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himself of the doctrines contain- who desire the ministerial office ed in confessions. We are ever or church communion among ready to assert, that a Christian them. So that when any person ought to receive that sentiment, is convicted of an opinion conwhich, upon impartial inquiry, trary to their confession, he is appears most agreeable to Scrip- not to be considered as properly ture, whether it is contained in chargeable with absolute heresy, confessions, or not. If we pro- but as holding a principle which, duce passages of Scripture, as in their view, is heresy, and whick conclusive proofs of the doc- they are seriously persuaded is trines contained in creeds, let it of such a pernicious tendency, not be supposed, that we would that they cannot receive any be followed at a venture. We man, as a minister or brother, have no design to fetter the un- who maintains it. derstanding of others, or to bear Hence it is manifest, that the down a rational inquiry by the determinations of any body of weight of our decisions ; but men concerning articles of faith, wish every one, with an unbiass. are not founded upon any suppos. ed mind, to examine our faith, ed authority, which they þave to and judge whether it be accord, govern the consciences of others, ing to Scripture.
or to make creeds for tnem ; but We pretend not that a con- upon the natural right which all fession of faith, or any human men and all societies have to fol. composition is, properly speak- low the dictates of their own uning, a standard of orthodoxy, orderstanding, and to embrace and a test, by which erroneous opin. support that scheme of religion, ions can be certainly distinguish. in which they perceive the greated from those which are true. est evidence of divine truth. In It is possible the truth may be a word, that use of confessions, on the other side, and that error which we believe to be proper may be found in the established and beneficial, reșts upon that creeds of the church. But al- unalienable privilege of a rational though no church or society of creature, the right of private fallibie men have a right to judgment. And all the consid. determine any article of faith, erations, which the warmest or to fix the meaning of Scrip- advocates of freedom can urge to ture, so as to oblige others to heighten its excellence; we shall submit to their decisions; yet cordially approve as important those who constitute a Christian advantages to our own cause ; society have proper authority to since we shall thereby have at determine, what articles of faith least the same liberty to value they themselves embrace, or in and support confessions, as oth what manner they understand ers have to despise and reject the Scriptures, and what they them. would have their ministers be If indeed churches should lieve and preach; and con- oblige any person to incorporate sequently, they have authority with them and subscribe to tvir to compose a body of doctrines, constitutions ; if they shiuld the belief of which they think un either force him to give a aso essential qualification of those, sent to their established confes
sions at first, or afterwards pun- ural right of private judgment, ish him for altering his senti- and grievously to oppress their ments by depriving him of any consciences. Thus the extreme advantages, to which he had a
of imaginary liberty, for which claim independently of them; they contend, is very near the this would be exceeding the opposite extreme of arbitrary bounds of private judgment, and power. This will be evident, lording it over another's faith. if we consider the consequenBut the principles we adopt are ces, which naturally attend the not in the least exposed to this scheme of those, who most riobjection. We abhor persecu gidly oppose confessions. From tion in every shape, believing their reasonings it plainly fol. that every man has an equal lows, that churches have not right with us to follow the light power to agree upon rules for of his own understanding and their own government; that, althe dictates of his conscience, though they are convinced in and that confiscations, imprison. conscience, that such doctrines ments, torture, and blood are not only are agreeable to revelation the arguments which Christian and ought to be preached to the meekness and charity employ, people, and therefore incline to These are the tools of ignorance choose those only for pastors, and and error, calculated to oppress to receive those only for memhumanity, and to extirpate all bers, who believe them; yet true religion. That use of con they must be denied that liber. fessions, for which we plead, is ty; they must be imposed upon, not built on such principles, nor and forced to hear doctrines, does it tend to such consequen- which they think inconsistent ces. Candid readers will easily with their edification ; and when perceive that the vehement ex. they desire to attend upon pubclamations, which have been ut lic worship, that they may make tered against usurped power and progress in religion, they must religious persecution, affect not submit to an administration, our cause. Those frightful im- which in their view tends rather ages
of imposition, , hierarchy, to retard, than to advance them and tyranny, with which some in the ways of holiness. They labour to array confessions of must have their ears grated by faith, are creatures of fancy, and doctrines, which they reject as owe their being to mistaken ap- pernicious, or despise as useless, prehensions or wilful partiality, and must be robbed of those res Indeed we have reason to com- ligious instructions, which are plain that writers on the other their greatest comfort. side bave not treated our opin It follows from the scheme of ions with that moderation and those, who make the fiercest op candour, of which they so often position against confessions, that make their boast.
because they have a low opinion We go farther. It is not an of the doctrines of Christianity, unfounded observation, that the and are for allowing unbounded outcry made by the inveterate latitude in matters of faith, think.: enemies of confessions tends to ing a man none the worse for his deprive the charches of the nat. religious sentiments, whatever
they be; therefore se, who think and coatempol them, and would otherwise, and beicie the doc. dictate its van airf Dorians in as trines of religion of great mo magisterial and imperious a mare ment, must sa ia contradictionner, as the popunicate erer as to our understandings, and, in sumed. order to gratify their inclina. Is there sot ground for this tions, must be isrliferent as to rebuke? Hare not the favourite the interests of truth, and give words, liberty, freein.Mirzerzute ourselves little concern about judgment, clarit, &c. been per what ministers believe and teach. verted to an uncertain and danger
It may be added as another ous signification, and prostituted eonsequence of their reasonings, to the most unworthy purposes? that because they are fully satis. Have they not beeu instruments fied as to the orthodoxy of a man, of infidelity, and a fair mask, unif he own the Scriptures and es. der which apostacy from Chrispress his sentiments in the pre- tianity and hatred of all goodness cise words found there, though hare disguised themselves ? Do he decline giving his assent to we not know that in the mouths, doctrines expressed in any other and in the lives of many, liberty terms; therefore we, who are means licenciousness, a contempo persuaded, that many men ude of the restraints of virtue and re. derstand seripture phrases in a ligion? Do we not see that the manner quite opposite to what adversaries of creeds are as fond we think the true sense, and un- of their own notions, and as obder that fair varnish conceal the stinate in maintaining them, and most unscriptural schemes ;- look with as much disdain on. we who accordingly believe, that those who differ from them, as their using scripture phrases is the most zealous devotees of no evidence what kind of doc. orthodoxy? Are they not as imtrine they embrace, must, not- patient of contradiction? Do they withstanding, be content with not shew themselves capable of their false test of orthodoxy, and as much warmth and rudeness? if we act with serious caution, What writers in all the world must be stigmatized, as morose, treat their opponents with more narrow-minded bigots.
contempt, display an air of high· These are some of the won. er superiority, or are more fondderful benefits which we owe to ly addicted to their own schemes, them, who profess to be most than those who make the loudest zealous for liberty and the right pretensions to candour and liberof private judgment. This is the ality?
PASTOR noble freedom, to which they would elevate us; a freedom which would dissolve the bonds
DIVINITY of Christian societies, and the unity of faith ; a freedom which The perfection of Christ's exwould confound truth and error, ample, and the evidence thence light and darkness, the church arising in favour of the gospel, and the world ; a freedom which have been stated, in some prewould impose upon us, if not ar. ceding numbers of the Punoticles of faith, at least a disbelief polist. May we not hence derive
an argument in favour of his to his humanity, it is generally proper divinity ?
conceded. But what was this Christ's perfect example nature? Might it not be an. proves, at least, that he was an gelic ? Need we suppose it to be extraordinary person. No other divine ? Now, whatever difficuls sinless and perfect character was ty attends the latter supposition, over known among men.“There attends the former. If there is not,” nor has there ever been, was a union ot different natures ma just man on earth, who does to constitute his person, we may good and sins not.” Moses and as well believe, that the fulness Elijah were men endued with of the Godhead," as that the fulprophetic and miraculous gifts ; ness of an angel, or of a creature they were favoured with immel superior to an angel, “ dwell in diate inspiration ; they were him bodily." Either of the eminent for piety and 'virtue ; unions would be to us inexplicathey had near access to, and fa- ble and incomprehensible; and miliar intercourse with God"; both equally so. By denying but still they discovered human his divinity, we neitber explain, imperfection Moses, though nor remove, nor dininish the distinguished by the meekness mystery of the union, but leave of his temper, yet, under great it as great, as it was before. provocation, felt the impulse of Besides, have we such infor. passion, and spake unadvisedly mation concerning the perfecwith his lips. Elijah, though tion of angels, as will justity the pre-eminent for his zeal and for conclusion, that the union of an titude in the cause of God, yet angelic nature with humanity önce, discouraged by opposition, could have produced so perfect a and intimidated by danger, quit- character, as that of Jesus Christ? ted his work for a season, and re- Angels are not impeccable. tired to a cave. But Jesus, un- Multitudes of them have apostader vastly higher provocations, tized, and fallen into condemna. preserved his meekness ; and tion. Those, who have kept in the face of more terrible dan, their first state, and wno, we supger and more violent opposition, pose, are happily secured irom maintained bis fortitude and zeal. detection, are certainly mụcu in. We must then conclude, that he ferior to Christ in purity as well was more than a man ; for we as in dignity. They all worsnip see that the greatest and best of him with humble views of them. men-men endued with the most selves, and with admiring and eminent abilities, gifts, and vir- adoring sentiments of nis mucom tues, fell far below him. His parable holiness. Viken Isaiah example plainly confutes the So saw, in vision, the glory of the cinian doctrine, that he was a LORD, or, as St. John says, the mere man, authorized and fur- glory of CHRIST, he thus spake nished only to instruct and re- of him ; " I saw the Lord sitting form mankind by his doctrine on a throne high and lifted up, and example:
and his train filled the temple ; That he was truly and proper and above it stood the Serufitin," ly a man, it is agreed ; that there or principal angels ; “ each one was some superior nature united had six wings, and with twain
be covered his face, and with simplify a great and wonderfull twain he covered his feet,” in to- doctrine, taught in Scripture with ken of his humility and rev. as much simplicity, as its nature erence, “and with twain he did permits, and with as much per#y," to execute his Lord's will ; spicuity, as the faith of the hum. and one cried to another, saying, ble Christian requires ? Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of There are angels, who kept bosts; the whole earth is full their first state. But they never of his glory." Jesus is here were appointed to so momencalled JEHOVAH, a name not give tous a work, and never were sub en to any of the angels, except jected to such tremendous trials, the angel of the covenant, the as was Jesus Christ. Had ang Lord Jesus. He is elsewhere one of them been sent, as Christ called the Son of Gud ; and “to was, in the likeness of our sinful which of the angels said God, fesh, and placed in the same at any time, Thou art my Son ?" situation, in which he was, who "God chargeth his angels with can believe that this angel would folly."
When has he thus have conducted with equal digni, charged “ his beloved Son," in ty and constancy, benevolence whom he has declared himself and meekness, humility and pa* well pleased," and who profess- tience? If reason may be allow. es to “ have done always the ed to speak in a question of this things, which pleased him ?” nature, will she not give her
The angels indeed are called judgment in favour of Christ's boly; but still they are imper, Divinity? fect.
They stand not in their We need not say that Christ's own strength. It is the nature perfect character alone, is a full of a creature to be mutable. and decisive proof of his proper .Had Jesus been mutable, he Divinity. There other would have been incompetent to proofs. But this has its weight. the work assigned him ; for he At least it opens the way for the might have failed, and the work positive evidences to come with miscarried. If, then, we sup- greater force, and removes some pose him to be a creature ever principal objections. In the ob 80 perfect in his nature ; we jections, which arise from cer. must suppose some kind of union tain metaphysical difficulties atwith Divinity, to secure him tending the union of different nafrom the possibility of error. tures, we are not, at present, And why may we not as well be concerned; for, whatever hypolieve that Divinity was, in some thesis we assume, these still re. mysterious way, united to the main. man Jesus, as believe that an Let a man read the Bible, angelic or superangelic nature especially the New Testament, was united to him, and this na- laying aside the fear of inexplicature, in a way equally myste- ble mystery ; and will he not berious, supported by Divinity ? lieve that the Divinity of Christ Will not the latter supposition is taught there ? Admitting the rather involve, than unfold the doctrine to be true, what more, great mystery of godliness? decisive modes of expression Will it not rather perplex, than would he expect, than those