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them carnal. For commencing those very separations and divisions which are now so highly extolled. For doing precisely what Christians do in modern times; saying, I am of Calvin; and I of Munster; and I of Wesley; and I of Fox; with innumerable others. Christians, who in this particular, take no warning from
. the explicit language of Paul; who never hear his yet whispering voice, emphatically asking,—“ Is Christ divided! Was Calvin, or Munster, or Wesley, or Fox, crucified for you?"
I know, brethren, that I am now treading on tender ground. But the times require, that I should speak out plainly and directly. It can never with justice be said of me, that I would gladly lay an interdict on the indulgence of any doctrines, or on the expression of any sentiments. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, and according to that persuasion, let him preach, rebuke and exhort. He shall receive no abuse, no molestation from me. And what I accord to others, I claim for myself. The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The liberty of honestly entertaining, and honestly and charitably publishing my own views of Christian doctrines and Christian institutions, without being accountable to any human being, but to God alone. I do not question the piety of numerous individuals, belonging to Churches of human origin and invention. I do not assert, for my own conscience would condemn me if I did, that they cannot become the heirs of eternal life. I am rather sensible, that the Apostle applies to those divi. sions and parties, which existed among the Corinthians this remarkable expression; "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." And hence I abjure the thought of consigning to everlasting perdition large bodies of men, numbers of whom I am happy to believe live under the influence of the divine grace, and evince great advances in faith and holiness. But at the same time, this does not convince me, that there is no such sin as schism, however ig. norantly it may be indulged. It does not abstract from the scriptures nor from my faith, that memorable admonition of Paul," there should be no schism in the body," and again, "ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular;" that body, which he elsewhere terms 6 the Church, and affirms of Christ, that “he is its head."
No, no, I have no conception, that liberality and candour towards
others imply, that we must embrace their errours, and renounce in their favour truths, which have their foundation in the wisdom of God, and that are revealed to us and our children, that we may embrace them with a ready mind and in the confidence of a certain faith. I rather look for divine authority in things, which may have been originally indifferent, and when I discover this, it is as obligatory upon me, in relation to the external, as it is to the internal concerns of the gospel. If Christ directed water to be used in baptism, it is not to be relinquished for another Auid. If he employed bread and wine, as symbols of his crucified body and blood, and commanded them to be taken in remembrance of him; they are not to be abandoned for other substances; although, in either case, I am not prepared to say, that a person baptized with milk, or commun. ing upon flesh and milk could not therefore be received up into glory.
And this train of reasoning is equally applicable to the Church of Christ. If he, by his Apostles, has established one, giving it such distinct and characteristick marks, that it may be clearly discerned, and easily found, it is not for man to cast it aside, and relying upon his own wisdom to proceed in forming another and another, just as caprice inclines, and peculiar views and partialities preponderate. Nor is that a good and valid argument to justify such a course, which appeals to human sympathy and asserts, we are all aiming at the same result; all these different roads terminate in the same heaven; we shall agree there, however we may disagree here. I am rather of the prophet's mind; “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.” I wish to learn what God himself hath ordained, and if the bible tells me this, I have no faith in the words or the things, which man's wisdom teacheth. I have no faith, that he can improve upon the gospel or upon the Church of Christ.
We are told by some, that there is no such being as the devil, and Do such place as hell; that the Son of God was but a mere man, and that there is no virtue whatever in his alleged sacrifice and propitiation for sin. But with me, one word from God destroys all these human fancies, and I am ready to exclaim with an Apostle; * Let God be true and every man a liar.” We are told by others; Our Church is as good, ay, it it is better than yours; it has discarded those higher orders of the clergy, which lord it over God's heritage, and has banished all those popish forms and ceremonies, which you so perversely retain. But when I look into the bible, and find to be the very Church established by the very God and the very Christ; I call to remembrance the words of David; “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." I am animated, as I trust, by the same spirit, which dwelt upon the lips, and glowed within the heart of Isaiah. “For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the right: eousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
Too much, indeed, of worldly wisdom appears to exist among Christians. The children of light have succeeded in becoming as wise, in their day and generation, as the children of this world. Nothing is more common than to hear them talk of pleasing men, more by this method than by that, of adopting new paths rather than the old, because they harmonize more with the prevailing impulse of publick opinion. It is not so much what God says and Christ says; but what will the publick say, how will the publick think, and what probability of success is to be entertained, not from relying upon God; but from yielding, to a greater or less de. gree, to the known prejudices and infirmities of men. Our Saviour, for example, enjoins upon his disciples; “ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." But now, as if entirely dissatisfied with this divine regulation, long lists of charitable donors to missionary and other societies, are continually published to the world, on the ground of expediency; on the ground of encouraging others to give from the expectation of having their names as generally known and extensively circulated. But for my part, Brethren, I do most solemnly protest against these implied improvements of the word of God. It is doing evil, that good may come out of it. It is but a new version of the old doctrine ascribed to the papists, that the end sanctifies the means. I am the advocate of missionary, the advocate of bible societies; but let them be conducted in strici conformity to the plain injunctions of the scriptures,
and without that manifest distrust of Providence, which such measures do not fail to indicate.
Similar remarks apply to female exhibitions in publick. They are becoming more and more common, and are supposed to produce better and better effects. In vain does the Apostle in his epistle to the Corinthians require; “Let your women keep silence in the Churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the Church.” The rule is often transgressed without fear and without compunction. Paul's authority is regarded as little as his Master's. We have enthusiasts, who arrogate to themselves the right of rejecting the express words of scripture. Policy is their plea, although every sober and refecting mind must be satisfied, that the only true policy in religion is to be found in reverent obedience to the oracles of God, even when they give directions apparently inimical to its increased prosperity. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”
And these sentiments I cherish to the same extent in relation to the primitive Church. Founded by its divine head, I can never consent to abandon it for any, that have grown up within the menory of man, or whose claims to antiquity are bounded by the history of two or three centuries. I can tell you the fallible men, by whom they were devised, the places where they were first established, and the gradual progress they have made in stealing away the hearts of the people from the one only Bride of Christ. But for her, if ye wish to learn her origin, ye must go to the gospels and epistles. She has her foundation upon the Rock of Ages, and other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid. She may be despised and rejected of men; it was the fate of the bridegroom himself. But let them do this, or whatsoever else it may please them; they can never induce him to repudiate her. They can never prevail with him to accept a second bride, in preference to the Church,” which " he loved and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word; That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." From these observations, Brethren, you must perceive, that the
present discourse is merely introductory to a series upon the same subject, which I propose to deliver on the morning of as many sabbaths, as may be necessary to complete them, and in which I design to give as condensed a view as possible of the Apostolick Church, at whose altar it is my happiness to minister. Those features I mean, which serve to distinguish her from the various protestant denominations of our country. By the divine blessing, I will prove from the scriptures her divine origin. I will show, that her three orders in the ministry, and particularly the Episcopal order, spring from the same holy and unerring wisdom. I will endeavour to convince you, that in some other important particulars, such as the holy rite of confirmation, and the use of precomposed forms of prayer in the publick worship of God, she conforms closely to the pattern of heavenly things, exhibited in the sacred volume.
Nor shall I omit the testimony of the Christian fathers; of those men, who either lived in company with the Apostles, or who succeeded them in the ministry during the first centuries of the Chris. tian era. Many of their writings yet remain, and from them it will appear, that no other Church, but our own, was ever heard of, by those who first believed in Christ. They maintained the same principles of ecclesiastical authority and government, which are maintained by us. They had the same three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons in the ministry,and of these, bishops alone possessed the power of ordination. It was neither claimed, nor exercised by others. It would have been deemed unscriptural and unauthorized; a usurpation of power never granted by the great Head of the Church, and therefore conferring none of the attributes of his ministers, no authority to preach the word, or administer the ordinances of the gospel.
In performing this service, in which it will be necessary to exam-ine every supposed objection, to recur to the records of history, and to speak freely, though I hope discreetly and advisedly; I shall be guided by a sense of duty, by a desire to put you in possession of every material fact required to arrive at a correct decision in your own minds, and by the expectation of its contributing in some degree, however slight, to the prosperity of a Church, built upon the foundation of the Apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. It ought not to excite unpleasant feelings in any hosom. It is not intended to excite them. My great object is, to