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less, occur in all dead languages; records, requires the use of rexbut the language in which the son, without which the scriptures Old Testament was written, is may be cited in support of the peculiarly doubtful and uncer- most dangerous and pernicious tain, there being no Books in the same language of equal date. Men may err who make use of
The expressions which occur reason; they may do so in some in scripture, are bold and figura. abstruse and difficult points ; tive, and though they appear to but men must err, who renounce be singularly beautiful when reason. Let us but carefully thoroughly unfolded, yet, being reflect on the capital corruptious remote from the present form of of religion, which bave prevailed expression, are not to be inter- in the world, the superstitious preted without the use of reason. and idolatrous rites of the hea
How comes it to pass, that then, or on the more inexcusable the church of Rome defends the corruptions of Christianity, and doctrine of transubstantiation, see whether we must not confess, but because she denies us the use that they are the spawn of ignoof reason in interpreting these rance, and are owing to men's words, “ this is my body ?” neglecting to exercise their unThe literal construction is con- derstanding in religious matters. tradictory to the first principles And indeed, it is impossible it of reason, and to the design of should be otherwise, when human the ordinance. And when it is authority usurps the place of observed that figurative expres- rational conviction, and daring sions are used in all languages, to use our understandings is acand were used by our Saviour, counted heresy and blasphemy. and therefore, that he must be We not only may, but must use understood in the same manner, our reason in religious matters. as when he called himself a viñe, Without it we can neither under and his father a husbandman, stand the principles we profess. i. e. that the bread broken was a to believe, nor the duties we are representation of the breaking of called upon to discharge. bis body, there will then appear Private Christians have a right nothing improper or forced in to judge for themselves, concernthe expression. And will any. ing all doctrines proposed to Protestant say, that reason is to them as articles of faith. No be used to overthrow such a doc- man, or body of men, has a right trine as transubstantiation, but to draw up a creed, and require not in expounding every other another man to give his assent part of scripture? The plainer in- to it. Religion is designed for deed any revelation is, the easier all men. The gospel is addressis the task of reason; but its use ed to every individual as such. is not hereby discarded. All It accosts him in his private knowledge, gained from written capacity. It speaks to him as books, much more from ancient possessed of an immortal spirit,
which must be either incon- boast of the right of private ceivably happy or miserable in a judgment, if we shut ир
the future world, and in consequence avenues to further light and of this, a right of judging for knowledge, and suppose ourhimself in matters of religion, is selves to have attained such a his indisputable and inalienable certain and perfect understandprivilege. No man can appear ing of divine truth, as to need no before God by a substitute. He further illumination. In vain cannot answer to the Judge of do we pray to God to lead us all the earth by another. As he into all truth, if we weakly immust answer for himself, he agine that all change in our ought to judge for himself. sentiments about the deep things
It was upon this principle, of of God deserves to be accounted the right of private judgment, a departure from the faith once the first Protestants set out. delivered to the saints. ChrisThey pleaded it, and they plead- tians are not only to “grow in ed with success.
And it is on grace,” but “in the knowledge the same principle, that their of their Lord and Saviour Jesus cause and conduct can alone be Christ.” It behoves us to be vindicated. This right is found- charitable and humble, to be ed in the nature of man, and willing to submit our understandbrings honour to Christianity, ing not to man, but to God. which, confiding in the pure In this highly favoured counmerit of its cause, invites in- try, we lie under no restraints in quiry, and cometh to the our religious inquiries, but let us light."
use our liberty for an occaIf reason be given us to direct sion to the flesh.” Let us not our inquiries after truth, let us imagine, that liberty consists in take care to preserve our minds exercising our wit and ridicule always open to conviction. Let on sacred things, in shewing a us patiently hear what is pro- contempt for principles or tenets, posed to us as divine truth, care- for which others express a venefully weigh the reasons by which ration. Men are deceived by it is enforced, and diligently names. Liberty does not consearch the scriptures to sist in being free from the conwhether the arguments drawn trol of reason, but in an unrefrom thence are fair and conclu- strained power of following its sive. Let us discuss doubtful dictates. Uphallowed passions, matters with candour and temper, unbridled appetites, ambition, and beware that we are not and the love of pleasure, are warped and biassed by any pre- equally pernicious to a just freejudice, enslaved by empty dom of thought, and a liberal, sounds, and dazzled by specious manly exercise of our intellecappearances. la vain do we tual faculties, with the most
servile and gloomy superstition, most abject of all vassals, is the. which ever veiled and caokered man who is driven by beadlong the human understanding. The passions.*
EVIDENCES OF A CHRISTIAN CHARACTER, AS GIVEN IN THE SERMON ON
The preaching of our Saviour · Happy they who hunger and must have been very defective, thirst after righteousness ; for if he failed of stating the most they shall be satisfied ! proper evidences of a Christian “Happy the merciful; for they character. It must have been shall obtain mercy! worse than merely defective, if “ Happy the clean in heart; be gave as evidences of a good for they shall see God! character, such things as are not Happy they who suffer per. to be so regarded by his profess- secution on account of righteoused disciples in their treatment ness; for the kingdom of heaven one of another. At this time is theirs ! I shall only bring to view such
ye be when things as are mentioned in the men shall revile and persecute sermon on the mount. As all you, and on my account accuse our readers are supposed to pos- you of every evil thing! Rejoice sess the common version of the and exult; for great is your reNew Testament, I shall give the ward in heaven!” passages according to Camp- The following passages in the bell's translation, that they may same sermon are worthy of nohave the benent of both in ex- tice, as containing the proper eviamining themselves.
dences of a Christian character: The character which our Sa- “But I say unto you, love viour pronounced happy or bless- your enemies; bless them who ed, we may safely regard as curse you; do good to them who good. Let us then attend to his hate you; and pray for them instructions:
who arraign and persecute you; Happy are the poor who re- that ye may be children of your pine not; for the kingdom of Father in heaven.” heaven is theirs !
“ For if ye forgive others Happy they who mourn; for their trespasses, your heavenly they shall receive consolation! Father will also forgive you."
"Happy the meek; for they “ Not everyone who saith shall inherit the land !
unto me, master, master, shall
The above passages are taken from a Sermon preached to a Congregation of Protestant Dissenters, in England, Dec. 14, 1814, by the Rev. James Manning,
enter into the kingdom of hea- creed or confession of faith; but ven, but he that doeth the will we must be of a temper to follow of my Father who is in hea- the Lord. It is not enough to Ven.'
speak good words ; but we must “Therefore, whosoever hear- be ready to every good work. eth these my precepts, and doeth It is not enough to show love to them, I will compare to a pru- those who love us, or who are of dent man, who built his house our party in religion or in poliupon the rock; for although the ticks; but we must exercise kind rain descended, and the rivers affections to all, even to our eneoverflowed, and the winds blew mies, and do good to all as we and beat upon that house, it fell have opportunity. not, because it was founded upon Christ died not for a party, but the rock.”
for all. He suffered for us, not to From all these passages com
procure us a license to sin with pared and collectively consider- impunity; but to redeem us from ed, it is clear, that the proper all iniquity, and to purify unto evidence of a Christian character, bimself a peculiar people, zealis a humble, patient, meek, mer- ous of good works. It is not ciful, long-suffering, forgiving, enough to believe that he died obedient temper of mind. Not for us ; but we must let the a syllable is said in the whole same mind be in us, which was sermon about believing in any also in him; and be ready, like one of those articles of contention, him, to lay down our lives for which partizans in religion have the brethren, when in the course denominated the essential articles of Providence we may be called of faith; and which have occa- to make such a sacrifice. We sioned so much schism, clamour, should be ready to die as martyrs, and reviling, among the different by the wrongs of others, rather professors of religion.
than to do wrong, or to render It is natural to infer from these evil for evil. passages, that such faith in the No faith, but that which Lord Jesus, as constitutes a “ worketh by love, and purifieth Christian, is not a mere assent the heart,” and the practice, is of the mind to the truth of any of any value as a qualification mysterious doctrine; but such a
for heaven. We may adopt any reliance on him, as disposes us of the disputed articles of faith, to obey his precepts, and to imi- whether true or false, -nay, tate his examples.
we may contend for them with It is moreover evident, that it the zeal of Jehu, and still remain is another and a greater thing to as destitute of the Christian be a Christian indeed, than many temper as that being who bepeople imagine. It is not enough lieves there is one God, and to say, Lord, Lord; but we must trembles. So long as men shall do the things that he has com- regard Christianity as essentially manded. It is not enough to consisting in a belief of any of give our assent to this or that the mysterious doctrines, about
which Christians have been di- that it is not very consistent vided; so long bitterness, wrath with “the meekness and gentleand clamour, contention, war ness of Christ,” for his professed and popular murder, will be disciples to meet each other in a esteemed as very consistent with field of battle, with the mutual the character of a Christian. purpose of butchery and murder. But let it be properly understood klad our Saviour said, Happy and felt, that Christianity con- is he who believeth this or that sists in a temper and practice disputed doctrine ; or, had he conformable to the self-denying said, He who adopteth this or precepts and example of the that coutested article of faith, Prince of Peace; then a new shall be likened to a man who staadard of excellence will be built his house upon a rock; established; by which it will then his ministers might bave appear, that many things which aeted consistently in making
“ highly esteemed such an article the criterion of a among men,” are emphatically Christian character. But, be it “ an abomination in the sight of remembered, Christ has said, God.” It may then be seen, " Whosoever heareth these my that the wars between different precepts and doeth them, I will sects of Christians, in which they compare to a prudent man who have endeavoured to invalidate buili his house upon a roek;" each other's integrity and repu- and let none of his ministers be tation, have not been such glo- deterred from such preaching, rious and praise-worthy exploits, through fear of being compared as many have imagined; and to Socrates or Plato.
In our number, for October, asperity in his remarks. Had some account was given of an he written with more of the unhappy controversy in New- “ meekness apd gentleness of York, between two classes of Christ,” we should have bad Christians, each of which claims more pleasure in copying from the honours of orthodoxy. The his pamphlet. But all we do, motives for noticiog this contro- in this affair, is for a warning versy in the Christian Disciple, to others; and, in this view, have already been given. It even the severity of lovestiwill be remembered, that Inves- gator may be useful; it may tigator, the author of the Trian- occasion others to be more gle, is an advocate for New- guarded in remarking on the England orthodoxy, in opposi- supposed errours of their fellow tion to the Calvanism of Dr. Christians. The pamphlet is Mason and others, in the city of divided into numbers; from se New-York. It is to be regretted, veral of which, some paragraplar that this author indulged so much will be given.