Imatges de pÓgina

and the light of the western churches. Jerome in his commentaries on Isaiah and Ezekiel, and Eusebius in the third book of his ecclesiastical history, affirm, that he believed in the thousand years reign of Christ on earth, according to the letter of the Revelations; which, by the way, is one very probable reason, why all his writings, in which he professedly treats that subject, have been suppressed, and that only one of his many volumes (that on heresy) is come down to us, recovered and published by Erasmus, in which, though the matter of the work leads not to this point of doctrine, yet there is enough to confirm what Eusebius and Jerome have affirmed of him as to this matter. In particular, he delivers it as an article in the symbol or creed of the churches in his time, that Christ should come to restore all things: And in Book v. chap. 28. and 30. that at the end of six thousand years, would be the Sabbath of rest, when the Lord will destroy the reign of anti-christ, put the just in possession of the kingdom, and restore the promised inheritance to Abraham. Eusebius, who was no friend to this doctrine (nor yet to one of still greater importance) makes Papias to be the first author of it, and endeavours to discredit his authority, by calling him a plain, illiterate man; and yet asserts that he led Irenæus into this error.

But if Ireneus was a man of such ability and learning, as he is represented, and does appear by what we have left of his works, how came he to suffer himself to be imposed upon in a matter of such consequence, by

a weak man, when he had no less advantage than that of conversing with those, who had conversed with the apostles, and was himself a disciple of Polycarp, who was instructed by St. John the divine? Besides, it appears from the confession of Jerome himself (who had taken up as strong prejudices against this doctrine as Eusebius) that Papias was also a disciple of St. John ; and Eusebius owns that Irenæus called him so,§ and the companion of Polycarp; and surely these connexions well qualified him for a witness to their doctrine. If Papias was a plain man, he was the less likely to impose upon others; nor could it require much learning to know whether his master, StJohn, explained his prophecy of the Millennium in a literal sense or not. Whether Papias was a man of learning or not, is nothing to the purpose; he was an honest man, charged by no author of credit with holding heretical notions, and so great a veneration had he for the apostles, that he was a diligent collector of all remarkable particulars concerning them, and even of their sayings. What his credit in 'the church was, appears by his being made Bishop of Hieropolis by the immediate successors of the apostles; and the dignity of his office in those days of the church, may be allowed a good presumptive argument of the sufficiency of his qualifications for the discharge of it, or else we must say, that all things went wrong apace in the church, even in the first cen


Hieronym. Ep. 29. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. Lib. 3.

tury; and then there is an end of all ecclesiastical authority. But the truth of the matter lies here; the tide of prejudice and opposition ran so strong against the millennial doctrine, after the second century downwards, that no arts of calumny and misrepresentation were spared in or der to sink it, insomuch that even good men were, by education and the authority of the learned, prepossessed against it, and this has been so much the case in general for now more than fourteen centuries, joined to the wicked practice of corrupting, curtailing, and suppressing the works of the first fathers on this subject, that it is next to a won der that we have any of their testimonies to it left.

"It is likewise to be observed, that together with the opposition to the doctrine of the Millennium, sprang up in the church a fondness for that critical and contentious kind of theology, which teaches men to doubt of every thing, and dispute against every thing; insomuch that there are few of the canonical books of scripture, which did not meet with some oppugners to their divine authority, about that time. But the God of truth hath set his seal upon the Sacred Writings, and his providence hath preserv. ed them to us; and so long as we are possessed of this blessing, so long will this doctrine be sup ported by an authority, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail; and fully assured we may be, that the time when the knowledge of the scriptures, both as to the mysteries of our holy faith, and the interpreta tion of prophecy, will be given Vol. I. No. 8.


in greater clearness, and fuller
measure than has been hitherto,
and that not in the way of hu
man learning and criticism, but
by larger communications of the
Spirit of Wisdom from the Fa
ther of Lights in the hearts of
the simple and unlearned, both
men and women; and that as
well to humble the pride of men
on account of their natural and
acquired endowments, as to make
manifest that the excellency of
wisdom is not of man, but of
God. That the full understand-
ing of the scriptures has not yet
been given, will readily be grant-
ed; and that they shall be un-
derstood in perfection cannot be
denied, since to that end they
were given. Now, we
that it is according to the pur-
pose of God, to conceal his se
crets from the great and wise of
the earth, and to reveal them un-
to babes, persons of an humble
mind, and of a resigned and sim-
plified understanding; and that
thus it shall be in the last days,
when he will pour out his Spirit
upon the servants and upon the
handmaids, and all his children
shall be taught of the Lord."¶


The worthy author, from whose work the preceding extract is taken, was Rector of Winwick in Northamptonshire; a clergyman much esteemed by men of learning and piety for his warm attachment to the truths and duties of our holy religion, aiming in all his discourses, to promote the spirit and power of religion in its professors, and to win souls to Christ. He was a true follower of the Lamb; and

Math. xi. 25. Joel ii. 29.
Isaiah liv. 13.

in imitation of his divine Master, made it his delight to "work the works of him that sent him while it was day," and when the night of death came, though it

was sudden, we trust it did not find him unprepared: He died, in an advanced age, of an apoplexy, December 11, 1784. FIDELIS

Religious Communications.


(Continued from p. 203.) THE propensity to commit sin, is not more universal, or powerful, than the propensity to palliate and excuse it. Indeed, this last is one of the capital exhibitions and proofs of human depravity. Insensibility to the objects of religion has seized the whole species. Of course, it becomes a common interest and wish, to justify, or at least, to extenuate it. To this point human ingenuity has directed its utmost strength, and its unwearied efforts. The result has been an infinitude of apologies, plausible in appearance, but in reali ty, frivolous and absurd.

One of the most imposing of these apologies is this: that from the very constitution of our nature, we are principally attracted and impressed by things visible; and that God being spirit ual and invisible, all emotions which have him for their object, must necessarily be indistinct and languid. This suggestion, though it assumes the garb of 'philosophy, is in fact one of the most irrational and preposterous that can be conceived. If it proves any thing, it proves far too much. It presumptuously arraigns and blasphemes the God of heaven for it declares, that

in bidding us love him with all the heart, and with the utmost fervour of our affections, he is either ignorant, not knowing our frame; or unjust, demanding that which he knows to be impossible. Beside, who sees not that on this principle, Abraham, David, Paul, and in short, the whole host of worthies whose character and exercises the scripture records, were a set of vissionaries and enthusiasts. Their religion was not a cold and languid thing. It was vigorous, active and ardent. Love to God was their ruling passion. It triumphed over every rival affection, and every opposing interest. Devotion to the divine honour was their grand principle of action. Here they sought and found their happiness. This they esteemed the life of life. They conversed less with their fellow-creatures around them, than with an UNSEEN Deity. In communion with him, they found the sorrows of life soothed, its burdens lightened, and a new sweetness mingling itself with every joy. In short, their sentiments and feelings, their plans and pursuits, were precisely what the generality of men are prone to consider as the height of enthusiasm.

But let us take a nearer view of this boasted theory, that none but

sensible objects can excite strong emotions. What is it in an earth ly friend, that engages esteem and love? Is it his external form? Is it his head, his hands, or his feet? No surely, The features of his mind, the qualities of his heart, his integ rity, benevolence, tenderness and generosity these are the objects which attract and rivet our affection. The man whom we know. to possess these and similar attributes, in an eminent degree, we can strongly love, though we have never seen. We can love him, when absent; and we can love him when dead. Thousands who never saw a WASHINGTON, have cherished him in their hearts, as the father of his country, and the glory of mankind. Thousands who saw and loved him when living, think of him with event an increased tenderness and veneration, now he is no more.

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The objects then, which lay hold on some of our strongest affections, are imperceptible to sense. The purity and rectitude of a fellow-creature command our veneration. His benignity and condescension conciliate our love. And has not He who is at once the source, the sum and the perfection of every thing venerable and lovely, the highest possible claims upon us? True, we have neither heard his voice, nor seen his shape. But of his existence, we are as certain as of our own. His beauty overspreads creation. His glory shines conspicuous in every object our eyes behold. Nor is there a day, or moment of life, in which his bounty does not meet us in ten thousand various forms. By what potent and numberless considerations are

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The argument arises to its highest pitch of evidence, when we consider that this glorious and exalted Being condescends to invite this tender tribute, and to assure us that he accepts it.: He calls us to give him our hearts. He permits us not only to rever-s ence him as a Father, but to love him as a Friend. He indulges, nay more, he commands us to trust in him at all times, toc pour> out our very souls before him, to cast our burdens on his arm, and to seek a refuge, amid the storms of life, in his compassion and love. Those who thus affectionately confide in him, hee honours with appellations of the tenderest endearment. He styles them his friends, his chil dren, his jewels, his treasure, his portion. Are they oppressed? He is their patron and avenger. Do they complain? He has an ear for their criesa bottle for their tears. Nor is there a saint on this earth so poor and despis ed, but the HIGH AND LOFTY ONE who inhabits eternity, comes down to dwell in his heart, and cheer him with the consolations of his love.

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Such are the astonishing forms in which the divine condescen sion and goodness exhibit themselves to man. What returns they demand, what emotions they should excite, what animation and tenderness they should im part to all the exercises and du ties of religion, let our minds, if they are not overwhelmed with the contemplation, conceive; but surely, no language, of man or angel, can adequately express,

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It is equally surprising and affecting, to observe that those who would banish sensibility from religion, are not unfrequently those who would be thought to possess the greatest exquisiteness of feeling on every other subject. The neglect or unkindness of a friend, though in a solitary instance, they can scarce either support or forgive: while years of recollected sin, in which they have lived, against the God of heaven, excite little compunction. They can melt over a tale of fictitious wo; while their hearts are cold and callous to the real and unparalleled sufferings of the Saviour. They can overwhelm an acquaintance with congratulations on some trivial escape; they can evena

Boast quick rapture trembling in

their eye, If from the Spider's snare they save a Fly:

yet if a tender Christian speak with some emotion of his hope of heaven, and of redemption from endless ruin, they pity, and perhaps ridicule him as a weak, enthusiastic being.

In no age has the philosophy of the human mind received greater improvements, than in the present. Volumes have been written for the purpose of illustrating the nature and ori gin of our ideas and emotions, and of tracing our various pleasures and pains to their distinct sources. In this department of philoso phy, as well as the other, much has been gained by endeavouring to reduce every thing to the test

of fact, and of experiment. Is it rational then to brand every thing in religion, of the experi mental kind, as fanciful and enthusiastic? Are not its teachers called upon to describe and dis tinguish its peculiar features and exercises with the greatest possible accuracy? And in a case of such universal and everlasting moment, should not all be solici tous to try their characters and feelings by the standard of truth?

Doubtless, the cause of experimental religion has suffered much through the medium of its professed friends. Many who have been its loud advocates in words, have by their conduct, given it a deep wound. Many who have confidently boasted of their inward feelings and frames, have yet exhibited too convincing evidence that their hearts were false and hollow. These de: plorable instances prove nothing against the reality of vital reli gion; but the reverse. The world is full of impositions which are practised under the mask of honesty and patriotism. This does not imply that there is no honesty or patriotism in exist ence, but rather that there is, and that the most depraved and vile are sensible of it. For who ever thought of counterfeiting a nonentity? Let us then beware of enthusiasm, and of hypocrisy. But let us likewise beware, lest, by an undistinguishing clamour against these abuses of religion, we be imperceptibly led to give up its characteristic features, its foundation, and its very essence.

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