Billeder på siden

ever, from the strictest letter of the Founder's Will, by waving the exercise of their authority and the assertion of their claims, they might certainly do so in any instance in which they apprehended that, from the beneficial nature of the change, the endowments of Mr. Hulse would still be applied, in a just and proper manner, to the uses intended; which uses he frequently declares substantially to have been, the diminution of infidelity, and the promotion and increase of religious learning. The interpretation I have here given of the Founder's words, may not, perhaps, be that which is literally and legally correct; but it is undoubtedly most perfectly consistent with his ultimate views and wishes; and it remains, therefore, with those who have the power to act upon this occasion, to consider with themselves, whether they would be justified in allowing of any alteration at all, or whether, in particular, they would adopt any one of those several alterations which have been already proposed. With them it rests to examine, whether the religious and literary advantages to the world, to the University, and to individuals, may not become greater by a general conformity to the principles of Mr. Hulse's bequests, than a rigorous and undeviating adherence to the very letter of a Will, which, in many instances, it would be inconvenient, and in some almost impossible, to follow.

I shall only conclude by expressing my hopes that the observations I have made will stand excused from the accusation of presumption, and be regarded as arising from a simple sense of duty.



MATTH XI. 2-5.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ he sent two of his disciples, saying, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?..... .Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.

CHRISTIANITY opens to our view a wide and almost boundless field of moral and religious speculation; of all that tends to the promotion of social order, of domestic happiness and inward peace. To love God and to love man; to be thankful to our Maker and Redeemer, and have fervent Charity one towards another; to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep ourselves unspotted from the world; precepts of the most earnest piety, the most refined purity and the most exalted and extensive benevolence;


[ocr errors]

---these form the substance of the Gospel, and are scattered with a bountiful profusion over the whole face of the sacred writings. And it is to this inexhausted and inexhaustible treasury of divine truths that we have the blessed privilege of applying for instruction and consolation. It is hence the ministers of religion draw the matter of their discourse, and lead their hearers to the realms of bliss by the mild, undeviating light of that pure and heavenly wisdom which is from above.

We must remember, however, that a wellgrounded faith is the only solid foundation of practice, and that in all the relations of life something must necessarily be believed before any thing can be done. If we are to comply with the laws of the land and the ordinances of the magistrate, we must first know that there is an authority to enact those laws and a power which is enabled to enforce the penalties attached to their transgression. If we are to come to God, as his worshippers under a form of natural religion, we must believe, from the contemplation of nature, "that he is," and from the deductions of reason upon the general tendency of his proceedings, "that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him ;" and to the certainty or probability of these important inferences we must

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

look for the only grounds and motives of our obedience. If, again, we are to become the disciples of a religion which claims a divine original as one of the revelations of God, we must first of all believe that it was so revealed: and if, in particular, we are to pay an implicit deference to the words of Christ, and to follow every tittle and iota of his commandments as our Lord and Master, we must previously be convinced that he is our Lord and Master, endued, above measure, with the Spirit, and armed beyond example, with the authority of heaven. We must be satisfied that the character which he assumed did really belong to him, and that he was in fact what he unequivocally declared himself to be, the Messiah of God, and the Saviour of the world. If, in the last place, we would live wholly as Christians, we must believe wholly as Christians, and yield an unfeigned and unreserved assent to the truth and divinity of the whole of our religion. It would thus appear that religious faith, under some of its modifications, is the root of all moral practice, and no other foundation therefore can any man lay, whereon to build the temple of the beauty of holiness, than that which is laid in the holy Scriptures, where righteousness stands uniformly connected with faith, and disobedience is referred to a principle of unbelief. "Without faith" of that kind and in that degree

in which by our situation we are capable of attaining it," it is impossible to please God"."

Nor is this all. Were a mere profession or possession of belief the whole of what was required of us by the Gospel, it would be needless to dwell upon the evidences of revelation before those who, from whatever cause, whether from prejudice, from ignorance, from education or from inquiry, had already become convinced of the certainty and divinity of that religion under which they had been born. But it so happens that we Christians are called upon, in the language of an inspired Apostle, to be in a state of constant preparation to satisfy the inquiries of any one who desires to ascertain the validity of those grounds upon which our opinion principally rests. We are not only to know the leading and fundamental arguments by which the system of Christianity is supported, for our own comfort; but we are to know them with such precision, and to recollect them with such facility, and to state them with such clearness, and to arrange them in such order, that we may "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh of us a reason of the hope that is in us." This forms

a part of our general duty as Christians, and I

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »