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faithful testimony against all contention, oppression, and injustice, but against every thing that is opposed to the peace and happiness of man. He cannot enrich himself by dealing in that which makes other men poor; neither can he become an instrument of evil by encouraging in any way, the frequent or unnecessary use of ardent spirits, when he sees how many thousands in our country are falling a prey to intemperance, and how many tens of thousands it has reduced to misery and ruin.
John. I should think the effect of true religion must be, not only to restrain us from evil, but to lead us into all goodness.
Father. Certainly it is. We must not only “cease to do. evil,” but we must "learn to do well,” and thus obtain the fulfilment of that blessed promise; “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah i. 16–18.
Our holy and blessed example, Christ Jesus, went about continually doing good;-it was his meat and his drink to do his Father's will, and all those who would be his disciples must follow his steps, as far as light and ability are afforded.
mo afforded. “Is not this the fast which I have chosen," saith the Lord, “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not, to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh.” Isaiah lviii. 6, 7.
He who does these things from the pure motive of Christian charity, will not sound a trumpet before him, but will endeavour to “do them in secret, and he who seeth in secret will reward him openly.” It is true that the Divine Being looks at the state of our hearts, and the motives of our actions, rather
than the actions themselves,—but pure motives and good feelings cannot long exist in us, without bringing forth their appropriate fruits;—therefore the apostle James says, that « faith without works is dead,” and that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this : to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.” Now in order to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, we must not @only forsake its vices, but we must turn away from its vain fashions and trifling'amusements. We must not "be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds." Rom. xii. 2. And we are required “to walk in wisdom towards them that are without, redeeming the time; and let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colos. iv. 5, 6.
These are the genuine and invariable fruits of being born again of incorruptible seed, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever;"_and it is not possible for any soul to participate in the joys of heaven, either here or hereafter, without being born again, and made a “partaker of the Divine nature."
The gospel of Christ (by which I mean the “power of God unto salvation,” Rom. i. 16,) is truly a glorious gospel, for it saves men from the dreadful effects of sin, nat by an imputative righteousness, but by taking away the sinful nature out of the heart, so that those who have been dead in sin are raised up in newness of life. We cannot be reconciled to God while we remain in a state of sin, for “what communion hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial?” That corrupt nature in man, which has sinned, must be crucified and slain, (Rom. vi. 6,) in order that Christ may reign in us; for “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, all old things are done away, and all things are new, and all things of God." We must put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.” The true Christian knows no distinction of party or sect, of rank or condition; for he loves all mankind;-and all those who are governed by the same pure spirit, whatever may be their name or profession of religion, he can salute as brethren. He does not expect the fellowship of the gospel to be always accompanied by an entire uniformity of opinion, for it is “the unity of the spirit” that is “the bond of peace;” and if all the professors of religion were governed by that one pure spirit which speaks “peace on earth and good will to men,” there would be no occasion for creeds to define the boundaries that separate one sect from another. It has always been the effect of human creeds and systems of religion, to array sect against sect, and brother against brother; but our Divine Master has given us no creed to bind the consciences of men, except that one rule by which their principles may be known, which is to try them by their fruits, for a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor an evil tree good fruit:
“Love is the fulfilling of the law,” and “by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that docth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Let no man think himself converted, or regenerated, until he finds the pure spirit of Divine Love to be his governing principle in thought, word, and deed, so that “whether he eats, or whether he drinks, or whatsoever he does, it is all for the glory of God." Then, and not till then, can it be truly said that he is renewed in the spirit of his mind, and that he has “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians iv. 24. We are assured that those who arrive at this blessed state, will find “the yoke made easy and the burden light," for there will be a spring of joy opened in their hearts, that will make every trial and affliction seem as nothing, for Christ's sake. The pleasures and honours of the world will, in their view, lose all their charms to please, and they will go on their way rejoicing in a living foretaste of those celestial joys which the world can neither give nor take away.But even in this state of mind, there is a continual need of reliance upon Divine aid; for “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jer. x. 23. And that solemn injunction of Christ should never be forgotten,-“Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.” Mark xiii. 35.
ON DIVINE WORSHIP. John. In a former conversation the subjects of repentance and conversion were discussed, and we were shown the necessity of being “born again of incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” There is another subject of much interest which I desire to understand, and that is, the right mode of worshiping the Divine Being.
Father. This is a subject of deep interest to every awakened mind, and I shall endeavour to state my views upon it for your "serious consideration, not wishing you to adopt them any further than you may be convinced in your own minds of their truth.
James. There is a wide difference among Christians of various denominations in their manner of worship, and yet most of thein profess to derive their views from the same source. The Catholics have their stated forms of prayer and praise, many of which are repeated in a dead language; the Episcopalians have theirs all written and repeated in the English language; the Presbyterians have no forms for their prayers, but their hymns are set to music, and sometimes accompanied by the organ; the Methodists and Baptists have mostly discarded the instrumental music, but still retain the vocal,—while the Friends, or Quakers, have relinquished both, and all set forms of prayer and preaching, deeming neither indispensible to Divine worship, which they believe may be acceptably performed in silence. Now, if the Bible be so perfect a rule as is generally stated, how is it that all these people differ so much in their views, for they all appeal to it for authority?
Father. The Old Testament is very explicit in stating the forni of worship and all the ceremonies enjoined upon the Jews, because that was an outward dispensation, intended to typify and lead to a spiritual dispensation, and its end being accomplished it was abrogated by the coming of Christ. Now we may remember he said to the woman of Samaria, "The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
I have no doubt that this spiritual worship,—this communion of the soul with the Father of spirits, has been, and still is, performed, at times, by the pious and sincere worshipers in all the various sects of Christendom;—the question is, which of the various forms of worship is most consistent with the Christian dispensation, and best adapted to promote true spiri. tual worship.