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The class of practical truths is connected with the class of speculative truths. As soon as ever we ate convinced of the truth of the doctrines just now mentioned, we shall be thereby convinced that we are under an indispensible necessity to devote ourselves to holiness. People, who draw consequences from our doctrines injurious to morality, fall into the most gross and palpable of all contradictions. The single doctrine of Jesus Christ's mission naturally produceth the necessity of sanctification. You believe that the love of holiness is so essential to God, that rather than pardon criminals without punishing their crimes, he hath punished his own Son. And can you believe that the God, to whom holiness is so essential, will bear with you while you make no efforts to be holy? Do you not see that in this supposition you imagine a contradictory God, or rather, that you contradict yourselves? In the first supposition, you conceive a God to whom sin is infinitely odious: in the second, a God to whom sin is infinitely tolerable. In the first supposition, you conceive a God, who, by the holiness of his nature, exacts a satisfaction in the second, you conceive a God, who, by the indifference of his nature, loves the sinner while he derives no motives from the satisfaction to forsake his sin. In the first supposition, you imagine a God who opposeth the strongest barriers against vice; in the second, you imagine a God who removeth every obstacle to vice: nothing being more likely to confirm men in sin than an imagination, that, to what length soever they go, they may always find, in the sacrifice of the Son of God, an infailible way of avoiding the punishment due to their sin, whenever they shall have recourse to that sacrifice. Were it necessary to enlarge this article, and to take one doctrine after another, you would see that every doctrine of religion proves what we have advanced concerning the natural connection of religious speculative truths with truths of practice.

But, if practical truths of religion are connected with speculative truths, each of the truths of practice is also closely connected with another. All virtues mutually support each other, and there is no invalidating one part of our morality, without, on that very account, invalidating the whole.

In our treatises of morality, we have usually assigned three objects to our virtues. The first of these objects is God: the second is our neighbour and the third ourselves. St. Paul is the author of this division. The grace of God,

that

that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus ii. 11, 12. But all these are connected together: for we cannot live godly without living at the same time righteously and soberly: because to live godly is to perform what religion appoints, and to take that perfect Being for our example, to whom religion conducts and unites us. Now to live as religion appoints, to take that perfect Being for our pattern, to whom religion conducts and unites us, is to live righteously with our neighbour, and soberly ourselves. Strictly speaking, we have not one virtue unless we have all virtues; nor are we free from one vice unless we be free from all vices: we are not truly charitable unless we be truly just, nor are we truly just, unless we be truly charitable: we are not truly liberal but as we avoid profuseness, nor are we truly frugal but as we avoid avarice. As I said before, all virtues naturally follow one another, and afford each other a niutual support.

Such is the chain of religious truths: such is the connection, not only of each truth of speculation with another truth of speculation, but of speculative truths with the truths of practice. There is then a concatenation, an har mony, a connection in the truths of religion: there is a system, a body of doctrine in the gospel. This is the arti cle we proposed to prove.

But a religion, in which there is such a chain, such an harmony and connection, a body of doctrine so systemati cally compacted and united, ought not to be taken by bits and parts.

To illustrate this we may compare spiritual with natural things. The more art and ingenuity there is in a machine composed of divers wheels, the more necessary it is to consider it in its whole, and in all its arrangements, and the more does its beauty escape our observation when we confine our attention to a single wheel: because the moré art there is in a machine the more essential is the minutest part to its perfection. Now deprive a machine of an essential part and you deface and destroy it.

Apply this to spiritual things. In a compact system, in a coherent body of doctrine, there is nothing useless, nothing which ought not to occupy the very place that the ge nius who composed the whole hath given it. What will become of religion if we consider any of its doctrines sepa

rately?

rately? What becomes of religion if we consider the holiness of God without his justice, or his justice without his mercy?

II. Let us then proceed to inquire why so many of us confine ourselves to a small number of religious truths, and incapacitate ourselves for examining the whole system. The fact is too certain. Hence, our preachers seem to lead us in obscure paths, and to lose us in abstract speculations, when they treat of some of the attributes of God, such as his faithfulness, his love of order, his regard for his intelligent creatures. It is owing to this that we are, in some sense, well acquainted with some truths of religion, while we remain entirely ignorant of others, which are equally plain, and equally important. Hence it is that the greatest part of our sermons produce so little fruit, because sermons are, at least they ought to be, connected discourses, in which the principle founds the consequence, and the consequence follows the principle; all which supposes in the hearers an habit of meditation and attention. For the same reason we are apt to be offended when any body attempts to draw us out of the sphere of our prejudices, and are not only igno-rant, but, (if you will pardon the expression) ignorant with gravity, and derive I know not what glory from our own stupidity. Hence it is, that a preacher is seldom or never allowed to soar in his sermons, to rise into the contemplation of some lofty and rapturous objects, but must always descend to the first principles of religion, as if he preached for the first time, or as if his auditors for the first time heard. Hence also it is that some doctrines, which are true in themselves, demonstrated in our scriptures, and essential to religion, become errors, yea sources of many errors in our mouths, because we consider them only in themselves, and not in connection with other doctrines, or in the proper places to which they belong in the system of religion. This might be easily proved in regard to the doctrines of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of the cross, the necessity of the holy Spirit's assistance: doctrines true, demonstrated, and essential; but doctrines. which will precipitate us from one abyss to another, if we consider them as some people too often consider them, and as they have been too often considered in the schools, in an abstract and detached manner. The fact then is too certain. Let us attend to the principal causes of it. G

VOL. I.

Four

Four principal causes may be assigned: 1. A party spirit. 2. A choice of teachers. 3. A hurry of business. Above all: 4. A love of pleasure. As we shall take the liberty of pointing out the causes of this malady, we shall also prescribe the remedy, whether our most humble remonstrances regard the people, the pastors, or even the magistrates, whose noblest office, as well as most sacred and inviolable duty, it is to watch for the support of the truth, and the government of the church.

more.

1. The first cause we have assigned is A party-spirit. This is a disposition that cannot be easily defined, and it would be difficult to include in a definition of it even its genus and species: It is a monstrous composition of all bad genuses and of all bad species: It is an hydra that re-produceth while it seemeth to destroy itself, and which, when one head hath been cut off, instantly produceth a thousand Sometimes it is superstition, which inclines us to deify certain idols, and, after having formed, to prostrate ourselves first before them. Sometimes it is ignorance, which prevents our perceiving the importance of some revealed truths, or the dreadful consequences of some prejudices, which, we had embraced in childhood. Sometimes it is arrogance, which rashly maintains whatever it hath once advanced; advanced perhaps at first inconsiderately, but which will afterwards be resolutely defended till death, for no other reason but because it hath been once asserted, and because it is too mortifying to yield and say I am wrong, I was mistaken. Sometimes it is a spirit of malice and barbarity, which abhors, exclaims, against, persccutes, and would even exterminate all who dare contradict its oracular propositions. Oftener still it is the union of all these vices together. A party-spirit is that disposition which invenoms so many hearts, separates so many families, divides so many societies, which hath produced so many excommunications, thundered out so many anathemas, drawn up so many canons, assembled so many councils, and hath been so often on the point of subverting the great work of the reformation, the noblest opposition that was ever formed against it.

This spirit, which we have faintly described, must naturally incapacitate a man for considering the whole of religion: it must naturally incline him to take only by bits and shreds. On the one hand, it contracts the mind: for how can a soul

that

that harboureth and cherisheth all the phantoms which a party-spirit produceth, how can such a soul study and meditate as religion requires? On the other hand, a party-spirit depraves the heart and eradicates the desire of knowing religion. A man animated with the spirit of party directeth all his attention to such propositions of religion as seem to favour his erroneous opinions, and irregular passions, and diverts it from all that oppose them: his system includes only what strengthens his party, it is exclusive of every thing that weakens or opposes it.

This is the first cause of the malady. The remedy is easily discovered. Let us divest ourselves of a party-spirit. Let us never determine an opinion by its agreement or disagreement with what our masters, our parents, or our teachers have inculcated, but by its conformity or contrariety to the doctrine of Jesus Christ and his apostles. Let us never receive or reject a maxim because it favours or opposes our passions, but because it agrees with or opposes the laws of that tribunal, the basis of which are justice and truth. Let us be fully convinced that our chief study should be to know what God determines, and to make his commands the only rules of our knowledge and practice.

2. The second cause of the evil, that we would remove, is, A choice of teachers. In general, we have three sorts of teachers. The first are catechists, who teach our children the principles of religion. The second are ministers. The third prepare the minds of young people for the ministry itself.

The carelessness, that prevails in our choice of the first sort of teachers, cannot be sufficiently lamented. The care of instructing our children is committed to people more fit for disciples than masters, and the meanest talents are thought more than sufficient to teach the first principles of religion. The narrowest and dullest genius is not ashamed to profess himself a divine and a catechist. And yet what capacity does it not require to lay the first foundations of the edifice of Salvation! What address to take the different forms necessary to insinuate into the minds of catechumens, and to conciliate their attention and love! What dexterity to proportion instruction to the different ages and characters of learners! How much knowledge, and how many accom-1 plishments are necessary to discern what is fundamental to a child of twelve, and what is fundamental to a youth of fifteen years of age! What one child of superior talents cannot be ignorant of without danger, and what another of inferior

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