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Lastly. To pronounce on the truth of religious epinions, from their influence merely on the face of society, has involved men in a series of errors. It is a presump. tuous agitating of the question, whether the doctrines of Revelation have an intrinsic worth and importance. It is a deciding, by the puny intellect of man, that they have only an extrinsic worth. It is a keeping out of view, during the whole investigation, the bearing which these doctrines have on the truth and perfections of Deity. It is a declaring that the orthodoxy of opinions, and systems, is to be determined from their benefiting societyor at least from their not injuring it ;-while the lie may be given by these systems to the sacred truth of Deity, and the holiest of his perfections may be dishonoured.
1. God only has a right to dictate to man's conscience. 2. The law which God has dictated is the perfect and only standard of doctrine, through the influence of the Holy Ghost. And such is the clearness, and abundant fulness of the Holy Word, that every essential doctrine, and the true meaning of every passage, may, by the aids of the Holy Spirit, be determined from the parallel passages. The shallow and the indolent alone will exclaim, "The heretic, as the church calls him, may be as correct as she: he has a conscience and a mind to investigate as well as she." This is the stale objection of the old Catholics against the Holy Scriptures, and it involves two errors-it is predicated on the supposition that the human mind is the arbiter of the truth; and that the scriptures are so obscure that we cannot determine from them any definite truth-that error, as easily as truth, may be sustained from the pure word of God.
3. Almighty God has set the seal of his authority on every item of doctrine, as well as every item of law in his sacred word. He has dictated to our intellectual powers as well as to our moral powers. He enjoins on us the duty of believing every truth which he has uttered, as much as of obeying every law which he has sanctioned. He has as truly said, All these doctrines of my word are
* Stapferi Theol. Polem. vol. iv. sect. 1. p. 335.
true, and thou shalt believe them with all thy soul—as he has said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.
4. Man is bound to yield to God the entire services of his intellectual and moral powers. To assert that a man may mean well, and be immoral-or that he may be a good moralist, and yet revolt against God in the moral exercise of his heart-or that he may please by his good work, and yet deny with his lips, and disbelieve in his heart those doctrines which his Creator has dictated to him, and enjoined on him to believe, are surely the most glaring contradictions.
Hence 5. In a moral agent, who owes the entire allegiance of his soul and conduct, the best deportment and morals cannot compensate for the want of a right faith, nor atone for the rebellion of the heart against its God.
Hence 6. A man may be a rebel against his Creator as much by his sincere, yet erroneous belief, as by his immoral conduct. The first is as much opposed to God's truth as the last is opposed to his justice. By the first he gives the lie to God's truth, and persists in "making God a liar." By the last he offers violence to the laws of his Creator. By the first the corrupt mind puts forth its malice with as much malignity as by the last. The only difference is, that the first is not so evident before the eyes of men. But that does not touch the question of their being equally "open and naked before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
In the christian system there are certain doctrines interwoven with its very existence. All christians believe, them they are the sayings of the faithful." And while they respect the entire liberty of conscience, all christians turn aside from those who deny them, and refuse them communion. The following are of this class:
1. There is one God. He is in his essence undivided and indivisible. He possesses every perfection. The manner of his existence is as necessary as his existence itself; or, he is as necessarily what he is, as he necessarily is. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." "And God said, let us make man in OUR image." "God
sent his Son." "This is my beloved Son”—and as these words were uttered, the "Holy Ghost descended on him." Thus in the essence there is a plurality. Sometimes these are even more distinctly specified. "There are three that bear record in heaven-the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." The Father is very God; the Word is very God; the Holy Ghost is very God. They are three in one sense, and one in another sense.
2. Man's total depravity. Rom. v. 12. &c.
4. The reality and perfection of the atonement by our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Justification before God, through faith in Christ. Gal. ii. 16.
6. Justification before the Church and the world, by good works. James, ii. 24.
7. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit.
8. The resurrection of the body from the grave. John v. 28, 29.
9. "Eternal life," and "eternal punishment." Matth. xxv. 46.
*** See the Confessions, Articles, and Creeds of the different sections of the christian church-American, English, Scottish, Dutch, French, Irish, &c.
A polemic has not to enter the lists with the private opinions of the individuals of a sect, nor with the loose and vague ideas that float in society. The true opinions of every society lie before the public in their approved writings. These are fairly open to discussion; their publication of them has in it the nature of an open challenge -and who can blame the man that takes up the gauntlet? They are the assailants-I am the defendant.
Opinions, and of the origin, RISE, PROGRESS, &c.
SOCIETY OF FRIENDS,
COMMONLY CALLED QUAKERS.
“Mihi Galba, Otho Vitellius nec beneficio nec injuria cogniti.”
"We are just considered as a good sort of people in the main; who refuse "to fight, and to swear, and to pay tythes; and while the improved manners " of the age allow that for these, and other singularities, we ought not to be "molested, the public, in general, cares little further about us, and seldom "inquires a reason of the hope in us."....Quak. of A. D. 1811. Mosh. vol. iv. P. 294. New York edit. of 1821.