Imágenes de páginas

ished, at an expense of £5000, and was inhabited with more than 200 of the poor. Several times the good man's faith was tried. At such seasons he had recourse to God by prayer, and received a gracious answer. The hospital was finished, and the Professor's faith remained strong as ever. He relied on God for its future. support, nor did he rely in vain. In 1706, the state of the hospital was as follows: 988 children, divided into 10 schools, were here instructed; 360 persons, beside 8 poor widows, were lodged and fed, and 84 indigent students of the university, received their daily food, at the expense of this excel

lent institution.

The death of this pious man, which happened in 1727, in the

65th year of his age, filled many with fear, lest this institution would languish and die. But God made it appear that the work was his own, that the residue of the Spirit was with him. From accounts concerning the state of this institution, by the Rev. Mr. Zeigenhagen, pastor of the German church at St. James', in 1736, it then continued in a very flourishing state, and farther additions had been made to the buildings. Its present state is not known to the writer.

How many useful reflections are naturally suggested to the benevolent mind by this narrative! What arguments for a Providence does it afford! What encouragement to prayer! What motives to works of charity!



[Continued from page 23 ]

THE last objection, worthy of notice, to that firmness in religious opinions, which we have been endeavouring to inculcate, is, that the daily increase of knowledge of ten produces a change in our sentiments. This objection arises from the supposition, evidently false, that religious doctrines are of the same nature with philosophical speculations. The latter, being founded on facts, or supposed facts, that take place in the natural or moral world, are confirmed or refuted by new discoveries, and the daily progression of knowledge; the former claim for their basis divine revelation; and since, when completed, no new truth can be added to this by the daring Vol. I. No. 2.



hand of man, they are indubitably certain. Philosophical theories have frequently been relinquished for ever, when additional experience and the increase of scientifick knowledge have discovered the insufficiency of those principles, upon which they were founded. The doctrines of christianity, like the sun in the firmament, may be obscured by the mists of ignorance, or the clouds of error; but we can never be persuaded, that by the removal of these their splendour can, in any degree, be impaired. To consider the one therefore, as admitting a doubtful interpretation, is of the same nature with that folly, which would publish the other, as certain, incontrovertible truths. The christian doctrines are to an unprejudiced

mind as perceptible in the scriptures, as the divine wisdom and goodness are visible in the material world. They are presented to us on so many occasions, and in such a variety of ways, that we cannot cease to admire the goodness of God in thus using so many means, to prevent his instructions from eluding our notice, or being fatally misunderstood. Some passages, rendered obscure by change of manners and customs, may have been illustrated by the increase of knowledge; but a new interpretation of a difficult passage cannot render uncertain and ambiguous the great truths of the gospel, which depend not on this alone, but are established on the surest grounds, and confirmed by their evident consistency with other parts of scripture.

Let us now inquire, what consequences would follow, were it maintained, that no man has a right to regard, as undeniably true, a particular class of religious doctrines. If this opinion were seriously believed, and consistently acted upon, it would prove the ruin of religion, and lead inevitably to absolute skepticism. Experience has shewn to what conclusions some men have been conducted by a disposition to doubt of opinions, well established and universally received; and we have reason to think that others, by false arguments, have frequently prevailed on themselves to disbelieve the truths, which opposed their favourite passions. Some have denied the truths of christianity; others the most important doctrines of natural religion; nay, a few have even publickly professed their firm conviction of the non-existence of God. Because infidels and atheists, therefore, per

[ocr errors]

sist in their opinions, while we perhaps do not perceive any improper motive, influencing their minds in the adoption of these; are we bound to acknowledge that they have examined them without prejudice, and that we have no right to condemn them, as undeniably false? If so, we may renounce the principles of reason and common sense; deny the certainty of any thing in nature, and reject all reasoning on the evidence of christianity, as totally inconclusive. Some may be ready to say that the truths of natural religion may be proved by reason; whereas revealed doctrines depend on the uncertain evidence, arising from vague interpretations of scripture. Here the light of nature is evidently preferred to that of revelation, which is impiously absurd. It cannot be proved, that the doctrines of natural religion have the evidence of strict demonstration; nay, stronger objections may be brought against them, than can be made to any of the doctrines of the gospel. The truth in both cases is evident, if the mind be open to conviction; but, if the one most free from difficulties is to be chosen, the pure doctrines of revelation ought undoubtedly to be preferred.

Beside, it may be observed, that few atheists are convinced by those arguments, which overturn their systems. Are we therefore to conclude, that the arguments for the existence of God, and for the truth of christianity, are not sufficient to prove these to every reasonable man? No, surely. We rather infer that the mind of the infidel is biassed by the strongest and most inveterate prejudice. A firm determination however in favour of any particular religious opinion, whether of nature or rev.

elation, is utterly inconsistent forth in the scriptures to every unwith that principle, which would prejudiced inquirer; and that, teach us to consider the attain- if we do not defend them with ment of certainty in these matters, firmness, infidelity and irreligion as beyond the power of man. may be the consequence. Here therefore those, who maintain such assertions to be true, are forced to adopt one of two resolutions. They must either, considering the uncertainty which attends on every subject, wander from doubt to doubt, till they arrive at complete skepticism; or they must be guilty of that, which they condemn in others, and defend their opinions with dogmatick obstinacy.

It might now be shown, that, if we cannot attain perfect certainty about the nature of the fundamental truths of christianity, the appointment of ministers and of a church for the preservation of these doctrines, is altogether unnecessary. They are rather to be considered, as the means of checking liberty of thought, and preventing the increase of knowledge. It might also be shown, that if a man adopt erroneous sentiments; or, if he profess to believe the truths of the gospel, without being firmly convinced of their reality; he cannot practise the pure morality of the gospel. In the one case, his actions will proceed from improper principles; in the other, the principles will not be sufficiently rivetted in his mind, to produce that uninterrupted uniformity of conduct, which is required of those, who obey the gospel of Christ. But these assertions must appear to every one to stand in need of no illustration.

Thus have we endeavoured to shew that, from the nature of a revelation, the great doctrines of the gospel must be clearly set

Since, then, the doctrines of our holy religion are plain and obvious; let us search the scriptures, that we "may know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent ; for this is life eternal. While we believe not every spirit; let us try all things, and hold fast that, which is good. The natural man indeed receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned;" but let a man ask, and it sha!! be given to him to understand the things, that belong unto his peace. "Our heavenly Father giveth the Spirit to them that ask him." Let us pray, that we may feel the efficacy of these truths upon our hearts, and in our lives. An unfruitful professor has no reason to rejoice; if the tree bear no fruit, it shall be cut down. Indeed it is the faith of the christian, appearing in all his actions, that is the proof to the world of the sincerity of his professions; it is this also, which makes him certain, that he is not a follower of cunningly devised fables; for, "if we do the will of the Father, we shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.”

We ought not to receive any doctrine, merely because it is adopted by a certain church, or particular body of men; but we ought “ to search the scriptures daily, to see whether these things are so." The matter is of the greatest importance; for the word of God" is the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death" to all, who read it. It is dangerous to rest satisfied with our opinions,

because others have done so ; we are accountable for our own actions alone. "Light is come into the world; and he, that doeth truth, cometh to the light." The means of ascertaining, what is right, are in our hands; if we use them not, our guilt is increased. "To whomsoever much is given, of them shall much be required;" if they fail in the end, they shall "receive the greater condemnation." That steadinefs, which, in the cause of truth, would have been rewarded, only aggravates guilt, when employed in defence

of error.

Nor let this be considered, as a breach of Christian charity; the earnestness, with which we would call upon men to consider their ways, is rather an example of it. Were we foolish and inconsiderate, we might say peace, peace, when there was no peace. The love, which the gospel inculcates, teaches us to regard the man with affection, while it calls on us to hate the wickedness that appears in his ways; to amend what is wrong, as we have opportunity; and to "contend earnestly for the faith, once delivered to the saints." Indifference, with many, has usurped the place of charity; but, while it neither seeks the good, nor mourns over the danger of any; that unlimited, undistinguished benevolence, which it professes to exercise, proves that it is not a gospel principle. To view without concern the manners of the dissolute and irreligious; to be careless about those, who " corrupt the word of God," and "hold the truth in unrighteousness ;" and to consider all the various sects, that have appeared in the religious world, as equally in the right; is the characteristick feature of an

evil spirit, however it may assume the form of an angel of light. It effectually prevents the exertions of true charity, by flattering men to their own destruction.


"We would fee Jesus."
John xii. 21.

I WOULD fee Jefus in profperity, that her fafcinating light may not lead me to a dreadful precipice; but that his good fpirit may whif per to my heart the noble inducements chriftians have to devife liberal things; that I might ever be faying, "What am I, O Lord; that thou fhould put it into my heart to do these things, when the earth is thine and the fulnefs thereof? It is but thine own that I return unto thee."

I would fee Jefus in adverfity, becaufe he is a friend born for fuch a ftate; because when all the fallacious props of happiness give way, his fingle name alone fupports the building. I would fee Jefus in adverfity, that I might order my cause before him, for he has all power in heaven and on earth, and can eafily arrange future events fo as to throw luftre on the darkest circumstances.

I would fee Jefus in health, that I might turn at his gentleft reproof; that I might not be full and forget God, but be devoted, body as as well as foul, to his praise.

I would fee Jefus in fickness, becaufe he healeth all my difeafes; he alone dispenses the balm of Gilead, he alone is the phyfician there.

I would fee Jefus in ordinances; for what are ordinances, deftitute of him? As the body without the fpirit is dead, fo are ordinances without Chrift. He fhews himfelf through the lattices, he ap

pears in his beauty, he is as the dew unto Ifrael, as the fhadow of a great rock in a weary land; his people fit under its fhade with great delight: his fruit is pleafant to their tafte. They fay continually in ordinances, "Make hafte, O my beloved, be thou like a young hart on the mountains."

I would fee Jefus in focial intercourfe. For what are all the charms of friendship? What the refinements of tafte? What the pleafures of converfation? Are they not all unfatisfying, and delufive, unless fanctified by the grace of our Redeemer ?

I would fee Jefus in my own heart, as Lord of its affections, of its purposes, of its pleasures, as the grand mover of its hopes and fears, the Author of its existence and happiness.

I would fee Jefus in death, as the Sun of Righteoufnefs, whofe beams in the darkest moment can fpread light and healing. I would liften to his voice, faying, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life." "Fear not, I have the keys of hell, and of death." Arife, O thou wearied follower of thy crucified Lord, and enter into thy reft.

I would fee Fefus in glory, for what is heaven itfelf without him? But when we fhall fee him as he is, then fhall we be like him, and be for ever happy in his prefLondon Mag.



In all cafes where religious errours are to be confuted, temperate difcuffion, in the true fpirit of chriftian charity, is the mode we ought invariably to purfue; without giving way to any perfonal invective, any afperity, either of language or of conduct, toward thofe who have the misfortune to differ from

[ocr errors]

us in opinion. These things are totally unbecoming a minister of the gofpel, who is exprefsly enjoined by his religion, "to put away all bitternefs, anger, malice, and evil fpeaking; even when he is reviled not to revile again; but to be gentle unto all men, in meeknefs inftructing those that oppose themfelves." Bp. Lon. Charge.

The only way to refute oppofers of divine truth, and check the progrefs of fchifmaticks, is for the clergy to imitate and emulate what is good in them, avoiding what is bad; to edify their parifhioners with awakening but rational and fcriptural difcourfes; to converfe much with them, " as watchmen for their fouls; to be fober, grave, temperate, and fhew themselves in all things patterns of good works." They fhould recommend themfelves to their adverfaries by their mildness, their ferioufnefs, their diligence; yet beware, and counfel others to beware, of being led, by efteem of their piety, into relifhing their fingularities, and patronizing their fchifm.

Abp. Secker.

CORRESPONDENCE. To the Editors of the Panoplist.

I WAS much pleased to find, in your firft number, that PHILO has undertaken to exhibit the evidence in favour of the Univerfal Deluge. If this writer, or some other of your learned and ingenious correfpondents, would undertake to treat several other subjects in the fame way, fuch for example, as the doctrine of atonement, of future rewards and punishments, of the Trinity, &c. great fervice might be rendered to the caufe of revealed religion. These fcripture doctrines, I conceive, derive much fupport from faithful refearches into ancient lore.

« AnteriorContinuar »