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tainty, that we learn the opinions ously believes these things ? Will and laws of any legislator, we he, who makes convenience his may learn the doctrines and pre- law, and his own pleasure the cepts of the christian legiflator. highest object, conduct as the Men may and do form different man, who loves the law of the opinions, and so they do concern- Lord, and feels the charity, which ing the writings of Plato, the con- seeketh not her own? No dream stitution under which they live, of enthusiasm is more wild, than and the laws made the present the indifference respecting relig. year. Though there may be op- ious opinions, which some persons posite opinions, the majority will avow. Their religion indeed is think essentially alike. Should a “ made of such stuff, as dreams malefactor, to excuse himself, are.” Doubts and uncertainty plead opposite opinions respecting will inevitably render morality the law, would this be accepted inconstant, devotion languid, hope in a judicial court ? Will such an wavering, fortitude feeble, and the
excuse be accepted in the supreme character suspicious. · court of the universe ?
The infinite importance of relig. God has given men power to ion presses an immediate decision examine and decide on the sub- on the mind. Is it important for ject of religion ; this renders re- a physician to entertain those ligious skepticism criminal. Any views of chymistry, anatomy, man of common sense and honest and medicine, best calculated to inquiry may satisfy his mind re- guard against contagion, and to heal fpecting all essentiał doctrines, the diseases of the body? But The laws and doctrines of chris. what is the body, what is life, tianity are as easily understood, as compared with the immortal soul? the laws of any community, as Yet, should we not detest, as a the doctrines of any religion. murderer, the physician, whose We have only to open the sacred mind was not decided respecting volume, and truth is visible before the different systems of these scius ; we have only to look, and ences ? What should we think of the path of life is seen. All may a prince, president or ruler, whose know, what is truth; "the way. mind was not stored with political faring man, though a fool, need knowledge, whose opinion was not not err.”
decided respecting the best mode Men ought immediately to of government ? Yet what are the form their opinions on religious bursting bubbles of human gov. subjects, because their opinions ernments, what are nations and infilence their moral and religious empires, compared with the gosconduct. Though the paflions of pel of Jesus, the crown and men often impel them to actions, throne of glory, prepared for the which their judgments disap- children of God? prove ; yet nothing can be more « Religion's all; descending from the absurd, than to suppose that opin
skies ions have no influence on actions.
Go To wretched man, the goddess in her
left Will he, who denies the divinity Holds out this world, and in her right of the Saviour, the holiness of the the next.” fabbath, the divine appointment These remarks show how impropof baptism and the Lord's supper, er and wicked it is for any man of coaduct like the man, who feri. party of men to complain of oth
ers for adopting theological opin
: . For the Panoplist. ions for themselves.
If it be duty
OBSERVATIONS ON HEB. xii. 7. for all men to be determined for themselves on religious do&trines; -Whole FATH. follow, confiderthen it must be duty for every in ing the end of their conversation. dividual. It is his duty to adopt This is understood to be an just opinions ; if he do not, I may exhortation to remember departed withdraw my influence and sup. ministers. For although the first port from him ; I may by fair 'clause, as it stands translated, means endeavour to prevent his seems to forbid this conitruction, propagating his bad principles ; there is nothing in the original to but him I may not assail with any forbid it ; but on the contrary weapon, but found argument, everything seems to require it. drawn from the scripture maga. The strict reading is this ; Rezine. It is duty for every man to member your guides, who have spoken form a creed for himself, but not to you the word of God; whose for others. Every man has an FAITH follow, considering the end equal right ; therefore I am as of their conversation. liable to the inquisition of my We are here instructed, aeighbour, as he is to mine.
1. That the virtuous lives of If it be duty for all men to christian men are to be specially form religious opinions; then are remembered, as being more interthey accountable to God for elting than any natural qualities, the manner, in which they per. any thrining talents, or scientifickat. form this service. God requires tainments. Nay, if they have men to believe according to a been preachers of the firit emikaowo standard of truth, his word nence, their general conversation is is truth. He, that believes ac- as much to be remembered, as any cording to the opinions of his fath- thing they have spoken, and per. es or minifters, or his own wicked haps more; because a truly chriswishes, does not perform his duty, tian life is a continual lecture ; does not obey any command. more luminous, in some respects Human tribunals have cogni- more persuasive, and more edify. zance of actions only; at the bar ing than all other preaching. of God thoughts, and wishes, and II. Here is a farther intimation defires, and opinions will be judg- that it is of particular consequence ed, for the Judge knoweth the heart. when we call to mind the converNot only conduct, but belief will sation of such men, to consider the be examined in the judgment of end of it. Instructive and alluring the great day; not only actions, as it is in the abftract, it is yet bat opinions will be judged, and more so, it seems, when we fo panifned, or rewarded. In that trace it, as to observe where and awful moment, when all mankind how it terminates, or what is its thall stand before Gop, voluntary result ; for this is the idea conveyerrors respecting religious truth, ed by the original term. pride of philosophy, and obâtinacy There are two ideas, indeed, of opinion, will be placed on the which go to explain the end of left hand of the Judge : therefore such a conversation. One is, the it is of infinite importance, that point in which it did terminate in "we take heed, how and what we the first instance. This is result, bicar, and read, and believe. in one view. And if this was in.
cluded, the words which follow First, it we are to imitate their will appear to have a close con faith, we must have a care to renexion with it. " Jesus Christ the ceive the same word of revelation same yesterday, and today, and which they received ; instead of for ever.” To hold him up in leaning to our own understandthat view was the point, it seems, ings; instead of grounding our in which the conversation of those faith on the wisdom of men ; inholy men terminated. All truly stead of being content to have no chriltian conversation terminates more information from heaven in the same point. It holds up than the light of nature gives; or JESUS CHRIST as invariably nọ more of scripture ihan the worthy of perfect esteem, homage pride of philosophy will admit. and confidence : the same com- We must look to it that we receive plete image of the irivisible GOD, the divine system entire, and that that he ever was; the fame all. none of its essential parts be resufficient Mediator and Restorer jected. Otherwise, though we. of fallen men ; the same gracious may seem to have faith, we have Malter, incomparable Teacher, not the truth, but something else and Pattern for all to copy after ; in its place. We must watch a. as true a Friend to his true fol. gainst those prejudices, those hablowers now, as he was to his first its, and connexions, which make disciples, and the same unalterable men unwilling, or afraid, to refriend for ever. This is the result ceive the whole truth; and which which Saint Paul brings to view, often induce a disowning of im. when he says, For me to live, is portant parts of it. We must emCHRIST.
brace with particular solicitude, The other view of the result of the peculiar ihings of divine revetrue christians' conversation, is a lation, which it was the special depeaceful death; the beatifick appro- sign of the blessed gospel to unbation of their Divine Master, and fold: those new instructions which the crown of life which he hath our fallen condition rendered most promised to the faithful. And deeply interesting ; and which no thus a well known expositor com- finite being, without immediate ments on the place. :“ Consider direction from heaven, had either how comfortably, how joyfully, authority to give, or invention to they finished their course.” conceive. It is here that the faith
The inspired writer seems to in. of true christians, from age to age, rimate that a due contemplation is most emphatically expreffed ; of such present result, and final if- and finds a most rational fatisfacsue of a chriltian life, must excite tion in relying simply on the au. in others a strong folicitude how thority of God, and not on the they shall'attain to live in that conjectures and reasonings of men. manner: and this is the question · The piety and the virtues of which is here answered. Confid- those holy men we are here called ering the end of their conversativiin to remember, did not grow out of imitate their faith. Thi“, it seems, human philosophy. Nor were is the way to live as they lived, they mere natural religion, or and to live to the fame effect. common morality. They grew
This important exhortation, out of the doctrine of CHRIST, and FOLLO:V THEIR FAITH, divides is the glory of God manifested, and fli into two parts..
heaverly grace displayed, by and
through him. They grew out of thankful nor humble, in due man. the sublime mysteries, sublime pre- ner ; nor will they be merciful, in cepts, transcendent examples, and any extensive or uniform measure. exceeding great and preciousprom. If the free grace of God, or the ises, which it is the peculiar glory infinite condescension of the Lord of the gospelto declare, and which, Jesus, to us sinners, be not recogthey by faith familiarized. From nized, we know but little about hence sprung their enlarged views goodness or condescension ; and of divine things, their high senti- our most generous sentiments will ments of duty, and their exalted be comparatively ungracious. devotion. From hence their deep But there is another particular humility, their glowing love and included in following the faith of gratitude, their Itrong aspirations true christians. We must fee . to the glorifying of their God and Secondly, that we have “the Redeemer, in their bodies and spir- 'fame spirit of faith.” That is, its. From hence their love to that we not only acknowledge all faints," and wonderful benev, the same gospel, but receive it as olence to their very persecutors; they did : with the same enlightWith all thole relative virtues, ened and heartfelt perceptions of which attend on such a spirit. the Itamp of divinity on the face Their kindness was copied from of it, the wisdom of God, and the Christ; whose love, parling know- power of God ; the same sensibil. ledge, had touched and expanded ity to the free love and grace of their hearts. From the same source heaven, to the great salvation, and fprung their spirituality, self deni- our infinite need of it ; the same al, and other distinguishing traits confidential submision to mercy and of chriftian character.
to duty; and the same union' of And hence their fidelity as min- heart to the Divine Redeemer in fers, who acted in that character! every branch of his great characTheir interesting and impressive ter." manner of delivering their messageWithout such faith as this, , es; their fervency of spirit in the there is sometimes, indeed, a regwhole of their Master's work. ular form of religion and moraliThey set him before them, who ty, but it wants the spirit and the cime to seek and save that which genius of christianity. The faith was lost. His love constrained we now contemplate is an animat
ing soul. It is a “ lively faith.” In vain do we expe&t to exhibit It purifies the heart. It aslimia christian conversation without lates the subject to what he beholds chnitian ideas. They who be. in the great object of faith. It hold not the glory of God in the conforms his views to the pure face of Jesus Christ, that is, and heavenly nature of the gospel through the medium of his won- doctrines : it sublimates his affecderfcl character, and the redemp- tions : and it carries him 'in a tion by him, will of course bé christian way to all incumbent du. greatly deficient in their divinity, ty.. their religion, and morality. All this agrees with the acThose who have not seen their count given by this fame inspired need of mercy as being wretched, writer, * of the way in which good and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, will be neither
• See chapter xi.
characters are formed, and holy ing which is genuine. He is conversations produced. It was thereforç emphatically without by faith, he tells us, that Abraham, excuse. and Mofes, and other worthies of But on the other hand, Who ancient time, lived as they lived, can, with this facred passage in and died as they died. It was by 'view, think it proper to say, It is faith in gospel realities, he here of little consequence what a man teaches us, that those holy men believes, if his life is right.whom he bids us remember, ex- Change the expreflion and it is hibited such virtues, and finished just this : It is of little consequence so happily. « Live by the fame whether we have the faith of the faith then,” he indirectly fays to first christians, provided we live us, “and your conversation and their lives. And this implies, that your last end, shall be like theirs. we may live their lives without As Jesus Christ is the same yel- following their faith. terday, and today, and for ever; But inspiration, we plainly see, so a living faith in him, will ever, is against every such idea ; and and invariably, according to its this is more than ten thousand ar. measure, have the same result. guments for its confutation. If While it changes you into his own any person nevertheless will venimage, from glory to glory, it will iure upon such a sentiment, and assimilate you to all those holy expect that it will carry him fafe, men who are gone to glory, and let him prepare to give a reason will raise you to the same high of the hope which is in him. Let condition.”
him fhew, from the nature of We have thus considered the things, how such a spirit and tiuo particulars supposed to be in life, as marked the primitive cluded in following the faith of em.' christians, can possibly be exhibitinent christians. And it is of se- ed upon principles 'quite different rious importance that both be kept from theirs, or upon any princi. in view.
ples, without such a faith in the Let no one suppose then, that Son of God, as they lived by, and mere orthodoxy in religious things, without the help of those gospel is all that is necessary; for cer- truths, which they kept in view. tainly that does not come up to the It is true that, with christian faith of ancient christians. ' It can heads, men may have pagan hearts ; neither produce a conversation and in practice fall below many like theirs, nor have the same re. unbelievers : and this is sometimes sult. Instead of inferring safety made an objection to setting up to the subject, it places him in a faith so high. But it still holds yet more critical situation ; and good, that having the faith of true no person has more reason to be christians, in both particulars, will alarmed than the mere orthodox unfailingly produce a similar preman. He sees where the truth eminence in life. It ftill holds lies, but he does not truly embrace it. good, that living by those truths He is convinced, but not brought of revelation, which they lived by, over. He knows his Lord's will, and believing in them continually, and yet does not “ prepare him as they believed, will and must do felf” and do it. He ought to ex. for us all that has been said. Let hibit a sublime piety, a transcend us therefore have full confidence ent virtue ; but he exhibits noth in the exhortation here given