« AnteriorContinuar »
this untolerating unchristian spirit. A considerable part of the best and worthiest of mankind, have fallen victims to this barbarous principle. The chief blessings of society it has corrupted and poisoned ; it has robbed men of their mutual affection, benevolence, and esteem; infused jealousies, kindled contentions, and spread variances far and wide; it has divided friends, families, and kindreds ; crumbled communities into parties and factions ; burst asunder the strongest obligations, both natural, civil, and religious. It perverts men's understandings, corrupts their judgments, and alienates their affections; it confounds their ideas of merit and demerit, and makes them estimate characters by false rules and fallacious measures ; it creates uneasy fentiments productive of ill-will; it nourishes presumption, confidence, and self-conceit; and destroys the kind instincts of humanity and compassion. A principle fo unnatural and perverse, so injurious to virtue and destructive of happiness, is as great a curse to its possessors as to the public. Lastly, it is a discredit and dishonour to religion; for candour and charity are the chief characteristics of Christians, their peculiar ornament and noblest distinction.
If then we have any regard to plain reason and natural equity; if we wish peace and profperity either to our fellow creatures or ourselves ; if
we have any concern for the glory of God and the honour of his dispensations, let us not presume to exercise dominion over other men's faith, or to oppress their understanding, or impair their liberties. Let us cherish fobriety of thought and humility of spirit. Above all, let us put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness, the end of the commandment, and the very essence of the gospel.
Sermon on Reafon and Revelation.
ARTHUR ASHLEY SYKES, D.D.
OULD to God that Christians would be
content with the plainness and fimplicity of the gospel! That they would be persuaded to make no other terms of communion than what Jesus hiinself hath made ! That they would not vend, under the name of evangelical truth, the absurd and contradictory schemes of ignorant or wicked men ! That they would part with that load of rubbish which makes thinking men almost fink under its weight, and gives too great an handle for infidelity ? That they would distinguish betwixt human opinions and revealed truth! That they would see the difference betwixt authority and reason! That they would look upon Jesus as the Author and Finisher of Faith! That
they would think that they are not qualified to inake any other terms of acceptance with God, than what are already published by our Saviour ! That they would look upon all serious Christians as members of the one body of Christ! That they would cease from unchristian and inhuman damning, persecuting, burning one another, for not assenting to the words of men as to the words of God! and CHRISTIANITY would foon become the joy of the whole earth, and infidelity would foon lose its main, I may say its only support.
Dr. Disney's Life of Sykes.
JAMES HERVEY, A. M. RECTOR OF WESTON FAVELL-DIED 1758. IN a grove of tulips or a knot of pinks, one
perceives a difference in almost every individual. Scarce any two are turned and tinctured exactly alike.
Each allows himself a little particularity in his dress, though all belong to one family ; fo that they are various and yet the same. A pretty emblem this of the smaller differences between Protestant Chriftians. There are modes in religion which admit of variation, without prejudice to found faith, or real holiness. Just as the drapery on these pictures of the Spring may be formed after a variety of patterns, without blemishing their beauty or altering their nature. Be it so, then, that in some points of inconsiderable consequence, several of our brethren dissent, yet let us all live amicably and sociably together; for we harmonize in principles though we vary in punctilios. Let us join in conversation and intermingle interests; difcover no estrangement of behaviour, and cherish no alienation of affection. If any strife sublists, let it be to follow our divine Master more closely in humility of heart and unblameableness of life. Let it be to serve one another most readily in all the kind offices of a cordial friendship. Thus shall we be united, though diftinguished; united in the same grand fundamentals, though distinguished by some small circumftantials; united in one important bond of brotherly love, though distinguished by some slighter peculiarities of sentiment. Between Christians, whose judgments disagree only about a form of prayer or manner of worship, I apprehend there is no more essential difference than between flowers which bloom from the same kind of seed, but happen to be somewhat diversified in the mixture of their colours. Whereas if one denies the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and degrades the incarnate God to the meanness of a mere creature ; if another cries up the worthiness of human works, and depreciates the meritorious righteousness of the glorious
Mediator; if a third addresses the incommunis cable honours to a finite being, and bows to the image or prays to the faint;
these are errors extremely derogatory to the Redeemer's dignity, and not a little prejudicial to the comfort of his people. Against these to remonstrate ; against these to urge every argument, and use every dissuasive, bespeaks not the censorious bigot, but the friend of truth and the lover of mankind. Whereas to stand neuter and silent, while such principles are propagated, would be an instance of criminal remissness rather than a Christian moderation. For the perSons we will not fail to maintain a tender compassion : we will not cease to put up earnest intercessions: we will also acknowledge and love whatever is excellent and amiable in their cha. racter. Yet we dare not subscribe their creed; we cannot remit our assiduous, but kind endeavours, if by any means we may reconcile them
more scriptural belief, and a purer worfhip *.
* • In some former editions I expressed myself on this point unwarily and harshly. But my meaning and real sentiments were no other than those represented above. The reader, from such unguarded intimations, might too naturally be led to conclude that the author avows, and would ftir up a spirit of perfecution. But this is a method of deal. ing with opponents in religious doctrines, which he disclaims as absurd, and abhors as iniquitous. He is for no force but that of rational conviction ; for no constraint but that of affectionate persuasion. Thus, if you please, compel them to come in.''