« AnteriorContinuar »
as a Minister of the church, how many things powerfully constrain him to be distinguished by his purity of morals, by his earnest zeal and continual diligence in the work of the LORD: he knows what consistency, and a sense of honour, demand of him; he knows by what means only he can be useful to the state, to the church, to the souls of men: he knows the account he must give to the LORD at his coming; he knows what shall be the doom of the unfaithful, what the distinction and reward of the faithful servant of the LORD. .
IF, with all these grounds of hope and confidence in the learning, the purity of doctrine, and eminence of piety, and ministerial duties and labours faithfully and successfully performed; if where there is much and well merited commendation; there are some complaints, and some complaints not altogether without foundation, it ought to be remembered that, perfection shall be found only in the heavenly Jerusalem, “ Where that which is “ in part shall be done away." It ought to be remembered, also, that worldly men take pleasure in spreading and exaggerating, and some
times in fabricating, accusations against the ministers of religion. It ought to be remembered that, bigotry and party, like certain flies, neglect the excellences and live upon the scratches and nighter blemishes of the faireft forms. It ought to be remembered that blind zeal, as of old, can make men offenders " for “ a word;" and propose thibboleths of diftinction and separation, not found in, nor authorized by, the word of God.
It were an unpleasant task to bring forward to observation, to contrast and compare the church and the societies that have separated from her, and newly erected churches, as they call themselves, in blemishes and imperfections. To do so, mentally at least, is natural : indeed not to do so in particular circumstances, is impossible. We cannot shut our eyes. We cannot but hear what fame publishes. Facts are not to be denied. Obtrusive crimination is examined and scrutinized; and provokes, and sometimes abundantly justifies, recrimination. On this subject, I only say that, I am firmly persuaded that it may be asserted with confidence, that, numbers and all circumstances duly confidered,
the proportion of what is less desirable or exceptionable, will not be found the greatest in the Ministers of the Church of Scotland.
But do we find that gratitude to God, and the great head and king of the church, uniformly prevailing, which the ministrations of their pastors justly claim from the members of the church, and the inhabitants of this country ? do we observe the respect due to them, uniformy preserved and manifefted? Are the people distinguished by a steady and resolved attachment to the religion and worship of their forefathers ?
MANY I trust feel gratitude to heaven for their superior privileges, hold their Ministers in reputation, and are steadily attached to the Church of Scotland : yet, alas ! the present times are unhappily, too much distinguished by a levity of mind, by indifference towards the church, by a forwardness in crimination, by a facility of leaving her communion; and by an innovating spirit in religion.
All this has been observed and regretted
by the friends of order and peace, and of true religion: “ much searching of heart” has been occasioned by this state of the minds of men : Shall we not attempt to check it, and to introduce and promote and cherish a better spirit and character ? Shall not we remain, and determine you to remain steadily attached to the church ?
BRETHREN, Let me exhort you with all earnestness: beware of this levity of mind, this indifference towards the church, this forwardness of crimination, this facility of leaving her communion, this innovating spirit which distinguishes too many at present.
The apostle was grieved for the disunion and separations of Christians at Corinth and elsewhere : he knew their origin, he beheld and deplored their consequences. Much inattention to both, there is good reason to fufpect, is chargeable on separatists and innovators, and on their too ready and implicit followers in this country, and in this age, as well as in other regions, and in the first churches of Christians. But neither the leaders nor the followers do we address: they
are not present : and though they were prefent, they have perhaps so made up their minds; (for facility of separation and innovation, is not inconsistent with obstinacy in making and remaining profelytes ;) as not to be affected with any thing that could be suggested, for persuading them to abandon their systems, and to return to the bosom of the church. The members of the Church of Scotland we address with the apostle's zeal and affection, recommending union, and a persevering attachment to the church.
The history of the world, and of the church, alas ! affords abundant evidence of the unhallowed fire of pride, vanity, and worse passions, mistaken by the world, and very probably, to a considerable degree, by themselves, for holy zeal, in separatists, fectarians, and reformers. But, without judging any man, and, with the apostle, saying, " to his own master he stands or falls;" allowing, or, if you will, asserting and maintaining, that pure, holy, disinterested zeal, animates the separatists and innovators, of former or of later times ; have we not much reason to say, in these days, there is danger