« ForrigeFortsæt »
Church does not altogether fall short of this. If we are delighted, fascinated, fixed in admiration, we are apt to think that this is enough; and the preacher who can produce this effect, is liable, perhaps, to think that this is enough. But I cannot conceive of those who listened to our Saviour, as going away merely delighted, as exclaiming about the delightful season they had had, as filled with a glow and excitement. And yet they were penetrated to the very heart, and went away-yes, though they came as spies and enemies—they went away, saying, “Never man spake like this man.”
I have now only adverted to that sort of inquiry, which I could wish might be pursued, into our Saviour's character, and the character of his teaching and religion : but the limits of this tract forbid my pursuing the subject into detail. This, I must desire the reader, most carefully and candidly, to do for himself. He will find that it is no common inquiry. Let him lay aside, for a time, his controversial zeal about texts, and doctrines, and offices, and simply ask—what sort of a religion—a piety was Jesus Christ's ? I leave the inquiry; and could wish that every reader would peruse the Gospels, with this single question before him. And when he has risen from this perusal, I would ask him to say, whether he believes that Jesus Christ would have awarded the character of the good man, as exclusively as is now done, to the most solemn, to the most zealous, to the most scrupulous in ritual observances, or to the most active in public and ostentatious religious enterprises. I will only add that this is the legitimate and the great inquiry, because our Saviour's teaching is the authorized exhibition of religion,-because our Saviour's character is religion imbodied in an example.
One further remark. I have not engaged in this discussion, because I apprehend that those who read it, or that any others, are liable to be, in the just sense of those words, too strict, or too serious, or earnest, or too active in the public duties of christian benevolence. And I believe, indeed, that the truest severity and rigor of virtue, are perfectly compatible with the truest cheerfulness and freedom of mind. It is not, then, that I consider any too strict, or that I would make any less so. This is not the point at which I aim. This is not the point in hand. The question is, what evidence does the predominance of any particular qualities in a religion give, that that religion is the truest and the best ? And when, leaving the wide and obvious path of the christian virtues-when, forsaking the broad and beaten ground of evidence, men undertake to set up certain doubtful qualities and actions, as the main tests of true religion--when they urge them so boldly and so constantly as to put the reasonable, but diffident and timid in doubt, it is time to speak-both for their protection, and for the defence of truth.
Let it be your endeavor, reader! and mine, not only to speak the words of truth and soberness, but to act in accordance with the words we speak. Let it be our endeavor, and may it be our happiness and honor, to show that men can be serious without gloom, earnest without noisy excitement, and devout and active without saying,
come and see my zeal for the Lord.” May we be found faithful to our Bible-faithful to God-and faithful to the duties of our present and passing lot! I ask no more than this, and I ask no less. And in this, I pray God, that we may be found" steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord !"
The following Dissertation was written by the late Rev. S. C. THACHER, and was originally published as an appendix to the American edition of Yates' reply to Wardlaw. It may also be found at the end of the volume of Mr Thacher's Sermons printed after his death. Its merits entitle it to general perusal. It is therefore published as a tract, that it may be read by those who might see neither of the books in which it has hitherto appeared.
On the kind and degree of Evidence necessary to establish
the Doctrine of the Trinity, and by which we might expect the Doctrine of the Trinity would be supported in the Scriptures.
It will easily be acknowledged, that in all inquiries which depend on moral evidence, the correctness of our conclusions will be very much affected by the standard of proof by which we try them. If this standard be either too high or too low, if we require either too much or too little evidence, we may disbelieve where we ought to be convinced, or be convinced where we ought to disbelieve. The sceptic, who demands a kind and degree of proof inconsistent with our moral nature, our state of probation, and the analogy of the divine government, is led to throw away the inestimable aids, and motives, and consolations, and hopes of Christianity. The believer in transubstantiation, on the other hand, who is satisfied with evidence insufficient both in its measure and its nature, is led to embrace a faith, which makes the gospel itself incredible, by making it responsible for a doctrine contradictory to nature, to reason, and to other parts of the scriptures themselves. It is evidently very important, therefore, that we should guard against the danger of requiring too much, or of being contented with too little