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A LMOST erery one of these essays was written above twenty years ago, and some of them, more than thirty. The author finds reason to offer his sincere acknowledgments and thanks to Almighty God, who has preserved him, even to this day, in the same sentiments and principles of christian faith and love, amidst the numerous follies and errors of the times. One of these papers, indeed, found its way into the world, the very year ju which it was written ; the very design of it was to exemplity the title of this book, and it has been often since solicited to be printed again : But it was delayed, for many years, till the author had formed a collection of papers, of this sort, large enough to compose a moderate volume; and the reader will be sufficiently informed, of the procent reason of this publication, by a mere explaining of the words of the title, Orthodoxy and Charity united.
By the word orthodoxy, the author means all those christian doctrines, which were generally approved in the last age, so far as he knows at least, by almost all the protestant dissenters in the nation ; even those great doctrines, on which the reformation from the church of Rome was built; and they con. tinued so, all the time these essays were writing, and long before, in the general good esteem of the churches, as being conformable to the instructions of Christ and his apostles. It is needness, in this place, to reckon thein all up, particularly, but, in general, they were such as these :
1. By the fall of the first man, he, together with his posterity, lost their innocence and their immortality, their bodies were subjected to diseases and death, their natural inclinations were perverted from that which is good, and there was a strange prevailing bias in human nature, even from its infancy, to that which is evil.—2. In order to their recovery from this ruin, there is not only a necessity of the pardon of their sins, and reconciliation of their persons to God, but there is need also that their sinful natures be healed, and renewed by sanctifying grace, in order to restore men to virtue and piety, that is, to the love of God and their fellow. creatures.-3. The Son of God, who, in the language of scripture, is one with the Father, came down from heaven to take flesh, and therein to fulfil the duties of the law, and give an example of perfect holiness : And then he was appointed to suffer death as a sacrifice and alonement for the sins of men, that mankind might thereby obtain pardon and the favour of God.-4. There is a necessity, also, that sinners should heartily repent of their sins, return to God and be renewed to the principles and temper of holiness, in order to their complete recovery to eternal life and happiness.-5. Besides this repentance and returning to God, it is also required, that they believe in the name of Jesus Christ, their Saviour, or trust in him, with a humble expectation of the favour of God, through him: And, it is through this faith, they are to be justified and accepted of God.-6. They are also obliged to obey the law of God, as far as this feeble and imperfect state admits of, during their whole life, and still to grow
up towards perfection therein.-7. When such persons die, their souls are conveyed to a state of peace and rest, in the presence of God, till the great day of the resurrection, when their bodies shall rise again from the dead, and the whole person, body and soul, be made happy for ever, in the favour and presence of God their Maker.
These doctrines were generally professed at the time of the reformation, by protestants abroad and at home, and these are the set of principles, which have been usually called orthodoxy, or right sentiments.
Now, it has unhappily fallen out, that many of those who have received and professed these important doctrines, have differed also in many lesser points, such as the logical relations of some of these doctrines to one another, that is, " Whether faith or works be conditions or consequents of their justification and acceptance; what is the essential difference between the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace, or the law and the gospel.” &c. as well as in several particular practices of divine wor. ship, such as ceremonies, vestures, imposed forms of prayer, &c. and they hare so far quarrelled about these things, as too much to neglect and abandon that christian love and charity they ought to have maintained, according to their general aeknowledgment of the great and necessary truths and rules of christianity, and, hereby, they have, in many instances, lost that duty and character of good christians, viz. to love one another. Now since these unhappy and umcharitable practices, even amongst some good men, bave prevailed even to this day, it is the design of these essays, to endeavour the recovery of these persons, who unite in these principles, to charitable sentiments and practices towards one another.
Here it will be very natural to enquire, Where is there found amongst all these essays, any attempt to reconcile those to the christian love and charity of others, who, while they profess the christian religion, yet oppose, renounce or deny, the great doctrines of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, or his propitiation for sin by bis death?
All the answer that can be given, is this: The author would gladly have done it, that the whole book might be of a piece, and every page might overflow with love, if he could, after the turning over his New Testament, bave met with any evident instances, or examples, any plain rules or requirements, of such christian charity expressed towards persons of this character, in all the sacred writings
But the language of scripture gives no encouragement to such a charity ; for this doctrine is not any where numbered, among the doubtful disputables of our religion, the lesser things of christianity, such as meats and drinks, and observation of days, and outward forms of worship; but it is spoken of, as a matter of far higher importance, and, I think, seems to be necessary to constitute christianity itself.
This doctrine contains in it, the highest and the kindest design toward men, for which our blessed Saviour came down from heaven; it was for this very reason he came into this world, viz. to give his life a runsom for sinners; Mat. xx, 28. and it is repeated in Mark x. 45. So that those who depart from, and renounce this article, renounce the kindest design of the coming and the death of Christ, and they seem, by the words of the holy writings, to be exposed to another sort of sentence, from which may the grace of God recover and preserve them! In the mean time,
I hope those who heartily unite in their sentiments of these great doctrines, which I bave mentioned, and maintain a correspondent practice of strict holigess, and dependence upon Jesus Christ, our great bigh-priest, and our sacrifice, will be taught by some of these papers, to learn the duties of christian love more perfectly, agreeable to the original design of the holy founder of our religion.
It should be observed here, that though the chief part of these essays were written at the time which is mentioned, yet there happen to be now and then a few lines and pages, and some few citations from elder or later authors, which were not all written or inserted at that time. Let it be observed also, that all the characters, here mentioned, are general and indefinite ; and there is not one character or name, that is now written in these papers, or ever was, that was designed to be applied to any particular person: For the author avoided it with care in all these writings, and in all his reviews of them, that no single person whatsoever should be so particularly described, as to imagine himself to be intended, and much less to be distinguished by any reader. May the divine blessing attend every humble attempt to establish the christian faith, and to confirm and enlarge our love. Amen.
ORTHODOXY AND CHARITY UNITED,
The Substance, or Matter of the Gospel.
SECTION 1. THE word, gospel, is used in more senses than one. Sometimes it signifies the history of the life and doctrine, the death and resurrection of Christ. So Mark i. 1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And so it is used in common speech, when we call the writings of the four evangelists, the four gospels. But, in the most proper and usual sense of it, in scripture, it signifies a discovery of divine mercy, through a Mediator, to mankind fallen into sin and misery;"> therefore in greek it is called everyyérsoy or glad tidings.
The English name, indeed, as derived from its Saxon original, siguifies only the word of God : Yet it is now pecuTiarly applied to the word af his grace, which reveals salvation to sinful and miserable man, and therefore it is often called the covenant of grace. This salvation is made up of many benefits or blessings, part of which are bestowed in this world, and the rest in the world that is to come. The revelation of these benefits, and of the foundation on which they stand, and of the way whereby we come to be partakers of them, is the matter, sum and substance of the gospel, in its most general notion among christians.
This gospel was not revealed, all at once, in its full glory to mankind. There have been several editions of it, or gradual discoveries of this grace, in all the former ages of the world. As soon as ever Adam had sinned, and ruined himself and his posterity too, by laying the foundation of their sin and misery, it pleased God to publish this gospel, by the promise of a Saviour, when he told our motier Eve, that her seed should bruise the head of the serpent, that had deceived her; Gen. iii. 15. This, by our divines, is usually called the first gospel; for, in the modern language of the New Testament, it signifies, that Jesus Christ should come into this world, to destroy the works of the devil; 1 John iii. 8.
Doubtless Noah, the second Father of mankind, had some farther discoveries made to him, when the ruinbow was appointed
as the seal of a gracious covenant betwixt God and man: For the very promise of the continuance of the comfortable seasons of the year, being given to man in a way of mercy, do imply that God would not be irreconcileable to his fallen creatures. Nor can we reasonably suppose but that Adam and Noah, and all those most ancient patriarchs, had larger explications and comments of the first promise given them than Moses has recorded. This gospel was renewed by revelations made to Abraham, when the Messiah, the Saviour, was promised to spring out of his family; in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed; Gen. xxii. 18. Which promise is expressly called the gospel; Gal. iji. 8. There was also a type or pattern of our justification by faith in the way of the gospel, when Abraham believed God in his promises, and it was imputed to him for righteousness ; Rom. iv. 3.
Moses had a much larger discovery of the grace and mercy of God toward sinful man made to him, and to the Jews by him, than all the patriarchs put together : And this was not only done in the types, and figures, and ceremonies, not only in altars, sacrifices, washings, sprinklings, purifications, and in their redemption from Egypt, their miraculous salvations in the wilderness, and their safe conduct to Canaan, the land of promised rest; but he had many literal and express revelations of pardoning and sanctifying grace, which are scattered up and down in the five books which lie wrote, and which he gave to the children of Israel to direct their religion. This is also called the gospel ; Heb. iv, 2. To them was the gospel preached as well as unto us, as those words ought to be translated. This same gospel was afterwards confirmed, illustrated and enlarged by succeeding prophets, in the several ages of the Jewish church...
But God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoke this gospel to our fathers by the prophets, has in these later days published the same to us in a brighter manner, by his son Jesus, the promised Saviour, Heb. i. I. And, since the death and resurrection of Christ, the apostles being sent by their exalted Lord, have given yet plainer and fuller declarations of this gospel to the children of men. And, upon this account, it is several times called the gospel of Christ, not only because the offices and grace of Christ run through the whole of it, but also because the clearest discoveries of it are made to the world by Christ, and by his messengers the apostles.
Now, from this last and fullest revelation of it, in the New Testament, we may derive a fuller and more perfect knowledge of the gospel, than all the former ages could attain. Hereby we
learn, that the gospel is a promise of salvation from sin and hell, . by the death, righteousness and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to every one that is sincerely willing to accept of it by coming to