« السابقةمتابعة »
CHRIST;" they would ftand with lefs confidence upon ground of their own choofing, than they do at prefent; and would feel themfelves more in a difpofition to be taught, than to teach. For, without being an advocate for blind credulity, the evils of which have been abundantly manifefted, we do not hefitate to fay, that there are in religion many things which, by the generality of mankind, muft in fome degree be taken upon truft; because the generality of mankind are not qualified to form a competent judgment of the evidence upon which they stand.
Whilst the best informed will, upon the confideration that now we know only in part," be most ready to fubfcribe to the idea, that in certain cafes the honour of GOD is more advanced by the fubmiffion, than by the exertion, of the human understanding.
And if this idea prevail, when applied to fubjects of primary confideration, as revealed articles of faith; it will not surely, when the peace of the church is concerned, be found inapplicable to matters, which revelation may have left more undetermined. "For the spirit of CHRIST, (as Bishop ANDREWS long fince obferved) is the spirit of ingenuity, which will freely submit itself to that which is expedient, even in things of their own nature lawful. The not ob‐
ferving whereof, with good heed and discretion, hath in old time filled the world with many a fuperftitious imagination; and in our days hath healed the imagination, and superstition, and hypocrify, with another of riot and licentious liberty, as bad as the former, and a great deal worse."
The only remedy for this evil, the fruitful source of all fin and heresy in the world, is to be found in the promotion of that charitable spirit of the Gofpel, " which envieth not; which is not puffed up; which behaveth not unseemly; which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things;" rather than that brotherly love, the bond of Christian perfectness, should be broken. A fpirit, which it is my duty to prefs most earnestly upon Chriftians; from the full conviction, that envyings, divifions, and herefies, are thofe works of the flesh, which most effectually serve the cause of that grand enemy, whose conftant employment it is, fo far as in him lies, to render abortive the Christian scheme for the falvation of fallen man.
On the Advantages attendant upon a conscientious Communion with the CHURCH; together with the Disadvantages consequent upon a wilful Separation from it.
THE weight which any practice or opinion ought
to have upon the mind, muft depend, in a great degree, on the conclufion to be drawn from it. Were not the advantages and difadvantages confequent on a communion with, or feparation from, the church to be made apparent; all that has been written on these fubjects might, for the most part, be confidered as wafte paper. For if nothing is to be gained or loft by the determination of man's conduct in this respect, it certainly becomes a matter of indifference, with what fociety of Chriftians he is connected; and in this cafe he might, in religious matters at least, be left at liberty to follow the gui dance of his own fancy or opinion.
But if the church is to be feen in the light in which we have placed it, as a fociety of CHRIST'S forming, for the exprefs purpose of men being faved in it from the corruption and condemnation of a wicked world; it becomes a matter of effential con fideration with every man, whether he be a member of that church or not.
To enable the Christian, then, to draw the conclufion neceffary to confirm his judgment in this cafe, we proceed, in conformity with our plan, to point out the advantages and difadvantages confequent upon a communion with, or feparation from, the church. In doing this, it may be proper to confider man, first, in the relation in which he stands to GOD, as redeemed by the blood of his crucified Son; and, fecondly, in that in which he stands to his fellow-creatures, as member of a civilized fociety.
It is a pofition, we prefume, not to be controverted, that if the falvation of fallen man be an act of free grace on the part of GOD, (as Divine revelation has informed us that it is) man ought thankfully to receive it on the terms upon which it is bestowed; and of course to conform himself to any plan set on foot by GoD for the purpofe of carrying his gracious defign into effect. The probable confequence of his