Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

they prevent Self-love, and Self-conceit, the natural Inclination we have to flatter our felves, and that woful Averfion to true Holje Rels which poflefles the Minds of Men, from making ufe of these

Doftrines to lull their Souls into a secure Dependence upon a fpe=" eculative Religion, and a dead Faith that is without Works?' No

practical Errors are of all others the most contagious, they have a lieady Friend in every Man's Breaft, his Heart is upon their Side, and the Wounds given by any Notions that may have a Tendeney that way, are too deep and poisonous to be cured by Metaphya

The good things that may be found in that or other such Wrirings. the Piery of their Authors, or the Worth of the Perfons who recommend them, only render such

Composures more dangerous and whatever Value or Efteem we may still preserve for thefe lear ned and worthy Minifters, their Judgment is norto be a Rule to Chriftians, nor will their Authority make a Thing good that is init felf hurtful: It is a great Advantage to all Errors when Mens Perfons are held in Admiration, it has often been the Practice of such as promote them, to pretend an extraordinary Zeal for fome Truths and particularly the Grace of God, as the groffelt Antinoaziawi do, and as no doubt chofe did mentioned by Fude, who turá ned it into Lasciviousness (a); I besoech you; Brethren, mark them which cause Divifions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are fuch, ferve not our Lord Jesus Chrift, but their oren Belly, and Br GOOD WORDS AND FAIR SPEECHES docrite the Hearts of he Simple (b). Tho', we are more charitable to the Authors of fuch Writings as we are now speaking of, han to design an Application of these Scriptures to them.

To conclude, We are forry that the Contents of the Book fhould give occasion to make an Obferyation on the Title of it, which would not otherwise have been worth noticing. That it is indeed MODERN DIVINITY, more modern than the Doctrine of Chrift and his Apostles, and than that Grace of Gad zabich bringet Selvatipa, and bath appeared to all Men, teaching us that denying Ungodliness and wordly Lufts, me foould live soberly, righteously, and gedlyin this présent World (6),

In fead of some Books of this Şort, were our Confessor of Faith and Catechisms, particularly the Larger Catechism, recommended to the People, aưd diligently perufed by them, and compared with the Holy Scriptures, it would be an excellent Mean of preserving them ftedfast in the Truth, that they might hold the Mystery of Faith in a pure Confcience, and go afide neither to the right. Hand nor to the left: And we might be helped to conform our felves 60.-shas remarkable Instruction of Paul to Titus, and to avoid fach Questions as are there spoken of, This is a faithful Saying, and these Things I will that thou affirm conftantly, that they which have be lieved on God, "might be careful to maintain good Works: These tbings are good and profitable unto Men. But avoid foolish Questions, and

Geneala.

(1) Jude 4. (6) Rom, 8. 19, 18. () Tit. z. Ito 12

Genealogies, and Contentions, and frivings about the LAW for they are maprofitable and vain tale

Cassut A

Third Design of Confeffions belonging to this Class, was, That the Churches might tranfinit their Teftimony to the Truth

untoitheir latelt Pofterity; and furnish their Children with an Argument to persevere in the fame Do&rine, and an Encouragement to animate them amidlt the greatest Dangers and Difficultjes. so this purpofe the Ele&or Palatine exprefleth himself in a very pious and affecting Strain. For this End, he says, he left behind him that Confession of his Faith,.“ Ut charissimi mei liberi tanta o redderentur alacriores & animofiores, ad conftanter quoque persove"randum in bac mea Chriftiana Fida; nec se ullis insultibus, & turbklentis perionların procellis ac tempeftatibus, quarum ego, DE O fit gratis, ba&tenus plurimas graviflimafque, totą mes gubernationis chr

. riculo, auxiliante DEO Juftinui ac Seperavi, ab bac Fide abduci paterentur, aut in sus vacationis officie, 8o vere hujus, Chriftianeque. Religionis propagatione, remiffioresa timidiores, aut negligen. tiores efficerentur : quemadmodum ipse qxoque,, quod ad me priva. tim attinet, mihila fecins nec fegnius quam hactenus feci, in hac ipfa, quam agnofco e prafitear peritate, fretus gratia & auxilia DET ambipotentis, ad extremum usque vitæ med halitun perfiftere * perdurare certo decrevi.

Our Confeffions of Faith are in a peculiar manner useful for this end; and may be in an uncommon Degree improved by the Members of the Church of Scotland, for engaging them to a vigorous Zealfor those Blessings tranfmitted to us by our Fathers, and a fediaft Adherence to the Puricy of the Christian Do&trine. Let us call to Mind, that what we now .profefs is the Faith of the Reformation, which our Fathersembraced when their Hearts were warmest with the Love of God and of Truth, and the Spirit of that bleffed Change exerted it felt with the most unconstrained and disinteref. fed Efficacy: May that Light which then broke out from amidst the Clouds and Darkness of Popery, still irradiate our Souls, and be received with the fame Imparciality and Cheerfulness which it then met with : Let us rezember their Labours for the Truth, their unwearied Conftancy and unshaken Fortitude in maintaining and propagating it';, let us follow. Io noble an Example, and blush at the Thoughts of ever deferring these Truths, looking upon Ruins or their Hazards with Indifferency_ or an inglorious Neutrality, and fuffering them through our Faults to be lost to PoHerity.

What mighty Things hath God done to preserve out Reformation to us in its primitive Extent and Vigour! and what a de: lightful Mixture of Love and Power hath adorned the Working of his uncontrouled Providence in our Behalf! how many Schemes of Politicians hath he blown up! what Contrivances of ambitious

their

ärid

[ocr errors]

and tyrannical Princes, who hated the Simplicity of our Worship, and the

Liberty of our Principles, hath he defeated! what Stortas of Perfecution and Division too hath he calmed! He fupported this Chierch while tossed by thofe furious Tempefts, and pursued with the unrelenting Malice and Perfidy of Apoftares and Deferters; and at length, when on the Brink of Ruin, he brought us to the desired Haven. If it had not been the Lord who was on our Side,

when Men role up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their Wrath was kindled against us. Then the Waters had overwhelmed u$; the Strcam had gone over our Soul. Blessed be the Lord. who hath not given us a Prey to their Teeth. Now what can we render to the Lord for all his Benefits, that will prove fo accepta ble a Sacrifice to him, as a high Value, zealous Love, and stedfaft Adherence to these precious Truths of our Reformation, together with a constant Care to adorn our Profession of them by the Beauties of Holiness.

There are allo the fame Truths, that were with fo much Braa very and Conftancy maintained in the Reign of Blood and Perfecution

, that many now living once groned under ; which many gave a Testimony to by their Sufferings and by their Deaths, and were not prevail d upon to abandon by the Allurements and Terrors of this World : Seeing therefore we are compassed with fo

grcat 3 Cloud of Witnefles, let us run the same Race with as much Patience and Conftancy

Among all polite Nations, the great A&tions of their Progenitors were accounted a powerful Motive with Pofterity to purfúe the fame Paths of Glory, and to be invigorated by their Example: The imagines Majeruin were a Source of Courage and Intrepidity to the Roman Tunth, and presented to them, in the strongest Light, both Arguments to perswade and inflame them, and Encourage ments to animate and support them. Let us in the fame Manner improve the Leal and Fortitude of so many Saints and Martyrs, who held falt the Profession of their Faith without wavering, and continued faithful to the Death: When the Goodness of our mersitul God bath placed this

Church in fo happy Circumstances, and hath delivered it from its Enemies, we should now be the more afive and diligent, to get our Souls impressed with the Love of Truch; to make Advances in the knowledge of Chriftianity; to attain a spiritual Sight of the divine Beauties and Excellencies of our holy Faith, that may charm all our Affe&ions; and to have

the Hays of Truth daily

enlightning our Minds, and warming our licity, and arm our

felves with Fidelity, Courage and Constancy, if ever divine Providence thould fuffer these storms and Clouds un to gather, which were fo wondertully fcattered by the late Blorious and happy Revolution

And in the last place, with the Example of our Fathers, let us call to mind the peculiar Obligations this Church is under to remain kedfaft in this Do&rine; fince the Westminster Confeffion con.

that

tains the Confection to which this pahich were professed in our Reformations

were solemnly bound by their Dach to God in the National Covenant, that glorious Transaction, which however it may be derided and vilified, will always

be reckoned the diftinguishing Honour of our

Country, by all those who know that true Religion is the greatest Blessing to a People, and that it is their Glory to make Proteslioni of it; which Glory is heightned and becomes more illuftrious, in proportion to the Solemnity, the Extent, and the scalof such a Profession.

eventh ye muchy Salemnity did in a publick national Capacity, King Lords and Commons, &c. consenting, own their Belief of the Truth as it is in Jesus, and engage to a steady unmoveable Adherence to its Interests; as our Church did by the National Covenant, when it did, before the World, Angels and Men, avouch the Lord for its God, and devote it felt to his Service : So that tous, in fo far, what is said of Ifrael may

gay be applied beyond other Countries; Thou art a boly People unto the LORD thy GOD The LORD

tby GOD batb chosen thee to be a special People to himself, above all People that are upon the Fate of the Eartb" (a); And in the Day that our Fathers swore as in that Covenant to God, (and the fame Thing will hold with refpe&t unto us, while we continue in the fame DoEtrine, and approve of their Choice) this Church might have been addressed in the Words 'of Moses to Ifrael, Deut. 26. 17. Thou baji A touched the LORD this Day to be thy GOD, and to walk in his Ways

, and to keep bis Statutes and bis Commandments and his Judgments : And to bearken unto bis Voice. And the Lord bath

avonched thee this Day to be his peculiar People ; and being thus dignified with the Advantages of the Jewish Church, we may expe&t the promited Bleslings, or tear the threatned Ruin, according as we remain fedtaft in the Ways of Truth and Holiness. All thar hath been ipoken will aggravate the shame and Sin of our Apostacy, and heighten the Punith ment due to perfidious or cowardly Deferters

: But if we remain faithful in the Covenant of God, retain the uncorrupted Do&rine according to Godliness and both believe and

obey it; we have Redson to hope that it may ever be faid of this Church, Happy art tbon, O ISRAEL: Wo is like unto tkée, 0 People faded by the LORD, the Shield of thy Hep, and mo?o is the Secord of thy Excellency ! and thine Etxe mies shall be fanpd Liars unto ttee, and thou shalt tread upon their high Places (3),

799 941. . 119 THE last Use of Confeffions, was that they might be fubfervient

to the History of the Carib, by transmitting into Postérity an authentick and impartial Account of the Doctrine embraced by the several Churches. The Saxon Churches, in the Preface to their Confession, give this Realon for their publihing it.

• Necele est nos etiam ad pofteros relinquere publica testimonia, digna fide, pofta

fo) Deut. 7. 6. (b) Deut. 33, 29

falis criminationibus, ne pofteritas de nobis judicet : & not aliqui bis non Joris teftimoniis commonefacti, veritatem inquirunt, & in veris fententiis wafirmentar, How ufeful and necellary Confeffions, and particuLily our own, are for this purpose, hath been fufficiently

mani. Ielied in the first Part of this works when we thewed that it is by fạch Composures alone, that we can be enabled to form the juftest and most imparcial Notions of the Dodrine, Worship and Govern, ment of any Church.

[ocr errors]

only that we return a very short Answer to two particular Objeđions, which are brought against our Church with relation to her Confeffion, and in the Mouths of some Persons make a great Deal of Noise.

The First arises from the Use, which, it is alledged, the Church of Scotland makes of her Confeffion in the Administration of the Sacrament of Baptism. It may seem almoft needless to take Notice of the Expressions of an Author formerly mentioned, because what is ihere faid, will appear at first View plainly ridiculous to ang Body, who is tolerably acquainted with our Pra&ice or Principles; which tis certain every Man ought to be, wbo pretends to condemn and expofe them. The Thing hinted at, is Sir Richard Steil's Dediation to the Pope of the Account of the State of the Rompish Religion, publithed by him; where speaking of Scotland, Page 122 he says:

Infants are baptized there, not only into the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; but into the pure Do

erine professed and lettled by the Church of Scotland. Were either the Practice of our Church, or what is meant by being baptized in de Name of the Father, &c. understood, there would have been no Place found for this Reflection, nor is there any thing with us as to this Matter in general, but what is a necellary Confequence of the Thing it felf, and the conftant Practice of Christians. Before a Person be received into the Church by Baptism, it is a Maxim of common Sense, that he ihould make a Profeflion of the ChriStian Faith, or in the Cafe of Infants

that the Parent should do it, and engage to educate them in the Knowledge of that Religion.. A Protellion of Faith and Repentance was always made at Bapdilm, thus it is faid of John, That the People were baptized of him in Jordan, CONFESSING THEIR SINS (); Our Savioir when he gives that folemn Commission to his Apostles, Matth. 28., 19. Ta baptize all Nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son end of the Holy Ghoft; adds, Teaching them to observe all Things tohatsoeta I bave cam manded young and is it to be doubted, but the Perfon to be baptized was to profess his Obedience to all these Things? We have a remarkable Illustration of this Mattor in the Instance

of the Etbiepian Eunucl, where Philip required an Acknowledgment of his Faith, as a necessary Condition of his being baptized, and

che

(a! Matih. 3. 6.

« PrécédentContinuer »