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fill at last, they result in what an Apostle calls “liverse, and. strange doctrines, doctrines of men, and doctrines of devils," Nor is it to be wondered at; for wherever there are many doctrines, they must be diverse, else they are not doctrines, in the pharal, but doctrine, in the singular. But when the truth, as it is in Jesus, is considered in the scriptures, it is remarka ble how impressively its unity is expressed. Moses says, my doctrine shall drop as the rain. Isaiah asks, whom shall he make to understand doctrine & The people were astonished at our Saviour's doctrine; the reason of which is rendered ; he taught as one having authority and not as the scribes. Christ says, if any man wilt do his will, he shall know of the doctrine. The ancient disciples are said to have continued steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship. We read of a form of doctrine which was delivered. Paul directs Titus, in doctrine, to shew uncorruptness. To Timothy, he speaks of a doctrine according to Godliness. We are informed of the principles of the doctrine of Christ; by which we learn that although the principles were many, yet unity in doctrine was preserved. The foregoing references are but few in number, compared with all wherein the same thing is expressed'; but they will serve to confirm and establish the point in question. We may however search for the ill consequences of a neglect of simplicity and unity in faith. What has divided and subdi. vided the world into so many sects, such a number of religious departments? What cause has erected so many partition walls, daubed with the urtempered mortar of spiritual pride? What circumstance has given rise to so much bitterness, wrath, strife, evil surmisings, jealousies, uncharitableness and perse cutions? We answer; these effects are to be traced to the cause we have mentioned, viz. a want of unity in faith and objects of faith. People, who do not, as the Apostle says, hold the head, from whom the whole body by joints and bands receiveth nourishment, can easily multiply articles of faith. These are sometimes so numerous, that it is no wonder, if a man whose retentive powers are not strong, being asked whether he believed in such or such an article, should be obliged to turn to his creed and examine whether it were there, before he answered the question. Besides, if one man, or body of me, have a right to make additions to the requirement of faith and the object of faith too, then others have the same right; and when these supposed privileges are used, one has an equal right with another to theaten, to fulminate, to be uncharitable, to employ fine, imprisonment or death, if he have the power, in case of
nonsubscription to his diverse and strange doctrines. Let tot our readers wish to lay all these evils at a foreign door. Les them not think of a tour to Rome, to summon evidence against the supposed anti-christian Babylon. The mother of harlots will save them the trouble. She will come to them. She has traversed all Christendom already, upon her scarlet-coloured breast, inscribed with names of blasphemy, and in her destroying progress, has carried proof positive, that want of unity and simplicity in faith, has produced manifold evils. But the servants and followers of the Lamb, who are willing to abide by the direction of their leader, view the operation of these evils, as a kind of evidence which strengthens their resolution, to "keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."
3. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; all other necessary truth will follow of course. Truth, collectively, is of such a nature, that one part maintains a connexion with another; and one thing results or flows from another. This may be made apparent, by the simplest figures and images in nature. When we believe in the rising of the sun, we necessarily believe, the world will have light. The latter truth flows from the former. When we are convinced that a stream of water flows from such a fountain, we then apprehend that it will be in quality like its source. When we imbibe this water, and our senses testify to its refreshing nature, then we are convinced that we are right in our judgment, that the stream is emitted from such a source, if we had ever heard of the fountain before, and our information was correct. But if not, then a draught from the stream, demonstrates to us, what qualities compose the fountain.
The application of these figures, will be of great use, as it will present two classes of people, who might be benefitted by the modes of communication we have noticed. 1, If there were any, who, in the days Christ was upon earth, had correct views of the true God, from the writings of Moses and the prophets, or from any other possible source, they would receive Jesus as the Christ; knowing that his character corresponded with that of God. These, having previously drank of the fountain, would discover in the stream the same qualities and be convinced of its origin from similarity. 2, There were those, and theirs was the greatest number, who knew not God, at least as respected his love to the world; for men have gen erally been more willing to confess his power than his goodness; these, by participating the stream, would learn the qualities of the fountain. Indeed, we find, that when the people
who saw the mighty works of Jesus, and had discovered in them, strong evidence of the power of God, generally, were convinced of his being the Messiah. Thus we see one truth flowing from another, as a necessary consequence. We believe that Jesus proceeded and came forth from God; this involves the idea, that he was the son of God. We next discover that he was the Christ (annointed) of God. But as an unction or annointing always implies an office and an object for which the office is conferred, we find that his office is regal, he is a King or Prince. The object of his becoming such, is this, "to give repentance and remission of sins." This act is in essence the salvation of God. In this manner, we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like the Samaritans we know that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
4. Another additional reason for this unity and simplicity in faith, is found in the very capacity and situation in which the believer in Christ is represented. This may be well expressed by a similitude. When a child is received into a school, there is one simple proposition which it is necessary the pupil should believe; viz. that his preceptor is able to instruct him, in the science which he wishes to study; for if he does not believe this, it is hard to conceive, that he will apply for instruction.And again, it is evident, that if he knows already all that his teacher requires of one whose term of study is finished, there is no need of his admission; and to call him a pupil would be a perversion of language. Again, it would be equally absurd for the teacher to require a profession of the knowledge of all abstruse sciences, as a necessary qualification to the pupil's admission. How would it appear, for the instructor to say to the applicant for admission, "My child, I am ever happy to see youth enquiring after knowledge. It always gives me real pleasure to receive such as members of this literary institution, over which I have the honor to preside. But you are not insensible that certain qualifications are necessary to your recep tion here. You must believe and be able to demonstrate that the earth revolves upon its axis. You must prove to me your acquaintance with algebra, with astronomy, geography, navigation, and all other sciences." This language would indeed appear strange, when we consider these are the things which the proposed scholar wishes to learn; and if he be acquainted with them already, what need of his entering the school, and what shall he learn if he does?
The reader will readily apply this to what we are considering as a reason for unity and simplicity of faith. The voice
out of the cloud concerning Christ, is, this is my beloved son, hear ye him. This beloved son, whom we are commanded to hear, saith, learn of me. But if it be required, that we know in the first place all that is to be learned of Christ, and that previous to admission into his school, what shall we learn afterwards? But we never find this to be the case. Peter was long a pupil, before he knew the propriety of preaching the Gospel to a Gentile. The disciples in general, sat long at the feet of Jesus, before they understood many of his sayings respecting his sufferings and death. Paul, while called Saul of Tarsus, persecuted Christ in his members; but being a chosen vessel to bear his Redeemer's name among the Gentiles, has but one simple truth stated to him, the acknowledgment and belief of which were necessary to his declaring Christ publicly. The voice of him who arrested him in his mad career, said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. Like a submissive pupil, Saul enquires, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? He is referred to Annanias for some instruction, but however he is told, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness, both of the things which thou hast seen, and of those in the which I will afterwards appear unto thee. Compare Acts ix. 5-6. Acts xxvi. 16. From these accounts the following things appear-1st. That Saul was convinced that it was Jesus whom he persecuted. 2d. That this belief, evinced by his enquiry, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? entitled him to the fellowship and instruction of Annanias.— 3d. That Saul did not receive, at the time of his conversion, all the knowledge which might be obtained; for if so, the spirit would not have spoken "of the things in which he would afterwards appear to him." 4th. Yet it appears from Acts ix. 20, that Saul was not only accepted as a believer, but as a preacher; for straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
With these observations, we are induced to close the present subject of our discussion. We have considered one simple proposition, variously stated in the New Testament, as the only article necessary to be believed, to entitle the believer to the fellowship of the primitive Christian Churches. An exhibition has been made of the evidence on which this proposition rests. The necessity of unity and simplicity has been argued upon several principles. The inferences which we draw, must comport with the nature of the subject. If unity of faith tends to unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace; then, any thing directly opposite must produce all the evils we have mentioned.
And it will appear, that it is only by simplifying the nature, and abridging the number of those articles of faith, which have so long confused and disordered the minds of men, that Christiaus can walk in love with one another, as Christ hath loved them.
ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, UPON FORGIVENESS OF SIN.
QUESTION "As we are taught to believe that our Salvation is connected with and dependant upon forgiveness of sin, and as we are also instructed that God" will render to every man according to his work;" it is required how far such a retribution consists with forgiveness, and how we are said to be forgiven while made subject to punishment?"
As it is evident that this question embraces a subject of great importance, so it is equally evident that the discussion of it ought to be pursued with caution, clearness of investigation, simplicity of argument, and a manifest direction to the support and furtherance of piety and morality. The better to embrace our subject consistently with the foregoing suggestions, the following method is proposed :
I. Define and illustrate the nature of that Salvation which is connected with and dependant on the forgiveness of sins. II. Enquire into the nature of the forgiveness of sins, and the action of that grace by which the before described Salvation is effected. And
III. Define the nature of that retribution which is implied in the expression, "render to every man according to his work ;" and show the consistency of such retribution with the before described forgiveness; and the necessity of this forgiveness and retribution in order to produce our Salvation.
Our first object, then, is to define and illustrate the nature of that Salvation which is connected with and dependent on the forgiveness of sins.
Two important sections present themselves as necessarily embraced in this first part of our labour. 1st. What are the saved, saved from? And 2d. Into what situation are the saved brought by Salvation? In the discussion of these sections it will be necessary to depart from the general opinion of orthodoxy, and wherever this is the case, it is thought advisable to name it in the introduction of a subject, so that the reader may be the better prepared to meet with ideas which do not accord with the opinions of authors in general on divinity. It