« AnteriorContinuar »
alone it can proceed. Besides this, there are many ways by which a minister may get beside the gospel, without falling into any palpable errors. There may be nothing crooked, yet much wanting. We may deliver an ingenious discourse, containing nothing inconsistent with truth, and yet not preach that truth in which believers stand, and by which they are saved. We may preach about the gospel, and yet not preach the gospel, so as to show unto men the way of salvation. And if we get into a vain, carnal, and worldly frame of mind, this is almost certain to be the case. It is no breach of charity to say of hundreds of sermons that are ordinarily delivered by those who are reputedly orthodox, that they are not the gospel which Jesus commissioned his servants to preach ; and if it be thus among preachers, is it marvellous that a large proportion of religious people are not strictly evangelical ; but imbibe another spirit 7 And if the doctrine of Christ be neglected, (not to say corrupted,) the effects will appear in a neglect of faithful discipline, in a worldly spirit, and in a gradual disregard of a watchful, circumspect, and holy individual conduct. It is no breach of charity to suppose that many who profess evangelical principles are Christians only in name, and that these principles are professed merely on account of their popularity in the circles in which they move. The ways of such must be crooked. Like Saul, they know not how to go about obedience to God, but are always stumbling, or turning aside in pursuit of some carnal object. There are few things more spoken against in the present times, than party zeal; but there are few things more common. To unite with those whom we consider on mature examination as being nearest the mind of Christ, and having done so to act up to our principles,—is our duty : but few things are further from the inind of the partisan than this. Having enlisted in the cause of a party, he sees no good but that which is within its pale, and will say and do almost any thing to keep up its reputation. Many things have I seen in the days of my vanity / There is a man whose heart unites with every one who loves our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and who rejoices in the work of God wherever He saes it ; but not being of the right party, he is of little or no
account : and there is a man who gives no other proof of his liberality than that of boasting of it; yet being of the right party, he is liberal.
Genuine candour and liberality are not to be looked for in parties, but in individuals of various parties. There are men who, while seeking the good of their immediate connexions, consider them not so much as their party, as an integral part of the kingdom of Christ, and who know how to rejoice in the. success of truth and true religion wherever it is found: but is it thus With the bulk of any denomination, established or unestablished? I fear not. He that has lived thirty or forty years in religious society, and has not met with things that must needs have shaken his confidence in professions, must either be a very happy man, or very unobservant of what has passed before him. What shall we say then? Shall we sigh, and say, That which is crooked cannot be made straight? Be it so; Let us distinguish between Christianity, and the conduct of its professors ? so thnt while we are grieved at the latter, we may not think worse of the former. Let God be true, and every man a liar! Let us also examine our own hearts, and pray that we may have grace at least to correct the deviations, and supply the defects, that are to be found in ourselves; in which case, whatever may befall others, we shall find rest for our souls.
1 shall conclude with a few remarks on misrepresentation. Some men in the course of their lives are exposed to a large portion of this, accompanied, it may be, with much foul abuse, the correction of which often becomes an object of despair. He that is first in his own cause, says the wise man, seemeth just, but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. But how, if a man should be so deluged with misrepresentations, and his hands so occupied with more important concerns, as to have neither time nor inclination to refute them? There are two ways left him.
First: He may safely treat the foulest and most unworthy of his opponents with neglect. Their calumnies will not do him much injury ; and if he attempt to answer them, he may be in danger of imbibing a portion of their spirit. This seems to be the fool that should not be answered according to his folly, lest we be like unto him.
Secondly: He may give a brief statement of the truth, and leave the misrepresentation and abuse to fall of its own accord. When the Jews, after their return from Babylon, began building the temple, it caused a great sensation among their adversaries. They first offered to join them in the work, thinking, no doubt, to come in for a share, and perhaps the chief share, of the glory; and when their offer was refused, they accused them to the Persian government, so that .the work for a time was stopped. We may" wonder that the Jews did not by a counter-statement correct these vile misrepresentations, and expose the insincerity of their accusers: yet they did not; but, as appears from the history, held their peace. When the storm had blown over, encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, they renewed the work; and when interrogated anew by their adversaries, contented themselves with a simple statement of the truth. The substance of it was this: 'We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth.— We are engaged in rebuilding the house that was built many years ago by a great king of Israel.—Our fathers sinned against God, and he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed this house,-and carried the people away into Babylon.—But in the first year of Cyrus there was a decree to rebuild it, and its furniture was at the same time restored to Sheshbazzar, whom he appointed our governor.—The same Sheshbazzar began this work, which is not yet finished.' This simple statement of truth, which leaves out all reflections on their adversaries, would bear to be repeated even by them, in their letter to Darius, and in that form was repeated, and ultimately prevailed. Ezra iv. v. vi. The crooked things were let alone, and the straight rule exhibited, and Ihns the end was answered.
Accountability human, queries on and answers, iv. 113 116.
Adam, his state before the fall, i. 79—82.
Aiwv. aiuviog, remarks on the words, ii. 378—388.
Allegory, abuse of, in preaching, viii. 134.
Alms-giving, viii. 212.
Anderson, Mr. an American writer, i. 23; his sentiments on the subject
of faith examined, i. 23—27.
its origin, iv. 148; opposed to the moral government of God, iv. 160;
perverts the doctrine of man's inability, iv. 161; abuses the priviliges
of the gospel, iv. 164; perverts the doctrine of election, iv. 176; of
the atonement, iv. 178.
event, ii. 147; their language respecting Christ is recorded in the Acts,
their notion of free-will, iv. 30.
of moral, not commercial, justice, i. 89; equal to the salvation of the
whole world, i. 89; the life of the gospel system, iv. 177; viewed in
connexion with the divinity of Christ, iv. 264; mistaken views of it,
Backsliding, its nature, iv. 367; shown by a relinquishment of evangel-
science, rather than from love, iv. 372; a disposition to palliate sin, iv.
faith, i. 179.
Calvin, remarks on his conduct towards Servetus, ii. 109.