« AnteriorContinuar »
THE Con .ctors of the Christian SPECTATOR, take the opportunity presented them by the commencement of another year of their labours, to solicit the aid, both of the talents and patronage, of those who are united in the great doctrines of the Reformation.
At no period since the commencement of this publication, has the union of the friends of these doctrines appeared more necessary; and the assurances of friendly regard and assistance, which, from various quarters we have received, induce us to believe that at no period has this union appeared more probable.
To illustrate the necessity of united effort, we need only remark, that the enemies of the doctrines of the Reformation are collecting their energies, and meditating a comprehensive system of attack, which demands on our part a corresponding concert of action. In addition to this organized system of attack, there are individuals in every part of our country who are filling the land with cavils against the doctrines of grace, calculated to unsettle the minds of multitudes, and if it were possible, to deceive the very elect. This ubiquity of indefatigable assault, seems to require a like ubiquity of indefatigable defence. Is it not time then to lift up an ensigo which may be seen from east to west, and from north to south, and to sound a trumpet of alarm which shall draw around the standard of our Captain the defenders of his faith? For our part, we cannot meditate on the preparations of the enemy without solicitude, or endure the thought that the battle axe should ring on the gates of Zion before a sentinel awakes, or a note of preparation is heard within.
It seems evident, that such a periodical work as the exigences of the church demand, can be sustained only by great and united efforts. By men of learned leisure it cannot be supported, for no such exist in our country. Must it not then be sustained by those who are compelled to redeem their time and double their diligence for that end. But to support it permanently in this manner is it not indispensable that the pressure be allowed to rest on a more extended base ? A small number of men may make great efforts for a short time, but who can sustain through protracted years, an effort which puts constantly in requisition all his energies at their highest point of exertion ?
Were it practicable to meet the exigences of our country by five or six periodical publications in different places, why should the labour and expense of defending the truth be multiplied many times, when it can be done with far greater ability by a single united effort ? So far as writers are awakened to more vigorous exertion by the prospect of appearing in the presence, and labouring for the benefit of thousands, a work to be read by the great body of the church, must exert a powerful influence in calling forth the utmost reach of talent. And would not the interest excited in the community at large by such a work, give to it a peculiar and commanding influence ?
Two difficulties only have occurred to us as to the permanent support of such a work; the one is a sensibility which may be awakened by the admission of different views respecting some points of doctrine, the other a natural feeling entertained by every good man who is deeply engaged in professional and local duties, that his hands are already full and that he can do no more. As to the first difficulty, we are prepared to believe that the exercise of a christian spirit on the part of the writers, and the conciliatory influence of the department of reviews, with a small share of christian magnanimity and forbearance on the part of the readers, will render the work more instructive and satisfactory, than a publication accommodated exclusively to the senti
ments of any one part of the church. Indeed, if the day is ever to come whes “the watchmen shall see eye to eye,” with whom is the approximation to commence if not with those who are least asunder, and whose hearts are most cordially disposed to union, and how can that union be effected except by a temperate statenient and discussion of conflicting sentiments ?
As to leisure for promoting the general interests of the Church, which lie beyond the sphere of professional labour, we have oul-lived the day, in which we expect to find any such period of leisure between us and the grave. Those duties are important and sufficient to occupy the time of every man; but the question is, can our immediate professional duties, and the more general duties of our humble spheres, be lawfully allowed to engross our whole strength and time. There is indeed a providential course of things which will hold on its way to great and good results unwatched and unanticipated, except by God himsell; when local duties are faithfully performed throughout the church, and no enemy is combining into plans of extensive reach, all those general causes of a disasterous influence which can be brought to bear on the interests of the church. But never, we believe, have the enemy been left to control and pervert all the great springs of action and influence in a community, without a deplorable prevalence of errour and prostration of truth.
To avert so great a calamity, the result of plans so deliberate and comprehensive, of causes so powerful, of an executive energy recently awakened into such constant and vigorous action, we feel ourselves called upon in common with the friends of vital religion, in every part of our country, under a sense of common danger, and duty, taking into view the religious interests of this great and growing nation for centuries to come-to lay aside all prejudices, if we have any, to forego in part the demands of local avocation, and even to lay upon ourselves additional burdens, that we may at once meet the enemy which is coming in like a flood, and fight on the threshold, the battle of the Lord.
It is by no means our expectation that the Christian Spectator will become extensively a controversial work, much less that its exertions will be directed exclusively against any one party. To illustrate and defend the doctrines of grace, from whatever quarter they may be assaulted, to give a wider range to their practical influence, and to array in one impenetrable phalanx all who stand forth in their defence, are the high objects to which we would concentrate our feeble efforts, and urge the co-operation of our brethren.
For the Christian Spectator. sand things, which are lawsul, which On using the world as not abusing it. are proper, which are necessary ;
Man sustains a most important re- that there are duties pertaining to this lation to this world, and the use which world, that the constitution of the he makes of it, decides his present world evidently demands a high deand future well-being. The influence gree of solicitude and toil in its conof the world is felt not merely in our coins, in order to fulfil the duties of sufferings and enjoyments as sensitive life, and that we are not so to underbeings, but in the formation of our value the things of this world, nor to character, as beings who are destined be so absorbed with those of another soon to leave our present state,and en- as to disqualify us for the enjoyments ter one of eternal retribution. It be- to be found in our present state of comes then a point of enquiry, well existence. worthy of examination, what is the Which of these two classes is in the true and proper use to be made of this right, it might be difficult to decide world; how are the duties of religion were we to concede to them their own and the business of the world to be premises. For if the duties of man united and to be made alike subservi- which result from his relation to this ent to our spiritual, our highest inter- world, are incompatible with those ests.
which arise from his character as anacThe subject becomes still more im- countable and an immortal being, each portant if we reflect, that the opinion opinion. it would seem has a warrant, is not uncommon, and the practical and between the different courses estimate still more frequent, that the proposed, we are fairly at liberty to duties which arise out of man's con- take our own choice. But it is not dition in this world, are incompatible difficult to shew, that the opinion with that spiritual frame of mind, which assumes, that religion is inwhich the Scriptures constantly in- compatible with the duties and busiculcate. There are those who plead ness of the present state, is founded for a species of indifference to this on an utter misapprehension of the world, and a kind of sublimated de- nature either of true religion or of the votion, which are not only inconsis. proper business of the world. tent with the active business of life, True religion may be said to conand with a lawful measure of world- sist in habitual obedience to the comly enjoyment, but with usefulness to prehensive precept “whether, theretheir fellow creatures. The propen- fore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever sity, however, of most men, is not to ye do, do all to the glory of God.” go to excess, in obeyiog those pre- His own glory, is the end of all the cepts of the gospel, which require works of God and the only end worabstraction from the world. To en- thy of himself. That end which is feeble the obligation of Christian self-worthy of God, surely becomes every denial, and to extend the limits of other being, who is capable of maksell-indulgence, we are told of a thou. ing it the end of his actions. This
end, man, as an accountable creature, laws and precepts which God has givis qualified to propose to himself and en us in his word. Had man been to accomplish. There is nothing in competent to decide on each specific his faculties, nothing in the nature of act or course of action by which God the world that surrounds bim, noth- would be most honoured, he had been ing in the structure of his physical safely left to pursue this end io conconstit tion, which necessarily inter- formity with his own judgment. But feres with rendering the world in the it musi be obvious, on a little reflecuse he makes of it, subservient to this tion, how much embarrassment, and exalted end of his creation. The end perplexity, and errour, would have therefore, for which man is to live, is attended the decision of the endless the glory of God. This law is of diversity of questions, which in universal obligation throughout the that case would have arisen. intelligent kingdom of Jehovah. From these evils, God has gra
The way or manner in which the ciously exempted us, by giving to end is to be accomplished by the vol- us his laws and precepiis, as the guide untary subjects of that kingdom, va- of our conduci. Omniscience has ries according to the different circum- decided for us. Coder such guidance stances in which they are placed. — we may walk in a sure and safe path In heaven, this end is pre-eminently to the great end for which God has accomplished by direct acts of wor- given us an accountable and immorship, and by the affections and the de- tal existence. lights which are inseparable from such Such being the nature of real reliemployments in the unveiled presence gion, we are led to enquire, whether of God. On earth too, the method of its habitual power, and its practical honouring God by direct acts of wor- ascendency are incompatible with ship and their appropriate emotions the true business of the world, or and joys, is not denied to man, but with any of the duties which arise made his privilege and bis duty. from our present condition. An in
As a constituent part of the same spired Apostle has taught us to use great end, man is to propose to bim- this world as not abusing it. To self, his own present and eternal well- abuse the world, is to turn it from a being, and that of his fellow men.- good to a bad purpose. None will To aim at the glory of God as the doubt that the world formed by infiultimate end of all our actions, in- niie wisdom and goodness, is capable volves the loss of no real good, either of answering a good end to the creato ourselves or to our fellow crea tures for whose habitation and benefit lures. God, in his wisdom and good it was made. If then, we can ascertain ness, has not only required us to glo- how that end may be defeated on the rify him, but has established a perictone band, and how secured on the coincidence between that end, and other, we shall also ascertain what our own best good. Amid all the it is to use the world as not abusing varying scenes and duties of life, the it, and whether the true use of the alternative can never arise, when one world is at all inconsistent with the real interest of man, must be sacritic- duties of religion. ed to the divine glory, or one particle 1. We are not to regard this world of that glory, to the real interest of as of no value to our happiness, but man. The anthem sung by the duly to appreciate it as the means of heavenly hosts, when the Saviour present good." There is nothing was born, may be repeated, till time better for a man than that he should shall be no longer, "glory to God in eat and drink and that he should the highest, peace on earth and good make his soul enjoy good in his la:ll to men.”
bour.” “ Every creature of God is je rule by which this great end good, and nothing to be refused, if it
promoted, is contained in the be received with thanksgiving.” The
world then which God has appointed yet compared with that of which the us to inhabit, is not to be regarded soul is capable, is justly denominated with absolute aversion, nor even with vanity and vexation of spirit. Under indifference. If we use the world as what a lamentable practical mistake, of no worth, we virtually declare its then, are a great majority of men! insufficiency to administer to our pres- In youth, in manhood, in old age, ent comfort, we contemn its bles- happiness from the world is the great sings, we impeach the goodness of object of pursuit. Though it perpetour Maker. The bounties of heaven ually eludes the grasp, yet disapthat are scattered around us to be en pointment only serves to renew the joyed, are despised; every emotion of ardour of pursuit, or to change the gratitude for them to our divine Bene path of search; never persuades to factor is stifled, and the very means of abandon the object. Now is this use supporting our bodies while employ of the world conformed to the true ed in the duties of religion, are nego desigo of him that made it for man? lected. This use of the world is a If the whole world were gained, would palpable abuse of it, and no less pal the object aimed at, be secured ? pably inconsistent with the claims of Would present happiness be enjoyibat religion which we have describ ed ? Is not God the only satisfying ed. That religion wbich teaches us portion of the soul ? Is not man a to make the glory of God the end of pilgrim on earth, and in the midst of all our actions, requires also that we his journey; and does either his seek our own and our neighbours present or his future happiness rewell being, as well as honour God by quire that he look for his home, bis acts of praise and thanksgiving.– rest, his complete enjoyment, while Some degree of worldly enjoyment on his way to eternity ? Surely he is therefore, as inseparable from the not subserving the end of his present subsistence of man, so far from being condition, by using this world to satincompatible with that religion,
is in- isty the desires of that spirit which dispensable to its existence. These pants for immortality, and which can blessings, are given to us as the means be satisfied only with the fulness of of furnishing us with strength and ac God. Reason tells us, that the good tivity, in the performance of personal things of our earthly pilgrimage are and relative duties; of exhibiting to given as mere refreshments by the us the perfections of the invisible way, to cheer our progress and aniCreator, of exciting our lively grati- mate our steps toward our Father's tude to that unwearied Benefactor house ; while the experience of six who provides so liberally for our thousand years, decides, that to fix comfort and our happiness, and in the heart on this world as our portion, this way to prepare us for the song is to tread the path of disappointeternal; and thus we see a di- ment, of anxiety, of sorrow, of sio vine harmony between using the and of ruin. What then is there in world as not abusing it, and the du- the true and proper use of this world ties of that religion which the gospel that is inconsistent with the demands inculcates.
of religion ? Is the religion, which re2. If we would use this world as quires us to estimate this world acDot abusing it, we must oot regard it cording to its true value in comparison as the means of perfect happiness.— with another, which would awaken A single glance at the structure of us from the wretched dream, that to the soul; and at the nature of the feed on ashes is the perfection of our world, forces the conviction on every immortal nature, which would check mind, that the world cannot make us iu the pursuit of empty visions, man happy. The amount of good which surrounds us with the substanwhich it can afford, much as it ex- tial realities of eternity, and which ceeds what we have reason to expect, directs us to fix the desires of the