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decided will be our opposition to error. To call that liberality which holds all doctrines with a loose band, and considers it as of no importance to salvation whether we believe this or that, is a gross perversion of language. Such a spirit arises, not from ene largedness of mind, or from having read much, or thought much ; but from the vanity of wishing to have it thought that they have. This vanity, when flattered by weak or interested men, induces the most ignorant characters to assume imperious airs, and to exercise a kind of contemptuous pity towards those who cannot treat the gospel with the same indifference as themselves. A minister who has wished for the liberty of playing fast and loose with Christian doctrines, without being disrespected by his congregation, bas been known to compliment them as an enlightened people, and to praise them for thinking for themselves; wbile in fact they have neither thought, nor read, nor understood, unless it were a few political pamphlets, and the doctrine of getting money.
It seems to be a criterion of this species of liberality that we think well of characters, whatever be their principles, and entertain ihe most favourable opinion of their final state. The writer was some time since in a company where mention was made of one who believed in the final salvation of all men, and perhaps of all devils likewise, “ He is a gentleman (said one) of liberal principles.” Such principles may, doubtless, be denominated liberal, that is, free and enlarged, in one sense ; they are free from the restraints of scripture, and enlarged as a net which contains a great multitude of fishes, good and bad; but whether this ought to recommend them is another question. What would be thought of one who should visit the felons of Newgate, and persuade them that such was the goodness of the government, that not one of them, even though condemned, would be finally executed ? If they could be induced to believe him, they would doubtless think him a very liberal-minded man: but it is likely the government, and every friend to the public good, would think him an enemy to his country, and to the very parties whom by his glozing doctrine he had deceived.
It is usual to call that man liberal who thinks or professes to think for himself, and is willing that every other person should do
the same. This, if applied to civil society, is just. Christianity will persecute mo man for his religious principles, but meekly instruct him, in hope that God peradventure may give him repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. But apply the principle to religious society, and it is inadmissible. If one member of a Christian church be not accountable to another for what he beJieves, an infidel, in demanding the Lord's supper from a Christian minister as a qualification for office, demands no more than the other may conscientiously and scripturally comply with. In refusing to unite with an unbeliever, or a profligate, or one who in my judgment rejects what is essential to the gospel, I do not impose my faith upon him; but merely decline having fellowship with what I consider as a work of darkness.
The writer is acquainted with several dissenting churcbes at this time, which for some years past have acted upon what they call a liberal ground: that is, they bave admitted men of all sorts of principles into their communion ; and if some who once professed to be friendly to the doctrines of salvation by grace, the deity and atonement of Christ, acceptance with God through his righteousness, the necessity of the new birth, &c. become their avowed enemies, they take no notice of them; but leave them, as they say, to judge for themselves. The consequence however is, that many of these churches have in a few years become extinct; and those which remain have become mere worldly communities, going into many of the dissipations and follies which are practised by none but people who make no pretence to serious religion. I have generally observed, that those who are thus liberal in regard of principles, are seldom far behind as to their practices. Cards, balls, plays, &c. are with them innocent amusements. Such assuredly was not the liberality of Paul. He was, however, of an enlarged mind, and wished much for Christians to be also enlarged. But how? By opening their doors to worldly men, and holding fellowship with all sorts of characters ? Not so; but by the direct contrary. Read 2 Cor. vii. 11. to the end. Oh, ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you ; our heart is enlarged.--Ye are not straitened in us, but in your own bowels.-Be ye also enlarged.Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. From bence Vol. VIII
it would seem, that true enlargedness of mind is inconsistent with an indiscriminate communion with unbelievers, or worldly characters. And this accords with universal experience. Those Christian societies who are careful to preclude or exclude the enemies of the gospel, are in a good degree of one heart, and will feel themselves at liberty to engage in every good work in their social capacity. But those communities which are open to all, will never be agreed in any thing which requires self-denial, diligence, or devotedness to Christ. One will make this objection to the measure, another that ; so that nothing will be effected. This is being yoked together with unbelievers : it is like yoking the sprightly horse with the tardy ass, which instead of helping only hinders him, and may in time so break his spirit as to render him nearly as tardy as the other. In vain do we separate from national establishments of religion to corrupt ourselves. Nonconformity to the ceremonies of the church is of no account, if it be attended with conformity to the world. If the seven Asiatic churches bad been originally formed on these liberal principles, how came it to pass that they were censured for having those among them who held doctrines inconsistent with Christianity ? On such principles, they might have excused themselves from blame, inasmuch as those individuals were only permitted to think and act for them sed vest
SCRIPTURAL TREATMENT OF RICH AND POOR.
Ir is a glory pertaining to the Christian religion, that it embraces to one community al? ranks and degrees of men. It admits of civil
distinctions, and honours every one to whom honour is due ; but at the house of God all this is required to be laid aside. All are brethren, and no account is made of worldly superiority. . I have been led to these reflections, Mr. Editor, by comparing the words of the apostle James, chap. i, 9, 10. with a passage which I have lately met with in an otherwise admired publication. Let the brother of low degree, (says the apostle,) rejoice in that he is exalted ; but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. We see here that joy is the common portion of all believers, whether rich or poor : and that the highest character which either can attain, is that of a brother. There is, however, some difference in the considerations which are presented for the purpose of inducing joy, according to their different situations in life. The poor brother is supposed to be most in danger of inordinate dejection : and therefore, as a proper antidete, he must rejoice in being exalted. The rich, on the other hand, is most in danger of being lifted up with his situation ; he must therefore rejoice in being made low. The adaptedness of the means to the end, in the first instance, is easily conceived ; but there seems to be something a little paradoxical in the last. Let us examine them.
The poor brother's part, by which he is taught to rejoice in adver: sity, is one in which every Christian beart will rejoice with hima. A state of poverty, viewed by itself, is both chilling and cheerless. Nature revolts at it. A lowly babitation, a dry and scanty morsel, mean attire, hard labour, and the want of respect among men, are things wbich cannot be agreeable. If all were alike, it would be somewhat different: but the poor man is affected by the disparity. between his condition and that of others. Plenty daily passes by his door; but he scarcely tastes it. If the fig-tree blossom, it is not for him ; there is no fruit on his vine, nor flock in his fold, nor herd in his stall. But, Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.' Come bither, poor man, says the gospel; art thou but withal a Christian, here is a feast for thee. Although thy fig-tree blossom not, and there be no fruit in thy vine, nor flock in thy fold, nor herd in thy stall; yet mayest thou rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of thy salvation! Say not, I am a do
trec; God hath given thee an everlasting name that shall not be cot off. Art thou a servant, care not for it; thou art the Lord's free man. To be an heir of God, a joint-beir with Christ, a son or daughter of the Lord God Almighty, a fellow-citizen with the saints, is an honour which princes might envy! Nor is it al. together in hope. As there is a meanness in sin, wbich renders the character of the sinner, in spite of all his efforts and pretences, contemptible even in his own eyes; so there is a dignity in uprightness, which ennobles the mind, whatever be its outward circumstances. This it was emboldened the prisoner, while the want of it caused his judge to tremble. Acts xxiv. 25.
That, on the other hand, which is addressed to the rich bröther, is no less appropriate. He is directed to rejoice, and we should think with good reason, inasmuch as his enjoyment lies in both worlds : but this is not the ground of it. And though he is in common with his poor brother interested in gospel privileges, yet they are not bere introduced: but something more suited to counteract that spirit of high-mindedness, of which the rich are especially in danger. He is directed to rejoice in that he is made low. He must not value bimself on any thing of a worldly nature, because, as the flower of the grass he shall (in that respect) pass away. Rather let him rejoice that he has been humbled, and taught like Moses to prefer affliction with the people of God, to the pleasures of sin for a season. It is true, this is rejoicing in what the world calls a disgrace ; but such was the joy of all who gloried in the cross of Christ. Whatever the world may think, there is a solid reason for the opulent Christian to rejoice in his being made low : for it is a being led to think justly and soberly of himself, as he ought to think, and enabled to withdraw bis dependence from those deceitful enjoyments which will quickly fade like the grass before the scorching sun. It will tend also to heighten his joy, if he compare his case with that of the generality of rich men, who are put off with the present world as their only portion. Not many of this description are called. It is therefore matter of thankfulness to any who are singled out by divine grace from their companions.