Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

But, although, sentiments like these are in my opinion not only very foolish (I had almost said impious); yet so far from wishing to persecute the man who gave them utterance, my view of the matter leads me sincerely to pity him; and I would seriously recommend him in future,, by all means, to make use of his reason in all matters appertaining to religion, and not despise (as many do) the noblest gift of God! Yes, reader, I am fully persuaded in my own mind, if, upon all occasions of this sort, man would niuke use of this invaluable gift, even when he is consulting his Bible, fanaticism would hide its head, and I should begin to hope it would soon,." like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave not a wreck behind." This would indeed be a new era!

Could we but get rid of fanaticism and superstition, what a much better world this would be to live in! Men would be no longer anxious to be foremost in persecuting one another about religious opinions; the desire would be, who should be foremost in promoting acts of benevolence and virtue. I should absolutely live in hopes that mankind would then begin to learn to do as they would be done by; and that, instead1 of contending about matters of faith, they would endeavour to excel each other in good works. The question would not then be, "Are you an evangelical protestant, or are you a Catholic lion, but are you virtuous and benevolent? if so, permit me to say, you are in possession cf such qualities as will most assuredly insure vou that peace of mind, that even Mr.Maberly himself, lam contident, would be anxious to obtain. I remain, &c.

llojjslon,Dec.20, 1812. W. H. A.


To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine.


A S your valuable miscellany has for its object the cfisse«"*- mination of free enquiry in matters of religion; if the following observations are judged fo be of sufficient importance for insertion, the writer wilf feel grateful 'in your compliance; and at the same time flatters himself, they will also be of use to solve the doubts of some who are in the same situation as your correspondent, who has submitted for the consideration of your readers a curious case of conscience, inserted in the last number of your second volume.

Respecting the observance of a sabbath, or day of rest, I am not prepared to question its usefulness, as it tend* to promote piety and moral virtue. But when one particular day is selected in preference to another, and to all appearance, in direct opposition to an express command of God, it naturally leads the mind to enquire, how far the Christian religion justifies our keeping holy the first day of the week instead of the seventh.

The first mention of the Sabbath is in Gen. ii. 1, 2, 3, which is by some called a "creation law." This however does not seem to establish the point in question, for these verses appear not to convey any such idea as that of a law. Now if Moses, or any other person appointed by him, wrote the account we have of the creation, how much it yvas to his purpose to insert here what was so analagous to the law given at Mount Sinai, respecting the observance of the seventh day as a day of rest. rl hey are in such exact agreement, that I am apt to think the history of the creation did not precede the promulgation of the fourth commandment.

The circumstances of the Jews, and their being so addicted to idolatry, required and justified the appointment of such a day to be observed among them. But the great question to be considered respecting such a subject is this— have we any Christian law whereby we are authorized to set apart one day in seven for religious purposes? Our Lord gave several commands to his Apostles, and in particular these two, " that they were to go and preach the gospel to every creature, and that they were to love one another." Is it not surprising and extraordinary, that he should neg* lect a command, enjoining the observance of the first day of the week, in lieu of the seventh, if that wa9 needful to commemorate his resurrection? Nor will it in the least invalidate the argument by imagining that such a command was unnecessary, in his circumstances, he being a Jew; since it would have been a direct violation of the divine command. Hence, if what is called the creation law is still in force, and expressly enjoined by our Creator, it will be a point of the first importance to those who think so, to prove their authority for departing, in this instance, from the original institution of the supreme lawgiver.

By our Saviour's frequent attendance on the Jewish Sabbath, one would conclude that lie supposed himself obligated to conform to it. But then, the question returns, what is the reason the day should be changed? Our Lord and his Apostles well knew, that the gospel was of such a nature as required no such a law, but was a rule of life to all who embraced it: and was to be publicly taught, and

Voju in. G

practised On All Days, At All Times, And Upon All


Our great master says to the cavilling Jews, "the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." If «o, is it not a proof that he did not lay much stress upon the mere observance of it? Paul appears to have had the same or similar views, when he stated, " Let no man therefore Judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath." On the other hand, we are exhorted by the same Apostle not to "forsake the assembling ourselves together, as the manner of some is," which advice I would wish to see fully practised. But is it not remarkable, that he does not insist upon their assembling together on one particular day? This 1 can account, for upon no other grounds, than that he had no authority to impose such an obligation. . Considering the great importance of religion to mankind, both here and hereafter, it was undoubtedly necessary, in the first instance, to adopt such methods as appealed the best and most effectual, for accomplishing the object they had in view.

I or this purpose the first Christians formed themselves into societies (churches), and met together for religious worship and edification, as often as they could. From their history we learn that (Acts xx. 7; 1 Cor. xvi. 2; Col. ii. 16.) they came together on the first day of the week, to keep alive in their hearts the remembrance of their beloved master; yet there is no reason to believe, that this day wa* exclusively made use of for their religious devotions.

Considering also the indisputable fact of our Lord's resurrection from a state of non-existence, and how much his apostles and followers were interested in it, was it not very natural for them to unite upon the day that such an extraordinary event took place? We may conclude that in time, this became the common practice; and afterwards it was considered by Christians, in analogy with the Jewish sabbath, as an injunction of the Lord Jesus Christ; and consequently they esteemed it as one of those fundamental rites of the Christian religion, which they were obligated, a» they thought, to observe. From these observations the following inferences, I apprehend, are deducible.

1. That Jesus Christ never commanded the first day of the week to be kept as a sabbath day.

2. That his example is in direct opposition to such a prac

3. That the pure and practical nature of his religion did not require it.

4. That the practice of the apostles and first Christiana is a proof that they did not consider the law respecting the seventh day as binding upon them.

5. That the £reat importance, general utility, and beneficial effects, of the Christian religion, required the most effectual means to propagate it among mankind.

6. That the first day of the week was selected for this purpose, as also to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Clirist from the dead.

7. That this seems to be a leading means of perpetuating Christianity in the world, and hence claims our sanction and support.

8. That upon all other days, as occasion requires, we aro not debarred by our profession, from publicly avowing our belief, and edifying one another by religious instruction.

These, Mr. Editor, are the reasons for my keeping the first day of the week employed in the services of religion; and as the observance of this day arises from choice, so is it grounded upon a conviction of its great practical tendency, in connection with those memorable words of my lord and master, "my Yoke Is Easy, And My Burden Is Light."

Your's &c Tcnterden, Dec. 20, 1812.' T,


[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine. .


^11E question of Catholic Emancipation being expected ere long to occupy the attention of the Legislature, it may not be improper to make a few remarks upon two subjects ; in the discussion of which the emancipation of these dissenters is materially interested. They are, Civil GoVehnment and Religion.

First, Civil Government.—Mankind, as they are united in. society, live under a mutual relation to and dependence upon eachother; and all the happiness they are capable oi is in a manner social, and derived from mutual good offices and reciprocal assistance. To this every man, as a member of society, must be indebted, for his comfortable subsistence; for the enjoyment of his natural rights and properties— andthisat least is undeniable—the most despotic monarchs depend entirely upon their subjects and vassals for that very

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

dominion they exercise over them; consequently there cannot be such a thing as independence among men.

Men endued with the same faculties, deriving from nature the same affections and passions, and having an equal claim to the same rights and properties, must be naturally equal; and whatever superiority or dominion one man has over another, this must be the result of mutual agreement, or the exercise of policy or force. In case of the latter, this must give every man an equal right to the sa*nie dominion, if he possess policy or force sufficient to enslave the rest; but if the latter, then the institution of government, being the result of mutual agreement, must have in contemplation mutual advantages, and be productive of reciprocal benefits. The head of such an institution ■would not be a tyrant, armed with arbitrary power, but an equitable magistrate—" a terror to evil doers, hut a praise to them that do well." In case a member of such a society neglects to perform the social duties, or invades the property or rights, or injures the persons of his neighbours, members of the same community, the injured party is indebted to the institution of civil government for thr protection of his pe.rson or property, or for the execution of exemplary justice ag.nisthim who has injured the one or the other. And 110 man willingly suffering himself to be deprived of any part of his goods, much less of hia liberty or life, the magistrate is necessarily armed with the power of the whole community, in order to the punishment of those -who have violated the rights of others. In a society thus formed} each individual has an equal right to all and every the advantages, immunities, and privileges, resulting therefrom; none can have any equitable claim to exclusive privileges; nor could any difference in the religious sentiments of the members of such a society, justly, deprive any individuals who differed from others, even from the majority, of all or any part of their civil rights and privileges. Should the magistrate join himself to one religious sect, this would not give that sect any right to particular emoluments at the expencc of another sect, or to deprive the members of that sect of any of their honours and privileges; but this will more evidently appear from a brief view of the nature of religion.

lieligion consists in the inward and full persuasion of the mind, and the conforming the life and conduct to such persuasion. Faith is not faith without believing. Whatever we profess, or to whatever outward worship we conform; if we are not satisfied that the one is true, and the other

« AnteriorContinuar »