Billeder på siden

which appertain to the kingdom of the Messiah; because in proportion as we cease to depend upon earthly enjoyments for the attainment of happiness, our relish for the practice of the great duties of the gospel, and our desire to participate the real blessings of the kingdom of Christ will be strengthened and increased.

3. It requires us to embrace by faith the sublime truths of the gospel, and to meditate upon the evidences of divine goodness, because the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a confidence in the infinite goodness of God, will give birth to the ennobling sentiments of love and gratitude, promote in an eminent degree the increase of our moral enjoyments, and add a peculiar zest to the pleasures which we derive from the surrounding objects of nature.

4. We are required to cultivate an acquaintance with the character and purposes of our heavenly Father, and to keep up a constant and prayerful intercourse with the throne of grace, because the faithful discharge of these duties will tend in the most direct and powerful manner to assist us in the better government of our passions, to strengthen and encourage our hearts in the path of virtuous obedience, and promote a pious resignation to the divine will, under all the allotments of his righteous providence.

5. We are instructed by the voice of inspiration, to seek those things which are above, to lay hold by faith on the hope set before us, even the hope of eternal life, contained in the faithful promise of God, and to live upon the transporting assurances of a blissful immortality, because these virtuous exercises of the mind will invariably assist to calm our fears, subdue our tempers, awake our transports and render our minds tranquil and serene under every affliction which we are called to ' perience while travelling onward to the port of endless peace.

It is the assurance of heaven, which we can only enjoy by faith and hope, in this state of change and uncertainty, which is capable of affording any solid and permanent happiness to the mind, or of giving divine rest and peace to the soul amidst the labors and the troubles of this transitory scene.

The advantages then, which result from the exercise of prompt obedience, are all on the part of the creature. Our best interest has evidently been consulted by infinite wisdom, and our obedience to his instructions are required, because that obedience would best promote our happiness, and enlarge our capacities for the increase of moral enjoyment. How unwise, therefore, and how ungrateful would it be to disregard the whole. some mandates of divine goodness, and by straying from the path of virtuous obedience, bring darkness, fear and condemnation upon ourselves. For the experience, at least, of all those who have arrived at the proper exercise of the understanding, must so far corroborate the testimony of divine inspiration, as to afford them the strong conviction that while the path of wisdom and virtue conducts them to the abodes of life and peace, the path of folly and vice leads by a sure and rapid descent to the abodes of despair and wretchedness.

Then let wisdom sway the sceptre of our hearts, and direct our way through a course of virtue, to the temple of rest and joy.

From the Christian Intelligencer. TO A YOUNG UNIVERSALIST PREACHER. My dear friend-In my last letter, I anticipated some objections to the course of preaching, which, in a very brief, and general manner, was indicated in that communication. In this, I am to meet those objections.

The principal inducement to the consideration of this subject is, that, we hear the assertion frequently made, that "the gospel is wholly the proclamation ef grace, while all threatenings belong to the legal economy." While I am aware, that this statement may come from honest hearts, I am convinced of its falsity; and believe it leads to dangerous consequences, and is directly opposed to the scheme of evangelical preaching, described in the New Testament. With such views of the case, you will not wonder if I devote this letter, and even others, if necessary, which may follow, to the illustration of my own ideas on a topic of so great importance.

It was the determination of St. Paul, “to know, to preach nothing but Jesus Christ.” To preach Jesus Christ is precisely the same as preaching the gospel. The terms are synonymous.

Now, what did this preaching embrace ? Into what departments was it divided? Or did it consist ouly in the announcement of pardon and peace? The proper answer to these questions must be drawn from particular declarations of the topics, or points, on which the apostles dwelt in their preaching. To the Colossians, Paul speaks of Christ in them, the hope of glory;" and then adds, "whom we preach, WARNING every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” If teaching is a branch of the christian ministry, warning is no less so, and the latter is as much a mean of perfecting the christian character as the former. Warning is nearly allied to threatening, and it always involves the idea of danger. It supposes the existence of an evil, which the warning is intended to cause the hearer to avoid. If these statements are wellfounded, as I am convinced they are, it follows, that the preaching of the gospel contains something more than the mere declaration of grace, or the announcement of Vol. VII.


mercy through Jesus Christ. It embraces warning against all sinfulness and its effects; it involves all the threatening which God has denounced against sinners; “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Hence, if a preacher holds forth a free salvation by Jesus Christ, according to the "eternal purpose” of the Father, he preaches the gospel. If he insists on the necessity of repentance, as a mean to effect this salvation, he preaches the gospel; his discourse has the sanction of those early preachers, who “testified repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ." If he denounces the just judgments of God on such as neglect and despise the riches of divine goodness, he still preaches the gospel ; and if he advances the idea, that the person, who has known and enjoyed the privileges and blessings of the gospel, and who should "turn from the holy commandment,” would be liable to a more dreadful punishment than was inflicted on him, “who despised Moses' law;" the preacher would have no reason to fear, that he exceeded his commission; he would have the countenance and example of the apostle who wrote to the Hebrews, whose writings are much occupied with motives to watchfulness, with dissuasives from sin, and with declarations of the righteous retribution that will assuredly overtake the careless, bold transgressor. "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering to his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?” All this, and much more to the same purpose, is the doctrine of an eminent preacher of the gospel.

What may be called practical preaching, the object of which is to persuade the hearers to the practice of moral duties, is not very highly esteemed by many, for reasons similar to those which are urged against the denunciation of punishment for sin ; practical discourses are not considered evangelical. In some instances, the inan who should dwell on the most important duties enjoined in the New Testament, would subject himself to many absurd charges. It would be no new thing, if he was ranked with the rigidly orthodox, and charged with a desire to court their favor. The least he could expect from many, would be, to hear his discourses denominated dry and uninteresting; and probably they would be said to savor much of a pharisaical spirit. These notions are founded in error; they are the result of too limited views of the gospel ; and, as I believe, arise, in a considerable degree, from a corrupt taste.

From what has been advanced, you may be ready to conclude, that the course I have described must be extremely difficult for a Universalist preacher to follow, and that it is indeed next to impossible, to deliver practical discourses in the assemblies of our order, and meet the acceptance of your hearers. That many preachers have acted under the influence of this impression, I have no doubt; and I am aware, that many circumstances have contributed to produce and perpetuate the impression. When our brethren seceded from the Calvinistic, or other Societies, to which they had previously been attached, they came off with a strong opposition to the idea of endless misery ; they felt unable to reconcile this idea with that of infinite goodness. The opposition has been continued : It passes down from father to son; and with it, there seems to be a determination to leave behind all, or nearly all, that the defenders of eternal punisbment have holden ; and there

« ForrigeFortsæt »