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SURVEY OF NEW ENGLAND
gods to witness, forbid us to be with a revelation of the divine enemies ; and that person, who character, the only object of true is conscious to himself of having piety and devotion.
A. neglected them, in my opinion can never be happy; for whoeve er becomes the object of divine wrath, I know no swiftness can save him, no darkness hide him,
CHURCHES. no strong place defend him, since in all places, all things are sub
(Continued from page 274.) ject to their power; every where
One cannot have lived long in they are equally lords of all.
New-England under advantages This is my opinion concerning to obtain information, without obboth our oaths, and the gods, serving that a growing contempt whom we have made the depos- of creeds and confessions of faith itories of our friendship."
is characteristic of the present It would fill a volume to cite
times.* They are abundantly the proofs of this reverence for decried, as useless inventions, superior beings, among the an- having no tendency to promote cient Pagans. Suffice it to say, the interests of truth and relithat all historical records abound' gion. They are represented, as with examples. And it is par fruitful sources of debate and conticularly observable, that the his- tention.
They are exclaimed torians constantly ascribe public against, as inconsistent with the calamities to the anger of the natural liberty of mankind, and gods. Earthquakes, plagues, the sacred freedom of Christiangreat disasters of every kind are ity. They are stigmatized, as represented, as the just punish- arbitrary impositions, engines of ment of men for their wickedness spiritual tyranny. In short, they and impiety ; and sacrifices to are loaded with all the reproachappease the gods and avert their
es, which distinguished wit and vengeance seem to have been co- learning can furnish. In conseeval with the human race.
quence of this, they are general" The gods (the only great and only ly undervalued, and, in inany of wise)
our churches, are falling into dis. Are mov'd by offerings, vows, and sacrifice;
As this is deemed a great evil, Offending man their high compassion and as there is, in these hazard
wins, And daily prayers atone for daily sins."
ous times, peculiar danger of its
gaining ground and increasing We see therefore sentiments its baneful influence ; we judge of piety have been common to the pagan, as well as Christian
For the substance of what is to world; but for want of just ideas be exhibited on confessions of faith, of the true God, and his will, this Pastor acknowledges himself indebted reverence of the pagan nations to a large preface to the Assembly's was ill-directed, and often mark- confession of faith, written by W.
Dunlop, Regius Professor of Divinity ed by the wildest absurdities. and Ecclesiastical History in the Uni. The Christian alone is blessed versity of Edjoburgh. Vol. II, No. 7. Ꭱ Ꭱ .
it necessary, as far as possible, men, who have scarcely retained to furnish a seasonable antidote. one principle of religion, and Accordingly, this will be the have embraced the most absurd subject of the present and some and impidus doctrines, have following numbers of the sur- usurped the honourable name of
We shall endeavour to Christians ; in consequence of remove the contempt which is which the multitude, confoundcast on creeds and confessions of ing all together, who bear the faith, by a brief statement of same title, have entertained views their design and advantages, and exceedingly injurious to the to invalidate the objections raised Christian cause. They have atagainst them by fair and rational tributed to the real disciples of Jeanswers. This discussion, it is sus, the errors and immoralities hoped, will lead the churches of those, who have been disciples of New-England to consider the in name only. It has, therefore, great evil of contemning and dis- been of the last importance, that using confessions of faith. true believers, by publishing
One use of confessions is, 10 summaries of the Christian faith, give to the world a fair and au- should distinguish themselves thentic account of the doctrines from every erroneous sect, and maintained by the Christian furnish the world with advanchurch. Mankind have frequent- tages to form some proper noly, if not generally, mistaken, and tions of their religion. misrepresented the faith of the This necessity existed in s church, and loaded Christianity high degree at the reformation. with groundless calumnies. The The papists, inspired with irrecreligion of the gospel, in its ten- oncileable enmity against the der years, was peculiarly expos- glory of Messiah's kingdom, used 'ed to abuse. Its Author, while every engine in their power to he lived, was persecuted by the obscure the light of divine truth, fury and barbarity of his ene- then breaking forth, and to stop mies. After his decease, they the progress of the reformation. endeavoured lo blacken his mem- They defamed the characters of ory and his doctrine by the vil- the reformers, and violently tra"est aspersions. His religion was duced their doctrines. Acdisguised with a false face, and cordingly, it was one great rendered unamiable and mon- end of the confessions of faith "strous by reproach. And the which they composed, to shew world were likely to form their the falsity of the charges pubopinion of it, not from a careful lished against them, and to conexamination of its nature, but vince princes, and emperors, and from the misrepresentations of the world, of the unreasonableits adversaries. In such circum- ness of their persecutors. stances, how evidently necessary The same reason had influ. was it for the honour of religion, ence with the assembly of dithat Christians should give a fair vines, who composed the Westrepresentation of the doctrines minster confession and catewhich they believed.
chisms. And the same reason This has been the more nec. justifies Christians at this day in essary, from age to age, because ihe use of confessions. Never
was a day, when a greater varie- every hostile weapon with greatty of false doctrines were propagated, and when error had more Secondly. By publishing plain talents and zeal engaged in its and solemn declarations of their cause. Nor was there ever a faith, believers design to shotu time, when the sentiments of be- that they on the doctrines of lievers were more openly calum Christ with cheerfulness and zeul; niated, or when the church of that his religion, though hated and Christ was more disturbed and despised by the impious, is the obdisgraced by the multitude of ject of their veneration; that they false brethren. It is, therefore, glory in the gospel, as iheir most highly important, that the faith- valuable frossession, and feel grate. ful servants of Christ should ex- ful to God for such an unspeakıhibit a plain, and somewhat full ble gifl. account of their religious princi When God bestows distinples. Not willing to be con- guishing gifts, his people should founded with all who bear the not bury them in ungrateful siChristian name, they crave this lence, but seize every opportunijustice, that the world would ty to make them known to the judge of them by the creed world, and to testify their gratiwhich they embrace, and the tude to the bountiful Giver, conduct which they practically Now in what way can God bless approve. From every mistaken a people more than by causing and slanderous representation, the pure light of truth to shine they make their appeal to those upon them? The gospel is the authentic vouchers of their sen noblest privilege, the most pretimeuts, which are found in their cious gift. Christians should acconfessions of faith.
knowledge it with the sincerest Now if, according to the spirit praise, and embrace every opof modern catholicism, confes- portunity to testify their esteem sions of faith should be wholly for its heavenly doctrines. This laid aside, the world wouid be is done by the practice here recdeprived of one important advan- ommended. Every time the tage for distinguishing the faithful churches of Christ pubfriends of Christ from others, Jish their confessions, they own and so be in greater danger of their obligations to the infinite forming confused and unjust goodness of God for the gospel, conceptions of Christianity. In proclaim their adherence to the such a state of things, the faith divine truths contained in it, and of Christ's people must be judy- glory in them as their crown. ed by the opinions which com As it is the duty of Chrisans, monly prevail. They would upon all proper occasions, to acWant the best advantage to clear knowledge with confidence the their principles from perverse re truths of the gospel, and never proaches, and to designate them. to be ashamed to prosess them selves, as the faithiul advocates before men; so there are some
gospel truth. This effect of seasons which afford peculiar setting aside confessions would motives to this duty. For exam. gratify the enemies of the gos- pic, if any of the doctrines of pel, and give them power to use our holy religion should be in
jured by clamorous reproaches, and to glory in them as our highest and exposed to contempt ; if the honour. Let us account it our ordinances of God are regarded privilege to retain the faith of with disdain and represented as the reformation, particularly that insignificant by the rich and doctrine of grace, which attribthe learned ; in such a case, for utes every step in the salvation churches, that have preserved of sinners to God, and no part of their integrity, to be ashamed of it to man. True wisdom will Christ's cause, to conceal his teach us to undervalue the caldoctrines, and retire into a corn umny of proud adversaries. er, would be inglorious and base. Christian fortitude will never be In such a time, God expects that moved from the foundation of his people will openly avow con truth by ridicule and slander. temned truth, and espouse its in- Contempt and reproach, in such terests the more earnestly, be a cause, we may gladly bind upon cause it is misrepresented and our head, as a crown of glory. vilified by others.
And if, in many churches of Unhappily this is the case at which we hoped better things, the present day. Numberless divine truth has lost much of its heresies have crept into the purity and lustre ; we should church, and the minds of men reckon it the more indispensable are enchanted with the enticing duty, openly to maintain evanforms of error. With a great gelical principles, and the more part insolent reproach and cun- distinguished honour and happining sophistry triumph over the ness, to be free from the infecinterests of truth. Some of the tion of error. most important doctrines of Thirdly. By confessions of Christianity, which were reput- faith the churches may contribute ed of the highest value at the much to mutual comfort and edifi. reformation, and were received cation, and promote brotherly love with the warmest affection by and unity. the primitive worthies of New They, who are animated by England, are not only disbelieve fervent zeal for religion, feel sen. ed, but branded with the most sible pleasure when it flourishes odious epithets, as the offspring in the world, especially when it of narrow, gloomy bigotry, and maintains its ground in the midst even abhorred, as blasphemous. of vigilant and powerful enemies.. This is particularly the case with The faithful subjects of Messiah the doctrines of man's native de- love him with the warmest af. pravity, the deity and atonement fection. The glory of his emof Christ, God's eternal decrees pire is the dearest object of their and electing love, his absolute desires. The more that empire dominion over all creatures, and flourishes and the more his his distinguishing, sovereign throne is exalted, the greater grace toward his people.
joy flows into their hearts. Ev. In such circumstances, ery victory of truth over error, ought to stand forth, as faithful and of grace over sin, yields witnesses for the truth, to assert them exquisite delight. When, with boldness the principles of therefore, churches, which emChristianity in their full extent, brace the same Christian doc
trines, publish authentic declara- enjoy with the Father and with tions of their faith, they give pi- the Son. ous satisfaction to each other. One means, by which the difThey afford the whole body of ferent parts of Christ's church believers that pleasure, which are to maintain a good correg. those, who are inspired with the pondence and happy communhigbest esteem for the truth, ion, is the sameness of their faith, must receive from its establish or their agreement in the same ment and propagation in the gospel doctrines.
The apostle world. Every view which a mentions faith, as one thing saint has of a church, or a per- which constitutes unity among son maintaining the same faith Christians. “ One Lord, ont with himself, especially when it faith, one baptism.” It is easy is abandoned by others around to perceive that creeds are well him, enlivens his feelings and adapted to promote among the comforts his heart.
churches the happy communion The only reason why men do here recommended. By publishnot see and feel, how excellent is ing their confessions, 'they exthis end of confessions, is be. press Christian affection and fel." catse they have not an affection- lowship towards all in every ate regard for religion, and do place, who receive the same como not make Jerusalem their chief mon faith. joy. The bulk of professors, It can, indeed,'be hardly ex lukewarm and degenerate, pre- pected, that sincere Christians, fer their own interests before the while inhabitants of these cloudy interests of Christ, and so are regions, will perfectly agree in little affected with the boldness their religious opinions. This of his enemies, the wounding of happiness is reserved for that his cause, or the triumph of his world, where God himself is the grace.
Sun. But it is a most' melan.' All the real churches of Christ choly consideration, that Chrisscattered over the earth, by what- tians are more divided in their ever peculiarities they may be affections, than they are in their distinguished from each other, sentiments. Love is the pecucompose only one society, are an
liar character of our religion. inated by one Spirit, governed And it is one of its precepts, that by the same maxims, invigorat- whereunto we have already attained by strength derived from the ed, we should all walk by ine same same source, and are all mem
rule and mind the same things. bers of that body, of which Christ Now there are few means better is the head. Thus all the sub- calculated to promote mutual jects of Christ's kingdom are love and fellowship, than a right joined together by the strictest use of confessions,
This would bonds, and are laid under invio-' directly distinguish between those lable obligations to the most in- who are infected by prevailing timate friendship, the most ar error, and those who hold the un. dent love. They should perse. corrupted faith of the gospel; and, vere in uninterrupted harmony, at the same time, would make ić and keep up that holy fellowship evident, that all the true servants with each other, which they all of Christ harmonize not only in