Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

ing of extraordinary communications with the God of all knowledge, and, at the same time, offending against the common rules of his own native language, and the plainer dictates of common sense !-Hear him arrogantly thanking his God, that he is not as other men are ! and, with more than papal uncharitableness, very liberally allotting the portion of the damned to every christian whom he, partial judge, deems less perfect than himself !-to every chris. tian who is walking on in the paths of duty with sober vigilance, aspiring to perfection by progressive attainments, and seriously endeavouring, through a rational faith in his Redeemer, to make his calling and election sure !

There have been no se cts in the christian world, however absurd, which have not endeavoured to support their opinions by arguments drawn from scripture, misinterpreted or misapplied.

We had a melancholy instance of this in our country in the last century, when the church of Christ, as well as the government, during that period of national confusion, was torn asunder into various sects and factions ;-when some men pretended to have scripture-precepts, parables, or prophecies, to plead in favour of the most impious absurdities that falsehood could advance. The same spirit which prevailed amongst the fanaticks, seems to have gone forth amongst these modern enthusiasts.Faith, the distinguishing characteristick of a christian, is defined by them not as a rational assent of the understanding, to truths which are established by indisputable authority, but as a violent persuasion of mind, that they are instantaneously become the children of God that the whole score of their sins is for ever blotted out, without the payment of one tear of repentance. Pleasing doctrine this to the fears and passions of mankind !-promising fair to gain proselytes of the vitious and impenitent!

Pardons and indulgences are the great support of papal power ;-but these modern empiricks in religion have improved upon the scheme, pretending to have discovered an infallible nostrum for all incurables ;--such as will preserve them forever and, notwithstanding we have instances of notorious offenders amongst the warmest advocates for sinless perfection,--the charm continues powerful.--Did these visionary notions of an heated imagination tend only to amuse the fancy, they might be treated with contempt ;--but when they depreciate all moral attainments ;--when the suggestions of a frantick brain are blasphemously ascribed to the holy spirit of God ;--when faith and divine love are placed in opposition to practical virtues, they then become the objects of aversion.--In one sense, indeed, many of these deluded people demand our tenderest compassion,--whose disorder is in the head rather than the heart ; and who call for the aid of a physician who can cure the distempered state of the body, rather than one who may sooth the anxieties of the mind.

Indeed, in many cases, they seem so much above the skill of either,--that unless God in his merey

rebuke this spirit of enthusiasm which is gone out amongst us, no one can pretend to say how far it may go, or what mischiefs it may do in these kingdoms.-Already it has taught us as much blasphemous language ;-and, if it goes on (by the samples given us in their journals) will fill us with as many legenda

[ocr errors]

ry accounts of visions and revelations, as we have formerly had from the church of Rome :-and, for any security we have against it when time shall serve, it may as effectually convert the professors of it, even into popery itself, consistent with their own principles ;--for they have nothing more to do, . than to say, that the spirit which inspired them, has signified that the Pope is inspired as well as they ; -and consequently, is infallible.-After which, I cannot see how they can possibly refrain going to mass, consistent with their own principles.

Thus much for these two opposite errors ;-the, examination of which has taken up so much time, - that I have little left to add, but lo beg of God, by the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to preserve us equally from both extremes, and enable us to form, such right and worthy apprehensions of our holy religion,—that it may never suffer, through the coolness of our conceptions of it, on one hand, or the immoderate heat of them on the other ;-but that we may at all times see it as it is, and as it was designed by its blessed Founder, as the most rational, sober, and consistent institution that could have been given to the sons of men. Now to God, &c...

SERMON XXXIX.

ETERNAL ADVANTAGES OF RELIGIOX.

ECCLESIASTES XII. 13.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter,-Fear God, and

keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

The wise man, in the beginning of this book, had proposed it is a grand query to be discussed," To “ find out what was good for the sons of men, which. " they should do under the heavens, all the days of 66 their lives :"_that is, What was the fittest employment, and the chief and proper business which they should apply themselves to in this world ? And here, in the text, after a fair discussion of the question, he asserts it to be the business of religion, -the fearing God, and keeping his commandments. This was the conclusion of the whole matter, and the natural result of all his debates and inquiries.And I am persuaded, the more observations we make upon the short life of man,-the more we experience, and the longer trials we have of the world, and the several pretensions it offers to our happiness, the more we shall be engaged to think, like him that we can never find what we look for in any other thing which we do under the heavens, except in that of duty and obedience to God.--In the course of the wise man's examination of this pointwe find a great many beautiful reflections upon human affairs, all tending to illustrate the con

clusion he draws : and as they are such as are apt to offer themselves to the thoughts of every serious and considerate man,—I cannot do better than renew the impressions,—by retouching the principal arguments of his discourse,-before I proceed to the general use and application of the whole.

In the former part of his book he had taken into his consideration those several states of life to which men usually apply themselves for happiness ;-first, learning-wisdom ;--next-mirth,-jollity, and pleasure ;-then power and greatness-riches and possessions :-all of which are so far from answering the end for which they were at first pursued, that, by a great variety of arguments, he proves them severally to be so many sore travails which « God had given to the sons of men to be exercised " therewith ;"—and, instead of being any, or all of them, our proper end and employment, or sufficient to our happiness,—he makes it plain, by a series of observations upon the life of many—that they are ever likely to end with others where they had done with him,—that is, in vanity and vexation of spirit.

Then he takes notice of the several accidents of life, which perpetually rob us of what little sweets the fruition of these objects might seem to promise us—both with regard to our endeavours and our persons in this world.

Ist, With regard to our endeavours--he shews that the most likely ways and means are not always effectual for attaining of their end :-that, in general,--the utmost that human councils and prudence can provide for, is to take care, when they contend in a race, that they be swifter than those who run against them ;-or when they are to fight a battle,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »