صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

others (Matt. xvii. 10.) as unworthy of our affection and communion, for some weakness in their under standing? How little love there is in this isсom and disdain of those whom we think to be in the wrong ! Let us melt in pity and tenderness on their behalf: it will often do far more for union and edification than

depth of learning, knowledge of antiquity, authority of councils, sharpness of wit, and the name of Church, and all those things to which we attach the most weight. Hard names serve only to exasperate: harshly judging others leads them harshly to judge us. Christ's rule is judge not. The moralist condemns the doctrinalist for enthusiasm and antinomianism, and is in his turn condemned for subverting the gospel. Churchmen and dissenters rail against each other. 1 The lukewarm man accuses the zealous of

1 These things are seen in their true light in a dying hour. Lewis Du Moulin had in his life-time published various violent and bitter things against churchmen. But on his death-bed he had the piety and integrity to sign the following recantation : * As for my books, in which I mixed many personal reflections, 1 am now sensible I mixed too much of my own passions and bitnerness; and therefore I disclaim all that is personal in them, and am heartily sorry for every thing I have written to the defaming of any person, I humbly beg God, and all those I have so wronged, pardon, for Jesus Christ's sake; and am resolved, if God shall spare my life, never to meddle more

with such personal things ; and do earnestly exhort all people, as a dying man, that they will study more love and mutual forbearance in their differences, and will avoid all bitter and uncharitable reflections. And as I pray those worthy men of the Church of England to have charity and tenderness for the dissenters from them; so I beg of the dissenters, that they would have a due regard and respect to those of the Church of England ; of many of whom I now say, let my soul be with theirs; and that all true Protestants may heartily unite and concur in the defence and preservation of the holy reformed religion, now by the mercy of God settled among us. And that men of all sides may, according to St. Paul's rule, cease to bite and devour one another, lest we be destroyed one of another; and that whereunto we have already attained we may walk by the same rule, hoping that if any man is

pride and making a party, and he, in his turn, is charged with lukewarmness and spiritual death; and love mourns and sighs over all. One word spoken in love would often do more than a thousand words of hard censure, or volumes of controversy.

It may promote this spirit of love ever to remember our own natural blindness, our obligations to divine grace, and our limited knowledge at best. Haman judgment on divine things is formed from the divine light imparted to us, and according to evidence that comes before us. We cannot discern the whole perhaps of any case. However sound, therefore, our judgment may be before our fellow-creatures, it is at the best very imperfect before God; but however defective it may appear to men, there may be views on the evje dence before our minds, in which it may be correct. We must not then despise each other's judgment. The main thing requisite to form a judgment according to the mind of God, the only thing of supreme import ance, is to have that spiritual mind, which enables us to discern something of the relative proportion and value of all things, and raises us above the natural selfishness of our hearts.

We may learn hence to be very forbearing and tender to each other's apparent ignorances and infirmities. Something in the conduct of another may to us appear very untrue and unjust, very severe and uncharitable; but, perhaps, the light of heaven may

Otherwise minded in some lesser things, God shall either reveal that to him, or mercifully forgive it, through Jesus Christ, into whose hands I commend my spirit, and desire to appear before God in and through Him who gave himself for me, and therefore do now study to learn of Him to be meek and lowly in heart, and to love all the brethren as he loved me.' Det. 5, 1680.


discover to ous, that that which had this appearance was in reality from the situation of that person, and the evidence before him, an embracing of the truth, and an exercise of great forbearance, kindness, justice, and charity. To their unspeakable and most joyful surprise, Christian acquaintances, who were cold and suspicious on earth, may hereafter find that they greatly wronged each other, and learn afresh to admire that gráce from which all that is good really comes, and which has pardoned and accepted all. > Let us ever remember the nature of charity; as it beareth, or covereth, all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth. This will lead us to put, if possible, a favour able construction on the words of those from whom we differy and enable us far more effectually to illustrate the real doctrine. 's Men very often mean the same truth, while they express it differently. Yet never let us practise that spurious charity which is the birth of indifference and infidelity. We must on the one hand hold fast the form of sound words, and on the other speak the truth in love. Divine Spirit! Thou Spirit of truth and love! enable us to manifest - by these graces that we are thine!, 1 Remember that NO TRUTH 'IS REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURES POR SPECULATIVE PURPOSES, and that, however CHRISTIANS may differ on the speculative point, they'1 ÁGREE IN DESIRING ONE AND SAME PRACTICAL INFLUENCE. Ten thousand things are not revealed, which our curiosity would prompt us to wish had been revealed. Nothing is manifested but what is profitable for us to know for devotional, and practical use. The divine sovereignty, the freedom of grace, the operations of the Holy Ghost, the


attributes of God are all most influential in producing those holy tempers and dispositions which Christjans profess universally to desire, and without which we are not meet, for the heavenly inheritance, b It should tend to draw good men nearer to each other, to remember, that however they may form different speculative conclusions on doctrinal points, from the same passages, if real Christians, they agree in prac. tical conclusions, and they wish for themselves, and for each other the highest possible degrees, attainable on earth, of faith, hope, and love, of conformity to the divine mind and will, of humility, contrition, self-denial, and devotedness to God. Here there is no dispute among them. The differences of real Christians are more as to the mode of producing these results, than as to the results themselves; and how painful that those differences should often be so mains tained asi to destroy the very results which they are aiming to produce. Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing: 4

Be willing to SUSPEND YOUR JUDGMENT ON DOUBTFUL POINTS. Is there nothing to be revealed hereafter ? : Are there no higher attainments of knows ledge after years of experience in the Christian life and of lengthened study? Will not the glory of the heavenly world throw a full blaze of light which we cannot now anticipate ? What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. There is much holy confidence and submission to God and many other Christian feelings to be exercised in such a

*Efw to It is an truth Si in 400 necessariis libertas ; in utrisque charitas, optimo certe loco res nostra.

to ob

suspense of judgment. On great points, on the salvation of Christ, free justification, adoption, and sanctification ; let us be very bold and strenuous, and contend earnestly for the faith : on more doubtful points; when we have not clear views, and our opinion is asked, let us reply with Augustine- I had rather know than be ignorant of the questions which you ask me ; but because I cannot attain it, I had rather admit a cautious ignorance, than profess a false knowledge.?b. This seems to have been the habit of his mind.11, i!

Endeavour to derive PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT FROM CONTROVERSY. Differences of opinion should teach' us' 'many' practical lessons. When eminent scholars and Christians disagree in important points, how plain the duty not to lean to our own understanding, but to be as babes before our God, ever seeking His guidance! This is a school in which we should learn humility, forbearance, and candour; the weakness of human reason, the inestimable benefit of that body of unquestionable and incontrovertible truth which we have in God's book, and the absolute necessity of having the foundation of our faith only on God's word. Seek to make a practical use of known truth, and that which is unknown will by degrees, as far as it is profitable; be revealed to you. ri The different views of Christians have sometimes been perverted to keep men from all religion. Persons have made it an excuse for wholly neglecting their souls. They have gladly availed themselves of such a plausible argument, and God, leaving them to their

[ocr errors]

Bos} See Milner's Church History, Vol. ii. p. 468.

« السابقةمتابعة »