Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

“ willeth all men to be saved,” and that command violated, in which he says, “ condemn not that ye be not condemned.”.

The interpretation of the parable above mentioned, may agree with the creed of the interpreter, but does not accord with the meaning of its divine author. Let any one read the twentyfifth chapter of St. Matthew, and judge whether, as the lamp denotes the profession, the oil do not denote the works of christianity. A sense which is confirmed by the following pårable of the talents, and the impressive lesson of benevolence which is delivered in the conclusion of that chapter :-" I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat," &c.

To talk therefore of the oil of grace, in diseussing this subject, is to divert the mind from the momentous duties of religion, to an imaginary unction, which is thus administered to the deluded soul. · In objecting to such infatuation, there is no derogation from the efficacy of divine grace, much less any denial of its influence; but a real exaltation of its holy office, as intended not to supersede good works, but to promote them. “ That being justified by this grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life." To which end 6 we affirm constantly,”; as the apostle directed Titus, “ that they who have believed in God, may be careful to maintain good works ;” and we assert upon his au

thority, that “ these things are good and profitable unto men.” *

So far we confess the allegation to be true, that we are guilty of preaching moral doctrine; but is it therefore true that we do not preach the gospel ? By what evidence is it proved that mere morality alone is taught in our churches; or that “ dissertations upon the beauties of a Socrates, a Seneca, a Zeno, or a Plato are substituted for plain theological discourses ?”

Moral preaching, it is known, was the more generally adopted and approved, on account of that disgust which the cant of puritans 1 excited;

* Ep. to Titus iii. 7, 8. † Willat's Apology, p. 89.

For a specimen of their style, which resembles very nearly that of the modern evangelists, the reader is referred to Echard's “ Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy.” In his observations upon the answer to that work, amongst many other instances of their absurdity is the following. “ It happens that I have now by me a book called • Apples of Gold for young Men and young Women:' a book so famous among them, that it has to my knowledge deceived the world to no less than eight editions; and yet when we look into it, (notwithstanding the subject is very large and profitable,) we shall there find little besides Christ, the soul, conscience, faith, and such like very good words, over and over repeated to very small purpose, and as often ushered in with an engaging and crying introduction of “ Ah! young men,” and sometimes “ Ah! young men and women.” It is all one, sir, where you open the book, his rhetorical humour is so very much the same. “Ah!" says he, (p. 181,) “ young men, young men, if you must needs be leaning, then lean upon precious promises, lean upon the rock that is higher than yourselves, lean upon the Lord Jesus Christ, as John did;

and as extremes usually produce extremes, the subject might not always be treated with an

John leaned much, (John xxi. 20,) and Christ loved him much. Ah! lean upon Christ's wisdom, lean upon his power, lean upon his purse, lean upon his eye, lean upon his righteous. ness, lean upon his blood, lean upon his merit.” And whence do you think, sir, came all this idle rant about leaning? Only from John's being placed next to our Saviour at supper, and laying his head or elbow in his bosom; therefore young men must run their heads into our Saviour's purse, and put their elbows into his eyes. And from this place of scripture alone, arises all their insignificant canting about a believer's leaning and rolling on Christ, it being no where else mentioned in the whole New Testament.-Edition of 1698, p. 116, 117, 118.

With regard to experiences, and other terms now so much in use, they are nothing more than the old puritan cant revived. Witness another passage from the same author: “ An old disciple, an old christian is rich in spiritual experiences. O, the experiences that an old Christian hath of the ways of God, of the workings of God, of the word of God, of the love of God! 0, the divine stories that an old Christian can tell of the power of the word, of the sweetness of the word, of the usefulness of the word ! O, the stories that he can tell you concerning the love of Christ, the blood of Christ, the offices of Christ, the merits of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the graces of Christ, and the influences of Christ ! O, the stories that an old disciple can tell you of the indwellings of the spirit, of the operations of the spirit, of the teachings of the spirit, of the sealings of the spirit, of the witnessings of the spirit, and of the comforts and joys of the spirit,” &c. p. 121, 122.

The compound phrases so much hacknied by the modern enthusiasts, are borrowed from the same source: “ soul-softening means, soul-melting means, soul-hardening company, soulhardening examples, conscience-wasting, and soul-undoing opportunities,” p. 124. These terms, with those above menexpress reference to the great principles of christian morality, viz. “ Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” and “the sanctification of the holy spirit.” These principles might not be insisted on in terms, though they were virtually considered as the real ground of every argument which could enforce religious practice. It was natural for those who had witnessed the perverted use of the sacred text, and the jargon occasioned by the rumeaning and endless repetition of certain scriptural phrases, to avoid a mode of discourse which would have exposed them to the suspicion of hypocrisy or fanaticism : those deadly enemies of pure religion, which have so frequently assumed her voice, and worn her cloak; “ but hid the dagger underneath the gown.” Yet, whatever has been, or may hereafter be the style of preaching in the established church, we confidently appeal to that standard which is alone infallible, in vindication of the doctrines delivered by the English clergy. And to the question, whether we or our antagonists preach as our Saviour preached, his word if it be examined, will afford an answer decisively in our favour. For this is the purport of our instruction :

eu

tioned, were used in the seventeenth century, for the same purpose that they are repeated now; “ and this is that in which chiefly consist the power and edifyingness, (as they call it,) of their preaching, and by which they think themselves so far to excel the instructions of the conformable ministers; and I wonder where lies the mystery and great difficulty of this gifted sort of rhetoric!"--Echard, p. 119.:

[ocr errors]

« Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good: he that doeth good is of God; but he that doetli evil hath not seen God :"* Virtuous practice is the manifest emanation of religious wisdom and consistently with this doctrine, we urge our blessed master's gracious assurance, “He that believeth on the Son 'hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." + Faith in Christ is the only means by which we can attain salvation ; but this end must be effectuated by moral obedience, by the fulfilment of that condition on which it is promised : “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” | That such doctrine is evangelical, the source from which it is drawn will abundantly prove; that it is not Methodistical is no less certain: for Methodism annuls the conditions of salvation, and thus dishonours its meritorious cause. The displeasure, or, it might be said, the contumely we have incurred by teaching this sound doctrine, would scarcely be credited if it did not break out with undisguised malignity. Sir Richard Hill did not scruple to' vent his spleen in this unfounded calumný: “ They (the clergy,) do not admit the scripture account of the fall, and its consequences.” ŞAnd supposing the case of an “evangelical minister's removal from his church,” he asks, “ What must

* 3 Ep. John ii. † John iii. 36.

# Matt. xix. 17. .
§ Sir Richard Hill's Apology, p. 125.

« AnteriorContinuar »