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the conflicts of the church, and redeemed her out of her militant state.
The enemies of the truth still live; "and almost all who have taken an extensive view of Zion's interests, and her course down the tract of time, agree in warning her sons of a period of thickening and excessive darkness and trouble, previous to her latter day glory!"*"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that, in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils!""For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables!"
Such are the warnings of revelation. And who can tell whether the corrupters and opposers of Bible truths in our day are not aiming to effect, by compromise and pretended friendship, what they have been unable to accomplish by open and avowed hostility; and under an ostensive warfare against the shibboleths of party, hurling their envenomed darts at the shibboleths of truth? Surely there are many in our day who speak not the language of Canaan, but the language of Ashdod.
At such a time, there is a peculiar necessity for the friends of evangelical truth, by a diligent investigation of the system of revealed religion, to arm for the warfare, that they may quit themselves like men ; and convince the advocates of error, that, although Calvin no longer occupies the professoral chair at Geneva-although Luther no longer defies the host of devils at Worms-although the intrepid Knox no longer thunders in the ears of the graceless Marythe true sons of the Reformation have not forgotten, that it is their duty to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. "Thus saith the Lord,
† 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4.
*Strictures, &c. p. 71. +1 Tim. iv. 1.
stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."* "If ye continue in my words," says Christ,† "then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth. shall make you free.”
Faithful adherence to the doctrines, and cordial submission to the commandments of Jesus Christ, are the test of sincere discipleship. This recognizes a perfectly natural and universally acknowledged principle. Every system, whether of philosophy, or politics, or religion, has its peculiarities by which it is known and distinguished; and the destruction of these peculiarities is the destruction of the system to which they belong. The Christian system, as well as every other, has its peculiarities, to all of which, the great Teacher come from God demands. our adherence and submission.
Neither will the expedient too frequently resorted. to in the church on earth, of giving a general and disguised assent to the Christian system, while its distinguishing peculiarities are left out of view, or utterly rejected, meet with acceptance in the court above! True; by this expedient the pale of the visible church may be greatly extended, and the external fellowship of churches greatly promoted. The clean and the unclean, the pure and the impure, the orthodox and the hetrodox, may thus be embodied; and, collected around the Redeemer's table, may hold their communion on catholic principles, and meet and embrace each other on the broad ground of a common Christianity. But is this common Christianity the Christianity of the Bible? A building, stripped of its ornaments, its architraves and its mouldings disfigured or torn away, no longer pleases the eye of the architectno longer exhibits its true character. It is now, not Jo. viii. 31, 32..
* Jer. vi. 16.
what it was designed to be, nor what it in reality once was: The rude hand of the destroyer has made it a graceless mass-a mere wreck. Let the Temple of Mercy, reared by the hand of the "great God, our Saviour," the topstone of which shall be laid with shouts of grace, grace unto it-and the glories of which were but faintly symbolized by the far-famed glories of the temple at Jerusalem ;-let this temple of mercy be committed to the hands of all who claim a common friendship,-let every one tear away what offends him, and add what suits him, -and what of original design, of primitive beauty, and of distinctive character will remain? Christianity, deprived by lawless depredations and interpolations of all that makes it the system of Jesus Christ, is not worth retaining. Neither is a fellowship, founded on the mutual sacrifice of the peculiarities of the various systems which have arrogated the Christian name, worth enjoying. The Calvinist is a Christian-the Arminian is a Christian-the Universalist is a Christian-and the Socinian, blaspheming the Saviour and the Comforter of the church, is a Christian, too! Calvinists, Arminians, Universalists, and Socinians, meet on common. ground; while many stand ready to make a falseapplication of scripture, and to exclaim "Behold! how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
Ah! reader, this expedient will not answer. The clay and the iron will not unite. Jesus Christ will not own the corrupters of his word as his friends and disciples. The revelation which he has made of his mind and will, as we have already remarked, is most perfect and this perfection consists not only in making known every thing necessary to be believed, and in prescribing every thing necessary to be done; but also in stating and enjoining nothing beyond what is necessary to be known, believed, and practised. "The Scripture (says Cal
vin) is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing necessary and useful to be known is cmitted, so nothing is taught which is not beneficial to be known." And a greater than Calvin has said, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good work." Accordingly we find that God has solemnly guarded every truth of the inspired volume. Hear the warning on this subject from his own mouth: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book!"
Now, with this awful warning before you, take up the holy book, and tell me which truth you will undertake to dismiss from its pages? Upon which truth dare you even sit in judgment, and pronounce it unessential? I readily admit, that one revealed truth is of greater importance and higher interest than another and so in a gold mine, one parcel of ore may be richer than another; but the less valuable still contains gold: It has often been remarked by writers, who lived nearer the days of the Reformation than we do, and in relation to this very point too," that even the filings of gold are precious." Truth is still truth; and the very shreds and particles of it are precious to those who have a heart to say, "O how I love thy law!" Every truth revealed in Scripture must be important. To
* Inst. vol. ii. p. 417.
+2 Tim. iii. 16.
Rev. xxii. 18, 19,
suppose the contrary is to impeach the wisdom of God, who has made it known.
And where is the man who shall undertake to instruct me, how many of the truths of the Bible are essential, and how many are not essential to my salvation? Who will presume to advise me on this point, Where in the list of Bible truths can I, with safety, arrest my faith, and withhold my assent?— which truth of the Bible am I bound, under pan of eternal death to embrace, and which am I permitted to reject?-which am I compelled to hold inviolate, and which am I suffered to mutilate and pervert?
Ah! brethren, "the things which are revealed all the things which are revealed-belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."* My duty and your duty is to study the whole word of God, and to embrace every truth it exhibits, and to practise every duty it enjoins," to esteem all God's precepts concerning all things to be right, and to hate every false way."+
Such was the view of the Christian system, taken by the churches of the Reformation, when the friends of the Lord Jesus would rather suffer their blood to be shed than to surrender up any truth of revelation! They contended for the truth, and for the whole truth; and the result was that their fellowship was a real Christian communion of feeling, founded on a communion of sentiment. Who that has examined the subject, has not been struck with the surprizing agreement in the creeds and confessions of the Reformed Church, not only in what are now called essentials, but also in what many are now pleased to denominate non-essentials. "The fabulous music of the spheres (says a writer,) can
* Deut. xxix. 29.
†Ps. cxix. 128.
t Mather's Mag. vol. ii. p. 156.