Imágenes de páginas

be alleviated and in time removed, had they been taught and influenced to search the Scriptures, and place upon them their principal reliance for instruction and guidance. The word of the Lord is the bread of life to every Christian soul, and all the other means of grace have their principal use in exciting the believer to read the Bible aright. The manner in which it is to be read and studied is indeed sufficiently indicated in the Bible itself; but such is man's unteachableness and reluctance to obey, that he needs the living minister to exhort, admonish, explain the truth, and to enforce it upon the heart and conscience. He needs also other means, and the Scriptures when constantly and prayerfully read, will lead him to seek those helps, not only as the appointed means of his own improvement, but as the appointed mode of pleasing God.

The church of Rome withholds the Bible from the laity; and their clergy, for the most part, deny the use of it to themselves. It is the glory of the protestant church that she makes it the duty of every one, ministers and people, to search the Scriptures; and it is the glory of the present age that protestant Christians have resolved to furnish the sacred volume to every family in the world. But although we have the Bible and esteem it of great price, it by no means follows that we derive from it all the benefit which the proper use of it would insure.

The truth is far otherwise. It is the evident design of its author that the Bible should be read daily, to furnish the food of which the soul of the Christian stands in continual need; that it should be read again and again, not only that it may be understood and remem. bered, but that by the frequent and constant perusal of

its pages, men may expose themselves to the fulness of its moral influence; that it should be the subject of our meditations by day and by night; and that it should be studied with prayer to God for his enlightening and sanctifying influence. It is moreover the plain will of God that the whole of the Bible should thus be read, since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable; and that each part should receive that degree of attention which its intrinsic importance demands, and that particular portions of the sacred volume should not so engross our attention as to prevent us from setting a due value on the other portions of the same word of truth.

This obvious and profitable use of the Holy Scriptures has been subverted by the operation of sectarian principles. An undue prominence has been given to those points of doctrine on which believers are at variance, while the mass of valuable instructions contained in the Bible, and which are not the subjects of controversy among Christians, are cast into the shade, possessing comparatively little interest in the estimation of the sectarian reader. This false taste and injurious habit is in great measure cherished, if not formed, by the polemical character of the preaching in the divided protestant church. From many pulpits you may hear more sermons on controverted subjects, than on all others taken together; and the love of controversy being natural to the hearts of fallen man, this description of sermons is very grateful to the great majority of hear


Indeed many Christians will not be satisfied with any but doctrinal sermons; and they would scarcely recognise those as doctrinal, which are not controverWhile their minister is demonstrating the errors

of those who differ from the standards of his church, and his hearers are wondering at the blindness and perverseness of their opponents, they forget that in a neighbouring church followers of the same Saviour, but hearers of another preacher, are at the same moment indulging in pious wonder at the dulness of their understandings. How can it be expected that Christians under this species of training will read the word of God "without partiality." The truth is that by many the Bible is read more with the view to defend the tenets of their own sect, and refute those of their antagonists, than simply to inquire what is the will of the Lord revealed to the reader. How much is the fact to be deplored that the Holy Bible designed by its wise author to light every step in the path of the Christian through this evil world, should be so perverted as to lead the reader into the darkness of unprofitable controversy with his fellow pilgrims; and that the book of God designed to teach and inculcate the love of peace and unity, should be perused in such a spirit as to supply to the reader aliment for contention and breach of charity.

Were Christians taught and induced to read the Scriptures daily, to read the entire Scriptures, with humble prayer for light from above, they would not fail to exhibit a more consistent Christian character. For their minds would then come into frequent contact with every part of God's word, and in due season would they receive the portion they need. Every blemish, every fault, every unholy feeling and practice would receive its seasonable reproof from God himself, speaking in his word. Every duty would be held up to the view of the Christian, with the arguments and motives for its performance.

God's character and his own would be con

stantly presented to his consideration, and the claims which his fellow Christians have upon his forbearance and his love could not be forgotten and neglected. But the impartial reading and study of the Bible can never be expected to be pursued by Christians, so long as they are taught to attach so much comparative importance to subjects of controversy. These will continue to engross their minds and affections, while the "weightier matters" of the Bible will be either hastily read, or entirely passed over as dry and uninteresting.

It is so in politics. A single topic, however unimportant in itself, will, when made the subject of dispute between the political partisans of the nation, assume more importance in the eyes of the community, and receive more of the attention than all the other concerns of the country about which there is no existing controversy.

5. It frustrates every effort to reform what is wrong in the church.

In the first place, the division of the church into distinct sects perpetuates errors in doctrine. Though none of the sects may be unwilling to acknowledge that in their own creed or confession of faith there is a single error, they will readily admit that errors abound among Christians of other denominations. What but differences of opinion among Christians have divided the church? One or more points of doctrine affirmed on one side, and denied on the other, has given rise to the various sects which have rent the church in pieces; and nothing can be clearer than that one of the parties are supporting error, where their sentiments are in direct opposition to each other. We do not maintain that if there were an amalgamation of all sects, there would be

no errors broached in the church; but we do hold and are confident that the surest way to perpetuate any error, is to encourage or drive one of the disagreeing parties to form itself into a separate denomination. If the party seceding be wrong, the error will be adhered to as long as the sect shall subsist; and if the party seceded from be wrong, the error will be persevered in until the denomination shall become extinct; because in either case the point of difference will introduce a new article into their respective creeds, and of that article they will be as tenacious as every Christian ought to be of the Bible itself. This assertion is fully verified by history.

How are the errors which are now incorporated into the creeds, confessions or systems of different denominations, ever to be purged from the church in its present state of division? Who is to commence the work? Who dares to undertake the task of pointing out the errors of his own denomination? If such a man

could be found, he would instantly be denounced and silenced as the enemy of his church, or a traitor to his party. He could not expect and would not meet with a kinder reception than Jesus Christ himself received from the Jewish church, when he exposed their departure from the truth of God, as declared in the ScripIf the error may not be exposed by a member of the same denomination, how can it be supposed that any interference will be listened to when coming from one of another sect? All history and observation proves that no church has ever yielded to the force of arguments, however strong, coming from an opponent.


When, however, the church shall be again united, one of the greatest obstacles to the discovery and acknowledgement of error will be removed, and as there will then

« AnteriorContinuar »