Obrazy na stronie

but likewise to adhere to the very phra- preceding ages, who, with pious care, ses which he had employed to express and probably, not without many prayers them. Hold fast the form of sound for Supreme aid, have drawn up for our words, which thou hast heard of me.' instruction and establishment in the faith, This injunction, as it seems to us, virtu- so excellent a system of sound and wholeally prohibits all unnecessary deviations some doctrines as that contained in our from the customary modes of expressing confession of faith." sacred things. We think, moreover, that “Religious creeds are useful not only it forbids or discountenances the supposi- for instruction, but they serve, if used tion, that when different persons use properly, as a bond of union among the language which in its plain meaning is disciples of Christ. We find those sodirectly opposite, they intend to inculcate cieties which have no particular system of the same evangelical truths. The same religious doctrines, divided in sentiment. thing we grant, may be expressed with and not unfrequently their diversity in considerable variety of phrase, but it can opinions proves the occasion of their disnever be necessary or expedient toode. solution and overthrow. In churches part from the customary modes of ex- which have adopted particular systems of pression while we attach to them the doctrine, every member admitted has a same ideas as the rest of mankind do. fair opportunity of knowing what are the We may flatter our pride with the idea tenets to which he is required to subscribe; that it discovers a noble spirit of inde- and the consequence, in general, is, that pendence to divest our minds of a servile in those churches, there is more unity of attachment to the forms of speaking used faith, more order and harmony, and less by our predecessors, and those who had danger of divisions to weaken and dis. the care of our religious education. But solve them." is not truth immutable in its nature?

E. S. E. Will not the same principles which are sound and true, at any given period, be also sound in all ages following? Can it

Review of Elliott's Sermon. be necessary then, can it consist with The Causes of our Fear, and the Grounds propriety to invent novel and ever vary- of our Encouragement:-a Sermon, ing modes of expression to teach those preached August 31st, 1820: being a divine fundamental truths which no lapse day of humiliation, thanksgiving, and of ages can change? Can the adoption of prayer, recommended by the General ambiguous phrases under pretence of su- Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. perior light, serve any other purpose

By the Rev. David Elliott, pastor of than to perplex the minds of plain Chris- the congregation of Upper West Conotians, and occasion disputation upon cocheague. points in relation to which it is alleged, Our author has justly remarked, there is no material difference?

that “occasional sermons seldom “Upon the whole we cannot but think, it would be sound wisdom to pay greater

travel far, or live long, except it be regard than we have done, to the advice

in the hearts of those whose partiaadministered so earnestly by St. Paul to lity first drags them into light.” the Corinthian church: Now I beseech What then? Should they not be you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same

published? If they were worth thing, and that there be no divisions

preaching and hearing, they are among you : but that ye be perfectly worth printing and reading also; joined together in the same mind, and in and when sermonizers, or their authe same judgment. We confess our ina- ditors, are both able and willing to bility to devise a better plan for attaining circulate some impressive sermon, and preserving harmony in opinion, than to adhere to the plain simple manner of

as a religious tract, they ought to stating the doctrines of the gospel which

do it, from love of the truth, and has for ages been customary in our from a desire to win souls to Christ. church. Should we all agree to speak Some one discourse, which our peothe same thing, to adopt and adhere to the same form of words, no doubt would

ple may think uncommonly good, remain but that we had one meaning. This,

merely on account of its appropriwe think, would not be an unreasonable ateness and adaptation to their state compromise for the sake of peace; espé- of feeling, being printed, and read cially on the part of those who are so by them in their families, may be frequent and loud in their complaints respecting religious faction. It would not,

productive of more substantial rewe think, be paying greater deference

sults than a hundred sermons, equalthan we owe to those venerable men of ly meritorious in themselves, but not equally calculated to arrest the at- mote, at the same time, public hutention, and mould the feelings of a miliation and thanksgiving. congregation.

Among the things which are "cerIt is sometimes objected, against tainly enough to make us fear that the publication of new sermons, that the Lord may visit us in judgment," there are enough already extant, he enumerates the prevalence of infiwhich far excel them. This state- delity, especially among the memment may be true; but, again we bers of our national legislature, some ask, what then? Shall a minister of of whom,“ on all occasions, evince the gospel never preach any new the most deadly hostility to religion, sermons, because he cannot frame and who oppose every measure, better ones than many which he has which has for its object the extenalready delivered ? Shall hundreds sion of Christianity." "Such a spiof good, evangelical preachers never rit of infidelity, discharging its veattempt to utter their own addresses nom in our public councils, like a to their people, because they are cancer near the heart, greatly not so intrinsically valuable as thou- threatens our national health. And sands, which they might find in their it is time, my brethren, that men of libraries, and which were in print all political parties, who consider before they were born?

the favour of God necessary to naFor the same reason that we tional prosperity, should set their would wish public teachers to de- faces against the introduction of liver sermons of their own forma- men into our public councils, who tion, we would desire pastors, when are known to be hostile to religion. able, to print some of their writings, We ask no man to abandon his

pofor the perusal of their parishioners litical creed, but as a Christian we and friends. They will in many in- would plead with him to guard the stances be pondered, when their au- sanctuary where he worships." To thors have gone hence, to the world all this we say, amen and amen. of spirits; and they may be better Let professing Christians of every to those who preserve them, than denomination and political section many other religious publications, determine, as honest men, that no superior in their own nature, be- avowed enemy of Christianity, whecause they will, in reading, asso- ther he be a federalist, a republican, ciate with the matter, the well re- or a democrat, shall receive their membered manner, and all the mo- suffrage for any office in the state ral excellence of their spiritual or nation, and then we might expect guides. Whitefield's sermons have a speedy reformation. Even the never, in the perusal, given any per- infidel intriguers for office would sons, but those who remember to then, from prudence, impose on their have heard the author preach, very tongues and pens such a restraint as high satisfaction; yet to those, they would be beneficial to the commuhave been superlatively good. nity. These enemies of Christ might Write on, then, we would


to not become any better at heart, but our brother Elliott, (for he is a good they would be less detrimental to writer,) and send forth your ser- the morals of society. mons, as little messengers of good, Another cause of fear, which Mr. or as missionaries in your name, E. mentions, is the existence of the and that of your divine Master, to evil of slavery in our otherwise warn sinners, and comfort saints, highly

favoured country. On this when you are dead.

subject he is judicious in his reIn the sermon before us, Mr. E. marks ; for he neither condemns endeavours to exhibit some causes all slaveholders, under all circumof national fear, and others of en- stances as thieves and robbers, nor couragement, with a view to pro- justifies the commencement, the ex

[ocr errors]

tension, the perpetuation of the evil. they are not bound to suppress or In a note he says,

punish vice, when publicly commit

ted before their own eyes, unless a “When the author speaks of the cri. minality of slavery, he would not be un

formal complaint is lodged against derstood as implicating all who are slave- the culprits, by some of their fellow holders. By the errors of their ances- citizens. Yes, and it is a grievous tors, it is admitted, that men may be

thing, that however vicious a magisplaced in a situation to render the libera. tion of their slaves impracticable. Such

trate himself may be, he is consia measure might put their own lives in

dered as liable to be removed from jeopardy, and endanger the moral and office for nothing but official misdepolitical safety of the community. Hence meanor. Hence, if a justice sins on the principles of self defence and

not as a justice, he may be a lewd common good, they can hardly, in such cases, be chargeable with crime for hold.

or drunken magistrate to the day ing them in servitude, provided they use

of his death. When respectable their efforts to prepare the way for their men, who do not wish to live upon liberation, as soon as practicable, by mo- the crimes of society, shall become ral instruction and otherwise. But when men, by their own act, assume the right

magistrates, from love to Christ, of sacrificing the liberty of their fellow

and the public welfare, then, and men; and when they sanction the crimes not before can we expect vice, as of those who introduced slavery into our ashamed, to hide its head. At precountry, by extending it, we cannot on sent, every one knows, that very Christian principles, nor yet on the broader principles of natural right, ac

many of the magistrates of Pennquit them of guilt. And indeed, in all

sylvania, are not the most steady, cases, in which men lend their efforts substantial, moral and influential either directly or indirectly, with a view men in their respective counties ; to perpetuate slavery, we are not among

and that in some places the office those who would venture to pronounce them innocent."

has been so degraded, that scarcely

an honourable man would be willing of the national constitution he

to receive an appointment to it, lest asserts, that

he should be thought to be a needy It gives no encouragement to the de.

scrivener, or a sower of contention. struction of human liberty, and the sale

“If men whose business it is to exeof human blood. It is admitted, indeed, cute the laws, sit by and connive at that there are almost insurmountable ob- their infraction; and if the people stacles to the removal of this evil. But

either refuse to assist, or in any if there were a disposition to remove it, as Providence might open the way, the

way prevent the wholesome operawill would be accepted for the deed, and

tion of the laws, we shall have reathe displeasure of heaven might be avert- son to fear for the prosperity of our ed. But while our nation continues to

country.” assume the crime and extend the evil,

As other causes of fear, Mr. E. we can look for nothing but some dread. ful visitation of God, when perhaps the

names “ the lukewarmness and ininiquity of the fathers shall be visited on difference to the interests and exthe children to the third and fourth ge- tension of vital piety, which in neration.' Whatever men of the pre- many places prevail:"_" the angry sent age may say or think on this sub

political dissentions which at preject, posterity will testify that our fears have not been groundless."

sent obtain to an alarming extent:"

and “ the partial existence of God's The next cause of fear, stated by judgments in our land.” On the our author, is “the negligence of subject of party spirit, we would magistrates and people in suppress- recommend the following remarks ing vice, and enforcing respect to to the serious attention of our read. the laws." This is truly a deplorable evil; and we regret to say,

“But our own State is particularly that too many justices of the peace, marked by party dissentions. Among us, and other magistrates, consider that the demon of political discord seems to VOL. I.



have taken up his residence. Here he his satisfaction at observing the zealous lights his torch, and marches abroad in all efforts which were making for the prohis giant strength. Here he marshals his

gress of the good cause. By these acts, forces, inflames their passions, and rouses he has evinced a willingness that Christheir antipathies. And here, while the tian instruction should be combined with guardian spirits of the just, look down the arts of civilization, and at the same with wonder and amazement, at the angry time, to favour the progress and extenconflict, he exults, and revels in the de- sion of our holy religion. solations which his magic hand has “That the circumstance of governmenwrought.

tal patronage to the cause of Christianity, “But to speak without a figure, my is encouraging in a national point of view, brethren, it is manifest that party dissen- we may learn from the fact, that nations tions have far transcended the limits are often dealt with in the providence of which either religion, or policy, or patri. God, according to the character and pubotism, or common prudence would pre- lic acts of their rulers. Thus the Lord scribe. Diversity of political views will ' gave Israel up, because of the sins of exist. And we would not condemn tem- Jeroboam. (2 Kings, xiv. 16.) And ‘Ju. perate discussions in relation both to pub. dah was removed out of his sight, for the lic men, and public measures. These, sins of Manassah.' (2 Kings, xxiv. 3.) as well as the free exercise of the elec. While on the other hand, the Lord detive franchise, may be necessary to guard clared that he would defend Jerusalem, the purity, and ensure the permanence to save it (from the Assyrian army) not of our institutions. But whatever is only for his own sake, but, also, for his more than these, cometh of evil.' When servant David's sake. (2 Kings, xix. 34.) party rancour seizes the public mind, the If, therefore, God is propitious to a namost serious evils result. The bonds of

tion, or otherwise, according to the chasociety are loosened, its morals are cor- racter and public acts of its rulers, we rupted, mutual confidence is destroyed, may hope that the patronage of our go. religious zeal is extinguished, and in vernment to Christianity will not be disshort, almost every thing that is valuable regarded by him, who watches over and to the State, is merged, and lost in the controls the destiny of nations." foaming cataract of passion.

Mr. E. proceeds to consider," the “ And think you, brethren, that such a state of things furnishes no cause of

noble, pious and liberal efforts alarm? When we see the best interests of which are making throughout our society sacrificed to the strife of party, land, for the extension of the Rehave we not reason to fear for the safety deemer's kingdom;" the disposiof the commonwealth? We are persuad.

tion in our national and state goed that every reflecting man, to whatever party he may belong, must view with se

vernments to acknowledge God, in rious concern, the present state of acri. the mercies and judgments with monious feeling throughout our which our nation is visited; happy community."

continued displays of divine mercy We turn from these occasions for towards us, notwithstanding the fear, to more welcome consider- partial evils under which we sufations, to some of “ the grounds of

fer;” and “ the promises of God,» our encouragement."

as so many“ grounds of our encour

agement amidst the fears which the “ In the first place, here, we remark,

aspect of our affairs is calculated to that it is an encouraging circumstance that the extension of Christianity is pa

generate in our bosoms." The natronised by some of the highest officers

tional and state acknowledgments of our country. The funds which Con- of God's providence to which he regress have placed at the disposal of the fers, are the several appointments of President of the United States, for the civilization of the Indian tribes, we are

“ days of public humiliation, thanksauthorized to state, will be applied by him

giving and prayer,” in which the to that object, through the medium of

different religious communities, religious associations. Part of them has with the exception of the Quakers, already been applied in this way, and the have cheerfully acquiesced. It is to late Osage mission has gone out under the acknowledged patronage and protec

be remarked, here, however, that tion of the government of our country.

our civil rulers pretend to no other The President himself has visited some power in this matter, than that of of our missionary stations, and expressed recommendation; and the hearty


o the


compliance of the people in gene- addressed along with them. Now here ral, “evinces a disposition to re

lies the difficulty with many a sincere

lover of the truth as it is in Jesus. He cognise the providence of God in the events of the nation." The

feels a backwardness in urging this call,

lest it should somehow or other impair Friends no doubt would have join- the freeness of the offer, or encroach ed more frequently with their fel- upon the singleness of that which is stated low citizens in observing special to be our alone meritorious ground of acseasons for thanksgiving and prayer,

ceptance before God. In reply to this,

let it be well observed, that though the had they not feared the encroach

offer be at all times free, it is not at all ments of civil power upon

their times listened to; and though the only ligious liberties. How well or ill ground of acceptance be that righteous. grounded their fears were, must be

ness of Christ which is unto all them and left for the community to judge.

upon all them that believe, yet some

are in likelier circumstances for being E. S. E.

brought to this belief than others. There is one class of hearers who are in a great

er state of readiness for being impressed Selections.

by the gospel than another,--and I fear that all the use has not been made of this

principle which scripture and experience Extract from the Address of Dr.

warrant us to do. Every attempt to work Chalmers to the Inhabitants of man into a readiness for receiving the of. Kilmany.

fer has been discouraged, as if it carried

in it a reflection against the freeness of “But danger presses on us in every di- the offer itself. The obedient disciples rection; and in the work of dividing the of John were more prepared for the doc. word of truth, many, and very many, are trines of grace, than the careless hearers the obstacles which lie in the way of our of this prophet; but their obedience did doing it rightly. When a minister gives not confer any claim of merit upon them; his strength to one particular lesson, it it only made them more disposed to reoften carries in it the appearance of his ceive the good tidings of that salvation neglecting all the rest, and throwing into which was altogether of grace. A dethe back ground other lessons of equal spiser of ordinances is put into a likelier importance. It might require the minis

situation for receiving the free offer of trations of many years to do away this ap- the gospel, by being prevailed upon to pearance. Sure I am, that I despair of attend a church where this offer is urged doing it away within the limits of this

upon his acceptance. His attendance does short address to any but yourselves. You: not impair the freeness of the offer. Yet know all that I have urged upon the where is the man so warped by a misground of your acceptance with God; leading speculation, as to deny that the upon the freeness of that offer which is

doing of this previous to his union with by Christ Jesus; upon the honest invita- Christ, and preparatory to that union, tions which every where abound in the may be the very mean of the free offer gospel, that all who will may take hold of

being received Again, it is the lesson it; upon the necessity of being found by both of experience and of the Bible, that God, not in your own righteousness, but the young are likelier subjects for reli. in the righteousness which is of Christ; gious instruction than the old. The free upon the helplessness of man, and how

offer may and ought to be addressed to all the strugglings of his own unaided both these classes; but generally speak. strength can never carry him to the ing, it is in point of fact more productive length of a spiritual obedience; upon the of good when addressed to the first class darkness and enmity of his mind about the than the second. And we do not say that things of God, and how this can never be youth confers any meritorious title to saldissolved, till he who by nature stands vation, nor do we make any reflection on afar off is brought near by the blood of the freeness of the offer, when we urge the atonement, and he receives that re.

it upon the young, lest they should get pentance and that remission of sins, which old, and it have less chance of being laid Christ is exalted a prince and a Saviour before them with acceptance. We make to dispense to all who believe in him.

no reflection upon the offer as to its chaThese are offers and doctrines which racter of freeness, but we proceed upon might be addressed, and ought to be ad. the obvious fact, that, free as it is, it is not dressed, immediately to all. But the call so readily listened to or laid hold of by I have been urging

upon you through the the second class of hearers as by the first. whole of this pamphlet, of cease ye from And, lastly, when addressing sinners now, your manifest transgressions,' should be all of them might and ought to be plied

« PoprzedniaDalej »