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Surely St. Peter must have been inspired, when lie wrote, “ by reason of whom, the way of truth shall be evil spoken of”!
• But look at the next verse," our adversaries will say ; "and you'll see, that this prophecy cannot apply to us; for it's not our teachers, but paid ministers, and hireling priests, who • through covetousness with feigned words make merchandise of vou.''
To this I would make a general, and a particular,
In the first place it is not at all necessary that every crime mentioned in this chapter should be found in each one of the false teachers foretold, any more than that each indi. vidual liomanist should be guilty of all the sins charged against the Church of Rome in the book of Revelations. It is not even, I think, necessary that they should all “ deny the Lord that bought them." The apostle warns us of false teachers who would come, and mentions a number of marks, by which they might be known, some probably by one, some by another; and some of whom, at least, would go to the extent of “even denying the Lord that bought them." The particular answer about hirelings I must keep for a short lecture by itself. I dare not say ihat it was “througlı covetousness"; but giving Mr. Barker credit for the best possible motive, it was certainly doing evil, that good might come, to use "feigned words," in order to escape being expelled from a religious body, whose pay he received as long as he could get it. His outcry now against paid ministers reminds me of our excellent and zealous friends of the Free Church in Scotland, who suddeniy discovered that all establishments were wrong, when they could remain no longer in their own.
One other point remains to be noticed, namely, the virtuous exemplary lives of many Unitarians. Is it not written, “ By their fruits ye shall know them "? True: and what kind of fruit is heresy ? Is it one of “thie fruits of the Spirit" ?
St. Paul classes it amongst “the works of the flesh," and declares, “ihat they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”* Again, what kind of fruit is self righteousness, sabbath breaking, taking from God's word, “speaking evil of dignities"? A man's conduct may look fair to the world, but it is only a spiritual mind, that can truly discern, wliat are, and what are not, "fruits of the Spirit,". The young ruler possessed such an amiable disposition, and such a high moral character, that Jesus, having the feelings of a man, loved him"; but when brought to the tesi, he failed. So an avowed infidel may have such winning qualities, that our affections are irresistibly drawn towards him; but we are not deceived into supposing them to be genuine fruits of the Spirit. “ Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light: therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the
The writer of a tract lately published quotes, “In every nation lie that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of liim”; and asks, “ Does Mr. M, find here no gleam of hope? If not, 'tis grief and piiy." I wish I could, but-Heresy is noi" righteousness."
ministers of righteousness.” 2 Cor. xi. 14; though it does not at all follow, that there must always be intentional hypocrisy, You must remember that the devil is a practised veteran at his own warfare; and he knows well how to suit his temptations to each particular person. He has various perversions and imitations of the gospel, and he cares not in which net his victims are caught. Let us take two opposite cases, and see how he acts in each of them. One man is addicted to certain vices, wbich he is unwilling to give up Well, so far it is all right, the victim is safe. But he wants something to ease liis conscience; he wants a religion, that will let bim keep on sinning, and yet hold out a hope of pardon. Satan has a perver. sion of the gospel ready for him. He makes him rest in a dead faith, a faith that produces no fruits, what St. James calls “ faith without works," He persuades him that, so long as he trusts to being saved by Christ, he may live in whatever sin be pleases. Now this answers a double purpose. It keeps the individual sinner under satan's power, and it throws discredit on the doctrine of the atonement; it enables the adversary to cry out, See the effects of trusting to Christ's blood for salvation. But now take another case. Here is a man not in slavery to gross vices, but of good moral character. Well, the devil knows that, as long as he builds his hopes of salvation on his own righteousness, he is as far from heaven as the open profligate. What is his plan therefore? Is it to lead him into sin? Not at all; rather to keep him out of temptation, to assist him in his upright moral conduct; for the more upright he is, the less likely is he to feel any qualms about the soundness of the foundation on which he builds. Far from wishing to stir up the corruptions within his heart, or to harass liim with temptations, which might shiake him out of his self confidence, the great enemy of souls would keep him as close as possible to “ the form of godliness," and adorn his character with every outward grace; while the true believer, whose foot is planted on the rock of ages, he would harass and assault with all his might. “We are not ignorant of his devices."
On the whole then it is very evident, that when our Lord said, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned,” Matt. vii 1, he could not mean what many persons seem to imagine, namely, that a Christian has no means of knowing what is heresy, and what is not; or, at least, if he does know, that he ought not to utter his sentiments. Indeed, his words on another occasion might show us this; “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge richteous judgment.” John vii. 24 We are told to
compare spiritual things with spiritual," and by so doing only shall we learn "the mind of the Spirit,” The rule of conduct our Lord here lays down is perfectly plain and simple ; only it is necessary that we should join with'it other directions equally binding, in order that we may mahe no mistake in applying the rule. His meaning of course is, that we are
always to put the best possible construction on the conduct of another; not to indulge a suspicious or censorious disposition; always to consider a man innocent, until he is proved guilty; and even if he does what we disapprove of, not to be eager in condemning him, but to make all the allowances for him we can, remembering our own infirmities and imperfections ; never to impute bad motives and intentions to a person, where it is possible to give him credit for good ones: in short, to pay particular attention to the worst side of our own character, and the best of every one else's. This is true scripture charity; that charity or love, without which all else is nothing; without which the highest gifts and the most splendid acquirements are but as “sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal;" that charity, which “suffereth long and is kind," which“ envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh not evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, bopeth all things, endureth all things:” that charity, wbich is briefly comprehended in this saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And can I love my neighbour, without wishing to save his soul? Impossible. · Charity to the soul is the soul of charity." Which shews the most real charity to his neighbour; the man, who is bigotted enough to tell him of his danger, and try to pull him back, even though it be with a rude shake; or the man, who dare not be so dogmatical, so arrogant and presumptuous, as to tell him that destruction is before him, and therefore bows him politely to the edge of the precipice? Vehenient rebuke and stern denunciation are no less called for from the minister of Christ, than gentle persuasion and affectionate entreaty; and the one may proceed from a spirit of love just as much as the other, St. Jude tells us that some cases require different treatment from others; and that we are to endeavour to distinguish between them: “Of some," he says, “ have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Now the Romanist and Socinian run into two opposite, and equally unscriptural, extremes. The one declaring that there is no salvation out of his own church; the other, that there is salvation in any mode of faith whatever, if a man be only sincere and virtuous. The latter is certainly more pleasing and agreeable to human nature; but I question very much whether it is not the more dangerous error of the two; and how flatly contradictory to the word of God, you have already heard enough to be able to judge. You will no longer, I hope, be frightened by the world's war-cry of bigotry and intolerance, or be deceived by its professions of universal charity; but remember, that true scriptural charity “believeth all things,” “ rejoiceth in the truth,' and is more anxious to save a brother's soul, than to gain his favour by saying, “ Peace, peace, whien there is no peace."
Acts viii. 30, 31. Understandest thou what thou readest? can I, except some man should guide me?
And he said, How
The subject of human teaching is rather a delicate one to touch upon, as we have the Romish Priest on one side of us, and the Unitarian on the other, the scriptural path between the two being very narrow, The Romanist practically does away with the necessity of searching the scriptures, by demanding a blind submission to the teaching of the Church (as he calls it); while the Unitarian makes a boast of despising all human creeds and human teachers, and thinks he justifies himself for so doing by declaiming against priestcraft and spiritual despotism, mental thraldom, &c., &c. Our present business, however, is only with the latter, though a few words may be necessary just to guard against the opposite danger.
No one can have read much of Mr. Barker's writings, without seeing that the real object of his outcry against paid ministers is to throw discredit on the Christian ministry altogether. He knows, as well as I do, that a minister may receive pay, and yet not be what our Lord calls a “hireling;" but he knows also, that calling them all hirelings together lowers them in the eyes of ignorant people, and so far weakens their influence. If he can only get people to shut their ears against the ministers of Christ, on the ground that they are paid for teaching certain doctrines, and therefore are not worth attending to, he will then be able to instil his own teaching into their minds, with little danger of having his mistakes corrected or his deceptions exposed. To accomplish this end he spares no pains, and is not afraid of using such wholesale calumny, as I have given a specimen of in the preceding Lecture. Let us then briefly prove from scripture, First, that the Christian ministry is a thing ordained by God; and, Secondly, that a paid ministry is a thing sanctioned by God.
I Cor. xii. 23, 29. “ And God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all Apostles ? Are all Prophets ? Are
" And he gave
all Teachers ?" Yes, to be sure, we are; every man is his on teacher: “The people have been too long held in bondage by an interested and money-loving priesthood; but their eyes are getting opened, and they are now determined to think and act for themselves," No doubt they are; it is one of the most striking signs of the times. But let me beg you to consider, whether, when God set teachers in the church, he thought every one capable of teaching himself; and whether those, who despise one of the divinely appointed means of learning the truth, are ever likely to be taught it. If it be replied, that these “teachers were only required in the early days of Christianity, we refer you to Eph. iv, 11, 13, where both their purpose and duration are fixed. some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. No one, I suppose, will say, that this state of universal Christian perfection has yet arrived; and if not, “the ministry” is still a Divine ordinance. Again, “ We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.” 1 Thes v. 12. Who talks of any one being over us? Such language "might have been expected from a Roman Catholic Priest, and in a Popish country, but it won't suit the present age and country," Quite true, it will not indeed; but it is the language of an inspired Apostle notwithstanding; and language which he used more than once. Hear him again;
Let the elders which rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." I Tim. v. 17. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day and for ever." Heb, xiii, 7. Anid lastly, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.”
Heb. xiii. 17. From these texts we might have learnt for ourselves, even if another Apostle had not told us, (Jude ii), that it is quite possible, under the Christian dispensation, where there is no Priest * to commit the sin, in spirit at least
, of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram—" And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy every one of them, and
* The only Priesthood now is the High-priesthood of Christ, and the universal Priesthood of Christians, 1 Pet, ii. 9. The word “ Priest" in our Prayerbook is a contraction of Presbyter, which means an elder. claim to have Priests, that is, persons appointed to offer sacrifice.
The Church of Rome does