly teaches us, that there is but One object of our prayers, and one Mediator by whom we are to make our addresses to God.” “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," says St. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 5, when he gives a standing rule concerning prayer in the Christian church.*
Now this, which this good man and most instructive preacher rightly and wisely asserts to be
Scripture running through the whole of the Confession of Faith, from whence the above extract is made, that I doubt not but I shall do a thing acceptable to many of my readers in producing it. I shall therefore transcribe it in the Appendix. We should have been now much farther advanced in Christian knowledge and the pure worship of God, if our Articles, and Confessions of Faith, and Liturgies, had been framed after so chaste a model, when we separated from the mother of idolatries, the church of Rome. But school-learning, attachment to what had been established, and a slavish copying after a spurious antiquity, misled us then, and continue to mislead us.
* Tillotson's Sermons, Vol. X. p. 144.
a standing apostolic rule concerning prayers from one single text, has been at large evinced to be such, in the foregoing papers, by a long deduction from the holy Scriptures ; and it has also been corroborated and confirmed by the concurring testimony and confession of the best antiquity harmonizing in this one point, however at variance in others, that prayer is to be offered to God the Father alone. It cannot but be, therefore, of the most serious concernment to all, in these enlightened times, not to go contrary themselves, or to influence others in going contrary to so plain a prescribed rule of worship, in which the honour of God is immediately concerned. And is it not inverting the very rule laid down here by the Holy Spirit, to' address prayer to the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator, as the apostle speaks, and not to the One God himself? If then, happily, every thing in our Liturgy that is not agreeable to this standing apostolic rule, and the general prescription of God's word, be changed or removed, all Christian people of whatever denomination, ancient or modern, Arians, Athanasians, Socinians, Lutherans, Calvinists, Churchmen, may agree and join together in the worship used by the apostles of Christ and primitive Christians.
Otheragreement than this in public worship can never be attained, nor ought ever to be proposed. For, where men are allowed to read the Scrip
66 Good men,
tures, and think for themselves, difference in opinion will be unavoidable, even on points the most important; because, whatever is matter of conscience to any one is of the highest importance to him. But a form of express scriptural worship must be satisfactory to all, and such in which they can cordially unite. says an excellent person, differing in their own expressions, yet agree in scripture forms of words, acknowledging the meaning of the Holy Ghost in them is true; and they endeavour to understand and find it out as well as they can. Therefore they should continue friends, and think they agree, rather than think they do not agree; because they do agree in what is God's and infallible, though they differ in what is their own, and fallible; and upon this consideration forbear one another, and not impose their own, either sense or phrase."*
But this charity, 1 Cor. xiii., this perfect state of Christianity, seems to be still afar off, although wet are, I trust, approximating towards it.
* Dr. Whichcote's Letter to Dr. Tuckney, pp. 11, 12.
+ I would hope the first words of the following paragraph, written fifteen years since, are too strongly put; for the rest it is serious and important. “I do not see any signs in this age, to denote it to be an age of reformation, nor do I think it is the will of God it should; because I rather think I see some manifest proofs to the contrary: the time, however, will come, when, as St. Paul expresseth it, 1 Cor. xi. 3, all