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clerical learning and industry can oppose, what might we expect if the poor and illiterate had no guide, but their own untutored judgment; no instructor, but their own unbridled imagination ? Shall it be said, the illiterate man need not meddle with mysterious doctrines; he should be content to read the plain points of practice ; to love God with all his mind, and his neighbour as himself? True, this is what he ought to do; but if he reads at all, he will read more; he will go on; he will come to the controversial parts of Scripture, and find“ many things hard to be understood, which the unlearned” always have, and always will, “ wrest to their own destruction.” In spite of all that has been said of unbiassed freedom of thought and private judgment, one half of mankind must have some guide, some instructor: they must be led into the way of truth, if they are to reach it at all; and let any one judge, who is most likely to lead them right,—the man, whose various acquirements have given him a comprehensive view of things temporal and things spiritual, or the ignorant fanatic, who perplexes his brain with mysteries, which neither he, nor any man, can ever explain or comprehend; and makes that an essential part of the faith of all ages, which was, in fact, local and temporary
In fine, “ faith,” as St. Paul well determines, "cometh by hearing.” A sound, a permanent, a productive faith is the result of judicious and repeated appeals to the heart and understanding; and these appeals will hardly be effectually made, and enforced with sufficient frequency, but by men exempt from the common cares of life, and exclusively devoted to the study and service of religion,-that is, an educated and authorized clergy.
After all, the matter, infinitely important as it is, may be brought into a very narrow compass. Is Christianity a divine dispensation, or a human fraud? Is man possessed of an immortal spirit, which must survive to account for the deeds done in the body, or is he a mere moving plant, in the morning springing out of the ground, and in the evening returning to it again, to rot and perish for ever? Settle these things well in your minds-deeply and permanently. They are not points to be thought of to-day, and forgotten tomorrow; to be canvassed on the sabbath, and laid aside when the sabbath ends; but to be held ever in view, till we come to some fixed, some final, some unalterable decision. If the first of these propositions be true; if the Gospel be of GOD, in the name of all that is sacred and momentous, in the name of all we hold most dear, let us seek and adopt every human means to uphold and diffuse the blessing ! If it be of man, the shrewd contrivance of policy or priestcraft, and all its threats and promises delusion ; if the soul be nothing but a mechanical organization, which, when it has served the purposes of life, breaks and is crushed to atoms with the shell that envelopes it ;-then, dismiss the ministers of Christ as useless drones, and let those hands, which are now stretched out in distributing the sacred symbols of atoning grace, be compelled to grasp the sickle, and wield the spade ; let
your churches sink in desolation, and become “the cage of every unclean and hateful bird :" there let owls hoot, and satyrs dance ;-discard all hope, and fear, and thought, of eternity ;-and
every man do, what is right in his own eyes.”
Those, who regard nothing but their temporal welfare, may soon perceive what would be the happy fruits of this glorious extinction of church and churchmen. “ Tell me, ye that desire to be
under" no law,—no restraint of law or gospel,what would be the final result of this escape from the bonds of priestly tutorage ?—this deliverance from the paralyzing dread of future retribution ? The reply may be comprised in two words — sweeping anarchy, and universal ruin.
“HEARERS, NOT DOERS OF THE WORD.”
EZEKIEL, CHAP. XXIII. VER. 31, 32.
“ And they come unto thee, as the people cometh, and they
sit before thee as my people ; and they hear thy words, but they will not do them : for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely sound of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not."
The Jewish prophets, as you must often have remarked, are continually lamenting the errors and vices of that obstinate and perverse people, who were rebellious, even while they were visited with peculiar marks of Divine favour, and warned by especial messengers, delegated by Heaven; messengers, whose sacred authority they did not dispute, though they so little regarded their admonitions. They come unto Thee, as the people cometh ;" — they enter the house of