« ForrigeFortsæt »
world. But his temperance was not a monkish austerity, nor the parsimony of a miser, who cannot allow himself the decessaries of life : n0; he used the werld as a Christian, but did not ab:se it.
Candour and liberality marked his long career, both as a Christian and a minister. It is true, he could not treat avowel Socinians as Christians, because his religion taught him not to degrade, but to honour his Saviour. Bili he treated as brethren all who appeared to “hold the head;" ofien attending public worship with thein, and sometimes assisting them in it; gladly promoting that pleasing harmony which always subsisted between himself and other ministers. Though he firmly embraced that system of doctrinal truth which is laid down in the Baptist Catechism, yet he did not treat liis own creed as a standard for all others, nor presume harshiy to censure such as differed from him on those points whereon all good men are not agreed. He repeateily told his people, that if they could profit more by attending elsewhere, it was their duty to do it, and he had no right to object. He often laid this down as an axion, Plat these docrines which humble the sinner, cxalt the Saviour, and promote holiness, are orthodox. He was ready to support the weak, and encourage the gifts of those who were far inferior to himself. Indeed, humility was liis principal characteristic. A few weeks before his deail, he declared that he never entered the pulpit without a deep sense of his own insulficiency for the ministry; and never left it without shame. lle has said, he sometimes wondered that any should attend his preaching. Ilis humility was not that mimic counterfeit which, while it affects to be always degrading selt, betrays a real desire of applaue; for he very seldom spilie of liimsell, but it was the genuine oilspring of sell-knowledge.
Ile evidently possessed a spirit of sterling piety, and seemed habitually to realize the divine presence. lic used to say, That
an cije-serrant among men is a disgraceful character; but one who acts as in the sight of Go:l, is an honourable one." Such an Cyc-servant bis general conversation shewed bim to be. When he was obliged to touch on the sins of others, he would say, "I fear such a one bias oftended the Lord;” but he was by no means fond of dwelling on the faults of others. "A bad man's life," he would siy," is too just a picture of a goul man's heart." liclus chien enforced this thought on his hearers: That "the more light we have, the incre we?!ust discover our moral pollu. tion. The more we enjoy of livine illumination, the more we must discover our own imperfections and consequently the less we shall be ineliner to censure others."
lisministerial talents were very considerable, before his powers were debilitater! by age and alliction: his voice was pleasant; huis siyle sinpli', county distant from low vulgarity and peastic bumbist; kis sudjecis ivere generally of the utmost importanci'.
He never ventured to address his fellow.creatures from the pulpit without praying for divine direction, in fixing upon a suitable portion of Scripture. As this proved the spirituality of his mind, so it appcared, in some instances, to have been remarkably directed in the selection of subjects.
He frequently entorced the duty of self-examination; and inculcated that maxim of our Lord, That “ the tree is known by its fruits." Ile wis equally cautious to guard his hearers against those notions which, under a pretext of love to the gospel, woul:! legrace the law of God as a rule of life; or that sysiem which miliiates against a free and full salvation by Jesus Christ, flowing from the grace of God, and communicated to the soul by tlie Holy Spirit. He loved to proach Christ.
66 Wo be to me, said he, “ if I forget my Master! I should rejoice if I could convey one exalted idea of Christ, were it but to one soul!" don us,” said he, once in his prayer, uttered with the utmost energy,“ partion us, that so lovily a person should be no more loved by us." !!c otien preached also, on walking with God, drawing nigh to him, realizing his presence, communing withi him, and the all-suiciency of his grace. Ilis ministry was it. tended with considerable success. Many of his people owe their conversion to his instrumentality. He loved his public work, and performed it as long as he was able. 66 Leune die in any work," said he to sone of his friends, who, a few years before his deatli, offired 10 attori lim some assistance.
llis gift in prayer was uncommonly excellent. What rich variety !-wini depth of thought! - wlist bantiful sublimity! -- what glowing levotion were discovered in his prayers! After attending his ministry almost forty years, I cook scarcely ever be inattentive or wearied in uniting with him in it, he seemed to lead is in the very gate of Ilearen: wui as he loved prayer himself, so he promoted prayer-n.cetings; always encouraging even the weakest gifts; and often exciting his people to pray with and for each other. He has olien sai!, i he could choose how he should spend the last hour of his life, it shoukl be in praying and reading his Eble; - and indeed he did spend liis last days in praying and recommending religion. His dying experience was remarkably expressive of the excellency of the gospel of Christ. Then he luppily found the promise fulfilled, “That as his days, so his strengil should be;" and that's the grace of Clirist wis suficient for him *, These were fitvourite passages with him; froin the latter of which he preached his last sermon. A little before his deail, he said, “I know that God loves me, because I know that I love him: I am persuaded that I shall be a partaker of glory, because I am the silject of ile imuences of the Holy Spirit!" Indeed, his dying conversatio: was devout, zo full ei loro to God and man, so espressive of perfect
DIFFERENCES AMONG DEISTS.
104 signation to the divine will, and so suited to convince all who visited him, that the truths which he had preached to others were calculated to support the dying Christian, that it is hoped thie impression produced will not soon be forgotten.
A few hours before his departure, he said to his son, " I have done with time, and all hefore me is a vast eternity; and as long as God exists, my happiness is secure!"
DIFFERENCES AMONG DEISIS
AN ARGUMENT FOR TIIE DANGER OF IMBIBING THEIR SYSTEM.
DIFFERENCES among Christians are often dwelt upon and magnified by Infidels, as undeniable arguments of the insufficiency of Christianity, and the indistinct and indecisive nature of its doctrines. But thc dupes of the system of Incredulity seem to forget that we can retort the charge npon themselves and their system with a dilemma, and show the insecurity of their ground, without the possibility of evasion. We can also shew, that whatever differences exist anong the genuine friends of Christianity, do not affect the essence of the system, nor endanger the safety of those who embrace it.
We now consider the differences between the champions of Deism ; and they are such as show that the system is without foundation, and that those who trust in it are undone. On the first of all subjects, and the foundation of all religion, - the being of a God, they differ and contradict one another. Some of them allow that there is a God; and that it is our duty to worship him
vhile others make such mistakes about his existence, as amount to a denial of a God altogether. Some deny his perfections as God; and others deny or overlook the obliga. tion of worshipping him. Lord Herbert, the first and the best of the Eglish Deists, makes his Natural Religion to consist in five articles, the first of which is the belief of a God. He allows, as another article, that it is our duty to worship him; and that the soul is inmortal, for another; while he admits of a future state of retribution, as another article. But have they all agreed in the first article of all ? No: Hobbes held, that God was corporcal; and Tuland, that there is no otier God but the Uni.
Thus these advocates of Incredulity were in the utmost uncertainty about this very important and foundation-article of religion. Does not iliis shew is that Deism lca:es its votaries in the utmost uncertainty, whether there be a God or not? - or if there be, what he is? A religion which begins in clarkne:s, must surely issue in darkness which miay be felt.
Some of the champions of Inficlelity deny the perfections of God, and therefore, in effect, say, there is no God. Bolingbroke insists, that we must not ascriize to God any moral portictions, such as holiness, justice, and goodness. - Thus the licentions Infidel forms a God to himself, agrocable to his own mind, and thinks that God is such a one as himself. This is just as much as to deny a God altogether *. Hume endeavours to subvert the proofs of the existence of an Intelligent Cause of the universe and speaks of the doctrine of the Being of God as uncertain and useless. Thus, these men, in their delusions, sought to get rid of a God, who might be ready to disapprove of them, or disposed to punish them. This is the resort of a heart still depraved, and a conscience ill at case, 'in the prospect of what may take place hereafter, and is a dangerous, during effort to get rid of the qualms occasioned by the foreboding apprehensions of' a future reckoning
These men disagree also about the obligation of crcatures to worship God. Lord Herbert allows it to be a duty to worship God, and makes this, as we have saill, one of his five articles of Natural Religion. Chubb insists, that prayer to God is no part of Natural Religion. So that Natural Religion is no religion at all. Hume again says, that where the gods are conceived to be only a little superior to mankind, and to have been, many of them, advanced from that interior rank, we are more at ease in our addresses to them, and may even, without profaneness, aspire sometimes to it rivalship and emulation of them. So that the grossest absurdities of the Heathen Idolatry would have passed with Hume, and have been, in his judgment, quite rational. Surely those who can reject the Religion of Christ, and are inclined to admit such absurdities as these, must be strongly biassed in their judgments in examining these matters, and must have some very different grounds for their belief than the reason and fitness of things. The author of the Age of Reason not only omits the duty of worshipping God, but trents it with the utinost contempt, saying, that," he is not a beggar, a mumper, and a worm.” He says, lie does not need the divine favour or friendship, and stands indebted to God for nothing. Thus Deism is a sort of Practical Atheism, and in some respects is more inconsista ent; becausc, while it pretends to acknowlerige a God, it refuses to worship him. Indeel, it leads directly to Atheism. The first of the champions of this cause admitted the being of a God, and the obligation of his creatures to worship him ; while later advo. cates sncer at the latter, and even hesitate about the former. Does not this show that it is the high road to Atheism! It is surely higlily reasonable that, it the Lord be God, we shonid worship hiin.
* See Leland's Dcistical Writers, and Boling broke's Works:
These gentlenen clitlir also about the immortality of the soul, Respecting this important article of belief, the modern champions of Deism arc as much in the dark as their elder brethren of the Heathen worki. Inked, they are involved in deeper shades of darkness than they, because they have seen the light which dis. covered it, and have hated and despised it. Lord Herbert ad. mitted that the soul was immortal ; but those wlio laye followed him, have laboured with the utınost diligence and anxiety to get rid of the belief of it altogether. Hobbes denied any distinction between soul and body. — Chubb represents it as absolutely doubtful whether the soul be material or immaterial, or whether it be distinct fiorn the body; and if it be, whether it be equally perishable with the body, and shall die with it, or shall subsist after the dissolution of the body, - Bolingbroke maintains, that the soul is not a distinct substance from the body; and ibat the whole man is dissolved at death. * What a gloomy state arc
these men willing to take up with! All the hopes of life and immortality they are willing to relinquish at once; if they may be but freed from their dreari and apprehension, and be allowed, without danger of the consequence, to live as they plae. They can give up the hopes of Heaven, to be freed from the fears of Hell! What miscrable men! to take up with annihilation - to be willing to be no more.--Oh! what will you gain by losing every thing? You must be in an evil case when this is your best portion and highest hope.
These men too differ about a future state of retribution. That there is another world, thai there will be a future reckoning, and that there is a place of happiness and misery in that world, where all will be fixel for cvcr, are truths of serious concern; about which we stand much in need of soine certain information. But the champions of Dcisiu show the darkness which they labour nuder about the matter, by their disagrecment respecting it. Lord Herbert allowed that there was a future state of retribution ; but the most that have followed him have laboured to get rid of the belief of it, and have tricd to persuade themselves that there was no such thing. Hobbes denied a future state-Chubh endeavqured to subyert it - Hume endcavoured to overturn all the proofs of it. Bolingbroke maintained that the doctrine of future rewards and punishin:ents is a fiction, which hath no real foundation in nature and reason; and that to pretend to argue for future retributions from the unequal distributions of this present state, is absurd and blasphemoust. The same writer tells us again that the design of his scheme is, that “the burning lake may disappear." Paine tells us, " it'we knew that a future judgment was a fact, we should be the micre slaves of terror."
How uneasy are these men at the prospect of an hereafter! Oh! miserable, miserable men, to live in a situation, and rest contented