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nical and persecuting power, un- Saviour are not physically imtil within a few years past, when possible, the competency of the it has grown more tolerant. witnesses, their moral character,
There can then be little doubt, the object which they might have but that Germany must undergo a in view, and the circumstances in great change in her government, which they declared their convic. before the general spread of pure tion of the reality of what they Christianity. It is probable from saw, and the truth of what they many circumstances, that France heard, must be all taken into will be an instrument of effecting account, in judging of the credit this change. Perhaps a leading to which they were entitled. blow has been struck already. These witnesses were incapa(To be continued.) ble perhaps of accurate logical
discussion ; but men of plain SHORT REMARKS ON OUR SA. common sense, some of them FIOCR'S MIRACLES. undoubtedly shrewder than othe
ers, but all of them sufficiently, That such erents as are rea qualified to judge of the reality: corded in the gospel, as the rese of any fact, that came under their Loration of sight to the blind, of observation. They were not speech to the dumb, of life to the accused of deceit, and their mora dead, &c. are physically possible, al character was never impeachwe cannot deny, without setting ed by their most virulent enebounds to the Omnipotence of mies. They published their tes, God. That they are probable, we timony to the miracles of Jesus, cannot, however, affirm, unless we and invariably adhered to it, in consider the purposes which they the face of the most unexampled, are intended to serve. If it is cruel, and persevering opposifossible for God to give a revela, tion. They opposed all their Lion of his will to men: if it own national and educational preis probable from their condition, judices, by supporting a religion, that he will do so ; and if we are which was to be established on informed that he has actually the ruins of Judaism. Their tese done so ; there is a considerable timony was never contradicted, presumption that some marks of even by their persecutors : thou. supernatural interposition will sands and tens of thousands on its accompany the giving of this rev. evidence, embraced the faith, elation.
which it confirmed : and multiThat universal experience is tudes sealed their adherence to it contrary to the supposition of with their blood. Nor let it be miraculous interference, is a gra- forgotten, that the primitive tuitous and unfounded assertion. Christians, and the apostles in The satisfactoriness of testimony particular, suffered martyrdom, does not depend on the nature of not for matters of opinion, but the facts attested, unless they are for their attestation of facts: a pbysically impossible ; but on the circumstance unparalleled in the credibility of the persons, who history of the world, affirm that they have witnessed On these grounds we rest them.
the credibility of the gospel hisIf then the miracles of our tory ; the certainty of our Saviour's miraculous power, and amined them in order to detect consequently the truth of his re- the supposed fraud, they totally ligion.
failed in their object.
Yet, it is But besides this, the miracles more than incredible, that acute of the gospel are peculiarly dis- examinators, assisted by every tinguished from all pretended passion, which could render them miracles.
more acute, should have consid. 1. Christ did not, like the ered such a multitude of extraorchampions of popery, who wish- dinary effects, said to be supered to establish some monstrous natural, without in a single inopinion, or give celebrity to some stance discovering the least apparticular sect, assemble the mul- pearance of fraud : unless we titude to witness his miracles, and suppose, that these effects were by the arts of eloquence or the indeed really produced. aid of superstition, prepare their 6. The end for which the mir. minds for something unexpectacles of Christ were performed, ed and extraordinary. He fixed was worthy of them. It was not no stated hour for the cures to illustrate any obscure, absurd which he performed. It was in or licentious doctrine ; to conthe ordinary course of his min. firm any foolish or fluctuating istry, when he went about doing opinion ; to encourage one sect good, that he wrought “ the and subvert another; or to supworks of Him that sent him" port the prejudices, and superwithout ostentation or parade. stition of the people ; but to con.
2. None of his miracles were firm the truth of a religion, as unsuccessful : and none of them sublime in its conceptions of incomplete. Every one that God, as benevolent in its regards came to him was healed. The to man, as interesting in its doc. diseases which he rebuked, were trines, as pure in its precepts, as in every instance perfectly re- solacing in its promises, as it is moved.
possible to conceive. Surely 3. The greater number of then, this was an object worthy these cures evidently transcend of the greatest display of divine ed the power of natural means ; power, worthy in all respects of some of them were effected by that astonishing series of mira. means which in themselves were cles, which the history of the not only inadequate, but even ad- Saviour records. verse ; and those of them, over Christianity is founded on a which medical prescriptions “ rock ;" and the gates of hell might have had some influence, shall not prevail against it. Bewere supernatural, as to the man- ware then, my brother, of attack. ner in which they were perform- ing either secretly or openly, by ed : for,
any of the weapons of infidelity, 4. They were always instanta- this impregnable fortress. Canst neous : frequently effected with- thou resist Omnipotence ? No! out the intervention of any nat- thy soul must perish in the at, ural means : by a word, a look, tempt.
D. D. or a touch. 5. If any of the Jews imagined
April, 1805. then to be impostures, and ex.
That their apostasy was owing to SURVEY OF CHURCHES. the want of personal religion, is
evident from the words of the aposIn the intended survey of our tle John. They went out from us, churches, it will be natural to be- but they were not of us. For if they gin with the character of the in- had been of us, they would have dividuals of whom the churches continued with us. But they went are composed. They, who be- out, that they might be made manilong to Christ's church, ought to fest, that they were not of us. be his disciples. The scripture The fatal errors and vices, which represents them, as saints ; as appeared in the Asiatic churches, persons born again, and entitled originated in the bosom of hyto a heavenly inheritance ; as pocrisy. There were a few children of the light and of the even in Sardis, who had not defilday; as crucified to the world, ed their garments. But the and alive unto God; as the salt reigning character of the church of the earth ; as the city, and the was corrupt. Many of the memtemple of God, in which he gra- bers, probably the greater part, ciously dwells.
It is granted, were destitute of saving religion. that the visible church, in its Members of that description inpurest state, has contained many, jured the cause of Zion, not only whose character has not, in any by their own conduct directly, but degree, answered this high de-. also by the hurtful influence scription. But it evidently ap- they had on the character of real pears, what is the nature of saints. The holy zeal of sincere Christ's church, and what should Christians was damped, their be the character of all its mem faithful exertions encumbered, bers. If the church contains and their usefulness diminished those who are essentially defi- by their connexion with the uncient in their religious character, sanctified. Thus it came to passy it is proportionably corrupt. that the church, though it had a When irreligion becomes pre name to live, was dead. In the dominant, the church loses its same way the Laodicean church proper character, its influence, was reduced to a state of culpable and its blessedness.
lukewarmness. In the same All the disorders, which crept way all the churches of Asia into the Old Testament church, were corrupted, and finally ruinall the evils, which afflicted and ed. The apostles judged freWasted it, were occasioned by the quent and most solemn warnings general impiety of its members. necessary to guard the disciples Their personal unholiness led to against the dangerous influence idolatry, and all other national of false brethren. abominations.
In the first age Neither scripture, nor attenof Christianity, many, who had not tive observation gives us liberty the Spirit of Christ, united them- to suppose, that the church at the selves to his church. Persons of present time is any more free such a character, after maintain from a mixture of bad characters, ing for a time, some appearance thap it was at the time of the of goodness, were gradually ali- apostles. The parables of the enated from the cause of Christ. wheat and tares, and of the ten In the time of trial they fell away. virgins, with other parables and
prophetic declarations of the Christian character, as any vice same import, are as applicable to whatever.
Of how many may the church in these ages, as at it be said, that although they canany former period. Multitudes not be charged with any particuof wicked men assume the form lar sins, their habitual conduct of godliness, and join in profes- towards the church and the world sion with the people of Christ. clearly manifests the want of Now although such a state of the grace. Of how many others church will be overruled by Hears must we, at best, entertain very en for wise purposes; yet the uncomfortable doubts. In what nature of things conspires with various ways do men, without experience to show, that it is the open irregularities, render their unfailing source of numberless piety justly suspected. How evils. It is as undesirable, as for many, whose deportment is comnoxious weeds to mingle with the monly blameless, show, on disfruits of a garden, or for tares to criminating occasions, that they spring up and grow in a field with have not the love of God in their wheat.
hearts. By prosessing Christians With these remarks in mind, in general, the holy morality of let us survey the churches the gospel is little regarded. If through the Commonwealth, we judge them by their fruits, These churches in general con- and their fruits by the precepts sist of few members. It is no 'of Christianity ; we must conviolation of the rules of candour clude, that vital religion is in a to believe, that a considerable very low state in our churches, part of those few are destitute of and that a proportion of their Christian holiness. “ Would to members, greater than we would God," says Doddridge, " there willingly name, have at most, werc reason to hope, that the the form, without the power of Christian church were so equal- godliness. ly divided, that five of ten in it We may, secondly, infer this had the oil of divine grace in lamentable truth from the inadetheir hearts, to render them burn- quate and folse opinions of religion, ing and shining lights." We which many nominal Christians en. may, with propriety, adopt the tertain. At present these opinsame pious wish respecting our ions will be only hinted at, as New England churches.
proof of the fact under consideThe reasons which lead to such ration. There are errors, which an apprehension are many. the inspired writers consider, as Some of the most obvious will a perversion of the gospel, and as just be mentioned.
exposing every one, who emThe first and most weighty is, braces them, to the censure of the practice of nominal Christiuns. the church and the heaviest Some are notoriously immoral. anathema of the Bible. Such Dishonesty, Sabbath-breaking, crrors, without doubt, are found and intemperance are often seen in our churches. Indeed, they in those, who name the name of could not have obtained such Christ. How many discover a currency ; they could not be worldly, selfisin, or revengeful avowed with such boldness, and spirit, as inconsistent with the defended with so much success,
without the concurring agency which flow from it, must be ex. of large numbers. These pre. pected to remain. It is often valent errors are the fruit of an remarked by judicious writers, unchristian spirit, and a direct that civil society can never enjoy proof, that many church mem- permanent tranquillity and happibers are destitute of gospel faith. ness, while the civil principles
The inadequate opinions, which and moral character of its memare generally held respecting the bers are corrupt. It is certainly nature of saving religion and the as true, that peace and prosperi. Tequisite qualifications of church ty can never be enjoyed by the members, lead us in a different church, while the religious princia way to the same conclusion. It ples and moral conduct of its mem. is to be presumed, that men will bers are unchristian. The body xt according to their sentiments. cannot be in a healthy vigorous When they disbelieve the scrip- state, while its constituent parts ture doctrine of regeneration, and are unsound and decaying. consider no moral change neces.
As far as this radical evil ex. sary to prepare them for the vis- tends in our churches, it preible kingdom of Christ; we may vents them from answering the expect that their conduct will be great end of their Founder. agreeable to such opinions, and While made up, in a considerathat they will unite themselves ble degree, of ungodly members, to the church in an unrenewed how can it be imagined that they state. Multitudes, who profess will adorn the doctrine of God religion, think it weakness, to their Saviour, or show forth his inquire after any evidence, that praises, by the abounding fruits they are born of God. When of holiness? How can they be such principles govern men in the salt of the earth, if they lose entering into the church, and the savour of religion, and parthe church in receiving them, it ticipate in the corruptions of the is easy to see, of what charac- world? Can churches be lights, ters the church will be composed. to illuminate the surrounding
These observations must not multitude, when they themselves be applied, without many favour are enveloped in moral darkness? able exceptions. The unadulte. Will men contend earnestly for rated faith and practice of prim- that faith, which they have not itive Christianity are not yet ex- cordially received? Will they pelled from our churches. But recommend to others that gosafter all the exceptions, which pel, which they practically retruth admits and candour re. ject? Will they faithfully mainquires, we have great reason to tain that discipline, which is an fear that large numbers of unwelcome restraint to their own nominal Christians among us guilty passions? In short, will are not washed from their sins. they uniformly support the char
This, we apprehend, is the acter, while they want the temradical evil. Without removing per of saints ? or lessening this, other evils,