Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

world, to enforce uniformity of faith and wor. fhip, or by the peremptory decisions and sentences of particular teachers, pretending with unabashed asurance to supernatural illuminations. The glory cannot be great in either case, when the numbers that are added, either to an established fystem, or to a fect or party deviating from it, are merely the profelytes of ignorance and credulity.

Four Discourses.

EDMUND LAW, D.D.

BISHOP OF CARLISLE.-DIED 1787. WE are fill apt to confine the gospel of our

Lord as his primitive disciples fometimes did, to particular nations, churches, fects, and opinions; to contend vehemently either about things in their own nature abstruse and difficult to be understood, and therefore not necessary to be determined; or else fuch lighter matters as the ceremonies, circumstances, and outward forms of its administration, instead of explaining and recommending the true nature, end, and design of it; of being intent upon enlarging its real kingdom, and taking care to maintain those works which are intrinsically good, and ever profitable to men; instead of attending to that more excellent way which the same blessed apostle shewed us ; that bond of perfectness which he has earnestly exhorted us to put on above all things ; which he has taught us to esteem above all faith and knowledge, and even the best miraculous gifts.

Let us then, instead of judging others, or hastily determining of their state, take care to set a due value on, and to secure our own salvation: instead of charging God foolishly and ungratefully, for not having imparted the same benefits to all which we enjoy ; let us rather be giving him continual thanks for his unspeakable gift, and endeavouring to employ it to his glory.

Let us be intent on studying the pure word of God, and careful to interpret it in such a manner as may do most honour to its author, and at all times encourage a free and an impartial study of it. 'Tis now high time to do this, and to awake out of sleep, fince our reformation is much nearer than when we first believed ; and it is to be wished, that we ourselves could be perfuaded to examine our own state before others are obliged to do it for us ; that we were disposed to help and forward, rather than check, the progress of every serious enquiry; and stop any farther improvements in the knowledge of that, which of all things deserves and wants them most, rather than withstand a general reformation in religion, by rigorously insisting on, and obtruding such things for doctrine as are the com

mandments of men, and very foreign to the efsence of it; instead either of entertaining that anti-christian kind of spirit, which calls down fire from heaven on all who do not receive us ; which delights in straitening the way to life, and shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men, or incurring the woe denounced against those hypocrites who are desirous of lading men with heavy burdens, and binding upon them things which are too grievous to be borne, and which they know that none need touch with one of their fingers. As we see the faults and follies of past ages, a double woe will be to us, if instead of taking warning by them, and avoiding the like, we are resolved to tread the fame steps, and fill up the measure of our fathers.

Theory of Religion.

JOHN WESLEY, A. M.
FELLOW OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD:-

DIED 1791.
AND when Jehu departed thence, he lighted on

Jehonadab, the son of Rechab, coming to meet hini. And he saluted him and said, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart and Jehonadab answered, it is. If it be, give me thine hand! 'Tis very possible that many good men may entertain peculiar opinions, and some of them may be as singular herein, ás even Jehonadab' was. And it is certain, fo long as we know but in part, that all men will not see all things alike, it is an unavoidable consequence of the present weakness and shortuess of human understanding, that several men will be of several minds in religion as well as in common life. So it has been from the beginning of the world, and so it will be till the restitution of all things. Nay, farther ; although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true, yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true. Nay, every thinking man is assured they are not, seeing to be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity. This, therefore, he is sensible is his own cafe. He knows, in the general, that he himself is mistaken. Al.. though in what particulars he mistakes, he does not, perhaps cannot know. I say perhaps he cannot know. For who can tell how far invincible ignorance may extend? Or what comes to the same thing, invincible prejudice, which is so often fixed in tender minds, that it is afterwards impoffible to tear up what has taken so deep a root. And who can say, unless he knew every circumstance attending it, - how far any mistake is culpable? Seeing all guilt must fuppose some concurrence of the will of which he only can judge who searcheth the heart. Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the fame liberty of thinking which he desires they should allow him; and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions, than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He bears with those who differ from him, and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question : Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?

We may learn hence what is a catholic Spirit. It is not an indifference to all opinions, nor an indifference as to public worship, nor an indifference to all congregations. But a man of a truly catholic spirit, while he is steadily fixt in his religious principles, in what he believes to be the truth, as it is in Jesus : while he firmly adheres to that worthip of God which he judges to be most acceptable in his fight, and while he is united by the tenderest and closest ties to one particular congregation : his heart is enlarged towards all mankind, those he knows and those he does not: he embraces with strong and cordial affection, neighbours and strangers, friends and onemies. This is catholic, or universal love. And he that hath this, is of a catholic Spirit. For love alone, gives the title to this character. Catholic love is a catholic Spirit. But if we take this word in the strictest sense, a man of a catholic Jpirit is one who, in the manner above-mentioned, gives his hand to all whose hearts are right with

« AnteriorContinuar »