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which they have brought the royal ordinance of preaching. In our country we manage it wholly, otherwise. Being trained from childhood in the orthodox creed of the church, yet having every thing therein proved from Scripture, we are delivered from the wildness of our own heated brains and transient impressions; and may indeed fall into a security of mere orthodoxy, but are not liable to that temptation of broaching private interpretations and peculiar doctrines, whereby the faith of many might be perverted: and so it hath come to pass that no form of the Arian heresy hath been able to live amongst us; and the Arminian heresy, which hath caught both extremes of the church in this land, the most educated and the most ignorant, the High-Church and the Methodists, hath never shewn open face, however much it may be preferred in secret, as it always must be by the worldly part of the clergy and the people. Indeed, I may say that by the people, and also by the clergy, it hath been uniformly rejected ; and all the organization of the Wesleyan system hath not been able to make any impression upon the phalanx of knowledge and understanding which such a spiritual education hath constituted in our land.
And if you, who have been trained in those schools where orthodox doctrine is made light of, will but give me ear for a moment, I will shew you how open you throw yourself to the temptation of Satan, by the slighting of that which every good man should revere.
What is a man? Not certainly an infallible thinker of truth ; not certainly a pure conceiver of righteousness; or a harmonious organ of all just opinions. What is that mind which you bring to the perusal of the Holy Scriptures ? Nota tabula rasa, 'a sheet of fair and virgin purity, whereon the Holy Ghost may write the good pleasure of God. Not an ency, clopædia of knowledge, to perceive the taste and touch of past times and opinions which are in every part of the word of God, and to make the exact allowance for the same, in order to have the very form of the unchangeable truth. Or are you, the members of Christ, who all the day long are labouring in secular affairs; or are you, the ministers of Christ, who haply are all day long labouring in affairs only a shade less secular; able, without any help or guidance, to guard yourselves from applying the opinions, tastes, humours, prejudices, errors, whereof we are every one of us by nature but a congeries or bundle, from influencing you while meditating the word of God? Nay, but I ask, why do you hear a minister at all, or set one apart to the word and to prayer, if in yourselves you be so gifted ? And why have your paraphrastic Psalms; why have you the strains of God's prophetic men framed and fashioned to the times; why doat you on your popular preachers and popular speakers, if so be the word of God is your all in all ? And if you admit any help or consellor, whether do you think it is better to have one speaking at random his own crude and undigested opinions; or to have one speaking under the authority of the church, and with a reverence for what hath been said by the holy men of God in the times of old ? Come, my Bibleproud brother, let me tell thee a secret into thine own ear, as it were heard only by thyself: because thou settest no store by the constantly received opinion of Christ's church, I dread thou art an ignorant novice, or a self-conceited bigot; and that, if thou take not heed, Satan will make thee an incorrigible heretic.
For that Satan steals upon us under the pretence of seeking God for ourselves, and judging for ourselves, and casting off all authority, as he did upon our first parents, wishing to make them gods at a stroke and without God's wiser discipline, you may well perceive by the crowds of upstart novices, rash and heady fools, ignorant declaimers, and political innovators, whom he gets to take the lead in all those heretical or free-thinking clubs which start up and sink down in this troublous pool of wild and lawless thought; every one of whom you shall find with some such word in their mouth as thine: "We think for ourselves ;' We are inquirers after truth;' • We take nothing upon report;' We follow right reason; and we believe the word of God, trying it by our reason.' Then, to see what a trap Satan hath caught them in, go to their meetings, and I will be bound to say you shall be entertained all the night long with violent declamations, confirmed prejudices, boiling rage, and bitter spite, against every thing which hath the sanction of venerable names in past or present times, or which is upheld by establishment or authority of any kind. And these are your seekers and lovers of truth, and patient expectants of “the wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy!” Therefore ye ought to be on your guard against these popular traps of Satan; and be jealous of
selves, lest, by casting you loose from venerable authority, he plunges you at length into some of the same passionate excesses, obstinate prejudices, and natural predilections of
Believe me, brethren, however different it may be in the quiet and restful country, where Satan appropriates another disguise suited to men's more easy condition, that in this city of seething and fermenting novelties, where nothing in heaven above or earth beneath is sacred from the daring blasphemy of every speaker and the published profanity of every scribbler, and where the Scriptures are wrested, by every uncommissioned, unordained upstart, to his own fancy, the true wisdom is to study the Scriptures with a careful respect and great reverence for the one faith which all sound divines and orthodox churches have maintained : and while you yield not one point of saving doctrine to their judgment, but wait the conviction of the Holy Ghost, that you still preserve, as it were in the outer court of the temple, these dicta and dogmata of holy men, in order to keep out the suggestions of your own selfish and peculiar mind, the floating leaves of popular opinions and the novelties of the day, which are ever dunning for admission. For surely, brethren, a man must be possessed with the fulness of something before he is possessed with the wisdom of the Spirit; and the wisdom of the wise in all ages is certainly more worthy of a place, than the frothy and filthy exhalations of newspapers, magazines, and reviews: and of those Scriptures which the Spirit hath not yet interpreted to him, it is better surely to hold fast the interpretation of the communion of saints, than to have no interpretation at all, or
that which floats too often in empty sound and volubility of idle words around the walls and roofs of our places of worship. For I am not ashamed to say--because I include myself in the accusation — that this is an age in which the preaching of the Gospel and exposition of the Scriptures should blush and hide its head, Which if ye will not believe, take up the best book of modern preaching, and take up any at random written in the times of the Reformation and of Puritanism, and ye will see the difference, if ye be not fallen with the times; which I think is the case, for the people now lead the ministry, not the ministry the people, according to the golden order of public opinion, that image upon the plain of Dura which the god of this world hath set up in our times, and commanded all men to worship.
Do bear with and give heed to me, my beloved brethren; for though I be troubled and sore vexed in my spirit, by the great prevalency of Satan's power amongst us, these are words of truth and soberness which I indite for your advancement and growth in grace. I have suffered so much in the health and strength of my own soul, from the spirit of hasty innovation and self-sufficient private judgment, which worketh disunion and division; and have found it so difficult to recover the sweetness and holiness of the spirit of communion; and I do perceive so many harassed by the same temptation of Satan, and labouring against it-and, alas! so many yielding to itthat, as I said, I am troubled and much vexed in my soul, while I declare what is the sober and solid truth. I do see the temple, which is the church of Christ, so filled with those who, under