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brethren. Use thy liberty of judging concerning the doctrines and duties of religion ; but deny not the same liberty to those who have an equal claim to it with thyself. A consistent Protestant'is a character of the first order--admired by men, applauded by angels, and accepted of God! *
But though we are thus enjoined to exercise our reason in matters of religion, yet, concerning the communications of revelation itself, we thould be exceedingly careful left we form a rash and precipitate judgment. Upon this hallowed ground, infidels have trodden with an incautious step, and suffered their liberty to degenerate into licentiousness. Knowing but in part, and seeing through a glass darkly, we are by no means competent judges of what is the best method to be used by the Supreme Being, in order to bring his fallen creatures to repentance and salvation. Were this remark (however obvious) duly regarded, it would put an end to most of the cayils which are brought forward in the present day, to invalidate the credibility of the gospel. It would not then be efleemed fo pertinent an enquiry, to ask why the Christian revelation was not sooner published ; as w ether it be of divine origin, and calculated to promote genuine holiness? It would not be accounted so much our business to puzzle ourselves and to perplex others, by enquiring why it is not made universal, as to examine diligently what it requires, and what encouragements are afforded to stedfait obedience ? It would not be asked with the same impatient expectation of being fully satisfied, why the resurrection of Christ was not in this or in that particular manner manifested to such and such particular persons, as whether he be indeed risen, and did actually appear to faithful and competent witnesses ? Perfons acquainted with only the first elements of religion, must perceive that in these latter enquiries, the truth of revelation is most nearly concerned. Questions respecting its origin, nature, and tendency, bave been satisfactorily solved; whilst full answers to enquiries more curious than important, may lie concealed in the profound abyfs. of that providence whose paths are in the deep waters, and whose ways are past finding out ! If it be indeed an indisputable fact, that Jesus was crucified, and rose again according to the scriptures, then is it altogether unreasonable to suppose that his doctrines are not true--that his precepts are of no authority--that his promises shall not be fulfilled, and that his threatenings fhall not be executed especially when it is also considered that these conftituent parts of the gospel are designed, and adapted to make us partakers of the divine nature, and inheritors of eternal life. Even Boling broke himself, one of its keenest and most insidious opponents, has confessed, that “ No religion ever yet appeared in the world, of which the natural tendency was so much directed to promote the freace and happiness of mankind, as the Christian ; and that the gospel of Christ is one continued lesson of the strictest morality, of justice, benévolence, and universal charity.”
* See the ingenious and venerable Mr. Turner's (of Abingdon) publication, entitled, A Compendium of Social Religion. The conclusion of that judicious work, contains many excellent obfervations in favour of Candour and Unanimity.
Let therefore the pure knowledge which we profess to derive from the fcriptures, that repository of divine truth, be accompanied with an ardent piety towards God, and with an extensive charity for our brethren. Thus shall we understand the nature, discern the excellence, and feel the energy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To live down error and vice, is the most sure mode of destroying them; and this, happily, every believer has the power of accomplishing. The noxious weeds of atheisin and of infidelity would have never risen to their present alarming height, had not the soil in which they shoot up, been manured by the vices of professed Christians. By living soberly, righteously, and godly; we hold forth, as from an eminence, the word of life, and others, seeing our good worksý are led to glorify our Father who is in heaven. And why should we be discouraged with the difficulties by which our understandings are embarrassed in this preliminary state of existence ?
* See the article Religion-Encyclopædia Britannica.
When this mortal puts on immortality, and this corruptible incorruption, then shall the powers of our souls be invigorated, and the objects of contemplation be encircled with that superior degree of light which ensures the firmest conviction. Faith 1hall have terminated in vision. Hope shall have been converted into enjoyment. Jesus, who hath brought life and immortality to light, shall have drawn afide the veil which now covers the works and the ways of God, and the full radiance of eternal day will beam on our enlightened souls !
Is this the bigot's rant? -Away, ye vain,
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt, in dulness steep; Go--footh
souls in sickness, grief, or pain,
Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire,
To heaven-to immortality aspire !
By vain philosophy be e'er destroy’d;
Shall be by ALL-or suffer'd or enjoy'd."