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laun o' free toleration. Twa raisons hae suggested the thocht-19. The love of liberty, whilk I inheerited frae me forbears; an' quhilk I hae ay lauboured, butt rusing ony o' my ain feckless sarvices, to empreint stedfastlike on your myndes, that will urge ye to seek that laun. 2°. Thae grawin colonies wull, sum daie, become a graite nation. An' they sall be ane asylum to the oppressit o' a' nations."
"I deposite, thairfoir, in the sayd linen frock, all and haill o' the mateerials collected. Let them gae doon as ane heir-loom in the feemily; till sum ane o' me bairns, sall, under God, compleet the wark; out o' the rich materials to be had in the toon of that singulair and graite mann, Maister William Penn, in the province of Pennsylvania; and in the province of Cæsarea, (New Jersey) over quhilk Robert Barclay, the sunne of my maist worthie auld frien' col. Barclay, was sum tyme governor in chief. There, gif the bruit be treuth, there are mony o' freends o' the genuine auld stamp." * *
Torfoot, July 19, A. D. 1718.
TO THE READER.
THE polemic is often viewed with distrust and jealousy. We live too remote from the impulse of a Reformation to feel a just interest in theological discussions. In this age of divisions, we have ceased to wonder, even at daring innovations; and Mammon has breathed a withering blast over us, which chills the spirit of investigation. Each sectary urges the clamorous plea for charity; and, too often, around the most deformed systems, its mantle has been thrown by the hand of ignorance and religious indifference. The charity which "rejoices in the truth," blooms not in its wonted loveliness. It has been degraded, by the crowd, into a wild and hackneyed thing, whose smiles are bestowed, promiscuously, on error and on truth.
Religious inquiry, and even controversy, is perfectly consistent with the loveliest exercise of charity. It may be so gracefully conducted, as to be made to bear along with it the best proofs of its being the offspring of charity. The spirit that disgraced the polemic of ancient times is no longer countenanced. The religious public will soon frown into oblivion the volume which offers violence to the grace of brotherly love. It demands that politeness and courtesy should preside over religious debates. Polemics have been taught to distinguish between the principles and the man to recognise the man as a brother, while they frankly expose his heresy. They have arrived at a higher distinction: they have set out on this ground-that the salvation of the soul is, with all its importance, something subordinate to the glory of God; and that, therefore, in choosing a system of religion, there is a higher motive to be kept in view than the attainment of salvation. To glorify the Deity is the first; to reach heaven in safety is the second motive that gives the impulse. Hence, in fixing our religious system, the question is not "Who shall arrive in heaven ?" On that
all christians are agreed." All who love our Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved infallibly." But the object of inquiry is this: In journeying to heaven, by what religious system shall we promote, in the highest degree, the glory of Almighty God? Undoubtedly by that in which the perfect purity of Christ's doctrines, and the entire number of his ordinances, put forth their energies over the human mind.
The man who does rest on Jesus Christ as the only foundation, but who, unhappily, in the hour of temptation, builds on it inferior materials-" hay or stubble". shall, indeed, be saved; but he shall suffer loss," in that day of joy, when the different degrees of glory shall be assigned to each by the Great Judge of us all.*
It is, therefore, charity in one of its loveliest movements, that prompts the christian to raise his voice and to expose to his fellow men the dangers and the losses which necessarily arise out of error.
THE following MAXIMS are submitted to the Society of Friends, and to all those who will follow me through the discussion of this subject. I trust that the reader will yield to them as to first principles, or AXIOMS.
1. That is not charity which yields up, through friendship or courtesy, doctrines obviously revealed; which pays court to error; which makes error and truth indifferent; which separates sound sentiments from sound morals.
2. To expose the defects and errors of a system does not, surely, imply that we render no homage to the vir tues and worth of its authors and followers. It is not persecution. The conscience of man can not be justly under any human restraint. All ought to have an unshackled toleration; but let the press be free to expose errors;
*See 1 Cor. iii. 89, &c.
this is all we claim. And as the investigation and exposure of errors in politics never has been deemed persecution, why should it be deemed so in religion? To teach and convince by arguments, a man of his errors, can no more trench on his rights than to teach and convince him of the truth.
3. To form an estimate of the truth and importance of radical doctrines, from the amiable characters merely of those with whom one associates, and whom one loves, is surely no proof of a sound or an accomplished mind. It can be nothing else than sheer prejudice.
4. Human opinions cannot be the standard of divine truth-much less opinions formed through the partialities of friendship, or of men of influence.
5. Amiable manners and decent morals cannot be the test of orthodoxy, or the standard of divine truth. The young and accomplished moralist, whom Jesus looked on with approbation of his morals so far as they went, did yet "lack" the most necessary part of the character of the good man and of a sound mind; and he confirmed the proof of this fatal lack, by turning his back on the Lord Jesus.
The morals of the christian, and the morals of the amiable and refined man may appear, to the superficial, and to the patrons of morality without a christian principle, to resemble each other, and even to be the same. In the judgment of the church they are radically different. Those are always founded in truth and in faith as their basis, and are warm from the heart. These are the mere external polish-the creatures of circumstance. Those are the fruits which a vital principle of grace sends forth into light in all their richness and flavour. These are the fortuitous effects of a mind bland and polished, but a stranger to the doctrines of the Lord Jesus, and to the theory and experience of the "new birth."
6. Sincerity is not the test of orthodoxy, nor the standard of divine truth. The ignorant and fatally erroneous are as capable of sincerity as the enlightened philosopher and the intelligent christian. We have no reason to question the sincerity of the Unitarian, of the Jew, of the Moslem: yet who would say that they are all right, of orthodox, because they are sincere?