Imágenes de páginas

would have been much less use this is an object of faith, not of ful on the whole ; for the rich sight. In Christ the perfect and great make but a small pro- character of God is <brought portion of mankind. But as he down to mortal view in such a appeared in a low condition, he soft and easy light, that we can was able to exhibit the virtues, bebold it without terror, and conwhich immediately concern the template it without amazement. great body of the human race, That God is a being of holiness, and to exhibit them in an easy justice, truth and goodness, we and familiar manner, adapted to believe ; and that we ought to be their observation. This exam- like him in these perfections, we ple was not raised by worldly dig- acknowledge. But it is a mighty nity above the sight, but by hum. advantage to see these perfecble poverty brought down to the tions familiarly exemplified in inspection of common people. him, who came from the bosom Every one may see in it some of the Father, and manifested thing pertinent to himself. Ev. himself in our flesh. en the rich and great may learn

The divine character is perfrom Christ the duties of their fect; but there are many things high station ; for though he ap- essential to religion in man, peared as a private and a poor which can have no place in the man, yet his works proved him Deity ; such as meekness, buto be a messenger from heaven. mility, resignation and self deThe poor from him may learn nial. Of these virtues we have the duties of their humble con- an example in Jesus Christ, who, dition ; for though he was rich, being in the form of God, humyet for their sakes he became bled himself, and was made in poor.

the likeness of men. Christ's example was without The example of Christ, as it defect. Other examples may be was human and suited to the encouragements to virtue ; this condition of man, so it was cononly is a standard of virtue. In descending, and adapted to the every other example, however condition of every man. There good, find imperfection. was nothing in it distant and reThere is, at best, a mixture of served, dark and intricate ; but wisdom and folly, of rectitude it was all free and open, easy to and depravity, of good and evil; be understood, and level to the and before we imitate it, we must weakest capacity. He never plaseparate the mixture, expunge ced religion in austerity of manthe faults, supply the defects, ners, peculiarity of habit, mortiand place the good by itself. fication of body, refinement of But in the example of Christ speculation, or depth of learnthere is virtue without defect, ing; but he made it to consist in purity without blemish, humility the strict virtues and plain duties without meanness, innocence of a holy heart and life ; in love without weakness, wisdom with- to God and charity to men; in out artifice, constancy without humility, meekness, patience and stiffness.

contentment. He carried on a The divine character is the simple, uniform design to bring standard of moral perfection. But glory to God, and happiness to



men. There is nothing in all and the difficult virtues, which this, but what every man may were most distinguished in easily understand. By reading Christ, have been least apparent the life of Jesus one may better in the great men of the world. learn what it is to be a good in this respect he exceeded all man, than by turning over all others, and gave the most undethe volumes of ancient or modern niable evidence of the goodness philosophers,

of his heart, and the excellency Another excellency of Christ's of his religion. example is, that it agrees with Such an example, while it his own instructions: It is no- marks out the course which we thing else, but his own rules re- are to pursue, should animate duced to practice. He was not our resolution to enter upon, like the Scribes and Pharisees, and to persevere in that course. who laid on men's shoulders Jesus, as a man, had, indeed, heavy burdens, which they many advantages, which

would not move with one of their have not. He was born holy,' · fingers; and who daily contra, and free from those inordinate dicted in practice, what they propensities, which are common strenuously enjoined in precept. to us. He was anointed with He acted fully up to his own the Spirit above his fellows. system, and in prosecution of it The Spirit was given him withdid many things far more hard out measure. In him dwelt the and difficult, than what he re- fulness of the Godhead. But quires of us. In this he differs still, as a man, he was compassed from other teachers, who go far- with our infirmities, and temptther in precept than in pattern. ed as we are. And he knows

It is a recommendation of how to have compassion on us, Christ's example, that in it the and his grace is sufficient for us. most difficult virtues of religion Sensible of our weakness, we are most conspicuous ; such as may be strong in the grace, meekness under provocations, which is in him. love of enemies, the forgiveness We may perhaps think it of injuries, contempt of worldly would have been a greater enriches and honours, labour and couragement to us to have seen, self-denial in doing good, and our duty practised by one, who patience and resignation under came near to us in weakness ; great afflictions ; and yet all by one, who was no more than a these are modest virtues, which man. But then we must conmake no ostentation of them- sider,' that the Son of God, selves, and are feast apt to at. though without any sinfulness tract the notice and esteem of in his flesh, was made in the the world. The virtues of likeness of our sinful flesh; he those, whose characters have bare our infirmities, and sufferusually been celebrated, are ed being tempted. His exameither of the easy, or of the ple therefore could not have showy kind; such as may be come nearer to our case, withe practised without self-denial, or out wanting that perfectioit, sach as will excite admiration in which is its highest recommenthe spectators.

The modest dation, and which makes it an Vol. II, No. 5.







infallible rule for our conduct in he believes one system of religlife.

ious opinions, or another. Tho'. The perfection, which appear- such apparent indifference in ed in Christ, is proposed to us, our societies may conceal strong as the object of our aim ; but prejudices against the general not required as the condition of faith of the reformed church, our salvation. Through the and a secret persuasion, that he righteousness of this great Re- embraces and will preach those deemer, God accepts that peni- lax sentiments, for which they tence, which renounces sin with have a strong predilection. abhorrence, and that faith, which · Now from whatever motive purifies the heart, and which such negligence in our churches, humbly and ardently aspires to and under whatever; specious the measure of the stature of names and fair pretences it may 'the fulness of Christ. In him seek to hide itself, it is an evil believers are complete ; for to of great magnitude ; .as will apthem he is made wisdom, right- pear from the following conside eousness, sanctification and re- rations. demption.

First. It is a violation of inTHEOPNILU3. spired precepts. By some di

rect commands, and by many plain intimations, God urges upon Christian churches the importance of using the most watchful care respecting the re

ligious sentiments of their teach(Continued from page 173.)

If there come any unto you, The increasing indifference of says John, and bring not this qur churches respecting the theo- doctrine, that is, the doctrine of logical opinions of ministers, is an Christ, which he preached, reevil proper to be noticed in this ceive him not into your house, survey. In general, very little neither bid him God speed'; for inquiry is made concerning the he that biddeth him God speed, is religious qualifications of a partaker of his evil deeds. They, preacher. The question, wheth- who, from choice or negligence, er he embraces the doctrines of encourage those preachers, who the gospel, often exposes to con- hold not the true doctrine of tempt the person, who offers it. Christ, are, in a measure, chargeChurches manifest an undue re- able with all the fatal effects of gard to the external accomplish- their errors. Paul gives a similar ments of ministers, with a cor- direction. I beseech you, brethresponding inattention to the pu- ren, mark them, who cause divisrity of their sentiments and the ions and offences contrary to the sanctity of their lives. It is not un- doctrine, which ye have learned, frequently the case, that a man and avoid them. Not very unis introduced into the sacred of- like this is the injunction of Solfice, when it is not known either

Cease, my son, to hear from his preaching, or conversa- the instruction, which causeth 10 tion, or from the proceedings of err from the words of knowledge. the ordaining council, whether Christ inculcates caution on the



same subject. Beware of false has given such plain directions firophets, who come to you in what characters to choose for sheep's clothing, but inwardly religious instructors, and such are revening wolve 8. Peter's solemn cautions to avoid those, prophetic eye foresaw that the who hold not the true doctrines church would be misled and of Christ, how can the churches, corrupted by such characters. without great guilt, neglect the There were false prophets among duty ? What displeasure of God the people, even as there shall be do they incur by their cold infalse teachers among you, who difference respecting a subject, priviły shall bring in damnable on which he hath given them heresies, even denying the Lord such abundant instruction, and that bougbt them, and bring on so many precepts and warnings. themselves swift destruction, Secondly. The evil of that inPaul beheld the churches of difference, which many churchGalatia actually infested by de- es manifest respecting the religceivers. There be some, who ious sentiments of ministers, aptrouble you, and would pervert pears from this consideration, the gospel of Christ. What a that erroneous sentiments are great evil he esteemed every de- commonly connected with the want parture from the gospel doce of Christian piety. It is to be trine, appears, from the anathe expected, that men will feel and ma he denounced against the act according to their prevailing propagators of error. Though belief. If their sentiments are me, or an angel from heaven lax, their practice is likely to be preach any other gospel unto you so too. Christianity is one con. than that which we have preached sistent whole. Its theoretic and unto you, let him be accursed. practical parts perfectly harmoHe is so impressed with the im- nize, and are inseparable from portance of the subject, that he each other. The cordial belief immediately repeats the solemn of gospel truth tends directly to sentence ; if any man fireach any promote the holiness, which the other gospel unto you, than that ye gospel enjoins. Nor can gospel have received, let him be accurs- holiness be found, except in coned. By Jeremiah, God highly nexion with evangelical senticriminates his people for ap- ments. For example. They, proving false prophets. A won- who disbelieve the divine glory derful and horrible thing is com- of Christ, cannot exercise tomitted in the land ; the prophets wards him that religious faith, prophesy falsely, and the firiesta worship, and submission, which bear rule by their means ; and constitute an essential part of my people love to have it sq. In Christian holiness. If men en: addition to this, the Scripture tertain erroneous apprehensions particularly points out the requi- of God's character, law, and gov, site qualifications of gospel min- ernment, they must be erroneisters ; of which this is not the ous in their religious practice. least important, that they hold For every part of true Christian fast the faithful word, and teach piety has respect to those obthe things, which become sound jects, and must receive its pedoctrine. Now after Scripture culiar complexion from the mans ner in which they are appre- interest of the church. If a minhended. Defective views of the ister cordially believes the whole evil of sin will be attended with counsel of God, he will not shun defective repentance. Disbelief to declare it; as Paul says of of the atonement, as it arises himself and the other apostles, from a wrong idea of God, natu. we believe, and therefore speak. rally occasions a misplaced hope Peter and John expressed the of tis favour. Even the minis- same sentiment ; we cannot but terial office, though ever so sa. speak the things, which we have cred, cannot ingraft solid Chris- seen and heard. As a full exhi. tian piety upon

antichristian bition of the truth is so capital a opinions. The belief of the part of ministerial duty, how in. heart will show itself in the life. dispensable it is, that every minThe Spirit of Christ, which ister fully believe the truth. guideth into all the truth, does For we are not to suppose that not dwell in those, who reject an honest man's preaching will the truths he taught. How im- go beyond his belief. portant an article, then, in a gos; The beneficial effects of dispel minister's character, is his playing evangelical truth need belief. And how great an evil it not be particularly described. is in many of our churehes, that They have been acknowledged his belief is considered of no im- in all ages of Christianity, The portance. It is treating with conversion of sinners, and the indifference what is essential to progressive holiness of the saints a minister's personal religion. have taken place through the Indeed, those churches, that are instrumentality of divine truth. not desirous to ascertain, wheth- On the other hand, how woful er a preacher believes the scheme is the consequence of withholdof evangelical truth, are equally ing the truth and propagating. unconcerned as to his experi- error. It has been felt, and is mental godliness.

now obvious to every beholder, The same remarks are, in a in many New England churches. considerable degree, applicable Their faith, and with it their the

indifference, which discipline and morals have been churches show, respecting the gradually corrupted. From the religious sentiments of their erroneous sentiments and loose members. Such indifference, conduct of ministers, multitudes often miscalled charity, is found of nominal Christians have taken in those only, who overlook the a licence to cast off the restraints importance of regeneration, and of the law and gospel, and to live are disposed to build up the according to the course of this church with materials, which world. They no longer feel the the fire of the last day will con- obligations of their holy profes. sume.

sion, and are not distinguished Thirdly. The evil now under from the children of disobedi. consideration rises in our view, ence. All the evils found in the when we consider the extensive churches are promoted by erroinfluence of a minister's religious Neous, unfaithful preachers. sentiments upon his own conduct Their influence is pernicious alin the sacred office, and upon the so, with respect to men in gene


« AnteriorContinuar »