« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
IF there be any one truth, in embracing which, it might be supposed, that the intelligent part of mankind would univerfally agree, it is furely the importance of religion, and the neceffity of attending to what it recommends, for promoting the interests of society on earth, as well as preparing men for the happiness of heaven. Viewing the matter in this light, it is impoffible but that every ferious thinking perfon, who wishes well to his country, muft fincerely lament the unhappy divifions, which have fo long agitated the public mind, on a fubject fo interesting as the nature and tendency of true religion. However justifiable feparation may be in fome cafes, and however neceffary at all times, for the friends of truth and righteousness to withdraw themselves from the tents of error and ungodlinefs; ftill it cannot be denied that the numerous fects, and parties, into which the Chriftian world has been divided,
vided, and their almost endless diverfity of religious opinions, must be confidered as one of the heaviest calamities, with which mankind have ever been vifited. Nor need we be at much pains to point out this wild variety of fentiment respecting the doctrines of the gofpel, as the most common fource of infidelity, and most powerful fupport of irreligion; fince we find it daily appealed to as fuch, and therefore industrioufly encouraged by thofe " per"verfe difputers," who, rather than embrace the ઃઃ pure undefiled religion" of Chrift, allow themselves to be completely " fpoiled through philosophy ❝ and vain deceit."
Nothing seems to be better known, nor more carefully improved, by the adverfaries of our common faith, than the advantage they derive from those unhappy diffenfions, by which the family of Christians, which an apostle calls the "Household of "faith," is divided against itself. In lamenting the effects of fuch fhameful divifion, the church of Christ may juftly fay, in the words of the Pfalmift, "It is not an open enemy that hath done me this "dishonour; but even those who were once my companions, who took fweet counsel together "with me, and walked in the house of God as "friends." Such "offences" however, we are affured, muft needs come;" even although a "woe be denounced against thofe, by whom they "come." We are alfo forewarned, that there muft, and will be herefies, factions and parties distinguished
distinguished by their false and destructive principles; "that they who are approved" by their steady adherence to truth, unity and order, " may be made "manifeft."-Such then being the divided state of what is called the Chriftian World, thofe who have promoted the prefent work do not hope to produce any thing like general unanimity in a country fuch as this, where fo many jarring opinions are entertained on the fubject of religion.The object which they have in view is of less extent, and therefore more likely to be accomplished. The defign of this publication is to offer fome arguments in defence of Epifcopacy in general, and particularly that of Scotland; and to perfuade fuch of the inhabitants of this country as profess to be of the Epifcopal Communion, to walk worthy of that profeffion, by acting in a manner confiftent with it, and endeavouring to fupport the conftitution, and preferve the unity of that fmall remnant of the old established church, which still happily exists in this part of the united kingdom.
There is no article of the Chriftian faith, as laid down in our public creeds, that feems to be fo ftrangely mifunderstood, and fo little attended to, as that in which we are taught to profefs our belief of the "holy, catholic church." And the mistakes. and inattention so prevalent with regard to this important article are the more to be regreted, as the baneful confequences arifing from this unhappy caufe do daily exhibit an increasing tendency to