« AnteriorContinuar »
present you without fault before God. Be not then ashamed to confess your sin freely, over the head of this true sacrifice. Let not the world, reproaching you for changeableness, hinder you from making another change yet, and returning to your duty.* It is much better to be disregarded by the world than to be put to shame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, before whose judgment-seat we must all soon appear to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether good or whether evil. The greatest ground of hope I have about you, dear Father, is, that you are under the censure of the church of Jesus Christ, which you left, as the last mean of his appointment for your recovery; and as the design of this letter is to refresh your memory, and bear home upon your mind the justness of this censure, so that it may prove effectual by the blessing of Jesus Christ, in whose name it was inflicted for your recovery, is the earnest wish and prayer of, dear Father,
Your affectionate son,
P.S.-Dear Father, as this is not the first time that you have apostatized from the Christian profession, though I am sorry to say it is by far the longest, I think it proper here, by way of postscript, to recall to your mind a confession you made of the sin of your apostacy upon a former occasion to the Church of Christ in Dundee. I have beside me that very letter which you sent to the church, subscribed with your own hand, and I shall here give you a copy of it word for word. It runs thus :-" To the elders, deacons, &c., of the Church of Christ, assembling at Dundee. I intended to have come down myself, at this time, to the assembly of the church, and to have endeavoured to give satisfaction to the whole, elders and brethren, who are justly offended with me for sinfully withdrawing from the profession of Christianity among you, and to have desired access to the church again; but the state of my health, and the severity of the weather, make it impracticable for me to come at present; and, therefore, this serves to entreat you will, in my name, acquaint the church when assembled, that, if my heart deceives me not, I am sensible of, and desire to be grieved for my rash and sinful deserting of the profession of the faith and hope of the Gospel in that church of Christ whereof ye are the overseers, and I confess I have preferred the lusts of this world to the hope of the glory to be revealed when Christ appears, and I have highly dishonoured him and grieved and offended his disciples. My mind has often, since I went out, wrought in pride and enmity against the Christian profession and the members of the church who
* See Proverbs xxviii. 13.
have disowned and forsaken any intimacy with me, even when my conscience was convinced they were obeying the word of God in shunning my company for my conviction. I likewise own that the word of God has often struck my conscience, and filled my mind with terror for my apostacy from the profession I once made amongst you-and I see from that word that I cannot have access and liberty to obey Jesus Christ the Lord, but in such a church as you are; and therefore my earnest request is, that the church will show forth the bowels of sympathy of the merciful High Priest in ardent prayer to the God of all grace to pardon me, the chief of sinners, and that I may have ground to hope, that, upon my coming up to your assembly, you will pity and give me access again to serve the Lord Jesus as a member of the church. I also beg your sympathy, with my distressed family, and hope Mr. Glas, and such of the brethren I have conversed with more fully, will lay my case before the church and that the Lord our righteousness may bless his churches, and advance his kingdom is the prayer of yours, affectionately,
16th March, 1733.
In consequence of your letter, the elders, in behalf of the church in Dundee, returned the following answer :
"We received and communicated your penitential letter to the church last Sunday, and having considered the grounds of your desire to be again received, and the things represented to Mr. Glas, William Morrison, and George Miller, who testified to them of the belief of the sincerity of your confession, in your letter, the church unanimously declared their satisfaction; and, therefore, by solemn prayer the church received you in the name of Jesus Christ as a member thereof, so that you now again stand in the open profession of that blessed name, and you are by the church recommended to the work of his grace, hoping he will enable you to adorn the doctrine of his Gospel by a willing subjection to his laws; and that having your eye fixed on the Lord your righteousness, you will zealously appear in the concerns of his glory, and the rather that the sovereignty of his mercy and his bowels of compassion may be opened to you, who have dishonoured him, offended his little ones, and hardened the world by your apostacy. That his grace may be with you, is the prayer of the church and of the elders."
Dear Father, how happy for you, and your sons, would it be to see an event like this happen again!
ON READING THE BIBLE.
[From the Christian Baptist, Vol. III.]
There is, perhaps, no book read more than the Bible, and it appears as though no book generally read was less understood. This, no doubt, has arisen from a combination of causes which exists in relation to no other book in the world. If any other book in the English language had as many commentaries written upon it, had as many systems predicated upon it, or upon particular constructions of it; if any other book were exhibited in the same dislocated and distracted light, had as many debates about its meaning, and as many different senses attributed to its words; if any other book were read as the Scriptures are commonly read, in the same broken, disconnected, and careless manner, with the same stock of prejudices and preconceived opinions, there is every reason to believe that it would be as unintelligible and as little understood as the Bible appears to be. We often wonder at the stupidity of the Jews in our Saviour's time in relation to his pretensions and claims, and no doubt posterity will wonder at our stupidity and ignorance of a book which we read so often and profess to venerate so highly. There is a greater similarity in the causes and reasons of their and our indocility than we are aware of. The evil one has the same interest in obscuring this volume, which he had in obscuring the evidences of his mission; and the vitiosity of man, both natural and acquired, exhibits itself in the same aspect towards the Bible as it did in reference to the person concerning whom it was all written.
But among the myriads who religiously read the Bible, why is it that so little of the spirit of it seems to be caught, possessed, and exhibited? I will give one reason, and those more wise may add to it others. Many read the Bible to have a general idea of what it contains, as a necessary part of a polite education ; many read it to attain the means of proving the dogmas which they already profess; many read it with a design of being extremely wise in its contents; many read it that they may be able to explain it to others; and, alas! but few appear to read it supremely and exclusively that they may practise it; that they may be conformed to it, not only in their outward deportment, but in the spirit and temper of their minds. This is the only reading of it which is really profitable unto men, which rewards us for our pains, which consoles us now, and which will be remembered for ages to come with inexpressible delight. In this way, and in this way only, the spirit of it is caught, retained, and exhibited. Some such readers seem to be enrapt or inspired with its contents. Every sentiment and feeling which it imparts seem to be the sentiments and feeling of their hearts; and the
Bible is to their religion what their spirit is to their body-the life and activity thereof. The Bible to such a person is the medium of conversation with the Lord of Life. He speaks to Heaven in the language of Heaven, when he prays in the belief of its truth, and the Great God speaks to him in the same language; and thus the true and intelligent Christian walks with God and converses with him every day. One hour of such company is more to de desired than a thousand years spent in intimate converse with the wisest philosophers and most august potentates that earth ever saw. A. C.
UNITY OF OPINION.
[From the Christian Baptist, Vol. III.]
Unity of opinion, abstractedly considered, is neither desirable nor a good; although, considered not in itself, but with reference to something else, it may be both. For men may be all agreed in error; and, in that case, unanimity is evil. Truth lies within the Holy of Holies, in the temple of knowledge; but doubt in the vestibule that leads unto it. Luther began by having his doubts as to the assumed infallibility of the Pope; and he finished by making himself the corner stone of the Reformation. Copernicus and Newton doubted the truth of the false system of others before they established a true one of their own. Columbus differed in opinion with all the old world before he discovered a new one; and Galileo's terrestrial body was confined in a dungeon for having asserted the motion of those bodies that were celestial. In fact, we owe almost all our knowledge, not to those who have agreed, but to those who have differed; and those who have finished by making all others think with them, have usually been those who began by daring to think for themselves; as he that leads a crowd must begin by separating himself some little distance from it. If the great Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the blood, had not differed from all the physicians of his own day, all the physicians of the present day would not have agreed with him. These reflections ought to teach us that every kind of persecution for opinion is incompatible with sound philosophy. It is lamentable, indeed, to think how much misery has been incurred from the intemperate zeal and bigoted officiousness of those who would rather that mankind should not think at all, than not think as they do. Charles V., when he abdicated a throne, and retired to the monastery of St. Juste, amused himself with the mechanical arts, and particularly with that of a watch-maker: he one day exclaimed, 'What an egre
gious fool must I have been, to have squandered so much blood and treasure in an absurd attempt to make all men think alike, when I cannot even make a few watches keep time together!' We should remember, also, that assent or dissent is not an act of the will, but of the understanding. No man can will to believe that two and two make five, nor can I force upon myself the conviction that this ink is white, or this paper black."-National Gazette.
This is all very good; but in the Christian religion there are no new discoveries, no new improvements to be made. It is already revealed, and long since developed in the apostolic writings. We may discover that there are many new errors and old traditions, which are alike condemned in those sacred writings. But truth is at least one day older than error; and what many now call "the good old way," was two or three hundred years ago denominated a wicked innovation or a chimerical new project. Old things become new when long lost sight of, and new things become old in one generation. eternal and unchangeable.
But truth is
HONORARY TITLE OF "D.D." REFUSED.
[From the Christian Baptist, Vol. III.]
In some eastern papers "the Rev. Spencer H. Cone, a Baptist clergyman," was reported as recently dubbed D.D. But this was a mistake. It was the Rev. Samuel H. Cox who was dubbed, and refused the honour. We are sorry to observe a hankering after titles amongst some Baptists, every way incompatible with their profession; and to see the remarks lately made in the Columbian Star,' censuring Mr. Cox for declining the honour. Those who deserve honorary titles are the least covetous of them. We have not met with any Baptist Bishop who is more worthy of a title of honour, if such these double D's be esteemed, than Robert B. Semple of Virginia; and when the degree was conferred on him, he, like a Christian, declined it.
The following remarks are worthy of a place in this work. "In the New York Observer' of the 26th ult., we find an article occupying nearly two closely-printed columns, with the signature of Samuel H. Cox, Pastor of the Light-street Presbyterian church, New York, in which the writer, after stating that he had seen a newspaper paragraph from which he learned that the trustees of Williams' College, Massachussetts, had taken with his name the very customary liberty of attaching D.D. to it, says, ' I ask the privilege of announcing that I will not accept of