« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
a body having many members, of which Chrift is the head. The church is a "household" or family, of which Chrift is the master,-" of whom the whole "family is named ;" and into which being admitted by baptifm, we receive the spirit of adoption, whereby we are allowed and enabled to call the great Lord of heaven and earth our father. The church is also called the "city of the living God," and Christians are faid to be" fellow citizens with the "faints" and it is often mentioned as a kingdom, of which Christ-the King of faints-is the Almighty Sovereign, " to whom all power is given, in "heaven and in earth." In all these refpects, the church must be confidered as an outward and visible fociety, poffeffing all the powers and privileges, and impofing on its members all the relative duties implied in the allufions which I have now quoted. As a body, all the members must be joined to the head, and to one another, that they may receive life and motion for the discharge of their several functions. As a family, it's Almighty Father must in every thing be the guide and director of his children, appointing for them the proper teachers and masters, and training them up in the way of life, from which they muft never depart. As a household, the church must not be divided against itself: That it may ftand, it must be upheld in unity and order, and by fubmiffion to fuch wholesome discipline, as in the charitable institutions of this world, is found neceffary to be imposed on all who are admitted to fhare in the liberality
berality of the founders. As a city and kingdom, the
Such then being the light, in which we are taught
profefs and call themselves Chriftians may be led "into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity
"of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteouf"nefs of life."
How then can any want of true charity, or what deferves to be called liberality, be with juftice imputed to him, who, in his profeffional character, is doing all he can for the benefit of his fellow-chriftians, and is not willing that any of them fhould be loft, if he can help it? Will nothing ferve to conftitute a liberal-minded Christian, but that lukewarm indifference, which is totally unconcerned about every thing connected with religion; which looks on all profeffions as alike fafe, provided men be fincere, and fees no reafon why every one may not hope to "get to heaven" in his own way? Do we judge thus in matters of lefs confequence, and where the interests of the present life only are concerned? Is he applauded as a liberal-minded phyfician, who, seeing his patient indulging himself in every thing that tends to nourish disease and impair the constitution, flatters him, that all fhall yet be well; and that he does right to go on in his own way? Is he applauded as a liberal-minded lawyer, who tells his client, that he need give himself no trouble about the laws and government of this country; fince in order to preserve the rights and liberties of a British fubject, he may be as well directed in every thing by the municipal code of France, or Ruffia, or any other country? Is the commander of armies applauded as a liberal-minded foldier, who, in the day of battle, leaves his troops without orders or inftructions of
any kind, and lets them fight the enemy in the way that seems best to their own judgment? Why then should the teacher of religion be applauded as a liberal-minded divine, whofe only merit lies in "speaking peace, where there is no peace," and leaving the people to grope for the wall of falvation, the pillar and ground of truth; when by pointing it out, through the mift of modern error and delufion, as "a city set on a hill," which is at unity in itself, he might direct their eyes to that which is the only fure refuge from fin and misery, the only place of fafety to a guilty world, and therefore ought to be "the joy of the whole earth." Conscious therefore of poffeffing no other spirit than the fpirit of Chriftian charity, and actuated by no other motive, than the defire of promoting the glory of God, and the good of my Christian brethren, I shall proceed to establish the following plain and important facts, as matters of undoubted certainty, and worthy of the most serious confideration.
I. That the Christian religion, being, like its Divine Author," the fame yesterday, to-day and for "ever," ought to be received and embraced, just as it is represented and held out in the fcriptures of truth, without "adding thereto, or diminishing from it."
II. That the church of Chrift, in which his religion is received and embraced, is that fpiritual fociety in which the miniftration of holy things is committed to the three diftinct orders of Bishops, Priests
Priests and Deacons, deriving their authority from the apostles, as thofe apostles received their commiffion from Christ. And,
III. That a part of this holy, catholic and apoftolic church, though deprived of the support of civil establishment, does still exist in this country, under the name of the Scotch Epifcopal Church; whose doctrine, difcipline and worship, as happily agreeing with that of the first and pureft ages of Christianity, ought to be steadily adhered to, by all who profess to be of the Episcopal Communion, in this part of the kingdom.