Imatges de pÓgina
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the affairs of common life with their usual alacrity and freedom.* If their concern is of a right kind, they are gradually brought to peace and hope in believing. They recover their spirits; and their civil callings being now sanctified by a desire to glorify God in them, their diligence is not less, but frequently greater, than before; for now they act not to please men, or to please themselves, but what they do, they do heartily as to the Lord. However, amongst a number of people, natural temper, indiscretion, or inadvertence, may cause some to deviate from the general rule: and though we cannot justify any who are remiss in the discharge of the relative duties of society, we may justify the doctrines and principles they acknowledge from the charge of leading them into this mistake, unless it can be proved that St. Paul's preaching was justly chargeable with the same fault.

But these are small things compared to what he says in another place. He complains to the Philippians in this affecting language†—" Many walk (not some only, but many), of whom I have told you often, and now tell you, even weeping, that

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* See James, iv. 9. The word Karnpeia, rendered heaviness, answers nearest to dejection, the derivation importing a downcast countenance; and it expresses that kind of sorrow which sinks the spirits, and fixes the eyes upon the earth. Something of this is usually discernible when a real conviction of sin takes place in the heart. The inspired apostle recommends this temper and demeanour, as most suitable to the case of sinners who are destitute of faith and love, and cannot therefore rejoice upon good grounds; and yet, when any person begins to be impressed in this manner, and to see the propriety of the apostle's advice, it frequently happens that all who know him, both friends and enemies, will agree to pronounce him disordered in his senses. So different, so opposite, are the Spirit of God and the spirit of the world!

+ Phil. iii. 18, 19.

they are enemies of the cross of Chrst; whose "end is destruction, whose God is their belly, who "mind earthly things." St. Paul had occasion to express himself thus, and that again and again, even in the golden days of primitive Christianity.* Could their worst enemies have given them a worse character? Can even malice itself desire to fix a harsher imputation upon any denomination of people now subsisting? Yet these are the words of truth and soberness; the words of an inspired apostle; the words, not of resentment, but grief. He spoke of it weeping; he would willingly have hoped better things; but he knew what tempers and practices were inconsistent with a sincere acceptance of the Gospel; and, unless he would shut his eyes and stop his ears, he could not but be sensible that many, who were reputed Christians, dishonoured the name of Christianity, and caused the ways of truth to be evil spoken of. Now what is the consequence? Shall the apostle bear the blame † of the evils and abominations he lamented? for if he had not preached, these evils would not have appeared under the Christian Shall the wickedness of his pretended fol

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What disagreeable things the apostle was apprehensive of meeting, when he should revisit Corinth, we may learn from 2 Cor. xii. 20, 21.

+ The apostle knew that some did or would presume to infer a liberty to sin from the doctrine which he preached, Rom. vi. 1.; yet he would not suppress or disguise the truths of God to prevent such a poor disingenuous perversion. He knew likewise that no one, who had tasted that the Lord is gracious, can either form such a conclusion himself, or listen to it if proposed by others; therefore he thought it unnecessary to refute it at large. "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!" This is a sufficient answer. This absurd blasphemy exposes and confutes itself; the terms are inconsistent, impossible, and contradictory in the highest degree.

lowers be charged as the necessary effect of that pure and heavenly doctrine which he had delivered? By no means. The grace of God, which he preached, taught and enabled those who received it in their hearts, "to deny all ungodliness "and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righte"ously, and godly in the present world." If inquiry was made concerning the tendency of his doctrine, he could appeal to the tempers and lives of multitudes,* who had been thereby delivered from the love and power of sin, and filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. But it was likewise true that they were still encumbered with a depraved nature; they were in a world full of temptations and snares; and, as their numbers were very great, some instances had occurred of persons sincerely well disposed, who had too visibly declined from the rule by which they professed and desired to walk. Against their mistakes and faults he watchfully directed his exhortations and admonitions, as occasions offered; and they were generally attended with a good effect, to convince, humble, and restore the offenders, and to increase their circumspection for the time to come.† It was true likewise, that there were some gathered by the preaching of the Gospel into the number of pro

essors who were not effectually called and changed by the Spirit of God. These, though for a time they had a name to live, were no better than dead; and one reason why the Lord permitted the offences and divisions we have mentioned to take place was, that, by the means of such heresies, those that were approved might be made manifest, and the chaff separated from the

* 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3.

+ 2 Cor. vii. 9.

wheat. For, though the ignorant world would call even those persons Christians whose conduct proved them enemies to the cross of Christ, yet time, the test of truth, unanswerably evinced the difference. Thus St. John, who lived some years after the rest of the apostles, and saw many turn their backs upon the teachers and doctrines they had once owned, has observed to this purpose-"They went out from us, but they

were not of us; for if they had been of us, they "would, no doubt, have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us."* In a word, there were too many pretenders; some things amiss where the heart and views were right in the main; and imperfections in the best. The scorners and cavillers, who hated the light of the Gospel, and were always in search of something to confirm their prejudices against it, met with much answerable to their wishes, even in the first and best churches but to men of candour, who were ingenuous seekers of the truth, the spirituality, humility, and brotherly love that prevailed among the Christians, and the powerful effects of their public ordinances, demonstrated that the truth was on their side, and that God was assuredly with them.

We offer the same apology, the same train of reasoning,in behalf of what is now so generally deemed the foolishness of preaching. The doctrines we defend, which some (who cannot do it ignorantly) have the effrontery to misrepresent as novel opinions, are, we doubt not, the doctrines of Christ and his apostles, and, in substance, the doctrines taught from the word of God, by Wickliffe, Luther, and the venerable reformers of our own church. We

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* 1 John, ii. 19.

preach Christ crucified, Christ the end of the law for righteousness, and the power of God for sanctification, to every one that believeth. We preach salvation by grace through faith in his blood, and we are sure that they who receive this doctrine unfeignedly, will, by their lives and conversations, demonstrate it to be a doctrine according to godliness. They are not indeed delivered from infirmities, they are liable to mistakes and indiscretions, and see more amiss in themselves than their worst enemies can charge them with. But sin is their burden, they sigh to be delivered from it, and they expect a complete redemption. We cannot, indeed, say so much for all who outwardly avow a belief of this doctrine: there are pretenders, who, while they profess to believe in God, in works deny him: but it has been so from the beginning. The miscarriages of such persons are charged indiscriminately upon the societies among whom they are mixed, and upon the truths which they seem to approve; but there is a righteous God, who in due time will vindicate his own Gospel and his own people from all aspersions. St. Paul observed such things in his day, and he spoke of them likewise, but he spoke of them weeping. The true state of the mind may be determined from the temper with which the miscarriages of professors are observed. The profane expatiate on them with delight, the self-righteous with disdain; but they who know themselves and love the Lord, cannot speak of them without the sincerest emotions of grief. They are concerned for the honour of the Gospel, which is defamed under this pretence; they are grieved for the unhappy and dangerous state of those by whom such offences come; and they fear for themselves lest the enemy should gain an advantage over them

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