« AnteriorContinuar »
civil government? How obvious is it, that what is in its nature moft ufeful and excellent, will for this very reafon become most hurtful and pernicious when mifapplied or abused? Christianity forbids every evil work. Its fpirit is the fpirit of forbearance, meeknefs, and benevolence. Were it to prevail in its genuine purity, and be univerfally practifed, peace and joy would reign ever more. Uncharitableness, priestcraft, contention, and perfecution, are evils which have taken place among its profeffors, in direct oppofition to its fcope and defign. Is it not then hard, that it fhould be made refponfible for thefe? Has it not a right to be judged by its genius and tendencies, rather than by any mifchief, which blindnefs and bigotry, and the love of domination have done in the Chriftian church? For my own part, when I contemplate the horrid fcenes which ecclefiaftical hiftory prefents to our view, instead of feeling difguft with Chriftianity, I am ftruck with the Divine forefight difcovered by its founder, when he faid, I am not come to fend peace on earth, but a fword; and led to a firmer faith, arifing from a reflection on the warning given in the fcriptures, that an apoftacy would come, and a favage power appear, which would defile God's fanctuary, trample on truth and liberty, and make itfelf drunk with the blood of faints and martyrs!
WHY do you not perfecute, at least, with the tongue, thofe monftrous Unitarians? Because I have no warrant from Chrift to do fo; nor the least inclination to forge one. This is well enough: But why do you praise them in every company? Because a mistaking man may merit praise for that very industry which hath led him into an error; and for that integrity which makes him, against his intereft, fupport it. But what occafion is there to keep company with them, and to maintain an intimacy with them? Because on every other article they edify me, and on this we agree to differ. In the poffeffion of this truth, I think I have the advantage of them. In regard to many others, I am not worthy to speak to them; I glory in being their difciple. In what light then do you confider a fincere man, who denies our Lord's divinity? In the light of a mistaken brother; in every other attitude an object of efteem, and in that of denying the divinity of my Lord, an object of my tendereft compaffion. -All this argues great coldness to your Lord! I would rather be frozen into a formalift, than inflamed with the fire of hell; in the first case, I fhould be a harmless ftatue; in the laft, a destroyer like the devil.
Which of the ten commandments does a man break by following his own convictions in religion? Suppofe the worst, that he is in an error; yet his error remaineth with himself. Is any of us lefs wife, lefs juft, or lefs fafe, becaufe another does that for himfelf which we every day do for ourselves? Our safety is not endangered by his taking the liberty to think for himfelf: It is we who endanger his fafety by taking the liberty to think for him. In fuch a cafe, we fhould be lefs wife and lefs juft than we ought to be; as he would be if he allowed us to run our liberty into fuch licentioufnefs. How is it that men, Chriftian men too, can fee one another's fickneffes, and hear of one another's misfortunes, without any emotions of anger, and with all the feelings of humanity and pity that Chriftians ought to have for one another; and that they cannot bear to hear a confcientious man avow fentiments different from their own without a red refentment, that like a hot thunder-bolt hiffes, and wounds, and kills where it falls? No; it is not justice, it is not prudence, it is not humanity, it is not benevolence, it is not zeal for thefe difpofitions; it feems as if it were the explofion of an infected heart, where the milk of human kindness never flowed. If fuch emotions can proceed from Chriftians, we muft fuppofe what we are loth to think; that is, that fome Chriftians are in fome unhappy moments di
vefted of all the principles of their holy religion, and actuated by the difpofitions of the moft ignorant and cruel of mankind. But, fay they, though we receive no injury, yet God is difhonoured. Ah! Is God difhonoured? imitate his conduct, then; does he thunder, does he lighten, does he afflict this poor man? Behold his fun enlightens his habitation, his rain refrefhes his fields, his gentle breeze fans and animates him every day, his revelation lies always open before him, his throne of mercy is ever acceffible to him; and will you, rash Christian, will you mark him out for vengeance? I repeat it again, imitate your heavenly Father; and, at least, suspend your anger till that day, when the Lord will make manifeft the counfels of men's hearts, and then shall every man have praife of God.
Plea for the Divinity of Christ, and Village Sermons.
CALEB EVANS, D. D.
IT T has never been my cuftom, as you well know, to give hard names to those that dif fer from me, even on fubjects of the highest importance; and you will not therefore expect any thing of this kind in the prefent publication..
The wrath of man will never work the righteouf nefs of God; and, I hope, I have learned to tremble at that word of my divine Mafter, Who art thou that judgeft another man's fervant? Railing accufations may be as eafily applied to the fupport of error as of truth; and can only tend in either cafe to inflame, never to convince or perfuade. We ought as fincerely and cheerfully to admire the virtues of thofe that may differ from us the moft widely, as we would. with to detect and avoid their errors. But fuffer me to caution you against the oppofite extreme, that of fcepticism and indifference-a temper of mind, of all others, the moft unpardonable, and the moft pernicious. It is the highest infult we can offer to the God of truth, and has the moft direct tendency to banish truth, and with it, all true virtue and happiness, out of the world. But amidst the clash of contending parties, and the jarring of fuch very difcordant fentiments, as are propagated and zealously contended for in what is called the Christian world, in the prefent day, it becomes more neceffary than ever for all that would be able to give a reafon of the hope that is in them, with meeknefs and fear, uprightly and impartially to fearch the fcriptures, and judge for themselves. Your faith will otherwife be of no ufe to you, it will stand in the wifdom of men, and not in. the power of God. Then only, can you re