Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tion can pourtray, no mind can grasp its horrours."*"If the apparent simplicity of this system be alleged in its favour, I would say, it is the simplicity of meanness, a simplicity which is its shame; a daylight which reveals its beggary. If an air of obscurity, on the contrary, is objected a gainst that of better times, let it be remembered, that every science has its ultimate questions, boundaries which cannot be passed, and that if these occur earlier in morals, than in any other inquiries, it is the natural result of the immensity of the subject, which, touching human nature in every point, and surrounding it on all sides, renders it difficult, or rather impossible, to trace it in all its relations, and view it in all its extent. Meanwhile the shades, which envelope, and will perhaps in some measure, always envelope it, are not without their use, since they teach the two most important lessons we can learn, the vanity of our reason, and the grandeur of our destination.

[ocr errors]

TO CONFESS CHRIST.

"It is not improbable that some THE OBLIGATION OF BELIEVERS may be offended at the warmth and freedom of these remarks: my apology, however, rests on the infinite importance of the subject, my extreme solicitude to impress what appear to me right sentiments respecting it, together with the consideration, that the confidence which ill becomes the innovators of yesterday, however able,

From the Religious Monitor. MUCH is implied in confeffing Chrift before men. If we would confefs our Saviour, we must not only fay nothing againft chriftianity, but we muft plead in its fa vour; we muft not only allow that Jefus is the Chrift, but also glory in his cross and honour his laws. To confefs Chrift, is to fhew a facred regard to his holy and ftri&t precepts; to attend regularly on the ordinances of his ap pointment; to explain and incul. cate the principles of his religion on thofe over whom we have influence; to countenance and en. courage those who appear to be his fincere followers, and with

"This passage, indeed the whole of the preceding discussion, is well worthy of the attentive consideration of all who, in their laudable efforts to check

the progress of vice, may have been led to countenance the dangerous principle of general expediency, a principle, which, pretending to enter into the designs of the Almighty, makes his laws of secondary authority, and supersedes the force of the most sacred injunc

tions."

Christ. Observer.

X

may be pardoned in the defenders, however weak, of a system which has stood the test and sustained the virtue of two thousand years. Let us return, then, to the safe and sober paths of our ancestors; adhering, in all moral questions, to the dictates of conscience, regulated and informed by the divine word; happy to enjoy, instead of sparks of our own kindling, the benefit of those luminaries, which, placed in the moral firmament by a potent hand, have guided the church from the beginning in her mysterious sojourn to eternity. Stand in the way, and see and ask for the old path, which is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

Vol. I. No. 4

"Instead of demolishing the temple of christian virtue, from a presumptuous curiosity to inspect its foundations, let us rejoice they are laid too deep for our scrutiny. Let us worship in it; and with the nations of them that are saved, walk in its light."

firmnefs and meeknefs to defend his caufe when attacked by his enemies.

The object of this effay is to point out the obligatton lying upon every chriftian to confefs Christ in the manner defcribed above.

1. Sincerity requires it. Sincerity and uprightness not only require that we never, in any inttance, profess what we do not believe; but also, in certain cafes, that we plainly and openly avow our fentiments.

Opposed to the confeffion of Chrift, is, denying him before men. And we deny Chrift, not only when we openly renounce our baptifmal vows, and fay to every When the principles or characperfon we meet, "I am an unbe- ter of a friend are attacked; liever," we deny him by filence as when we hear mifrepresentations well as by words; by not obferv- made use of, in order to hold ing his inftitutions, as well as by him up as an object of ridicule; openly throwing contempt upon when the laugh of the compathem, by fervilely following the ny is raised at his expenfe, we opinions and maxims of the world are guilty of hypocrify if we as well as by faying in fo many feem to join in the entertain-' words, "We will not have this ment; nay, unless we teftify our man to reign over us." Some difapprobation by words, or by of this description may be furprif- withdrawing. This obfervation ed to hear themselves ranked is plainly applicable to the cafe with avowed enemies of Chrift, before us. If we hear Chrift and reprefented as "deniers of or his words blafphemed, and the Lord who bought them." instead of testifying difpleasure, They may fay, "we never speak a feem well enough fatisfied, we word against the Saviour are certainly chargeable with difnever deny his divinity, nor in any fimulation, and it is unneceffary way oppofe him." Let fuch con- to add, how much meannefs as fider that by actions no lefs plainly well as immorality this implies. than by words, we may fhew dif- "Yet if Chrift and his religion refpect to any character; and that are not maligned, is there any by tranfgreffing one of the leaft of occafion of fhewing our allegiance Chrift's commandments, we vir- to him?" We answer, That whattually deny him; we fay more ever a man reckons important or ftrongly than language can ex- valuable, he very naturally makes prefs, "Let us break his bands fometimes the subject of conversaasunder, and cast his cords from tion. Out of the abundance of us." Let not then fuch deceive the heart the mouth fpeaketh. themselves with falfe hopes, be- Why then in religious matters acause they zealously protest a- lone fhould the privilege be denigainst infidels and unbelievers; ed, of testifying what we do know; for their own inconfiftency is of commending what we efteem? greater, who, allowing in fo ma- Why fhould a profound filence be ny words, that Chrift is the obferved upon religious matters, Saviour, yet in works they deny when we fpeak our opinions freehim, being difobedient and to ev- ly upon other topicks? ery good work reprobate.

we

There is, it must be owned, fuchTM a thing as giving what is holy to the dogs, and cafting pearls before fwine; this is carefully to be avoided. To introduce the more fublime and fpiritual parts of

christianity in the courfe of common conversation with those who are plainly worldly and irreligious, or to detail matters of christian experience to those who have no apparent fenfe of the importance of religion at all, would certainly be highly imprudent, however good the intention might be. Yet we contend for the liberty which the christian has, regulated by prudence and by a due regard to time and place, to "bring forth out of the treasure of the heart good things." Nay, a chriftian's converfation, if he would act confiftently, will often differ even upon common topicks, from that of the world, lying in wickedness. He will not make the fame references to custom, to fashion, or to the way of the world, as if thefe could juftify any thing which the law of God and the religion of Jefus Chrift condemned. If he has not for the time loft fight of his principles and rules, and unless he is unluckily betrayed into temporary conformity to the world, he will not be heard uttering this pernicious fentiment, which we hear fo often from the mouths of nominal chriftians; namely, that fuch and fuch things may, nay must be complied with, because they are commonly practifed, and it would be thought frange if we did not conform, although the Spirit of chriftianity, and the practice of the best and molt exemplary chriftians, are plainly against them. The chriftian, in fhort, can never be justified, or even excufed, in making mean compliances, that he may appear to the unprincipled, what is termed a man of liberality of fentiment. By this bafe conduct he may indeed, for a time, keep in terms. with the irreligious and profane, perhaps, procure from

them the honourable title of a liberal man; but he will never thus be able to convince gainfayers, or win them over to the Saviour; because the difference betwixt him and thofe, whom he flatters himfelf he may be fuccessful in reclaim. ing, appears in this way, to be very infignificant.

Still it may be faid, Is not religion a matter betwixt God and our own fouls, in which the world is not at all concerned; and does not our Saviour himself command us to pray to our Father in fecret, condemning the Pharifees for of tentatious devotions? It is true indeed, that the devotional feelings are to be exercised chiefly in fecret, that the life of the christian, in its fpring, and alfo in many of its exercifes, is hid with Chrift in God, and that a ftranger does not intermeddle with the communion he enjoys with the Father and with his fon Chrift Jesus. Yet ftill true piety has its proper outward expreffions, infeparable from its exiftence in the heart and its operations in fecret. A good tree bringeth forth good fruit. He who is inwardly pious, will never be, to appearance, careless and indevout. He who walks with God in fecret devotion, will alfo have his converfation ordered aright. He who fears God will always fpeak reverently of his name, and will alfo reverence his fanctuary. He will live foberly, righteously, and godly in the world. His light will fo fhine before men, that they feeing his good works, may glorify his Father in heaven.

2d. Regard to Chrift Jefus as his Lord and Mafter, will lead a chriftian to confefs him before men.

Many enlightened and illuftrious perfons have appeared at different periods in the world, whofe

characters we ftill revere, and whose discoveries have been highly valuable. There is no occafion however to confefs any of them before men, to call ourselves by any of their names, or to fuffer any thing in defence of their opinions or reputation. The reafon is obvious. They do not hold any relation to us; and while we profit by their discoveries, we do not reckon ourselves bound to ftand up for all that they faid or did. Their writings and difcoveries have little or no connection with their own perfonal conduct. The cafe is altogether different with refpect to Jefus Chrift. He appeared not as an ordinary human teacher. He did not merely require mankind to receive his doctrines as true; but "This (faid he) is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath fent." He affumed the character and authority, not merely of a wife teacher, but of a divine perfon, and claims our allegiance as our Master and Lord. Chriftians then are concerned, not merely in the truths which the gospel contains, but are alfo intimately connected with Chrift himself. The honour of his doctrines, and that of his perfonal character, are clofely connected. As chriftians, then, we are deeply interested in the honour of our Mafter; we muft openly avow our allegiance to him, and never be ashamed ei ther of him elf or of his words.

3d. It is, befide, the exprefs command of Chrift that we should confefs him before men.

He does not give his followers permiffion to deny him when danger threatens, that when the danger is over, they may again ftand forth as the advocates of his caufe. He does not permit any fuch time ferving. "When they perfecute

you in one eity flee to another," faid he to his difciples, thus, giving them full permiffion, by all prudent means, confiftent with duty, to avoid danger. Yet when they fhould be brought before councils, before governours, and kings, they were not permitted to fay, we know not Chrift, that they might be fet at liberty. They were boldly to testify concerning him, to declare the important facts relating to him; and in that way of well doing to commit themselves into the hands of that God whofe caufe they ferved. Chriftians are still called to follow their Mafter, though it fhould be to fuffering; to hold fast the profeflion of their faith without wavering, to make no unlawful conceffions, in order to preserve liberty of life.

Jefus foretold that one of his chofen disciples, fhould deny him; he predicted it to make it the more obferved; and it ferves as a folemn warning to believers in all fucceeding times. Simon Peter actually denied his mafter to avoid fuffering along with him. Afterward, however, he faw his fin: he repented, wept bitterly, never repeated the offence, nay, difcovered fuch boldness, that the Jewifh rulers took knowledge of him that he had been with Jefus. Let us imitate Peter, not in denying, but in confeffing our Mafter; and fay with becoming zeal, trufting in divine grace, "Lord, I will never forfake thee."

[blocks in formation]

of favours received, naturally inclines us to defcribe to others the extent of the benefit, and the genuine manner in which it was conferred. If then we love the Saviour, we shall dwell with pleasure on his unmerited kindness, and magnify the riches of his grace. Gratitude will prompt us to keep up the honour of his name, to obferve frequently, and with pleafure, the memorial of his dying love, and to make no fecret of it, that we giory in his crofs. Animated by love and gratitude, we will profefs his religion, not merely when it is accounted honourable, but when it expofes to contempt and perfecution: we will follow Jefus not only through good report, but alfo through bad report; we will go forth as his foldiers not only in the funfhine, but alfo in the dark and cloudy day; not only when all is quiet and fafe, but even when danger threatens, and the enemy advan

ces.

We only add, that by confeffing Chrift, we promote the advancement of the gofpel and the interests of mankind, which are clofely connected. If we are chriftians at all, we must be convinced that the gospel is indeed glad tidings, and the most precious gift of God to men; and that they are happy who hear its joyful found. We fhall be defirous that men may be bleffed in Jefus, and partake of the noble privileges of his kingdom. Now, how is this to be accomplished but by chriftians confefling Chrift before men? The treafure of the gofpel is in earthen veffels. Chriftianity is to be propagated by the inftrumentality of human means. Angels are not to be ex

pected to come down from heav en to explain and recommend the religion of Chrift but those mult do it in their respective fpheres, who have themselves experienced its power and been made partakers of its bleffings. If the first believers had kept their faith to themselves, had concealed their principles to avoid fuffering, the glorious truth must have been loft. We could not have heard its glad tidings. The memory of what Jefus Chrift hath done muft in this cafe have perished.

To us, however, the word of falvation hath been fent. For us Paul counted not his life dear unto himself, that he might testify the good news of the grace of God. For our benefit, many have confeffed Chrift in troublesome times, and have not denied their Lord. Let us not conceal from our pofterity the praises of the Lord and his ftrength, and the wonderful works he hath done. While we live, let us give thanks unto him who hath wrought out for us a great lvation. Having received by the inftrumentality of men, the bleffing of a pure and heavenly religion; equity and generofity feem to confpire in prompting us to ufe every means for imparting the fame bleffing to thofe who are at prefent deftitute of it. must own ourselves debtors both to the Greek and the barbarian, both to the wife and to the unwife. We must hail the aufpicious period, and use our endeavours for haftening it, "when the earth fhall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord; when in the wildernefs water fhall spring up, and streams in the defert; and the ends of the earth fhall fee the fal vation of our God."

We

W. B. D.

« AnteriorContinuar »