صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

ON THE CONNEXION BETWEEN

THE DOCTRINES AND DUTIES OF
CHRISTIANITY.

lignant zeal for the doctrines of grace to blast the genuine spirit and fruit of these very doctrines!

It has led some to lay that stress MESSRs. EDITORS,

on the appendages, which is due So far as my small experi- only to the substance of religion ; ence will enable me to judge, I to confine their heads and hearts find among Christians, two op- within a small circle of favourite posite errors, equally prejudi- speculations, expressions and cial to pure and undefiled relig- sounds; and to suspect, yea, ion, and dangerous to the souls positively condemn, as an ignoof men. These have been very rant or unconverted heretic, evhappily delineated by the late cry Christian brother or preachpious and beloved Dr. Tappan. er, who steps over this circle. By publishing the following note But such persons should rememto a sermon, delivered at Ply- ber that as Christian divinity is mouth, January 5th, 1800, you one regular and immense whole, may be instrumental in remove so each part has its claim on the ing “the veil from the eyes of evangelical instructor ; that by prejudice," and in correcting a duly attending to any one branch, mistake, which might otherwise he really befriends and enforces have proved fatal to the everlast. all the rest, as connected with ing peace of many; and at the it ; that he cannot declare the same time you will gratify the whole counsel of God, if his dis: wishes of one, whose “professed courses be limited to a few dar: object is to promote general hap- ling topics ; that he cannot do piness, and to do good to the justice,' even to the doctrinal souls of his fellow-men.”

part of the gospel, without large

Clio. ly explaining and urging its corEXTRACT.

responding precepts; and final: “ The connexion between the ly, that it would be as absurd to several branches of our religion, charge him with making light of especially between its doctrines certain truths, merely because and duties, while it presents one he does not interweave them distinguishing proof of its excels with every sermon, as to infer lence and divinity, claims the that the compilers of the Westunceasing and careful attention minster Catechism did not be. of ils professors and teachers. lieve in the depravity of man, or The most lamentable errors and the satisfaction of Christ, because mischiefs have arisen from a dis- they do not notice them in every proportionate or exclusive zeal for answer, but expressly mention certain parts of Christianity, de- each, only in one answer out of tached from the system at large. an hundred and nine ! This has frequently led one de- “ To avoid this disgraceful and scription of its votaries to mag- pernicious extreme, another nify orthodox opinion at the ex- class of believers seem fond of pense of a gospel temper, to considering Christianity merely make faith swallow up charity, as a moral or practical system, good feelings supplant good enforced by the assurance of a works, yea, an ungracious, ma: future state. They consider

OF

NEW

ENGLAND

CHURCHES.

virtue as the sum and end of the and recovery by grace; by inspire
gospel ; and think the practice ing it with a proper respect to
of it sufficiently secured by the the revealed holiness and mercy
precepts of our religion, which of God, to the wonderful media-
enjoin, under so awful a sanction, tion and example of the Redeem-
the highest moral attainments. er, and to the promised succours
But this extreme, though more of his Holy Spirit. Is it not ev-
refined, is equally dangerous ident that Christian piety and
with the former. It equally sep. morality must rise or fall, as
arates what God and the nature these principles, which support
of the thing have joined together. and exalt them, are regarded or
While it extols Christian pre- neglected ?-
cepts, it strips them of their “Those who would see, in a full
main light, and life, and force. and convincing light, the impor-
Though we grant that these pre- tant influence of these truths on
cepts set before us a sublime practical religion, are referred
pitch of virtue, we insist that the to Evans on the Christian tem-
peculiar doctrines of the gospel, per, or to Wilberforce's Practi-
and these only, direct and oblige, cal View, &c."
encourage and enable us to prac-
tise it ; and if these were set
aside, the leading duties enjoined
would have no obligation nor SURVEY
meaning. It is generally agreed,
that Christian duty may be sum-

(Continued from page 17.)
med up in love to God, to Jesus
Christ, and our fellow-men. The most cursory survey of
But this love neither is nor can our churches will convince us,
be excited merely by the pre- that, in their whole internal
cepts enjoining it; but it is pro- state, they are far removed from
duced and nourished by a cordial the sacred standard. Duties
belief of those doctrines, which plainly inculcated by Scripture
hold up the proper objects and are omitted ; while opinions and
incitements of it, or which ex- practices are common, for which
hibit the true character and rela- there is no foundation in the
tions of God, of Jesus Christ, of word of God. The neglect of
our human and Christian breth- gospel discipline, in its various
ren. While these doctrines branches, is so prominent a fea-
make us see and feel our corres- ture in our churches, it has so
ponding obligations, they pre- marred their beauty, and opened
sent motives which constrain us a door for such disorders, that it
to fulfil them, and convey those cannot justly pass unnoticed.
divine influences, comforts and In this survey it will be pro-
hopes, which render our obedi: per briefly to remark on a varie-
ence not only practicable, but ty of irregularities, which are
fervent and delightful. They found in our ecclesiastical disci-
also give to our moral obedience pline, and which greatly obscure
a new and evangelical complex- the primitive glory of our Zion.
ion, by connecting it with a deep Let us inquire, then, whether
impression of our ruin by sin, the members of our churches in

[ocr errors]

general exercise a suitable watch in private. In this way many and care over each other. One smaller improprieties in the important end of forming gospel conduct of Christians might be

churches is, that Christians, be- corrected, and their character · ing united in a social state, may rendered much more amiable.

have greater advantages to pro- When any one grossly violates mote each other's holiness, com- the laws of our holy religion, it fort, and usefulness. This end becomes a very serious and imwould be answered in an eminent portant affair. Whether his of degree, if Christian benevolence fence be of a public or private were always active, and always nature, his brethren should imdirected by inspired precepts. mediately adopt the measures Each believer might, in a mea. prescribed in order to bring him. sure, avail hiinself of the wisdom to repentance. And no comand piety of the whole body; plaint should be made to the while the influence of the whole church as a body, before every body would be the conjoined en- proper method has been used in ergy and usefulness of all its private. But the duty of private members. But how little of the reproof and admonition is so mutual watch and care, enjoined generally neglected, that an ofby the gospel, do we find among fender is often quite surprised, nominal Christians! How little if not irritated at the visit of does their conduct show, that brethren, who come to reprove. they are seeking to improve The faults of Christians are uneach other in knowledge and in noticed, except by the tongue of virtue!

slander. And it is not unfreWhen a brother is chargeable quently the case, that those, who, with misconduct, it is our indis- for some reason, will not go and pensable duty to treat him ac- tell a brother a fault, which has cording to Christ's direction in been charged against him, nor Matt. xviii

. “Go, and tell him even take pains to inquire, whethhis fault between thee and him er he is guilty, are among the first alone." If church members to circulate a report, which eswould faithfully comply with this sentially injures, if not destroys divine rule, and endeavour, in his reputation. the spirit of Christian meekness Church members, who have re• and love, 10 reclaim every of- ceived no personal affront, somefending brother; much would times excuse themselves for the be done to diminish the frequen- neglect above mentioned by say. cy of public censure, and to pro- ing, that the offending brother mote the peace and purity of the has done nothing to injure them, church. The duty of priva:ely and therefore that it is not their admonishing is not confined to particular concern

to reprove. pastors, but is expressly extend- But even this excuse, so freed by the apostle to Christians quently made, shows that our in general. There are faults in churches are generally chargeaprofessors, which admit of no ble with seeking their own things, definition, and cannot be the and not the things of Jesus Christ. ground of any public transac- How little of the gospel spirit do uion, but yet ought to be noticed men of such a character discov

and glory.

er. And how few are to be selves to a reproof like that, found, who have their Master's which Christ gave to the church interest so affectionately at heart, in Pergamos ; “I have a few as to raise them above selfish things against thee, because thou motives. Is not that, which af- hast them that hold the doctrine fects the honour of God and re- of Balaam, and thou hast them ligion, of more consequence, also, who hold the doctrine of the than any personal consideration ? Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” We ought to feel a holy offence If it be asked, who shall deterat every thing, which wounds mine, what is false doctrine, or the church of Christ. We heresy? It is asked in return, should lament and reprove the who shall determine what is immisconduct of our brethren, con- moral practice, or sin ? The sidered as sin against God, and church has the same advantage not as personal injury to us. to judge what is heresy, as they Every act of church discipline have to judge what is immoralishould spring from sincere af- ty, and the same authority to fection to the Redeemer's cause censure members for the one, as

for the other. To connive at an It is the direction of Scripture, essential deviation from gospel that one, who is proved guilty of faith is as real a violation of intransgressing the laws of Chris- spired precepts, as to connive at tianity, and, after proper steps a deviation from gospel practaken in private, shows no marks tice. of penitence, shall be cited be- It is deemed a mistake of evil fore the church ; and that, after tendency in our churches, that the church has dealt with him private confession is accepted for in love and faithfulness, if he re- public sins. If a Christian commains incorrigible, he shall be mit a fault, which is a discredit excommunicated. But do not not only to himself, but to the our churches greatly neglect this cause of Christ ; how is the bad duty ? Is it any thing uncom- consequence of his transgression mon for persons, who are in- removed, except by manifesting temperate, or profane, or in some his repentance as publicly, as his other way grossly immoral, to guilt is known. The enlightencontinue in full communion with ed penitent will rest in nothing our churches, without ever be- short of this. He will wish the ing called to account for their surrounding world, who know Grimes?

his offence, to know how he How rarely do our churches views his own conduct, and what take any proper notice of men, sentence he passes upon himwho deny the essential truths of self. How eminently was this Christianity. Io some instances spirit exemplified in David, after they suffer those, who reject the he had sinned in the matter of gospel and embrace the tenets of Uriah. “ Considering his rank, infidelity. Thus they trans- his age, and a variety of circumgress the apostolic command; stances relating to his family, to "a man that is an he tic, after persons disaffected to his governthe first and second admonition, ment, and to his character among reject ;" and they expose them the surrounding nations, it might Vol. II. No. 4,

Y

have been thought expedient for conduct of David is that of nomihim to be satisfied with secret nal Christians in general, who acts of contrition and devotion, transgress the laws of Christ. and with bringing forth fruit? What a backwardness do they meet for repentance. But he show to confess their sins. It viewed the subject in a different often appears to be their notion, light, when brought to reflect that the great evil consists, not seriously on his conduct and its in transgression, but in confesprobable consequences. The sion. If they acknowledge their honour of God and of true reli- sins, it is with manifest relucgion was deeply concerned, and tance, and in a manner far less with it the best interests of vast particular and public, than the multitudes. Nor did there ap- nature of their offence, and the pear any other way, in which honour of Christ's cause require. the bad effects of his crimes And what is to be particularly recould be so thoroughly prevent marked here, the church, forgeted, as by his publicly taking the ful of the Redeemer's command deepest shame to himself for and glory, and governed by having acted directly contrary to worldly motives, accept a very that holy religion, which he pro- mutilated, inadequate confession. fessed. Whatever might be the. Many more particular defects consequences to himself and his or irregularities in the treatreputation, he seems to have re- ment of offenders might be mensolved, without delay, to publish tioned. But it may be sufficient to his family, his subjects, the to observe in general, that our world at large, and all future churches at farge seem in a great generations, the judgment which, measure destitute of the spirit in the sight of God, he now enter- of fidelity. Neglecting the word "tained of his late behaviour. He of God, they are governed by therefore not only composed the personal regards. The authorififty first Psalm, for his private ty, with which Christ invested use, or to show to his friends, or the church, is nearly lost. The leave among his writings; but arm of salutary discipline is palhe gave it to the chief musician, sied. Human friendship, or the that it might form a part of the fear of man outweighs the hon. public psalmody at the tabernacle, our of the Redeemer and the and in consequence be circulated welfare of Zion. through all the land, and among One disorder connected with other nations, and continue in the general neglect of discipline the church, for the instruction is, that when a brother offends, and warning of mankind in all fu- individual members, without ta• ture ages. Nothing can be well king the regular measures to conceived more humiliating, than bring him to repentance, withsuch a measure ; nothing could draw on his account from spe. more decidedly show how much cial ordinancés. On communion "he preferred the honour of God days this disorder sometimes apto his own credit; in short, noth- pears great.

Particular meming could more decidedly mani. bers of the church, conceiving a fest the depth of genuine repent. dislike or prejudice against a *ance.” How different from the certain communicant, absent

« السابقةمتابعة »