« AnteriorContinua »
inlet to every vice. Hold in steady contempt, Beaus and Fops, those butterflies wbich live upon the filth and dregs of the earth. Diogenes walking the streets of Athens at noon-day with a lanthorn in his band; and being asked, as he intended to be, what he was searching after, tartly replied, “I am looking for men.” A severe satire upon the luxury and effeminacy of that once manly and virtuous people. The dignity of man appears in the ornaments of the mind, and not in those of the body. Seek therefore to adorn and embellish your minds both by reading and observation, and your gists and abilities will make room for
you, and bring you before great men. You have peculiar advantages and encouragements to animate you to great and noble exertions. Therefore set your mark of intellectual attainments as high as you please, and, according to the common course of events, you will, by uniformity, diligence, and
perseverance, infallibly reach it. Your generous benefactor hath set you an example, as well as given you the means of intellectual improvements. That great man, in the morning of life, was surrounded with uncommon ditficulties and embarrassments, but by the mere dint of genius and of application, he surmounted every obstacle thrown in his way, and by his rapid and astonishing progress in knowledge, he hath risen, step by step, to the first offices and honors of his country, hati, appeared with dignity in the courts of Britain and of France, and now fills more than half the globe with his fame. Keep this illustrious example in your eye; and shew yourselves men.
Preached before the Convention of the Congregational Ministers in Boston,
May 31, 1804.
1 Cor. i, 10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same
mind and in the same judgment. UNITY of sentiment has a happy tendency to promote and preserve that mutual affection, which ought to reign in the hearts of all the followers of Christ. There is nothing which can disturb the peace, or alienate the affections of any society of Christians, while they really believe and openly profess the same religious sentiments. The church of Corinth which Paul planted, abounded in brotherly love, so long as they mutually agreed in believing and professing the peculiar doctrines of the gospel. But when a disagreement in their religious opinions appeared, it destroyed their mutual attachment, and involved them in bitter animosities and contentions. The apostle, perceiving the primary cause of these deplorable evils, laid the axe at the root of the tree, and entreated them to unite in sentiment, as the only proper and effectual way to recover their former peace and tranquillity. “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you." By this he did not mean to inculcate insincerity, or urge them to speak the same thing, while they did not believe the same
thing; and therefore he immediately adds, “but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Such a unity of faith seems to be his darling theme, in his writings to other churches. In his epistle to the Philippians, he says, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." And in his address to the Ephesians, he enlarges upon the subject, and represents Christ as appointing the means of grace for the particular purpose of uniting all his followers in the belief of the same truths. “But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gist of Christ. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets, and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” These passages confirm the construction we have given of the text, and leave us no room to doubt, that the apostle meant to enjoin it upon all Christians, to be united in their religious sentiments. It is, therefore, the intention of the ensuing discourse, to illustrate the propriety of this divine injunction.
Paul was a man of sound judgment, and of extensive information. He had studied Moses and the Prophets. He had read the writings of the heathen sages, and thoroughly examined their religious oping ions. He had been well acquainted with the Jewish teachers, and had once been carried away with their vain traditions. And besides all this, he had, upon clear conviction, renounced his former creed, and cordially embraced the pure principles of Christianity. Hence he knew, by experience as well as speculation, whether men ought to be required, notwithstanding their various talents, their various means of information, and their various modes of thinking, to become united in their religious sentiments. Upon this subject, he was the most impartial and the most competent judge. And since he has solemnly enjoined it upon the whole Christian world, “to speak the same thing, and to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment; it must be presumption to call the propriety of his own precept in question. But though we may not dispute the propriety of the apostle's injunction, yet we may inquire into the reasons upon which it is founded. And there are two very plain and obvious reasons, why Christians should be required to think alike upon religious subjects.
One reason is, that God has given them an infallible rule of faith. His word contains a complete and connected system of divine truth. All the doctrines which compose this system are to be believed, and all which stand in opposition to it are to be rejected. It is a perfect standard, by which all religious opinions are to be tried and decided. Hence those who are assaulted by false teachers, are directed to regulate their faith by this criterion. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” The apostle agrees with the prophet, in representing the sacred oracles, as an unerring guide in matters of faith as well as practice. He asserts, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous
ness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly • furnished unto all good works.” God having given
Christians such a complete system of divine truth, there is a plain propriety, in his requiring them to believe not only that it is a complete system of divine truth, but also to believe all the particular truths, which compose the system. For it would be absurd to require them to believe the system in general, and yet allow them to disbelieve any or all the particular truths contained in it. So that if it be conceded, that the Bible is
any rule of faith, it must be acknowledged, that it is a perfect rule of faith. And since all Christians have this perfect rule of faith in their hands, God may justly require them, to form their religious opinions exactly according to it; which is precisely the same thing, as to require them to ụnite in their religious sentiments. For it is a universal maxim, that when two things agree with a third, they also agree with each other. If, therefore, we say, as we ought to say, that God may properly require all Christians to agree with the Bible; then we must say, that he may properly require them to agree with each other, or to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. But since it may be thought, that this argument is lame, because Christians are imperfect creatures, who are incapable of understanding and following that perfect rule of faith, which God has given them, it seems necessary to observe,
In the second place, That the word of God is not only a perfect rule of faith, but sufficiently plain and intelligible to every capacity. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Occa.