Obrazy na stronie

Church of Christ, are believers in his divine mission, and obey his commandments*

Calvin has again grossly misinterpreted Șt. Paul's meaning, in asserting that man is justified by faith without works. St. Paul means without the works of that ritual or ceremonial law, which was originally prescribed peculiarly to the Jews : but that he never meant to affirm that man could be saved or justified without moral works, is evident beyond all dispute; because in the 13th chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, after most eloquently celebrating the virtue and excellency of moral works, under the general denomination of charity, he concludes by asserting, that the performance of these moral works, and especially of love and philanthropy towards our fellow-creatures, is of more efficacy, and of greater virtue, than even to possess faith. “And now “ abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ; but - the greatest of these is charity.” “ Zealots in “ religion,” Lord Bacon observes, “ are apt, if a “ man does not concur with their false and in“ temperate zeal, to term him in derogation, a “ civil and moral man only, and compare him to “ Socrates, or some heathen philosopher: whereas “ the wisdom of the Scriptures teacheth us other“ wise; namely, to judge and denominate men “ religious, according to their works of the second “ table, because those of the first are often coun“ terfeit, and practised in hypocrisy. St. John

* Every man, without respect of persons, I apprehend to be so far an Elect of God by the act of Baptism, that by virtue of this sacrament he becomes a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven: and ever continues to be so, if to the best of his power he complies with the stipulated conditions of this rite, which requires him to believe in the divine mission of Jesus Christ, and to lead a virtuous and pious life. But if by a contrary conduct he violates these stipulated conditions, he ceases to be an Elect of God; because no man who does not love, honour, and obey God, or at least does not heartily set his mind to do so, can pretend to any holiness of character; and without holiness no man shall see God.

saith, - that a man doth vainly boast of loving " God, whom he hath not seen, if he love not « his brother, whom he hath seen: and St. James “ saith, this is true religion and undefiled, to visit “ the fatherless and the widow: so as that which, s is with these zealots but philosophical and mo“ ral, is in the Apostles' phrase true religion and “ Christianity.” There are too many of these. zealots in this nation; a set of ignorant illiterate men, of a very different description of character from real respectable Calvinists; and whom, if he were alive, Calvin would never acknowledge as his disciples, though they have the presumption to call themselves Calvinists. These men do infinite mischief, by alienating the minds of the lower classes of the community from their lawful ministers, from the ministers of the Established Church; falsely asserting, that the latter do not

preach the Gospel, and that they are not Gospel ministers: a most cruel and unjust assertion, deserving of the most marked and severest reprehension ; because it goes to the dreadful length of destroying all spiritual confidence on the part of the parishioner towards his lawful minister, and thereby renders his best efforts of instruction entirely ineffective and nugatory. I believe all the Clergy of the Established Church preach, that, in consequence of the fall of Adam, such is the natural frailty and corruption of human nature, that, without the aid of the grace of God, and his holy Spirit, it cannot of itself either please God, or obey him : likewise they preach, that Jesus Christ descended from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost, suffered death on the cross for the sins of mankind; that he arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and there graciously condescends to be a Mediator and Intercessor with his heavenly Father, to pardon the sins and frailties of mankind : further, that it is only by the merits of Jesus Christ, his Redeemer, that any man can expect to have his sins pardoned, be justified, or expect admission into the kingdom of heaven: they further preach, that every man at his best state is only an unprofitable servant; and that every good and perfect gift is from above, and its possession entirely derived from the spontaneous goodness of God, and not from any merit

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

in man.

This is, I apprehend, to preach the genuine doctrines of the Gospel with respect to faith. They likewise preach largely, and frequently, earnestly inculcate, and strongly insist on,

the observance of the duties of Christian charity and morality; and if it is the great object and peculiar duty of a Gospel minister to imitate, as closely as he can, the conduct of God himself, his Prophets, that of our blessed Saviour, and his Apostles, they are then justified by these great examples in this their present mode of preaching: Are not the Ten Commandments of God, which he addressed and enjoined to the observance of the human race, all moral ? And with respect to the whole duty he expressly informs us by his prophet Micah he requires man to perform, two of its members, namely, doing justly and loving mercy, are entirely moral: and if walking humbly with God is not wholly to be classed under this denomination, it is so greatly connected with it, that without morality it is impossible to do so.

Is not our Saviour's sermon on the mount entirely on the subject of Christian morality? And do not the Epistles of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, and St. James, all of them, with force, frequency, and a divine eloquence, inculcate that very Christian morality, which theşe men, improperly called Calvinists, censure the Clergy of the Established Church for inculcating? Before these men pre


sume to dictate to the regular Clergy, they should reflect, that the lower classes of the people have no opportunity or means of studying moral philosophy, or of reading such moral books as the Spectator, Guardian, &c. and that if the welfare of themselves, their families, and society, require that their passions should be under discipline and subjection, this discipline and subjection can be accomplished only by instruction received from the pulpit. And they should know likewise, that if their own style of preaching was to be generally adopted throughout the nation, it would be disgracefully filled with hypocrites, fanatics, and enthusiasts, as it formerly was during the usurpation of that great hypocrite, Oliver Cromwell, who, to favour his secular views, adopted himself, and encouraged in others, this very species of fanaticism and enthusiasm, infallibly destructive of the very vital essence of that real religion, which is so well and effectively inculcated by the present mode of preaching adopted by the regular Clergy of this country, and which it is most devoutly to be wished they will neither alter or relinquish; especially as there is every reason to believe there are as many, or more, sincere and devout Christians in this kingdom, as in an equal number of persons of the same rank in any other, whatsoever ; or if in this estimate I should be considered as assuming too much, (which I believe those who have passed

« PoprzedniaDalej »