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Christ;" they would stand with less confidence upon ground of their own choosing, than they do at present; and would feel themselves more in a difposition to be taught, than to teach. For, without being an advocate for blind credulity, the evils of which have been abundantly manifested, we do not hesitate to say, that there are in religion many things which, by the generality of mankind, must in some degree be taken upon trust; 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 consideration that now “ we know only in part," be most ready to subscribe to the idea, that in certain cases the honour of God is more advanced by the submission, than by the exertion, of the human understanding.
And if this idea prevail, when applied to subjects of primary consideration, 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 observed) 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 oba serving whereof, with good heed and discretion, hath in old time filled the world with many a superstitious imagination; and in our days hath healed the imagination, and superstition, and hypocrisy, 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 sin and heresy in the world, is to be found in the promotion of that charitable spirit of the Gospel, " 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 spirit, which it is my duty to press most earnestly upon Christians; from the full conviction, that envyings, divisions, and heresies, are those works of the flesh, which most effectually serve the cause of that grand enemy, whose constant employment it is, so far as in him lies, to render abortive the Christian scheme for the salvation 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, must depend, in a great degree, on the conclusion to be drawn from it. Were not the advantages and disadvantages consequent on a communion with, or separation from, the church to be made apparent; all that has been written on these subjects might, for the most part, be considered as waste paper. For if nothing is to be gained or lost by the determination of man's condu& in this respect, it certainly becomes a matter of indifference, with what society of Christians he is connected; and in this case 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 society of Christ's forming, for the express purpose of men being saved in it from the corruption and condemnation of a wicked world; it becomes a matter of essential con fideration with every man, whether he be a member of that church or not.
To enable the Christian, then, to draw the conclufion necessary to confirm his judgment in this cafe, we proceed, in conformity with our plan, to point out the advantages and disadvantages consequent upon a communion with, or separation from, the church. In doing this, it may be proper to consider man, first, in the relation in which he stands to God, as redeemed by the blood of his crucified Şon; and, fecondly, in that in which he stands to his fellow-creatures, as member of a civilized society.
It is a position, we presume, 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 purpose of carrying his gracious design into effect. The probable consequence of his