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Surely St. Peter must have been inspired, when he 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 you." To this I would make a general, and a particular, answer. 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 individual Romanist should be guilty of all the sins charged against the Church of Rome in the bock 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 that it was through 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 suddenly 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 "the fruits of the Spirit"? No; St. Paul classes it amongst the works of the flesh," and declares, "that 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, what 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 test, 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 he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him"; and asks, "Does Mr. M. find here no gleam of hope? If not, 'tis grief and pity." I wish I could, but-Heresy is not " 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, which he is unwilling to give up Well, so far it is all right, the victim is safe. But he wants something to ease his conscience; he wants a religion, that will let him 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 he 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 him with temptations, which might shake 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 rizhteous 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 make 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
Acts viii. 30, 31. Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?
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,
1 Cor. xii. 23, 23. "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
all Teachers?" Yes, to be sure, we are; every man is his Own 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. "And he gave 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" 1 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. And 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. The Church of Rome does claim to have Priests, that is, persons appointed to offer sacrifice.