Obrazy na stronie

• body, that the life also of Jesus may be dif

played in the same body. For we, who are alive, are constantly delivered over unto death,

that the life of Jesus also may be displayed in • this mortal body: so that death sheweth him• self in us, but life in you. Now, having that

spirit of faith spoken of in scripture, I believed, and therefore Spake, we also believe, ' and therefore speak : knowing that he, who

raised the lord Jesus to life, will also raise us

through Jesus, and present us with you. « Now all these sufferings are for your fakes, • that the favor of the gospel, abounding in

many, may make thanksgivings abound also

unto the glory of God. Therefore we faint 'not; for though our outward man decay,

our inward man is renewed day by day. For

this light amiction, which is but for a moment, • at length produceth for us, in a measure ex

ceedingly abundant, an eternal weight of glory. · For we consider 'nót the things, that are seen,

but the things, that are not seen : for the things, that are seen, are only for a time; but the things, that are not seen, are eternal *."

The apostle rested the evidence of the truth of the gospel of Christ upon its being derived from God, and declared that christianity bore, in its very face or appearance, the image or representation of his will. He then advances in his testimony respecting himself and his own ministry, declaring that he preached not him. self, but the gospel of Jesus Christ our lord ; and that in his ministerial character he was the servant of his hearers for Jesus's fake, or for the sake of the gospel.


2 Cor. iv. 8-18. Mr. Wakefield's translation.

To preach Christ is a very important duty, and belongs not to ministers of religion alone, but to every believer in the truth of the christian revelation. Ministers of the gospel, when they preach Christ, should especially respect the authority by which his gospel was promulgated, the evidences by which it is supported, the doctrines and precepts which it teaches, and the sanction of a future state which it reveals. It is their duty to be faithful to their trust; neither to add to, nor take from the law by which they profess to regulate their faith and praćtice, and, as far as they are able, with integrity, fimplicity, and godly sincerity, to declare the whole council of God. But all the members of christian societies are as much obliged by the very nature of their christian profession to regard these things as their mi

B 2


nisters. The great body of christians of every denomination are sufficiently furnished with reason and judgment to decide for themselves, if they would exercise that liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free; and many of them are abundantly provided with all the subsidiary helps of human learning. The philological learning and reasoning powers of some eminently learned christians have been, and may be again, well employed in repelling the sophistry and dogmatism of other learned men; but the gospel history does not necessarily require more than a plain understanding, and an ingenuous and teachable disposition. The testimony of history will support me in saying, had not the impugners and corruptors of the christian faith united themselves and their cause with the civil governments of this world, and had not power and wealth been joined together to excite the artful devices of men, and to unite them in confederacy against the fimplicity, the peace and charity of the gospel, the common sense of mankind would have prevented the many

sad corruptions of the word of truth, or, long before this our day, have corrected and expunged them from the popular creed of the christian world.


As fellow-christians, disciples of the famo master, we have one common obligation to pay our religious worship to the one God and father of all, agreeably to the convictions of our own minds. The minister who conducts such religious service, and the people who join with him, stand in precisely the same character before God, the only object of their religious praise, thanksgiving, and adoration. By a common consent they previously concur in the received forms of worship, and their united prayers and praises will, we trust, be offered to the creator and governor of the world, accompanied with dispositions that will recommend them to him, and their prayers will return with increasing good effect upon the hearts of those who devoutly address themselves to him in sincerity and truth.

In that part of the minister's duty which respects the preaching and expounding the word of God, and recommending and enforcing the religious and moral duties of the gospel to his hearers, he has no claim whatever to any other confidence than what will arise from his being supported by the authority of the scriptures, and the soundness of his argument. The purity of his motives, the strength of his own convictions, and the pains he may have taken to inform himself, are certainly so many recommendations of his personal character as a christian minister, but they should have no conclusive effect upon others as a christian people, Christian hearers of the word, like the Bereans of old, should search the scriptures, inquire and determine for themselves whether things are as they are represented to be. The liberty which the principles of christianity allow, and which every honest pursuit after truth requires, can be limited only by the personal satisfaction of the candid inquirer, and no measures of expediency should restrain the full and free discussion of religious subjects, beyond what the rules connected with every serious investigation of important truths, and the honest application of the result of such inquiry to every man's situation in life, may demand.


In the full exercise of this liberty, Moses and the prophets, Christ and his apoftles, the protestant reformers, and protestant diffidents of every defcription, have successively vindicated their principles and conduct, and defended the foundation and superstructure of their respective fystems; and the world has, in return, been unhappily disposed to consider them as equally


« PoprzedniaDalej »