« AnteriorContinuar »
IF there be any one truth, in embracing which, it might be supposed, that the intelligent part of mankind would universally agree, it is surely the importance of religion, and the necessity of attending to what it recommends, for promoting the interests of society on earth, as well as preparing men for the happiness of heaven. Viewing the matter in this light, it is impossible but that every serious thinking person, who wishes well to his country, must sincerely lament the unhappy divisions, which have fa long agitated the public mind, on a subject so interesting as the nature and tendency of true religion. However justisiable separation may be in some cases, and however necessary at all times, for the friends of truth and righteousness to withdraw themselves from the tents of error and ungodliness; still it cannot be denied that the numerous sects, and parties, into which the Christian world has been di
B vided, vided, and their almost endless diversity of religious opinions, must be considered as one of the heaviest calamities, with which mankind have ever been visited. Nor need we be at much pains to point out this wild variety of sentiment respecting the doctrines of the gospel, as the most common source of insidelity, and most powerful support of irreligion; since we sind it daily appealed to as such, and therefore industrioufly encouraged by those "per"verse disputers," who, rather than embrace the "pure undesiled religion" of Christ, allow themselves to be completely " spoiled through philosophy "and vain deceit."
Nothing seems to be better known, nor more carefully improved, by the adversaries of our common faith, than the advantage they derive from those unhappy dissensions, by which the family of Christians, which an apostle calls the " Household of "faith," is divided against itself. In lamenting the effects of such shameful division, the church of Christ may justly say, in the words of the Psalmist, —" It is not an open enemy that hath done me this "dishonour; but even those who were once my "companions, who took sweet counsel together "with me, and walked in the house of God as "friends." Such " offences" however, we are assured, "must needs come;" even although a "woe be denounced against those, by whom they "come." We are also forewarned, that there must, and will be heresies, factions and parties
distinguished distinguished by their false and destructive principles; "that they who are approved" by their steady adherence to truth, unity and order, "may be made •* manifest."—Such then being the divided state of what is called the Christian World, those who have promoted the present work do not hope to produce any thing like general unanimity in a country such as this, where so many jarring opinions are entertained on the subject of religion.— The object which they have in view is of less extent, and therefore more likely to be accomplished. The design of this publication is to offer some arguments in defence of Episcopacy in general, and particularly that of Scotland; and to persuade such of the inhabitants of this country as profess to be of the Episcopal Communion, to walk worthy of that profession, by acting in a manner consistent with it, and endeavouring to support the constitution, and preserve the unity of that small remnant of the old established church, which still happily exists in this part of the united kingdom.
There is no article of the Christian faith, as laid down in our public creeds, that seems to be so strangely misunderstood, and so little attended to, as that in which we are taught to profess our belief of the " holy, catholic church." And the mistakes and inattention so prevalent with regard to this important article are the more to be regreted, as the baneful consequences arising from this unhappy cause do daily exhibit an increasing tendency to