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wrap in obscurity, or seclude in mystery, one particle of that truth, which it would be life for us to know, and death, eternal death, not to understand. So far from this, "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." According to the faithful and true Witness, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Not however, to the extent of prying out and resolving all his ways; although even here there is something analogous to what painters term the "clare-obscure," enabling us to see as through a glass darkly, some faint and glimmering rays of the glory, which shall be revealed. But still enough to know, that he is our Maker and Preserver, the Author of all present and future happiness, our reconciled God and Father in Jesus Christ, the God, who has promised to reward the obedient and to punish the transgressors: Enough to know, of his only begotten Son, that he is the Redeemer of the world and the Saviour of sinners, our Mediator and Intercessor with the Father, the Bread of Life and the Propitiation for our sins, the gracious Being to whom, we have only to look in faith and obey in sincerity, in order to be saved.
Oh then, that we might never be induced to neglect so great salvation; that we might be zealously engaged to work it out with fear and trembling, with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. To others, we should devolve the task of settling curious questions, and unprofitable dogmas; to others, the too daring presumption of dwelling exclusively upon the many "things hard to be understood," as if they constituted the life and soul of religion. But for ourselves, humble and lowly in our own eyes, penitent, believing, and obedient in the sight of God, we should "press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus;" we should covet earnestly the best gifts, and obtaining them in the way of God's appointment, we should live the life, and we should die the death of the righteous.
By such arguments as these, I can therefore, even under existing circumstances, satisfactorily to myself, and I trust to you, obviate every supposed objection to our divine religion growing out of the unhappy divisions and animosities subsisting between brethren professing the same faith. My object indeed has been to present them in such a manner, that infidels themselves might feel their force, and surrender at discretion what I am willing to consider the
strongest of their citadels. But after all, what are the most pow erful arguments in their eyes, what in the estimation of even less determined adversaries to the truth, when they believe that a confused medley of sects, by their irreconcilable opinions and bickerings, furnish ocular demonstration, that a religion productive of such dissentions cannot proceed from the God of order, and harmony, and peace? I tell you, Brethren, that as men are more struck by the visible heavens, for the very reason that they are seen, than by the invisible, so are they more affected by the religious discord they behold, than by the religious concord, which the bible exacts. They adopt indeed a very good rule, if applied to other subjects. They judge of Christianity by its effects, and shame and confusion of face be upon us, that this divine system of truth and holiness will not stand the test, in the important particulars of mutual love and charity, for no other reason than this, we are determined to be divided, notwithstanding Christ our Saviour prayed, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be ONE, as we are."
With whom the fault lies, I have shown you. It is not with us. We adhere, and with our views cannot cease to adhere to the Church established by the Apostles, under the direction of Christ, and the supervision of the Holy Ghost. Our orthodox fellow Christians have either cast it away, or they are the successors of those who did, and hence the necessity of their returning to its bosom, before the infidel can be reclaimed and made to give up the strongest argument, he is enabled to wield against the truth of the gospel. Let them do this, and for the reasons assigned, I am content that they shall bring with them their purely speculative opinions. I am more anxious for an agreement about the facts recorded in the scriptures, and intended to command universal obedience. Let these be acknowledged, received, and acted upon, by the leading denominations of the protestant faith; let the precomposed publick worship of the bible; let the Church of the bible be embraced with mind and heart, and soul, by the presbyterians, the congregationalists, the methodists, the baptists, and I dare engage that not many years would elapse, before open and disguised infidelity, before unitarianism and universalism, with every false way, would yield to a Zion, thus augmented in numbers, and, as Irenæus said, "composed to unity." It is that fatal schism which he denounced, as
Paul denouneed it, and which arrays so many orthodox Christians against each other; it is this that gives strength, and confidence, and audacity to the freethinkers and hereticks of the age.
At present, they are chiefly sustained in their errours by our wretched feuds and jealousies: By the spiritual wars, we wage; the intoler. ant and vituperative language, we employ; the proselyting plans, we concert to thin each other's ranks; the fire and fagot system, we maintain against the souls, if not the bodies of equally honest believers in Christ. And all this because Churches of human origin have crept in amongst us; because whatever in religion is founded upon the devices of man's understanding, invariably calls up, in some shape or other, the bitter feelings and vindictive passions of our nature; because schism, even in its most favourable aspect, is, in the judgment of Paul, one among the many fatal lusts which war in our members; "For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" But could we only contrive to unite under the banners of the true Apostolick Church, could all the faithful and godly combine to come out as one man to the help of the Lord against the mighty, I am persuaded that his blessing would so crown our labours, that the great enemy of souls would receive a blow, more fatal to his cause, than any inflicted, since the foot of Christ was planted upon his head, at the hill of Calvary.
Pray ye therefore, Christians, ye children of the promise, wherever located, pray ye, in the sincerity of your souls, for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love her. Crush the mon ster, schism, and her direst earthly foe will be crushed. Resolve that she shall enjoy this advantage over her adversaries, and your own eyes shall behold, the righteousness thereof go forth as bright ness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. AMEN.
ISAIAH lxii. 1.
For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
WITH the present discourse will terminate all the remarks, which I designed to submit in defence of the Church I love, the institutions and the doctrines my head and my heart approve. Throughout the discussion, I have endeavoured to keep within the rules of decorum, to avoid all satirical as well as insulting language, and to make no assertions, which were not capable of being fully sustained, either by unanswerable proofs and authorities, or by the If I have erred in manner fair and legitimate deductions of reason. or in matter, it has not been intentionally, neither with the inclination to lead astray, nor the wish to wound the feelings of a single individual, that bears and loves the Christian name.
Most cordially do I agree, that invective is not argument; that ridicule is not the test of truth; that unfounded statements recoil with invincible force upon such as dare to enlist them in their service. If there were no higher and holier motive to influence my conduct, and guide me in the way 1 should go, a just estimate of worldly policy would alone teach me, that in the end, candour and sincerity, forbearance and charity, ever triumph over artifice and fraud, inveterate rancour and bitter revilings. By foul language and envenomed epithets, no man hath yet approved himself to the conscience of the enlightened Christian. To authority he will bow, to reason he will lend a willing ear; but let the bigot rave, and the slanderer riot in detraction, he will not be the creature of their fashioning, nor the recipient of their bile.
No inducement then have I to follow their example. None that can be good, and none that is bad. I do not calculate to laugh a sectarian out of his prejudices, and I know, that he will never relinquish them at the nod of disdain, or the sneer of reproach. Argu
ments however must not lose their weight from being too tamely expressed. There is an air of holy boldness, that should mark the language of truth. It proceeds not from a wavering, dubious mind. Its object is not to deal in ambiguous phrases, to trumpet forth an uncertain sound, and beguile the favouring smiles of all sorts of men. But its speech, though seasoned with grace, is firm and decided, free as the air it breathes, and uncompromising as the principles it advances. When did Jesus of Nazareth accommodate his sayings to the passions and prejudices of the multitude? When did he flatter their vanity or attempt to heal the hurt of the daughter of his people slightly? In him, Brethren, there was no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. His maxims, his doctrines varied not with time, place, or circumstance. He had not one for the scribe, and another for the publican; one for the high priest and another for the pharisee. By such means buying golden opinions from all, and on no account venturing to stir a debatable question, or oppose a long indulged and favourite errour. But he could speak with plainness and expostulate with freedom, though his mission was love, and his merciful goodness, as unlimited as the universe.
With his example before my eyes, I have therefore no apology to offer for the fearlessness, with which I have breasted the tide of popular sentiment, and exposed errours imbibed in infancy, and cherished to manhood and even declining age; no apology for urging, with zeal and inflexibility, opinions derived from the scriptures, and that I conscientiously believe to be true as God is true. My heart acquits me from all sinister designs. I am not ashamed upon this subject to avow the most secret sentiments of my soul. I know, that it is not polluted by a hostile feeling towards the person of any man. I affirm with confidence, that it is not imbittered by a vindictive temper towards either of the various denominations of Christians. But where they do err, surely it is my duty, without impeaching their motives, or detracting from their piety, to canvass their principles. Where they do entertain and propagate unfounded views of the Church of the living God, it is my privilege, as well as my duty, to vindicate her from every unjust aspersion, and contribute all in my power to exhibit her, in her true light, uncontaminated in doctrine, and unsullied in glory.
In the preceding effort, it is not however my weakness to believe, that I shall succeed to the extent I could wish. I am too sensible