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Thy mind claimed acquaintance with every mood of the heart,
But scorning restraint, thou plungedst thyself
To whom comes it? Sad question,
A bleeding nation sat mute
On the most unfortunate of their days.
Yet awaken new songs;
Not longer stand bowed in sorrow;
(Full pause. The music ceases.)
ART. VII.-BAXTER ON CREEDS.
[THE following very quaint and very good remarks are by the eminent Mr. Baxter, of blessed memory in the Christian church. We accidentally fell in with them, a few days ago, in a volume of the Christian Disciple, now the Christian Examiner, of Boston. We cannot forbear quoting them, because every word is true, and they contain a severer rebuke against creed-makers and heresy-hunters, than we should dare to write in our modern language; yet, withai, we think that the worthy Divine is not a whit too harsh.]
"By the occasion of heretics, quarrels and errors, the serpent steps in, and will needs be a spirit of zeal in the church; and he will so overdo against heretics, that he persuades them that they must enlarge their creed and add this clause against one, and that against another, and all was put for the perfecting and
preserving of the Christian faith. And so he brings it to be à matter of so much wit to be a Christian, (as Erasmus complains,) that ordinary heads were not able to reach it. He had got them, with a religious cruelty to their own and others' souls, to lay all their salvation and the peace of the church, upon some unsearchable mystery about the Trinity, which God either never revealed, or never clearly revealed, or never laid so great a stress upon; yet he persuades them that there was scripture proof enough for these; only the scriptures spoke it but in premises, or in darker terms, and they must put together into their creeds the consequences, and put it into plainer expressions, which heretics might not so easily corrupt, pervert or evade. Was not this reverend zeal? And was not the devil seemingly now a Christian of the most judicious and forward sort?
But what got he at this one game? 1. He necessitated implicit faith even in fundamentals, when he had got points among fundamentals, beyond the public reach. 2. He necessitated some living judge for the determining of fundamentals, that is, what is it in sense that the people must take for fundamentals. 3. He got a standing verdict against the perfection and sufficiency of scripture, (and consequently against Christ, his Spirit, his Apostles, and the Christian Faith,) that it will not so much as afford us a creed or system of fundamentals, or points absolutely necessary to salvation and brotherly communion, in fit or tolerable phrases; but we must mend the language at least. 4. He opened a gap for human additions, at which he might afterwards bring in more at his leisure. 5. He framed an engine for an infallible division, and to tear in pieces the church, casting out all as heretics, who would not subscribe to his additions, and necessitating separation by all dissenters, to the world's end, till the devil's engine be overthrown. 6. And hereby he lays a ground upon the divisions of Christians, to bring men into doubt of all religion, as not knowing which is the right. 7. And he lays the ground of certain heart-burnings and mutual hatred, contentions, revilings, and enmity. Is not here enough got, at one cast? Doth there need any more to the establishing of Romish and hellish darkness? Did not this one act found the seat of Rome? Did not the devil get more in his cloke in one day, than he could get by his sword in three hundred years? Yea, and where modesty restrains men from putting all such inventions and explications in their creed, the devil persuaded men, that they being the judgments of godly divines (no doubt to be reverenced, valued, and heard,) it is almost as much as if they were
in the creed, and therefore, whoever dissenteth, must be noted with a black coal, and you must disgrace him and avoid communion with him, as an heretic. Had it not been for this one plot, the Christian faith had been kept pure; religion had been one, the church had been one, and the hearts of Christians had been more one than they are. Had not the devil turned orthodox, he had not made so many true Christians heretics as Epiphanius and Austin have enrolled in the black list. Had not the enemy of truth and of peace got into the chair, and made so pathetic an oration as to inflame the minds of the lovers of truth to be overzealous for it, and to do too much, we might have had truth and peace to this day. Yea still, if he see any man of peace and moderation stand up to reduce men to the ancient simplicity, he presently seems the most zealous for Christ, and tells the unexperienced leaders of the flocks, that it is in favour of some heresy that such a man speaks; he is plotting a carnal syncretism, and attempting the reconcilement of Christ and Belial; he is tainted with Popery, or Socinianism, or Armenianism, or Calvinism, or whatsoever may make him odious with those he speaks to. O, what the devil hath got by overdoing!"
Pity that the Westminster Assembly Divines had not had this extract on their table, when they compiled their Cate chism!
OLD AND NEW YEAR.
Sound forth the dirge o'er the departing year!
A Jubilee! The infinite coming time!
Its waves flow out from clouds; but clouds how bright
And joy is in their deep, triumphant chime.
Thus onward do the eternal ages flow.
Man, who art cast upon this shoreless flood,
ART. VIII. CHARACTER OF JAMES FREEMAN, D. D.
BY J. F. CLARKE.
Discourse on the Life and Character of James Freeman, D. D. Senior Pastor of King's Chapel, Boston, who died November 14th 1835, in the 76th year of his age, and 55th of his ministry.
D'autres ont eu plus d'influence
Sur mon esprit, et mes idees-
"Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, this man not being a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."-James i. 25.
I HAVE selected these words as containing the most complete epitome and most perfect description of a rational, liberal, practical Christian life. He who looks into the law of liberty
who submits to no yoke of bondage;-who holds on-perseveres continues therein;-who acts out his principlesmakes them a part of his life-weaves them into his character and does his Masters' work faithfully; this man shall be happy, successful and blessed in his labors.
Such men as this, are rare. Bigots are plenty who cringe beneath a heavy yoke of formal service, full of anxiety and fear-living in the letter ignorant of the free spirit of the gospel-wearing a long face and solemn air-and applying always the lines of Watts
"My thoughts on awful subjects roll,
these men are common enough-and there are plenty of your men of light, your free enquirers-who will talk about religion, and are great friends of rational Christianity-who, if you preach a discourse explaining the nature of liberal religion, will immediately say, as they come out of the church door, "that's exactly what I believe-that's my doctrine,”and then they go their way, and straightway forget what manner of men they are.
But where shall we find the character described in our text -the consistent opposer of human tyranny, and the consistent doer of God's law? I have seen one such man, and I heard during the last week, of his departure from this world,
to his throne by the side of Christ. And while my own mind is naturally inclined to look back over his long course of usefulness-and to sum up in thought the distinguishing traits of his character-I cannot forbear communicating to you my feelings and opinions with respect to his character and life. Of all the blessings which God bestows on us in this world, I consider it the greatest to know a good man. It is the only way in which we can acquire a faith in goodness-the only way in which we can be convinced that disinterested effort is possible. If we have known one good man-one man in whose integrity of purpose, and honesty of character we place full confidence-no one can tell the benefit which we receive from our faith in that man. I consider the character of George Washington to be in this way a treasure to our country, worth more than all its other possessions. We are sure of his honesty and truth-and therefore we are sure that honesty and truth are possible, are real;—and here lies the great benefit of faith in Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ believe, in the possibility of perfect goodness, in the reality of unmixed love. When the world with its selfishness presses on them so hard, that they begin to doubt whether love exists at all, they can look to Jesus and all their doubts vanish. And thus I feel, that having lived with and known intimately the character of Dr. Freeman, I am fortified against the arguments of worldlings, sceptics and bigots. Worldly men may talk as much as they choose about the selfishness of man, and the hollowness of human virtue. I have known one man whose life was constant sacrifice and disinterested effort. I grant that there is selfishness and hypocrisy, but I know that goodness is possible and real. Thousands fall a prey to the world, and crawl on their bellies licking up the dust-but there are some hearts which beat nobly-to all who doubt, I proclaim it loudly-the time is bad, but there yet exist some pure souls five hundred who have not bowed the knee to Baal. And let infidels and sceptics come with their stories of priestly oppression, and try to make it out that every religious man is either a credulous and superstitious dupe, or a bigoted and hypocritical imposter. I have known one man who was neither the one nor the other. They cannot hate tyranny and cant, worse than he did. They cannot love freedom and contend for it with a greater devotion of soul than his. They cannot pretend to more independence of mind, more freedom from all prejudice-more candor, and clearness, and knowledge of mankind than he possessed. And yet he was a religious man-he was a Christian. He bowed with heartfelt