« AnteriorContinuar »
obvious sense of the words, and for the elect's sake, that they may not be made to speak the lunguage also obtain the salvation which is of our particulur theory. If we in Christ Jesus, with eternal depart in the smallest degree glory ;” and by the spirit of a from this rule, we open the door martyr, wi.ich he so strikingly for incalculable injury to the expresses to the Philippians ; cause of inspired truth. Were “ yed, and if I be offered, &c.* the passage abovenientioned the or as Doddridge translates and only one, in which similur lan. paraphrases it; “if I siould guage is used concerning the even be puurid for:h, and my ways of God, the consiruction of bloud be slied, as a kind of libaT. might be more readily admit tion or drink,fering, on the sacted. But no one who has atten. rifice and winistration of your tively read the Scriptures, needs fuith, while you are presented by to be informed that, in different my means, as an acceptable of: connexions, and in various forms fering to God, far from i munte of speech, they often convey the ing that I should meet with death same sentiment.
Nor can I ea in such a cause, I rather r juice sily conceive that the figure, and congratulate you all. He which T, introduces, of God's not only presents himself as a hardening himself against sinners, resolute victim at the altar of conveys a sentiment any more God, but speaks of that stroke, pleasing, or more free from diffi. by which his blood wis to be culty, than the language of our poured out, as an occasion of joy, common version.
and calls for the congratulation T.'s explanation of Rom. ix. of bis friends upon it.” Finally, 2, 3, I am disposed to receive, how beautifully may the apostle's if it will bear a close examina sublinie sentiment, now under tion. But at present I am ap consideration be illustrated, by prehensive that it weakens the the sell-denial of his life; by his apostle's reasoning, and sinks the voluntary submission to the se, sublime, holy patriotism, which verest sufferings; and by the glowed in his breast. At least I Christlike benevolence, with would ask, before resorting to which he forsook bis own private Ti's explanation, whether the interest, and devoted himseli un passage may not receive light ruser edly and hervically to the from other parts of Paul's writ cause of ibi church. ings ? May not his admirable Requesting you, Messrs. Edz sentiment in this place be illus- itors, and Theophilus, to consid: trated by what he said to his er candidly the freçdom of these brethren, who wept in prospect remarks, and every reader to ex, of the evils to which be would amine and judge for himself, I be exposed at Jerusalem ; "what subscribe your constant friend, mean ye to weep and to break
Crito. my heart ? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the PRIEF REMARKS ON A CIVIL Lord Jesus.” Why inay it not be illustrated by what he says to An oath is the " calling upon Timothy ; " I endure all things God to witness, i. e. to take no.
SURVEY OF NEW ENGLAND
tice of what we say ; and it is consider the awful nature and invoking his vengeance or re sacred obligations of an oath. nouncing his favour, jf what we How heinous is the crime of say ve false, or what we promise perjury, and the crime of using be not performed."* This is the profane Daths in conversation. solemn import of the words Civil magistrates as well as which close the form of a civil gospel ministers, should often oath ; So help you God. May instruct people in the nature and God deal with you in mercy or obligations of an oath, and enin judgment, as you shall speak deavour to impress their minds truth or falsehood in the case with a religious veneration for Dow before you, or as you shall the great name of God. perform or not perform what you
Civis. now promise.
This awful nature of an oath is very particularly exhibited in the following form, which is administered in Holland to those (Continued from page 318.) who embrace the Jewish relig How great soever the advanion. “ You swear by the al- tage of confessions, they have mighty and living God, who cre many and powerful adversaries; ated heaven and earth, and gave who, although they agree in a his laws by Moses, that you will common disesteem of confessbe upright and true in whatever ions, are influenced to it by dif. shall here be asked of or pro- ferent motives. Some are alposed to you; and if you declare ways ready to complain of meaany thing either entirely, or in sures, which they did not orizinpart, false and unjust, you ac ate and control. Others extend knowledge yourself liable to all their charity to men of all parties the curses, plagues and punishi- of Christianity, and of all reliments, temporal and eternal, gions woich prevail in the world, which the God of Israel inflicted and do not consider the belief of on Sodom and Gomorrah, and any particular doctrines, as 'esKorah, Dathan, and Abiram, and sential to salvation. They think which he has denounced against that people of all persuasions all those who invoke or use his have an equal claim to the favour name falsely or in vain. As you of God, and may be saved acare true or false, so may God al- cording to the particular scheme mighty and omniscient reward of religion which they embrace. or punish you."
With such ideas, they, naturally
despise confessions of faith, the REMARKS.
very being of which is founded How shocking to every pious on the importance and necessity mind, is the apparent lightness of believing cerain articles in and irreverence, with which civ. order to church fellowship. They il oaths are often administered. who esteem the Christian docHow little do people in general trine of small moment, look with .
indifference upon the means of
preserving its purity, and upon Paley
the obligations which bind men
to maintain it. We believe it an est inquiry, and cannot subsist observation, which will be found without free and rational choice. generally true, that in propor No man, therefore, or society of tion to the opinion which a man men have authority to judge for entertains of the doctrines of another, or to compose a system of Christianity, and his zeal to prop- doctrines to which they can demand agate them in the world, will be his assent. And as such a claim, his esteem of confessions. by whomsoever made, is assuming
But a greater number, it is ap- and arbitrary; it is dishonouraprehended, take the side of op- ble and base in any Christian to position, because, in the bulk of submit to it, He who yields his confessions, their own senti- neck to this yoke, gives up the most ments are condemned. They valuable right of a rational creawish to destroy a weapon, which lure, and violates the command of they see directed against them- Christ, to “ call no man master selves. Were their own partic. on earth." ular sentiments contained in the In order completely to invaligenerality of creeds, their zeal date this specious objection, it to discredit them
would un seems necessary to show the doubtedly decrease. Although foundation on which a vindicawe are far froin applying this to tion of creeds is built, or to menall who differ from us concern- tion the principles, upon which ing this subject, yet we are ap- a church may require of those, prehensive that, generally, men who would become her members are against confessions, because or her ministers, a consent to a confessions are against them. public confession of faith, And There are indeed some, deserve we are willing the candid should ing the name of Christians, who, judge, after attending to the subby a mistaken fondness for the ject, whether the use of confesnoble principles of liberty and sions be any thing more, than private judgment, and a zeal for proper exercise of that freedom the honour of divine revelation, in religious concerns, which conare led to entertain an unfavoura- stitutes the essence of this oba ble opinion of creeds.
jection. We now proceed to a serious It is not only the dictate of and careful investigation of the reason, but the appointment of principal objections which have Christ, that good men should been urged against creeds, de- unite together in religious sociesigning to represent them sub- ties, and have communion and stantially, as they have been stat- fellowship with each other, as the ed by the ablest writers, and not people of God. And as freedom to dissemble any thing which is the birthright of mankind, any adds to their strength.
number of them may voluntariObjection 1. Confessions of ly join themselves together for faith, in their very nature and religious purposes, under such design, are an invasion of the regulations as appear to them anatural rights of mankind. Every greeable to God's word ; providperson is entitled to examine and ed they do not violate the rules judge for himself, especially in re of justice, or the rights of othligion, which commands the strict. As every man ought to
choose a religion for himself, and trines of salvation; a church to join himself to that body of may reasonably require that he, Christians, which, in his serious, whom they receive as their min. impartial judgment, enjoys the ister, should believe those docgreatest purity, and confers the trines. For it is absurd to exgreatest spiritual advantages; in pect that any man will suitably like manner religious societies preach doctrines, which he disbehave a right to worship in that lieves, or that he will contribute way which seems most agreeable to the support of opinions, which to divine revelation, and to man he holds in detestation or conage all their concerns as a bodytempt. and act in every respect, as they Let it, then, be remembered, believe themselves directed by that a society of Christians have Supreme authority. Nor can any 'a right to determine for themman intrude himself into such selves, what doctrines shall be societies without their consent. preached to them, and by what No man can force them to enter mode of instruction they can be tain communion with him con- most edified. To oblige them trary to their own consciences, or to hear doctrines which they do in any respect usurp the direction not believe, or to hinder them of their affairs.
from being instructed in that If Christians, who have formed faith, which they seriously emthemselves into a church, choose brace, would be to usurp a tythat some one should be appoint rannical authority over their coned to lead in their religious ex
sciences. The members of a ercises, and to explain the doc- church, therefore, are by their trines and inculcate the duties of natural rights authorized to Christianity; they have a title, judge, what doctrines or articles founded on the natural rights of of faith shall be held by their mankind, to determine who shall minister, as a part of his qualifi. be invested with that sacred of- cation for the office. But let it fice. They are authorized to be well considered, that many, confine the office to such, as give who profess to believe the Scripsatisfactory evidence of the qual- tures, deny the most important ifications which they judge to be truths, and, by a cunning pervernecessary. Nor can any candi. sion of God's word, propagate date for the office reasonably the most hurtful errors. Cone complain of hard treatment, be sequently, a declaration of faith cause just satisfaction is demande in the precise words of Scripture, ed as to his qualifications. Since thus misapplied and wrested, it is a duty of a Christian minis- can no wise distinguish among ter to recommend the practice of those who hold and preach the every virtue and grace ; a church most opposite doctrines, or give may properly require, that the any satisfaction concerning their character and life of one, who is faith. The church may, therea candidate for the ministry, fore, justly require of one who should be such as to exemplify offers to become their minister, the graces of Christianity. As that he express his belief in such it is one great duty of a minister terms as are least ambiguous, to explain and enforce the doc- and best calculated, according to Vol. II, No. 8.
the circumstances of the time structed by their ministers in and place, to assure them of the that faith, and their consciences soundness of his religious opin- determine them to join in that ions. In other words, they may worship which is founded upon require an assent to their public it, believing too that a departure creeds, which are the expres- from their confession is a de. sions they judge best adapted to parture from the spirit of the give them this assurance. gospel ; they have a right, which
A society of fallible men are, cannot be disputed, to confine no doubt, exposed to mistake. their choice of ministers, and They may believe what is false, their reception of members to or may imagine a truth of great- such as embrace their confeser importance than it really is, sion. And he who would thrust and may thus be led to require himself into their society contra. that as a qualification in a minis- ry to their rules, would be guilty ter,
which more enlightened of arrogantly infringing their piety would willingly forego. religious rights. But this does not alter the case. In short, we apprehend that If they err, they err for them- nothing is necessary to vindicate selves. Their liability to err for the use of confessions, hut the bids implicit confidence in their fundamental principles of socie. judgment, but does not nullify ty, and the natural rights of their rights. The same is true rational creatures. And we are of civil societies; they may mis- ready to think that an impartial take as to the best mode of consideration of the subject would government, and as to the re convince our opponents, that quisite qualifications of rulers. those rery maxims of liberty, But they do not, on this account, which they appropriate to themforfeit their right to judge and selves, and in which they glory, act for themselves.
are sufficient to support all the auOn the principles which have thority which creeds have had, in been laid down, a number of enlightened reformed churches. churches have a right, and may, It is not to be supposed, befor certain important purposes,
cause at present we rest the find it expedient to form them- vindication of confessions or selves into a large body. When thesc maxims, that we can find the greater part of a nation
no support from Christian princivoluntarily enter into a religious ples. We think it easy to show union, there will arise what may that confessions of faith are imbe denominated a national church; plicitly required by plain gospel and the articles of faith received precepts, and involved in the very by them, and established as the nature of a gospel church. criterion of the qualifications of In that legitimate use of contheir pastors and members, will fessions, for which we contend, 'become a national confession. there is no assumption of power Now if a number of churches, to determine controversies, and thus associated, embrace the to oblige men to absolute subsame doctrines as constituting mission. We would leave every the faith once delivered to the person free to examine the sense saints ; if they desire to be in. of Scripture, and to judge for