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it necessary, as far as possible, men, who have scarcely retained to furnish a seasonable antidote. one principle of religion, and Accordingly, this will be the have embraced the mosť absurd subject of the present and some and impious doctrines, bave following nuinbers of the sur- ůsurped the honourable name of VEY. We shall endeavour to Christians ; in consequence of reinove the contempt which is which the multitude, confoundcast on creeds and confessions of ing all together, who bear the Luith, by a brief statement of same title, have entertained views their design and advantages, and exceedingly injurious to to invalidate the objections raised Christian cause. They have atagainst them by fair and rational tributed to the real disciples of Jeanswers. This discussion, it is sus, the errors and immoralities l:oped, will lead the churches of those, who have been disciples of New-England to consider the in name only. It has, therefore
, great evil of contemning and dis- been of the last importance, that using confessions of faith. true believers, by publishing
One use of confessions is, 19 summaries of the Christian faith, give to the world a fair and au- should distinguish themselves thentic account of the doctrines from every erroneous sect, and maintained by the Christian furnish the world with advanchurch. Mankind have frequent- tages to form some proper noly, if not generally, mistaken, and tons of their religion. misrepresented the faith of the This necessity existed in a church, and loaded Christianity high degree at the reformation. with groundless calumnies. The The papists, inspired with irrecreligion of the gospel, in its ten- oncileable enmity against the der years, was peculiarly expos- glory of Messiah's kingdom, used ed to abuse. Its Author, while every engine in their power to he lived, was persecuted by the obscure the light of divine truth, fury and barbarity of his ene- then breaking forth, and to stop mies. After his decease, they the progress of the reformation. endeavoured to blacken his mem- They defamed the characters of ory and his doctrine by the vil- the reformers, and violently traest aspersions. His religion was duced their doctrines. ACdisguised with a false face, and cordingly, it was one great rendered unamiable and mon- end of the confessions of faith strous by reproach. And the which they composed, to shew world were likely to form their the falsity of the charges pubopinion of it, not froin a careful lished against them, and to conexamination of its nature, but vince princes, and emperors, and from the misrepresentations of the world, of the unreasonable. its adversaries. In such circum- ness of their persecutors. stances, how evidently necessary The same reason had influ. was it for the honour of religion, ence with the assembly of dithat Christians should give a fair vines, who composed the Westrepresentation of the doctrines minster confession and catewhich they believed.
chisms. And the same reason This has been the more nec- justifies Christians at ibis day in essary from age to age, because the use of confessions. Never
was a day, when a greater varie- every hostile weapon ty of false doctrines were propa- er success, gated, and when error had more Secondly. By publishing plain talents and zeal engaged in its and solemn declarations of their cause. Nor was there ever a faith, believers design to show time, when the sentiments of be. that they own the doctrines of lievers were more openly calum- Christ with cheerfulness and zeal ; niated, or when the church of that his religion, though hated and Christ was more disturbed and despised by the impious, is the obdisgraced by the multitude of ject of their veneration; thut they false brethren. It-is, therefore, glory in the ga8fiel, as their most highly important, that the faith- valuable possession, and feel gralce ful servants of Christ should ex- ful 19 God for such an unspeakahibit a plain, and somewhat full ble gift. account of their religious princi- When God bestows distinples. Not willing to be con- guishing gifts, his people should founded with all who bear the not bury them in ungrateful siChristian name, they crave this lence, but seize every opportunijustice, that the world would ty to make them known to the judge of them by the creed world, and to testify their gratiwhich they embrace, and the tude to the bountiful Giver. conduct which they practically Now in what way can God bless approve. From every mistaken a people more than by causing and slanderous representation, the pure light of truth to shine they make their appeal to those upon them? The gospel is the authentic vouchers of their sen- noblest privilege, the most pretiments, which are found in their ciousgift. Christians should acconfessions of faith,
Ķnowledge it with the sincerest Now if, according to the spirit praise, and embrace every opof modern catholicism, confes, portunity to testify their esteein sions of faith should be wholly for its heavenly doctrines. This laid aside, the world would be is done by the practice here rec., deprived of one important advan, ommended, Every time the tage for distinguishing the faithful churches of Christ pubfriends of Christ from others, lish their confessions, they own, and so be in greater danger of their obligations to the infinite forming confused and unjust goodness of God for the gospel, conceptions of Christianity. In proclaim their adherence to the such a state of things, the faith divine truths contained in it, and of Christ's people must be judg. glory in them as their crown. ed by the opinions which com
As it is the duty of Christians, monly prevail. They would upon all proper occasions, to acwant the best advantage to clear knowledge with confidence the their principles from perverse re- truths of the gospel, and never proaches, and to designate them to be ashamed to profess them selves, as the faithful advocates before men; so there are some of gospel truth. This effect of seasons which afford peculiar setting aside confessions would motives to this duty. For examgratify the enemies of the gos- ple, if any of the doctrines of pel, and give them power to use our holy religion should be in,
jured by clamorous reproaches, and to glory in them as our highest and exposed to contempt ; if the honour. Let us account it our ordinances of God are regarded privilege to retain the faith of with disdain and represented as the reformation, particularly that insignificant by the rich and doctrine of grace, which attribthe learned ; in such a case, for utes every step in the salvation churches, that have preserved of sinners to God, and no part of their integrity, to be ashamed of it to man. True wisdom will Christ's cause, to conceal his teach us to undervalue the caldoctrines, and retire into a corn-. umny of proud adversaries, er, would be inglorious and base. Christian fortitude will never be In such a time, God expects that moved from the foundation of his people will openly avow con- truth by ridicule and slander. temned truth, and espouse its in- Contempt and reproach, in such terests the more earnestly, be- a cause, we may gladly bind upon cause it is misrepresented and our head, as a crown of glory. vilified by others.
And if, in many churches of Unhappily this is the case at which we hoped better things, the present day. Numberless divine truth has lost much of its heresies have crept into the purity and lustre ; we should church, and the minds of men reckon it the more indispensable are enchanted with the enticing duty, openly to maintain evan. forms of error. With a great gelical principles, and the more part insolent reproach and cun- distinguished honour and happining sophistry triumph over the ness, to be free from the infec. interests of truth. . Some of the tion of error. most important doctrines 'of
Thirdly. By confessions of Christianity, which were reput- faith the churches may contribute ed of the highest value at the much to mutual comfort and edifi. reformation, and were received cation, and promote brotherly love with the warmest affection by and unity. the primitive worthies of New- They, who are animated by England, are not only disbeliev- fervent zeal for religion, feel sen. ed, but branded with the most sible pleasure when it flourishes odious epithets, as the offspring in the world, especially when it of narrow, gloomy bigotry, and maintains its ground in the midst even abhorred, as blasphemous. of vigilant and powerful enemies. This is particularly the case with The faithful subjects of Messiah the doctrines of man's native de- love him with the warmest afpravity, the deity and atonement fection. The glory of his emof Christ, God's eternal decrees pire is the dearest object of their and electing love, his absolute desires. The more that empire dominion over all creatures, and flourisites and the more his his distinguishing, sovereign throne is exalted, the greater grace toward his people. joy flows into their hearts. Ev.
In such circumstances, ery victory of truth over error, ought to stand forth, as faithful and of grace over sin, yields witnesses for the truth, to assert them exquisite delight. When, with boldness the principles of therefore, churches, which emChristianity in their full extent,' brace the same Christian doc
trines, publish authentic declarad enjoy with the Father and with tions of their faith, they give pi- the Son. ous satisfaction to each other. One means, by which the difThey afford the whole body of ferent parts of Christ's church believers that pleasure, which are to maintain a good corresthose, who are inspired with the pondence and happy.commun. highest esteem for the truth, ion, is the sameness of their faith, must receive from its establish- or their agreement in the same ment and propagation in the gospel doctrines. The apostle world. Every view which a mentions faith, as one thing saint has of a church, or a per
which constitutes unity among son maintaining the same faith Christians.' “ One Lord, one with himself, especially when it faith, one baptism." It is easy is abandoned by others around to perceive that creeds are well him, enlivens his feelings and adapted to promote among the comforts his heart.
churches the happy communion The only reason why men do here recommended. By publishnot see and feel, how excellent is ing their confessions, they exthis end of confessions, is be- press Christian affection and fel: cause they have not an affection, lowship towards all in every ate regard for religion, and do place, who receive the same como not make Jerusalem their chief mon faith. joy. The bulk of professors, It can, indeed, be hardly exe lukewarm and degenerate, pre. pected, that sincere Christians, fer their own interests before the while inhabitants of these cloudy interests. of Christ, and so are regions, will perfectly agree in little affected with the boldness their religious opinions. This of his enemies, the wounding of happiness is reserved for that his cause, or the triumph of his world, where God himself is the grace.
Sun. But it is a most melanAll the real churches of Christ choly consideration, that Chrisscattered over the earth, by whal- tians are more divided in their ever peculiarities they may be affections, than they are in their distinguished from each other, sentiments. Love is the pecu. compose only one society, are an
liar character of our religion. imated by one Spirit, governed
And it is one of its precepts, that by the same maxims, invigorat- whereunto we have already attain. ed by strength derived from the ed, we should all walk by the same same source, and are all mem. rule and niind the same things, bers of that body, of which Christ Now there are few means better is the head. Thus all the sub- calculated to promote mutual jects of Christ's kingdom are love and fellowship, than a right joined together by the strictest use of confessions. This would bonds, and are laid under invio- directly distinguish between those lable obligations to the most in- who are infected by prevailing timate friendship, the most ar.' error, and those who hold the un dent love. They should perse corrupted faith of the gospel; and, vere in uninterrupted harmony, at the same time, would make it? and keep up that holy fellowship evident, that all the true servants with each other, which they all of Christ harmonize not only in those principles which constitute to lay aside their controversies, the basis of Christianity, but in or to manage them with moderaevery sentiment' of special im- tion and charity. The little disportance ; and that they are one tinctions, which would remain in the temper of their minds, all among them, would not confine acluated by the same motives; the noble freedom of their love, all serving the same divine Lord, Narrow party spirit would expursuing the same object, and pire ; while the discussion of partaking the same pleasure. points on which they differed, beHow would the discovery of this ing conducted with good temper agreement stifle every unfriend- and with prayer, would undoubtly passion and banish alienation. edly introduce an increasing uniHow would Christians be asham- formity. The warmth and zeal, ed of their uncharitableness to
so hurtfully directed against felward those, who adore and serve low Christians, would be employthe same Lord, and trust in the ed'in a joint and vigorous opposame atonement.
How would sition against their common enethey blush at their treatment of my. Their union would inconthose, who hold in substance the ceivably augment their strength, same faith, and are cordially unit- and render every measure for Zied to the same cause.
on's good vastly more effective. While a proper use of confes... Thus Christian virtue and piety sions would be likely to preserve would be strongly recommended the purity of Christian doctrine to the esteem of mankind, and from the contagion of error, and the church, all its divisions, its to seoure the ministry and the weakness, and deformity forgotchurch from those who deny the ten, would look forth as the mornfaith ; it would be a very power- ing, fair as the moon, clear as the ful means of bringing all good sun, and terrible as an army with men to embrace each other with the warmest affection, and either
ON THE EXECUTION OF LAWS.
For the Panoplist. though they are enacted with,
consummate wisdom, and sanc-,
tioned by the authority of a thou| AMONG the many rules pro- sand Solons; yet if the execuposed for deriving the greatest tion of them is attended with debenefit from laws, this is one lay and indecision, they will necof the most important; that they essarily be inefficacious. be promptly and speedily enforced. Present punishment is a much Though they combine in them more powerful preventive of the two essential qualities of crimes, than future punishment. strength and impartiality ; tho' When present evil engages our they are plainly and invariably, attention, and threatens our hapdirected to the public good; piness, it appears highly alarm