Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

who, agreeing in some points of doctrine with these enthusiasts and antinomians, (for we cannot give up truth, because professed and perverted by wicked men,) are by superficial observers, and such as only behold the

company

from a distance, classed among those, whom they mourn over, and protest against, and oppose, by every scriptural method in their power.

But after every deduction, it may confidently be averred, that the stated congregations, and especially the communicants, at those churches, or chapels, in which the evangelical clergy officiate, are, by far, the most strictly moral part of the established church, in respect of exemption from gross vices; and fúrther, that they exert themselves, in endeavouring to relieve the distresses of the poor, to instruct their children, and to forward every good work, with more decided diligence, earnestness, and liberality'; than are generally manifested

opponents, And I appeal to every candid observer, who differs from me, in religious sentiments, but has carefully compared our parishes and congregations, with other parishes and congregations, whether this be not true.

P. clxv. 1. 22. The doctrine, &c.” The style

among their

!The doctrine of salvation through faith, if rightly understood, is strictly scriptural ; and I do not mean to say that any bad effects are intended by insisting solely or principally upon this one point. But I think that this style of preaching is im. perfect and dangerous; and in support of my opinion I will

venture to affirm, that the New Testament does not furnish one s discourse of our Saviour, one sermon of any of his apostles, or upon the principles and motives required in the gospel, ought to • be expressly enforced as indispensable to salvation; and when

of preaching here supposed to be imperfect and dangerous, is I trust little known in our congregations.

6

one epistle, in which there is not an exhortation to the practice of moral virtue, or in which a reward is not promised to holiness

of life. Let the preachers, to whom I allude, read the concle"sions of those very epistles, upon particular passages of which

they lay so much stress, and they will find the most earnest in* junctions to the performance of the relative duties, and a variety .' 'of declarations and precepts all tending to encourage the cultiva' tion of practical virtue. Let them constantly bear in mind the • solemn direction given by St. Paul to Titus, whom he had ap

pointed a preacher of the gospel, and let them observe that it , immediately follows the assertion, that we " are justified by « grace.” “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will “ that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in cs

God, might be careful to niaintain good works: these things are good and profitable unto men." Justification therefore by grace, so far from rendering good works unnecessary, is the ground upon wbich they are to be enforced by a Christian minister; they are, says Dr. Doddridge, to be the darling topicks of your preaching, as you desire the edification and salvation of

your hearers. The instructions indeed, which St. Paul gave to * Timothy and Titus for preaching the gospel, related principally

to practical subjects, that their hearers might “ adorn the doc“ trine of God our Saviour in all things.” “Surely then if the : inspired apostles were guided to instruct their disciples in this

mapner, it is incumbent upon their successors, the present mi• nisters of the gospel, to insist upon the necessity of good works,

at least with as much earnestness and as frequently, as upon the necessity of faith. To obviate any misunderstanding upon a point of so great moment, the observance of the moral duties,

ever faith is inculcated, the congregation should be reminded,

that to shew faith by works is the only mode of shewing faith • authorized by Scripture, and not palpably subject to deceit and • delusion.'

6

He who insists solely on salvation through faith, is far from " declaring the whole counsel of God.” Whatever God has made a part of his revealed word, that, as far as doctrine and practice are concerned, ought to have a proportionable place in our instructions; and though there is much imperfection in 'us all, most of the body, I trust, aim to do this. It may fairly be said, of many among us, that there is no one of our discourses, or sermons, either printed, or preached, which does not contain exhortations to the practice of moral virtue, or christian holiness; or in which a gracious reward is not proposed to the fruits of faith and grace. We hope, that we both read, and endeavour to reduce to practice, in our ministry, what his Lordship very properly recommends to our attention: and many will unite with me-in earnestly praying, that all the clergy of our church, and all every where called the ministers of Christianity, may do this more and more. But here is our disadvantage: we read his Lordship's book, and the works of our other opponents; and we really know what their opinions are: but we cannot avoid thinking, that many of our opponents do not read our books, and are not acquainted with our sentiments. And this is, by far, the most candid construction we can put upon their conduct ; for most certainly, we are supposed to hold, and to disseminate, doctrines, which we wholly abhor and protest against.

P. clxvii. 1. 22. No clergyman, &c.'! : Except

*No clergyman should confine his publick instruction to

AA

the word condition, there is nothing in this passage, which does not accord to the views of the author of these remarks. He is a very defective minister of Christianity indeed, who does not preach the whole of Christianity, in scriptural connexion and proportion. It would be a most important blessing, if these publications should excite those clergymen, who have greatly excluded, or cast into the brick ground, the peculiar doctrines of Christianity; to

+ be

subjects of morality or of theology. The sermons of a parishpriest ought to extend to all the doctrines and to all the duties of christianity. The one are not to be dwelt upon' to the exclusion of the other. A faithful minister of the gospel will strive

to shew himself approved unto God," by "rightly dividing " the word of truth," so as to embrace the whole christian 'scheme of human redemption. Sometimes he will give a sum! mary of this wonderful dispensation, and explain its divine • origin, necessity, extent, and inestimable value. At other times e will

, illustrate the yarious truths which it reveals, and enlarge upon the nuinerous precepts which it contains ; and whatever • doctrine be inculcates, or whatever duty he enforces, he will be

carefut not to lead his bearers into the error of imagining, that " this single point is all that is required of a christian; or that obedience or belief in this one article will compensate for dis• obedience or unbelief in any other. "He that offendeth in “ one point, is guilty of all;" surely then every portion and

particle of the christian character is to be explained, lest a man ! by a single omission become a transgressor of the whole law. 'Much less are doctrinal subjects totally to superscde the duties ' of morality, " for what doth it profit, though a man say be " haih faith, and haye not works?" "Let not these two, faith " and works, which Christ has joined together in bis gospel, be

ever separated by his ministers. Let faith be inculcated as the appointed conditiop.of justification ; and let works at the same time be always enforced as the necessary fruits and sole crite• rion of true faitb.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

bring them forward, and to give them all that pro. minency, which they have in the apostolical writings; and graft all their practical exhortations upon them : and if such evangelical preachers, as have too much confined themselves to doctrines, promises, and pri. vileges; and have been too general and slight in practical instructions and exhortations, might be induced to insist more fully and particularly upon them, as the genuine deduction from their doctrines; according to the just remark of the pious Doddridge, I can truly say, should I live to see it, that I should as cordially rejoice in the latter, as in the former, effect. The deficiency, indeed, has been by no means so great as our opponents suppose ; yet there has been a deficiency, in evangelical preachers, in respect of practical instruction, which many of us have deeply lamented, and endeavoured, perhaps with soine success, to remedy. He who does not preach the grand doctrines of salvation by grace, in Christ, through faith ; builds without a foundation : and hę, who laying this foundation, does not build upon it, every part of christian holiness and obedience, has a foundation without a building erected on it; or one constructed of such materials, as will never stand the fiery trial.

P..clxix. 1.A. But while, &c.'? I quote this passage, as cordially approving it.

6

But while I am contending that a strict attention to the • duties of morality is indispensably required by the religion of • Christ, I must repeat, that good works are in no respect or

degree the meritorious cause of our salvation. Whenever ve • speak of any benefit derived from the gospel.dispensation, all

« PoprzedniaDalej »