« PreviousContinue »
of the schools, the refinements of learned pride, or the jargon of popular superstition.
Our blessed Master teaches us to say, “ Our Father which art in heaven:" I therefore call upon God as the Father and Lord of earth and heaven. He tells us, that “all judgment is committed to the Son, that men should honour the Son, even as they honour the FATHER :" I therefore bow, in reverence, to that “ Image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature,”“ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” He promises to send the “ Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, that he may abide with his followers for ever :" I therefore implore the aid and influence of that sacred Spirit, to “ lead me into all truth.” Yet we worship not three Gods ; for all Christians must say with St. Paul, “ To us there is but ONE GOD,—the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him: and ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, by whom are all things, and we by Him." We worship not three Gods; but in the words of the same apostle,
through the Son, we have access, by one SPIRIT, unto the FATHER;" through the mediation of the Son, and by the influence of the SPIRIT, we approach and implore “one GOD AND FATHER OF “ I will lay
ALL, who is above all, and through all, and in all."
But, should some too curious sceptic, or schoolbred theologian, urge me to define, distinguish, separate, or discriminate, these ineffable essences, what shall I answer him ? my hand upon my mouth.” Any attempt to describe and analyze that Being, who “hath made darkness his secret place, and thick clouds to cover Him,"
to say any thing of the Creator, which He has not said of Himself, is, to my apprehension, not only rashness, but impiety. It is to make to ourselves a graven image, and fall down and worship it.
Amidst the sharp contentions and bitter animosities of opposite sects, not “rightly,” but variously, “ dividing the word of truth,” the meek and modest Christian will imitate the example of the Psalmist, who, in such society, resolved to "
keep his mouth as it were with a bridle:"_“I held my tongue, and spake nothing; I kept silence, even from good words, but it was pain and grief to me;"—and it will ever be pain and grief to him, who has the real interests of piety at heart, when deep learning, and ingenious talents, are misapplied and perverted, in “striv
ing about questions of no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers ;"_learning and talents, which, if properly exerted, might have “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men,” and “have turned the sinner from the error of his ways;" might have shamed the infidel, and converted the profligate.
So various are our opinions, and so opposite the conclusions, which different persons draw from the same premises, that all should learn to mistrust their own judgment, and treat the tenets of others with candour and lenity. To scorn and denounce any fellow-creature, because we quarrel with his creed, is both wickedness and folly. Uncharitableness is, of all vices, the most unchristian. The ignorant zealot, and the furious bigot, may deal out anathemas against heresy, and confound error with guilt; but the disciple, who has imbibed the spirit of his Master, instead of joining the intemperate cry, "will lay his hand upon his mouth.” He will “judge nothing before the time;" but will “judge this rather,—not to put a stumbling block, or occasion to fall, in his brother's way,” by requiring that as necessary to salvation, which the Author of salvation has not required.
One thing is clear, that if we pretend to be Christians, we must put away all bitterness, and clamour, and evil speaking, with all malice, and be kind one to another ;" “for he that loveth not,”—though he may prate and preach eternally on the hypostatic union, and all the mysteries of the Godhead," he that loveth not, knoweth not GOD."
However opposite our creeds and articles, we must all agree, if we understand our religion, in holding that faith, that saving “faith, which worketh by love ;" and journey on together, through this dim vale of shadows,—this state of imperfect knowledge, “in unity of spirit,” though not in uniformity of belief; "in the bond of peace, , and in righteousness of life.”
After all our debates and controversies, which perhaps we should do well to bury in oblivion, the wise decision of the Jewish leader and legislator should be a standing rule and lesson to all times and nations. “ The secret things belong unto the LORD OUR GOD; but the things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever; that we may do all the words of this law." If any thing be secret, it is the nature of the Godhead. This it is not for the worms of earth to explore. “No man can see my face and
live.” The things which are revealed,—that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins,"—that “ glory and honour shall be to every one that worketh good; tribulation and anguish upon every soul that doeth evil,”-these are “ the things revealed;" the awful declarations from heaven, which belong “ to us and to our children for ever,” to write upon our“ hearts, and bind as frontlets between our eyes."
Brethren,“ elect through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," if indeed you know that Just ONE, and feel the power of his resurrection; if you understand the genius, and are alive to the tendency, of his religion ; you will not contend for speculative points of faith, and neglect “ the weightier matters of his law;" a law which comprises whatever is just, lovely, and of good report. Nor will you still, like those who have fallen from the grace of the Gospel, be devoted to the gratifications of the world; forgetting, that “the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof;" forgetting, that “ the wrath of God is revealed from heaven,” not against those who doubt the truth of abstract propositions, but against “ ALL,