Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

lost and undone sinners by na- is its true light, we should not ture as well as practice ; men complain of the difficulty of find. who in extremity were relieved ing out whom, or what we are by a divine light and aid, who to believe, amidst the endless found themselves comforted and distractions of controversy. We refreshed with divine peace, have only to turn away our eyes purely through faith, by the from the many scenes of mock righteousness and salvation of Christianity, and steadily survey Jesus Christ; men who knew that which is genuine. For emphatically why they called him there have ever been those who Saviour, and enjoyed even in this have held, and felt and practised, life a real communion with him as has been described. Setting in their souls, who derived from aside also some lesser differences his kindness, by the force of a of opinion, which they may have mysterious, but powerful union, had among themselves, the views strength against sin, and all sorts of the fall, and of human deprav. of evil; who lived in him spir- ity, of justification by Jesus itually, followed his example, in- Christ, and redemption through deed, in real holiness, had their his blood, of a life of entire deconversation in heaven, and di- pendence on him, and of those rected their ambition, in con- fruits of holiness which result tempt of all that the world calls from it, are simple, uniform, great, to an heavenly kingdom, clear, intelligible; the most so contented here to be despised as of any thing in the world, when fools and madmen, yet living ac- the mind is rightly disposed to cording to every maxim of true receive the truth, and submit to wisdom; returning good for it in all its energy. evil, prayers for curses, and “This is then the way to judge beneficence for persecution ; the of Christianity. The fulfilment real friends of mankind, new of the Scriptures, and the divine creatures indeed, and, finally, as origin of the religion itself, would distinct in spirit and taste from hence be shewn in a light unane the rest of the world, as light is swerably strong. from darkness. These are the “ The acts of the apostles form CHRISTIANS ; the history of a very precious beginning of this these is the history of the church. history, and have in this view Malignant opposers of the Scrip- been judiciously illustrated in a tures miss their mark altogeth- late publication by an able and er, when they censure Chris- pious divine of the church of tianity, because of the wickedness England.* He has not proseof vast numbers who are called cuted the history beyond the Christians ; for, strictly speak- first century; and I confess the ing, they are infidels as well as task, as we advance downward to themselves; and so long as men the times of the Reformation, despise the essential principles grows more arduous. It might of Scripture, they ought to be so however be done ; and historical esteemed, whatever they please proofs are not wanting from age to call themselves.

to age of the true church of « Did we accustom ourselves to view the church in this, which • Newton's Ecclesiastical History,

Christ, shining as a light in the with a specious appearance of midst of a dark world. The friendship, it will behove us to scene shifts indeed from place to expose in its true light. What place. The Spirit of God is has been advanced concerning grieved from time to time ; can- the doctrines of Christianity, dlesticks are removed, and still their influence, their necessity, the light, which is here extin- their importance, has its truth, guished, rises there, and burns and must be owned by every with triumphant glory. In vain Christian. But then why such shall we seek to confine it with extreme censoriousness, why in the pale of certain denomina- such contracted bigotry? The tions. The grace of God will generality of the clergy and laity not be thus fettered, and we do at bottom hold the same things ought to separate it in our ideas as those which you so vehementfrom all externals and circum- ly insist on ; only they are more stantials whatever. For ages, moderate in their manner, and even amidst the corruptions of more wary in their use of these Popery, some souls were par- truths. They make some contakers of its influence. But cessions to the world in things when the church was seemingly not very material, for the sake near a total extinction, it was re- of doing good in things of great. vived with wonderful power at er consequence. It is not the the reformation. Even the Jan. doctrine, but the intemperate senists in France, though Papists manner of applying it, which ex• by name, were possessed of the poses those who call themselves same holy flame, which animat- evangelical, to censure and illed the breasts of pious Protest. will; and particularly their want ·ants, at the very time too of charity can never be vindicathat the church of England, a ted, in supposing none to be Protestant church by constitu- right but those who use exactly tion, had relapsed into a con- the same language as them. tempt of the gospel. In our own selves. times a glorious change has in “ The sophistry of this charge her taken place; evangelical deserves to be distinctly considprinciples have been revived; ered. And to prevent mistakes, they are spreading at this day it must be confessed, that if the with vigour and effect. May persons described under the last the land in general feel their article, as members of the real force! And as the church has church of Christ, had nothing to ever been thus preserved, so par shew for the vindication of their ticular instances of very extra- peculiar principles and practice ordinary exertions of the grace but an affected discrimination of God have appeared from age from others in point of phrase. to age, as it were to call up the ology ; if, in short, verbal disattention of a slumbering world, tinctions were all they had to

“III. There is a method not boast of, their conduct would be uncommonly made use of to indeed indefensible. It would evade the force of this whole are not only be uncharitable and big. gumentation, which as it meets oted, but also weak and unman. us in full opposition, though ly. For what more unworthy of No. II. Vol. II.

QQQ

. rational creatures, than to raise is all the doctrine in the world disputes among themselves on abstracted from its use? mere terms, when their ideas .“Granting, however, that there are the same!

are many things in which good “ But this is far from being the men may safely differ, and ought case in the present instance; to shew a spirit of mutual forand every candid observer, who bearance and moderation, cerhas thought with any clearness tainly the doctrine of justificaor precision on these subjects, tion is not one of those subjects. must see that the difference is If any question can be conceived in ideas, not in words, and is ex- to be even of infinite importance, tremely momentous, even more it is this—How shall man be acso than language can describe. cepted with his Maker? We tri." That the religion briefly de fle only with God and our souls, scribed in the last article, and while we content ourselves with peculiarly distinguished by hold a loose and general idea of ing out the doctrines of Justifi- Christ's atonement, and bring it cation and Regeneration, is es. lo no one determinate point of sentially distinct from that of utility whatever. For the questhose who deny the Godhead tion is this :-Ought I to trust and atonement of Jesus Christ, entirely in Jesus Christ, and to and the personality and influence renounce my own righteousness of the Holy Ghost, will be at entirely, in order for salvation, once allowed.

or is it unsafe and dangerous so “ Many, however, do yet hold to do; and ought my hope of the doctrines of the Trinity and heaven to be founded partly on the atonement of Jesus Christ in the merit of Christ, and partly a general manner, though they on my own ?- This is the clear seem to make little use of them state of the question as it lies bein practice, and do evidently lay tween the two parties before the great stress for their hope of us on the subject of justificaheaven on the perforinance of tion. And is this a nominal moral duties, and yet at the same distinction ? Is it of no consetime treat with perfect contempt quence whether man be thoroughall ideas of conversion or regen- ly humbled, or allowed to glory eration; not perhaps denying in something of his own? wheththe thing itself, yet ridiculing all er God and the Lamb are to pretensions of any person to the have all the honour of his salvaexperience of them in our days. tion, or not? There is an esIf this be a true account of the sential difference of opinion here, state of many of the Clergy and and the difference produces a. Laity in this kingdom, one sees most material distinction in the at first sight why they object to whole of practical religion. The the manner of setting forth these very ends and motives of duty: things. They have no idea of which each party propose to any personal use and application themselves are widely opposite.! of them to the heart and con- The love of God is the grand science. And how then do they motive of the one system, selfdiffer essentially froin those who righteousness of the other. But deny them altogether? For what surely to every real Christian,

[graphic]
[graphic]

whatever doubts he may have, deed their doctrine was the same, (and he has many on religious no instances of any conversion subjects) it is no matter of doubt shouldever happen among them? at all whether he be a fallen Is it not still more incredible, that creature, dead altogether in sin they should deride the very idea by nature. It is no matter of of conversion itself? Why are hesitation whether he is to seek they so fearful of the cross of acceptance with God by the Christ? why so conformable to blood of Jesus Christ, or by the the taste and spirit of the world? works of the law. It is not a How happens it, that the people problematical subject with him, in general who attend their minWhether he must be born again, istry, are so ignorant of the first if ever he enter into the king principles of Christianity ? I re. dom of God; whether this new member Mr. Howard told me, birth, with all its fruits and con- that he never, in all bis life, heard sequences, be wrought by the will of the new birth from any pulpit, of man, or by the Spirit of God till he heard it at Ferriby ; and I alone ; whether his good works apprehend that many might justought of necessity to be prin- ly make a similar remark. It eipled by the love of God or not. were much to be wished, that the

“ But enough has been said to truth was clearly seen in this shew that there is a real differ point ; because while men fanrence of opinion here ; and those cy the common, beaten, broad, who content themselves with fashionable road, which exposes the forms of orthodoxy above them to no inconveniences, will described, may be convinced of lead to the same end as the nar. it by the opposition which they row and difficult road, they will feel in their own breasts to that never leave the one for the sake view of things which I have been of the other. espousing. Let them search, “IV. If the doctrines of justi. however, the Scriptures with fication and regeneration be then honest minds, and at least cease real scripture doctrines, and enfrom saying that they mean the ter into the principles of a work same things as those which they of divine grace on the heart ;oppose. For if indeed this be if they prove their divine origin the case, why do they shew such by their own light and native enaversion to these principles ? ergy; if they have never failed, why dislike to have them set in every age of the church, to be forth in the plainest manner? attended with undeniable seals why are they more cordial, and of their divinity, in the converfeel their own spirits to be more sion and holy lives of some ; if in unison with Socinians, scep: these alone constitute the church, tics, and with any sort of per- and if every other sort of prinsons, than those whom they ciples be diametrically opposite, deem enthusiasts? why such what remains but that we betake ridicule and contempt of the new ourselves to the study of the sabirth? why is the preaching of cred oracles, and see what is the their system, if it be a system religion there enforced? On a at all, of no weight, no influence ? fair examination we shall find, Is it not incredible that, if in- that the principles which in this

kingdom have been spreading Substance. « Men are turned for about forty years, and have from darkness to light, and from been stigmatized with the op- the power of Satan to God.” probrious terms of weakness and Multitudes are reformed, and enthusiasm, are in reality the lead holy lives, wherever these religion of the apostles and principles prevail. I frankly primitive Christians. And a avow that the recommendation little candid examination will con- of these principles was the de. vince any reasonable man, that sign of this publication. Let it they are no other than those only be allowed, that there is which the Reformers in Germa- such a thing as a divinely revealny and England professed, and ed religion, that the knowledge on which the Church of England and power of it are of infinite is founded. The decline has been importance, and then if any one so deep with us, and sćepticism, will still fastidiously refuse these profaneness, and an illegitimate principles an hearing, let him and unscriptural charity have ask himself, where, and among been propagated in so general a what sort of persons he can exmanner, that the revival of these pect to find the real Christian principles subjects men to the religion ? If he is not quite buri. censure of introducing some ed in profaneness, and pride, he strange sectarian ideas, though will scarce look for it among they contain nothing new, notti Arians and Socinians. What! ing particular, nothing different is the Spirit of God with those from the creed of the wisest who degrade the essential digni. and most intelligent Christians ty of the Saviour, or despise the of all ages, nor from the genuine operations of the Holy Ghost, or doctrine of the church. Much explain away the only hope of a pains has been taken to suppress sinner-the atonement of the them ; persecution has been tri. Son of God? Will he look for ed, but the spirit of the times, the Christian religion among the and the lenity of government common professors of orthohave ever rendered it ineffectual. doxy? This will, in our days, The most indecent publications, comprehend a very large part; on the plan of wit and raillery, about forty years ago, it comprehave been attempted ; nor has hended almost the whole of the the more reasonable mode of ar- established clergy. But what gument been neglected. Yet signature of divine life can be these principles live and flourish; traced among them? Is there and every lover of truth will re- not an evident want of zeal with joice to find, that many of the respect to religion ? not to say established clergy are opening among many a want of any plan their eyes more and more, and or system of ideas at all? Is there entering into the spirit of the the least spiritual good apparent New Testament with increas- among them? Do any in hearing ing ardour. The hand of God discourses from the pulpit, ever also has evidently been with obtain, or expect to obtain any them. Mr. Howard's case, tho' benefit ? Can a single instance somewhat singular in circum- be produced, in the course of stances, is by no means so in twenty or thirty years, of a sin

« AnteriorContinuar »