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men. There is nothing in all and the difficult virtues, which this, but what every man may were most distinguished in easily understand. By reading Christ, have been least apparent the life of Jesus one may better in the great men of the world. learn what it is to be a good In this respect he exceeded all man, than by turning over all others, and gave the most undethe volumes of ancient or modern niable evidence of the goodness philosophers.
of his heart, and the excellency Another excellency of Christ's of his religion. example is, that it agrees with Such an example, while it his own instructions. It is no- marks out the course which we thing else, but his own rules re- are to pursue, should animate duced to practice. He was not our resolution to enter upon, like the Scribes and Pharisees, and to persevere in that course. who laid on men's shoulders Jesus, as a man, had, indeed, heavy burdens, which they many advantages, which we would not move with one of their have not. He was born holy,' fingers; and who daily contra- and free from those inordinate dicted in practice, what they propensities, which are common strenuously enjoined in precept. to us. He was anointed with He acted fully up to his own the Spirit above his fellows. system ; and in prosecution of it The Spirit was given him withdid many things far more hard out measure. In him dwelt the and difficult, than what he re- fulness of the Godhead. But quires of us. In this he differs still, as a man, he was compassed from other teachers, who go far- with our infirmities, and temptther in precept than in pattern. ed as we are. And he knows
It is a recommendation of how to have compassion on us, Christ's example, that in it the and his grace is sufficient for us. most difficult virtues of religion Sensible of our weakness, we are most conspicuous ; such as may be strong in the grace, meekness under provocations, which is in him. love of enemies, the forgiveness We may perhaps think it of injuries, contempt of worldly would have been a greater enriches and honours, labour and couragement to us to have seen self-denial in doing good, and our duty practised by one, who patience and resignation under came near to us in weakness ; great afflictions ; and yet all by one, who was no more than a these are modest virtues, which man. But then we must conmake no ostentation of them- sider, that the Son of God, selves, and are least apt to at- though without any sinfulness tract the notice and esteem of in his flesh, was made in the the world. The virtues of likeness of our sinful flesh; he those, whose characters have bare our infirmities, and sufferusually been celebrated, are ed being tempted. His exameither of the easy, or of the ple therefore could not have showy kind; such as may be come nearer to our case, withpractised without self-denial, or out wanting that perfection, such as will excite admiration in which is its highest recommenthe spectators. The modest dation, and which makes it an Vol. II. No. 5.
infallible rule for our conduct in he believes one system of relig. life.
ious opinions, or another. Tho' The perfection, which appear- such apparent indifference in ed in Christ, is proposed to us, our societies may conceal strong · as the object of our aim ; but prejudices against the general not required as the condition of faith of the reformed church, our salvation. Through the and a secret persuasion, that he righteousness of this great Re-' embraces and will preach those deemer, God accepts that peni- lax sentiments, for which they tence, which renounces sin with have a strong predilection. abhorrence, and that faith, which Now from whatever motive purifies the heart, and which such negligence in our churches, humbly and ardently aspires to and under whatever specious the measure of the stature of names and fair pretences it may the fulness of Christ. In him seek to hide itself, it is an evil believers are complete ; for to of great magnitude ; as will apthem he is made wisdom, right- pear from the following consideeousness, sanctification and re- rations. demption.
First. It is a violation of ina THEOPHILUS. spired precepts. By some di
rect commands, and by many plain intimations, God urges up
on Christian churches the imSURVEY OF NEW ENGLAND
portance of using the most CHURCHES.
watchful care respecting the re(Continued from page 173.)
ligious sentiments of their teach
ers. If there come any unto you, The increasing indifference of says John, and bring not this our churches respecting the theo- doctrine, that is, the doctrine of logical opinions of ministers, is an Christ, which he preached, reevil proper to be noticed in this ceive him not into your house, survey. In general, very little neither bid him God' speed; for inquiry is made concerning the he that biddeth him God speed, is religious qualifications of a partaker of his evil deeds. They, preacher. The question, wheth- who, from choice or negligence, er he embraces the doctrines of encourage those preachers, who the gospel, often exposes to con- hold not the true doctrine of tempt the person, who offers it. Christ, are, in a measure, chargeChurches manifest an undue re- able with all the fatal effects of gard to the external accomplish their errors. Paul gives a similar ments of ministers, with a cor direction. I beseech you, brethresponding inattention to the pu- ren, mark them, who cause divis. rity of their sentiments and the ions and offences contrary to the sanctity of their lives. It is not un- doctrine, which ye have learned, frequently the case, that a man and avoid them. Not very un. is introduced into the sacred of- like this is the injunction of Sol. fice, when it is not known either omon. Cease, my son, to hear from his preaching, or conversa- the instruction, which causeth to tion, or from the proceedings of crr from the words of knowledge. the ordaining council, whether Christ inculcates caution on the same subject. Beware of false has given such plain directions prophets, who come to you in what characters, to choose for sheep's clothing, but inwardly religious instructors, and such are ravening wolves. Peter's solemn cautions to avoid those, prophetic eye foresaw that the who hold not the true doctrines church would be misled and of Christ, how can the churches, corrupted by such characters. without great guilt, neglect the There were false prophets among duty ? What displeasure of God the people, even as there shall be do they incur by their cold infalse teachers among you, who difference respecting a subject, privily shall bring in damnable on which he hath given them heresies, even denying the Lord such abundant instruction, and that bought them, and bring on so many precepts and warnings. themselves swift destruction. Secondly. The evil of that inPaul beheld the churches of difference, which many churchGalatia actually infested by de- es manifest respecting the religceivers. There be some, who ious sentiments of ministers, ap. trouble you, and would pervert pears from this consideration, the gospel of Christ. What a that erroneous sentiments are great evil he esteemed every de- commonly connected with the want parture from the gospel doc- of Christian piety. It is to be trine, appears, from the anathe- expected, that men will feel and ma he denounced against the act according to their prevailing propagators of error. Though belief. If their sentiments are we, or an angel from heaven lax, their practice is likely to be preach any other gospel unto you so too. Christianity is one con. than that which we have preached sistent whole. Its theoretic and unto you, let him be accursed. practical parts perfectly harmoHe is so impressed with the im- pize, and are inseparable from portance of the subject, that he each other. The cordial belief immediately repeats the solemn of gospel truth tends directly to sentence ; If any man preach any promote the holiness, which the other gospel unto you, than that ye gospel enjoins. Nor can gospel have received, let him be accurs. holiness be found, except in coned. By Jeremiah, God highly nexion with evangelical senticriminates his people for ap- ments, For example. They, proving false prophets. A wone who disbelieve the divine glory derful and horrible thing is com- of Christ, cannot exercise tomitted in the land; the prophets wards him that religious faith, prophesy falsely, and the prieste worship, and submission, which bear rule by their means ; and constitute an essential part of my people love to have it so. In Christian holiness. If men enaddition to this, the Scripture tertain erroneous apprehensions particularly points out the requi- of God's character, law, and gov. site qualifications of gospel min- ernment, they must be erroneisters ; of which this is not the ous in their religious practice. Jeast important, that they hold For every part of true Christian fast the faithful word, and teach piety has respect to those ob the things, which become sound jects, and must receive its pedoctrine, Now after Scripture culiar complexion from the man
ner in which they are appre- interest of the church. If a minhended. Defective views of the ister cordially believes the whole evil of sin will be attended with counsel of God, he will not shun defective repentance. Disbelief to declare it ; as Paul says of of the alonement, as it arises himself and the other apostles, from a wrong idea of God, natu- we believe, and therefore speak. rally occasions a misplaced hope Peter and John expressed the of his favour. Even the minis- same sentiment ; we cannot but terial office, though ever so sa. Speak the things, which we have cred, cannot ingraft solid Chris- seen and heard. As a full exhitian piety upon antichristian bition of the truth is so capital a opinions. The belief of the part of ministerial duty, how inheart will show itself in the life. dispensable it is, that every minThe Spirit of Christ, which ister fully believe the truth. guideth into all the truth, does For we are not to suppose that not dwell in those, who reject an honest man's preaching will the truths he taught. How im- go beyond his belief. portant an article, then, in a gos- The beneficial effects of dispel minister's character, is his playing evangelical truth need belief. And how great an evil it not be particularly described. is in many of our churches, that They have been acknowledged his belief is considered of no im- in all ages of Christianity. The portance. It is treating with conversion of sinners, and the indifference what is essential to progressive holiness of the saints a minister's personal religion. have taken place through the Indeed, those churches, that are instrumentality of divine truth. not desirous to ascertain, wheth- On the other hand, how woful er a preacher believes the scheme is the consequence of withholdof evangelical truth, are equally ing the truth and propagating unconcerned as to his experi. error. It has been felt, and is mental godliness.
now obvious to every beholder, The same remarks are, in a in many New England churches. considerable degree, applicable Their faith, and with it their to the indifference, which discipline and morals have been churches show, respecting the gradually corrupted. From the religious sentiments of their erroneous sentiments and loose members. Such indifference, conduct of ministers, multitudes often miscalled charity, is found of nominal Christians have taken in those only, who overlook the a licence to cast off the restraints importance of regeneration, and of the law and gospel, and to live are disposed to build up the according to the course of this church with materials, which world. They no longer feel the the fire of the last day will con- obligations of their holy professume.
sion, and are not distinguished Thirdly. The evil now under from the children of disobediconsideration rises in our view, ence. All the evils found in the when we consider the extensive churches are promoted by erro. influence of a minister's religious neous, unfaithful preachers. sentiments upon his own conduct Their influence is pernicious alin the sacred office, and upon the so, with respect to men in gene.
ral. Conviction of sin is pre- cultivate his vineyard, but leave vented. The wicked, instead of it to be laid waste. They will being solemnly warned, are flat- resemble the shepherds so setered with delusions, and so verely reproved by Ezekiel, who sleep, undisturbed, in an impen- fed themselves and not the flock. itent state. Go to the places, The diseased ye have not strength. where the salutary truths of the ened, said God by the prophet, gospel are withheld, and false neither have ye healed that which theories, empty declamations, or was sick, neither have ye bound cold moral essays are substitut- up that which was broken, neied in their place. Do you find ther have ye brought again that sinners deeply impressed with which was driven away, neither the criminality of living without have ye sought that which was lost. God in the world, and with the They subject themselves to the importance of a penitent, godly fatal sentence of those, who daub life? Do you hear them serious with untempered mortar, who heal ly proposing the question, What wounds slightly, and cry, Peace, shall we do to be saved ? a ques. peace, when there is no peace. tion, which the apostles always When, therefore, churches rejoiced to hear, and were ready are negligent of the religious to answer, but which many cler- sentiments and the piety of their gymen at this day totally dis- ministers, they show themselves countenance, and treat with wholly unconcerned respecting scorn. What a pestilence in the effects of the gospel dispensathe Christian world is the influ- tion. In a degree they are reence of such ministers. Even sponsible for all the mischief the most godly have their share which is done by unqualified of the injury. What edification teachers. They are guilty of can they derive from the instruc- encouraging and supporting tions of God's house, when the those, who not only refuse to go most momentous truths are into the kingdom of heaven thempassed over in contemptuous si- selves, but, by the errors of their Jence? What a disturbance and faith and the unholiness of their grief must it be to them, if, example, hinder others from when going to the temple of re- entering. So that, if the woful ligion, they cannot know, but influence of erroneous teachers that in the place where the light is seen in the corruption of the of heaven should shine, they faith, the discipline, and the shall be overshadowed with the morality of the churches; if mists of error ? Does not men's nominal Christians are loosed attendance upon the gospel min- from the restraints of religion, istry, as it is conducted in many and openly conformed to the parts of New England, instead world ; if conviction of sin is of promoting their salvation prevented, and the impenitent through belief of the truth, tend are flattered and hardened ; and to a contrary purpose ?
if God's own people, instead of Ministers, who are not estab- being edified and comforted, lose lished in the belief and love of the sensible blessings of religion, the gospel, will not be faithful in pine for want of spiritual food, Christ's cause. They will not or are for a time carried away