Imatges de pÓgina

to them in the business of human salvation, which are not ascribed to any other."*

The Holy Ghost. With respect to the Holy Ghost,' says Dr. Mosheim,t they (the Socinians,) plainly deny his being a divine person, and represent him as nothing more, than a divine quality or virtue, as appears from the following passage: 'The Holy Ghost is the energy or perfection of God, whose fullness God the Father bestowed upon his only begotten Son, our Lord, that we, becoming his adopted children might receive of his fullness.' While the modern Socinians declare, that the scriptures do not teach the existence of any such person as the Holy Spirit, and that there is no ground for the expectation of any supernatural operation on the mind.'

• The Apostle does not mean to teach that the Spirit of God is a real person, a distinct intelligent agent.'

The Scriptures. "The Socinians plead for the use of reason in interpreting Scripture,—but apply it to the doctrines of revelation, as well as to the evidences of the truth of it. Accordingly they reject what is spoken if they cannot comprehend it.'||

Dr. Priestly, in his letters to Dr. Horsley, says, 'I have frequently avowed myself not to be a believer in the inspiration of the Evangelists and Apostles, as writers : I therefore hold the miraculous conception to be one, with respect to which any per. son is fully at liberty to think as the evidence shall appear to him.' And consistently with this profession he does not scruple to say in his History of Corrup. vol. ii. p. 370.— The apostle Paul often reasons inconclusively, and therefore, wrote as any other person of his turn of mind and thinking, and in bis situation, would have written without any particular inspiration.'T

Dr. Magee asserts (p. 106,) 'that in every instance the doctrine of scripture is tried by their abstract notion of right, and rejected if not accordant; and quotes one as charging the sacred writers as bunglers, producing lame accounts, improper quotations, and inconclusive reasonings. Another writer of this class, as declaring, that the narrations in the New Testament, true or false, are only suited for ignorant, uncultivated minds, who cannot enter into the evidence of natural religion :' anothcr, as remarking on the words of St. Peter, that prophecy came


Paley's Works, vol. ir. p. 257. | Vol. 4. p. 490. I Magee p. 464.Priestly's Sermons pas. $ New Test. note on 1 Cor. ch. xii. verse 10, 11. Claud's Essay, vol. i. p. 153. [Fletcher's Letters to Priestly, p. 37.

not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake aus they were moved by the Holy Ghost, that'Peter speaks here according to the conception of the Jews, and that the pro. phets may have delivered the offspring of their own brains as divine revelations ;' and lastly, that another glories in having given a little light to St. Paul's darkness, a darkness, as some think, industriously affected.'

The Soul. Dr. Priestly stands at the head of those bold phi. losophers, .who deny the immortality and immateriality of the soul of man ;t while others of them maintain the sleep of the soul, which they say, becomes insensible at death, and is raised again with the body at the resurrection. The apostle, (Phil. ch. i. v. 21.) could not mean to express an expectation of an intermediate state of enjoyment between death and the resurrection : for he hints at no such topic of consolation to the bereaved Thessalonians in the passage above cited, viz. 1 Thess. ch. iv. ver. 13–18.'

Holy Angels. The authors of the Socinian Testament do not seem to allow, the real external existence of such beings as Angels :' see the note on Rev. ch. iv. ver. 2. compared with the note on Acts, ch. vii. ver. 53; the latter passage they consider may mean' with great pomp and splendor on the mount. Thunder, lightning, and tempest may be called angelo, like the plague of Egypt.' New Test.

The Devil. These gentlemen who have commented so ingeniously on their version of the New Testament, utterly deny that the Scriptures give any countenance to the doctrine maintained by St. Peter in the 2nd chap. and 4th verse of his second epistle, and like some of their brethren who have given a little light to St. Paul's darkness,' have also undertaken to set St. Peter right. The messengers,' say they in their note on the above text, are the spies who were sent to explore the land of Canaan !!' And the messengers who watched not duly over their principality, but deserted their proper habitation, he kept with perpetual chains under darkness, (punished them with judicial blindness of mind,) unto the judgment of a great day, i. e. when they were destroyed by a plague. Jude, ver. 5.

What says common sense to this kind of legerdemain, that can get rid of the devil so easily, and change the whole phalanx

+ See Fletcher's Letters to Priestly, p. 23, and Lempriere's Biographical Dictionary, article Priestly. Buck's Dictionary, article Socinians.

VOL. ).


of fallen angels into a few unfaithful spies by a stroke or two of the pen ? What, but that it answers their purpose right well, and that those who had the temerity to reject the sacrifice of the cross, when living, should be in no danger of suffering any punishment for so doing, after they were dead. But it

But it may be asked, do they not allow that there is a being called the devil ?not a real, but a hypothetical and fictitious being : the principle of evil personified: the supposed cause of evil."*

Hell Torments. On Matt. ch. xxv. ver. 46. they thus comment; . This text so far from giving countenance to the harsh doctrine of eternal misery, is rather favourable to the more pleasing and more probable hypothesis, of the ultimate restitution of the wicked to virtue and happiness. And on Rev. ch. xiv. ver. 11. they say, “It would be very unreasonable to infer the gloomy doctrine of eternal misery from this text. But if any one is disposed to lay undue stress upon it, it may be sufficient to remark that it is not here asserted that the torment continues, hut that the smoke of it ascends for ever and ever.'

Rev. ch. xx. ver. 10. • This text has also been alledged, but with little reason in favour of what has been justly called the heart withering doctrine of eternal torments."

General Conflagration. It is not reasonable to believe that an event so little countenanced by natural appearances as that of the destruction of the earth by a general conflagration, is the subject of a divine prediction. It is well known that in the language of prophecy great political changes and revolutions are foretold under the symbol of terrible convulsions in the natural world. It can hardly admit of a doubt that the sublime language of this context is to be interpreted in a similar manner. The heavens and the earth which are now,' ver. 7. 'must necessarily signify the Jewish dispensation, or the then moral state of the world, which must pass away to make room for the promulgation of the Christian religion. But this revolution cannot take place without producing great changes and convulsions in the political world ; which, in prophetic language, is expressed by the heavens being on fire, the elements melting, and the earth with the works on it being burned up.'!

* New Test. passim.

New Test.

| New Test. 2 Pet. ch. iii. ver. 12.


The Methodists, as a body of Christians, are eminently favoured with a rich variety of means, admirably calculated to promote their piety, usefulness, and happiness. Among these, class-meetings occupy a station of primary importance, and have been blessed of God to the edification of thousands and tens of thousands. That ignorant and wicked men should ridicule and deride those persons who love Christian communion, is not at all surprising, when we recollect the declaration of the Apostle, that " the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ;” and we know that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Pitiable indeed are those persons, who are unable to endure “the world's dread laugh,” and who desert the standard of the cross, dismayed with “ a fool-born jest!” To candid, reasonable men, it may be sufficient to say, that meetings for the relation of Christian experience are recommended and appoved in the sacred Scriptures : see Ps. Ixvi. 16. Mal. iii. 16. Col. iii. 16. Heb. iii. 12, 13. X. 24, 25. These passages sufficiently prove the propriety and importance of the practice; and good men, in every age, have delighted to “ take sweet counsel together,” in the things of God. In these means, simplicity, honesty, and propriety should be sacredly observed. The plain, unvarnished tale of a man of God is always interesting; he disdains equivocation, and speaks to the point, to the heart! Every thing fine and laboured in the relation of our experience should be studiously avoided : and the diffident, fearful, humble follower of Jesus should be informed, that a flowery, far-fetched statement is altogether unnecessary. God loves the sighs of a broken and contrite heart better than all the vain professions of. proud formalists : and a sensible, pious leader will not only carefully feed the lambs of his flock, but will carry them in his bosom.Behold yonder company of Christians waiting upon God! It is one of the most lovely sights upon earth! “ Their's is converse such as heaven approves ;" yea, “ the Lord himself is among them.' The ignorant are instructed, the weak strengthened, the distressed comforted, the doubting encouraged, the tried supported; and they all rejoice together in the God of their sal. vation! Peace, unity, and brotherly love are promoted, and Christ glorified in his living members. Is it not lamentable that

meetings so profitable should ever be neglected ? Yet, alas, this is too frequently the case. It is grievous to a pious heart to hear some professors attempt to justify themselves, by saying, “ The means are not salvation ; we can go to heaven without them!” What is this, but saying, in effect, “ We are wiser than God !” He has commanded us to seek, to strive, to read, to hear, to pray, to communicate : but we have found out an easier way, one more suitable to our carnal, indolent disposition ! But remember, “There is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death :” and God will say, with an awful frown, to such childish reasoners, “ Ye have gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.” Others are kept from attending the means by a little bodily indisposi. tion, a shower of rain, a dark or cold night, a worthless friend, a needless visit, and a long list of insignificant &c. &c. With such pretexts they may endeavour to pacify a guilty conscience, but the attempt is vain! Are not the following among the real causes of their absence? They have departed, at least in heart, from God—their love is grown cold the closet has been neglected-sinful tempers have been indulged-guilt is contracted—and therefore they are embarrassed and distressed when questioned relative to the work of grace in their souls. Influenced by a desire to arrest the progress of so great an evil, I would endeavour to notice a few of the awful consequences which must ever attend the neglect of these invaluable means.

1. What must be the feelings of a pious leader, when his members refuse to meet him ? He sees them, perhaps, attend the public means with tolerable regularity ; but their shy and cold looks tell him, all is not well with them. He watches for their souls ; but, week after week, they give him no opportunity of inquiring, “ Are the consolations of God small with thee? Is there not a cause? Is there no secret thing with thee ?" Can he suppose they either love or respect him? Can he believe they are alive to God? Ah, no! evil reasonings vex and distress his soul-his hands hang down-he mourns and weeps in secret over them—and concludes, either they are dissatisfied with him, or, what is worse, are sitting down at ease in Zion.

2. It is injurious to the cause of God. They must be considered at best as doubtful characters : “ Tossed about with every wind; and unstable as water, they cannot excel.” Are not those persons generally most pious, and truly devoted to God,

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