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To have right apprehensions of God is the great foundation of all religion; for, according as men’s notions of God are, such will their religion be. If men have gross and false conceptions of God, their religion will be absurd and superstitious. If men fancy God to be an ill-natured Being, armed with infinite power, - one that delights in the misery and ruin of his creatures, and is ready to take all advantages against them, - they may fear him, but they will hate him; and they will be apt to be such towards one another as they fancy God to be towards them; for all religion doth naturally incline men to imitate him whom they worship. ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON: Sermon 5; in Works, vol. i. p. 101.

Truth is in all things so worthy and desirable, that a generous spirit will think he can never prize it enough. We see the greatest men have made it the whole business of their lives to pursue it even in the smallest instances, and have thought their labors worthily rewarded, if, with the greatest application, and it may be with some danger and loss too, they have but been able to find it out at the last. -- ARCHBISHOP WAKE: Sermons and Discourses, p. 235.

To ascertain the character of the Supreme Author of all things ; to know, as far as we are capable of comprehending such a subject, what is his moral disposition, what the situation we stand in towards him, and the principles by which he conducts his administration, — will be allowed by every considerate person to be of the highest consequence. Compared to this, all other speculations or inquiries sink into insignificance, because every event that can befall us is in his hands, and by his sentence our final condition must be fixed. To regard such an inquiry with indifference is the mark, not of a noble but of an abject mind, which, immersed in sensuality or amused with trifles, deems itself unworthy of eternal life.

As it [morality) is the genuine fruit of just and affecting views of divine truth, you will never sever it from its parent stock, nor indulge the fruitless hope of leading men to holiness, without strongly imbuing them with the spirit of the gospel. Truth and holiness are in the Christian system so intimately allied, that the warm and faithful inculcation of the one lays the only foundation for the other. ...... Let us cultivate the most cordial

. esteem for all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Let us anxiously guard against that asperity and contempt which have too often mingled with theological debates; but let us aim, at the same time, to acquire and retain the most accurate conceptions of religious truth. Every improvement in the knowledge of Christ and the mysteries of the gospel will abundantly compensate for the labor and attention necessary to its attainment. ROBERT HALL: Works, vol. i. pp. 121–2, 146; vol. ii. p. 448.

Almost all men are forced to feel and acknowledge, that we ourselves, and the whole world we see about us, depend on some superhuman Cause or Power which has a control over us, and from which our happiness or misery comes. Now, the notions men form of such superhuman powers, the feelings they entertain towards them, and the course of behavior springing from such notions and feelings, these are what we call religion; the superhuman powers, real or imaginary, being called the objects of religion. You will readily perceive, then, that men's religions will be different, according as the objects of their religion are different. If a man worships a Being whom he thinks good, but not all-knowing, he will often be satisfied with trying to appear good, without becoming so. If he worships one whom he thinks spiteful, he will try to appease his malice by doing injury and inflicting pain on himself and others. If he worships one whom he does not think all-powerful, he will be apt sometimes to neglect his service for that of some other power, if there seem to be a chance of gaining any thing by the change. If a man thinks his deity vain, he will try to flatter him; if weakly compassionate, to move his pity by doleful lamentations and complaints. In short, as the behavior of a family will be influenced by the character of the master of the house, so the religion of men will be influenced by the character which they suppose to be that of the Being whom they worship. — ARCHBISHOP WHATELY: Cautions for the Times, pp. 70–1.

One great end of a true education is to discipline the mind for the candid and unprejudiced pursuit of truth. It teaches the honest Christian to renounce all pious fraud, and not to think that it can ever be for God's glory that we should lie for him. Moreover, it teaches that it is for the interest of all to know the truth, and that it is a duty to be faithful to it at any sacrifice of reputation or property, or personal ease and enjoyment. It also recognizes the truth which is taught by the structure of the human mind, by the material universe, and by providence, as a part of the revelation which God has made to man as really as the Bible, and does not feel at liberty to suppress any truth taught by God. -- DR. EDWARD BEECHER: Conflict of Ages, p. 360.

The search after and discovery of truth is one of the secrets of exalted happiness; and therefore shall we always find that those who are in reality the wisest and best are most impelled to communicate their knowledge to the widest ranks. ... ... Divine truth is the primary want of the human soul, the ground of its own emancipation, and the means of its triumph over all outward foes.

The full expansion and complete donation of this highest gift God has reserved to the ultimate energies of Christian doctrine on all mankind. All virtue is the inimitable fruit of truth; and the gospel is worthy of all acceptation, because the excellence it produces is the most veracious and enduring.

This omnipotence and ineffable glory of truth is vouchsafed to man only for the purpose of promoting practical godliness. All its emanations are infinitely superior to the inertness of mere dogmas, since they are designed to make man both politically energetic and morally regenerative. . . . It is truth to be proclaimed, not simply as theological doctrine, but a mighty and saving revelation, a celestial fact free for all, which ought to interfuse every thought we think, adorn every deed we do, and be allowed unobstructedly to grow, less as a mere luxury of the intellect than the mightiest passion of the heart: - E. L. MAGOON : Republican Christianity, pp. 320, 353, 366.

There is another reason why we should not voluntarily suffer any form of error to attach itself to the doctrines of Christianity, and go forth under their sanction, to which I would briefly allude. However harmless, or beneficial even, such error may for a time appear, it is sure in the end to work mischief. Like the little book of the angel in the Apocalypse, though sweet in the mouth, it will make the belly bitter. Even though its direct influence on the heart and the life be not prejudicial, it will prove an obstacle in the way of the general reception of the doctrine with which it is associated. To the sincere and earnest inquirer after truth, it becomes a stumbling-block; while, to the enemies of our holy religion, it serves as a mark for the direction of their shafts. The Christian minister, who, by his eloquence and fervid zeal, spreads erroneous doctrines through the churches, does more to harm Christianity than a hundred infidels. Besides furnishing its adversaries with their most potent weapons against it, he is himself scattering broadcast the seeds from which scepticism and unbelief will, sooner or later, spring up..... I think it not difficult to see how generally received error, here, may exert an influence upon thoughtful minds greatly to be deprecated. Let us suppose a man whose ideas of the character and government of God have been formed chiefly from the observation of his works. ... Tell him that the object of the Divine Being, in creating the world, was the illustration of his own attributes, and not the good of his creatures ; that he forms and makes use of them in whatever way may best subserve that end, wholly ignoring any claim which they might be supposed to have upon him as their Creator. And, to complete and give consistency to this view of the divine character and government, add a discourse on the glory of God, and the joy of his saints in the sufferings of the finally lost, sufferings which he had predetermined, and rendered escape from impossible. Let all this, I say, be told to a man such as I have supposed, and what effect would it be likely to have on him? If he received it as the simple teaching of the Scriptures, might it not lead him to question their authority? Would it be strange if his confidence in them, as a revelation from Heaven, should be shaken by it? PROF. GEORGE I. CHACE, LL.D.: The Relation of Divine Providence to Physical Laws, pp. 51, 53, 55.

It is beyond dispute, we suppose, that the opinions of men lie at the root of their characters. All beliefs, - living beliefs, of course, we mean, — beliefs that are honestly and heartily held, that are more than hypotheses and speculations and passive consents, - work and are productive. Their sap circulates in every part of the man, and puts forth the leaves and flowers of correspondent sentiments and habits. Hence there is no form of doctrine that has not its own style of religion, — a style that is not arbitrary or fortuitous, but the genuine offspring of its source, and showing its parentage in its qualities. A creed is a die; and living men are the coinage, and show, in the image and superscription they bear, the impress of its face. If it does not impress itself, and multiply living copies in the sphere it fills, it is dead : it is only so many words, not alive by being taken up into a living human spirit, and held by its grasp into such close contact with its substance as to have opportunity to stamp its mark upon the yielding mass. The mixed multitude that hang upon the skirts of any form of doctrine, and are content to wear its name and livery, are not believers. The probability is that they do not know what it is intellectually; and, if they do, they keep it too far from them to feel its power. But beliefs, real, genuine, sincere beliefs, are powerful. The human soul is in their hands like wax; and the life, in its prevailing sentiments and ways, is the seal that testifies at once the pressure and the conformation. False beliefs will make false lives, some pretence of goodness, which is not a real goodness, but a fault sanctified by the authority of religion. - Church Review for April, 1854; vol. vii.

p. 73.

SECT. II.

THE RIGHT AND DUTY OF FREE INQUIRY.

The inquiry of truth is the sovereign good of human nature. - LORD BACON. Study earnestly; learn willingly; resist no light; neglect no truth. -- RICH. BAXTER

[JOHN ROBINSON] charged us, before God and his blessed angels, to follow him no further than he followed Christ; and, if God should reveal any thing to us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive it as ever we were to receive any truth by his ministry; for he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy word. He took occasion also miserably to bewail the state and condition of the reformed churches, who were come to a period in religion, and would go no further than the instruments of their Reformation. As, for example, the Lutherans: they could not be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; for whatever part of God's will he had further imparted and revealed to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace it. And so also, saith he, you see the Calvinists: they stick where he left them, a misery much to be lamented; for though they were precious shining lights in their times, yet God had not revealed his whole will to them; and were they now living, saith he, they would be as ready and willing to embrace further light as that they had received. Here also he put us in mind of our church covenant, at least that part of it whereby we promise and covenant with God, and one with another, to receive whatsoever light or truth shall be made known to us from his written word; but withal exhorted us to take heed what we received for truth, and well to examine and compare it and weigh it with other Scriptures of truth before we received it. For, saith he, it is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once. EDWARD WINSLOW: Brief Narration, Lond. 1646; in Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, pp. 396–7.

These noble sentiments are taken from a report of the farewell address made by John ROBINSON, in the year 1620, to those members of his church who were about to depart from Holland for the purpose of seeking a home in the wildernesses of the New World, where they might enjoy the privileges of religious freedom. The narrator, Governor Winslow, was present at the delivery of the discourse.

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