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ererlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.(2 Peter i. 5—7, 11.)

Collective evidence of the vitality of faith amongst us is to be sought in our institutions, and their beneficial operation on the state of the world. When we see a civil community living in peace, virtue, freedom, and plenty, we naturally conclude that a spirit of love, equity, and good government must pervade and animate the whole. In like manner, when we behold religious institutions pouring light, grace, holiness, and salvation, domestic and temporal enjoyment, on thousands around, we have a right to infer that they are resting on the truth, are animated and imbued by a spirit of piety, and enjoy the blessing of God. THE STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE ARISES OUT OF THE FACT, THAT THE WHOLE OF OUR MEANS OF DOING GOOD, AND THE FRUIT RESULTING, HAVE SPRUNG FROM

FAITH ;
PRODUCE OUR FAITH, BUT OUR FAITH THE INSTITUTIONS.

The means of preaching the Gospel, and of applying religious consolation at home and abroad, must be classed among this holy fruit. We see around us numerous places of Worship, and thousands of Ministers employed in proclaiming the truth and administering the ordinances ; we behold a mighty Missionary apparatus sending its agents and pouring its blessings on every shore; we witness means for the instruction and training of the children of the poor, the youth of the community, and candidates for the ministry; we are cheered by the sight of Benevolent and other charitable Societies, designed to feed, clothe, and in some degree to provide for, the destitute, homeless, and sick. We stop to ask, " Whence has all this sprung? Is it the gift of the wealthy? or does it flow from the endowments of the State ?The answer is at hand : “ It has all arisen from the piety of—a comparatively poor people.” No princely or noble patrons have appeared to enrich our church by their bounty. Our means of usefulness spring from the operation of a powerful principle, adopted and acted upon by all. The hands which have built our Zion, in its material and external form, are the laborious hands of her faithful sons. Let candid and honest men determine whether the motive has proceeded from a spirit of superstition, or a spirit of faith and love.

In conjunction with testimony and works in evidence of the scriptural and divine origin of this cause, we have privilege attained and happiness enjoyed. With the Evangelists and primitive church, the leaders of this work have ever held that the true Christian faith, in connexion with its attendant grace, must be productive of spiritual happiness.

The question of feeling, indeed, has been the subject of boundless reproach on the part of our opponents, and of great glorying on

We have always held that the affections have much to

our own.

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do with our system of religion, as we are certain they had with that of apostolic times. How can it be otherwise, in the case of a divine and vital work of grace? What is the language of Scripture? Take the case of a justified man, an adopted child, a regenerate spirit, a state of Christian holiness. Can these blessings be possessed without emotion ? without the affections being excited, and the soul attuned to the highest happiness? Speaking of these several states,—which, by the by, are not several in their enjoyment, but one and indivisible, and he who has attained to one, must have attained to them all,—the language of feeling is used in every variety. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.(Rom. v. 1.) Having made peace through the blood of his cross." (Col. i. 20.)

The disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." (Acts xiii. 52.) We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom. v. 2, 11, 8.) He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'

Perfect love casteth out fear.(1 John iv. 16, 18.) These and similar expressions are constantly employed by the sacred writers, when they speak of experimental and personal religion. Is there no emotion of the mind, no excitement of the passions, in all this? Those who deny the legitimacy of feeling, and an appeal to the hopes, joys, and affections in religion, neither understand its nature nor the structure of man.

To touch the heart, to engage the sympathies, and to enlist the sentient faculties, on the side of piety, devotion, and holiness, have been considered as evidence either of deceptive designs, or of fanaticism. What, then, is religion a mathematical problem,-a demonstration,—an abstraction,a cold region of metaphysical speculation,-a dry detail of duty,a rotatory movement amid senseless ceremonies ? No; it introduces us to God as reconciled, our Father, our Friend, our God.

It places us beneath the cross, gives us an interest in redemption, makes the Saviour's merit our own, and unites us as joint heirs" with him in all the blessings of his “ purchased possession.It brings to our wants and miseries the dispensation of the Spirit, and bestows his illuminations, power, sanctity, and consolations on the soul. Is it conceivable, that this interest in the adorable Trinity, manifesting the peculiar glories of the separate Persons in the work of our salvation, can be enjoyed without the highest ecstasy of happiness?

We glory in the reproach that our people manifest feeling ; that they embody their faith and enjoyments in lofty sentiment, in hymns of animated praise, in undecaying joys, in fervour of spirit, and in impassioned devotion. And, moreover, we affirm that the primitive church, in her ordinances and communion, was framed on the principle of creating and eliciting these feelings. We imitated, in this, the first societies of Christians, and never considered any portion of the community in a healthy and prosperous state, unless, with the administration of the truth and ordinances, it could present to the view of the visible church and invisible powers, a people pardoned, reconciled to God, living in his communion, and giving utterance to the language of thanksgiving and praise. Thank God, this has been heard in our sanctuaries from the beginning; and not only in the high places of religion, but in deep poverty, excruciating pain, exhausting afflictions, dark temporal visitations, and the agonies of death!

We are not alone in this. Besides the first Christians, and the martyr church, it is the state of the simple, unsophisticated followers of Christ, of all parties and nations. Feeling, it may be allowed, has sometimes been really eccentric; and, for want of sympathy with its causes, has appeared so to men in other cases. How should the merely mental and animal tastes of the godless have any communion of feeling with the happiness of piety? And how should those true fanatics, who are exciting themselves, and attempting to inflame others, by the means of a fascinating externalism, possess any sentiments in common with those who take the blessings of divine grace, as the free gifts of God, from his own hands, and offer him the praise of his blessings from the altar of their own hearts, instead of presenting them

upon the altars of a human system? May we never lose this reproach ; or, rather, may we never deserve to lose it ! Are we not in some danger? The freshness of novelty is over; the simplicity of former times is gone; and the oneness of our religious privileges is invaded by the intermixture of worldly possessions and enjoyments. Let us guard our hearts and our services, lest our feelings should be chilled, and the sacred fire go out on our altars.

The fair inference from this united evidence is, that a system, which in faith and experience so fully harmonizes with primitive truth and feeling, must originate in the one and undivided work of the Mediator, by the operation of the “one Spiritof the living God.

That religion which is not only of God by the provisional arrangements of his grace, but is also wrought by him, cannot be essentially different–be it found in what age or in what community it may-in any of its living developements. We hear much of primitive Christianity, of catholic doctrine, and of an apostolical church. No objection can be taken to the terms employed, if the meaning be made to harmonize with the expressions. But how is it that we hear so little respecting primitive and apostolical religion, as such ? The quality of the piety existing amongst the flock may be whatever circumstances may make it, for any care that is manifested by the new controversialists to prove or to cause it to be primitive and apostolic. Why do they not attempt to show that in all places, in all ages, and under all possible varieties of events, the divine-right system which they claim to possess, and that exclusively, has always filled the world with sound piety and Christian holiness ? That which is primitive and apostolic must, in our humble apprehension, agree to the first model, not merely in orders, offices, and supposed vocation, as certain and never failing channels of grace and salvation ; but in its fruits and effects. How can the causal means be primitive, if the issue is not such? There is such a thing as an apostolical church in living faith, as well as in written creeds; in piety, holiness, love, and sacred joys, as well as in inanimate and material forms and ceremonies ; in active zeal, charity, and exertions to promote spiritual religion amongst the flock, and the salvation of the lost, as well as in adherence to an ecclesiastical form. If the living effects and fruits which flow from true and scriptural Christianity are not found connected with that which now pretends to be primitive, we have reason to conclude that the catholic church, as the Establishment now arrogates to be, in exclusion to all others, is not, in fact, so purely and perfectly a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ as it vainly imagines.

Without indulging in any fond conceits in the use of the terms, we claim to be both catholic and apostolic, or rather scriptural, on the ground both of vocation and fruit. If our friends, or our enemies, will go with us to the times of the Apostles, we hail them as companions ; we walk with them over this sacred, this scriptural ground with delight, as brethren beloved. But if they descend two or three centuries lower down, perambulate the scenes of folly, superstition, false doctrine, and incipient Popery therein 'presented, and call these catholic and apostolic; why, then we separate. In plain truth, Methodism is a spiritual and religious entity, and is constantly growing and expanding. This work must have a cause and origin of some kind, good or evil : its friends and supporters claim for it a divine designation, and consider it the work of God; its enemies deny the claim. We appeal from reasonings to facts, and believe that these facts are in agreement with God's gracious mode of working in all similar cases, and especially in planting the first churches ; the fruits of the whole are identical with those which are narrated in the doctrines, ministerial labours, discipline, and experience of the New-Testament churches ; and, to complete the case, it is seen that the means were in no respect dissimilar to those which were employed in the first ages. The same fountain cannot send forth bitter streams and sweet ;” and hence we are obliged to infer that this is the finger of God.

III. AT THIS STAGE OF OUR SUBJECT IT IS REQUISITE TO APPLY THE APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION :

“ LET US WALK RULE, LET US MIND THE SAME THING.”

BY THE SAME

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1. Let us mind the same thing," namely, the promotion of experimental religion,

(1.) As the true and legitimate end of the Gospel institution.

The salvation of mankind is the issue proposed by the whole economy of Christianity. In concurrence with this primary purpose of the death of our Lord, and the establishment of his church, our fathers only sought to bring guilty sinners to the exercise of faith in his name, and to the enjoyment of his grace. This was the great first principle on which they invariably acted in all their movements : economical arrangements were only considered as secondary to this. Theoretical and political Christians have invariably reversed this order ; and have propounded their platform as the first in time, in importance, and in its claims to the fealty of their disciples. In the New-Testament narrative, we hear little or nothing respecting the progress of events, but the number of the converted, their spiritual state, their union in societies for religious exercises, the outpourings of the Holy Spirit on their meetings, their simple participation of the Lord's supper, and their zealous exertions for mutual support, and the extension of the common salvation.Religion itself was the inspiring spirit of order and discipline. The inward, hidden, and divine life, imparted by the truth and grace of the Gospel, created the external economy, and not the economy the life. Experimental piety was the first in order, and the discipline of the church the second.

This was the rule on which our fathers acted. itinerant labours, privations, and sufferings, had this one object, to save souls from death.Their style of preaching, as to doctrine, address, and manner; their establishment of private and separate meetings for prayer, exhortation, and mutual interchanges of experience; and their pastoral care, either of the societies as a whole, or their visitations in the midst of contumely and reproach : all proposed this as the important and happy result. They exulted over the conversion of sinners, they bore patiently the infirmities of the weak, they sought the backsliders with lingering pity, and their whole concern was to present to God as great a number of believers in Christ as possible, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing." No inclemency of weather, no abuse of mobs, no length or dreariness of rough and rugged roads, and no physical dangers and suffering, could damp their ardour, or cause them to turn aside from their wellunderstood path of duty.

Let us imitate our fathers in this the first obligation of the ministry. Any church must decay, when its aggressive, evangelizing, and, in the sense of conversion, proselyting spirit is lost; and no church can decline whilst this is sedulously regarded. The masses of people constituting nations may remain and increase ; and these being

Their prayers,

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