« PrécédentContinuer »
CHARACTER OF THE HON. RICHARD CRANCH.
The following sketch of the useful career. Though he was sharacter of Judge Cranch, is not favoured with an early classiabridged from a sermon, deliver- cal education ; yet, by unwearied ed at his funeral, by the Rev. application, he soon acquired a Peter Whitney, of Quincy. competent knowledge of those
The Hon. Richard Cranch was languages which are taught in born at Kingsbridge, in England, the University. in October, 1726. He was de- Christian theology arrested scended from reputable parents, his first regard. The study who were of that class of Chris- of the scriptures was his most tians, called Puritaps. The re- delightful employment. With ligious sentiments of his parents the truth of the Christian religion, were of a more rigid cast than founded upon the prophecies of to meet his cordial reception : scripture, he was forcibly imbut their piety and sincere at- pressed; and this led him to a tachment to what they conceived course of reading, which might to be truth, were always the sub-' throw light on this interesting ject of his admiration. At the portion of the Bible. age of nineteen he embarked for His talents and his virtues America. Upon his arrival, he soon recommended him to the resided several years in Boston. confidence of the people. He In 1750, he removed from Boston was repeatedly chosen to repreto the North Parish in Braintree, sent the united parishes of Brainnow Quincy. Circumstances tree in the General Assembly soon led him to remove to Weye of this state. He frequently remouth, where he formed a con- ceived the suffrages of the people jugal relation, which was, through as a senator; and was appointed a long life, a source of much a judge of the Court of Common happiness. In a few years he Pleas, in the county of Suffolk. returned again to Quincy, where Impressed with a conviction of he spent the greater part of the his merits, the University at residue of his days. Here he Cambridge conferred upon him died, October 16th, 1811. His
His an honorary degree. amiable wife died the next day, Among all his excelencies, and they were both buried at the his piety perhaps was the most same time. They had lived to.. prominent. A profound veneragether pearly half a century. tion for the Supreme Jehovah
The mind of Mr. Cranch was pervaded his life. He felt in his naturally vigorous and compre actions, that he was in the preprehensive, thoughtful and in- sence of God, and accountable quisitive. His friendship was at bis tribunal. In his family sought by the wise and virtuous, devotions, he was uncommonly and in their society he laid a fervent; and in his life, were as foundation for an honourable and few aberrations from the strictest integrity, as bave, perhaps, ever quiries, which would recommend marked the character of man. them to God; and he delighted On the publick offices of religion to look forward to that period, he was, until prevented by in. when the upright of every cousfirmity, a constant and serious try and every religion, would attendant; and, as a professor meet together in heaven. of Christianity, he adorned the In his last interview with the doctrines of the Saviour. With minister who delivered the disbim vice could find no shelter; course, from which this sketch is but was frowned from his pre- extracted, the good man observsence. Though pleasant and ed, “ For more than sixty years, cheerful as a companion, his I have felt the value of early cheerfulness never degenerated religion, and of an early prointo levity, nor in the moments fession of Christianity. At a of greatest relaxation did he period when no worldly consideforget his character as a Chris- rations could be supposed to intian. His conversation was en- fuence my conduct, I made a tertaining, and replete with the publick profession of religion. richest fund of intelligence. The i bave never found reason to wise delighted to associate with lament this part of my conduct. him, and could always find some It has always given me pleasure addition to their own treasures on reflection, and brightens my from the full stores of his mind. prospects into futurity.”
With the clergy be was in In the domestick relations he high estimation. Having devot- displayed every desirable virtue: ed a considerable portion of his While his loss is therefore most life to the study of theology, he sensibly felt in his owo family, might, with propriety, be deno- it is a consoling reflection, that minated a sound divine. Few, the virtues which endeared him even of the clerical profession, to their affections on earth, are have surpassed bim in their the surest ground of hope, that he knowledge of Christian theology. is now united to pure and happy
of his enlarged mind, catho- spirits in heaven. licism was
a natural conse- All his faculties, except that quence.
He beheld in every of hearing, he retained in great different shade of the Christian perfection, till the Saturday prefaith, men of sincerity and real ceding his decease.
He was virtue. Apprized of his own then seized with a lethargy. But imperfections, he never erected while his relations bad reason to himself into a standard for others; lament, that they were deprived but was willing to believe, that of his useful instructions on the however widely Christians differ bed of death, they were comfortin their conceptions of the lessed by the consideration that his important articles of their faith, illness was short, and that, withthere might be in them all that out much distress, he "fell asleep honesty and fidelity in their in- in Jesus."
Such are the principal things indebted, not only for the facts recorded of this eminent man, in and sentiments, but also, in genethe sermon delivered at bis fune- ral, for the language in which ral. To the preacher we are they are expressed.
ON THE USE OF REASON IN RELIGION.
There cannot be a stronger ye not what is right.” Here is evidence of the goodness of any no claim to implicit faith,-no cause, or, at least, of the upright demand, that because he affirmed intentions of those who defend it, of himself, he was a divine mesthan that they submit the argu- senger, they were to receive the ment they urge in its favour, to message without examination. the free and unrestrained inquiry He spake the words of God; and examination of mankind. nevertheless he desired not to This open and ingenuous dispo- lead his followers blindfold into sition was never more visible, any new principles, but merely than in the whole behaviour that they would divest themof Christ and his Apostles. selves of all corrupt principles, They held no secret doctrines, and give him a fair hearing. which they imparted with mys- The apostles wrote after this terious caution to their immedi- copy. They laid before the ate disciples, and other doctrines world the great truths of the which they promulgated to the gospel, but were desirous, that people. They had no sinister all they delivered should be views or double meaning. They freely and impartially weighed placed all the truths they deliv- by others before they received it. ered either on their internal ex- The apostle Paul, in his speech eellence, or a divine testimony before Agrippa, tells him, he which accompanied them, and knew that he believed the scripthey invited all their hearers to tures, and therefore he appealed consider, soberly and impartially; to them. Just as our Saviour what was offered to them, and to had told the Jews, that “had act according to conviction. Our they believed Moses, they would Lord not only took all proper have believed him, for he," says occasions of bearing « witness he, “ wrote of me.” to the truth,” and of publishing tle received the knowledge of the gospel to the world, but he the gospel by an extraordinary appealed to the understandings revelation. He delivered only and consciences of his hearers, what he first received, and he that what he said was worthy of had the power of working miracredit and approbation, “and cles to prove his divine commiswhy, even of yourselves, judge sion, but he submitted the vali
dity of his credentials, and the divine revelation, and, in the nature and force of all that evi- heat of their zeal, bave opened dence which accompanied his a wide door to enthusiasm and preaching and writing, to the superstition, and disarmed themreason of those he addresses, and selves of the only weapon, by appeals to their enlightened un- which ignorance and errour can derstandings for the confirmation be combated with success. of his doctrine. “I speak as to To avoid these two extremes wise men, judge ye what I say." of making reason our idol, suffi
Some persons have almost cient for every thing on the one deified human reason, and have hand, and on the other, totally exalted its natural strength to a decrying it as sufficient for nodegree, which history and expe- thing, it may not be an unprofitrience will not justify; whilst able inquiry in what instances it others, with a view to do honour is necessary to make use of our to revelation, have derided and reason in religious matters. vilified reason, as if it were of Without a revelation from heathenish extraction, not con-' God, it cannot be denied, that sidering that it is of divine ori- the reason of mankind is their ginal, “the inspiration of the only guide, how imperfect and Almighty, which hath given us erroneous soever. And before understanding." Such wide and the publication of the gospel, it unwarrantable extremes, like had been vigorously exercised most other extremes, have been in the construction of a variety productive of very fatal conse- of systems of natural religion. quences. Where reason has What unassisted reason could do, been unduly magnified, revela- it has done; but it was found an tion has been proportionably insufficient guide to those truths, despised. Men have indulged which are of chief importance to a degree of pride and vanity for man to know. It becomes in their encomiums on our natu- us, therefore, highly to prize that ral powers, inconsistent with the divine revelation, which aids the present state of human nature, efforts of reason, and supplies its and with their obligation to God defects. It becomes us to acfor the light of divine revelation. knowledge, and with exalted This supposed omnipotence of gratitude let that acknowledgreason has been the cause of ment be made, that we, who men's spurning at divine revela- enjoy the benefits of a revelation tion, as the offspring of credulity from God, are far better able to and superstition, without suffi- determine the real value of reaciently considering the evidence son, respecting these important on which it is founded, and the subjects, than they were, who uses, to which it may be applied. enjoyed no higher instructor.
On the other hand, some of the Blessed be God, we have a better warmer and weaker votaries of light. He hath revealed his will the gospel have treated reason to us, and we cannot act as as a rebel and conspirator against rational beings, unless we make
use of our reason, in inquiring embraced it, to a resemblance of into the evidences of revelation, the moral purity of God himself, and in understanding what it then surely reason may infer that contains.
Christianity is of God, and that They who imagine, that reve- whatever is contained in a book, Jation is granted to supersede the stamped with such authority, use and exercise of reason, run must be divine. into a like absurdity with that But perhaps it will be admitman, who would argue, that light ted, that reason is rightly exerentirely sets aside the use of the cised, in judging of the evidence organs of sight, whereas, without of revelation, but when the truth the latter, the former would be of revelation is once established, of no advantage. Christianity the office of reason ceases, and is founded on argument. Reve- it is wholly resigned and in sublation stands on the foundation jection to faith. of reasonable evidence, and it I acknowledge we must reis absolutely necessary to use ceive implicitly whatever docour reason to discover the truth trines we perceive to come from of revelation and understand its God. But then we must first meaning.
understand the true sense and Here reason is suitably em- meaning of those words and ployed in reviewing and examin- phrases, which are supposed to ing the evidences which helong contain the doctrine, to interpret to this great question, whether which, is the office of reason. they be of an historical or moral It is doubtless, the proper emkind, and to receive impartially ployment of this faculty of the and faithfully the volume, which human mind to “compare spir comes so attested.
itual things with spiritual,” to On this head we shall only judge of the meaning of particu. observe, that if the writers of lar parts of the word of God, by the sacred volume, who brought comparing them with other parts. with them the most striking tes. Thus prophecies are illustrated timonials of a divine mission, by their accomplishment; preasserted that they were commis cepts receive light by the reasioned from God; if wonderful sons in which they are founded; works were performed under the and doctrines are no doubt to sanction of God himself, for be understood and explained in proving what they related to be their connexion with each other. true; if events, which they fore- The books of the Old and told, have actually taken place, New Testament, abound with if their doctrine, unsupported allusions to certain customs and and often opposed by human popular opinions of those ages in authority, has spread round the which they were written, which globe by its own native energy, allusions cannot be perfectly upand, especially, if it has been derstood without a competent the instrument of forming the knowledge of those customs and miods of those who sincerely opinions. Difficulties, more or
Vol. IV. No. 12.